Look what I found!

PETRIFIED FOREST NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. — My journey toward the Pacific Ocean took me on an unexpected detour … and I saw something that blew my noggin.

I took an exit off Interstate 40 toward the Petrified Forest National Park, the entry to which is just off the freeway. I entered the park — flashing my lifetime pass granted to us old folks at all national parks — and then drove about 30 miles along a road through the park.

I had to wait a while before I saw actual petrified trees, but the scenery along the way, through the Painted Desert, was a sight to behold.

Then I reached a stretch of park land strewn with logs that once stood as tall timber. They had become stones. I had been to the park once before; my wife and I brought her mother here, but we didn’t see much of the park. My mother-in-law’s lack of mobility restricted what we were able to see. Today was a bit different. I was able to walk great distances and Toby and Puppy and I made a trek along the petrified logs.

I hadn’t expected this to be so cool. Frankly, I am looking forward to seeing the Grand Canyon soon. The petrified forest was — initially! — a diversion for me.

Then I laid eyes on it.

My advice to anyone venturing this way? If you’ve got some time, jump off the freeway and drive just a stone’s throw north. Enter the park and take a leisurely drive. It’s worth your time.

Pretty damn cool, man!