I left my <3 in San Francisco, Part Two

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While I was in the Bay Area, I did some touristy things, like riding the cable cars.



Sleeping on the San Andreas, Part Three: Field Trips

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In parts one and two, I talked about how the San Andreas fault formed the San Gabriel mountains. While I was spending the week sleeping in those mountains, I took field trips to a couple geologically fascinating sites in the California desert that are not directly related to the San Andreas, but are nevertheless evidence of the fascinating tectonic history of California.

The first stop was Rainbow Basin, near Barstow. This lies in an area that was once occupied by a shallow lake. The area is also the home of the Calico fault, which runs parallel to the San Andreas. On this map, the Calico fault is #21; the San Andreas is #30.

Like the San Andreas, it is a right lateral strike-slip fault. Also like the San Andreas, it has a bend in it. Which means that it creates local compressional forces while the blocks on either side try to slide past each other.

This is the beautiful result:


Sleeping on the San Andreas, Part One

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I’m about to share a huge part of my childhood with you. When I was a kid, my family spent most weekends every summer camping in the Angeles National Forest near Wrightwood, CA. We also went up there in the winter to play in the snow. That’s the nice thing about living the Los Angeles area: you can drive a couple hours, play in the snow, and drive home where there is no snow.

We went on a lot of ranger-led hikes (something they don’t seem to do anymore, which I think is a huge loss) so I always knew that whole area was resting right on top of the San Andreas fault. I was familiar with the terms “fault flour” and “slickensides”, even if I couldn’t tell you precisely what a fault was. I just knew it was going to be the source of The Big One, something that lives uneasily in the backs of the minds of everyone who lives in California. More

Getting high in Los Angeles

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And by getting high, of course I mean (a) going to the Griffith Observatory high in the Hollywood Hills, and (b) huffing hydrocarbon fumes at the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits. What else would I mean?

So first, some words of advice for anyone going to the Griffith Observatory.

  1. Get there early. At least 30 minutes before it opens. There is limited parking and you don’t want to have to parallel park on a steep, winding, two lane road next to a thousand foot drop, do you? (Ok, maybe it’s not a thousand feet, but it’s high enough to hurt.)
  2. If you’re using a GPS, don’t count on it to get you to the observatory. Mine produced a couple big gaps in the route, and I didn’t find any teleporters, so I’m not sure how it expected me to get there. Also, don’t fall for the idea that if it just gets you to Griffith Park, you’ll surely see some signs pointing you to the observatory. The kindly Los Angeles city planners apparently didn’t think that would be a good idea. I spent nearly an hour driving through Griffith Park, with no signs to suggest the Observatory even existed. Tell your GPS to take you to the Greek Theatre. By the time you get there, you’ll have seen enough signs to know that the Observatory is just a little further along the same road.
  3. See the planetarium show! It’s worth the extra $7.
  4. More

For whom the mission bell tolls

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The other day, I went to Mission San Juan Capistrano. If you don’t know the mission story, it goes something like this: when Spain first explored California, they were unimpressed. There were no apparent resources to exploit, the climate seemed wholly unsuited to agriculture, and the natives were barely scratching out an existence. Spain used the coast as a stopping point on their trans-Pacific trade route, but completely ignored the interior for a couple centuries.