Dinosaur Excavation and Taphonomic Research Project

        Experience    Notes from the Field
Site Map   
Notes 2012  2014   Project history  

No day shall erase you from the memory of time.   

Notes from the Field - The Latest News!


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

Wednesday, 29 May
Packing Day!

Thursday, 30 May
The 2013 Season officially begins! The caravan consisting of the usual two vans and a truck pulling the trailer started to assemble at 7:30am with a planned launch time of 8:30. The group consisted of Dr. Art, Dr. Erin, Justin, Tyke, Mikee, Rose, Tetsuya, Sohee, and Kaitlyn.

Friday, 31 May
Today is arrival day! It is cold, windy, and raining. By the time others started to trickle in Dr. Bernie and Jean were already setup in their camp trailer. Stephan and Dawnella arrived with Marcel and Van-Dai. Ruthann made it safely to the Cretacious.

One van went to Rapid City to purchase supplies and pickup Dr. Larry and Michael S. at the airport. The return to camp was delayed when they got the report that Karen had locked her car at the gate with the engine running! Access to the camp was blocked. To make a long story short, she walked to Camp Cretacious, word got out, and a AAA service person drove out from Newcastle and opened the car. Dr. Keith drove into camp with Dr. Karin, Ivan, and Brandan. Because of the wind, the large "circus" tent was down—the camp did not at all look familiar.

Tents were difficult (and miserable) to put up due to the wind, but by the time it got too dark to see, thanks to a group of tent erectors, most everyone was installed in their own private bedroom for a night's sleep.

Saturday, 1 June
The rain moved away and the windy died down in the middle of the night. The daylight arrived with an overcast sky but the promise of warmer temperatures. By a late 9:00 am breakfast, patches of blue sky could be seen which grew as the morning progressed. It did not take at all very long for the muddy field to dry out! Of course better ground conditions came at a price—a cold north wind! Breakfast was the traditional:  homemade biscuits, scrambled eggs, scrambled tofu, and grits (for Dr. Art!).

Dr. Art presented the morning worship talk on Jerimiah. The 24 participants present met inside the camp building because the usual venue under the large tent was not available and the wind was bitingly cold. By lunch the wind had abated somewhat and the sun had nicely warmed the atmosphere—an altogether lovely day! In the late afternoon one of the vans and the truck took the majority on a tour of the ranch. The rest slept or did other such activities.

During dinner Brenden arrived followed closely by Dr. William and Jenifer in their motor home. Around midnight Stephan announced his return from picking up Jayden and Xavier at the Rapid City airport with a sound from the horn and slams of the car doors.

Sunday, 2 June
It was a cool but calm during the night. When the sun finally peaked abouve the northeast horizon the temperature was 46° with a few broken wispy clouds. Ater breakfast, two vans departed with those hardy souls excited about the Crazy Horse Volksmarch—10 km hike to look him right in the chin! The rest of the group spent the morning in the usual set up activities. The first task was to erect the big tent, then we could bring down the camp chairs from storage and start making tool kits. By the middle of the afternoon, the walkie-talkie repeater was in service, the camp wireless was on, and the gps was up and working in time to process six fossils from North Main Quarry!

Dr. Stephan, Tanya, and Danielle brought their camping trailer to Camp Cretaceious late in the afternoon. About dinner time the vans from Crazy Horse returned. We celebrated Tyke's 50th wedding anniversary with a card signed by all and flowers. We appreciate her being willing to spend such a special day with us. Dr. Suzy arrive while it was still light to set up her tent. We now have 34 persons to enjoy a good night's sleep in Camp Cretacious.

Monday, 3 June
This early morning arrived under a calm, a few clouds, and a delightful 57°! Breakfast was satisfying and we are ready to start the excavation work in earnest. North Quarry had been open the previous day. Today we opened TOE, Newfield, and Gar Ridge. We made good progress for the first full day.

Ben arrived in the middle of the afternoon on his motorcycle and in the early evening Annee made it to camp.

We now have an internet connection!!! During the past few years we have utilized a satellite internet connection. This has been a real blessing that came with restrictions in bandwidth and total amount of data sent and received each day. This year we have a direct 25 mile wireless connection to Newcastle that provides far better service.

