But as wonderful as this experience is, I can't ignore what's going on in the world, and what a sharp contrast it is to my life right now.
Since I left San Diego, there have been protests, riots, fighting, injustice - I don't feel it here at the park, or even in the town of Holbrook, but the signs are everywhere else. I've seen protests taking place near friends and family in NY, and in my town of Ramona.
It's hard to process everything going on, so I'm just trying to take walks, breathe, and share photos and videos of the peaceful landscape around me so others can take a moment to breathe and relax.
The evenings have brought some rain and thunderstorms. I'm amazed at the power of nature - this wide open space shows it well.
I am making good progress on the book too.
I wanted to start by getting a feel for the environment, even though I've been here before, I wanted to reflect on what captures my attention and imagination.
The log book helped solidify that idea - I'm fascinated with how much history is here. It's not just a barren landscape. There has been life here for so long - millions of years! Everything has a story.
I believe that Joey is going to explore the Petrified Forest through time. These are just a few ideas - they will evolve over time. Once the ideas are a big more solid, I am going to consult with park staff for accuracy and details.
I'll be working today on some additional sketches, and possibly a sunset painting. Check back soon!
I left San Diego early yesterday morning, around 5 a.m., with Flagstaff as my goal. There was a campground around Hackberry, AZ, but the weather wasn't looking favorable - 100+ and 40 MPH gusts.
The sun had already risen by the time I left, and passing through the mountain around Santa Ysabel and Ranchita, there was alot of fog. On the grade to Borrego Springs, I saw an adult and a baby bighorn sheep grazing on the side of the road - it took me by surprise, and I wanted to stop to take a photo, but wasn't able.
There were no places open in Borrego Springs to get coffee, so I pressed on.
At the newly renovated travel center in Salton Sea, I was able to get an Americano to fuel a long stretch through the desert.
Box Canyon Road had been rebuilt a few months back, and driving on the new pavement you could still see huge chunks of old asfalt, pushed around by flood waters, stuck in the ground. The road took me to the interstate, which I followed for a short time before cutting through the desert on two of the longest, straightest roads I've ever driven.
A quick snack, cold seltzer, and chatting with a friend helped push me to I-40.
Hilda gets pretty good milage, but she's so packed down she was struggling just a little bit.
Otherwise, it was comfortable, and the cruise control was a blessing.
This has been the longest trip I've taken her on, and I'm pleased with the capacity, comfort and, of course, excellent fuel efficency.
Upon entering Arizona, I took advantage of the cheap gas. Lots of folks (visitors, not staff) were without masks, and this trend continued for the rest of the journey.
Despite gusty winds pushing my car and others around, the drive up to Flagstaff was pleasant. Everything was so green, and there was still some snow in the mountains.
In Flagstaff, I passed by folks protesting the death of George Floyd.
I rode just north of the city to an area with dispersed camping. I picked a spot and set up camp.
The red, dusty soil coated everything, but it was beautiful regardless. I headed into bed around 7 p.m., and slept through until 4 a.m. The next morning I tried to visit Cracker Barrell but it was too busy.
I stopped in Winslow for groceries before arriving at Petrified Forest.
Everything looks the same as the last time I was here many years ago! Seeing the colorful painted desert and big open skies brought a smile to my face.
I settled in with plans to get a good start in the morning.
Meet artist Lynette Bredow - read the latest Creative Connections HERE.
Meet writer Tainya Barrows and learn about the new writer group she is organizing.
Read the latest Creative Connections HERE.
Meet artist Helen Wilson - read the latest Creative Connections HERE.