Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fossils fossils everywhere! Literally. 8.14.10

Our pattern right now seems to be go to bed late and sleep late.  Given that fact, we didn’t get going the next morning until about 11:30......We were heading to Fossil Butte National Monument just west of Kemmerer, about 40 minutes away from our current location.  The monument holds the largest collection/discoveries of fish fossils in the world!  The area was all under water for quite a long time and with the type of rock in the area, soft limestone, many many many fossils were created and preserved.  The more rare fossil finds there are a 13ft crocodile and a *very* large turtle.

The kids of course decided to change the name of the park slightly by covering up the 'e' at the end of 'Butte'......

The first thing we did when we arrived was head to the visitor’s center and equip ourselves with the Jr. Ranger and Jr. Paleontologist workbooks (they had a different paleo book than Dino NM).  The Ranger told us that right now there are some workers up at the quarry doing their thing and if we hurry and hike up there we’ll get to see what they’re doing.  So, away we went.

The round trip hike is only about 1.5 miles but the elevation gain is 300ft I believe.  We hit the jackpot though once we made it to the top.  Indeed up here were a ranger and a volunteer intern who were digging, scraping and discovering!  Inventor immediately squatted down with the ranger who showed him, and us, what she had just found and the process she goes through to uncover the fossils.  It was *really* cool!!  The layers of rock there just peel off one another reveling one discovery after another pretty much nonstop.

The boys attention then shifted over to the volunteer who was building a makeshift dam to protect the site and clearing out ‘superfluous’ rock with a big shovel to help keep the work area clear from debris.  Straightaway, Inventor with his sharp eye, began spotting fossils in that so called superfluous rock.

From fossilized poop (there's a name for it: Coprolite)....


...to fairly large fish, his eyes just didn’t quit.  He even managed to spot fossils that the staff was excited about!


Here's the fish fossil (above and below) that Inventor spoted part of.  The volunteer then helped him uncover the rest by chipping gently away at the limestone.


And what better occupation could there have been for whirlwind I ask??  If you give a boy an sharp hammer....he takes apart the mountainside.....that was ok, we just had to make sure he didn't cover up their entire excavation area.

Here’s a funny side story regarding the intern volunteer, and evidence that the world is indeed small.....I don’t recall exactly how it came up, but turns out the intern was actually born on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and had spent about 10 of his formative years living in Israel, in a Palestinian village/town north of Jerusalem.  His parents ran a Christian literature store outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem and he attended the Anglican School downtown.  Anyway, we had a great time talking with him and the ranger and between the fossils and our chit chat we spent a great deal of time up there.
Had to hand in those Jr. Ranger projects for review to get our badges before we left so off we went, back to the visitor’s center.  When I said ‘our badges’, I meant it.  This park actually had a 16+ program one can complete and earn a patch for!  S was excited about that one and did the work but he didn't want to stand there swearing in ;-), so I did.

Workin' on the books during a short snack break we took coming down the mountain.....


This ranger was a hoot!



On our way back to the campground we stopped in Kemmerer to do some grocery shopping.  We weren't expecting much organically speaking, but did manage to pick up a couple cauliflowers and some carrots.  As we were perusing the aisles,  just for fun (it takes little to entertain us.  Obviously.) we also, to our horror, came across pickled pig feet and right next to that, surprise, surprise, A Whole Chicken in a Can!  Oh MY goodness.........

On a more, um, exciting note.  Again, it doesn't take much.  As we were driving through the center of town (obviously this is a pretty small place, relatively speaking anyway) we came across the J.C.Penny mother store!!!  Aside from being an interesting fact in its own right, it tugged on our heartstrings a bit. Penny's was my Dad's favorite store and he would have gotten quite a kick out of this photo.  Bittersweet. This one's for you Abba!


1 comment:

  1. Abba indeed loves this one. Thanks for posting the photo of Penney's!