Sunday, August 11

Slept really well last night with the windows wide open in my bunk of the camper. Did a little star gazing from my bed before I fell asleep.

I got up and going this morning and out to the dig site early. It was overcast at first but then the sun shone and we had some pretty wild cloud formations.

We rolled over and removed the hip structure, the ilium, that was casted yesterday with no fallout from the bottom – a good jacket and roll. Then we prepared the big load of leg bones (3 bones together) for jacketing by wrapping it completely with aluminum foil and some tape to hold the foil in place. It was then in the position of being fully prepared for the plaster jacket to be installed. You can see in the following photos how little soil was then holding these set of 3 bones up in the air. We do this to get as much of the bottom and sides of the bone as possible to be plastered along with the top. This makes the best chance of turning the new jacket over and taking all the bone with it versus dropping parts & pieces as you turn it over.

I turned my attention back to the big set of ribs. These are the only items left exposed. Not saying it’s all done; I’m betting there’s more going back toward the small hillside. Hope to be able to carefully field jacket these 11+ ribs before I leave on Wednesday. I cleaned up more matrix from around the first 3 or 4 ribs – where the ilium piece had been positioned. It then started getting fairly windy, and I noticed the shade canopy and tarp I had strung up begin to really flutter strongly. The cloud cover had taken over the skies and it was getting pretty gray out. A smarter person would have quickly finished up, spread his tarp out over the fossil site as he had every day for the past two weeks and gotten out of Dodge before the rain hit making the dirt trails impassable for his truck. A smart guy may have done that, but not me!

I kept working on the set of ribs thinking that even if it did rain I have enough cover that I probably won’t get that wet; that I could keep working through a little rain, etc.

After putting the shade umbrella up over the newly jacketed pack of leg bones and getting assorted tools under it, the extra tarp I had staked down to the near hillside and tied off to the top edge of the canopy let loose, coming untethered from the hill and violently flapping everywhere. I’m now getting soaked and trying to untie the remaining hold downs on this tarp while stopping every 60 seconds to grab a metal shovel (did I mention the lightning?) and by using the handle end, poking up at the canopy to push water ponding on it off its edges. Now I’m really soaked, it’s storming and pouring down rain sideways and everything is getting wet. The freshly plaster-capped off ilium is getting wet, the big block of leg bones are getting wet, tools are getting soaked as well as the two large bones jacketed and left on the site for later pickup. Did I already say that I’m not a very smart man?!

Got the tarp down and kind of covering the now exposed ribs; this in addition to the two kneeling pads I put on the ribs and the trash sack with some trash in it. I’m trying to cover the fossil site as best I can and the wind is now whipping through and it’s raining harder so I decide – better go.

Somehow I think I’ll be able to drive the high line back to camp, although it’s got some hills and valleys it’ll be fine. Um right. I put the truck in 4-wheel drive-Low and struck out. Got to the first incline about 100 yards from my starting place and the two wheel tracks in the grass you follow are dirt, now mud, and I slip around and not up them. Okay, I back up and looks like I can by-pass the mud rutted trail by driving in the grass next to the trail. I try once and start sliding sideways, I back up carefully, getting a slow running start, aim straight (no turning of the wheels) and get – nowhere! I slide back down the very slight incline and put it in park. It appears I’ll not be driving out of here today. It’s okay, I can walk back to camp. It takes about 15 minutes to drive to the dig so I can probably walk it it in about 45-60 minutes? In the rain.

I decide to disrobe at my truck to dry off and see what changes. I’m not sure what change could offer me any other good options but wait I did (in only my underwear, in my truck, in the rain).

It starts to clear up a bit and I actually see some blue sky. But I can’t tell from which direction the clouds are moving and if it seems as if it will clear up so I could possibly walk back not in a rainstorm? So there I sat.

And the skies turned mostly blue, sun came through the clouds so I put my clothes back on and went back to the dig! I thought that at least I’d be able to clean up the site a bit and put the tarp over the bones better to protect from more rain. Found the canopy caved in and full of (holding) water. I couldn’t heft it up with the water so I cut a small slit in it and out the water ran. I improved the trench I had tried to make during the rain storm to help direct water away from the uphill side of the dig. I scraped the surface mud off the general dig area and improved the trenches inside the main dig to left some standing water out. The sun stayed out and there was a pretty constant strong breeze of about 10-15mph so things started to dry up. I cleared the areas between each of the dozen ribs that were now filled with sandy mud and water.

I thought I’d waited long enough do at 7pm I covered up the site well and decided to try the high line drive to see if I could get back to camp or walk back. I slipped and slid a good bit but did make it back! Even with enough time to run into town to get some ice and a desert treat to share with the folks I’m having dinner with tomorrow. What a charmed life I lead!