Dinosaur Dig, Montana 2009

By Don Chesnut 2009

My daughter Mary and I signed up for a dinosaur dig sponsored by the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History. A friend and colleague of mine, Dr. Glenn Storrs, was heading the dig. You can find out more about the dig at Cincinnati Museum's dinosaur dig website. The following is composed of my daily journal and photographs taken during the trip (please excuse the tedious nature of the journal). Or you may rather go through my thumbnail catalog (pages A, B, C, D, E, F, G). My daughter Mary also has photographs to show (pages A, B, C, D, E by MCC 2009).

4 July 2009, Saturday

    I got up around 7 AM, brushed teeth and went downstairs to make coffee. I read the paper and then woke Mary at 9:50. The cab came at 11 and took us to the airport. We went through check-in and security and got to the gate by about noon. We had two hours to kill, so we went to the cafe to play cards. Mary taught me "Kings in the Corner" and we played the card game, Golf. Close to boarding time we went back to the gate.

    Mary and I boarded a small jet to Atlanta and sat in the back. A lady across the aisle was going to Lima, Peru and she had two small dogs (Frisian and toy poodle) in small carry-on bags. We arrived in Atlanta around 3 PM and made our way to the next concourse. We had four hours to kill in Atlanta till our next flight to Montana. We walked all around our concourse and eventually found a table in the food court. We played cards for several hours and then got Chinese fast food for dinner. We then went to our gate area about 6:30 to board our flight to Billings.

    The Billings flight was pretty long. We got there a little after 9. I called the hotel hotline and the shuttle arrived soon after. We could see fireworks (July 4th) going off just about everywhere. We got to the Crowne Plaza hotel about 10 and checked in. All restaurants were closed, partly because of the holiday. Mary got some snacks from the front desk vendor area.

    We then went back to our room and got some sleep.

5 July 2009, Sunday

    We got up. I took a shower and then we packed. We went to the lobby about 9:10 to wait for our pick-up. Lauren called about five minutes later; she was already in the hotel to use the wi-fi at Starbucks. We boarded the van and went to the hotel to meet the other participants. While waiting, Glenn (Dr. Storrs) knocked on the van window and we said our hellos. I introduced him to my daughter Mary. He introduced us to his son William.

    After all the travelers arrived, we took off for Red Lodge, about an hour away. At Red Lodge, we parked and walked along the streets. Mary and I and several others had sandwiches at a coffee shop and then ice cream at Scoops, an ice cream shop among other things.

    We re-boarded the van and went to our camp, Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association (YBRA), about a mile or two away.

    We were assigned temporary cabins and put our luggage in them. We had the rest of the day off.

    I walked around and went to the dining lodge, took pictures of wild flowers and talked with some of the other participants. Mary and the other kids played ball and walked around. We will be assigned different cabins for the rest of our stay here, but for the first night, all the guys are in a barracks-type dorm. Mary and Linda are staying in a faculty cabin for the night.

    The cooks rang the supper bell and we ate at 6. We had mixed baked beans, salad, ham, bread and had peanut butter-chocolate brownies for dessert.

    After dinner, we went to the fire pit at "The Point" to discuss the basic geographic and geologic setting.

    After that, several of us went to the lodge porch to talk. I talked with a lot of the University of Houston geology field-camp students and asked them details about their activities. At about 10, I went to the dorm (Bucher) and saw Mary walking around with the other kids. I told her it was time for bed and walked her to her cabin.

    I went to mine and took out my tiny sleeping bag. I was afraid it wouldn't be warm enough if it got cold.

6 July 2009, Monday

    I slept OK during the night and didn't get too cold. It got down to about 55, I guess. I woke up about 5 AM, but didn't get up till about 5:30. I repacked and made my way to the dining lodge. I got a cup of coffee and made my sandwich for lunch. We had breakfast at 6:30 (breakfast bell) and we had french toast, link sausage and I had oatmeal and yogurt.

    We loaded onto the van at 7 and headed into the Beartooth Mountains. The scenery was gorgeous. Charles Kuralt said this was the most scenic highway in America. I took lots of pictures. At the top, on the Wyoming side, we got out at the top at elevation almost 11,000 feet. It was above timberline. There were lots of beautiful alpine flowers, and we saw lots of snow.

