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Is Geology Romantic? Sure It Is.


People might think that geologists aren't romantic because . . . I don't know why, maybe because we're scientific. Maybe the sedimentology lab isn't the place that would come to mind as the place for a date—but I probably just offended someone for whom it was a great time out, so I'll stop. But when I took to Twitter and asked for romantic stories that involved geology, the 140-character responses all mentioned settings in the wild:

  • @GeoHols: We got married at the confluence of two streams forming the South Umpqua River. Married 12+ yrs. :)
  • @mikamckinnon: I brought my new boyfriend to a glacier as my field assistant when I got caught short-handed last-minute. He's still around.
  • @Batholith_forge: I proposed to my wife at the top of Lhoa Rock overlooking Crater Lake... Perfect!
  • @paselkin: My wife and I went on honeymoon to South Africa. Stayed at a farmhouse in the Karroo that had an incredible fossil collection (non-mammal synapsids).
  • @AltonDooley: Proposed to my wife at Pikes Peak State Park, IA, overlooking confluence of Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers. Married 18 yrs.
  • @langfordxc: Parents engaged on summit of Cruachan, built house & gave same name. Cruachan meeting place Campbell clan & famly name.
  • @ramenbecky: My now-hubs took me to Calvert Cliffs to go fossil hunting for 1st date, 20 years ago. In Feb., but I didn't care.
  • @jurassicjay: I proposed to my fiancée on the Ruapehu volcanic field with this view overlooking Mount Ngauruhoe.

I can relate to all of these. Natural landscapes are full of the "pied beauty" that Gerard Manley Hopkins celebrated in poetry. My own wedding was on a mountaintop (on Mount Diablo, to be precise), and for many years my wife and I picked a new mountain to climb for each anniversary.

But geology has a romantic appeal to more people than me and my circle of geo-tweeters. No less an authority than About.com's Marriage Guides, Bob and Sheri Stritof, have a story along those lines, as Sheri recounted: "Almost fifty years ago, on our third or fourth date, Bob drove me out to a hilltop in the desert near Las Vegas and we looked for trilobites. Knowing I liked geology but was a klutz, he researched where a location for fossils would be near our home. He also made sure it was an easy climb for me so I wouldn't be stressed out and clinging to weeds while we climbed the hill. To my delight we found a large rock with a trilobite fossil. Through our many moves from Nevada to Texas to Washington, I have kept that rock all these years. It was a romantic date because early in our relationship he had listened to me talking about what I liked, realized I didn't have a lot of hiking experience, and went out of his way to create a memorable date for us. We also did some necking in the car too—way out there—all alone."

Wendy Bumgardner, the Walking Guide, told this one about a fellow walker: "A friend and her husband kept hearing about the 'Erotic Rock,' a small Oregon state park where one of our walking clubs was planning a walk. Being newlyweds, they thought that was quite intriguing. What, then, is so erotic about this Erotic Rock State Park? Well, they discovered, just pronunciation. It's actually Erratic Rock State Park. It features a large glacial erratic rock that floated down from Canada in the Bretz (Lake Missoula) Floods. While geologically interesting and a nice secluded, little-visited location for stealing a kiss, the rock itself is not erotically shaped."

Jone Johnson Lewis, the Women's History Guide, noted that a romance involving rocks can help sustain a marriage: "My parents were both rock collectors, and a gift of an unusual rock was sometimes what they gave each other. I don't mean small pebbles. Many were good sized—half a shoe box size or more. When we moved to another state when I was a child, the movers brought in a number of boxes labeled 'rocks.' Finally one of the movers said to my mother, 'Lady, they have rocks in this state, too.' "

Nancy Parode, the Senior Travel Guide, pointed out that geology can be a thread running through a couple's life and the generations beyond: "My husband grew up in California's upper Mojave Desert. We met in college, at UCLA. The very first time I went to his hometown to meet his family, I realized that the desert and the eastern Sierras had helped make him into the person he was. I took photos of him sitting on a huge desert boulder that weekend. He was so comfortable in the desert environment, with its clean air and huge sky, and his teen adventure tales were so different from mine. He'd hiked in the high country, gotten his parents' car stuck at the Pinnacles, and splashed in high Sierra lakes. I went to the mall. Almost 28 years of marriage later, we are both still fascinated by California geology. In fact, last summer I deliberately drove my teenage daughter through Cajon Pass just so I could show her where the San Andreas Fault crosses the freeway. I'm happy to report that my son loves geology. Maryland's Sideling Hill is one of his special places."

What are some of your special places?

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