After sleeping in his van Saturday night, in the parking lot behind Chrystal Forest Museum and Gift Shop at the entrance to Petrified Forest, The Bearded Man was up at the crack of dawn on Sunday. As mentioned earlier, there are no campgrounds inside the park, but several just outside. So The Bearded Man drove up Route 180 to Sun Valley RV Resort, paid his $5 and had a nice hot shower. (As a side note - The word 'resort' is sometimes used out of context.) Last stop before heading into the park, the world famous Wigwam Motel, where he reserved a wigwam for Sunday night. (Side note #2 - The term 'world famous' is sometimes used out of context.)
Located a few blocks off historic Route 66, Wigwam Village was originally the brainchild of Frank Redford, who built the first Wigwam Village in Cave City, Kentucky in 1938. When Chester E. Lewis, who owned several motels along Route 66 in Arizona, saw Wigwam Village he knew he had found a winner and set out to build a Wigwam Village of his own. However, since the idea belonged to Mr. Redford (who later became well known as The Sundance Kid, but don't quote us on that) they had to work out a financial arrangement to compensate Mr. Redford for the use of his idea. As a result, radios were placed in each Wigwam that would play for 30 minutes for a silver dime and Mr. Redford received the 'radio dimes' for a period of several years. We've been told that Mr. Redford died penniless, but with over $346,000 in dimes.
Petrified Forest was originally created as a National Monument by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906, Petrified Forest was designated as a National Park by John F. Kennedy in 1962. The brilliant colors in the petrified wood, from which the park takes its name, come mainly from three minerals. Pure quartz is white, manganese oxides form blue, purple, black, and brown, and iron oxides provide hues from yellow through red to brown. In addition, over 50,000 acres of the park are designated wilderness. Hundreds of species of plants and animals can be found in the park, including pronghorn, Gunnison's prairie dog, coyote, bobcat, bullsnake, Arizona tiger salamander, meadowlark, golden eagle and the ever-elusive black-throated blue warbler. The Bearded Man claims a black-throated blue warbler landed on the hood of his van and sang a song just for his enjoyment. On a related note, the Audubon Society has recently revoked his membership. Reason given, and we quote, "Birds to not sing and dance for our member's personal enjoyment. Good day sir. I said good day!" Apparently Willie Wonka is now running the Audubon Society.
Over 10,000 years of human history can be found in the park, including more than 800 archeological and historic sites. Puerco Pueblo was built by the ancestral Puebloan people, occupied between A.D. 1200 and 1400. Agate House was occupied about A.D. 1100-1150 and was built out of pieces of petrified wood. During the 20th century, Herbert David Lore built Painted Desert Inn in 1924. Later, using designs by National Park Service architect Lyle Bennett, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) reconstructed the Painted Desert Inn in the late 1930s.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), established by Congress in 1933, is largely responsible for building the park's roads, trails, culverts and structures. As the generation who participated in the CCC passes, the legacy of their work lives on. When you visit the park, drive the roads, hike a trail, or explore the Painted Desert Inn, take a few moments to reflect on the CCC, the men who labored on these projects, and the investment America made during its most desperate economic period. The Civilian Conservation Corps' hard work all those years ago still continues to pay off today.
The Bearded Man spent most of his Sunday, hiking and exploring Devil's Playground. A difficult hike for which you must receive a permit. This is what to say when you apply - "One permit to hike through ridiculously difficult, rattlesnake infested, ankle twisting terrain please." Devil's Playground is "a strangely beautiful, highly eroded part of the park" and considered one of the most interesting landscapes in the world. The Bearded Man says he was lured into the hike after reading a review by Giancarlo Gianovese on Trip Advisor. "Il doppio parco, Painted Desert e Petrified Forest, ha vari punti di grande interesse. Sicuramente questo è il principale in quanto il più complesso, al quale dedicare maggior tempo." So true Giancarlo...so true.
Before heading back to his teepee for the night, The Bearded Man stopped in the park's bookstore, operated by the Petrified Forest Museum Foundation (send us an email and we will shamelessly plug your organization) to see if they had any books by Will Rogers, one of his favorite authors. They had a copy of 'Illiterate Digest', so he is all set for the evening. By the way, if you haven't read Will Rogers you should. Anyone who thinks like this is worth getting to know: "There are two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither works." And this timely observation, "A fool and his money are soon elected." And finally, "When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging." I gotta remember that one.
Monday morning, The Bearded Man will leave Arizona and drive about five hours northeast on Highway 191 and 160, to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Along the way he will be making a stop at the Mexican Water Trading Post in Mexican Water, Arizona. According to YELP, this is the only 'authorized' Doritos dealer between Petrified Forest and Mesa Verde. We will keep our eyes open for any 'unauthorized' Doritos dealers.