Friday, August 7, 2009

Mammoths, Fossils, Wagons - SD to Nebraska

Bryn: We packed up and rolled out of camp about 9 a.m. First stop, the Mammoth Site at Hot Springs, SD. When grading for a subdivision, a bulldozer operator found some odd bones. They were mammoths, so this structure was built over the site. There are 6 weeks of digging and 46 weeks of materials processing every year. The tour guide told us their main rival is the La Brea Tar Pits.

Reed: This was a really cool place because they are still digging at this site.

Bret: There have been 58 mammoths found so far and I wanted to see them.

Bryn: Then we went into Nebraska and enjoyed visiting the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. It includes the James Cook collection of Native American art. Cook owned the Agate Springs Ranch, he brought in specialists to excavate the fossils, he was a good friend to Red Cloud, and Cook's phenomenal collection of Lakota art is housed here.

Bret: They found bone beds and lots of different Miocene animals. We got Junior Ranger badges. I drew the snowy year when they had to wear snowshoes from the Winter Count for my ranger book.

Reed: They have a Winter Count here that is the history of the area and the history of the park. I also liked learning about fossil corkscrews called Daemonelix. It turns out they are trace fossils of the dens of paleocastors, ancient land beavers.

Bryn: Our third stop was Scott's Bluff National Memorial. This includes a portion of the Oregon Trail, and discusses westward movement.

Bret: I liked going out to the covered wagons. We got to taste hardtack, biscuits, and jerky like they ate on the trail. And there was a buffalo chip in the wagon.

Bryn: We did more than expected today and didn't cover enough miles, so we had to get a hotel in Torrington, WY. Huge thunder and lightning storm this evening. We'll get to our friends in Fort Collins, CO in the morning.

Randy: Before all of the wonderful places the others described, we drove through the area of Wind Cave National Park. We had a full day planned so we didn't visit the cave. However as we drove through the park boundaries, we saw a herd of buffalo that I estimated at 500-700 and Bret says was 646 in number. We also saw pronghorn antelopes and prairie dogs. The prairie dogs were very vocal when Bryn stepped out of the van to take pictures. I think they felt she was invading their territory.

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