Dinosaur Excavation and Taphonomic Research Project

        Experience    Notes from the Field
Site Map   
Notes 2005 2007   Project history  

I write down everything I want to remember. That way, instead of spending a lot of time trying to remember what it was I wrote down, I spend the time looking for the paper I wrote in down on.
Beryl Pfizer

Notes from the Field - The Latest News!


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

Thursday, 1 June
This is the day we leave for season! The caravan from SWAU got off at 8:00am under the direction of Dr. Art and Justin driving north on I 35.

Friday, 2 June
The caravan from SWAU arrived to Camp Cretaceous at about 3:30am, and most humans tried to sleep until daylight. Others came by car and Dr. Larry and Celeste flew in to the Rapid City airport arriving in time to help with the shopping. After a visit to Sam's Club, the back of the pickup was full and the five people in the cab were packed in and around luggage. Of course, we needed two more stops—one in Rapid City at Walmart and the second in Newcastle at Woody's to get almost everything we needed. When everyone got to Camp Cretaceous in the early evening it brought the total to 22 persons including Ryan and Sherelle and six-month old Shayne who had driven and were staying on-site in a camper trailer. Gary had driven from Oklahoma City bring his wife Kathleen (quarry supervisor). Shane and his children Derik and Kamilla were here. Anna and Esequias, newly married, are both earning undergraduate credit. We have a good group of students including Tiffany, Sheila, Rory, Rebecca, and Heston. Quarry supervisor Tyke, David, Austin round the "first-day" pioneers.

Saturday, 3 June
Everyone welcomed a good night's sleep. There was a gentle breeze, and the only thing to disturb sleep was the occasional howl of a coyote and the early morning songs of the plentiful birds. Breakfast was later than the planned 9:00am, but everyone found the biscuits, scrambled eggs, scrambled tofu, and grits filled the void that had developed overnight. Sabbath services were delayed due to a rising wind, but with many hands pitching (pun intended) in together, all tents that appeared threatened were strengthened. Dr. Art led the group in worship on the last few days of the life of Christ and the personalities of the disciples. After lunch we were delighted to have four visitors from the ranch. Much of the rest of the afternoon was devoted to the rest of the bodies interspersed with pleasant conversation and reading. In the late afternoon and early evening, after it had cooled a few degrees from the 81° high, most of the group went exploring at the "Devil's Towers" area on the ranch. This is not the Devil's Tower National Monument northwest of Newcastle, WY. A better name for our local site might be "Imp's Towers!" After a rain numerous small fossils may often be found on the surface. Rabbits are quite numerous around the camp. I wonder if they find us as interesting to watch as we find them?
Sunday, 4 June
Another great night! After a hearty breakfast with a variety of foods including the center piece, a breakfast burrito, Gary left. It took some time to get the chores done, worship, etc. so it was around 9:00am that the majority of the group left to climb Crazy Horse. Drs. Art and Larry and quarry directors Tyke and Kathleen stayed behind to prepare for work in the quarries starting tomorrow. After organizing things and moving dirt, plastic, and hay to open three quarries the four leaders returned to camp tired and dusty anticipating some time to enjoy showers before the group from the Crazy Horse expedition returned. The bad news was they got there within five minutes. The good news was they all started to fix supper immediately! Besides the hike up to say "Hi" to Crazy Horse, the group spent some time at the Black Hills Institute museum in Hill City.

Monday, 5 June
The subject on everyone's lips this morning was the thunderstorm with torrential rain, hail and, of course, lightning that swept through the area last night about 11:00pm. For the most part eveyone stayed dry, but there were a couple of soggy exceptions. The nice thing was that the wind we experienced before and during the storm abated and the rest of the night and early morning were calm. The morning is clear and cool (about 55° at 8:00am)—perfect as soon as things dry out somewhat.
After some orientation and assignment of tools and other preparatory work everyone finally started to work in the quarries. We now have three quarries open: North Main, South Main, and West. A number of bones were found this first day, but they will wait to tomorrow (when the GPS equipment is ready) to be retrived and recorded. North Main quarry was laid out with meter grids because of location marks made in previous years, and each student was assigned his or her square. West quarry is well designated since all of the 16 one-meter squares have been started previously—the anticipation is that we will finish this "test" quarry this year. South and the Southeast quarries will wait until the GPS is available to be marked off. Southeast is a new quarry that was briefly explored last year after the bulldozer work. It is located next to the New (Teague) quarry which was buried by the bulldozer. In the middle of the afternoon, a new participant, Ben, joined the group which takes our number to 22 persons.
After a welcome supper, Dr. Art gave a lecture to the group on the bones of a dinosaur so we all can identify what we are finding in the field.

Tuesday, 6 June
Breakfast came early after a good night's rest under the calm and cool Wyoming night (about 48° at day break). Muscles are a bit sore from the unaccustomed positions and use, but that will change in the next day or so. The morning was a great one with several participants finding their first "nice" bone. Just after lunch Tom, Lynda, and Julian arrived ready to dig—at least Julian was! In the early afternoon, Bethania, Carolina, and Uriel arrived—Carolina and Uriel are earning credit.
The GPS equipment is now fully functional so we can totally process bones—not just find them. West quarry is so glad because they were running out of room to work in their 4m by 4m area with found bones that could not be removed until their location measured by the GPS. We also got an upgrade to our satellite internet connection. Hopefully, this will give us sufficient upload bandwidth so we can post pictures to our photo gallery.
It was warm (in the upper 80's) with a somewhat cooling breeze but working in the sun really baked out the water. Dr. Larry bugged everyone to drink, drink, and drink! After dinner, Tom, Lynda, and Julian left for the night in a motel in Newcastle. They are to be back again tomorrow for another great day of adventure! Dr. Art give another exciting lecture on the geological column—now all the students know about Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous and other erudite terms.
With all the coming and goings we have 25 persons here tonight.

