Dinosaur Excavation and Taphonomic Research Project

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Notes 2004 2006   Project history  

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!   
Life's but a walking shadow, a good player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more:  it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
William Shakespeare, Macbeth, V, 5

Notes from the Field — The Latest News!


Dr. Larry was unable to accompany the expedition this year. Much thanks to Justin Woods for taking on the responsibility to maintain the Notes from the Field for the 2005 season.

All times given are Texas time, (CDT). Local time is actually one hour earlier (MDT).

Thursday, 2 June
The loading of the vehicles and the arrival of the humans began about 8:30am and it was around 11:00am that the truck and trailer and van pulled away from the SWAU campus on their way to another fabulous experience with the bones in the Lance Formation! Dr. Art and Justin led the group consisting of students Doris, Adrienne, Ana, Sherelle, and Ryan. Accompanying these were Patcy, Tyke, Toshie, and Lilianne. The caravan stopped briefly in Oklahoma City to pick up Kathleen and Austin. The drive was uneventful except for heavy rain and lightning in the middle of the night. We drove until about 4:30am before stopping to rest breifly.

Friday, 3 June
We started again just before sunup, Kathleen driving the van and Justin driving the truck. The fog was especially dense this morning. In some places, visibility was less than thirty feet. As we entered and exited fogbanks, the few who were awake were treated to spectatular visuals as sunlight filtered through fog and passed over green rolling hills and dewy trees. A quick stop at the restaurant of the Golden Arches filled our bellies. We continued and began to realize just how close we were to our final destination. With shouts of joy, we made the turn off the highway, and onto our favorite dirt road. Thirty minutes and several cattle guards later, we arrived at base camp. We quickly unloaded the trailer and set up our tents. Art, Lee, and Kathleen struck out for Rapid City to do some food shopping and to retrieve Heather and Dr. Kennedy from the airport. Our first meal on-site was spaghetti, green beans, and bread. With shouts of joy, Justin announced that our precious satellite internet connection was now up and running! Later, after several of us had naps, we enjoyed some delicious vegeburgers for supper! The Rapid City crew returned and amid hugs and introductions, we unloaded and put away a pickup truck's load of groceries. To open the Sabbath, Dr. Art compared the story of Esther to our experience here: We were placed on this site for a special purpose in such a time as this. With this thought in mind, we each shuffled off to bed. Storm's a-brewin'...

Saturday, 4 June
It was a little chilly this morning. Dr. Art prepared a delicious breakfast. After we had filled our bellies, everyone gathered 'round for a rousing song service and worship. Dr. Art spoke about the power of God, nothing is too hard for Him. Lunch was served after some more sweet, sweet relaxation. Later, a group took a short field trip to Devil's Tower on the ranch. There are lots of fossils eroding out of the mudstone here. Then we headed over to the ranch owner's house and had the privilege of riding their horses. Supper was delicious and was followed by additional relaxation. Ahhhh, Sabbath...
Sunday, 5 June
It was warm and sunny this morning. A group of sixteen took the opportunity to climb Crazy Horse. It's a absolutely huge monument. The entirety of Mount Rushmore could fit on the side of Chief Crazy Horse's head. Big. Biiiiiiig... It was a long, but satisfying climb. After about 45 minutes of arduous climbing, we realized they routed us the long way. We could have climbed to that point in about five minutes... But 'twas all part of the fun. Much later in the evening, some found that the sky was clear and the Milky Way was beautiful. We sighted ten shooting stars!

Monday, 6 June
This morning during worship Lori, Chloe, and Cara arrived early and suprised us! YAY!! Today was the first official day in the quarries, so all the newbies learned about proper quarrying techniques from Dr. Art. With great excitement, we headed to the dig site. Today we had a bit of trouble with our GPS equipment, so after supper, Dr. Art and Justin went back out to the field and tried to make it work. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

Tuesday, 7 June
This morning we had an absolutely slendid worship outside under the big tent. It was a little chilly, so most were bundled up. But we sure enjoyed the beautiful sunshine. Everyone headed for the quarries and Dr. Art and Justin were happy to find that the GPS equipment was working great! An answer to prayer, to be sure. The Bowyers each had impressive discoveries in North Quarry.

Wednesday, 8 June
Our plan for today was to get ready for a bulldozer. We have hired a bulldozer to edit the top of one of our dig site hills. There are several meters of overburden that, once removed, will put us much closer to the bone layer. Well, just after we started eating lunch, the bulldozer showed up unexpectedly. It was supposed to come tomorrow! So we quickly covered all the fragile bones in the adjacent quarry, and watched the bulldozer in action. Chloe was especially attentive... It's amazing what a few hours and a bulldozer can do. At the end of the day, our site looked very different.

