Terremoto

English: USGS map of Yellowstone Caldera showi...

English: USGS map of Yellowstone Caldera showing earthquake locations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first earthquake I experienced was the Yellowstone event in August of 1959.  Maybe I was 5.  All I remember really is seeing my mother upset in the middle of the night.  We had passed through Yellowstone that day and were in a motel room just west of there.  She thought a semi had rumbled off the road just outside but couldn’t see anything.

Morning Glory poolWe returned to Yellowstone when I was ten, camping in our brand new Nimrod tent trailer.  I do remember that trip, especially the bears banging the trash cans outside in the dark.  We climbed our first mountain, Mt. Washburn.  Gazed in marvel at

Morning Glory pool. I took some shaky black and white photos with a small square camera.

The Mountain That Fell

The Mountain That Fell

The devastation from the earthquake was apparent.  A highway disappeared into a lake.  A house/cabin sat half-submerged.  Giant boulders rested across the valley from the mountains where they rolled down from.  Huge.

Rolled down the mountain, across the valley and up the other side

Rolled down the mountain, across the valley and up the other side

In time, I made sure our kids saw the park, too.  Our youngest was ten. I just looked at the photos;  there’s a camera around her neck.    I used to hear them whine about being the only kids who’d never been to Disney World.  I pointed out that they had climbed a mountain, camped on an ocean beach, and seen every waterfall and cave that we’d ever been close to.  They got it.  I still don’t think they’ve been to Disney World.

My second earthquake (4 of the 6 have been in Illinois) was in the 70’s when I awoke in the night with my bed bouncing up and down.  No.  I didn’t do drugs.  {And now, #7.  Italy again.  Poolside.}

The third was in the 90’s.  I was sitting in the car during Intrepid’s dance lesson when the car started a slow up and down, very subtle bounce.  Sustained.  I looked at the railroad tracks:  empty.  Hmmm.  I listened to the news that evening.  A deep quake had occurred in South America but had been felt in skyscrapers as far away as Toronto.  I was excited so I called the US Geologic guys out in Colorado to report it.  I’m not sure if they made a note of it, but I thought they’d want to know.

The fourth was ten years ago north of Bologna, and the bed was flying sideways in the dark.  Giant headlines in the paper: TERREMOTO.  (I learned a couple other words that trip, including “andiamo”–what John Wayne yelled every time he jumped on his horse to go chase the bad guys–and “basta”–what the waiter kept asking.  I thought he was saying “more pasta?”    “No, no.  I’m stuffed.  No more.”   He just wanted to clear my plate.

The most recent two were in central Illinois.  Again, a bed shook, but first the windows rattled.  Then, later that morning, the aftershock.  I was in the upstairs of a barn.  It swayed.

New Madrid fault and earthquake-prone region c...

Interesting that the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-12 rang a bell in Philadelphia.  An eye witness said the land rolled so much that trees rocked horizontally.  The Mississippi was re-routed.  They say the fault is due to slip again.  Maybe overdue.  The VA  down that way took the top six stories off its Hospital and reinforced the lower twelve stories.  Just in case.

There is chatter about how the Yellowstone caldera is heating up/acting up/lifting up.  Last time she blew, there was ashfall all the way through Nebraska.  If my search for Forrest Fenn’s TheThrill of the Chase treasure takes me out that way, maybe I’ll tarry scant  if the earth moves.

English: "At Yellowstone and some other v...

English: “At Yellowstone and some other volcanoes, some scientists theorize that the earth’s crust fractures and cracks in a concentric or ring-fracture pattern. At some point these cracks reach the magma “reservoir,” release the pressure, and the volcano explodes. The huge amount of material released causes the volcano to collapse into a huge crater—a caldera.” From nps.gov (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like Jimmy Buffet sang, “I don’t know where I’ma gonna go when the volcano blows.”

A Rumor of Gold

The Hand of Faith, the largest gold nugget in ...

The Hand of Faith, the largest gold nugget in the world. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just what does it take to abandon family and the comforts of home?  Dreams of adventure? Fortune?  Fame?  Maybe just a dare.  Or a failure of common sense, as in buying lottery tickets?  Oops.  Not you, of course.

I guess I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for a great-grandfather that had that something.  He sailed from Denmark and ended up in Cripple Creek, Colorado, at the right time. Cripple Creek mining dist According to a great-uncle, he found a large gold nugget.  Great-grandpa also knew when to say “Basta”, enough.  (Yes, that’s Italian, not Danish.)  He sailed back to Denmark and returned with his bride.  They bought a farm in the midwest and lived happily ever after.  Actually, I couldn’t say;  I never met him.  The same great-uncle also claimed we were related to the Danish royalty.  I told my kids that even if they were princes and princesses, they still had to do their chores.  There was no one left to ask whether it was true or not.  (I wrote a novel based on that nugget;  maybe 15% truth, tops.  85% lies and imagination.  Surprising to readers which parts are actually true.)

on frozen lake

Worth the Cold

That something seems to have been passed down through the generations, so much so that one child I’ll refer to as Intrepid.  She decided it would be fun to take a high school class that combined biology and phys ed credits, and spent a 3-day weekend in February(! ) camped on a frozen lake in the Boundary Waters on the Canadian border.  icy waterfall

behind icy waterfallWhy I looked on the internet for the weather report, I don’t know.  I saw that instead of a low of 0 degrees F, a front came through with 40 mile an hour winds and 20-something below temps.  I didn’t sleep that night.

Not THE blaze

Not THE blaze

She’s also the one who phoned home one night from a trip to the wilds of Alaska to tell us not to worry about the forest fire.  She had to hang up then so the other kids could call and scare the heck out of their parents.  Not until we got her photos developed did I realize how serious it was.  Not the kind of blaze any TOTC searcher wants to run into.

I suppose I had a bit of that something as well.  Once, I went west with a friend in a VW bug to visit a former co-worker who’d moved to Colorado.

royal gorge 5

We thought we’d see the sights while there, so ended up hanging in a cable car over the Royal Gorge.  I turned to her to tell her that I was getting off, not enjoying the view while terrified, but, too late.  The door slammed shut.  At least I made it across without screaming or fainting.  Oh.  Back to the story.

Trailblazing.  I was the navigator.  I love maps.  We’d visited the Air Force Academy, been down as far as Pueblo, and wanted to get back to Denver or Boulder or somewhere.  I saw a short-cut.  It was right there on the map.  No name.  No number.  It appeared to be paved.  So, we took it.  Before long, we started seeing jeeps.  Army jeeps.  And other things.  Low buildings.  Low flying jets.  Who knows.  Soon, one of the jeeps with 2 or 3 guys in it, came up to us.  We stopped.  They asked what we were doing or where we were headed or how we ended up there.  I explained.   I showed them the map.  They gave us an escort.  I followed them right up the road I’d planned on.  Saved several miles.  I don’t think I’d be alive to mention it if it happened these days.

There were other things I didn’t mention to Intrepid until she was older, like sleeping on a picnic table in Tennessee on the way back from a Florida camping trip—different friend, spring break sort of thing.  Intrepid comes up with enough ideas of her own.  I’ve got a few gray hairs to show for it. She’s too tied up these days to venture west on a rumor of gold.  Maybe I can get an older child interested.

TTOTC book jacketSurprising the reactions I get when I mention Forrest Fenn‘s The Thrill of the Chase treasure hunt.  Nobody thinks it’s real.  That’s okay.  I’m a firm believer in the Fenn formula.  Somebody’s going to find it.  And all the other TTOTC searcher’s are having fun.  (Though some of you might need to slow down…..you, know.  Basta.)