Dr. Art presented the evening lecture to interested participants on the history of the project.

Tuesday, 4 June
The early morning was delightful. The sun slowly appeared in a clear and cool sky (48°). Only a few wispy clouds in the west and low clouds over the Black Hills to the east could be seen while the 26 day old cresent moon was prominent but faded in appearance as the sky lightened. The wind was its usual dawn calmness. The morning bird calls were all that could be heard until the breakfast crew arrived at 6:00. Quickly the bustle and sound level in the camp building rose in anticipation of another busy day.

Wonderful progress was made in the quarries. We were all advised of the need for sunscreen.

"A day without sunscreen is a day with skin damage."

Dr. William left early to pickup up participants at the Rapid City airport. He returned in the middle of the afternoon with Dr. Sarah, Dr. David, and Matthew. In the afternoon North Main Quarry reached a milestone. It is the first quarry to catalog 4,000 fossils!

About noon Dr. Art left for Rapid City to pick up some items and Forrest at the airport. The flight was delayed so they did not return until quite late—no evening lecture! We now have 40 people temporarily residing in Camp Cretaceous. Of these, eleven have doctorate level degrees! So, how many Ph.D.'s (or M.D.'s) does it take to dig up a bone?

Wednesday, 5 June
This day is a twin of the previous one—just a few degrees cooler at 44°.

After breakfast and worship the group scattered to their various assigned bone mines. It turned into another great Goldilocks work day—not too hot, not too cool; not too much wind, not too little wind; just right!

Annee had responsibilities in the 21st century and left after dinner. We will miss her wonderful prayer songs for lunches in the North Quarry.

Dr. Art presented another lecture and enthralled the group with his non-dinosaur exploits to Banks Island in northern Canada a few years ago.

Thursday, 6 June
Another wonderful repeat of the past two days with a slightly warmer 47° before the sun was able to warm the outside. By then the inside had warmed with the activity of the breakfast crew. After eating and thanking God for this fantastic experience we said our goodbyes to Dr. William, Jennifer, and Dr. Sarah.

The morning in the quarries felt somewhat warmer than the previous two days at least in part due to the stillness of the air—we thought we could never miss the wind!

With such pleasant conditions it is easy to forget to drink. Hydration is extremely important:  "If you are visting the bonehead, urine in good shape!"

At 2:28 the wind was abruptly turned on. At first it was gentle gusts, but increased as the afternoon passed.

We were delighted to see Brenda as we arrived with the final diggers from the quarries. The day was completed with another lecture from Dr. Art.

Friday, 7 June
The day arrived at the usual time—calm, clear, and somewhat warmer at 54°. The few degrees made it feel considerably more comfortable. This morning the group was given two options: 1. "field trip" to Hot Springs, SD for laundry and a visit to the Mammoth Hot Springs followed by the Black Hills Institute in Hill City, SD, and 2. work in the quarries until noon and then laundry and dinner in Newcastle, WY. Suprisingly, the majority chose the second!

Before everyone dispersed we said our goodbyes to RuthAnn and Brandon C. Tanya and Danielle decided to work awhile—"got to get that last bone out"—leaving camp just after lunch—we did meet up with them in the laundramat and Isabella's before saying our final goodbyes. Ben packed his tent and departed in the early afternoon.

The expeditions within an expedition were successful. Those who journeyed to Newcastle discovered the prominent landmark Pamida was no more. The building is now labeled SHOPKO! Essentially it is filled with similar items to its predecessor. All returned by about 8:30pm with clean clothes and satisfied appetites. There was some rain in the north and east—a short portion of a rainbow could be seen in the east—and it was evident there had been some light rain in camp.

The day ended with worship as we welcomed the Sabbath. Just as we finished, sprinkles began again and everyone scurried off to their private bedrooms in case it increased. The precipitation was not intense and did not last long.

At the end of the first week of excavation, we have reached a total of 487 bones recovered. This is ever so close to the record 491 we set in 2011!

Saturday, 8 June
About 3:00am the rain began in earnest as a thunderstorm passed by the area. For this storm the winds were moderate. The total was about half an inch of rain. It is so interesting to realize that you are warm and dry but with rain only the thickness of two thin layers of nylon away! No one reported soaked sleeping gear or clothes!

