Published in 2005, the book is a great companion for road (and ferry) trips. It explains the forces of the earth that made this amazing piece of country, with seismic faults, evidence of millennia of glacial ice, and the backstory of continents moving across the surface of the earth. Interpersed are stories from the present and recent past: the coal mines that burrowed under the Georgia Strait at Nanaimo and what happened at Port Alberni on Good Friday, 1964, for example. That was when a massive earthquake in Alaska sent a tsunami surging down the coast where it was funneled into a fjord, and amplified by high tides, engulfing much of the fishing and lumber town.
As we drove along, I would read Lee the relevant passages until he got tired of "the lessons for today." But reading about what we were seeing made the trip that much more interesting the way having an explanation for anything enriches an experience.
Twenty-five years ago I stumbled on the Roadside Geology series when we were on the Oregon coast. Why were there so many marvelous sand dunes, I wondered. I found the answer in The Roadside Geology of Oregon: sand ground from the Cascade Mountains has been deposited along the Pacific shore, as sea level rose and fall over the last couple of million years.
Since then I've collected other books from the series, including The Roadside Geology of the Northern Rockies (published in 1972 with a spiral binding, as if it were an amateur endeavor, and now out of print), and The Roadside Geology of Northern California (now revised as The Roadside Geology of Northern and Central California with much more up to date material on tectonic plates).
But what I didn't have and couldn't find was The Roadside Geology of Washington, even at excellent book stores like Mermaid Tales in Tofino (where I found the BC version) and Village Books in Fairhaven, WA. We can order it for you, bookstores folks said, but I declined since we were on the move. Amazon.ca had links to where I could get it, and I was just about to order on line.
But then I was looking for something else, and what do I find? Yes, there it was this afternoon, all ready for me to dip into, like the dips and doodles of these somewhat metamorphisized rocks on Schooner Beach, BC.
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About the reviewer
Mary Soderstrom is a Montreal-based writer of fiction and non-fiction. Her new collection of short stories, Desire Lines: Stories of Love and Geography, will be published by Oberon Press in November, … more