Jumping and shaking

We cycled to Newton Dee again yesterday and I got this jumping shot for my friend, Stew. Stew is going to give me a cameo in one of his films one day 🙂


This week is my company’s annual grand meetup but I’m not going because it’s in Whistler. I know what you’re thinking: Whistler!! Why isn’t she going to Whistler? Everyone loves Whistler. 

Whistler is about 120km from Vancouver which is right next to the Cascadia subduction zone. Subduction zones produce the world’s biggest earthquakes and Cascadia will produce a magnitude 9 or higher. There’s a 7-15% chance of Cascadia rupturing over the next 50 years.

I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s Grand Meetup in Park City and have been looking forward to this year’s ever since and so I felt bummed when the location was announced. Now it looks like I’ll never go to a Grand Meetup ever again because they’re all going to be in Whistler for the foreseeable future. All I can say is I hope Whistler really sucks. I hope it rains every day and that a pack of bears surrounds the hotel  and holds everyone hostage; I hope the food tastes like crap and they run out of coffee; I hope the beds are full of bugs and the swimming pools green; I hope the toilets don’t flush and the wifi is crappy. But of course I’m sure it’ll be wonderful and everyone will love it and as long as I’m not there there’ll be no earthquakes. If I go, there’ll be an earthquake for sure.

We’ve just passed the six-year anniversary of the start of the Christchurch earthquake sequence. The very first earthquake was a magnitude 7.1 on September 4th 2010 at 4:35am. Since then there have been over 14,000 earthquakes in the region. I’m not sure how many I personally have felt – too many to count – but one thing I can say for sure is immersion therapy doesn’t work. I’ll be very happy if I never experience another earthquake ever again for the rest of my life. I’ve been there, done that, and I think I’ll skip that experience again, if possible. There are parts of the world I will never go – the Pacific Ring of Fire, Turkey, Italy, China, Iran – because of the earthquake risk. It’s just not worth it in my view.

When I shut my eyes and concentrate I can still transport my mind back to one of those Christchurch earthquakes. I can still hear the sound and feel the shaking and relive my fear. Some people forget things like that but I don’t. I know exactly what it feels like and it’s unpleasant. I also remember the anxiety that follows – it’s not like other natural disasters that have a start and a finish or, as in the case of weather-related disasters, some warning either from the Met Office or just by looking at the sky. Earthquakes come without warning and they go on and on for years and you never know when the next aftershock will strike. Sometimes the aftershocks are worse than the initial quake. For every second of every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week they can strike. There’s no warning, no down-time, no relax and recover time.

Here’s a nice animation of every quake in Canterbury over the past five years.

11 Replies to “Jumping and shaking”

  1. I wonder if your experience was worse because your children were young at the time of the Christchurch earthquakes and needed your protection. Definitely more anxiety-provoking I would think.

  2. I think it’s great that you are describing the barriers to attending in such an open way. I do hope you’re able to find some peace so that you may one day be able to travel further afield – if you want to. I agree with the above person, having such young children and having an instinctive, overwhelming sense of needing to protect them could definitely result in an already traumatic event leaving a significant impact on you. Take care 🙂

    1. Thanks Little_Em! I’m always very open and put everything on my blog. I may be terrified of earthquakes but I’m not terrified of admitting my fear.

  3. Not to feed into your worries more, but there was an excellent story in The New Yorker about how the next “Big One” on the West Coast will likely hit the Northwest, with the Seattle area being in the epicenter.


    I don’t blame you for being afraid of being at a place on a major faultline. I’m a native Californian and have lived through mostly small earthquakes (knocks fiercely on wood) and have seen the results of the really bad ones. It never gets easier, however. I was in San Diego earlier this year when a 4.7 earthquake struck at 3 in the morning. I woke up before the actual shaking began—I wasn’t sleeping well anyway, but I felt like there was something tense in the air. Then suddenly, there was this awful sound of everything in the house rattling, from the mirrored doors on the closet to the pots and dishes in the kitchen. The bed didn’t so much as shake as it vibrated and shifted in this frightening way. I have a hard time describing the experience, except to say it was one of those moments where you have absolutely no control of the situation: we couldn’t run from it, we couldn’t evacuate (the house was on a hill overlooking a canyon, so I worried we were going to break apart and slide down the cliff). We were at the mercy of however long the earthquake lasted. It was short—four minutes, according to the U.S. geological office—but for the rest of the day we had aftershocks shaking the floor and causing the glassware in the cupboards to make this eerie humming noise. I’m not going to move out of CA because of earthquakes, anymore than I would pick up and leave the Midwest on account of tornadoes and floods, which happened a lot more frequently. But it shouldn’t be taken lightly, as so many government agencies seem to do and overlook how many dangerous buildings are still standing in major cities.

    1. I have read the New Yorker article a few times and many others like it. It’s very good and scary. Before I go somewhere I usually Google the place along with the word, “earthquake”.

      I understand where you’re coming from with the 4.7 you felt in San Diego. I like to be in control and there’s no control in earthquakes. With other natural disasters that come with some warning you can get your family together, go to higher ground, batten down the hatches etc. But earthquakes can strike when you’re most vulnerable and your family are separated.

    1. No, I didn’t edit the photo at all. A reluctant Ben stood on the Deeside cycleway snapping several images while rolling his eyes and I jumped up and down while passers by looked on with amusement. This was the best of all those photos. All I did was downsize it for the web 🙂

      1. Now I see – I mistook the kid on the bike for D. Hence thinking it was a composite image. 🙂

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