Arizona is a beautiful state which sadly I did not capture many photos. It is hot in Southern California and western Arizona in a heatwave, in the dog days of summer. This was a shock to my system having been in the cool Pacific Ocean breezes or high enough in latitude &/or altitude that afternoons only reached the 80s on hot days.
We stayed in Flagstaff which was high enough to be cool but sadly had a wildfire. We stayed on the eastern side of the mountain which saved us from the smoke but the trails in the beautiful Coconino National Forest were closed due to fire. We also received a hand delivered letter in the campground telling us about the fire to be ready to evacuate if notified. The fire started July 23 and is still burning today but the dangers have lessened. Wildfire is not something I had considered but after walking on the crunchy grass of the dry southwest I understand the danger.
On the way to New Mexico we had to stop at the Petrified Forest National Park this amazing place of trees turn to rock was a must see for me.
This place has really amazing sites such as a 10 foot in diameter petrified log and a log bridge over a canyon. It is very hot and dry but not to bad due to the elevation of 5,400 feet. If you need a reference our tallest North Carolina mountain Mount Mitchell is 6,684 feet (it is in the mid 50s right now – 10 am) and if you have visited in the summer you know just how nice that reduces the summer heat. There are great views and amazing tree stones where you can even see the bark of a 200 million year old tree. National Geographic wrote a great article if you want to know more.
New Mexico Bluewater Lake State Park is a beautiful spot with great stargazing potential as it is very dark. The gate however is intimidating with two armed Rangers in bullet proof vest and the exit has the tire puncture strip. The local area was not welcoming either very rough looking – no we did not stop due to my rule. We were late arriving and had a early departure so exploration was done in the cool of night with a beautiful night sky.
Texas – Palo Duro Canyon State Park only one night and a partial day but I SAW ROADRUNNERS!! They do not say beep beep more of a weird hooo hooo with some vibrato. And a cool fact from Allaboutbirds.org “Coyotes run more than twice as fast (43 mph) as a Roadrunner”. These guys were great to watch there was a group of three.
This park is the second largest canyon in the United States (#1 Grand Canyon) and how fitting it is in Texas. The Campsites in Palo Duro are Texas sized as well and include your own covered picnic table. We descended (including switchbacks and steep grades) into the canyon to stay on the floor with the painted walls surrounding us. We also saw a Mississippi Kite which was also a first for me perched in a snag overlooking the canyon floor. Flies are an issue in the desert southwest and many of them, seeking fluids, will get it from you in the form of blood.
Oklahoma – Lake Thunderbird State Park was the best campsite ever with our own beachfront property on the cool lake of which we took advantage. It was beautiful in the morning with the mist on the water.This was great arriving early in the afternoon for a cool swim! We departed early the next morning for Arkansas!
Please see the AZ NM OK TX album here https://photos.app.goo.gl/vSxT1F5eo4wQNqjo7