Dawn this day was something we had not experienced before during this season—overcast skies, although it did start clearing in the west with the promise of blue sky moving in our direction. The atmosphere as daylight began was warm at 59° as a result of the cloud cover.

Brandon M. packed up, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and drove away before our regular breakfast. He wanted to get an early start on a 12-hour car journey.

Breakfast was the usual except for those few that decided to sleep past the 9:00am breakfast call. By the time the food was eaten and the dishes washed, the sky was primarily blue with a few wispy clouds here and there floating across. We discovered that our communcations equipment "up on the hill" had "absorbed" water during the storm and failed just before breakfast.

During the morning worship, the wind rose but the dirsct sun shining down between fluffy white clouds compensated. Stephan presented the message on the character of God.

Dr. Suzy left in the middle of the afternoon to reconnect with her family. Many of the group left camp to explore the hinterlands of the ranch. And we have our communications restored!

Heidi arrived in the late evening. We ended the Sabbath with popcorn and fruit followed by worship.

New Moon!

Sunday, 9 June
Another great night of sleep and a wonderful calm, clear 56° morning! The internet connection is down—hopefully it as simple as giving something the boot!

The fix was simple and soon after the diggers had scattered to the quarries, all the communications were performing as expected.

The day grew warm—for most of the day there was not a cloud in the sky nor was there a breath of wind. Under these warm conditions when you pour water into a human at one end, it evaporates before it reaches the other end!

Just after dinner the Trinity Christian Academy group arrived. Curtis, Joe, Amber, and Dan led nineteen 13, 14, and 15 year old students. They sat up their camp to the west of the main building and all marched into the dinning area ready to be fed. The food crew were ready!

The wind picked up to become a pleasant breeze.

Dr. Art ended the activities of the day with another lecture.

Monday, 10 June
The day promises to be another good one. We have the extra 23 bone minors (actually only 19) to work primarily in Southeast and Teague Quarries. We will temporarily suspend operations elsewhere to bring experienced quarry leaders to mentor these eager diggers.

The sun appeared in clear skies to the northeast over the Black Hills although over camp and to the west it was overcast at a balmy 61°. The camp facility was quiet until the breakfast crew arrived and turned on a radio. But not a peep from the Trinity concentration to the west!

The day turned out to be another warm, calm, excavation day. We opened Southeast and Teague Quarries and they swarmed over the bones like a colony of ants finding some really great fossils. Everett arrive in the early afternoon.

The day ended with a lecture from Dr. Art.

Tuesday, 11 June
Dr. Art left very early to take Rose and Kaitlyn to the Rapid City airport. As the day grew light and the breakfast crew arrived, the air was calm, clear, and warm at 65°. The warm temperatures made for a good night's rest but suggest another warm work day.

It was a great day for North Quarry—the wind came from the southeast so North Quarry was sheltered. On the other hand, Southeast Quarry felt the wind all day!

During the late morning Teague Quarry requested more glue. North was happy to assist:

We have four bottles,
   and you have none.
We will give you two bottles,
   and then we both have some!

The Trinity group left the quarries about 3:00pm and made their way back to their camp cluster, struck their tents, packed their vehicles, and drove away to their next destination. Those of us remaining will miss them. This year's group was a well managed and quiet group—quieter than a few of the regular participants!

Dr. Art returned with a new participant, Kelby, that he picked up at the airport. The wind remained throughout the evening but not threatening to the tents.

The last activity for the day was another lecture on dinosaurs by Dr. Art.

Wednesday, 12 June
Late last night a thunderstorm passed to the north of Camp Cretaceous. Only a few occupants of the tents were even aware of it—most were sound asleep! This morning our internet connection is down—we can get a return signal to the equipment in Newcastle so evidently the storm took out something there.

This day promises to be another great day—clear, calm, and 60° as the earth rotated to permit direct viewing of the sun.

The quarries were quiet after the busy last two days. New Field 2 attempted to help the other quaries, especially North Quarry, not feel alone by loud voices and raucous laughter that carried across the spaces between quarries!

