Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Back in the saddle again -

 - and not just working. It took a few days, and I know I'll hear cries of you wuss! from everyone north of me, but it was cold and it was windy so I delayed getting out in the park until the weather decided to behave itself again. It felt great to finally stretch my legs on the road to the Painted Desert Inn and I only huffed and puffed a little.

Without further ado, and not finishing all the photos waiting in the queue to be processed from when I left here in September, here are the latest from this wonderful place (but wonderful only when my water's not frozen in the morning because somehow I blew the GFCI and the heat tape wasn't on).

First off, some things don't change. People toss petrified wood out their windows when they see a sign that says there's a vehicle inspection ahead, and there are often small chunks of wood on the side of the road. This is the biggest I've seen and to put it in perspective, I have big feet and you can see the size of this chunk compared to the toe of my shoe. It must have weighed four or five pounds. I can see why someone wanted it; it's gorgeous.

Four deer! That was a treat.

There was the Painted Desert Inn, just where I left it, and Pilot Rock also still in the same place.

The late afternoon light was just starting to make soft shadowplay, softening the colors and smoothing the badlands.

Pilot Rock looks much closer than seven miles out. Petrified Forest has some of the cleanest air of all the National Parks and I never realized how clarity affects perception of distance until I left Big Bend National Park. Between it and Marathon, TX is a Border Patrol station. It was after dark when I could see the flashing lights for the station very clearly, right ahead, so I tapped off the cruise control and started slowing down. And drove and drove. There were the lights like they were on the next corner but I still drove. It was probably another twenty minutes' driving before I got to the station, but the clear, clean air made it look like it was close enough to touch. Pilot Rock looks about a mile out here, but you'd better pack a big lunch and carry a gallon of water.

This is from another day, when I walked down old Route 66, which skirts the eastern side of the Painted Desert, near I-40. I love this country.

There's something about the West. The light is so different here. I did nothing to enhance the color on this photo of the desert - the colors, the glow, are just as the camera saw them, with a little contrast and sharpening thrown in.

How could this be called Badlands? 
Before I go all dewey-eyed, though, I need to remember hauling a 35-pound pack through, over, and around this godforsaken landscape last summer. After swearing I'd never do it again, it's in the plans. Stay tuned.

Day's end can take my breath away, just as I remember. I'm so glad I'm back.

Thought of the day:
I plan on growing old much later in life, or maybe not at all. (Patty Carey, 1901)