Wednesday, 7 June
We are all in the mode when the tent and sleeping bag still feels wonderful, and it is hard to climb each morning! However, the "food" group was on task early fixing a wonderful "freedom toast" breakfast. The sky is partially overcast and the wind calm. It is a great day for working in the quarry! Tom, Lynda, and Julian returned just before lunch and worked for a couple of hours before finally moving on to the rest of their vacation. We are now making great progress with the GPS and the computerized bone checkin—the GPS is working to perfection and the bone checkin is working with the usual problems of a beta test!
It was a pleasant surprise to see Al had at work on the camp facilities when we returned from the quarries. There is no one that does not appreciate his and Brenda's hard work to provide the group with comfortable facilities. Dr. Art left after supper for two days to give a talk at a conference on this research so Dr. Larry lectured on the "Nature of God vs. God's Nature."

Thursday, 8 June
Another great night with some wind late Wednesday night but calm by morning. Early last evening some rain appeared threatening, but it never arrived. Al and Brenda had stayed the night and joined with us for breakfast. This should be another fruitful excavation day. With Dr. Art gone for a couple of days and Justin finished with the upgrades to the computer system, Justin gets to be "gypsy" today! The Southeast quarry was laid out—the next step is to identify exactly which of the area contains bones! Problems with the GPS that surfaced have created some delay, but it was a full day of excavation.
As the group returned for dinner, we discovered that quarry leader David had arrived. In order to clean out the fridges for our Friday shopping, the great idea was suggested to make Thursday night "left-over" night. (It might be noted the suggestion was by one of the "meals" group for today!) After dinner, Dr. Larry presented a lecture on God and the universe. It must have been a good lecture, because a few minutes afterward the rain started. The shower did not last long and as it moved off to the east, the sun low on the western horizon created a beautiful rainbow in the eastern sky. For a time a full semicircle ending at two "pots of bones" could be seen.

Friday, 9 June
Rest comes easy when you are tired. This last night was no exception. We did get a light shower in the night (at least one!) and another at day break. Light rain is good because it keeps things cool and adds some moisture to the digging area—too much to turn the matrix to mud is tooooooooooo much, but a slightly moist matrix is so much easier to work than when it becomes baked dry and hard. Today is a half day in the quarry. We go to Newcastle for clean clothes, groceries, and dinner. The Southeast quarry was opened as David and a couple of the group began to remove fill and overburden to discover the limits of the area with bones.
Al and Brenda were busy in the morning painting and generally improving the facilities. Ben left after lunch to the "real world"—it was great to have him here this past week.
Newcastle now has two laundromats! With 20+ persons trying to their wash all at once, it really was a great help. Many of the group also took the opportunity to reach out and connect with friends and loved ones since Newcastle had great cell phone service. During our weekly excursion to Woody's to fill three grocery carts full of food and supplies—in anticipation of the group of 21 from Trinity next week—a most torrential thunderstorm moved through Newcastle. Some of the group even spotted some rotation just under the cloud base. It was exciting, but by the time we had finished checking out and ready to cart all the goodies to the vans the rain had moved on. Kathleen and David returned to camp, but the rest of the group spent a delightful period of time enjoying the great food food in Isabella's.
The return trip to Camp Cretaceous began with some anxiety as to the road condition. It had rained at the ranch early in the afternoon so the drivers hoped the road had dried out by the time we were ready to use it. The lightning in the south and west as we left Newcastle was not encouraging, but the dazzling bright rainbow in the east brightened everyone's spirits. In reality the ride back to the camp went smoothly—too smooth and slippery in a few places for the driver's comfort! The cows seemed to have decided that standing in the road at that time was the thing to do also. Kamilla counted about 50 pronghorn on the trip to town earlier as well as on the return trip. More than one of the beautiful beasties decided to race the van—they can really cruise! We all got back and the groceries safely tucking into their proper places by sunset. There were a couple of soggy sleeping bags either due to leaks or flaps being left open. It only takes one such experience to remember to close up a tent tightly and pile everything that could get wet in the middle of the tent not touching the sides and on top of a air mattress or something that will not soak up any water if the liquid manages to get into the bottom.
Dr. Art returned—his presentation had gone well. Quarry leader Amy and her children Katherine and Cooper arrived late. The official count of participants in camp Friday night is 28.

