Dinosaur Excavation and Taphonomic Research Project

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Memries,
Like the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were.

Scattered pictures,
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were.

      Marvin Hamlisch, Alan Bergman, and Marilyn Bergman



Notes from the Field - The Latest News!

2015


All times given are Texas time, [CDT (Cretaceous Daylight Time)]. Local time is actually one hour earlier [MDT (Mesozoic Daylight Time)].


Wednesday, 3 June
Packing day!

Thursday, 4 June
The 2015 Season officially gets underway! The anticpated time for departure was 8:00am. All the participants traveling to Wyoming from Keene in the expedition were there and eager to start the process. Family and friends were on hand to give last minute hugs and wave them off. The truck was loaded and its trailer filled. No vans! Everyone waited. At 10:48am finally all was assembled and ready and the expedition drove north. Mikie was piloting the truck, Dr. Erin one van, and Dr. Art the second van. Cozy inside were students Chelsea and Eden and experienced as well as new diggers RuthAnn, Chari, Sabrina, Maryory, Oliver, and Tetsuya.

Friday, 5 June
During the night the truck hit a deer—dented the front of the truck, no injuries to the occupants, could not claim the same for the deer!

Because of flooding in Lusk the caravan of three vehicles drove to Rapid City to pick up Dr. Larry, Justin, and Dr. David mid-morning. The truck and trailer and one van left for Camp Cretaceous while Dr. Art took the other van to buy supplies. He stayed in the Rapid City area to pickup Forrest at the airport in the afternoon.

The county road from the highway to the ranch was dry and dusty (and populated with cows) although the ponds along the route contained copious amounts of water. The land was carpeted with a thick and green herbivore food supply. When the truck and van arrived in camp about 3:00pm Dr. Keith, Ivan, Stephan, Dawnella, and student Alexa were on hand to welcome them. After a heartfelt thanks to God for a safe trip, the first order of business was to erect the big circus tent—so much fun in the moderate wind! The trailer was unloaded and tents began sprouting up all around the camp building. With several helping each other it did not take long to set up a number of these personal bedrooms.

Dr. Art arrived with a van full of food about 7:00pm. Student Isaac drove into camp about 8:15pm. The long day ended with a sunset worship to celebrate the beginning of another day of rest. We have 21 persons in camp on this first night of the 2015 season at Camp Cretaceous.

Saturday, 6 June
A waning gibbous moon rising just after midnight shining through a thin layer of clouds provided some light for the night hours; of course, no one noticed unless they stirred in their slumber. As the sun began to illuminate the landscape prior to peeking over the eastern horizon the low lying fog softened the view of the collection of 16 tents. In the dead calm atmosphere could be heard the calls of the the early birds. Soon the camp began to stir, although most humans will be still asleep for another hour or two or three!

At about 9:00 the usual Sabbath morning breakfast was enjoyed: scrambled eggs, scrambled seasoned tofu, sautéed mushrooms, grits (for Dr. Art), and Dr. Larry's homemade biscuits—regular and vegan species (Biscuitus regularis and Biscuitus veganis).

The fog evaporated (burned off) as the morning progressed, but day remained overcast until later in the morning.

At 11:00 we gathered under the big tent for Sabbath worship. It was a perfect temperature, no wind, and with fluffy clouds sailing across the blue sky. Dr. Art made the presentation on the importance of creation to Christians.

After a late lunch (2:00pm) many of the group left to explore down by the Cheyenne River and to look for interesting items on the surface at Twin Towers. Those that stayed behind enjoyed the gentle breeze that developed—just the right temperature. The explorers returned as a thunderstorm approached from the northwest. We could see lightning as Mark S. drove in and hurriedly set up his tent before the rain arrived—intense but did not last long.

The Sabbath was closed with worship, and all participants eventually dispersed to their personal bedrooms looking forward to a great night's rest!

Sunday, 7 June
Crazy Horse Volksmarch!
A gentle rain washed the area early in the morning—early enough that a few awoke momentarily with the patter of the drops on their tents. It is amazing how aware of the environment one is with only a thin layer of nylon between you and the weather! Most of the participants awoke as the darkness receded into morning to wonder at why the grass was wet!

