The time difference on the West coast is making me a natural early riser, 7:30 and 8:30am is normal for me now. It is nice since I can have time to blog in the morning, pack up, and still have plenty of time to explore. Last night was rather chilly and windy, I kept the blanket over my head a lot of the night to keep my nose warm. We got out of our tents to find someone sleeping in a sleeping bag on top of a high picnic table, that better be a negative degree rated bag being exposed like that! After packing everything up, we drove over to the showerhouse so we could take our showers. In the stall next to me was a mother and a little girl, maybe around 4 years old. She was quite the talker and at this point I had thought she was a little boy from the sounds of her. She didn't want to wash her hair because she said it hurts, apparently she was keeping her eyes open under the water until her mother told her to close them. She also wished she was big like her so she could reach the water. After my shower I went outside while Rosie used the blow dryer and fixed her hair. I hung my towel to dry on the car, got out my camp stove, and boiled some water for my oatmeal carnation breakfast concoction. While I was waiting for that to absorb, I braided my hair. I decided to wear a bandana today, making me look full on Native American, not complaining. I sat in the car eating breakfast waiting for Rosie to come out. When she did, we headed the 25 minutes or so back to the Petrified Forest. It was $10 per vehicle to enter the park, which wasn't bad since it took around 45 minutes to get all the way to the South end driving. We pulled off a few times to take some photos but decided to go further and hit the view spots on the way back if we wanted. I get so excited when I get somewhere to take photos that I just want to take a photo of everything, every angle. Good thing I shoot digital or I would have 20,000 rolls of film bouncing around in the car! Route 66 and I40 ran perpendicular to the park road for a little while in the beginning, and then we were out in the middle of nowhere. It felt like driving in another country, or planet even. It was so otherworldly and beautiful. It was asked on the signs in the park to stay on the cement sidewalks, like any other set of rules; you can't get a good photo by staying on the sidewalk. So every now and again, we would venture out on a large rock overhang to get a less man made photo out in the desert. We saw a bridge that was constructed from a petrified log that had fallen across a gap, the teepee like formations, and the gorgeous petrified wood. The colors were breathtaking, the wood hardened itself over time, and the elements of nature to form a stone like structure. They were like a colorful gem and no longer a piece of wood. The Reds, yellows, blues, and purples were so prominent out in the middle of no where. Like any state park, there were rules to leave the park how you found it and only take photographs. I know this makes me a hypocrite, because if everyone took a small shaving of petrified wood, there would be none left to see. At the same time, I am a rebel child and needed a momento, luckily my cousin was on the same page searching for her gem. We continued South and stopped at some more petrified log fields and walked around, it was a gorgeous day and such a cool sight to see. Once we reached the South end, we explored a little further around the visitors center and then decided to head back. I loved driving on the park road since it was like driving out on some desert backroad, very different from the interstate we have kept to. We stopped a few times on our way back, and Rosie asked if I would take a photo of her on the car, before I could get out my words she was trying to get up on the hood. Then and there in a split second an ass imprint was left on the hood. No photos were taken and in my mind I was freaking out. Now Id have to pay extra to the rental service for the ass dent. She tried to press it out but I didn't want to make it worse. I popped the hood in hopes to press it out that way and was quickly reminded that new cars have a liner of protection under the hoods. Inside I was panicking, but outside I just seemed in a daze. I accepted I'd have to pay a damage fee and slammed the hood to carry on with our trip, and then a miracle happened. With the pressure of the hood slamming, the dent popped right out! What a relief this gave me. Going on a road trip is memorable enough, but I feel like the vehicle holds a certain importance. There are a lot of memories that are being made in this rental, will I be able to give it up in the end? We've been through so much already, with splatters of coffee still visible on some of the plastic inside, gray mosquito imprints on the ceiling, an ass dent that thankfully didn't stay. It will be hard to part with after being through so much! We stopped a few more times on our way back to the North enterence, and Interstate for photo opportunities and then, right before the exit we saw a sign. Vehicle inspection ahead. In my mind I worried where the best spot for the petrified wood would be, currently it was in the pocket of my sweatshirt thrown in the back, Rosie's was in a souvenir bag under her seat. We had a split second to try and figure this out and not look suspicious. "Pull over!" She said, I can't pull over Rosie that would be a red flag. I inched my way up and while she was not composed, I thought; how could they thoroughly check every vehicle in and out? It's not a border patrol. She quickly transferred the bag from under her seat, to the middle of her rolled up sleeping bag. We got to the window, stopped and the guy gave us a nod and a wave, I proceeded with a thumbs up feeling like an escaped felon! I will always be a rebel child I suppose. We stopped at the entry sign for a photo, put Sedona in our navigation, and back on the interstate we went. We stopped for gas, and so Rosie could use the restroom; as I pumped the gas I was simotaniously uploading the