Dave's Sketch Journal

Drawing is taking a line for a walk. - Paul Klee

Kingman, Arizona

This part of our journey has been the most beautiful by far.

We took a northern route up to see the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. The clouds, like puffy white cotton balls, dotted the turquoise sky. The taffy ribbon highway laced through the hills and valleys and provided endless vistas of beauty.

There were warnings not to take anything from the park. There is an estimated 1 ton of petrified rock that is illegally taken from the park every month. And each month letters and boxes of returned rock come back. A video showed people getting arrested when the rangers found rocks in their pockets. It's a federal offense to take anything. The video made the point that future generations should be able to enjoy the beauty.

The park even gives out green tattle-tale sheets to each visitor. Some of the questions are: What did you see them take? What kind of car were they driving? How many were traveling with them? Evidently this works because we saw two rangers pull over a van full of normal looking people. They were not speeding so there must have been rocks in their pockets.

But there is some inconsistency here. At the park's entrance is a gift shop of pieces of petrified wood from $2 a piece to one that cost $20,000. Many beautiful pieces are displayed in the shop's windows and display cases. Why were those not left in the park? Why are they for sale? Will future generations be able to enjoy those pieces if they are purchased?

It doesn't make any sense to me.

Oh, and as we left the park the ranger asked: "Did you do any collecting today?"

"No sir." I said.

But I really wanted to say: "Yes, but we only took the really beautiful pieces like those we saw in the gift shop. We left the other pieces for future generations to enjoy."

Someday we'll look back on this moment and plow into a parked car. - Evan Davis

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