Coming to you, delayed, due to some very spotty internet and honestly so much to do and see in the days leading up to and immediately following the Grand Canyon...
We took off from Holbrook (where?!) relatively early and went right into Petrified Forest National Park. For whatever reason, I incorrectly had this stop in my head not as a National Park, but rather a cheezy Wisconsin Dells sort of thing. Knowing the Universal National Park Law (if it's a NP, then it's awesome), I got much more excited, and it didn't disappoint. It was a particularly good stop for this busy day, since it is a compact and focused park which we were able to fully absorb in a few hours.
So...petrified trees. Super cool for everyone, including me, the science geek. Ancient trees, swamp land, volcanoes, chemical reactions, few hundred million years and BAM! Trees that are really rocks basically made of gems growing out of the ground everywhere you look. Toss in some Badlands-style mesas and you have a nifty stop. Completely worth a few hours if you're ever close.
Science geek stop #2 was two hours down the road - Meteor Crater.
SIDE NOTE - we hit the 10,000 mile point on the way to the crater. Cool. The BigTripMobile hasn't missed a beat (knock on petrified wood).
Meteor Crater, unlike Petrified Forest, isn't a National Park. It's privately owned, and the first thing I saw driving there was that they have the most cheese-ball logo ever. That made me think we would have a side show sort of thing, but they actually did a good job. Museum and visitors/learning center that was very informative, a nice building, informed staff and great viewing areas. It s like many large natural formations in that it's hard to get a good handle on the true scope. It's a damn big hole, and it really looked fresh, like it was made just a few hundred years ago. A little pricey, not as nifty as the Petrified Forest in my opinion, but a cool stop nonetheless. And another great opportunity to chat about science and let the girls practice their eye rolls!
After the crater, it was getting late, so we hit a Safeway in Flagstaff to stock up on provisions and got to Grand Canyon NP after dark. We are staying in the Yavapai Lodge complex, just a stones throw from the South Rim. It's pretty odd to be right by the Grand Canyon but having to wait 12 hours for first light to actually see it. I dragged the girls out before bed for a short while to look at stars. This is a VERY dark community Add in elevation and a crystal clear night, and wow. I have seen the backbone of the Milky Way before but never, never, never anything remotely close to the clarity that we saw tonight. I wish everyone was a little more rested so we could have soaked it in more, but stunning nonetheless.
A full day in the Canyon tomorrow. Cheers!