Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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The "Painted Desert" in Petrified Forest National Park After a bad night's sleep, I departed from the Ambassador Motel ar around 9am. During the drive towards Painted Desert, I made several experiences of driving 75 MPH, and still being passed by huge trucks. Just another proof how different the USA are to Europe, where the trucks are obstacles, and the cars are driving like madmen.

An hour later, I arrived at the Painted Desert, which is a part of Petrified Forest National Park. I quickly visited the Visitor Center, but didn't see anything too interesting. Similarly, the Painted Desert wasn't really able to catch my awe. The skies were all grey, not a single ray of sunshine was to be seen. And I had a minor headache. Correspondingly, I only stopped at the major viewpoints. The initial plan had been to do some hiking, and possibly background camping over the night, but clearly that wasn't an option.

Instead, I just dragged myself through the park in about two hours, and then left for the ultimate in American culture (not)... lunch at McDonalds.

The strange thing when you leave the park is that there's a ranger asking you if you took any petrified trees... but seeing how she's sitting in a booth and not able to see what's inside of your car, that seems kinda pointless. Unless you're a really bad liar. Needless to say that the only thing I left was a footprint, and the only thing I took was a photograph - so I could answer truthfully, with clear conscience.

After lunch, I proceeded west, and was lucky to find a fuel station close to Meteor Crater, seeing how I had both underestimated the distances, and had been too cheap to gas up at a place that I deemed was too expensive.

At Meteor Crater, I got as far as the visitor parking. Up discovering the entrance price, and figuring how little time I would probably spend there anyway, I mentally filed "Meteor Crater" under "tourist trap", and proceeded towards Flagstaff.

Looking into Walnut Canyon while descending to some cliff dwellings Just before Flagstaff, I made a quick detour to Walnut Canyon National Monument. Hiked the trail to the main attractions, which includes a steep descent and later ascent. It's a shame that about a century ago, this place was used as weekend getaway for amateur archeologists, who destroyed many of the walls so as to get a better light to dig for souvenirs.

And I suppose I could just have stopped right after that, in Flagstaff. Instead, I figured it was still fairly early, and decided to head to Sedona. I had read about the famous red rocks, and how the city attracts all kinds of strange people, but what I hadn't expected was a place expecting you to shell over a small fortune just to be legally allowed to park your car anywhere. That, and while driving through the city, I was repulsed by how much of an upper-class tourist trap this looked like. Alas, there was quite some distance to drive, speed limits are very low, and an alternative (shorter, possibly more scenic) dirt road was closed to traffic for some random reason.

I ended up in Flagstaff again. Took an inexpensive motel near the railroad, went shopping, and relaxed.

Miles driven: 299mi (481km)

Motel/Hotel Accommodation: Red Rose Motel (Flagstaff, AZ): $22.00

Written on July 4th 2002 at 8:15pm in Luxembourg, while longing to be elsewhere.