Sat, 7/16

My friend, Tim, arrived last night at the Dickinson airport around 11:15pm.  I scoped him up and we drove back to camp in a bit of a thunderstorm.  Pretty hard, gusty winds and rain for part of the drive then quite down as we got closer.  Into camp and sleep around 1:45am.  

Nice breakfast in the morning then we went into town for grocery run and ice for the two coolers. Packed up lunch provisions and we drove out onto the ranch to introduce Tim to what the fossils bits and shards look like vs. the rocks. He picked it up right away and was finding things from the get go. I took my obligatory photo of him opening and closing a gate; generally the job of the passenger in the vehicle to jump out and open any closest gate we come to, the vehicle drives through, then passenger closes gate after us and gets back in. That’s why it’s so nice to have company here, I stay snuggly seated and they jump out to open and close!

Tim manning a gate

We prospected a couple of locations and mostly found some micro fossils bits. Things like fish scales, broken pieces of turtle shell and some dino bone fragments. Here are a couple of photos from where we were exploring on the ranch and where we had a siesta lunch break out in the sunshine but also in the almost constant breeze. Still had some annoying gnat-like bugs about. Sure not used to being bothered by flying things when out prospecting and nowhere near any water. May be they are a by-product of the lush, tall, green grasses we’re seeing all over the place. So lush it seems a bit humid which is also very unusual in this normally super dry environment.

Break time in a (rare) shady spot
Steve prospecting for new finds.

Took a couple of photos of neat lichen growing on pieces of jagged rocks. The rock is dark brownish-black so the orange lichens just stand out so boldly.

Life grows in wondrous ways, does it not? These lichen are alive and growing in this hot, dry environment attached to a piece of solid rock. Moisture comes from…?

Also saw a small plant that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen before; it has tendrils trailing off from the main plant ending in good-sized seed pods or “fruits?” The things at the ends look like little, mini peaches; not going to stick one in my mouth just yet. Looks a little out of place here?

We drove over near the Clarence hadrosaur dig site and worked on it for a while. We started by shoveling out accumulated mud that formed last night in the rain storm. Then Tim got into digging the drainage trench down a bit deeper and corrected the slope of it so it may better drain any water that accumulates in the low spot of the dig site which is currently right up against the newest bones we’re finding. Seems the “bone layer” is planing downward as we chase it toward the high bluff nearby (nearby, and getting closer as we dig that easterly direction). He seems like a spillway engineer the way he tackled this job of shoveling down a draining trench so slopes away from wall and from current dig area. Here’s a shot of the most recently discovered bone from the Clarence site; it’s another vertebra (at least a partial one). It’s approximately the 83rd bone so far from this one site from what appears to be one animal specimen. Very cool!

We cleaned up the dig area by gathering all tools we leave on site into one pile, cover it with a tarp and hold the tarp down with shovels and picks, etc. we then relaxed back at the truck with a cold drink to celebrate our accomplishments of the day and just take in the sights and sounds. No city sounds, mostly just wind, birds and an occasional bellow from the cattle that are inevitably nearby. We headed back to camp where we cleaned up and cooked steaks on the grill and accompanied them with a nice spinach/kale salad. Then ended the night with some star gazing and a round of two-handed euchre. What a nice day with my old college friend Tim.