Newlin’s 3 a.m. Diary: Walking with Dinosaurs

This past Sunday at the early (too early) hour of six a.m., I left for a three-hour car ride with my assistant editor, multimedia editor and her friend to Tuba City. That situation alone sounds crazy, but it had been a while since I’ve traveled up to Northern Arizona, so I was eager to go along with them to capture pictures for an article in the coming issue. I’ll admit I slept most of the drive up, but the few times I would stir and glance out the window I was greeted with breathtaking views of rolling hills and a horizon that went on for miles.

Arizona’s beauty is a curious beauty. It’s not something that jumps out at you like the sunset on a California beach or winding brick roads in a New England town. No, it’s subtler than that. Arizona has vast skies that reach into silhouettes of red rock. It’s not always apparent in Phoenix, but if you ever get to journey up to the northern part of the state, you’ll know it.

Tuba City is on the Western edge of the Navajo Nation. On our drive through we stopped at a roadside attraction where visitors could see dinosaur tracks walking through the Painted Desert. I’ll say it as I told my assistant editor, the dinosaur tracks blew my mind. I’ve seen dinosaur skeletons and fossils before, but always in museums behind glass or roped off. But these were in the Earth. I could place my foot into them and trace the path they walked. I think what most got me was that these were the most tangible piece of ancient history I have ever accessed. It is a weird reminder that we have shared this earth with other creatures for millions of years, and that they may also depart like the dinosaurs.

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Despite my complete exhaustion, the trip was worth it. I think sometimes we get stuck in our ASU bubble and it is important to break out once in a while. You never know what you may find…

Those dinosaur tracks, though.

Reach me at newlin.tillotson@asu.edu or follow me on Twitter @Newlin777