Just before breakfast Michael, Jordan, and Mark appeared. They had arrived in their truck just after midnight but decided to sleep in their vehicle rather than attempting to setup a tent. After breakfast and worship the van was loaded with eager climbers and departed to the Crazy Horse Memorial. Those remaining began organizing equipment and supplies and opening quarrys. Dr. Art left late morning to pickup some more supplies and travelers arriving at the airport.

The day was one of those perfect days for work in the quarry—sunny, but not too hot with a gentle breeze and fluffy clouds. The quarries were not muddy but somewhat too wet to work well. We also needed to wait until the gps system was fully functional. In the mean time great progress was made getting everything ready for Monday—the first day of classes and work in the quarry!

The group from the Crazy Horse expedition arrived back in Camp Cretaceous late in the afternoon with two picked from the airport: Jose and Marcus. Dr. Erin was overjoyed at seeing her husband of seven months Marcus! Kathleen and her son Tad drove in time to join the group for supper.

Monday, 8 June
Dr. Art returned to camp about 3:30 in the morning with Matt—Matts's plane was delayed and delayed. That brought our total to 30 awakening under an almost cloudless sky lit with the 21 day-old moon and the orb of the sun rising in the east. The night was dry with a comfortable temperature for sleeping, no wind, and the promise of a great day after restful sleep except, of course, for the two early morning arrivals! Breakfast included home-made cinnamon rolls thanks to Shari.

The new participants was given instruction, tools and supplies, and assigned to quarries.

Great progess was made as quarries opened and bones were discovered, excavated, and processed. The GPS, cameras, etc. were all functioning. The new excavators were all busy getting their first experience in North Quarry, and the quarry leader was getting his yearly exercise program! Work was made in Gar, South East, and Triceratops besides North Quarries. Around noon Tad left. After getting all our GPS equipment in perfect working order, Mark left. We really appreciate his interest in and contribution to the success of the project, and he is an interesting person to have in camp!

It was a long day—the first few days seem long and the last few days in the season seem to last forever!

The day ended with a lecture by Dr. Art.

Tuesday, 9 June
This day began as a calm, almost cloud-free sky. Only a few wispy pink clouds in the north east before the sun appeared hinted at what the dawn may bring. The birds were alive with songs and calls filling the land. The temperature is cool—light jacket or heavy shirt for extra warm to bring the comfort level up a notch—except for hearty young men in their tee-shirt uniform. They would never admit they might be a tad cool!

The day was hot, and great progress was made in all the open quarries. It is amazing how the first-timers learn to quickly.

Just about supper time Sameene and Harald arrive to spend the night. Dr. Art presented more material to the students and the interested participants.

Wednesday, 10 June
About an hour before sunrise thunder was heard in the southwest. By the time the breakfast crew began their preparations, the rain arrived—did not last too long. An electrical power blink took down out wireless and internet. Dr. Art left for Rapid City to purchase supplies and groceries and pickup a participant at the Rapid City airport.

The quarry floors were wet and muddy for about the top centimeter, but the actually places that were being excavated were dry thanks to the diligent covering at the end of the previous day. The day was almost a perfect day—just right temperature and, in the morning, a gentle wind from the southeast that intensified throughout the day but never became miserable!

The internet was restored about 2:00pm—the electrical storm in the morning had taken out two critical pieces of equipment up on the hill where we have the antenna for the internet from Newcastle, the repeater for the walky-talkies, and the GPS repeater.

Since Dr. Art was not back in time for the evening's lecture Matt made the presentation.

During the lecture Darcy and eight of her group from Southwestern arrived in two cars. While the were setting up their tents, one of their group drove one vehicle across our line of RV hookups and across a large rock. The smell of gasoline was prominent downwind of the path of the car. Upon further investigation it was discovered the gas tank in the car had been damaged and the vehicle was leaking fuel. The car was parked in the grass near some of their tents. It was pushed back to a bare area so the leaking gas could be caught. That left a gasoline soaked area of the grass. A firebreak about six feet in diameter was cleaned out around it, and it was set on fire.

photo by Justin

The interesting thing was that the fire would burn down until the soil was stirred, then it would flare up with flames shooting up at least five feet. This went for a number of "stirrings" and quite some time in the darkening dusk.

Of course, this was great entertainment. At one point there was a ring of twelve guys (no females) all standing in a circle around the flames watching, joking, making suggestions, and just enjoying the spectacle. As one pointed out, this was the "high light" of the season. It was a good time for this to happen since the sky was sprinkling in anticipation of a storm and the grass was green and the ground damp. Of course, we have some people that are definately not "happy campers!"

Dr. Art arrived back in camp late with a truck load of supplies and Caroline.

Thursday, 11 June
In the middle of the night a storm moved across the area bring a steady but gentle rain. It stopped, but left the grass wet. At 6:00am sharp the breakfast crew du jour arrived to create the usual culinary delight. We have divided the paricipants into four chore groups that rotate daily among food, cleaning, worship, and off.

The day started off great under an overcast sky. South Main Quarry was officially opened. Just before noon a narrow funnel cloud could be seen in the north. It did not reach the ground and disipated. The good news was that the general movement of the atmospheric systems was toward the north—away from the excavation site. Shortly afterward it began to sprinkle so North quarry decided to eat lunch in the van. The rain intensified, and by the time lunch was over and the storm had passed, the quarries were a muddy mess. About half of all the people in the quarries piled in the van and Dr. Larry drove it back to camp—made it, but the road was slippery in places and almost the van got stuck! Mikie drove the four-wheel-drive truck back to pick up the remaining excavators.

Linae and Linee arrived for a visit—a bright spot in a dreary afternoon. At 3:00pm the rain returned! Recorded films and programs about dinosaurs were shown in the camp.

Dr. Art ended the activities for the day with a continuing lecture. In the early evening Sharon arrived after managing the storms and roads!

Friday, 12 June
The day dawned under overcast skies. Everything is now damp, at least not wet! The interesting questions are whether the roads are passable—probably yes! are the quarries workable—we shall find out! By the time worship was over, the sun could be seen casting shadows—we hope that does not mean we have six more days of wetness!

Mikie left in the truck to the airport with two departing participants: Shari and Jose. He is to pick up three.

It was a glorious day in the quarries—the excavated floors were somewhat wet and muddy, but the working surfaces were in great shape after the first inch. The day was clear with a gentle breeze and a great temperature. Noon and lunch came too quickly for some. After lunch the quarries were successively closed and excavators returned to take showers and gather their dirty clothes for a laundry and dinner expedition within the expedition to Newcastle.

After a dinner at Isabella's the two vans made an important stop at Decker's to pick up a bouquet of flowers that Kathleen's husband had ordered for her for their 45th wedding anniversary. He did not forget even though he is in Thailand!

On the way back to Camp Cretateous, 41 pronghorn were spotted including several fawns, one deer, one porcupine, and lots of cattle! While the group was in Newcastle, Mikie had returned with Tyke and Rose and one from the Southwestern group: Alan. Justin the left to pickup Angela from a late flight—we won't see them until tomorrow! Esequias and Anna arrived with their total group of 21! This gives us a near record of 60 happy campers sleeping under the stars.

At the end of the first week of excavation, we have reached a total of 325 bones recovered.

Saturday, 13 June
Prior to the sun starting to lighten the eastern sky, the stars were simply spectacular in the clear sky. The moon is 26 days old, so it is a narrow sliver rising just before the sun. The sun illuminated the field from the west to east as it rose over the ridges and hills.

Breakfast was the usual, but dealing with 54 for a meal is definately a step up from 30! (Stephan took three with him on his preaching invitation and Dr. Art had left after helping prepare the meal.) Fortunately, we had a number of English Muffins to supplement the biscuits and the grits and the ....

At 11:00 the group gathered in the shade under the big tent with a cool but gentle breeze for a round of singing and a message on Hebrews from Matt.

Just after lunch we suddenly lost our water supply. After checking it out and making frantic phone calls, an Aquarius expedition to the ranch house was organized. Some time after they returned and the pumpman came to look at the system, the water started working. We are not quite certain what the underlying problem was.

In the early evening Heidi arrived and shortly thereafter Justin returned with Angela. About the time a late supper of popcorn, fruit salad, and a slice of pizza was prepared, Brandon and Katrina drove into the Cretaceous.

Sabbath was closed with the usual singing and short message and prayer. We are thankful for the comradery, the experiences, and the health we all have.