By the late afternoon the internet was restored. It is amazing how dependent we have become on communication. After the day's work we said our goodbyes to Dr. Berney and Jean. Responsibilities in the 21st century pulled them away from the first love.

Dr. Art lectured. He has now started a systematic coverage of the dinosaurs.

Today we reached the "1000 fossils recovered" milebone for the season ending the day with 1039. We are somewhat behind the record pace set in 2011 (total 1965), but well ahead of the second place year of 2012 (1633).

Thursday, 13 June
Early it appears to be another great day! The wind blew most of the night, but no tents went sailing into the next state.

We had another great day. It was windy, but that kept it cooler especially with the cloud cover providing Nature's shade. In the late afternoon Amy, Katherine, and Cooper arrived to set up their tent and get reacquainted with the quarries before we put them to work tomorrow!

Today the project collected and cataloged its 15,000th specimen.

Dr. Art presented another lecture, and the camp experienced a few sprinkles of rain as storms passed around us.

Friday, 14 June
Those hardy souls who will spend the entire 2013 excavation season at Camp Cretaceous will spend 27 intents nights—fourteen of those have now been completed! And this last night was a great sleeping one!

Today promises to be a repeat of another great day—the day dawned calm, clear, and warm.

The wind was noticible but not unpleasant—kept things feeling cooler. The group worked in the bone mines in the morning then return to Camp Cretaceous to take a shower and collect dirty clothes and leave for "The Laundry Basket" in Newcastle.

Dr. Cathy arrived with Dr. Zuri in Newcastle while the group was turning dirty clothes into clean clothes. Dinner for the group was Dr. Art's favorite Hut to get pizza. Dr. Zuri continued on to Camp Cretaceous while Dr. Larry stayed in Newcastle with Cathy. Dr. Kurt arrived in the early evening.

The work week was ended as the sun set with singing and a short worship. Ryan, Sharelle, Shane, and Riley arrived late and settled in for the night.

At the end of the second week of work, we had recovered a total of 1222 bones, teeth, and tendons. This is 12 fossils ahead of the record pace of 2011!

Saturday, 15 June
It is so great to have a restful day. We thank God for providing this special place in time. Sleeping in and having breakfast at 9:00 is so wonderful. This is a perfect day—warm but not too hot, calm air movement, white fluffy clouds drifting across a deep blue sky.

Breakfast was without the usual Dr. Larry's biscuits—he is away for the day.

Dr. Art presented the morning worship talk on 2 Peter.

Stephan drove Xavier and Jayden to their flight back home. After lunch Heidi departed.

Sunday, 16 June
Mark arrived just after midnight.

Today is Father's Day as well as the annual Hanson Ranch Open House. We try to keep the camp and the quarries clean and neat all the time, but now we take extra care that everything is in perfect order. We have bones exposed in the ground so that the visitors can gain an idea of what amazing things are here.

Today is another glorious day for all the bone minors.

In midmorning Dr. Cathy arrived with Dr. Larry. Shortly thereafter Jeff, Jolie, Zachary, Connor, and Brayden arrived so Zachary could dig with his aunt Tyke. After checking out our GPS equipment, Mark departed. Ryan, Sharelle, Shane, and Riley drove away.

The Open House was well attended with over 245 in attendence.

In the evening Drs. Art and Larry, along with Justin and Dr. Keith, attended the Hanson Research Station Board meeting returning to camp late. The students had a study night, although kite flying was a high activity.

Monday, 17 June
Rain bathed the area about 4:00am, but the grass was relatively dry by the time the breakfast crew started to stir. This appears to be another lovely day!

After breakfast Justin departed—he has real job responsibilities but will return in a few days. Dr. Cathy drove away to explore the Black Hills for a day or two.

The afternoon was warm with the cloud increasing until we had God's natural shade on the quarries. Dr. Leonard arrived in the late afternoon. Jeff, Jolie, Zachary, Connor, and Brayden waited until Zachary finished his dig activities for the day to take down their tent, pack the car, and leave.

A thunderstorm threatened about the time the quarries were closed for the day. Except for a few sprinkles and several claps of thunder, we were passed by. Dr. Art lectured once again. In the evening Everett returned to the 21st century.

