Last night we went to Mishikoa (sp??) State Park and astronomer Mark Hammergren gave one of his splendid talks on the stars (his explanations are so easy to understand – just ask him to explain the Big Bang!), then shared his telescope with us and townspeople from Glendive. The night before we had seen the Northern Lights – my first sight of them! Mark was so excited because they should not have been visible at this time. We were so excited because we can’t see them in the ambient light of Chicago nights. When we got home at 1 in the morning, the night was even darker and we could see more stars. See Oscar’s post for Mark’s photos.
This morning, Jason Moore, master driver and GPS exploiter got us weary teachers out into the field over the open range with NO ROADS and safely back to the lodge. It is strange to know that this intense 3 day experience has gone so quickly. The experience of the slow, close work essential to discovery in paleontology has been exhausting and exciting. Today we prospected for fossils at a new site in the Hell Creek Formation. Most people purposefully [ ] wandered the gorgeous landscape, field hats protecting bent heads from the sun, and scanned the ground. Suddenly Zorina identified BONE! We all descended on the site and found scales, fragments of bone, spines of a . . . 65 million year old uh fish? Gabe (fearless leader and second driver) scampered over the hills to help decide if it was a worthwhile site and it was. We collected material for Jason to take back for his research, then went to the other side of the hill to find trace fossils of leaves. We each got to choose one to save. Then lunch and a hot wait in the sun for everyone to gather back together for the bumpy ride back to the lodge.
The field work is almost over. As I write, tools are being cleaned, our fossils have been categorized, wrapped carefully in paper towels, and bagged in plastic bags to carry home and to our classrooms to share with students. Stephanie is loading all our photos on Gabe’s computer. Jason and Vicki are packing books.
Tomorrow morning we leave Lost in Time Ranch at 7:30 am to return to modern times. Our sense of time has been changed by this fabulous experience, and we will never look at a landscape in the same way again.