Sunday, August 6

We kind of plodded around this morning, doing things at the pace each thing dictated. In other words, we slow poked around camp, having breakfast and showers, getting lunch ready, etc. The rain has finally stopped after three long days and it’s not a bad thing that we are delaying our departure for the dig site. The more time, wind and sun the better for negotiating the terribly slick, greasy even, trails we drive on out on the ranch. A little bit of moisture and the whole thing can go sideways, literally the truck will just slide right off the trail and not go forward nor backwards.

Breakfast fit for a king in the camp.

We left for the site around 11:30am and took off in 4 wheel drive Low. The lowest, meanest, most aggressive setting my truck for traction and ability to stay upright. At first it was okay, as we swayed outside the exact two tire track trails when they clearly went into deep mud/water. At those junctures we bore down and and repeated the mantra – don’t ever stop, keep moving forward even if sliding around. It worked with some puckering and angst by both of us. I think it’s easier on the driver because of the allusion of some control; the passenger has none and just has to have faith. After 12-15 (?) of those slip-slidy encounters we came to a running creek near the dam. We stopped to examine and plot our course. The normal path seemed right but the swiftly moving water was 12” deep or so. So we turned back. No, silly, we gathered a bunch of loose tree limbs and old cedar tree hunks and fence posts and laid them down in the stream, which was perpendicular to our path. Tim stayed out of the truck to document the dash across the “river” and I backed up, revved the engine and took off in a straight line right at our new wood-pieced bridge. Shot right across it and up on high land; what me worry?!

Pressed on to the dig, with several more close calls on super slippery, slidy mud trails. We made it and elected NOT to try to back the truck up the 20-25 foot climb up to the dig and parked below. Have become spoiled by having the vehicle right on top of our dig. We spent the first hour or so shoveling mud out and away from the fossil bones. Don’t know the exact amount of rain received in the last 3 days but may have been near six inches, which is unheard of and a tremendous amount in such a short time in this area of exposed dirt and soils. Tim admitted once we arrived safely that he was pretty concerned we were not going to make it and in his mind was thinking about the distances back to camp if walking was required!

We removed a bunch of muck to gain access to the fossils. It was time for a lunch break sit down then we were ready to start pedestaling bones and applying field jackets. Tim worked on carefully chipping away at solid rock that was attached to the arm bone (radius) and the unknown bone sitting directly below it. After just a little bit of chipping away rock he broke the two bones free of each other! We flipped the radius over and left a only a small chip imbedded in the bone below it. All good . Did more plastering and carpentry chores to use wood supplies we had on hand to make splints and other bracing that we attached to the bones with the same burlap strips soaked in plaster and wrapped around the fossils.

Scapula, ID #030-040-01; the first bone found last year that made up this dig. Just now getting covered in protective plaster. Pls ignore Tim’s chicken scratching s all over the wood splints. He was trying to explain something to me!?
Bone that just got separated from radius arm bone that was sitting on top of it at the far right in this photo. Getting ready for encasement in a field jacket with wood splints for structural support.

We did a bunch of plastering together and worked very well as a team. Tim slathering the burlap with plaster, striking excess off & back into the plaster bucket then handing to me the soaked strips to apply in criss-crossing patterns on each fossil. It’s much easier with a couple more hands, 1 or two more people but we did fine together. The day was coming to a close and I had the bright idea to back the truck up to the top of our little hill so not have to carry stuff as far to the truck. Tim took off for a short break to walk around and prospect for any new things. The truck was still in 4 wheel drive low, the ground seemed firm enough after several more hours of sun and light breezes so surely it’s cool. Yep. I lined up the truck with the path, put it in reverse like we’ve done many times before and promptly back up the hill; all was going well. Until the driver’s side front tire slipped over the path and headed down the very steeply sloped side of the hill. I was stuck and out all in lock down, in park with parking brake on. The tires were just spinning and I was going nowhere good. With tail between legs (because I should not have tried this maneuver) went back to the dig.

Tim and I finished up, covered everything and got ready to go or to sit down for a drink at the site and admire the scenery and our work. It was then that I shared with Tim what I had done! He took that in stride as a good companion does. Heck, we are only about 5 miles from camp and it’s 8:15pm, we could walk. He was a big help in observing and studying the situation and offering advice on which way I might turn the front wheels to try to get out of this problem as safely as possible. I tried to slightly turn the front wheels to the right and go forward to get back on the path, since the front left tire was up and going over the hill in a bad way. Nope. Just slid a little more to the left making the truck list out farther down the side of this hill – toward the side where we may roll over instead of drive down it?! We agreed to try something else since driving forward was definitely not working. Agreed to straighten the front wheels again and this time try hard to back up further to right the truck and get on top of the hill so we could drive down safely. It was scary, and I drove backward and we did it! Then drove it down in the correct path a bit and was clear we were okay. Put the thing in park and we celebrated with a beer up on top of the butte at the Olivia dig; celebrating all we had accomplished and what we had avoided.

View from on top of Olivia dig looking at the truck now in a safe position; time to celebrate and enjoy the views.
Good friend in beautiful surroundings
My friend, my college roommate, Tim B.

Tim is a special friend and by special, I mean maybe not all there?! You be the judge – here are just a few photos & video showing his exploits just on this one afternoon!

Don’t ask, it can not be explained
See caption above
This is what I have to deal with. Enjoy! Nothing more need be said