photos from the camera to the computer. I asked her to drive so I could finish up before my computer died. It is very inconvenient not having that car/wall charging adapter anymore, my computer dies after two uploads basically. It was a short two hour drive to Sedona which was refreshing. Along our way we actually went through snow flurries in Flagstaff! It was a crazy sight to see, snow in Arizona. There was a big mountain range nearby and my guess it was blowing down off the tops of the mountains. Once we got off the exit, it was like being in Maine or Colorado. Pine trees lines either side of the road and there was no desert in sight. Further down the road, we could tell how high up we were as we looked down on the valley below. It was gorgeous here! We drove down the switchback mountain road taking in the beauty, locals riding our ass wanting to speed down to the bottom. As we approached more level ground, the red rock formations were in sight. We passed National Forrest campgrounds left and right and large riverbeds. The smell of campfire brought back memories in an instant. We neared the edge of town, and it was like a tourist town was dropped right in the middle of the red rock. It was gorgeous, restaurants and shops lined the streets with the mountainous rock in the background. We pulled into a space on the street, free parking! Not used to this, what a pleasant surprise. We went in our first cluster of stores picking up some presents. I got a little something for Felix, and for Hunter. I had a fascination with Indians when I was younger, always wanting to be one. I remember Bonnie making me a bow out of a tree branch and whittling twigs into arrows. She also made me a jean quiver for my arrows which I slung across my back like Robin Hood. I also used to have a few pairs of moccasins, as soon as I saw these bright pink ones I had to get them for Hunter! She would look so cute in them! And then I spotted the cowboy boots, tiny replicas of what I had just bought in Nashville. Pink, red, black, light brown, and brown. Oh my, how cute! Hunter would look so adorable in a pair, I sent them to my mom figuring she would say no, but to my surprise she thought they were cute! I was torn between the brown pair like mine or the wacky red ones, I decided on the brown more authentic. We discussed getting her a couple sizes bigger so she could wear them in the fall, I'm so excited! After we went to a couple more shops, I had to use the bathroom so bad, and was growing rather hungry. I hadn't heard from Eric all day so chances are we weren't grabbing something to eat together. I got on my trusty 'ol TripAdvisor to look for somewhere to eat. Number three was Elote Cafe, Mexican. Sounded good to us, only downside was they didn't open for another hour. We continued browsing and then got in the car and headed 5 minutes to the restaurant. As I looked for a parking space, Rosie noted that the line was out the door. I reminded her they are opening in 5 minutes so it wouldn't be that long of a wait. You know it is a good sign that there are that many people waiting for a place to open. My camera has been quite the conversation piece in Sedona and it would continue to be in line for dinner. A woman in front of us asked about it and what kind it was, we then got into photography, traveling, and the trail. The couple was from Colorado and taking a little week roadtrip in their camper, heading to the Grand Canyon. We had told them about our adventure and that we were heading there too. We talked for maybe 10 minutes or so and then we were being seated. I finally used the restroom, and then we proceeded to order. I got a cucumber lime margarita (never heard of it before but I love cucumber lime!) and Rosie got a traditional, we shared an order of empanadas, and Ahi tacos. The food was phenomenal very authentic and fresh. As a photographer, I have been taking anything I can get starting out; and I love it all don't get me wrong, but my two passions in life are food and newborns. I have yet to touch in any commercial food photography, but maybe this trip will open those doors for my portfolio! After dinner we headed back towards the strip we were on earlier, stopping last minute at a New Age shop. Inside was filled with jewelry, stones, candles, books, incense, and more. After browsing for awhile we headed back up to the stores. Most things were closed or closing by now but we were able to hit up a couple of them. We stopped and talked with a man and a woman outside a restaurant that wanted us to come in for dinner. We had just eaten I told him, so then they asked where we would be going for breakfast; and I mentioned the ChocolaTree since I knew Eric took photos for them so I wanted to check it out. So they said we must come here for lunch then, very persistent bunch! The woman went inside and an older gentleman came over and they were both asking us where we were from, what we were doing on our trip, and not to visit South Dakota, or Wyoming since there are no people there. We aren't going to either, however I do want to visit them someday. Just because I am from Connecticut doesn't mean I need people all of the time, I actually rather less idiots around me. We headed back to the car and decided to drive up 89A to look for camping. The first campground was $20 but no service, which wouldn't help with me blogging or my overprotective mother waiting to hear from me. We decided to drive further up and hope to get some service. We came across another campground that had two bars of 3G network, perfect. We saw that site 2 was open which was right near the entry and bathrooms and erased it off of the open site board. We dropped out $20 into the slot and began to set up camp. It was going to be another chilly night, I never knew Arizona got this cold! After everything was set up, we sat in the car again to upload photos and write in journals. Around 10:00pm we crawled into our tents shivering for the night, guess I should have brought my warm bag and not my middle temperature one!