Friday 8/5

Went into town for some ice and gas and proudly did not stop to imbibe in a chai latte, as much as I wanted to. Got some lunch together and went into the field to prospect some and follow up on a few things I saw recently. Drove out to an area west of the significant landmark, RedTop, the, you guessed it, red-topped, tall butte that can be seen from most everywhere on the ranch. I’m on buttes I’ve never walked before, so they are completely new to me. Looked around at site where we found and removed the hadrosaur partial jaw last week and found only a small scrap of thin bone that we didn’t have time to work on when last here. I then took a long walk about looking for signs of any bone exposed at the surface. Came upon what I’m affectionately terming, “Jeff’s Folly.” It’s a weathered piece of cedar tree trunk that he spotted up on a hillside and thought, “Hmmm, that would look good in Steve & Elizabeth’s new side garden back home.” He told me about it and I had to see for myself. Here’s a photo of his folly –

Twisted hunk of cedar tree truck Jeff Mc saw and knew “I’d have to have.” Hate it when he’s right. Here’s “Jeff’s Folly.”

Needless to say, I climbed up there, and found a way to drag it down the hillside to the flats below. Now I’ll just have to create a way to drive around this large butte to load it up! Not sure what Elizabeth may think of it, but I reluctantly do agree with Jeff that’s it’s a neat piece of wood. We’ll see if I can load it up and bring it home with me. Going to be awkward to fit it in the back of the truck. Took a few photos of interesting rocks and fence posts that caught my eye.

Looking up at weathered cap rock sitting atop softer sandstone that’s wearing away.
Like me some lichen! Amazing life forms in this desert climate that cling to the surface of rock.
Fence post “artistry?”
More post
There’s RedTop in the background. Significant, high, and red on top!

As I walked on toward the east I found quite a bit of bone fragments and turtle shell that has eroded out of the hillsides. I didn’t stop to collect or search, just doing a kind of reconnaissance for future work. I eventually circled back around toward my vehicle and gathered my lunch and found a nearby shady spot under a lone cedar. Here’s my view while I lounged and had lunch watching the world go by; which entailed absolutely nothing happening but the wind in the grasses.

Lunch time in the shade of a lone cedar tree. So many fossil filled buttes (maybe!) in the background of this shot that I’ve never walked before.

I went back to a nearby area where I found some crocodile parts and pieces last week to see if anything else could be found of the creature. I saw two bony pieces sitting out prominently, or just two buff colored rocks? Turned out to be two mor pieces of the jaw or skull of a crocodile! Maybe all the pieces I’ve collected here will fit back together? It will be fun trying to puzzle the pieces back together; I surprisingly find a lot of enjoyment from doing just that – figuring out how/if broken pieces of fossilized bone actually go back together. I found a few more small pieces of what might be jaw and found another croc tooth and a scute (you know, the bony scales that cover their body with the classic pock-marked, dimpled surface that their skin would have covered. Very cool and good that I’m pleased by some pretty simple things!

On this same hillside are quite a bit of turtle shell parts and pieces. I saw a collection of them in close proximity to each other and for some reason started poking around them with my ice pick and found a pretty good sized piece of turtle still intact that was buried. While scratching away the matrix from on top of this shell I got a text message from the ranchers inviting me out for dinner (supper if you’re from around here). I willingly accepted, asked what time and replied that I could make that happen if I left the field right ….. now. That’s not easy for me. When finding things I never seem to want to stop; it’s a problem, I know. And I was successful; I stopped within 5 mins of accepting the invite and headed to the truck. Noticed it had become very cloudy and wind had picked up and as I walked felt a raindrop or two. Dinner or not, it was time to go. I do not want to be stuck out on the ranch in the rain. The trails I drive are not roads, become extremely slick with a little rain and are impassable (in my 4 wheel drive truck) once soaked. I’ve had to walk back to camp in the past and not fun. Wrapped up for the day, got cleaned up and went into Baker for pizza with the Beck’s at my fav place, Old Skool Brewery. Got a call when on the road saying the brew pub was unfortunately closed for the evening; something about a staff member being sick or not being able to be at work. Reminded me how hard it must be to run a business in such a rural place. One person can operate the pub but if they can’t make it in, it may just be closed for that night. Really hard to operate a business with such a small community of customers and employees to draw from.

We diverted to The Tavern and had a good meal. Nice to see everyone. I was invited to Maria’s birthday party/meal tomorrow night. I’ve never met Maria, she’s never met me. But I guess I’m going! She is one of the Beck’s grandchildren and just graduated from high school and now they are celebrating her 18th birthday. Very open and generous of them to invite me. I tried to beg off a little thinking why would a family want a stranger, from east of the Mississippi River, no less, at their daughter’s party. But I was convinced that I’m invited. I’ll have to see if I have a neat piece of dino fossil bone I can wrap and gift to her. Like New Yorkers who have never been to the Statute of Liberty, it’s no longer surprising to me the number of folks who like around here who have never seen a dino bone out in the field. Even though the fossils are relatively commonplace here, many, many folks have had no interest and just never seen one in person before. Hope it won’t be too lame of a gift?!

On my drive back to camp that evening in a slight rain I saw a burning orange/pink sliver of sunset on the western horizon and took a few photos. Not much to see and it’s always better in person, but still they capture part of the feel.

Sunset on a drizzly evening
Horizon appeared to be on fire, a pink/orange fire.

Also came upon a significant herd of cattle on the ranch on my trail headed back to camp. They stopped, they stared, they wondered what in the world I was doing on their road, I’m sure. I slowed down, they parted and let me pass on through.