    After that, we headed back down the mountain to YBRA (which I now call "Y"-beria) to switch into our permanent cabins. [YBRA Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association.] Mary and I moved to the tiny "King" cabin. The cabins are named after geologists, usually those having something to do with the camp.

    After moving, we regrouped at the van and went into Red Lodge. Dick Morgan had injured his ear in the early morning hours by stepping off the path and tumbling into the brush. It was gashed and bleeding a bit. We went to a small hospital in Red Lodge to get his ear treated. We left him there and went to the grocery (IGA) to get snacks and other items people forgot. After the grocery, we crossed the street and had lunch in a city park gazebo. When we picked up Dick, we headed to the dig site and stopped a couple of times for photo shots. Dick had stitches put in his ear and got a prescription for antibiotics.

    We got to the dig site just as a big storm started to blow in. We hung around to meet the dig prep people and had some geological discussions while the rain and lightening continued outside. The rain finally quit and we headed back to Y-beria. Along the way we stopped at the miners cemetery near Belfry. There had been a coal-mining disaster in 1943 when 73 miners died underground from a fire and explosion. The coals mined were in the Paleocene strata (Ft. Union Formation?). They were largely used for steam locomotives and possibly for heat. Most of the mines appeared to be drift mines.

    We arrived at Y-beria and it remained cloudy, cold, windy, with some rain and thunder. Mary took a shower and we ate a few strawberries that we bought at IGA. We went to dinner at the dinner bell and had BBQ chicken breasts, corn, salad, bean salad, bread and chocolate cake. Glenn, Mark and I sat around the table and talked for awhile until they had to clean the area. I went back to the cabin to get my shower stuff and noticed that Mary and her friends were playing cards. Mary seems to be the ring leader.

    I talked with staff members, Linda and Lauren, for awhile about my three daughters and their love of Shakespeare, theatre and writing. Lauren was a theater major (BFA) at Northern Kentucky University before working with the Cincinnati Museum Center.

    At 9:30, I went to the wash house to brush my teeth. I saw Mary and told her it was time for bed. We got settled and went to bed about 10. It's our first night in this little cabin. I hope it doesn't get too cold during the night.

7 July 2009, Tuesday

    I woke Mary up about 6. It was a little chilly last night but tolerable. I got dressed, brushed my teeth and went to the dining lodge. I got in line to make sandwiches for lunch later. At breakfast bell, the adults of our group sat at one table and the younger ones sat at theirs. We had an egg, potato, mushroom casserole which was very good and muffins.

    At about 7:45, we boarded the van and headed to Clark Canyon. There was a terminal moraine at the mouth of the canyon and some very well-displayed folds of Paleozoic strata at steep angles draping the Precambrian crystalline rocks of the Beartooth massif. I took several pictures.

    We then headed toward the dig site. At the dig site, Dr. Storrs gave an introduction about what the volunteers would be doing. A series of large tarps had been erected to keep the workers as cool as possible. The staff had already prepared the site and shoveled away most of the cover fill from last year. Once everyone got started, I took a few pictures of the dig site.

I then hiked up the gully ridge to the cuesta summit, while looking at the stratigraphy and the scenery. I took photos at the top of the ridge of a coarse-grained conglomerate capping the cuesta. Later, Glenn told me that the conglomerate was the Pryor Mountain Formation, equivalent to the Dakota farther south. There was a major unconformity between the Pryor and the underlying Morrison Formation. The dig site is in the Morrison. [The site is called the Mother's Day Site.] At the top of the cuesta I had a fantastic view of the Bighorn Basin. I took several photos. Heading back down, I crossed over to the gentle dip slope part of the cuesta and had an easy stroll back to the site.

At the site I took more photos of the diggers and their work. I had my sandwich and walked around a bit more.

    After a while we re-boarded the van and returned to Y-beria. Mary took a short nap and I filled out my journal. The final dinner bell rang about 6:30. We had multi-bean chili, corn chips, crackers, salad and lemonade. We had Tabasco sauce at our table. The chili was excellent. For dessert, there was vanilla ice cream and crushed peanuts, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream were available as toppings.