Tuesday, 18 June
Every morning the colorful pre-sunrise eastern sky is a wonder to behold. Those who manage to awaken for the breakfast call miss the glorious sight. Today is another marvelous morning—calm, clear, and warm (58°)—following a much needed rest for the humans in their personal bedrooms.

Karen left early to pickup supplies from the stores in Rapid City and Marla from the airport.

The clear skies with a southeast wind turned to cloudy as the day progressed. North Quarry was as snug as a "bug in a rug" since it was sheltered from the moving air. As the work closed for the day the skies threatened to soak the camp, but all the storms passed around us.

Just before dinner Dr. Kurt departed. After everyone had eaten Dr. Art lectured. Karen returned with Marla and lots of goodies.

Wednesday, 19 June
Before breakfast started, Karen left to take Forrest to the Rapid City airport. Unfortunately, our plan to have airport trips coordinated so that we avoid back-to-back days was not followed yesterday since Forrest had his trip scheduled some time ago. Of course, sometimes things cannot be avoided.

It appears that today will be another perfect mining day! As the sky lightens it is calm, clear except for some cloud cover to the east over the Black Hills, and warm at 59°.

Breakfast was ready early so the "dinner bell" was rung well before the normal 7:00am. People straggled in—no long lines to get food, but the ones in by the normal time had their own blessing.

Amy and Katherine pulled down their tent and packed while Cooper was off to the quarry to finish a bone. They departed about 10:30am.

Today was a blustery, warm, and cloudless day. Hydration became especially important.

The recovered fossil count is 1682. This is greater than the 2012 total of 1633 bones. We are on pace to exceed the record 1965 set in 2011. The interesting question is whether we set a record this year. Several experienced excavators have already departed so that might slow down the rate. Of course, mere numbers are not the goal—we are after information about the distribution and type of fossils as we explore the deposit.

Dr. Art presented the nightly lecture.

Thursday, 20 June
The wind died down in the night, and the day arrived calm, clear, and 65°.

Work progressed in the morning. The wind picked up and made an absolutely perfect day! We are starting to close down quarries that have no exposed bones. We know that if we continue to work them a big bone that takes several days to excavate will be discovered.

Miguel and José had arrived by the time the group finished and returned to camp for dinner.

After dinner and another lecture, Lynnee arrived to spend a couple days with the group. Justin returned bringing Angela just as it began to get dark—he is now one happy camper!

Friday, 21 June
Summer Solstice! Today is not the longest day of the year—all days are 24 hours unless there is a leap second thrown in, but today we have the most daylight period. The daylight arrived with some clouds to the east and faint far away flashes of lightning in the west. As usual, the wind was calm and the temperature a warm 66°. The sky contained lots of fluffy clouds at breakfast time approached—maybe we will have natural shade this morning!

As the group settled down to a breakfast with homemade cinnamon rolls, the rain suddenly began. Those who had left their tents open hurried out. Those who tried to sleep in got to come in for breakfast through the wet! Fortunately, the precipitation was quickly over—just enough to settle the dust for a few minutes!

Morning worship started with the song "Showers of Blessing."

The overcast helped shade the sun until the clouds broke up somewhat in late morning. All the excavators returned to camp by 1:30 in anticipation of clean clothes and a meal out.

In the late afternoon a thunderstorm passed over Camp Cretaceous. A few large drops of water initiated the precipitation. These increased in intensity until there was a good soaking accompanied by lightning and thunder and wind. The rain tapered off but continued for a few hours—we experienced 1/4 in of rain. All the vehicles that had earlier departed for Newcastle returned safely even though the roads were wet.

The start of Sabbath was celebrated with singing and worship.

In the early night all but the soundest sleepers (or those that had not gone to bed) felt and heard the wind—Cabela's tents were solid as a well glued bone!

At the end of the third week, we had discovered, located, and catalogued 1874 fossils. It now appears likely that we will exceed the record of 1965 set in 2011 as well as reaching the 2000 fossil milebone by the end of the season.

Saturday, 22 June
The nearly full moon sat in the southwest just as the sun rose in the northeast! The sky contains a few clouds, there is no wind, and temperature a comfortable 60°.

