Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Alley pickin'

Petrified Forest is the only national park to host a section of the Mother Road, Route 66. For the longest time it freaked me out that walkable sections of it appeared in two widely separated sections of the park, and what seemed to me to be at right angles to each other. I don't know how long it took me to figure out the road through the park has a switchback at the north end, so the park road touches Interstate 40 and Route 66 twice. Anyway, the section on the north end is close to where I call home and I walk it every once in a while. On that end of the park, it skirts the Painted Desert on the east for a short while and then goes off cross country.

Where 66 appears farther to the south in the park there's a faint, grassed-over depression in the earth, and with your imagination you can see the ghost of the old highway, but on the section in the north, pavement intermingles with gravel areas and is kept clear of weeds by vehicular traffic from park staff who use the road for one reason or another.

Between the road and the Painted Desert lies what I first thought was the park landfill; a couple of acres of trash surprised the heck out of me the first time I wandered out there because it was such an anomaly for an organization that's dedicated to preserving natural resources. Then I found out there used to be a lion farm, The Painted Desert Park and Zoo of Native Animals, which held a motley collection of wild critters. It had no association with the park but the owner was trying to make a living by capitalizing on its proximity to Route 66. When the government bought the property in the late 1950s and razed the whole mess a short time later, the trash got left behind and what a scavenger hunt it has turned out to be. Bottles, cans, hubcaps, pop bottle tops, dishes, all kinds of good junk. Lots of the glassware is broken and when you think it's been half a century since the place closed down, it's amazing that anything breakable is unbroken. Many pieces look like this,

 and are found in areas that look like this, piles o' trash:

 so when intact items show up, with lids even,

or little treasures like this bottle with the stepped, deco-looking sides, it's a pleasant surprise.


Intact Coke bottles are ubiquitous.

Broken dishware abounds; I've found the remains of a few different sets.

Consider a stroll through the area if you're in need of car parts. I don't guarantee good condition, but they're there, like this hubcap from a Hudson, maybe,

a fender skirt from who knows what,

or a mud flap. I don't know that I've ever seen a metal one before.

People's food preparation habits are in evidence, as shown by this two-course meal,

and the bowl used to mix something or other.

Extracurricular activities like photography,

adding to one's seashell collection (in the desert?),

or playing a game of marbles are represented.

But here's my favorite find so far. How long has it been since you've seen a LePage's glue bottle, and intact to boot? It made my day.

A gorgeous morning with the sun at my back, and I couldn't resist looking taller. But tell me, does this shadow make my butt look big?

Thought of the day:
Searching is half the fun: life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party. (Jimmy Buffet)