Sunday, 14 June
The day dawned with a partial overcast sky. In the night there was a bit of wind, but it was calm by sunrise. Of course the calm was disturbed by the kitchen and the campers coming to use the "facilities." When the breakfast bell was rung the noise level reached the threshold of discomfort with occasional load bang as the screen doors were left to slam!

Dr. Erin left in the early morning to transport Alan and hubby Marcus to the airport in Rapid City and to purchase more groceries and supplies.

South Main Quarry was opened for the group of 22 brought by Esequias and Anna. It was interesting to see the young diggers and the old excavators working away under the direction of Kathleen and Tyke. The sky was overcast early but gradually cleared as the day progressed.

During the afternoon the Southwestern group of ten left. We hope the damaged gas tank has been repaired sufficiently that they will have no more trouble with it.

About supper time the Trinity Christian Academy group arrived—23 eighth graders accompanied by Curtis, Joe, Dan, and Rachel. Close on their heels Dr. Mike and Matthew drove into camp.

Dr. Art made another presentation as the Trinity group got settled during a short light rain shower. There was a long queue for the showers!

We had a record 85 participants sleeping in camp eclipsing the previous record 70!

Monday, 15 June
Many of the campers were disturbed during the night as a storm arrived with rain and wind, and thunder. It passed and most settled back into slumber. By breakfast time the sky was partially clear and the sun brightly shining on the freshly washed hills, grass, and tents. It appears that all the tents survived—with a few damp humans, but no serious problem. The real question will be what the quarries will be like!

After breakfast Esequias and his group left on a sightseeing trip—they will be back in the evening. Trinity led out in the morning worship. Dr. Art oriented them and everyone was off to the dinosaur mines.

There was mud in the bottom of the quarries, but the working areas were in good shape. Soon all were busy digging away and finding fossils! The day turned out to be a great day for working. It was generally clear skies with some clouds, a gentle wind, and warm temperatures.

We encountered an interesting sight in camp in the middle of the afternoon:

The tent was literally anchored to the ground by a thread (well, an 1/8th inch rope). It was fortunate that this held, otherwise the tent might be found somewhere in central Wyoming! This is a good example of what happens when things are not properly staked down!

Dr. Mike and Matthew left during the middle of the afternoon. We predict they will be back for a future expedition.

Everett drove into camp. Dr. Leonard arrived in the Cretaceous. Jeff, Dewayne, and Noah came to find dinosaurs. James, Steven, and Joshua came to "film" the Cretaceous.

Dr. Art made another presentation for the students and other interested participants to end the organized activities for the day.

We have another record. This time with 91 persons in camp!

Tuesday, 16 June
New moon!

We experienced another thunderstorm during the night, but the day dawned calm, cool, and overcast with a promise of clearing until the next rain!

This is RuthAnn's last day so we all said our goodbyes, and Justin sadly drove Angela and RuthAnn to the airport.

The quarries were much the same as the previous day—muddy with dry work areas. The Trinity group worked in Southeast and Teague and the south Texas group dug in South Quarry. Brenda came by—she is here through the coming weekend.

Trinity packed up and exited the Cretaceous just after noon leaving a signed T-shirt commemorating this year's special annual trip.

Matt presented the evening lecture.

Justin returned late with groceries and Bethania and Carolina. We have only 64 happy campers tonight, and the camp made it through the previous night's maximum occupancy of the entire project!

Wednesday, 17 June
With the moon gone from the morning sky and the clouds finally out of the area, the early morning (4:00am) for those few that were up for whatever purpose saw an absolutely gorgeous spectacle—the sky was studded with bright lights and the Milky Way spanned the sky with a wide white band. An hour later a cloud enveloped the camp. As the sky lightened with the approaching sun below the eastern horizon, the sleeping dinosaurs of the tents slowly became discernable. By the time breakfast was consumed a light blue could be made out overhead—this thin layer of condensed water vapor should evaporate as the atmosphere warms with the rising sun.

By worship the Sky was clearing. As we made the journey to the work sites it became a solid overcast, but an hour later the skies were clear. The day turned into another great day. The quarries were drying out. Good progress was made, and a number of bones were discovered and extracted.

Heidi had to return to the 21st century in the morning. Late in the afternoon Dr. Keith and Ivan left.

The evening's official activities were ended with another lecture by Dr. Art.

