Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Mad and Angry Gods and Their Garden

The geology of Colorado is incredibly complex. As the photograph of the small topo map, above, suggests, it is relatively flat, arid and treeless plain in the East until just west of Denver, after which the Front Range of the Rockies rises abruptly to 14,000-foot peaks.

These mountains are arid desert, and the overshoot of people is visible in the form of dry creeks, springs, and lakes. Ground water has been sucked out rapidly, and with burgeoning population growth, it is not being replenished. Only the blind cannot see a long-term death spiral in the making. Golf course communities in the high desert? Seriously? This is not Scotland!  Think again.

Garden of the Gods is a notable rock formation near Colorado Springs and the pictures, above, show a bit of that. 

This is hard sandstone laid down as part of an ancient ocean floor.  With the crush of tectonic plates the sandstone has been pushed completely vertical to form giant flakes and dykes pockmarked with holes where swallows and Prairie Falcons now nest. It was absolutely beautiful, and it was perfect weather to boot!

We toured the Air Force Academy where our friends have a son about to graduate in the top 20 of his class, and we had lunch in Manitou Springs with its naturally carbonated mineral water outlets. 

Wherever you go, the mountains loom, but the snow covered granite of Pikes Peak was always the jewel in the crown.

A stop at "Big R" was a delight -- a general store that sells everything from shirts and cowboy hats and Carhartt wear, to work boots, cowboy boots, work gloves, raccoon traps, garden hose, chicken mash feeders, electrical cord, dog food, dog beds, horse bridles, shovels, chain saws, fishing supplies, guns, candy, beef jerky, women's clothes, and tractor tires. Just imagine Southern States on steroids.

We passed a number of marijuana stores. These are new, following the recent legalization, and they need local zoning approval to operate. Communities seem to be going slow, and the stores themselves seem fairly discrete.

For dinner we stopped in Colorado Springs and I had buffalo sausage with elk chile. Afterwards we noodled back to our friend's house to watch the last episode of House of Cards in their home theatre. A very nice day!

I spent an hour looking at a book on Colorado geology, but it was too much to absorb: shallow seas, uplift, eroded limestone, glaciers, gneiss, schist, landslides, tertiary intrusions of volcanic rock, boulders, gravel, sand, quartz, Precambrian cores, anticlines, synclines, gypsum, spheroidal weathering, redbeds, talus slopes, box canyons, faults, volcanic ash, moraines, terraces, karst, dolomite... and on and on.  

The basic text is of a mad and angry God writing a magnificent play on white paper, and then another mad and angry God writing a completely different play right on top of the first one, ad infinititum until at last the page is black with conflicting and different stories written by dozens of mad and angry gods. Good luck sorting it all out!

Tomorrow:  big sand dunes!

1 comment:

mugwump said...

You were at most 1/4 mile from my backyard, on the same day I went on a two-hour walk in GOG with my niece and her husband, both geologists currently working in Denmark. One specializes in cracks, the other layers, it's an amazing education to walk with them.
Wish we could have connected somehow.