Hike in the Petrified Forest. Rock hounds and photographers will never want to leave Petrified Forest National Park. It is an amazing land of contrasts. Visitors will see evidence of a time when the current arid plateaus were swamps and dinosaurs were residents. The remains of ancient trees lie undisturbed on the ash gray fields. The ghost like ridges provide visible timelines of life 225 million years ago when tall trees, ferns, flowers, insects, large reptiles, small sharks and early dinosaurs completed the population. At the visitor center displays explain the life of prehistoric residents that settled in the area about 6,000 years ago. The site has an excellent Junior Ranger Program and a multitude of interesting hikes. During the ten-day periods proceeding or following the summer solstice each year visitors to the park can visit Puerco Pueblo and experience the wonder of a functioning solar calendar. 1(928) 524-6228 or www.nps.gov/pefo/index.htm
Visit ancient places. Northern Arizona is a bonanza for the senses, rich with contrasts and loaded with history. The most remarkable sites portray the life style of ancient communities. Wupatki National Monument is located off the eastern slope in the rain shadow of the San Francisco Peaks. Once home to the farmers and traders of the Anasazi and Sinagua people, the remains of the communities contain freestanding masonry pueblos at the desert’s edge. To the south Walnut Canyon National Monument is a picturesque well hidden, stream-cut gorge also the home of ancient peoples. Visitors must hike down paved trails to remains of cliff dwellings carved along the steep canyon walls. For Wupatki 1(928) 526-1157 or www.nps.gov/wupa/index.htm and for Walnut Canyon 1(928) 526-3367 or www.nps.gov/waca/index.htm
Ride the carousel at the end. Pacific Park on the pier at Santa Monica has a new look that is made even more romantic by a glorious carousel. The pier has the same great sea spirit that has attracted visitors and residents for decades. The beach to the south is lined with shops and cafes and there is now a sidewalk for skating. Generic signs salute “Muscle Beach” and almost anytime of the day a beach volley ball game is in progress. Grab a snow cone or mocha and wait for the sunset. The pier is still the best and the perfect place to start or end Route 66. 1(310) 260-8744.
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