Thursday, 9 June
This morning we woke to the sound of raindrops impacting our tents. It was raining. We had no choice but to wait it out. So we had breakfast and worship. Then we watched a short movie about dinosaurs. By this time it was about two hours later than we normally head to the quarries, and it seemed that the worst of the rain was over. So we headed to the dig site. Because our quarries had turned to mush, we switched to our contingency plan: digging underneath the Hoodoo Hut. It stayed nice and dry under there. It rained lightly for a few more hours then turned sunny and beautiful. David took Kathleen and Toshie to the airport and returned in the evening with groceries. In the evening, Dr. Art presented a fascinating lecture on the history of the study of dinosaurs. We were glad that Mary arrived and had made it safely.

Friday, 10 June
Today was bright and beautiful from the start. We were pleased to find that our quarries were almost completely dry. Cara found an interesting bone that we have not yet been able to identify. Dr. Art and Patcy removed a spectacular Hadrosaur braincase that she discovered a few days ago. As is our weekly custom, we closed the quarries at around 1p and got ready to head to town. After each had collected laundry and soap, we headed into Newcastle. Justin drove the van, Dave drove the pickup. Just as we left camp, we noticed that there were some heavy clouds on the horizon. By the time we reached Newcastle, the rain was pounding down and soon turned to hail. We hit the laundromats full force. The next stop, and the highlight of the evening was dinner. Isabella's. Newcastle's Italian restaurant. Gourmet pizzas and pastas were on the menu and soon in our bellies. To cement the tradition firmly in place, Justin ordered a Smoked Gouda and Portabella Mushroom pizza. Too bad Dr. Larry isn't here to enjoy it too... After a quick stop to the post office, we headed home and were relieved to find that our tents had withstood the rainstorm. And after a long day, those sleeping bags seemed quite inviting.

Saturday, 11 June
What a pleasure to rest on this special day. Everyone slept until they were done, then got up and helped prepare a delicious breakfast. Biscuits, gravy, eggs, grits, and breakfast patties... After the "The Big Dipper" and "The Little Flipper" finished washing dishes, the out to the big tent for a worship service. It was such a pleasure to be outside in nature praising the Creator. As the sun shone down, Dr. Art shared some thoughts about our relationship to God with respect to His law. It was a thought-provoking survey of both the Old and New Testaments. We enjoyed a tasty lunch followed by rest and relaxation in the splendorous beauty of Wyoming. Later, David led a group of us on a hike around the ranch. Over the course of the day, we discovered a leak behind the wall of one of the showers. It soaked through the floor and was dripping onto the ground beneath our building. We'll have to fix it tomorrow. Lori, Chloe, Cara, and Sherelle left us today after lunch. We closed the Sabbath with song service and prayer. About that time, Adrienne's mother came to pick her up. And early tomorrow morning, Judy and Ron will be leaving too. We have lost several people today. But we are looking forward to tomorrow when Curtis and his crew of students from Trinity Christian will arrive.
Sunday, 12 June
Rain. Clouds. Wetness. Today is chilly and drizzly. Most of the group headed for Rapid City to do airport runs and check out the local geology museum. A few stayed behind to hold down the fort. Dave got to work right away on fixing the leaking pipe. Carolyn and Vern graciously let us use a spare pipe fitting. About an hour of work, and Dave announced victory! He turned the water back on and everything was fine. The few who stayed behind worked on various projects including catching up on sleep. Meahwhile, it continues to rain. The students from Trinity Christian Academy in the evening. By this time, it had been raining continuously for twelve hours. They were unsure about the dirt road leading to camp, so a small contingent of them hiked the rest of the way. Their leader, Curtis asked Justin to drive the 4x4 pickup back to the road to get the rest of their crew. The way was very slick. The TCA students set up their already-wet tents in the rain and came in for supper. Hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. It continued to rain. After introductions to the site for the new students, everyone was eventually off to bed. Wet tents and bedding awaited nearly everyone. By now, the tents have endured over 14 hours of continuous rain.

Monday, 13 June
Some time during the night, the rain stopped and the wind started. Many tents were blown flat, and one with three people inside was shifted five feet. Before long, it began to rain again. It has been raining for more than 24 hours now. A small team went to check the quarries. We won't be digging today... The mud was three inches deep in places and the wind was cold and biting. So showed a documentary series on dinosaurs. Curtis came up with a great idea! Create a series of checkpoints on the ranch and mark their coordinates with a GPS receiver. The students were divided into teams and told to find each checkpoint using only a GPS receiver. The team that did it the fastest won! It continued to rain.

Tuesday, 14 June

Wednesday, 15 June

Thursday, 16 June

Friday, 17 June

Saturday, 18 June

Sunday, 19 June

Monday, 20 June

Tuesday, 21 June

Wednesday, 22 June

Thursday, 23 June

Friday, 24 June

Saturday, 25 June

Sunday, 26 June

Monday, 27 June

Tuesday, 28 June

Wednesday, 29 June
At the end of the season we had recovered 755 fossils. This is down considerably from the previous three years in spite of being up in the number of participants (71) and participant days (617).

Thursday, 30 June

Friday, 1 July
The group finally returned to Keene tired, but all safe and sound!

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