Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Beaches and Blueschist

Ron relaxing on the beach.
Ah, a summer day at the beach.  The perfect start to a vacation.

Sunday, May 27, was gorgeous, even at 8 a.m. in San Francisco, but we didn’t notice because we were too busy trying to load the Honda Fit without waking the entire building. Benny and I shuttled bags of all sorts — duffle bags, grocery bags, sleeping bags, tote bags — down the staircase.

The reason we had so many bags with that we hoped to camp on this two-week trip. How could a family drive north through California, Oregon and Washington State and not camp? Well, we could, actually, but we still had hopes even though we were short one sleeping bag and our tent was still in its unopened box. Yeah, I know.

Finally, we piled into the Fit at 8:09 a.m. and headed for the Golden Gate Bridge. We don’t usually start our vacations this early – we always plan to and never do. But we had a strict deadline: Today was the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th Anniversary, and we needed to get out of town before roads started closing at 9 a.m. for the festivities.

 The Fit was stuffed to the rafters: Benny brought three stuffed animals and set them up so they could get a good view of the coast. We planned to drive up Highway 1, along the Pacific cliffs, until 1 ended north of Fort Bragg. We stopped at a gas station before climbing into the Marin headlands, but Ron was so outraged that the Arco would only accept cash or debit cards that he refused to use it.

So we looped through the Coast Range, Benny and I munching crackers to keep from getting carsick, and before long we realized that Ron’s principles could leave us stranded somewhere along Tomales Bay. To keep my mind off the gas gauge I pointed out the long, skinny bay that followed the San Andreas fault and told Benny how the ocean floor on our left was moving north and the land on the right was moving south.

My suggestion to take a detour to Inverness didn’t help the situation. Our Garmin GPS navigator (we called her Greta Garmin, or Greta) claimed there was a gas station there, but that turned out to be a Highland legend. The car was silent as we picked our way back to 1. And just as things were getting really nervewracking, we found a little  gas station at Point Reyes Station. Of course, it was an Arco, and yes, it accepted only cash or debit, and yes, it was 20 cents more a gallon than the first station, and yes, we have all learned a valuable lesson — shall we move on?

Benny at Sonoma Coast State Beach.
We stopped at Sonoma Coast State Beach, just south of Jenner, for lunch, where we joined a long line of cars (it was Memorial Day weekend, after all) to enter. Benny and I played catch on the beach, while Ron watched, swathed in his heavy Giants coat. 

Benny and the blueschist
We stopped again at Shell Beach, where my Roadside Geology book promised blueschist. Blueschist is a rare metamorphic rock that's created when sedimentary rocks get stuffed into an ocean trench. Here's Benny with some blueschist — at least I think it's blueschist — it's blue, anyway, and that's good enough for me.

That’s always how it is with me and geology – I’m extremely interested in rocks, but I have no natural feel for them, so it’s hard for me to identify anything that isn’t painfully obvious. So I try to confine myself to the simple stuff: if it’s thin, red folds, it’s probably ribbon chert; if it’s black and globby, it’s probably pillow basalt; and if it’s a big blue rock, it might just be blueschist. Benny patiently sat on top of some blue rocks for me, but his favorite part hopping through a huge mud puddle that blocked the path down to the beach.

Where's Benny?
Around 3 p.m., I noticed in my guidebook a KOA campsite just north of Point Arena. It sounded like kid heaven, so we nabbed a tiny cabin — one room, with a bunkbed and big bed and and a porch swing and picnic table outside. The whole place was like a 1950s time warp. We grilled hot dogs in the camp kitchen and then Benny and I rode rental bikes around the campsite. Then we went to the ice cream social and sat by the campfire with our cones while some campers fired up the karaoke, starting with Bon Jovi:

“Tommy used to work on the docks
Union's been on strike,
he's down on his luck
It's tough, so tough …”

Benny loved it, singing along with the chorus …

“Whooah, we’re halfway there
Maybe I’m a bear!”

At that point, we had to leave, Ron and I were laughing so hard. It was bedtime anyway, for we hoped to see the redwoods the next day.

No comments: