Monday, June 27, 2005

Fossil hunting report

Some people may get excited about 3/4" long sea shells from 34 million years ago (we met several), but I have to confess I am not part of that crowd. Up at 4:30am to load my gear, on the road with Clark by 5:30am, and arrived at Whiskey Bridge about 7:00am. Less than four minutes later I turned up my first fossil, a lovely Cochlespiropsis engonata. Two hours later and about a thousand more of those fossils we called it quits. We did pull out a few nice Conus sauridens, but no shark teeth, crabs, or live rattlesnakes.

The area itself was quite peaceful and pretty. Fish were jumping in the river, swallows circled overhead, and traffic was a distant hum. The river was very, very low so millions of years of sediment were exposed. While we didn't find the fossils all that impressive I did bring back about forty pounds of interesting geological material including a number of geodes and petrified "burrows". The geodes are about 220 million years short of becoming the beautiful, crystal-filled rocks seen in giftshops. They still contain their original nucleation bodies, probably dolomite and no crystals. I cut one open with the rock saw at work and most people thought they looked like a brain. Ugly, but still cool from a geological point of view. The burrows were also pretty groovy. Millions of years ago some creature dug a twisty home in the bottom of the ocean. This hole eventually filled up with silt and over time and was compressed into a twisty, branched tube of rock.

Like I said though, after two hours of tiny fossil shells Clark and I were ready to try somewhere else. On the way back to my lil' RAV4 were encountered a group of people from the Dallas Amateur Paleo Club. They asked us if we had any luck and we dejectedly showed them the few shells we'd decided to keep as souveniers. They got really, really excited. I mean. almost jumping up and down with joy and thrill. They started asking Clark and I all sorts of questions like we were some expert fossil guys or something. They seemed shocked when we told them that we were just two guys on a lark of an adventure and that we didn't think this was the coolest thing ever... I've been to Dallas. There's lots to do in Dallas. These people did NOT seem like they got out much though...

After leaving Whiskey Bridge we headed east on Highway 30 towards Anderson, TX. That road was voted one of the top motorcycling roads in Texas and I used to ride it back when I had my Virago. We stopped by a few steam banks but didn't see any areas worth exploring in depth. Then we began just cruising down dirt roads to see where they went. It was a blast. I wish I had taken some pictures of that part of the adventure. :-( There's just something mystical about a dirt road that goes on and on through the borderlands. We passed long-horn cattle, oil wells, and the occasional ramshackle homestead (probably haunted!). Then out in the middle of nowhere we came upon a giant building under construction. We could see it from miles away and so we had to check it out. Turns out it's the future headquarters of the First American Bank. Apparently they plan on hiring cattle or something to work there...

After that it was more dirt roads, more discussions on how to fix the world, what do women want, etc... We stopped for lunch in the Sam Houston National Forest, called our wives, and ended up having to drive like a bat out of hell to make it home in time to make them happy. All in all a most excellent adventure into the borderlands!!
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Anonymous said...

Getting up at 4:30am to dig fossils and geodes would be enough to dampen our enthusiasm, too, Blast, and the Hubs and I set off the paleo "Nerd Alert" pretty loud and clear. It looks like you did well!

Merriwether the Adventurer said...


Yeah, 4:30am is kind of sucky but a dad has to fit his adventures in when he can.

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