Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Time Beyond Imagining Becomes a "Book" (or: "Where I've Been Hiding These Last Few Weeks)!

A best-seller if there ever was one! In fact, I think the first run will sell out (15 copies in the first printing, so not really a surprise). If you've been following Geotripper for very long, you will maybe have seen that one of my first blog series was called Time Beyond Imagining (link is here), and that it was a series that introduced the history of the Colorado Plateau over the course of around 70 posts. I always felt that all that writing should be rounded up into a single narrative some day, and that day kind of arrived when I decided to lead a trip through the plateau country with some geologists and their families from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. I started on the project 18 months ago and made a lot of progress, but the first trip in 2012 was cancelled, and I so let the project simmer for awhile.
We scheduled the course again this year, and by May we realized we had enough participants to run the trip, which meant I had a strict deadline...which unfortunately coincided with the end of the semester, AND the big move into our new Science Community Center. So I disappeared more or less for the last few weeks furiously writing and rewriting a narrative and field guide for the trip. It felt a lot like finishing my thesis way back when, but back then I was taking care of an infant. This time I had a son who is an expert anthropologist who wrote an extensive section for the book on the cultural history of the region. The book and guide went to the printer this evening, and we leave for Las Vegas on Friday.
The guidebook is imaginatively called "The Geology and Cultural History of the Western Colorado Plateau, with a geological road guide to Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks". It currently includes a section outlining the chronology of geological events and descriptions of the rock units on the Plateau, another on the cultural history of the different people groups in the western part of the plateau, and road guide for a six-day trip looping out of Las Vegas through the three national parks, and a lot of places in-between.

And there are some truly fascinating places in between! Our trip includes a journey to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on the Diamond Creek Road out of Peach Springs on the Hualapai Reservation. It will also include a visit at Antelope Canyon, a surreal labyrinth on the Navajo Reservation near Page, Arizona (picture below).
We will also explore a portion of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by following the forty-plus mile long Cottonwood Wash Road along the Cockscomb Monocline, a truly spectacular drive through some really distorted rocks.
The monument also includes the beautiful Grosvenor Arches in one of the most isolated corners of the country. As recently as 1949, the National Geographic Society called their visit to the region an "expedition" (which probably elicited a laugh from the local ranchers...).
Our trip will include a visit to one of the gems of the Utah State Parks system, Kodachrome Basin State Park. It contains extensive exposures of Entrada Sandstone with dozens of strange clastic pipes that tower over the trails and campground. The trip wraps up with a tour of Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, though with a twist. We intend to take the road to Lava Point, which gets missed by the vast majority of Zion National Park visitors. When Zion Canyon proper is sizzling hot and dry, there are cool meadows and pine forests among the sandstone cliffs, and a lot of fairly recent lava flows and cinder cones.
In general, I've written the narrative portions at a fairly basic level (I included a "geology basics" at the beginning), and the road guides as to be understood by anyone with a geology class or two under their belt.

I would hope that there would be some interest in the book and road guide, but I know I'll need to do some serious fact-checking and mileage confirmations (the numbers never quite add up right, which has been true for every guide I've written) while on the trip next week. And I also need to find a cheap way to print it, because the 160 page guide ran $30 apiece at Kinkos (I know they call it something else now, but I can't remember what!). I would love any ideas you might have!

Despite the long nights and all, I've been having a lot of fun revisiting one of my favorite corners of the planet, and I'm thrilled to be hitting the road in a couple of days (one week with AAPG, and then two weeks with my students). I'll try to post some pics from the road, and not be quite as invisible as I have been the last few weeks.


Evelyn Mervine said...

This guide sounds great. I'd buy a copy!

Gaelyn said...

Congrats! That's a lot of work to put together. I think it should be a good seller. How about an ebook copy? See you in a few weeks.

carrie said...

i want a copy! also, you are such a great photographer. (your subject matter lends itself to that, but still)

Anonymous said...

I'd buy a copy. I second the e-book version. I'd download into my Google book reader to take on trips with me, so cool!