…And We’re Off!

Random thoughts from today…

3:30 AM is en-TIRE-ly too early to get up. For anything. Ever.

I should have taken two days to get from Tucson to Denver. Not because of the time and distance, although it would have been *easier* to do it in two days, but because I took a non-Interstate road from Santa Fe to Denver and found stuff I wanted to do! I randomly discovered where the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic (Narrow Gauge) Railway is, and I also found the Great Sand Dunes National Park, but I didn’t have time to play at either place. *sigh* I guess I’ll have to make another trip to Colorado someday… šŸ˜‰

My fridge-freezer is wonderful! It’s keeping my food consistently cold, without everything swimming in ice water. It’s also godawful heavy when it’s full. I think I hurt myself getting it from the house to the truck. It’s definitely a two-person job. I guess next time I’ll have to put it in the truck first and then load it.

A bird committed unintentional suicide with the truck today. It flew across the road, veered down, and went SMACK! right into the bug deflector. No blood on the truck (I checked when I got gas later), but a few random feathers ended up in the grill and on the radiator, and I saw the bird land on the road. šŸ˜¦

Geological time is impossible for me to wrap my head around. I don’t remember whatĀ triggered this chain of thought, but I got to thinking about some rocks that are along one of the Jeep trails on the north side of the Catalinas. These rocks are sedimentary conglomerates – that means they’re composed of even older rocks that are held together by mud or sand that has, itself, turned to rock. This means that the included rocks had to have been created, then broken apart and washed into a source of flowing water where they were all rounded off, then buried in sand or mud, then it all had to harden into rock again, then the layers had to be lifted from their original elevation (sea level?) to about 7000 feet, where they had to be eroded out of the strata they were in, so they could sit there for me to see. Can you *IMAGINE* how long that took? Yeah, neither can I.

And a corollary to the geologic time: Can you imagine how much sand / mud / dirt / dust / silt / whatever has to be moved around to create all these rocks? The last time I was at the Grand Canyon, one of the exhibits mentioned layers that no longer exist – they were above what is currently the top layer, AND THEY’RE ALL GONE. If I remember correctly, the exhibit said the missing layers were 12 MILES THICK. The same is true of the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson: The current-day mountains, rising to more than 9000 feet, are apparently the *BASEMENT* layers of even taller mountains. Current thinking is that the Tucson Mountains, to the west of the city, were originally the upper layers of what’s now the Catalinas. And the valley between them is filled MILES DEEP with eroded dirt and rock and stuff.

On a more human-scaled level, I became interested several times in abandoned “stuff.” There was a building along I-10 that looked as though it was originally a service station, from before the then-highway was rebuilt into an Interstate. It faces I-10 and is right up against the fence, but there’s no road to it. I wondered what its history was. Another building I saw was a repair shop that still had its sign, but was obviously out of business. Did it close during the Great Recession? Earlier than that? Later? What happened there?

And then there are the more esoteric remains, like the original alignments of roads that were relocated when they were rebuilt / upgraded. Sometimes the pavement has been left in place; sometimes not. Usually the bridges and culverts are still there, though. I always find it challenging to see if I can follow the old alignment visually – especially when I’m also driving! šŸ˜‰ I also found that we were following or paralleling an old railroad right-of-way. It had obviously been abandoned for decades, but it was still quite visible across the valley floor. When I’m driving and see things like this I wonder if they’d be visible in Google Earth, but (until today, as I’m typing this) I have never remembered to actually *look* and see.

So there you have Day One of the 2014 “Great Expedition.” Tomorrow, I’m having breakfast with a couple of friends here in Denver (Lakewood, actually), and then I’m off to Lincoln, Nebraska. Stay tuned.

3 Comments on “…And We’re Off!

  1. I’m behind, somehow. I thought that you were leaving on the 5th? Not that a day matters… Go look that stuff up! Or I’ll remind you when you are in Chicagoland with Eve and Rick.

  2. Another geologic-time thing to ruminate on…the Monument Upwarp. That’s what I tend to ruminate on if I’m thinking about geology, and geologic time. I had 270 million year old DIRT on my shoes when we were traipsing around up there back in…um…2006 I think. The DIRT is ANCIENT. The buttes and spires are what’s left of the collapsed sandstone shelf, along with…THAT BRIGHT RED DIRT.

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