Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Way to Go Arizona

Monday May 30, 2011
OK RV Park
Holbrook, Arizona

The wind gave us a break and
we got our earliest start ever at 8:30 this
morning.  On down I-40 to
the Arizona Welcome Center
where they gave us a modest welcome
very shortly after we entered the state.

Let me give a BIG shout out to
for being the only state in its right mind.
They do not bother with daylight savings time.
Or perhaps they don’t bother with standard time.
I’m not sure which but what they do do
is not switch back and forth at all.
Sure wish the rest of the country would
wake up and ask why ARE we doing this
flip flop twice a year.
The welcome center had these clocks on
display to make sure you understood
what time it really was.

Despite our record early start ,
we somehow still didn’t get to
Petrified Forest National Park
a distance of about 215 miles
until 5 hours later.

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First stop, the Painted Desert Visitor’s Center
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Here we found a wealth of information
including this map which shows
that the Painted Desert stretches
from the Grand Canyon Southeast
to St. Johns, Arizona
It was exposed by the erosional
force of the Little Colorado River


They promised that the 28 mile stretch
of road through the park which has all
of the overlooks and trails off of it was
all big rig and toad friendly so we
decided to do the section on the north side
of I-40 before going on west into Holbrook
which is the closest town with RV Camping.

So in we went and our eyes about fell
out of our heads.  These pictures don’t
begin to show the color of The Painted Desert.

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We stopped at Tawa Point and took the
.6 mile trail to the Desert Inn.
It was a rim trail that hugged the
edge of the mesa

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providing long range views.
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And close range

Some pretty happy campers
with this beauty


and then we came to the Desert Inn.
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I was so impressed with its history
that I’m recounting it in some detail here.

The inn was originally built in 1924 by Herbert Lore
of petrified wood and other native stone.  He
operated it as Stone Tree House.  You could
eat meals in the lunchroom,

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have a drink in the
downstairs “tap room”

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and after that you could go out the
back door

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and around the corner to rent one of the
six rooms for $2 to $4 a night.

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Lore didn’t know that he had built the inn
on a seam of bentonite clay. 

As the clayswells and shrinks due to changes in moisture,
the foundation of the inn shifts and this creates
cracks in the walls and foundation.

Petrified Forest National Monument purchased
the house in 1936 along with 4 sections of land
totally 4 square miles for $59,400.

The inn was redesigned in the Pueblo Revival Style
by Lyle Bennett.  The work was done by, guess who,
the Civilian Conservation Corps.

They used ponderosa pine and aspen poles cut
from nearby forests as roofing beams, made
light fixtures from punched tin, and wooden tables
and chairs with Native American designs.

The skylight panels were all hand painted by CCC workers
in designs from ancient pottery.


Concrete floors were etched and painted based on
Navajo blanket designs.
(sorry we had to take this through a screen.
The floor is being protected from damage.)

The inn was reopened in 1940 and thrived until
the outbreak of World War II when travel
came to a halt.  It closed in October 1942
but reopened again under new management.

Fred Harvey famous for his work in other
western parks brought his architect and
interior designer Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter
to design renovations, repair and a new color scheme.

Fred Kabobtie a reknown Hopi artist was hired
to paint mural scenes of Hopi Culture
on the dining room and lunch room walls.

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Harvey girls were hired and brought to the inn.
Things went along great through the 40’s and 50’s
until severe structural damage caused the Harvey
Company to move to the newly built visitor’s center.

The building sat and was scheduled for demolition
in 1975 when a public campaign to save the
inn resulted in its placement on the
National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

It reopened on a limited basis as
the Bicentennial Travel Center.

Because of its Pueblo Revival style design,
work by the CCC, Mary Colter and Kabotie,
it became a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

The building has been difficult to maintain.
Cracks form in many of the walls.
Window and door frames swell and skew.
Water damage and cracks threatened the murals.

Although the seam of clay beneath the foundation
continues to cause problems, work done during 2004
and 2006 have “modernized” structural elements
in the building and will help postpone damage.

13 floating roofs, jointless pipes in the walls and
re-laid flagstones help with drainage.

The Painted Desert Inn is a fabulous building
as I hope you can see.

We took the trail back to where Winnona waited
and went on in to Holbrook
for a night at the OK RV Park.
Back to do the rest of the drive
through the beautiful Painted Desert Tomorrow.


  1. The inn looks really charming. Sure wish we could still buy a hamburger for 55 cents!

  2. We love Arizona and miss the dryness terribly right now...we will be heading in that direction in September and hang out west for awhile!

  3. The Painted Desert and Petrified Forrest are on our favorite places to go back to list!! We would love to do some cycling there on our next visit.

    I can tell from the photo of you two that you find this place truly special:o))

  4. U guys are seeing so much and having such a good time!!! It is a joy to read and keep up with u!!! What a FUN blog! U never disappoint.

  5. What fun - the trail and the inn. Great picture of the two of you in your hats - I especially like Dad's :)


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