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the petrifed forest, where the wood is stonier

Well, we’ve been busy (and a little lazy, which is what vacations are all about, right?). Since we arrived in Sedona, AZ last Thursday night, we’ve spent much of our time just hanging out around the house. It’s a nice place–much nicer than the house in Santa Fe–but not quite as remote or private. The bed is much more comfortable, I can say that, which has made a big difference in terms of rest and relaxation. Like I said, we’ve been sticking close to the house for the most part–enjoying time on the deck, barbecuing, reading and writing.

We did venture out on the fourth to Flagstaff to catch some fireworks–apparently the first in several years due to fire hazards. Aidan had a good time, sitting on the roof of the Jeep watching the show from the BestBuy parking lot–not exactly an idyllic spot in the park, but I think “Fire Safe Fireworks” means over pavement. The hum and glow of the mercury vapor lamps in the parking lot didn’t seem to bother Aidan any. He’s a good sport (most of the time).

Yesterday, we hiked into the nearby Coconino National Forest and hiked a 2.6 out-and-back trail up to Crystal Point. It was a beautiful trail through the woods and up the side of a red-rock mountain. It wasn’t too easy, though, as the trail was strewn with red volcanic rocks and boulders. Plus, Aidan was getting rather tired half way up the mountain. He made it, though–out and back–with just a few scrapes, a few tears, and a little whining. In the end, he said he was really glad he did it, and he was excited to have the opportunity to sign the logbook stowed at the summit. He’s a trooper.

Oh, I forgot to mention, last Thursday, before arriving here in Munds Park, where we are staying now, we made a little side trip through the National Petrified Forest. It was quite something–a barren but beautiful landscape strewn with the fossilized remains of an ancient forest 225 million years old. Some of the logs, long ago washed across the prehistoric flood plain, look like they could have fallen last week. Closer examination reveals that they have turned to stone and crystal over the course of eons. We drove through the portion of the park known as “The Painted Desert,” stopping along the way to take some photos, and then spent a good portion of our time in floodplains of the Rainbow Forest that I described above. We also spotted a couple Pronghorn antelope grazing near the road. It was a good time. Check out some of the photos below.

Oh, I can’t forget to mention that Aidan earned a Junior Ranger badge while visiting the Petrified National Forest. He completed a series of activities for his age range, talked with the ranger, raised his right hand, and took his ranger oath. He even repeated the oath word for word after the ranger (which is a big deal for Aidan, as he becomes quite reserved around people he doesn’t know). Note one of the photos in the collection above where he is holding his badge and raising his hand. (That one was posed for the camera.) More later.

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