    After dinner, I took a shower. Mary and friends went to the big porch to play poker. I talked with the adults and some of the geology field camp students for awhile. At 10:15, I got Mary back and told her it was time for bed; we get up early and put in some hard days.

8 July 2009, Wednesday

    I woke up about 5 or 5:30, but stayed in bed till about 6. I woke Mary about 6:30. We went to the dining lodge and made our sandwiches and had a pancake and bacon breakfast at second bell.

    We boarded the van about 7:45 and proceeded to the dig site. After everyone got started on their group of bones (all from the sauropod, Diplodocus), I told everyone that I was going to scout the dip slope again. I went up a gully between the dig site and camp and saw lots of sandstone bedding plane surfaces. I also found a thin bed of abundant trace fossils. I took lots of photos. I climbed to the top of the cuesta and took a series of photos to make a 360 degree panorama. Then I walked down another gully a bit closer to the camp. I found extensive bedding-plane exposures of oyster-bearing sandstones. The oyster shells were very abundant, but the fauna was very low in diversity. Some of the shells were 3-4 inches across. I took some photos.

    After descending, I walked back to the dig site and had lunch. I took photos of the progress. After lunch I walked past the camp and then ascended the cuesta again. I saw oyster beds everywhere. These oyster-bearing beds are part of the Swift Formation. The Swift underlies the Morrison Formation. After I reached the top of the cuesta I took photos showing the cuesta escarpment, made up of the gentle slope of the Sundance Formation shales grading up into the Swift Formation (caprock sandstone of this part of the cuesta). The Sundance-Swift are a coarsening upward sequence. The Swift is a series of sandstone beds, some of which contain oyster fossils. I walked along the cuesta escarpment as it plunged laterally to a nearby gravel road and then walked back to camp. I noticed several faults along the edge of the cuesta ridge and some kind of faulting? close to camp.

    I proceeded back to the dig site and took photos as Janice and others were jacketing a sauropod vertebra.

    At the end of the afternoon, we headed back to Y-beria. I rode with Glenn (to discuss geology) and his son William rode in the van where he sat with the other kids.

    I'm coughing a lot and have a bad sore throat. Mary is getting the same symptoms. I'm having a hard time talking because of it.

    We got back to Y-beria about 5 PM. I wrote in my journal and talked to Glenn for a bit before the final dinner bell rang. For dinner, we had spaghetti with meat sauce, bread and salad. It was very good. Rice krispie treats were for dessert.

    After dinner, I talked with several people on the lodge porch and then I went to my shower. By then, the temperature had dropped so it was a bit chilly. Mary is out playing with the other kids.

    It may get pretty cold tonight.

9 July 2009, Thursday

    It did get pretty cold last night. My sore throat and lung congestion continue. Mary had a hard time getting up and she asked me to make her sandwich. I went to the dining lodge and packed two lunches and then brought them back to the room. Mary got up and we went to breakfast. We had link sausage and french toast. It was very good.

    We left about 8 AM for the dig site. I rode with Glenn. We all stopped at IGA grocery so that I could get some cold medicine. Others bought snacks. Then we took off for the dig site.

    Upon arrival, we noticed that all the tarps were on the ground. They were collapsed because the wind became very strong last night. There was some slight damage to the tarps and some of the bones.

    I took off toward the cuesta edge, next to the big gravel road and walked up the dip slope bedding-plane exposure of the Swift Formation. It was full of oysters as usual. I didn't get very far when I noticed a fossil vertebra lying on the ground. I thought it might be important so I walked back to the dig site. Glenn was up the hill with the others to show them the view from the cuesta ridge. I went up the hill a bit to meet them and showed Glenn the fossil. He identified it as an adult short-necked plesiosaur vertebra. He asked me to take him to the locality.

