Today was the weather day that forecasted thunderstorms for the last half of my ride to Williams, AZ. I wasn’t sure what to do this morning. I knew if it was a bad rain day, I would just take the interstate and make a beeline for my hotel which would have been about a 3 1/2 hour ride. But when I peeked out the window this morning at 6 am, clouds were breaking up. I checked my weather app and Williams was supposed to get hit with thunderstorms around 3 pm. I thought, if I leave by 7 am, I could take my planned back roads and still make it into Williams by 3 pm. So I packed up quickly and took off out of Gallup by 7 am.
I headed south out of Gallup on the 602, then cut over to go through Zuni Indian Reservation. I love Zuni art and was hoping to see some of their galleries but, I was too early and everything was closed. Not a problem though, I was treated to the beautiful Zuni mountains and the Little Colorado River that ran along side the road I was on.
After Zuni, I rode on for another hour or so and stopped at the Petrified Nat’l Forest. This was the highlight of my day. Dark clouds loomed in the west but I didn’t care. I wanted to see this and thought it would be worth getting rained on. The petrified logs are from conifer trees that lived here over 200 million years ago. The trees were in a flood plain, they fell and streams washed them away. The trees got buried in mud, and ash from volcanoes buried the trees. It cut off their oxygen and slowed their decay. The ground water that had silica seeped in the logs, petrifying them. The result:
It’s amazing to touch something that lived over 200 million years ago. It’s smooth and looks like quartz.
I continued on 27 miles through the park and saw so many interesting things. Odd stone structures formed by lava, the Chinle Formations, and the Crystal Forest (many petrified logs laying in the desert that have crystallized). With the absence of people, the dark clouds and the painted desert landscape, it gave the whole experience a mystical feeling.
Centuries of floodwaters washed out the ground underneath this petrified log to form the Agate Bridge. The log, harder than the sandstone around it, resisted erosion while the soft rock beneath it washed away. In the early 1900’s they preserved it by adding pillars for additional support.
This is about a one mile loop you can walk and see all the logs left laying that have crystals in them. You can see the logs here in the background. They look so out of place in the desert. It’s hard to imagine this land used to be tropical with trees, ferns and dinosaurs roaming about.
Just before the exit, I saw this car left on the spot of the old Route 66 which is now just desert. Someone back home is saying….”now why don’t he write”?
After another adventure, I was left to the last 160 miles on the interstate. The wind was brutal but still no rain. The last 40 miles or so were the mountains into Flagstaff and Williams. Even though it was interstate, it was a lovely sight of pine forests. I was lucky to make it in just before the rain hit. As I was traveling, I could see it to the south of me but I never actually rode into it. Rains will let up by tomorrow morning and I’ll have an extra day to stay and explore the Grand Canyon just north of here.