Saturday, May 08, 2010

Time Travelling : Day One

We didn't get out as early as I had planned, but that's no surprise.  Still, we were well on our way before 9am.  Good enough.

The first cool thing was passing through Castle Gate - which is where Butch Cassidy performed his only large Utah robbery... the Pleasant Valley Coal Company payroll - a load of $7,000 from the train out of Helper, Utah. 

We went straight into the desert upon arriving in the area - we wanted to get as much exploring done as possible our first day.

To the dig, then.

Very, very cool.  I wasn't sure really what to expect.  Crowds?  It turned out that while we were there, people would happen in (drive up) three or so groups or families at a time, ask questions, visit with the paleontologists for a while, chase children up the mountain for a bit, and scoot off again.

I got to learn terms like "articulated vertebrae" which meant that the vertebrae were actually all together (as they would be in life), leaving one to hope (and suppose, to me) that the entire skeleton would be there as well.

It happened that this sub-adult Allosaurus was found with a sub-adult sauropod, and they're speculating if one was dining upon the other.  An allosuaurus would not singly take down a sauropod, but the paleontologist said that he thinks that most meat-eaters ate animals already dead - just as in the wilds of today, modern animals only hunt and prey about 10% of the time.  Which is very, very interesting, don't you think?
All animals, it was pointed out, look for the quickest and easiest meal.  Self-preservation is the first rule.

I restrained myself and didn't ask if I could touch the bones lying there in the ground, but I sorely wanted to, believe me.   

But, as we were there, they found another tooth (this was the fourth one that was found on this dig), and he (I think his first name is Don?? - he's the one that discovered it in the first place) polished it up and showed, and then handed it to us.

Felt pretty privileged, for sure.


Trevy tried to cut into his hand with it.  :)  Of course.  What boy wouldn't want a cut from a dinosaur's tooth!?  He wasn't successful, to his disappointment.

We meandered on dirt roads through the desert, finding all kinds of wonderful things.

We checked out the San Rafael Swell overlook... so cool that you will be driving along in this seemingly inactive, relatively flat land,

and then all of a sudden happen upon this.


Meandering, we found caves - a likely playground.

 And a likely place for bat guano.

We found pictographs while travelling Buckhorn Wash in the Swell.  The pictographs are more that 2,000 years old, and are believed to be the work of the Barrier Canyon Culture, which predates the Fremont work found in the area.

We spotted another cave, and checked it out.

Off through Outlaw country,

and through a strange section of land that looked like it was covered in snow... Eric said maybe alkaline?

and eventually town found us tired and weary and a bit cranky, too.  (Only some of us.  Or maybe it was all of us, at different times.  It's kind of fuzzy, now that we're home and feeling quite The Thing again.)

To dinner!  At literally the only place in town.

Don't restaurants in these towns just crack you up?  Ah well.  

To bed, then.

Good enough for Day One!


  1. All of that not too far from home. Sweet. I visited many digs years and years and years ago when I lived in the SW. Love it. Great shots!

  2. What a super cool trip! Gosh, we have nothing like those types of things around here - ghost towns, dig sites just there for the viewing. Fun.

  3. I love the pictographs. They look like Angel Tree People. When dd first came out of school we tried painting caveman style. Way harder than I realised!

  4.! Amazing...all of it amazing!!

  5. Wow, so cool! There is nothing like this here. I just LOVED the pictographs. Wow! To see them in real! What a wonderful trip!

  6. Oh, my goodness! A dinosaur dig!!! Our family, too, would be pretty darn gleeful about that. The Indianapolis Children's Museum, which is near us, hosts dinosaur digs every summer at the Montana ranch where most of its dinosaurs have come from, but it will be SEVERAL years before both the kiddos are old enough to participate in that. When they are, though, we are SO THERE!

  7. What an adventure. I can't believe you got to visit a dinosaur dig - that is something I would love to do.

  8. SO so so so COOL!!!!Oh, my gosh.

  9. The San Rafael Swell is one of my favorite places on the planet. Have you wandered Crack Canyon there are spots where you can touch both wall at once!

  10. I saw your post about this on a yahoo group. Thanks for posting this I would have missed it. We went and had a great time. It was just a day trip for us. To think there is so much so close to home. Your pictures turned out better than ours (my 9 yr old was playing photographer)


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!