Tuesday, 7/11/23

What a day we had. We had a nice camp breakfast then headed out to do some more prospecting for new finds before we would go to the main dig site. We explored along an edge of this beautiful ranch property that I had walked one time before. It lead to an area with a large amount of dinosaur bone witch has unfortunately been exposed on the surface way too long. It was a maybe 10’ diameter area with hundreds of broken shards of dino bone. Proves the point about what happens to fossil bone once it becomes exposed at the surface. Although @67 million years old, protected all that time by being buried, those same fossils become nothing but fractured slivers once a couple of seasons of warm and cold, freezing and the thaw take hold. They are returning to the earth as slivers & small pieces of rock.

We also prospected some more and several people found dino vertebra in pretty good shape. So exciting for each person to be out on these vast badlands and actually find something themselves. Very cool for all.

Dino vert butte, as it shall now be called as several were found here today.
Cool sedimentary rock being eroded away by rain and wind.

After a lunch break we headed to another site where we all walked around and prospected for new finds. Everyone found something and Martin won the award for most interesting fossil; seems he may have discovered a significant piece of lower jaw bone from a hadrosaur, we think. We didn’t spend the time to fully expose it right then so we’ll come back to it. Here’s a photo of Martin with his neat find and the whole gang –

Friends with the naturally formed toadstools

We got packed up and decided to head to the main dig site fairly late; but thought we’d dig for a while then go to camp for a meal. We got to the site around 5:15pm. We did what is supposed to happen: uncovered the bones from tarp covering, gathered our tools, sat down to work on removing some more matrix from around the bones. We had watched a storm brew in the west and could see the likely path it was following so all good at our position. Yep. Got a text from one of the ranch hands nicely asking how we were doing and saying that she was experiencing significant hail & rain at her home @6 miles from our location.

Calm before the storm. We confidently looked at that sky and “knew” it would pass by leaving us unscathed!

Steve said, “Um Martin, I think we may need to go soon?” As we got up to glance north with we saw one of the worst sights you can see out here – the wind had shifted, a second storm was crashing into the first and it had completely changed directions and was bearing down on us. Okay. Rain drops started immediately, then some hail stones as we rapidly tried to cover the fossil bones. In the 90 seconds it took the group of us to cover the fossils and turn to dash down the butte about 30’ to our car the hail grew exponentially. And by that I mean they were huge rocks of ice hitting us in torrential wind and rain. Most covered their heads with their backpacks as they struggled to get into the car while now soaking wet, getting hit with 2-3” diameter ice rocks! We threw our packs in the back of the truck bed, jumped in the truck anyway we could and heard the worst cacophony of what can only be described as the sound of a rifle shooting a machine gun barrage of large rocks at every surface of my truck. Yes, including the windshield glass. We tried to run, we tried to hide but no luck. The windshield shattered, the ice rocks slammed into our truck as we limped along normally dry paths – which now had become muddy ice rinks. It was both scary and maddening.

This happened!
The car photos don’t show up that well but windshield is gone and many large dents all over

Not 10 minutes after this mess started, it stopped and the sun and blue sky poked out! We stopped the vehicle to assess it and ourselves and quickly confirmed all were okay and as we saw all the tennis ball size dents over the car hood and roof and sides we all knew we were very lucky to not be severely hurt. One of those hail stones hitting someone in the eye or nose and the top of the head could most definitely send one to the hospital with severe injuries. We were lucky but didn’t really that way. We slowly limped back to camp all the while seeing mounds of hail on every surface and trying to avoid big mud patches that just appeared, which could stop us in our tracks – pure stuck.

We made it back to camp and it looked like are war zone. As if machine gun fire had riddled the Cottonwood trees removing tremendous amounts of leaves and my friend’s rental van was bad. The rear window was shattered and completely missing their belongings in the van were soaking wet, the windshield was shattered, still in place, but barely able to out of and their van was littered with large dents all over. It was crazy!

Several days later but can see some of the dents and the shattered windshield; back glass is gone.

My camper had some damage as did Martin & Martina’s RV. Wow what storm. So next did what any group of red-blooded Americans & Germans should do – we bandaged up our wounds as best as we could and started making a camp dinner. We had a fun time making dinner and enjoyed each other’s company greatly. There was nothing else to do but relax and enjoy.