Touring the American Southwest (2 of 2)

This is the second part of our trip report, click here for the first part

On Monday, May 2, 2022, we got up in Santa Fe at 4 o'clock in the morning because we had to be in Albuquerque at 5:30 a.m. to check in for our sunrise hot air balloon ride. We made it on time, registered, and were driven to the takeoff site with a group of other people. There, the organizers released a small helium balloon; it was quickly blown across the town. Alas, that was the wrong direction: we were informed that there would be no hot air ballooning that day and driven back to town. It was the one disappointment of our trip.

El Morro National Monument

We regrouped to a coffee shop and after evaluating our options decided to visit El Morro, a National Monument on our way to Gallup, our next stop. Because we had gotten up in the middle of the night, we got to El Morro early. The site is basically a large prehistoric pueblo atop a great sandstone promontory with a pool of water at its base. It became a landmark where over the centuries explorers and travelers have left personal inscriptions that survive to this day.


The view from the visitor center parking lot The imposing El Morro rock façade

The view from the visitor center parking lot

The imposing El Morro rock façade


On Mesa Top Trail The view on the way By the first plateau

On Mesa Top Trail

The view on the way

By the first plateau


The view from the plateau into the valley... ...and up to higher ground.

The view from the plateau into the valley...

...and up to higher ground.


On Mesa Top Trail On Mesa Top Trail On Mesa Top Trail

On Mesa Top Trail

On Mesa Top Trail

On Mesa Top Trail


On Mesa Top Trail On Mesa Top Trail On Mesa Top Trail

On Mesa Top Trail

On Mesa Top Trail

On Mesa Top Trail


There is much dead wood... ...and the rocks are visible from almost everywhere.

There is much dead wood...

...and the rocks are visible from almost everywhere.


The bridge The pool

The bridge

The pool


Petroglyphs of bighorn sheep Various visitors have left their mark; the oldest dates from 1636

Petroglyphs of bighorn sheep

Various visitors have left their mark; the oldest dates from 1636

After our visit, we drove to Gallup where we arrived early enough to have a late lunch. We had booked two rooms at the Howard Johnson Hotel and Convention Center. The place was enormous, and, for all we could see, empty. Hallways and lobby were adorned (if that's the word) with colossal metal sculptures of grotesque creatures that towered over us. There was an indoor pool containing a few pebbles but no water, and in one courtyard overgrown with weeds, Steph even spotted a black-and-yellow tape of the kind used by law enforcement to secure crime scenes. In short, the place looked like it was not ready for business. It felt a bit eerie, not unlike the Overlook hotel in Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation of Stephen King's novel, The Shining. Our rooms were comfortable enough, though, and we only stayed there for one night.


Petrified Forest National Park

The next day, we crossed from New Mexico back into Arizona and, having adjusted our watches, visited Petrified Forest National Park that straddles Navajo and Apache counties. The park is named for many deposits of petrified wood, i.e., wood that has undergone petrification. The park features a variety of different landscapes, from the Painted Desert in the north to the Crystal Forest further south.


View from the Blue Mesa Scenic Road (small excerpt of a 21,396 x 5,367 pixel panorama)

View from the Blue Mesa Scenic Road (small excerpt of a 21,396 x 5,367 pixel panorama)


View from Petrified Forest Road Painted Desert view from Pintado Point

View from Petrified Forest Road

Painted Desert view from Pintado Point


There was little traffic, but the few vehicles were mostly big and slow The Tepees

There was little traffic, but the few vehicles were mostly big and slow

The Tepees


Near the Historic Blue Forest Trailhead The Puerco Pueblo ruins

Near the Historic Blue Forest Trailhead

The Puerco Pueblo ruins


Walking among the ruins Puerco Pueblo petroglyphs

Walking among the ruins

Puerco Pueblo petroglyphs


The whole site is beautifully maintained Newspaper Rock

The whole site is beautifully maintained

Newspaper Rock


Crystal Forest Petrified logs

Crystal Forest

Petrified logs


Along the Crystal Forest Trail The colors of the petrified wood are gorgeous

Along the Crystal Forest Trail

The colors of the petrified wood are gorgeous


Another closeup of a petrified log segment Entire petrified log by the visitor center

Another closeup of a petrified log segment

Entire petrified log by the visitor center


View from the Blue Mesa Scenic Road View from the Blue Mesa Scenic Road

View from the Blue Mesa Scenic Road

View from the Blue Mesa Scenic Road

We then drove to Sedona, passing, but not stopping in, Winslow, Arizona, a town mentioned in the song "Take it Easy" by The Eagles. Somewhere along the drive, we had some fast food before Eric drove us through the spectacular Oak Creek Canyon on our way into Sedona.



Sedona

What can I say about Sedona? The best part about it by far is the gorgeous landscape it is in with its red sandstone formations. It is very much a hiker's paradise, and that's great—if you're a hiker. Let's just say that not all four of us are to the same extent. The town itself is nothing special; it is fairly new (most of the development seen today was constructed in the 1980s and 1990s) and it lacks the cultural and historical significance of, say, Santa Fe we had visited during the first part of our trip. And now, without further ado (private joke—you had to be there), let's look at a few photos!


View from the Sedona Airport Overlook (small excerpt of an 18,067 x 5,378 pixel panorama)

View from the Sedona Airport Overlook (small excerpt of an 18,067 x 5,378 pixel panorama)


View from the parking lot at the Club Wyndham Sedona The landscapes around Sedona...

View from the parking lot at the Club Wyndham Sedona

The landscapes around Sedona...


...are dominated by reddish rock... ...and absolutely gorgeous.

...are dominated by reddish rock...

...and absolutely gorgeous.

We took quite a few photos on several occasions from the Sedona airport Overlook, including one of us taken by Eric and one of Eric and Steph. A very worthwhile site we visited was the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Part of a sign by the entrance reads, "Though Catholic in faith, as a work of art the chapel has a universal appeal. Its doors will ever be open to one and all, regardless of creed." You may read the entire message here,

.
The walkway to the Chapel of the Holy Cross Outside the chapel Inside the chapel

The walkway to the Chapel of the Holy Cross

Outside the chapel

Inside the chapel


Looking from the altar to the entrance Outside the chapel

Looking from the altar to the entrance

Outside the chapel


Looking down from the terrace From the road below, the chapel seems to grow out of the rock

Looking down from the terrace

From the road below, the chapel seems to grow out of the rock


Along Sedona's main street, N State Rte 89A Downtown Sedona

Along Sedona's main street, N State Rte 89A

Downtown Sedona


The rocks are never far away and more beautiful... ...than the occasionally tacky man-made things.

The rocks are never far away and more beautiful...

...than the occasionally tacky man-made things.


Leaving Sedona and heading back to Phoenix

Leaving Sedona and heading back to Phoenix


This is the second part of our trip report, click here for the first part
The photos on this page were taken from May 2 through May 4, 2022.




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