Forests & Deserts

Today I went to the Petrified Forest National Park, primarily since I needed to go past it anyhow. I’ve seen petrified wood before, but just small fragments. I had not been expecting such vast amounts. It resembled a torrent of water had just recently brought down a forest, but these trees were washed down in the very early Triassic, just as dinosaurs were starting to appear. The tree trunks’s constituent molecules have since been replaced particle by particle with different kinds of minerals producing some rather interesting colours. After that I went to Meteor Crater, Arizona, a place I’ve long intended to see. I was suprised to see it so close to a highway and even had its own site visitors’ centre, for some reason I always thought it was out in the wild somewhere. Anyhow, it’s a large hole – 4,000 feet across as well as 550 feet deep – you don’t really need me to relate to you the details of a big hole in the ground, suffice it to say it was a quite recognizable hole as it’s always shown on TV. The crater was made approximately 50,000 years earlier, by a meterorite the dimensions of which you could fit a good-sized building in. Evidently the detonation was just over 20 megatons which is 1000 times larger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in WWII. A little piece of the meteorite, tipping the scales at half a ton, is all that remains and it now sits in the museum. OK so tonight I’m in Flagstaff, Arizona, where I’ve booked into a hotel for a couple of days. After all that barren land I’ve been exposed to, I need to put in time with real folks!

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