    After several plaster jackets were made, we had lunch and then I took Glenn to the locality. He got a GPS reading on it and looked for more specimens. I left him there and proceeded on over the cuesta to look at the Sundance Formation. I collected numerous Ostrea (oyster) and Gryphaea (oyster-like) shells, several Pachyteuthis belemnite shells and a couple of other bivalves (a pinnid and some other clam). The Gryphaea is known as the "Devil's Toenail." I took photos of the fossils and brought them back to camp for others to see. I took pictures of more plaster jacketing and then went up a small cuesta behind the dig for a better view of the geology. I believe that some of the hummocks and anomalous dips of beds are the result of landslides within the Morrison. The bentonites in the Morrison are very slick when wet and the steep dip of the beds probably caused the slumping. There also appears to be slumping along the opposite (steep) face of the cuesta. All these slumps could be erroneously interpreted as faults.

    A little after four we all came back to Y-beria. I rode with Glenn.

    After the second dinner bell, we all got in line for pork loin, rice, cole slaw, green beans, and bread. A spice cake was available for dessert. After dinner, I went back to my cabin and filled out my journal.

10 July 2009, Friday

    We got up at first bell and went down to the lodge to make sandwiches. At second bell, we had breakfast. We had scrambled eggs and pancakes.

    We left at 8 AM for the dig site. My sore throat was not as bad as it was yesterday, but it still hurts.

    At the dig site, we re-erected the tarps. A group of people wanted to go with me to collect fossils on the other side of the cuesta, so I led about 8 people to the Sundance outcrop and showed them what to look for. I left them to collect fossils and then Mark and I hiked further along the base of the cuesta (steep-slope part) to see the cap rock. I wanted to see if there were two caprocks in a lateral, stepped-fashion or whether there was a fault to explain the two level on the dip-slope side. Once I saw the cuesta face opposite the dig site I realized that my assumptions were correct. One side of the cuesta had the Swift Sandstone as the cap rock and the other (lateral) side had the Pryor Conglomerate as caprock. On the hike, we saw an artesian stream at the base of the Sundance (or Gypsum Springs) Fm. and saw abundant gypsum nodules along one horizon. We also saw numerous Gryphaea and other pelecypod fossils. After that, we collected all the hikers and went back to the dig site.

    We started digging again at the dig site. I cleared out a large area with a large, flat chisel and hand sledge. I found several new bones. At some point six people from the BLM came to observe the dig (it's on BLM land). We showed them around for awhile. They didn't stay long. I was hoping to put them to work. They were very nice.

    Lauren, the mother-hen of us participants, developed a bad rash. We said she should go to the hospital. I volunteered to go with her. We went to the hospital in Red Lodge and I waited in the lobby for about 45 minutes. She came out and said that the rash was due to an allergic reaction to penicillin.

    We drove back to the dig site where the most famous paleontological chef (Pat) served us a wonderful meal of gnocchi and meatballs with sauce, with a salad of artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, carrots, red bell peppers, herbs and oil. It was a tremendous meal. Pat is quite a person; someone should write a book about her. She has bumper stickers all over her truck and trailer. She gave Mary a Parasaurolophus sticker. Mary and I decided to send here some more bumper stickers.

    After the wonderful meal, we drove back to Y-beria. By then it was dark, so we went to our cabins, talked a bit and then went to sleep.

11 July 2009, Saturday

    I got up a little after first bell and got Mary up before second bell. I made both of our lunches. For breakfast, we had the egg-potato-mushroom casserole and biscuits. This casserole is my favorite, I think. They had Tabasco sauce available which I used liberally.

    We met the van and left by 8 AM. Glenn drove the van because Lauren took Dick to town to have his stitches removed. We met up with a film crew at Bridger and they followed us to the dig site. The film crew was doing a documentary on fossil dinosaur digs for a museum. The crew was largely from Boston, but they did have a couple of locals as well. They filmed us walking to the dig site and digging for the bones. They got extensive footage of Mary and her team jacketing a bone. The film crew stayed for about 90 to 120 minutes and then left. They were very nice to talk to.

    I did not do any geological hiking today. I worked at chiseling out mostly barren rock from the sides of the bone beds. I did hit a few bones and then started in other areas.

