Fault Lines


For as long as I’ve been driving highway 101 in California, I’ve seen two signs for Pinnacles National Park.  And for all those years, I have never deviated from the path I was on to take a side trip out to that park.  It’s an amazing phenomenon, isn’t it?  Right in your own back yard for your whole life, and you never take the time, plan the time to diverge.  It would be like living in New York and never visiting Niagara Falls.  Okay, maybe that’s a stretch.  I hear those falls are so spectacular, I’m sure no one in New York has not seen them except perhaps the intercity youth because their family doesn’t own a car.

But I digress.

And so it was that we planned a trip to Pinnacles.  And along with all the stuff that was crammed into the motorhome, there were ideas of what Pinnacles must be like crammed into my head.  Dusty, white, barren are three words that come to mind.  And boy was I wrong.

Pinnacles is located off 101 and there are two ways to get there.  One way and the way we took was through King City at the base of the Salinas Valley.  The other way is to go north from King City to Soledad, the city best known for the state prison that is there.  If you have an RV and you want to camp, your only choice is through King City.  Actually, if you are coming from the north, you get through the city of Hollister.  Look for Highway 25 and take it.  But if you take the route we took, as soon as you embark, you start climbing.  The park is actually about 1000 feet above sea level and in the spring it is green.  Flowers are blooming and the trees are leafed out.  Lots of oaks and conifers.  Also, lots of birds.  The famous condors reside here.  Have yet to see one.  The only thing I have seen is a lot of turkey vultures and a helicopter.  Oh, there are tweety birds but I don’t know enough to identify any of them.

I would avoid the place past May and and reconsider a visit in late September on.  But expect it to be golden.  Those green grasses dry to a golden color until the rains which generally start in late November.

One of the main draws here are the hiking trails.  And the Pinnacle rock formations are cool.  So, we took it upon ourselves to hike this morning.  The cave route was our chosen hike.  It was short but steep.  And once we got to the “caves” it became amazing.  Here are some pictures I snapped.   And, yes, there is a reservoir here.  Great place to stop for a drink of water and a snack.

At the reservoir

So, as we were scrambling over and under the boulders that seemed to be tossed into place, it occurred to us that we were on the San Andreas fault.  OMG.  What if there was an earthquake?  We imagined what would happen.  First and foremost, we would be squished like bugs.  This would include our iPhones which were only good for picture taking and the flashlight app.  No signals here.  But the phone still tells the time and date.  How does that work?

But back to imagining a world without US.

Uncle Ralph is expecting us on Friday (today is Wednesday).  He would start calling.  Having heard there was a major quake in the area, he would be very concerned.  “Where the hell are they?  Why aren’t they answering?”  We, of course, would be laying under a massive amount of rocks reduced to the width of a paper napkin.  We would never return.  The RV would be in the park and everyone in the park would wonder what in the world to do with the RV.  Rayman thought maybe the rocks would shift just enough for us to get caught like James Franco did in that movie where he had to cut off his arm free himself.  Lovely, I replied.

Luckily none of that happened.  And it has probably never happened here but that did not dissuade of from conjuring up the worst possible scenarios.  But, you know what?  I bet everyone let’s these thoughts slip through when they visit here because you realize how really insignificant you really are when you come to a place like this.  Between those teutonic plates shifting and past volcanic activity, those immense boulders got tossed up like marbles.  Would have been impressive to hear it when it happened.

Looking up at tossed rocks with the Rayman providing perspective.

So, I would recommend all you people out there to get in your car or truck or RV or motorcycle and visit Pinnacles.  And don’t wait til you can’t walk.  It is an amazing place right here in our own back yard (for those of you that live in central California.)  A must-see park that became a park in 1908 when Theodore Roosevelt, our esteemed Republican president, had the foresight and determination to declare million of acres National Parks.  Oh, his party was furious with him.  All those place that were put off limits from drilling and digging etc.  I really admire him for what he did.  He went against his own party and did something he believed was right.  Oh, those were the days.  Of course, the guys in his party pulled their support and he had to run in a 3rd party, the Bull Moose party.  That split the vote and Woodrow Wilson won.  There may be some similarities then and now…now that I am thinking about it.  Heck, if he were alive today, the Koch brothers would be running ads accusing him of being an imperial president.  They would be backing some Tea Party type that thinks government is bad and worthless.  Maybe they would accuse him of having a tryst with Mr. Muir.  You just don’t know but it is certain interesting to imagine by overlaying today with yesteryear.

But I digress.

Teddy was quite the outdoorsman and at one point spent several nights under the protection of the Giant Sequoia trees of Yosemite with John Muir.  That must have been when he had the epiphany to listen to Muir and preserve this place along with a lot of other places.   How cool is that?


Lichen on the rocks.


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