Monday, February 18, 2019


Part 1 of 2

Annually, the Church of the Open Road gets kicked out of the house while Mrs. Church of the Open Road hosts a “girl’s weekend” for her former teaching buddies. The Church welcomes the opportunity to go “on assignment.”  This year, that assignment took us to a portion of the San Andreas Rift Zone and the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Snow seldom crusts the Maycamas near my house, but on the February morning of my departure, the hills were blanketed in white.  Fifteen minutes down the road, hail would be bouncing off the hood of the Subaru, and while I enjoy a good motorcycle trip, I was happy to have left Enrico, the Yamaha in the garage.

Our earth is a dynamic planet, always changing. Tectonic forces raise mountains and shorelines and rain, ice and wave action wear them away. I wondered about the impact of the snow on the Coast Range this day.

The Russian River was doing its job, carrying burden washed down from the mountains out to sea.

More subtle – and more violent – is the movement of plates atop the earth’s mantle.

This is what I hoped to investigate.

I headed out to the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Point Reyes is of the continent while not actually being of the continent.  This chunk of land rides atop the Pacific Plate which is sliding north-northwesterly at a cumulative speed equal to that of fingernail growth.  Imagine how long your fingernail would grow if left untrimmed for a year.  That’s how far, northwesterly, the Pacific Plate is moving relative to the North American. Big deal, huh?

A fence line along the Earthquake Trail reminds us that the movement isn’t gradual…

…rather it occurs in massive fits and spurts. The sixteen-foot gap here occurred on April 18, 1906.

The guide book I was using to help me identify where the fault lies talked about contrasting rock on one side from the other. But my rocks and mineral book was safely tucked on a shelf at home.  It didn’t matter.  The foliage and fungi pretty much covered up the geology, and I couldn’t tell the difference between Salinian Granite and a granite counter top, so I contented myself with a walk through the forest.

A sag pond turns to marsh in the Olema Valley. I am tracing the scarp of the San Andreas fault, but I couldn’t tell where it was.

Finding the fault would be a bust this day, so I headed for higher ground:

Mount Vision Road would take me to the peninsula’s most lofty point.

The clouds that continued to drop snow and hail here and back home afforded a dramatic view of both Point Reyes, Drake’s Bay and Estero.

Even as a new storm was arriving in sheets from the Pacific, the previous cloudburst left a rainbow arcing over Tomales Bay.

High points and thunderstorms do not mix... I retreated to the pastureland below catching a glimpse of this fellow and two of his buddies.

Having secured lodging…

…and after enjoying a meal of local fare…

…I snapped a reflected sunset… 

…and retired to my modest room to read up about what I might experience tomorrow.


Next: Tomales Point and the Tule Elk Reserve; Old Pierce Ranch; a coastal Miwok village…

© 2019
Church of the Open Road Press

1 comment:

  1. It appears that exile treats you well. Prudent to take the Subaru instead of the bike. Especially with our crazy PNW weather this year. You found some pretty views though and an actual sunset, not just rain. Thank you for the sign on the tectonic plates, hadn't heard much about those since high school. I don't remember ever seeing signs at the coast here in Oregon about them.