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Day Seventeen :: October 07, 2004: 12:04 AM

Monday, October 4th, 2004
Day seventeen

We left Grand Canyon National Park at 10:30 am. The mileage for the trip so far: 4594 miles. we stopped by the post office on iste with more postcards and to send home a CD of our pictures so far:there's a lot of them! Each evening , using the power inverter (becausethis laptop's battery is really bad) we donload from the camera to the machine, then make a CD every few days. We did this in California last year so that if the machine was stolen out pictures would not go with it.

We had breakfast at the internet cafe and actually got those last entries online at last, then crossed the road for a latte because the man in there even beats Starbucks at them, then off to Flagstaff, route 66 (which we will travel on- off and on- for a couple of days)with our first stop at Walnut Canyon National Monument on the edge of Flagstaff.

We were stiull not sure of our plans...one option was....

One option was to put up the tent somehwere not too fgar down the road, continue with the days' plans and tomorrow head south into the lower part of Arizona: we lied the idea of seeing the big standing cactuses, and maybe getting a glimpse of an armadillo, a scorpion, a black widow spider or a roadrunner....but as we drove alaong we decided that an 800 round trip when we mgiht only see the first of that list (at least plants stay still) that it was a little silly.

As well as that i really was not enjoying the intensity of the sun and the heat and the thought of it getting even nastier did not thrill me. I wanted Mike to make the decision as the driver. He decided the cactus frterst would be fun but not worth that: we decided to spend a day in New Mexico which was on the way, being east of Flagstaff.

Another advantage was I would not see that wretched Coconina Forest sign again! This "forest" wraps itself around the Grand Canyon area and you travel in and out of it. In local terms, it's a forest in my terms it is a disappointment: I really miss real trees. The Coconina one is just juniper and pin(y)on pine trees and few are bigger than me and each surrounded by a large patch of scrubby yellow grass...I had not realized how much I would miss trees, decent sized and especially deciduous trees...

Walnut Canyon is a wonderful canyon with nature walk and ruins from around 1000 years ago, when the local Native Americans built stone homes between cave floor and overhanging stone ledges. we did not have time to walk it all as we had other plans and a way to go.

The idea was to travel east, past the meteor crater and to get to The Petrified Forest National Park and from there see a little of the Painted Desert.

It was quite a haul. even taking the fast road and the Arizona desert scenery just desolate. the sun fierce through the tinted windows of the car...we had to move quickly to see this extended park but it was worth the trip. The tree trunks are in a huge range of colors and scattered over a huge area.

This was never a forest - the trees were washed down to the site from somewhere else long ago. As the road continues we drove into what is known as the Badlands of the South. The area of the Painted Desert we got to see has similarities and differences from the Badlands which started out this trip for us. The formations are of a soft clay, eroding at a quarter inch a year and look like the ones in the north west but are of a different color (they have more lavenders and blue-grays) and are more spread out and in fact, there are examples over the huge area from Monument Valley eastwards. As home of the Hopi Indians much of the desert is not open to the public and not accessible but the part that is is spectacular. We got to see most of it just as the sun was setting for the day.

With no known campsite in the area we traveled on and found a motel in Gallup, New Mexico for the night - run by a British man from Lancashire and his London wife When we got there we disocvered e had crososed the time zone and were in Mountain time - daylight savings version and now only 2 hours behind the east coast: we felt we were really were starting homewards, though tomorrow will be a day to look around rather than make huge progress.
We passed the Arizona Divide

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