Thursday, 18 June
For those adventurous souls staying the entire season of 27 nights sleeping in their own private nylon enshrouded bedrooms this past night was the 14th rest period—over half of the season has been completed!

During the night we actually experienced a Wyoming wind, but by morning the usual calm enveloped the area. The wet grass, puddles in the road, and the muddy floor of the quarries were the only evidence to those that slept soundly that there was rain with the wind. The day dawned clear with clouds only around the horizon. After worship Esequias' group of 22 packed, loaded, boarded their vehicles, and headed away.

In the afternoon Jeff, Dewayne, and Noah finished the bones they were working on and left for the 21st century. Rose Quarry is now officially closed for the season—the group that was researching that site are leaving over the weekend.

In the evening Dr. Art made another presentation for the students. Tonight there are 35 tired humans sleeping in Camp Cretaceous.

Friday, 19 June
It was a great night for peaceful rest. The day dawned under cloudy skies. After breakfast Brandon and Katrina departed taking Dr. David to the Rapid City airport. Today is our usual half-day work in the quarries and trip to Newcastle for laundry and non-camp food! Work in quarries concentrating on preparing the sites for the Open House on Sunday.

Dr. Art left in the early afternoon to Rapid City to acquire groceries and supplies. Two vans and Stephan's vehicle left for Newcastle full of freshly scrubbed humans and bags of dirty clothes. They returned several hours later with satiated humans and clean clothes! Dr. Art returned with David W. and Marie.

One van detoured to drive to Dennis and Lanae's new property a few miles east of Newcastle. It is an absolutely beautiful location nestled on the westside of small valley covered in a blanket of light green with dark green trees on the ridges.

Sabbath was opened late after the "detoured" van finally arrived safely and sound back to Camp Cretaceous about 10:15. In the darkening western sky was a brilliant thin waxing crescent 3-day old moon accompanied by Jupiter and Venus.

There were 31 souls in camp.

At the end of the second week of work, we had recovered a total of 836 bones, teeth, and tendons.

Saturday, 20 June
The day dawned clear and calm with a thin layer of clouds low on the eastern horizon over the the Black Hills. There had been quite a wind in the night, but a quick inspection revealed no collapsed tents! The direct light from the sun on the grass approached the camp from the west as the shadow of the ridge to the east receded with the rotation of the earth until the top of the camp was ablaze.

At breakfast Dr. Larry was delighted that the names of the two picked up yesterday were in fact aliases—it was Heather and Chris, his great niece and nephew! As usual he was the last to know!!

About lunch Dr. Larry was again happy when his sweet Dr. Cathy arrived with grandson Alexander. Later in the early evening daughter Sonja and Ralph and another grandchild Pippa drove into camp. These last five arrivals were expected! Dr. Cathy retreated to Newcastle for the night about an hour before sunset.

Sunday, 21 June
Summer Solstice and Father's Day and Hanson Ranch Open House!

We said your goodbyes to Michael, Jordan, and Mark and Matt. Dr. Leonard also returned to the present. It was a great day for working—the morning was spent in making certain the quarries were neat, any trash organized out of sight, and bones ready for display. Everett worked in the quarry until about noon then said his adieu for the season. The afternoon brought a number of guests and friends of the ranch to see what we were finding.

The evening ended late for Drs. Art and Larry as well as Justin and Rose who were off to attend the annual Hanson Research Station Board meeting—no lecture for the students!

Monday, 22 June
There was some wind during the night as reported to those who awoke from a sound night's sleep somewhat clueless. No tents were down!

Ivarrest Quarry was opened while South, Southeast, and Teague were all in the process of extracting the exposed bones in preparation for closure.

Tuesday, 23 June
Another calm, basically clear, morning portends another great day in the quarries!

There was a cooling wind in the morning as the troops trooped to the quarries. The moving atmosphere calmed as the day progressed.

Around noon Dr. Cathy arrived with her sister Margaret bringing a delightful lunch for Dr. Larry and some cake for the Main quarries workers. Dr. Larry was even more delighted to see his son Jason and grandson Paxton arrive late in the afternoon.

Today the 2015 expedition reached the 1000 fossil level, ending the day with a grand total of 1007.

Dr. Art was in the middle of the day's lecture when we temporarily lost our internet connection—end of the day's official activities.

