41 for 41: Hike Vasquez Rocks

Vasquez Rocks There are three ways Emmett and I blow off steam or recharge our batteries. Each way fits a particular time frame. When there is little time and all we can fit in is a quick hit, we make it a special Happy Hour at the end of a long, hard day of work. These Happy Hours generally involve a large spread of munchies; a good, stiff specialty drink; and some music, preferably something on vinyl which is soothing to the ears the way CDs can NEVER be (currently we're listening to Adele's 19 and 21, Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto, and Joe Henry's Reverie).

On the other end of the spectrum, when we have vast amounts of time, we always turn to Australia. It is our spiritual homeland and the second we step foot on it, we instantly feel peaceful, calm, and soothed (of course, that might have something to do with being released from an airplane we just spent 13 hours on). We went there TWICE last year, for two weeks both times. Blew our entire travel budget but it was worth every cent.

But for those in-between times, when we have a full day or two to spend on us, we always do a hike. Hauling our butts up a mountain or through a canyon gives us a perspective of our place in the natural world that we need (and desire).

I put Vasquez Rocks on my 41 for 41 list this year because it is an area as ancient as the earth's belly, and, like tidepooling, I am drawn to such experiences. Sitting on the Elkhorn Fault, an offshoot of the San Andreas Fault, the spectacular rock formations that span the 900+ acre park were, quite literally, belched from the earth 25 million years ago. It was home to the Tataviam Indians who left behind morteros and several prominent pictographs for us to marvel at. One can't help but feel privy to the world BEFORE when you scramble over these stunning rocks, smell the dust, watch the crows patrol overhead, and take in the high desert for all the beauty and cruelty it offers.

Vasquez Rocks reminded me, once again, why I love living in this richly layered place.