Monday, April 30, 2012

Accretionary Wedge #45 - the Geo-Pilgrimage

The Geologic Pilgrimage...and where we would go is the subject of the current Accretionary Wedge.

The Burgess Shale comes to mind, but I am in no way ready for any sort of tough Rocky Mountain hike and since they wouldn't let me collect anything - why bother?  Just one trilobite from that locality would satisfy me, but that ain't likely to happen.

I know that an extended road trip around the Western U.S. would not fit the strict definition of a pilgrimage, but it is what I would do. 

In the Summer of 1974, after my Sophomore year, my then-roommate (Dave) and I went on a cross-country trip.  Basically, I had a Sophomore's knowledge of Geology and a Kodak Instamatic camera.  Our version of the Conestoga wagon was a 1968 Pontiac Catalina wagon, with the rear seats removed and replaced with plywood, with storage spaces beneath.  It was a 4,000 lb. "lead sled".

I would love the opportunity to retake this trip with my present knowledge, a couple of digital cameras, a small camcorder, and a laptop to record my travels.  The thought of doing a 40th anniversary trip in 2014 with Dave comes to mind, but as he is a lawyer, he wouldn't enjoy my frequent geology stops.  Nor would my wife.  [Would have to find a way to bribe her.]

Briefly, stops would include:

1) Any outcrops of interest on I-70 in Kansas/Eastern Colorado;
2) Stuff around Denver/Boulder;
3) Roadside geology along I-25 to Cheyenne, I-80 to Rawlins, then on to Lander,...
4) Yellowstone...need I say more?  This time, I would make the short side trip to say that I had been to Montana, maybe I might extend that to a beer run to Bozeman;
5) On to Salt Lake City, need lots of photos of the Great Salt Lake and the surrounding area;
6) Back up to Twin Falls, ID for photos of the Snake River Plain/Columbia Plateau and the Snake River Gorge;
7) Find my way over to southeastern Oregon, the south on U.S. Hwy 395 into California - sidetrip to Chico for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. - then south towards Reno, NV - to find some Nevada beer - then back into California;
8) This time, skip San Francisco downtown to spend more time in coastal and interior California - back to Redwood National Park, John Muir Woods, Yosemite, Sequoia, pan gold at Placerville/Coloma & new stops at Mammoth Lakes/Bishop area - lots of volcanic feature photos;
9) Through the Las Vegas area for more photos, then on to Flagstaff.  This time, I would skip the Grand Canyon (been there 4 times - last time in 2003) and spend more time at Sunset Crater/San Francisco Peaks area;
10) Skip Phoenix/Tucson area - branch off from the 1974 route - head for Monument Valley, then up to Canyonlands/Arches, then over to Durango/Silverton/Ouray, CO areas, then over to Clayton/Raton volcanic field, then south on I-25 through Santa Fe and Albuquerque - another side trip to Grants to photo basalt flows along I-40, then back to I-25;
11) Socorro, Las Cruces, El Paso geology, photos, brewpubs, old friends and surviving profs, and Mexican food - for several days.  Include Aden/Afton Basalt flows, Alamogordo, White Sands, Sacramento Mts., Carrizozo basalt flows.  Maybe take a short charter plane ride to photo Kilbournes Hole from the air, as well as other Potrillo Volcanic field features.  Back to El Paso - and to the 1974 route - and on to the Carlsbad, NM area;
12) On through Dallas, TX area - geology photos - not much geology left in the remaining 1974 route, so will branch off  for good - north to the Arbuckle Mts. in Oklahoma for structural photos and trilobite hunting;
13) Ozark Mts. - stops and photos - and going back to the Crater of Diamonds is on my "bucket list".  On my first trip there - in 1973 - I found a 37 point diamond (.37 carats), but after our last family move or during recent renovations, it is nowhere to be found.  When I was there in 1978, I provided a positive ID (the park office was closed) for a brown, 4 carat, classic octahedral diamond - found by a couple from Dallas.  A 4 carat diamond and I got to hold it and tell the folks "Yep, that's a diamond alright!.  Way cool.

There were numerous "in between" stops, when Dave would agree.  Somewhere in southeast Oregon, I found a small, white clay roadcut (probably volcanic ash) with an isolated lens of rounded gravels, then overlain by more ash.  I found a small slab of gray shale in northern Utah with some nice graptolites.  Would like to find those places again, if ever I get the chance.

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