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PETRIFIED FOREST & METEOR CRATER
At this point it was worth it not to have reservations. We decided to change our route a little bit: instead of going directly to the south part of Grand Canyon, we visited Petrified Forest, Meteor Crater and drove on the famous Route 66.We left Grand Canyon around 2 pm and reached Petrified Forest at 7:30 pm. A bit of bad luck, since the park closed at 7 pm. However, it opened at 7 am, so we decided to camp in the nearest city: Holbrook, on old Route 66. We had dinner in a typical restaurant and drove by some iconic places like the Wigman Motel.
By morning, we visited the park and its petrified wood. This is what happened: the trees fell down, were swept away by the river, acquitted the silica and minerals in the water and became petrified. The landscape is arid, but there is so much of the past preserved in rock and mountain. Blue Mesa and Painted Desert are the two most beautiful places in the park. Do not miss them.
We drove down Route 66 towards Meteor Crater – the largest crater created by a meteo in the world. It is amazing to see the size of it and the museum has lots of interesting information. However, for me it was hard not to get out of there with the feeling that it’s just a huge hole.
GRAND CANYON – SOUTH RIM
Driving towards the most famous part of Grand Canyon, we were not sure we would get a place to camp, but again we were graced with one of the last places for one night.Once parked, we were greeted by a female moose and her calf, very close to where you do the registration. It is absolutely forbidden to feed the animals, but they are very curious about people.In this part of the Grand Canyon there are shuttles between the various points of interest. Therefore, we follow the suggestion of the receptionist and took the shuttle to see the sunset in the most famous spot, but we were accustomed to not having crowds around us in nature, so we chose another viewpoint, one or two stops before.
The choice could not have been more right: we could enjoy a beautiful sunset on the South Rim with rain falling on the North Rim. One of the visions that I do not forget. Sometimes it pays off to choose the road less traveled.We ended up taking the shuttle to that famous point after all – just to see what the fuss was all about. We were surprised with the amount of people that was still there, trying to get back to the campsite. We stayed until it got and until the queues for the shuttle were smaller.
JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
The drive between the state of Arizona and the state of California was long but interesting. Before we changed states we went back to Route 66, this time in Seligman. We stopped for lunch, pictures and to buy postcards. There were many buses spewing tourists in front of the Gift Shops, but it is totally worth it to see the whole culture around Route 66.Near Joshua Tree National Park, we drove pass Wonder Valley, an inhospitable and empty place with a handful of abandoned houses in a flood-prone area. We reached Joshua Tree in the evening, but still had time to get on one of the mountain of rocks to see the sunset. Yes, we like to enjoy sunsets.We had read in all the guides that you could hear the coyotes howling in the night, but I got to see one of them while I was washing my teeth. At dawn, we were in fact awakened by the howling and in the next morning, on the way to the car, I saw a rattlesnake! It did not feel threatened and made no noise, just went its way after a few clicks of those who were camping around us. Two boys had inclusively slept outside, on the floor, and were slightly worried. It was one of the most exciting moments for me, I love animals.The trees that give the name to the park are curiously fascinating: something between a cactus and a palm tree. The rocks that surround them help compose an exotic but very beautiful landscape.In this campsite – as in many others – there was no running water and the payment is done by putting the money in an envelope in a box. This was also our last stop camping.
This post was also written in Portuguese. Click here to read the Portuguese version.