Posted by: Green Knight | June 11, 2013

More Reading Material

As a displaced Californian, I really liked fellow SEJ member David Helvarg’s new book, “The Golden Shore: California’s Love Affair With the Sea.” It covers the geologic, social, environmental, economic, and political history of the state in a manner reminiscent of Curt Gentry’s 1968 classic “The Last Days of the Late, Great State of California.” It also talks a lot about surfing, which is something I’ve never done. I like to ski on fluffy frozen water, myself. I should also mention that David has an ocean conservation group, the Blue Frontier Foundation. Check them out!

Helvarg is only a few years older than I am, but he really did his homework. I learned some stuff about my native state that I hadn’t known before, which is always cool. As a guy with a geology/earth science degree, I already knew that the subsurface history of the state was complex, but he provided newer revelations that weren’t known during my various stints in college, and I just  recommended the book to a group of fellow rockhounds just for that reason.

I think I may have already mentioned another book on here in the past, but if you like scary nature tales, Susan Casey’s 2005 “The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks” is a compelling read. It centers on the Farallon Islands, 30 miles west of San Francisco. As Mr. Helvarg informs us, the west coast of North America used to go out that far during the last Ice Age. I’d known it’d gone out a ways, but not to that extent.

Science = discovery = learning process. You’re never done, and that’s what keeps it exciting and interesting.

The photo is of a trail in Castle Rock state park in the Santa Cruz Mountains just south of Saratoga, California. If you were one of the hikers, and looked over your shoulder, you’d see a cool waterfall behind you, and if you looked to your left, you’d see the ocean way off in the distance, across Big Basin. Back in 1975 or ’76, I was on that trail and saw five golden eagles spiraling over the thermals from that waterfall, one being a baby that was learning how to swoop on prey, and practicing on its relatives. That’s a longer story, but my late uncle Jess, who worked for the county planning commission, told me that golden eagles hadn’t been seen in Santa Clara County since 1948, so it was cool in multiple ways. The only other people on the trail that day were a nice young couple who gave me half a peanut-butter & alfalfa-sprout sandwich, and they had binoculars, so we watched the eagles circle for a half hour or so. People you meet on the trail are generally cool, especially when they feed you and have binocs when you forgot to bring yours. That’s why checklists are important.

castle rock trail


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