Wednesday, 24 June
This day dawned overcast and gray. Shade from the sun is welcome. The second most uncomfortable working conditions occurs when the sky is clear, the wind is considerable, and the temperature hot. It is hard to erect sun shelters that stay up! The most uncomfortable working conditions are cold and wet.

Today we open Stair Quarry.

Sonja, Ralph, and Pippa left after breakfast.

The sky cleared as the day progressed, and the temperature rose. Fortunately the wind was gentle—it was hot working but really pleasant sitting under the big tent.

In the late afternoon Ben arrived—in a truck, not his usual two-wheeler!

Dr. Art continued the interrupted lecture from the previous evening and added a new presentation.

Thursday, 25 June
During the night there was some thunderstorms that passed through the region. Rain, lightning, and thunder, but little wind. It will be interesting to see how the quarries fared! After breakfast Dr. Larry left for Newcastle and other points in the Black Hills to be with his family and Rapid City to take Heather and Chris to the airport.

Because of the rain Dr. Art made the decision for this to be a non-excavation day with a van full leaving camp early to Hot Springs, ND, for laundry, to visit the Mammoth Site, and to say hello to the four presidents on Mt. Rushmore.

Ben left, and after a day of various activities all returned safely to camp except for Dr. Larry and his family—they returned safely to Newcastle!

Friday, 26 June
Dr. Larry and Jason returned mid-morning with supplies and some special-order groceries that had been forgotten on Thursday to work until about noon when they returned to Newcastle. Dr. Art drove Justin, Bethania, and Carolina to the Rapid City airport returning later in the day with more groceries and supplies.

At the end of the third week, we had discovered, located, and catalogued 1121 fossils.

Saturday, 27 June
Today is another beautiful Sabbath day!
Sunday, 28 June
Today begins the last week of the 2015 expedition. Now the mantra is "find no new bones" as the work concentrates on extracting fossils that are already exposed, cleaning the quarries, winterizing them, and closing the work sites.

Stephan, Dawnella, and student Alexa pulled away with their bubble of the 21st century pulled behind their vehicle. Unfortunately, their dog's private bedroom fell off so Dr. Art was called upon to find it on the gravel county road and retrieve it.

Stair Quarry was worked after certain overburden was removed in the previous week. Dr. Larry returned around noon with Dr. Cathy and Alexander. Sadly for him they left him alone in camp as they returned home.

We had several visitors from the Black Hills Institute in the afternoon.

Dr. Art gave a lecture on dating to the young people—as if they needed any dating advice! Actually, it was about radiometric dating techniques!

Monday, 29 June
The sky at dawn was one from a painting with small fluffy clouds dotting the sky overhead and to the west. Darrel drove away before breakfast. We are down to a "skeleton crew!" All meals from now on are "eat what's left." Not exactly leftovers, but consume consume everything that is frozen, refrigerated, or perishable!

Kathleen's family of four had arrived the night before to dig for the morning and to transport her away for the season.

The afternoon was relatively hot. All quarries are now closed for the season except for North, Ivarrest, and Stair. As workers are freed from closed quarries, they are moved to Stair to see what might be found.

No lecture in the evening—the students are busy studying!

Tuesday, 30 June
The near full-moon provided illumination all night setting in the low clouds in the southwest. Today is the last day in the quarries—finish the few bones and closed them for the season! The students were given their final exam by noon, after they all finished then everyone was back "in the dirt."

After extracing a femur North Quarry was closed mid-afternoon. Stair Quarry was closed later in the day. The big tent was taken down, boxes of bones carried to the trailer and carefully packed aboard, items in camp cleaned and wrapped for the next season all in preparation for leaving the cretaceous for the season early Thursday morning.

Wednesday, 1 July
Only Ivarrest Quarry is still open for the morning. The closing of the camp will continue with the shed being packed with all the tools that had seen busy use during the past almost four weeks. After a quick breakfast Dr. Art drove Dr. Larry, Rose, and Caroline to Rapid City.

At the end of the 2015 season, we had recovered 1267 bones, teeth, etc.

Thursday, 2 July
Isaac left in his car. The two vans and the truck and trailer drove away from the empty camp early in the morning. After dropping Sabrina, Eden, and Maryory at the Denver airport proceeded south and then southeast toward home.

Friday, 3 July
The expedition arrived at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, TX about 3:00pm—tired but safe!



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