As of the end of the first week in the quarries with only three open quarries our total bone count is 194. This would have undoubtly been higher if we had had a full functional week with the GPS. In some areas of some of the quarries excavation has ground to a standstill because of exposed bones waiting to be the GPSed and removed (The total bone count includes these.) so further digging can occur to expose more fossils

Saturday, 10 June
At sunrise, only one person was up. An hour later, 6:30am, only three faces had appeared in the camp kitchen—this is the one day of the week when everyone can sleep in. (We get an extra portion of sleep like the Israelites received an extra portion of manna on Friday. And like the Isrealites, we cannot store up the extra sleep time for the rest of the week!) Ben had extended an invitation to the group to visit the church group he had been meeting with in Hot Springs. At 8:30 a van with a half dozen people left. They missed another biscuit breakfast with scrambled eggs and tofu, fried potatoes, and fresh cantalope (and David insisted on gravy). The morning is overcast with a light breeze and altogether pleasant! Dr. Art lead out in the worship on Biblical references to bones. We met out under the "circus tent" with everyone sitting in camp chairs in a big ellipse. About halfway through the presentation a bunny hopped into the middle, sat there looking at us and wiggling its nose for awhile then finally hopping off presumably to find something more interesting or tasty.
After lunch prepared by Dr. Art and the leaders, we had a slow afternoon watching a video of a presentation on creation. The wind came up and the radar showed potential rain moving northeast but with gaps passing over us. Nevertheless, the wind broke one tent pole and threatened other tents. About 4:00pm we did get a brief shower, but by then everyone was ready. After the "storm" moved through, the wind dropped and the clouds cleared and the birds began to call—absolutely lovely.
The van that had left early for church in Hot Springs returned about 5:00pm. They had driven through the heart of a thunderstorm cell with its darkness and seemingly "solid water" rain.
About 6:30pm Sherelle, Ryan, Anna, and Esequias rode four horses to the camp from the ranch. Of course there were several who wanted short rides. Others took the opportunity of pleasant sunny time with a gentle, cool breeze to take short exploratory hikes in the area around the camp.
Sunday, 11 June
Dr. Larry and Celeste left late after learning her mother, Cindy, had arrived at the Rapid City airport. All three arrived back safely to camp in the wee hours of the morning even after shopping as well.
At breakfast it was envigoratingly cool (about 42°) and calm, and the full moon night light had finally set.
The morning was a great time to work, and after lunch the GPS started getting caught up with the exposed bones.
At 4:00 Al and Brenda came by and most of the group left for an evening hike to the top of Inyan Kara. George Custer inscribed his name on a rock on the summit during a survey trip in 1874.
Just as the remaining group was finishing dinner, the group from Trinity Christian Academy with Curtis, Joe, and Liz arrived with 18 eager eighth graders (two of the adult leaders are still on the way). They will be here until Wednesday afternoon. While they were setting up their tents Lori, Chloe, Shevon, Anita, Austin, and Miranda arrived. This brings the total number of persons in camp to 58—a record number for the Dinosaur Project! Fortunately everyone managed to have their tents set up and were having a wonderful meal when a light shower cooled things down. As the rain passed to the east, another rainbow could be seen. It was a wonderful backdrop as we celebrated Lexi's birthday.
Joseph and Gary from Trinity finally arrived and slept in the kitchen, since it was too late to set up tents, until the breakfast crew disturbed. The hiking group got back after 1:00am. With Al and Brenda staying in their tent, we actually had 60 persons sleeping (for a few hours) in Camp Cretaceous!

Monday, 12 June
The night was a typical night. It started out windy—there may have been a little rain—and dawn was calm. Again, the cacaphony of bird calls was all that could be heard until here and there an alarm clock went off as the group began stirring. Sleeping in tents and working outside makes the weather high on everyone's mind—even higher than how the Mavericks are doing in the NBA playoffs and much higher than how far in first the Rangers still are! With this number of people the water supply available to the camp is also of concern. Everyone has been warned to conserve water, except for drinking, by taking quick showers, etc. In past years the well did temporarily dry up but then it was also being used to supply water to a pasture of cattle.
The enthusiasm of the Trinity students is amazing. They are all ready to help and work hard in camp and the quarries. We discovered that the new Southeast quarry was not yet ready for the number of excavators that we planned. It is at the edge of ridge that had been bulldozed off in 2005. In the past few days we had worked with a shovel to try to find the actual edge under the fill pushed in by the buldozer—while the edge of the bone layer had been GPSed last year the information was not available for us to lay out the quarry properly this year. While the bone layer was being located, we sent several to accompany David and Joe to open the Far East quarry and we reopened the Teague quarry under Amy's direction. Lori and Chloe were placed in charge of the Southeast quarry.
Later in the day David returned to announce that they had found nothing in the Far East quarry. While that finding is interesting, it is admittedly rather boring! Fortunately, North and South and West quarries are still quite "bonetiful." The GPS was working and we all (except for poor David in the Far East) made good progress as the day proceeded.
We have a new computerized system for "checking in" bones. It had taken a few days after arriving here to get the kinks ironed out and the system still does not provide the necessary information needed to process the bones here in camp. Therefore, we have resorted to the "old-fashioned" way we have used for several years to record which of many boxes a bone is actually packed for transport back to SWAU.
After a dinner of hot dogs and macaroni and cheese (along with some other items) Dr. Art gave a lecture to the combined groups on dinosaurs and the current research project. Dr. Larry felt really great after getting totally caught up on boxing bones and taking a refreshing (but less than two minutes of water) shower! The evening is pleasant—clear, a perfect temperature and a gentle breeze—we shall see how long it lasts!

Tuesday, 13 June
Day break arrived too early this morning after a late night of general noise in the camp. It is another lovely day with the promise of finding great things! Breakfast of pancakes, prosage, and grits supplied the fuel for the morning. Due to the large number of people in camp we have not been trying to get everyone together for camp meals. There is something to be said for the entire group getting together for certain social events, but given the large number of people in camp it is logical to led meals slip. We will have everyone together for worships!
Dr. Larry is always checking that people are wearing eye protection (besides drinking enough water). Shevon came up with the most appropriate answer to the question: "Is everyone here wearing eye protection?" The answer is not "Yes" or "Yes, sir" but a resounding "Aye, aye, sir!"
This is a very good day. It was hot (low 90's), and we went through seven large containers of water at the quarry site. We started with three plus the water each person carried from camp. At noon two were refilled and in the middle of afternoon three were refilled We had one left when the last group came to camp for supper at 5:15pm!
Amy was not feeling well and stayed in camp to rest all day. Early in the afternoon Lori and Chloe decided to leave the quarries early. This left us with a shortage of experienced quarry leaders to direct all the Trinity group; however, we did manange to supervise them adequately. Justin also was not feeling well—he doesn't come around with the GPS often enough for Dr. Larry to bug him about drinking and was "away" for lunch—so Dr. Art did gypsy duty for the last part of the afternoon while Justin spent time in the North quarry with Tiffany! In reality, everyone was feeling quite tired—the heat seems to do that!
After another fine dinner, with lots of lemonaide, and some time to simply relax all felt much improved. Dr. Art made a presentation to the students on the research project. The Trinity group generally relaxed, and Dr. Larry processed bones with Kathleen's help and packed them into boxes. We now have seven boxes of smaller bones plus a number of boards to be transported back to SWAU so the students there will have something to do in the next eleven months.

Wednesday, 14 June
It is most interesting to observe the camp wake up and become alive each morning. At first the only sounds are the bird calls, then a few tent zippers, followed by the sounds of the camp doors and the sounds of the meal group as they begin the breakfast preparation and putting out lunch materials. Soon the entire camp is stirring and the day has begun; especially when someone honks the horn for meal time! Camp Cretaceous is not the place to come to lose weight—breakfasts and dinners have too much great food. This morning Tyke directed a group of twelve in making a hearty breakfast of freedom toast, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, applesauce, and cereal (for those who fell better with a cold meal) followed by worship, the gathering of packs and filling of water bottles, and the trip to the quarries. Of course, we do burn off many calories during the day and go through quarts of water each—at least we should! Lunches are self-made sandwiches which really taste wonderful at noon simply because of honest hunger although sandwiches do get rather repetitive.
The eighteen (plus five adults) from Trinity are divided into three groups to join with the meals, cleaning, and worship groups for the three days they are with us. We have been able to take advantage of these eighth graders to present morning worships. It has been a real blessing!
We have been short an important tool for moving dirt—an awl. It seemed that at times there was only a single awl available in a quarry for everyone, hence the phrase: "Awl for one, and one for all!" (Don't groan—its not that awful!)
A mouse appeared under the Hoodoo Hut just before lunch. Of course, a number of people spotted it sticking its nose out of a hole. That increased the excitement level for a few minutes, but then lunch was much more attractive except for a group that used this as an excuse to eat their lunch in the air conditioned interior of a car.
This morning was extremely calm, so calm that more than one person was expressing hope for a breeze. They got what they asked for! Just after noon the wind really started to blow. The area bulldozed flat last year had been walked on by 110+ feet for a period of several days, and the wind generated a dust storm of stinging particles. (Later it seemed that it was necessary to use up the majority of the two minutes ration of water in the shower just to get ears clean!) Of course, just about the time we left the quarries for dinner, the wind abated! The temperature was in the mid 90's, but the sky was partially overcast which helped, but the humidity was quite low which didn't help. We still went through lots of water!
The Trinity group left about 2:30pm, and left us another signed TCA t-shirt.
Dinner seems too quiet and empty! This is especially true since in the middle of the afternoon Lori, Chloe, Anita and her two children decided to go to town—only 26 for dinner (less those who do not eat dinner)!
Drs. Art and Larry combined as two fossils lecturing on the history of dinosaurs. About sunset there was a brilliant white wide "flat-top" cloud the seemingly covered the Black Hills. It looked like someone nuked them. Probably it represents a storm system east of us moving east. A little rain tonight would be welcome. A torrential downpour would not be so wonderful! God will provide!
As the brilliant orange and pink glow in the western horizon was reaching its peak two cars arrived with Dr. Lloyd and Edith, Drs. Mark and Charla and their three children, Anna, Adelaide, and Rachel. There was plenty of help to get their tents up before it got too dark. Myckal and Delaney arrived slightly later and slept in an empty tent. Including Al and Brenda the total persons in camp is only 45! They range from the 6 month old Shayne to the "85" year-old Lori. (That was the age Chloe listed on the application/information form for her mother!)

Thursday, 15 June
A calm and restful night, no rain, and with a temperature of about 55° at day break. The weather report is promising a high in the mid 70's. Of course in the past few days the prediction missed the actual by quite a few Fahrenheits.
Breakfast was another great meal of scrambled eggs (and tofu for the vegans), muffins, and oatmeal (and grits for Dr. Art) along with trimmings.
Rory practices his kendo faithfully each day with a practice sword. We have found out his girlfriend's name is Sonnet. With some poetic license, Rory's "shake a sword" can be written as "shake a spear." He is her Shakespeare, and she is his Sonnet. Obviously a match made in Elizabethean England!
This was perhaps the ideal day for work. The high was in the high 70's; the wind was a gentle breeze, and an overcast sky controled the baking sun. At the noon lunch call several expressed surprise that it was not midmorning! We oriented the new people and put them immediately to work in the quarries so they had a great introduction to the process.
It has seemed that at times the GPS has stopped working properly in the North quarry. Part of the problem is that the Hoodoo Hut does not seem perfectly transparent to the radio signals sent by the base. However, that does not explain signal dropout when the rover is in line of sight with the base station. Dr. Larry and Rory have finally figured out that is their presence in the vicinity of the rover that creates the problem. They simply walked to the otherside of the quarry and the GPS worked fine! It is Rory magnetic personality and Dr. Larry's thinking. Together they think they are magnetic!
In the late afternoon Lori's mother (Chloe's grandmother) Dr. Judy and her husband arrived somewhat unexpectedly. However, the guys were all to happy to help her set up their tent. Therefore, tonight we have 47 people relaxing in tents. Dr. Art ended the day with the students lecturing on the complexity of living creatures from single cells to humans. The physical universe is soooo much simplier!

Friday, 16 June
We have now reached midpoint of the expedition. Each participant that stays the full season will spend 27 nights in a tent in Camp Cretaceous. We now have completed 14!

It was a great sleeping night. It was cool and overcast with a slight wind.
Before breakfast Tiffany left. After taking her to the Rapid City airport and shopping poor Justin will have nothing to do for the rest of the expedition except concentrate on work! At 7:00am, breakfast time, there were only about 14 people ready to eat even though the God had turned on the day time light. The suggestion was made to yell out "Worship. Meet under the tent!" Since worship comes after breakfast it might raise some urgency in the late sleepers!
It was another great day for work and was hard to break away just after noon for the weekly trip to Newcastle, but the desire for clean clothes and a pizza dinner was irresistable! A shower really feels great even though it is limited. The bad news is that a person's tan seems to wash away. The good news is that each one seems to lose about a pound in the shower!
Dr. Lloyd and family left about 2:30pm just as the two vans, one car, and one truck left for Newcastle.
The events of the last week were duplicated—get the wash started then talk to family and friends on cell phones until it is time to move the wash to the dryer, then back to reaching out and touching someone!
We all arrived back in camp just before sunset (no rain or slippery roads for once) in time for a short vespers. About 11:00pm Dr. Larry set the telescope that was in the camp on Jupiter for those few that were still awake. By midnight the sun was sufficiently below the western horizon and the waning moon had not yet risen so that the Milky Way was visible. Shortly thereafter, sleep made everything very dark!
With Al and Brenda gone along with the others that have left we just have 37 tonight.

We have found and processed 621 bones of the end of work today. This compares well to the 491 we had processed as of the end of the corresponding date in 2004 on the way to a total of 883. (In 2005 the weekly data was not recorded, but the total at the end was 755.) The record total for a full season is 1002 in the year 2003. Will we eclipse this record?

Saturday, 17 June
Cindy and Celeste were up early for David to drive Cindy to the Rapid City airport. We have, especially Celeste, have enjoyed having her mother here for the week. We have found she is a real Angell!
Breakfast was a little late—9:30 rather than the target 9:00—but no one seemed to mind. We added sautéed mushrooms to the menu of homemade biscuits (all round, no heart shaped ones), scrambled eggs, scrambled tofu (with and without onions), grits, and fresh fruit. It is a delightful Sabbath morning, cool, calm, and sunny. Worship was led by Dr. Art discussing the "last sermon" of Peter as recorded in 1st and 2nd Peter. Carolina had arranged the special music that closed the service. It featured Austin on the violin.
Just before lunch Drs. Mark and Hugh arrived to spend the next week with us finding out what real digging is like! Mark is an archeologist and Hugh is a physicist.
God gave us the afternoon that we all needed— sunny and warm (high 79°) but with a cooling breeze. Catching up on rest was priority for many of the group. Two cars took people to the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore. In the late afternoon Dr. Art took a sizeable group on a hike to the Cheyenne River while David made his famous lima bean lasagna for dinner. Miranda returned with smashed hand—a real pain on the day before her tenth birthday. But, she is a trooper and after first aid, devoured her dinner.
As the sun dipped below the horizon, we celebrated Miranda's birthday with a surprise party. It is a day early, but she and her family are planning to leave early Sunday morning. Part of the surprise was the "special" birthday candles that kept relighting!
Sunday, 18 June
Father's day arrived cool (47° at 6:00am), clear, and calm. This is also the Ranch Open House day. We have left fossils partially exposed and in the ground so that local visitors to this annual event organized by the ranch can see what we have been and are doing. After breakfast including muffins, scrambled eggs, and Zoom, David led us in worship. Then we experienced a sad moment as we said goodbye to Lori, Chloe, Shevon, Anita, Austin, Miranda, Judy, and Ron.
In the morning we prepared for the Open House, and people started arriving after noon. Dr. Art spent the day in Camp Cretaceous showing a video overview of the project. The rest of digging group worked in the quarries and showed and explained and answered questions. Al also greeted the visitors and welcomed them on behalf of the Hanson Research Station. For those of us who have been coming to the site for several years, it brought to mind the wonderful improvement to the facilities since the turn of the century! The "house trailer" of course provided hot water, electricity, showers, kitchen, and a meeting place, but just as it was dying the camp as we now enjoy arose due to the hard work of Al, Brenda, and other volunteers. In many respects, this "infrastructure" work which supports the more direct excavation work is not only vital but just as important.
It was good to meet these persons who had taken the time to come to see what we were doing. Several expressed the interest in coming again for a day or part of a day to work with us. A total of 50 signed in, and by 5:00pm we started pulling bones that we had partially exposed for all to see. Ben, who had spent a week with us earlier this season, returned for the afternoon, and Terry arrived in the midafternoon.
The ranch had obtained cookies and lemonade for the guests and about 3:00pm brought some around to the group that was digging. It was so really Grrrrrreeeat! North quarry unanimously decided that this should be permanent daily event!
Dinner was haystacks with a special cake for dessert. Since is was Sunday, there was no planned lecture so the students had time to study and the others (except for the director and leaders) enjoyed a restful evening. There is always "extra" work to be done in the evening for some—uploading photos and data, packing bones, organizing, and generally making certain everything is ready for the next day.

Monday, 19 June
It is hard to think of today as Monday with all the work we got done yesterday.
Morning arrived not with a bang, but with a whimper as the waning moon arose early dimming the glorious Milky Way. As the sky began to brighten with the impending sun rise, Venus made her appearance in the east. Well, before the breakfast crew arrived, the cloudless eastern sky began to show colors and the surrounding hills became dark silhouettes. As time passed and the rotation of the Earth moved us around toward the sun, the brillance of Venus paled and details on the foreground and hills grew in the brightening sky. The predawn colors faded in the east to be replaced by colorful clouds in the west. Finally, the birds began to awake, and in turn people started their day, and by breakfast time, the bright sun was totally visible, the sky was blue with a few white clouds. This is an awesome and beautiful time of the day!
A pancake breakfast got everyone off to a good day. Early the wind was calm but by afternoon is was blowing those logging chains almost horizontal. We had a good day, even if the Southeast, Teague, and South quarries were pelted by sand swept off the flat 2005 bulldozed area. Now those who work there are probably rueing losing the wind shelter ridge between Teague and South quarries.
Terry left just after noon.
Dinner was David's special potato salad and hot dogs. With perfect timing, Kathleen's husband Gary and son Thad arrived before the potato salad had disappeared.
Dr. Art presented a lecture to the students and other interested participants on dinosaur systematics and classification. As his lecture ended it appeared that a storm was moving in from the west even though the surface wind was from the east! Internet radar loop showed that the storm area would move west to east just north of us—we would be under the southern fringe. Sure enough, we could watch the turbulent clouds move toward us and overhead with lightning to the north and east. The clear skies to the west following the storm were a perfect sign of hope. A few drops of rain later and a few flattened tents (no permanent major damage), the wind suddenly ceased. The only lingering effects was the loss of electricity—of course, this meant no water (and no hot water) and no internet!

We have now logged 765 bones. This surpasses the total for 2005! And we still have another week to find, log and remove even more bones!

Tuesday, 20 June
Usually during the night the camp facility is lit up like a Christmas tree with numerous lights from computer screens, status lights on the equipment, etc. During last night only a few slowly beating lights from sleeping Apples could be seen!
Morning arrived with electricity restored, calm and dry—so dry that in fact that there was no water! It was a simple matter to reset a circuit breaker and to reboot the router, etc. and the world was back to normal! We are so appreciative that Al was here to set things right! Thank you Al for your efforts, time, and hard work!!!
Soon after we arrived at the quarry under near perfect conditions, Annette and David, their two children Breanna and Zachary, and parents Robert and Eva arrived to spend the day with us. We had reached the bottom of the west support for the Hoodoo Hut, and Al came out and put a temporary support in place so we could continue to work below to the bottom of the bone bed. Our GPS has been having problems and after contacting the company, we found out that other units were also experiencing similar difficulties. The company is sending us new components—hopefully here by Thursday. Meanwhile, Justin figured out how to get the base station from one unit and the rover from another to work together; therefore, we have a functioning GPS unit! Let's hear it for Justin: "A J, a U, a S, a T, a I, a N,    JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuustin!!!!!" Gary and Thad left about noon. Annette and family left in the late afternoon, but Stan had arrived by the time the meals group made it back to Camp Cretaceous. This brings the people in the camp to 31 plus Al who has been staying with us.
Dr. Art presented a lecture to the students and others. During the lecture one of the children came in and excited reported a water leak (more like a flood) under the facilities. Fortunately it was on the building side of the main water cutoff value. Fortunately, it was easy to stop by closing the value. Unfortunately, it means that we are without water until it can be repaired. Fortunately, Al and David and Art and others are here to repair it. Unfortunately, it occurred before David got his shower! Fortunately, Al repaired it within a few minutes—the students inside listening to the presentation probably did not know anything was amiss. Fortunately, David got his shower!
While all this was going on, Dr. Larry managed to get caught up on packing the small bones in boxes. (And even fit in a shower!) We have now accumulated a number of large bones that will be "foamed" to boards, so even though the small bones disappear into boxes, there is still more "checkin" when these are finished being processed.

Wednesday, 21 June
Just after midnight we experienced a real gully buster of a thunderstorm. It was exciting to hear the wind and the rain pelting the thin fabric of the tent. But those sounds paled in comparison of seeing a bright flash of lightning and within a fraction of a second hear a loud bang followed by a thunderous rumble that echoed across the sky. Hey, David could have just waited and got his shower then! By 1:00am the storm had moved on, and everything was quiet.
Morning brings another gorgeous day on this summer solstice, and a few reports of some minor sogginess. As the month progresses, we get better at setting tents and arranging our accommodations! Sprinkles accompanied morning worship, but then the sky turned dry and clear as the day progressed. We found the quarries rather muddy in places, but there were other places we could all work.
In the middle of the morning, David left.
In the quarry we find hadrosaur teeth, and typically process only the more complete ones; that is, "The tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth!" The rest of the day turned out to be a really great work day and all too soon it was time to return for dinner and lecture by Dr. Art. The GPS components we need arrived today so tomorrow we should be in great shape!
We have four new visitors camping in Camp Cretaceous: Bill is here for the HRS annual board meeting on Sunday with his wife, Jackie, and two professors, Eric and Stephanie. They are not a part of the project but would like to see what we are doing and experience some "working fingers to the bones." Al is not here, so with David gone and the four it brings our total to 34 tonight.

Thursday, 22 June
Well, it started with light sprinkles in the middle of the night that turned into a constant rain until day break. While this is not the greatest for us, the soaking moisture is welcomed by the ranchers.
After breakfast and worship, the skies were clearing, and the day turned into a great working day. Stephanie and Eric joined us in the quarries in the middle of the morning and in the afternoon we had three "day" visitors who had become acquainted with the project during the Open House come by. Donna and David had a chance to experience the fun of finding a bone or two!
In the late afternoon, Tyke's husband, Ed, arrived to take Tyke home—we all will miss her leadership, especially West quarry. The students there will continue to do a great job—Tyke has trained them well.
During supper we celebrate Carolina's birthday. Dr. Art presented another lecture to the students.

Friday, 23 June
As the tents became occupied in the darkening evening skies Thursday is was apparent that some of the darkening was due to a large dark cloud overcast area to the north, east and west punctuated by flashes of lightning. Some time after all the kiddies were tucked tight in their "beds" the winds arose, the rain came down, the lightning flashed and the thunder thundered. (At least one person basically slept through it!) By 2:00 am the skies were clear—with water vapor that obscured stars near the horizon, but the overhead sky was brilliant with the Milky Way a bright band across the sky from north to south.
In the predawn sky the crescent moon and Venus could be seen near each other in the east. Sunrise was not glorious and colorful because there were no clouds to reflect the purples, blues, reds, and yellows of some of the spectacular sunrises we have had. It was a more subtle brightening as the moon and Venus grew higher and apparently less brilliant.
Today is a "Field Day" from work in the field. The group is visiting sites in the Black Hills (and doing laundry and buying necessary groceries). Since next week is the last week, we buy only necessities and try to "eat down" the things we have; therefore, we anticipate somewhat less than normal variety!
Just after breakfast we had a pleasant drive to Hot Springs, SD to visit the Mammoth Site there and do laundry. Dr. Art has a speaking engagement at a camp in the Black Hills tomorrow so he and Stan left the group which continued to Mt. Rushmore for a short visit. (We could have not rushed more!) From there it was to Hill City and the Black Hills Institute to see the animal skeletons on display. Celeste had a phone call from her mother, Cindy (who was here last week). After arriving home and having had a chance to think upon all she had learned and the people she had been exposed to here she realized why the dinosaurs became extinct: they suffered from reptile disfunction!
The group stopped for a grocery refill and a pizza fill, and finally arrived back at camp shortly before the sun dropped below the western horizon. We had encountered rain in the Black Hills but the sky was clear when we got to Newcastle and later as we left to return "home." The road in reality was not that bad, but we found that earlier in the evening the camp had been drenched again, and there will be some soggy people once again this night.

There was no work in the quarries on Friday so the bone count for the week is as of the end of Thursday. We had logged 982 items! This is only 20 fossils short of the record 1002 set in 2003.

Saturday, 24 June
It seems hard to get to bed early on Friday evenings! Sun down is around 9:40pm. Even with a short sundown worship to welcome Sabbath, it is at least 10:00pm before anyone can even think about sleep. And, of course, it does not get dark for some time and Friday evenings are a great time to relax and get caught up on things. Dawn arrives about 6:15am, but it is getting light much earlier. In the "real world" it is apparent we are insulated from the diurnal ebb and flow of nature. The wall of a house is much thicker than a tent fabric, and we can control the light or dark inside easily by curtains, blinds or shades and electric lights! We rarely hear our neighbors. Temperature inside is what we set regardless of the outside. Most people in our society probably cannot tell you what the current phase of the moon is. It is great to reattach to nature—the rain can be intense as long as it is not in tents!
Breakfast was the usual, but at 9:30am rather than 9:00 rather than 7:00! Promptly at 11:00am we met inside the camp building, which had been reconfigured as an informal chapel, for a PowerPoint presentation from Dr. Mark on archeological evidence the illuminates Jesus's Galilean ministry. It was excellent!
After lunch, Drs. Mark and Hugh left to continue this journey of exploration below the human occupation "overburden" layers! The camp suddenly seemed to have an empty spot. May God go with them and keep them and us in His hands.
However, the the day was not gloomy. The warm sunny day allowed all tents, sleeping bags, etc. to dry and air. Our creator supplies all we need:

"The God that rules on high,
And thunders when He please,
Who rides upon the stormy sky,
Who rides upon the stormy sky, ...."
"Still cares for all of us He sees.
Still cares for all of us He sees."

In the afternoon people caught up on sleep and rest, took hikes, and generally used this 24 hour gift of guiltfree rest that God has given us to gather and top off reserves for the upcoming last week of excavation.
With about two hours before the rotation of the earth took the camp into the shadow of the sun, Ryan and Sherelle decided to accept Carolyn Johnson's invitation to visit the ranch house. Justin was easily able to fill a van load of the group on this trek. While they were gone the hikers began arriving back at camp.
Dr. Art and Stan return late—after everyone should have gone to bed but early enough to get a good night's rest.

