Imagination and reality

You already know what I’m about to say: imagination is part of reality! One thing I love about road trips is poring over the Roadside Geology books for the area I’m visiting and at this point 30 years in I’m pretty familiar with Roadside Geology of Northern California. On this visit to Calistoga I swore to finally go look at “Glass Mountain” roadcut with obsidian bits coming out of it and a bunch of baked rock and ash where the obsidian hit a layer of ash and tuff from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago.

My sister and I got into my car. As we drove down Old Silverado Trail past beautiful wineries and terrifying burnt hillsides I described how I had to unsubscribe from the arrowheads group on reddit because they are often such horrible looters. But then there will be a video of someone looking at the bottom of a stream bed to a jumble of rocks and then bending – zooming in – moving a couple of little rocks and BANG giant clovis point. Dammit! I could just SEE an arrowhead and admire it and NOT LOOT IT, someday, as a treat? But in any case I’d like a little chip of obsidian to bring home and put into a flowerpot as decoration.

The location was described pretty well in the book and in some articles online as north of St. Helena near Glass Mountain Road, showing (color!) photo of the roadcut. The sun was in my eyes but the red baked dirt and rock was super obvious in a small roadcut and there was a spot to pull out pretty close by! Close enough for me to walk to. (We actually stopped at a different cut than the one in this article very close by)

The problem was giant trucks barrelling by and a very narrow shoulder so we scrabbled up a few pieces of obsidian from the roadside gravel and dirt sliding down the face of the cut. Really beautiful conchoidal fracturing and fresh glassy surfaces in the tiny pebbles we picked up! And then fled in about 5 minutes because the trucks were terrifying.

A side jaunt up to Deer Park and back on Glass Mountain road did have some streambeds we could have picked over if we had better long sleeve shirt protection from poison oak, but all really not looking like public property. Then we saw a bunch of signs for Elmhaven, famous house of someone famous, and turned off for it while reading Wikipedia articles about 7th day adventists and Ellen G. White (whose house it was). Apparently she was hit in the face by a rock at age 9 and then had lifelong Visions of angels on other planets (sometimes planets with rings and several moons!) Apparently Satan is just on Earth and other planets are much nicer (I guess; not having read her 40+ books and journals of 2000+ Vision sessions) I love how she gazes ethereally and makes graceful motions as if traveling through space (WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE EXACTLY) and always exclaims “Joy! Joy! Joy!” during, with an echo/receding effect like a song outro)

“‘One evening at the conference above mentioned [Topsham, Maine, 1846], in the house of Mr. Curtis, and in the presence of Elder (Captain) Bates, who was yet undecided in regard to the manifestations, Mrs. White, while in vision, began to talk about the stars, giving a glowing description of the rosy-tinted belts which she saw across the surface of some planet, and added, “I see four moons.” “Oh,” said Elder Bates, “she is viewing Jupiter.” Then, having made motions as though traveling through space, she began giving descriptions of belts and rings in their ever-varying beauty, and said, “I see eight moons.” “She is describing Saturn.” Next came a description of Uranus with his six moons, then a wonderful description of the “opening heavens.”’

So maybe we did not have time to soul-bond and time travel with the red bank of lava contact at the roadcut, but we did get another imaginary journey, even if also not consumnated since visiting hours at the victorian house and gardens started at 10am and it only opened at 11 and I was not gonna sit in the parking lot for an hour when I had to pee.

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