As our trip was winding down to the last two days, we barrel rolled towards the petrified forest with excitement of getting out of Chinle as fast as possible, and looking forward to more of the unknown and unexpected. We hoped on camping inside of the perimeter of the forest, but with the amount of rain that went through in the previous few days, getting anywhere our tires wouldn’t sink into the soft clay like desert floor was nearly impossible. We chose to take the wise words of the fine people working in the information center for once. They did advise us there is free camping next to the gift shops just outside the opposite entrance of the park. We took them up and trusted their knowledge.
As we entered the gates, Max’s bike started to get the case of hiccups pretty bad. So bad that he didn’t even stop at the ranger booth, as the ranger thought he was just passing right by and not paying. With a little convincing, he realized we weren’t trying to scam anyone. The aforementioned hiccups proceeded into the park as a few stops extra stops were needed. They eventually gave up, and his bike took a big deep breath, realizing it wasn’t in high elevation anymore. We were able to stroll through the park at a cool 30-40mph for the next 15 miles or so without issues, enjoying a few semi-cold ones along the way.
We came to the end of the park and found the camping area to be RV parking spots and a few slabs of cement off in the distance, each next to a picnic table. We had some friendly far away neighbors, an older couple. The man, resembling actor Sam Waters, stated the them too, used to travel the same way as us, “Footloose and Fancy Free.” We couldn’t ask for a better description of what we were doing.
As our normal sundown antics took place, we awoke to our final full day and night of our trip. Heading down into Show Low and then back home to Phoenix. It was a very bittersweet feeling. The feeling of dirt, grime, and grease that encased our well being and belongings, all of a sudden became a part that we took for granted. Mostly from how we got to be that way. Living outside for the better part of the last 8-9 days was something neither of us have experienced, and something we would do all over again in a heartbeat, if given the chance.
I set out to make the most of my 30th birthday, and I couldn’t feel more accomplished that we stuck to the plan and made it a unforgettable 9 days. The sacrifices, the stress, and the worries we went through in the making of this trip, its all worth it with the stories we have to tell.