Sunday, 25 June
This day is the annual Hanson Research Station board meeting. It is cool this morning (46°) as the breakfast crew arrived to begin heating up the kitchen with cooking.
Stan left us just after breakfast, and Bill, Jackie, Eric, and Stephanie left after the afternoon HRS board meeting. Our numbers are getting smaller, but not small—we are definately not down to a skeleton crew!
The day in the quarry was glorious, and much work was done. We have now catalogued 1054 specimens eclipsing the record of 1002 set in 2002. Drs. Art and Larry left at 3:00 to attend the board meeting and Justin drove down later. We discovered that many of us suffer from PNS—Paleo Nerd Syndrome. This is where old men and women still love to read about and study dinosaurs!
By the time the meeting in the ranch house was over, dinner for the group was long over, but enough had been saved for the three delinquent ones not to starve. Dr. Art presented the last "mainline" lecture to the students—now they must internalize all the information for the final exam!

Monday, 26 June
Today is the beginning of the end of our wonderful adventure. Between now and Thursday morning we need to retrive any and all bones that have been located but are still in the ground. The mantra for the next few days is "Don't find any new bones!" Of course it never works quite that way.
The day was great one! We were busy removing bones and getting quarries cleaned up; however, there were over fifty new bones identified.
The air compressor used to power the little handheld "jack hammers" used to work through hard material had developed a problem with a connector, and Dr. Art asked Al to get a part when he went to Newcastle. The next thing we knew, Al had fixed it!! Next year, we will insist that Al be here the entire time!
In the North quarry it is all pun and games until a difficult bone is being worked on. Then it gets quiet. No one wants talk when anyone has a bone to pick.
Amy and Katherine and Cooper left in the late afternoon for a few hours of sightseeing in the Black Hills. They plan to return sometime tomorow.
After a fine haystack supper, Dr. Art discussed dinosaurs and birds. He decided the notion that birds are dinosaurs is for the birds!
We celebrated Sherelle's birthday with a wonderful citrus cake. Blowing out the candles was either easy or hard depending upon your perspective—this cake had no candles!

Tuesday, 27 June
This morning brought another cloudless color gradient appearing on the the eastern horizon that at first brightened then faded as this part of the world awakened. It was another great day. Everyone is tired, but still making progress.
We have had the help of a number of the Hanson family that spent time in the quarries—primarily South quarry. Lanae and Donna have spent more than one afternoon. Their children have been big helpers. Luke and Dan, Al and Brenda's sons also worked one day.
In addition to people helping in the quarries we have had about ten day-visitors who came just to see the operation.
There was no lecture tonight and the group is divided into three pieces: the ones studying (called students), the ones with nothing to do, and the leaders who are busy foaming bones to boards and packing boxes for transport. Luther, Austin's father arrived in the early evening while everything was going on!

Wednesday, 28 June
This is the last day in quarries barring finding the one great bone that just cannot wait until next year! We work the morning in the quarries removing any partially exposed bones. The afternoon is devoted to closing the quarries by covering exposed areas, preparing for winter and cows, and packing the tools in the shed. During the afternoon there will be more studying and in the evening the students earning credit will take a final exam.
By shortly after noon, West quarry was cleared. North was clear at about 10:00am with the exception of one bone that took most of the afternoon to excavate. In the South and South East quarries work carried on until well in the evening to cast and retrieve a few large bones.

At this end of work in the quarries, this year's group located and retrived 1182 specimens. This number far surpasses the previous record of 1002. As usual North quarry led the set of quarries with 329 (see bones recovered). The surprise was West quarry with 229 fossils which was considerably higher than the record for that limited extent quarry of 143 established in 2004. However, West quarry should be very near the bottom of the bone bed throughout the area of the quarry. It was anticipated that West would be closed out permanently this year—looks it will be early next year!

Thursday, 29 June
Today is the day that Camp Cretaceous is closed until next year. The aim is get away by noon on the trek back to Keene. The morning is the best of all worlds for packing and closing camp—sunny, dry, and calm! With so many hands (27 times 2) it should not take long—typically we are down to less than 10 people by this day.
There was still some work to be done in the quarries: pulling a couple of femora and "winterizing" North quarry by covering the horizontal surfaces that might contain bones with black plastic and dirt and pallets to keep the cows away! The other quarries had no exposed bones except in walls so the closing was particularly easy.
Gary arrived in the middle of the morning to take Kathleen away. At noon Esequias and Anna left to drive Celeste and Dr. Larry to the Rapid City airport before heading south. The two SWAU vans and truck with its bed and trailer full of precious bones got away at 1:00pm.
It was with sadness that we said goodbye to new friends, and we all wished Godspeed to each traveler.
Next stop for most: Keene, family and friends, and a long hot shower!

Friday, 30 June
The caravan arrived back in Keene just before noon. The occupants of the vehicles were all bone tired, but excited to be home.

It has been a great record setting year in the field despite some hiccoughs including two recalcitrant GPS systems, a computerized bone check-in system that was not quite ready for prime time, and a balky air compressor used to power the air tools. But, by the grace of God, these were all overcome or we were able to work around them! And, anticipated problems such as running out of water (or hot water) did not materialize. There was some stormy and windy weather, but except for a few soggy tents, which dried out the next day, there was no real delay or major damage. None of the participants suffered anything more than the usual tired muscles and scrapes and minor cuts. Everyone who glued a finger to a bone or fingers together was easily separated.
Now the real work starts of processing the bones, curating them into the collection, and updating the on-line catalog—we have until next June to get it done!!

2005 top of page 2007


© 2001-2024 by Southwestern Adventist University and Earth History Research Center