Sunday, June 14, 2009

Geology Trip in Western Kansas

Well, I know you all will be pleased to hear we survived our big cross country geology trip this weekend. No major catastrophies occurred so that was a blessing!! We had fun. We traveled approximately 520 miles from start to finish this weekend. We started out Friday mid afternoon and headed for Dodge City to set up our tents before we went to Spearville for the evening events. We ended up NOT setting up our tents because no one else was there, and we didn't want to come back to get them if plans had been changed. The classes were cool.

We watched a neat one about flourescence of rocks. The speaker was from western Marion County and it seemed he had been doing this a long time. He demonstrated what happens when you take a black light to the rocks. Some really ordinary rocks turned fabulous shades of orange and yellow and green. Unbelievable. We also learned some new information about fossils and heard a presentation on minerals and rocks. The picture to the right is of several wind turbines found right outside of Spearville at the wind energy plant. Very neat up close, and unbelievably huge!

We always get our itenerary Friday night. We discovered that we were starting out about 10 miles from Taffi's mom's place. So at the last minute we were calling her to ask about camping in her yard. We ended up camping out in her basement, and managed to get all 12 of us accomadated there! It was late when we got to bed and everyone was up by 6:30 or so.

Saturday found us starting out at Belevideire in the Champion Draw. We found several minerals that we hadn't collected before, and did some fossil collecting too. We had to laugh out loud when we read that we would be having lunch at Lake Coldwater!! Jeremy and Cami, as well as Taffi's husband Matt joined us for our picnic lunch.

John and Jarek

Next we headed over to Clark County for our next four stops. We found some fossil bones, fossilized turtle shell, and opals (not the precious stone kinds, but very pretty anyway). The wildflowers were incredible. We generally don't get the kind of rain we have been enjoying lately, so the flowers are usually not such a spectacular show!! Think I need a wildflower reference book to take next time!

Tristan at the Champion draw

Sarah usually had a line of our crew right behind her, Taffi and I dubbed her mother hen!! She has great luck and really knows a lot about rocks.

We headed back to Spearville for our supper and an identification work time, with leaders available for consulting. I am amazed at the things they recognize and know! I was pleased to find that on this trip (which was our 3rd like it) I was able to recognize a number of different specimens, and able to help newer folks a few times! I remember that incredible feeling being totally overwhelmed that first year--not knowing anything from anything else.

Friday night we headed back over to Dodge to pitch our tents. As we were finishing, it was really lightening (by the way, we were under a big covered arena, so we were safe from the lightening and rain). We decided to run up to get gas in the vehicles and hit Sonic for some ice cream! By the time we were finishing at sonic, it was pouring rain. We drove back and were able to park under the arena too. So we got everyone settled. Tristan, Grant and Jarek wanted to sleep in the suburban, so we let them. We split the rest of us up into 2 bigger tents and 2 tents made for midgets. And it rained, and it poured!! Some big flap of tin crashed up against the pipes making a horrible racket. I'm sure it was after 12:30 or 1:00 before we big people got to sleep, right before the race cars started back up to finish racing!! There is a dirt racing track just south of the fairgrounds and they had started a race earlier in the evening. We assumed when the rain hit, it was over! NOPE. By then, I was so exhausted that I merely heard it, thought "what the H--- was that??" and slipped back into a coma--that is until around 4 am, when another storm came through. And it rained, and it poured! Someone else's alarm sounded at 6, so we were up! We looked as good as we felt, and I'm not sure about any one else, but I spent my Sunday morning praying that I wouldn't kill any of the 8 children that we were escorting. The Lord provides, and we brought them all home, free of any noticeable bruising!

Grant's hunting and Devin is in the background, also hunting-- for horny toads!! He caught several!!

We headed out for Gove County this morning to hunt in the chalk beds. This site is actually leased by a professional fossil collector. We were instructed that if we found anything we thought was going to be a big deal, that we leave it be and get a leader so they could mark it for future uncovering. We actually spent several hours there and had a good time. We found lots of fish scales and pieces of huge clams. Sarah and Tristan both found shark teeth, Tristan's is to the right. Very fun find. It was pretty hard on Grant though, because he was wanting to find one pretty bad. We saw a kid who had found one twice the size of Tristan's in "museum quality" condition. It had dark colored enamel on the tooth part still. Very cool to see!!
I was pretty excited to find granite. I haven't been able to figure out what that looked like until today, so that was a highlight for my hunting. We also found some very pretty minerals, which are my favorite.
My best find?? Here he is! Dana, I had my camera ready this time! Some kid hollered, "There's a snake." So I wandered over to see if I could tell what kind. It started to move a bit and rattled. Initially, I thought the noise came from his mouth, but it was quickly evident that his tail was wiggling. I snapped a picture and we left him to sun. On our way back to the car, some other kid was remarking about him, and he was still coiled in the same spot. The kid scared him and he started moving away, Finely displaying all 6 of the buttons on his rattle! ICK!!

It was about a 2 1/2 hour drive home, and most of the kids napped at least briefly! J and C were sure glad to see us in time for supper! Laundry's going, packing has been done again, boys are in bed, and we will all be ready to head to Scott City tomorrow for camp. Never found my binoculars, but I packed my bird book and some magazines for my "leisure" time between boo-boo kissing. Wish us luck!!


  1. Mel,
    Get away from that snake!

  2. okay, you've just confirmed what I have suspected for years....
    you're nuts.

  3. Looks like fun! Roberta was nervous about finding a place for all of her company!

  4. It looks like you had alot of fun!! I think even I would enjoy digging for rocks with cool finds like that!
    And ACK on the snake. Next year make sure someone brings a shovel! =-) So far I've never seen a rattle snake in real life, except in the zoo or dead. I believe I would have to change my pants!