We left Sedona and drove northeast past beautiful forested mountains, playing music all the way to Petrified Forest National Park in AZ. As we passed the massive Mt. San Francisco (12,500+ feet!) we sang along with great gusto to our friend Choops McWilliams' latest album "The Mountain" Many points of interest along the way... a huge meteor crater, defunct trading posts, and the sign above - "HERE IT IS".
Petrified wood messes with your perception in subtle but delightful ways. It LOOKS almost exactly like wood. It WAS wood. But, it is now rock. But it's not just rock. Gazing upon it and touching it was like reading a Zen koan, a poem or aphorism designed to get you out of your mind and achieve satori - to show you the limiting nature of your mind's little concepts and see the non-dual reality which lies beyond:
The old monk raises points his finger and asks: "This thing before you... is it a tree, or is it a stone?"
We explored the massive area all day. The heat was getting to me, so we took some breaks and it was a chill day. Visited all kinds of weird, desolate, otherworldly landscapes. Apparently the area is covered in fossils. 225 million years ago this place was on the equator and was the site of a great jungle (hence the many trees) populated and pullulated by dinosaurs.
Perspective is Everything, and Balance is Key.
See the pictures below. If you go there and you want to camp the night for free, you have two options: 1) go to the wilderness area to the north, where you can take your gear and hike out at least a mile into the painted hills for some wilderness camping; 2) go to the southern entrance of the park, where just outside the gates you can camp for free if you don't mind a few neighbors in tents and RVs. Neither option is terribly beautiful, but both are alright.