My humblest apologies for not getting this posted sooner. We here at the Ministry of Geology and Glitter (MOGG) have had a rather busy last few weeks (not that everyone else hasn’t). On top of that there were three deaths rather close to home, and the Virginia Tech shootings, and the death a Cardinal’s pitcher, and the on-going death and destruction in Iraq. Every time our travelogue subcommittee got together for a production meeting there seemed to be a smothering glum and a sense that what we were doing seemed too irrelevant in the face of issues of such magnitude – and nothing happened. However, after reviewing the report of the last closed door emergency strategy meeting of the MOGG General Commission for Figuring Things Out we seem to be feeling mo better. The report, entitled Sure Things Seem Sucky but How Do You Make Things Un-Sucky by Sitting on Your Lazy Can? Now Get Back to It and Show the Members of the Glorious WAAGNFNP Some More Pictures of the Great Fact Finding Mission to the Southwest Before We Come Down the Hall and Kick Some Major MOGG Butt!, was very well received by the travelogue subcommittee. So, without further ado……
Dateline STL (
April 28 May 11, 2007): Continuing the report from the field, the MOGG entourage was able to find a very satisfactory camp on the east side of the Santa Catalina Mountainswithin the Coronado National Forest. It was a tad after dark when we rolled in so we just threw out the sleeping bag – on top of our extra thick wimpo model Thermarest pad.
The road that we were on is the Mount Lemmon Road out of Oracle, Arizona, and a nice trek that winds from desert grassland through dry woodlands and chaparral to boreal forest at over 9,000 feet above sea level. Later in the summer, when the road is open to the top, you might see wild horses & rattlesnakes along the way to a beer or a slice of homemade pie at the village of Summerhaven.
The next morning was a bit special for having painted clouds to the east across the San Pedro River valley:
See if you can find the moon in this one:
The Santa Catalinas are just one of many elongated mountain ranges rising out of the desert down here in the Basin and Range physiographic complex. Right now you are probably thinking, jimmiraybob, do tell more about these distinct geological features. Well, since you asked. The Basin and Range is an area of the North American craton that has undergone “stretching” via extensional tectonics which has resulted in a thinning of the crust and north-south trending normal faulting. The extension is part of a process of continental rifting that began approximately 25 million years ago, or in Great Flood time a couple thousand years ago. Some of the crustal blocks between faults have rotated with the upward rotated edges forming the mountain ridges that we enjoy today. Deep basins filled with thick sequences of gravel, sand and silt have formed in the areas between the mountains and through erosion. Many of these rotated & uplifted blocks are known as metamorphic core complexes because of the metamorphosed continental basement rocks, rocks that have been transformed through the heat and pressure of deep burial, that form the core of the mountain. If you visit Tuscon and look up to the Santa Catalinas you are looking upon a metamorphic core complex. Or, if you’re in Phoenix and bicycling or hiking South Mountain, you’re on a metamorphic core complex.
Since it was still relatively early in the year and the road was still closed by snow, we returned to Oracle and headed to Casa Rivera’s Taco Express (a MOGG-rated four star café) for coffee and a breakfast burrito (a MOGG favorite). Next on the agenda was spending a little time walking in the Sonoran desert among the Gila Monsters and Saguaro:
I would try and express the beauty and serenity of walking in the desert in the early morning or evening twilight but instead I highly recommend that you visit A Creek Running North and peruse the desert posts. Or, just go (MOGG Disclaimer: If you step on a rattlesnake or are attacked by flying Cholla balls it is not our fault). More gratuitous desert pictures:
Sunset over the Plamosa Mountains:
Overall, the MOGG maintains that life can be good and that the state of the desert southwest is still pretty darned good (or pretty or good). Next week we’ll report on the MOGG visit through a bit of the Mohave Desert to the Hualapai Nation’s Sky Walk over the Grand Canyon.
Your Humble Servant – jimmiraybob
Responses to “Travelogue, Part II”