As I noted in the post about Earth Science Week, I always thought of that subject in general, and geology in particular, kind of…meh. In fact, I’d yawn at the mere mention of the Science Olympiad event, “Rocks and Minerals.”
And then I took a trip to Utah. (You can read about it on my personal blog).
I avoided mentioning the trip here because I’m not one of those folks who likes to advertise that, hey, my house is empty for the week, save my fierce guard puppy, Tesla, who will bite burglars and leave his loose baby teeth in their arms!
Even though we were locked out of the fabulous national parks of Southwest Utah, we got up close and personal with red rocks, lava rocks, slick rock, sandstone, and soft pink sand. We hiked among otherworldy hoodoos, dazzling pink spires that towered above our heads, and scrambled over boulders in slot canyons.
We drove Highway 12, one of the most scenic roads in the United States witnessing the effect of wind, water and time on the earth. I’m still sorting through my photos, and of course, they don’t do the real thing justice, but I hope to find one from a scenic view that opened up unexpectedly from a scenic lookout on Highway 12 that absolutely took my breath away. We pulled the car over expecting another pretty view, but what we saw in this spot was 180 million years of history laid out beneath us. It was stunning; awesome in the true sense of the word.
To quote Aron Ralston, the guy who got pinned in a Utah canyon by a boulder and ultimately cut off his hand six days later in order to escape, from his aptly titled book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, (later made into the movie 127 Hours),
“The vista held for me a feeling of the dawn of time that primordial epoch before life when there was only desolate land. Like looking through a telescope into the Milky Way and wondering if we’re alone in the universe, it made me realize with the glaring clarity of desert light how scarce and delicate life is how insignificant we are when compared with the forces of nature an the dimensions of space.”
On a related note, we also caught a glimpse of the Milky Way- something that’s not possibly to do in Chicago’s light-polluted night sky- during our night in the cabins at Kodachrome Basin State Park.
It would have been nice to have access to park rangers and interpretive centers to learn even more about the local geography, flora and fauna. As you’ll read in my post, our phone reception was spotty to nonexistent, so even Google couldn’t help us out in the moment. The proprietor at The Rock Shop in Orderville, Utah (above; one of three rock shops just a stone’s throw from each other in the town of less than 600) did teach us a thing or two about the local terrain.
I still have a lot to learn about rocks, but I appreciate them a lot more now.