About the Book:
“Unfold a map of North America,” Keith Heyer Meldahl writes, “and the first thing to grab your eye is the bold shift between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains.” In this absorbing book, Meldahl takes readers on a 1000-mile-long field trip back through more than 100 million years of deep time to explore America’s most spectacular and scientifically intriguing landscapes. He places us on the outcrops, rock hammer in hand, to examine the evidence for how these rough-hewn lands came to be. We see California and its gold assembled from pieces of old ocean floor and the relentless movements of the Earth’s tectonic plates. We witness the birth of the Rockies. And we investigate the violent earthquakes that continue to shape the region today. Into the West’s geologic story, Meldahl also weaves its human history. As we follow the adventures of John C. Frémont, Mark Twain, the Donner party, and other historic characters, we learn how geologic forces have shaped human experience in the past and how they direct the fate of the West today.
About Brigitta McCarthy:
Living in Tahoe, especially during the winter, resonates with my childhood memories of growing up in Sweden. This winter, 2023, we were all immersed in both an awesome and humbling level of snow; snow that has been hanging freestyle off of our deck railing and took on the shape of a big white whale. The white walls created an isolation from the road and neighbors.
As an artist, a lot of my artwork is inspired by and involves the sculptural qualities of snow. This year, I was frequently interrupted and I had to put down the paintbrush and pick up a shovel. Skiing has been a reward for all the shoveling, not to mention the time with family, friends, and to collaborate with other artists. Esteban Villa and Jose Montoya (CSUS professors) opened the door for me to community art. As an immigrant, it has allowed me to be part of a vibrant society, teaching art projects in schools and painting murals with youth.
Why Brigitta Chose This Book:
Some years ago, we went down to Sorensen in Hope Valley to attend a geology presentation and field trip to Carson Peak (and it’s plutons — super hard knobs on top of Kirkwood's persisting erosion). Because of that trip, I immediately related to this quote from the book:
“The center of the Nevadaplano sagged like stretched pizza dough to become the Great Basin, while the Nevadaplano’s western flank tilted upward like the rising end of a seesaw to become the Sierra Nevada.”
It is incredible to think that these faults are active! The author specifically shares his love of the Genoa fault, where he could find bits of granite from the Sierra Nevada in the soft crumbled soil. The words in the book are illustrative (for example, “crashed beer can”), and the author does a great job at utilizing pictures and drawings to further illustrate his points.