Don’t Think About Water

Petrified Wood

Originally uploaded by heinemanfleck.

Like the old tease, “Don’t think about a pink elephant,” it’s hard to not think about water in Holbrook, Ariz., a place that doesn’t have much. It sits along the Little Colorado River, which mostly isn’t what you’d normally think of as a “river” – that is, a thing with water. Holbrook averages a bit more than 8 inches (20 cm) of rain a year.

Nora and I, on a road trip to Phoenix, stopped this afternoon at Stewarts, one of those strangely attractive tourist extravaganzas with large sculptures, ostriches, and petrified wood just east of Holbrook. While Nora was taking pictures of the wacky roadside art, I wandered inside to ask about water.

But before I could raise the question on my mind, Leonard, the clerk, brought it up. “This whole place used to be under the ocean,” he explained. “You can’t drink the water.” I’m not sure he had the geologic history quite right, but his point was that whatever water you could pump up from the ground was too brackish to drink. They have to truck in what water they use on the site.

Just down the road is a little junction called “Goodwater”. It has always looked to me like one of the driest places on earth.


  1. True – all of that area was under water and then the land rose. Petrified forest and trees – they get trucked in? With the size of some of those suckers, there must’ve been water there, and lots of it, at one time.

  2. > It has always looked to me like one of the driest places on earth.

    I think that is probably Antarctica, though as a water-wonk I think you ought to find and rank the various places and see who wins.

  3. William – It was actually just cheap rhetoric. There are plenty of drier places right here in the southwestern US. But it would be fun to collect the list.

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