We had already been on the road for a day, and had made good progress along our trek to Missouri, having covered 500 miles and traversing the mountains that run through NV and AZ. I was originally looking at the map along our route to see what we had in store for us the following day when I discovered Petrified Forest National Park along the way. I figured we could pull off the freeway, spend an hour or two in the park, and be back on the road fairly quickly. Yeah…that was a nice thought. The park was very interesting and we all loved examining the many pieces of petrified wood that covered the expanses. We also thought the layers, lines, and color differences of the hills and rocks were quite exquisite. We left the truck and RV in the visitor center parking lot and took the more maneuverable van through the park. We stopped at Newspaper Rock, a site of many petroglyphs, as well as taking a short 1-mile walk along a paved trail. Dixie, who had been cooped up most of our visit in California, was happy to be able to walk along the trail with us. The hour or so that I had planned on turned into over 4 hours, but we all really enjoyed the park and the kids completed their Junior Ranger booklets and collected their Ranger badges before we loaded back into the vehicles and returned to the freeway. At this point I was a little grumpy and worried that we would be behind schedule by making the originally-unscheduled stop, but by the time we pulled off the road for the night around midnight we had made it another 500 miles, and I was at ease again.