Anza-Borrego Desert

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Well. I certainly didn’t intend for that to be a one year coffee break. The last year has been very interesting, for many different reasons, but there haven’t been many road trips. However, I am now officially a Geology Student™ which means…field trips! I’ve been on a couple already, but I’m going to start blogging here about the second one. (And yes, I know, I still have a bunch of posts about my previous travels to write up. I will get to them eventually, I promise.)

This weekend field study trip was to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Here is an overview map of our stops for orientation. As usual, you can click to embiggen.

Orientation Map

The geology of this part of California is fascinating. And fascinating means complicated. But that’s true of pretty much all of California. More

Watching Zion Grow

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The latest installment of Accretionary Wedge is a call to write about the “most memorable/significant geologic event that you’ve directly experienced”. This will be my first contribution to Accretionary Wedge, so if I’m doing it wrong, someone please let me know!

When I first heard the topic, I thought “well, I grew up in Southern California, so I’ve experienced lots of geologic events.” I’ve experienced more earthquakes than I can remember.

The 1994 Northridge quake knocked me out of bed.

I felt the 1987 Whittier Narrows quake while walking to school.

Then there was the one (unnamed, as far as I know) that occurred while I was in the shower, and my 14 year old self panicked at the thought of having to run outside naked.

I was in San Francisco a few weeks after the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, so while I didn’t feel it personally, I saw the aftermath up close.

I was at Mt St Helens a few months after the 1980 eruption. Again, not a direct experience of the event itself, but that experience is certainly something I’ll never forget.

(The real question here is why I didn’t become seriously interested in geology until a couple years ago!)


Checklist for the Next Eclipse

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  1. Buy a better camera.
  2. Buy a better tripod.
  3. Wear socks.


Hunkering Down for Winter

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So. Winter. I didn’t know it started in October. I had planned to be on the road until a couple weeks before Christmas, but when the weather started turning bad while I was hanging in Canada, I panicked a little bit. So I decided to start my wintering in Southern California a little early.

I thought I would be smart and take a route that approximated Route 66, taking me well south of the snow. Ha! I stopped for the night in the middle of Missouri, only to get a dusting of snow on my way out in the morning. And then I stopped for the night in Flagstaff, Arizona. And the snow found me. In Arizona! That’s my car under 4 inches of it up there.

So now I’m in Southern California for a while. The rest of the continent can have winter. I had my share in Arizona.

But then I start to think about the natural disasters or near disasters that occurred in the places I’ve been either shortly before or after I was there. There was the earthquake and then hurricane in the Northeast, a snowstorm in Zion & Bryce, a bigger snowstorm in Denver, and a huge snowstorm in New England, the earthquake in the East Bay, earthquake in Oklahoma.

If I were a superstitious person, I’d be thinking twice about staying in one place for any period of time.

So even though I won’t be traveling for the next few months, I’m so far behind in writing about what I’ve done already, so that should keep me busy for a while.

A Toe in Salt Lake, Part One

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I just realized that it has been a month since I posted a blog entry. I am so very negligent. I could give you a million reasons, like the fact that I’ve driven through 21 states (and into another country!) since the events of my last entry. Or that I’ve been sick and drunk on Nyquil (except when driving) for the last week. I could tell you that this particular post has been sitting on my computer in partially-finished draft form for several weeks. But I know that none of those sorry excuses can assuage your anguish over going a whole month without me waxing prosaic on topics I know next to nothing about. So I’ll give you part one of this post now, and I’ll finish it up soon and post the rest.

This time the title is accurate, because ewwwwww. But we’ll come back to that.

Just like there was ancient Lake Lahontan in Nevada, there was ancient Lake Bonneville in Utah. And driving through western Utah, you see evidence of it everywhere. At its maximum, it was a huge lake.


Nevada, You Were Surprisingly Interesting

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After leaving Lake Tahoe, I headed east down the Sierras on US-50, intending to drive across Nevada in one afternoon. I ended up spending three days there.

The stretch of US-50 through Nevada is called “The Loneliest Road in America” because there are only 5 towns along the route and almost nothing in between. Actually, it wasn’t very lonely at all, because there were plenty of other cars traveling in both directions. However, there were a few times where I could no see no cars either ahead of me or behind me. And you can usually see quite far on this road.


The state tourism board (or whatever it’s called) has even come up with this little “passport” book that you can get stamped at all five towns and send in to get an “I Survived the Loneliest Road” certificate. I got my book stamped, so we’ll see when I get the certificate.

I saw more different kinds of “___ Crossing” signs during my transit across Nevada than I have ever seen: Bear (in Lake Tahoe), Deer, Horse, Cow, Antelope(?), Fire Truck, and Tractor.

One thing about this road is that if you’re at all unclear about what the term “Basin and Range” means, US-50 will straighten you right out.


A Toe in Lake Tahoe


So I spent a few days in Lake Tahoe. Well, I wasn’t in Lake Tahoe for a few days, more like a couple minutes. And I was in all the way to my ankles. But I was in the area for a few days. Was it ever gorgeous.

I dare you to click on that and not fall instantly in love.


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