There’s Nothing Scary about the Petrified Forest

petrified forestAs a kid, I was fascinated by the concept of the Petrified Forest. After all, who can resist the idea of trees, seemingly magically turned into rocks? Of course, there’s nothing magical about it: The colorful fossilized trunks were formed millions of years ago when silica from volcanic ash formed quartz crystals in fallen redwood trees.

The science is intriguing, but the actual “forest”—a span of desert off Route 66 in Arizona—is even more so. Words really don’t do it justice, so instead I’ll give you want you really want: photos. Nicole and I spent a few hours walking and driving past the logs and taking in the sweeping views of the Painted Desert, but you could spend much longer here. I hope my three nephews will find the box of petrified wood I picked up for them just as fascinating as I did.

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On the Road in Bavaria Day Nine: Mostly Good in Munich

MunichThis is the last post in a series about the first roadtrip Jess and I took together. We’ll be heading out for a Southwest roadtrip in just a few days, and will be chronicling our adventures from the road!

Our first order of business was to return the rental car in Munich. This sounds like a simple task, but no. It was hell. We spent at least an hour circling the train station, each of us running in to speak with various rental company agents, before being sent back out into the world to another location. Sigh. Jess and I never get snippy with each other, but the strain of returning the car had us on edge. Add in the fact that we got lost walking in circles trying to find our hotel, and Munich wasn’t off to a very good start. Continue reading

On the Road in Bavaria Day Eight: A Somber Day at Dachau

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial SiteThis is Part Eight in a multi-post series about the first roadtrip Nicole and I took together. We’ll be heading out for a Southwest roadtrip in less than a month, and will be chronicling our adventures from the road!

As our Bavarian roadtrip neared its end, we had a few boxes left to check. When we’d started planning this excursion, I had one “must-see” near Munich, but I hesitated to tell Nicole. Would she think I was weird? Then, during one planning dinner, she said, “It might sound weird, but there’s someplace I really want to see.” We both simultaneously blurted out “Dachau.”

To some, the idea of visiting a concentration camp on vacation might seem dark, depressing, grisly, or just plain tacky. For us, though, visiting Dachau wasn’t about witnessing the site of an atrocity, but about honoring its victims.

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On the Road in Bavaria Day Four: Snowbound in the Alps!

JungholzThis is Part Four in a multi-post series about the first roadtrip Jess and I took together. We’ll be heading out for a Southwest roadtrip this fall, and will be chronicling our adventures from the road!

I’ve already recounted a bit of the nightmare in Jungholz (the blizzard that started day three of our Bavarian road trip and didn’t conclude until the morning of day five). But here’s what happened in-between. Continue reading

On the Road in Bavaria Day Three: Journey to the Ninth Circle of Hell

This is Part Three in a multi-post series about the first roadtrip Jess and I took together. We’ll be heading out for a Southwest roadtrip this fall, and will be chronicling our adventures from the road!

After enjoying yet another amazing German breakfast, Jess and I quickly stopped for a quick photo-op at the town wall of Rothenburg. Up next: Schloss Linderhof and then Jungholz!

We made our way towards Austria, our excitement growing with each passing mile. We were nearing Neuschwanstein, the inspiration for the Disney Castle – and this road trip – and were excited to see the Alps looming on the horizon, although they looked a bit smaller than we anticipated. I have a scary-good sense for detecting snow and about an hour from the Austrian border I gleefully shouted “snowflake,” while Jess nervously questioned where I was seeing the phantom flakes. Continue reading