Breakfast was the traditional Camp Cretaceous fare with Dr. Larry's homemade biscuits, scrambled chicken eggs, scrambled tofu eggs, and, of course, grits! Dr. Art left after breakfast to give the Sabbath sermon for a a gathering of God's children in Newcastle.

The Yucca are in full bloom all over the ranch with a concentration on the ridge leading to camp:

Dr. Larry was delighted when Dr. Cathy returned with family Jerry, Susan, Dan, Liane, Alexa, and Aiden for the afternoon.

After they departed Camp Cretaceous experience more rain with thunder and some hail.

Sabbath was closed with singing and stories from Dr. Art about his experiences as a young man.

Sunday, 23 June
It was a Full Moon, and the camp was lit up all night. In the morning the sky lightened even more as the sun arose in an overcast, calm, and cool (55°) atmosphere.

After some confusion, breakfast was completed and worship conducted early, the group started the day's activities under a beautiful clear sky. The qurries were muddy in places (we had 1/2 in rain since the previous afternoon), but they dried quickly.

Dr. Cathy, Jerry, Susan, Liane, Dan, Alexa, and Aiden returned midmorning with Cheryl, Gordon, Alexander, and Ashlyn. Dr. Larry has eleven family members for a short time to experience the discovery and excavation process!

Dr. Zuri departed late in the morning to the Rapid City airport.

After working much of a perfect day (not too warm, calm, fluffy clouds) in the quarry, Miguel and José drove away.

Dr. Art returned from Rapid City late but still presented the evening's lecture.

Dr. Larry's family departed after an enjoyable day. He left for a real bed in Newcastle and a day tomorrow of Black Hills exploration.

At the end of the day we had set a single season record of 2009 fossils collected—and we have two days to go!

Monday, 24 June
Another wonderful day!

Justin directed the installation of obtaining electrical power to the top of the antenna farm hill.

Kathleen was overjoyed to see her family arrive—she will have them all digging the next day!. Camp Cretaceous lost electrical power for several hours—it had nothing to do with the camp project since it was the entire area including the ranch house. We can do without internet. We can survive without electricity—nothing hot and things can stay cool in the refrigerators for awhile, but there was no water since the pump is electrical—that is the most critical. Power was restored in due time!

Tuesday, 25 June
This is another great day of work in closing quarries. First all the "last bones" are extracted. Then any exposed partial bones that would take considerable time to take out are covered with foil, plastic or tarps and dirt then a pallet to protect and mark them for next season. Dr. Larry returned mid-morning with some supplies for the electrical project.

At the end of the day's work Kathleen left with her family.

As of the end of the day North, Teague, Southeast, Toe, Gar Ridge, New Field, and Rose Quarries are all closed for the season. Some of these have been cleaned and winterized. Tool kits have been collected and cleaned and tools removed and sorted.

Wednesday, 26 June
Today we continue to close down and winterize quarries. Ivarrest will be worked during the morning.

After a "find what you can" lunch, Dr. Leonard, David, and Matthew left. All the quarries were closed and winterized. The small remaining boxes of small bones were sealed and loaded on the trailer. The large bones were "foamed" to boards, wrapped in bubble wrap and taped ready to be load into the trailer. Food preparation items were packed up and stored in the camp building ready for the 2014 season.

In the early evening Dr. Cathy rescued Dr. Larry from being stranded in the Cretaceous for 2013 with no shower after this evening.

At the end of the 2013 season, we had recovered 2256 bones, teeth, etc. This is by far a single season record. A primary reason for the record number is due to the three "outlying" quarries: Gar Ridge, Rose, and Ivarrest which have large concentrations of small items such as turtle scutes and the miners "to think outside the bone!"

Thursday, 27 June
This is departure day! With everything taken down, put away, scrubbed cleaned, turned off, etc. the last participants pulled away from the Cretaceous for another eleven months at about 10:45am. A shredded tire on the trailer a few tens of miles down the road added another uniqueness to the year. Fortunately there were two axles, hence two tires on each side so any potential disaster was avoided. A stop to replace the tire with the spare took care of the problem.

Friday, 28 June
The bones and the people arrived safely back in Keene at about 1:30pm. Because everything and everyone arrived safely, this season was a successful one!

2012 top of page 2014


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