Thursday, 16 October 2014

Letters From America: The Petrified Forest

Hello Everyone, 

Another stop we made on our Fall Break Road Trip was to the Petrified Forest in Arizona. The Petrified Forest is a huge space of land that used to be completely forest (hard to imagine since it is now completely desert). It got covered in a flood, which knocked all the trees down and covered them in a layer of mud, preserving them. They were in this state for hundreds of years, which fossilized the trees, turning them to stone. The layers of soil slowly were washed away revealing these fossilized pieces of wood. However, scientists believe that only 20% of the entire forest has been revealed, the rest still trapped under the sandy rock. 

There is more to the Petrified Forest than just the fossilized wood pieces. The mountains, rock formations and ruins that have been revealed are stunning too. The Painted Desert is included in the Petrified Forest National Park but I wanted to write a whole post on it because it was so unique and different from the rest of the park. 

One of my favourite parts of the park was the rocks. They were ginormous, and I am pretty sure that at some point a science fiction film was at least partly filmed there. I couldn't tell you if there actually was, it just looked so different to anything I had seen before that I would have guessed it was true. What struck me was that it was exactly like the rocks at the beach that my cousin and I used to climb on which is a really lovely memory for me. We felt like such daredevils or tomboys, and this was like the adult version of it. The rocks were much bigger so much harder to climb. It is a shame that they don't allow people to climb on them, because I would do it happily. The only problem was that there were a lot of people in our group on the rocks, which made me a little wary about going too near the edge. 

Actually seeing the fossilized wood was one of the weirdest experiences of my life. From a distance it just looked like another rock or piece of wood. But when you got closer you would see the sun shining on it, bringing out the all colours. It was a bit like a rainbow. You would never guess that something that used to be wood would be so beautiful. It was like a crystal or something. And there were so many different varieties, not one piece was the same as another. Each was completely unique. I could have spent hours looking at them. 

The landscape of the Petrified Forest is amazingly diverse. At some points it is red sandy rock, like in the Painted Desert, or it is exactly like you would imagine a desert to be, yellow and sandy, or there are huge stripy mountains on the horizon, or a huge grassy field with rivers running through it, or it looks like a gigantic boulder that we are driving across with no end in sight. However, the common feature was that it looked like it came straight out of those Westerns that you see on TV. It would not have surprised me if the Lone Ranger and Tonto had ridden past.