    After lunch we went to a new short-necked plesiosaur locality that was turned over to Glenn by a local rancher. There was no shade at the site and the temperature was in the upper 90's. We saw the plesiosaur bones at soil level. D.M., Pat, and Dale were working on them. Several of us scouted around. I found a nice slab of tool marks and explained how they were formed by currents and objects dragged across the sea bottom.

    We got back in the vehicles and drove to the dig site. Once there, the young fellows carried the plaster-jacketed bones back to the camp site. I took photos.

    At 4 PM, we drove back to Y-beria. We got there about 5 and I took a shower. I felt 100% better after that.

    When the dinner bell rang we went to the lodge. We got in line for hamburgers, bean-corn salad, cottage cheese-fruit-jello salad, and finally ice cream cones.

    After dinner we met the van about 7 PM to go to the pig races in Bear Creek. It was very entertaining to see the young pigs race around the track. I took a few photos. We got back to camp well after dark.

12 July 2009, Sunday

    Mary and I slept late. I got up around 9 AM and brushed my teeth. Then we went to the Dining Lodge and had pastries, cereal, etc. After breakfast I took my socks and a lot of Mary's clothes to the wash room and washed them in the sink. I hang them out to dry on the bushed next to our cabin. Mary and William played checkers, chess, horseshoes and basketball. This is the day that Lauren and Glenn drive everyone to the airport and then pick up the new people and bring them to the camp, so we have all day today at our leisure. I went through the wildflower books and my bird book while sitting on the porch at the Dining Lodge. I periodically turned the clothes around; the thin things dried quickly.

    We have been warned about a bear coming around the camp. It tried to break into the Dining Lodge. We were told to keep our windows closed and our doors latched. Our door has a very flimsy latch and I could push it open without much effort.

    I've had my cold now for a full week. And now Mary is getting it, so she'll probably be sick this coming week. My sore throat is largely over, but my voice is still a little hoarse. I'm still coughing, sneezing and dripping.

    Glenn came back to camp and offered to take us to Red Lodge, so we went. We went to a lot of shops. At a book store, Mary got a book on Indian Sign language. I got a book on Yellowstone geology and a dinosaur book. After the book store, we went to the Montana Candy Emporium. We came back to Y-beria and met some of the new participants and Mary taught me some Indian signs. She calls me "Small Mule" and I call her "Many Lightenings."

    After the dinner bell rang we went to the Dining Lodge and had chicken enchiladas, a variety of salads, tuna fish salad, potato salad, cottage cheese-fruit-jello salad and pink lemonade.

    After dinner it rained for awhile and then the participants went to The Point for their geological orientation. Mary and William played horseshoes and then Mary and I went to our cabin. The wind became stronger and persisted for about 30 to 45 minutes. Mary went to the lodge and I returned to the cabin to wash out the water bottles, write in my journal and take some cold medicine.

13 July 2009, Monday

    It stormed a lot during the night and the wind was pretty strong at times. I got up at first bell and went to the Dining Lodge to make our sandwiches. The ground was still wet and there were a couple of puddles.

    I woke Mary and we went down to breakfast. We had french toast, bacon, juice, etc. Of course cereal, oatmeal and yogurt were available too. After breakfast, Mary and I wrote in our journals a bit.

    Glenn took the new participants in the van up to the Beartooth Mountains for their regional geology tour. Because Mary and I did that last week, we are going with Lauren in the truck into town to get the flat tire fixed and then go on to the dig.

    Lauren dropped William, Mary and me off in Red Lodge. We walked around. I got a chai, Mary got a peanut butter milk shake and then went to the bookstore. After the tire was fixed, Lauren picked us up and drove us to the dig site. There had been some damage done to the tarps and rain had soaked some of the quarry. We worked all day on the dig site. Glenn and the participants arrived later in the day. I saw a large thunderstorm heading our way and was concerned that it might hit us. We just caught the edge and had a little rain, but somebody certainly got a heavy storm.

    At days-end, I rode back with Glenn. By the time we got back to Y-beria the fair-weather wind was very strong and it was shaking our cabin. It was close to dinner time and Mary went to the Dining Lodge, but latched the door of our cabin on the outside. I was locked in the cabin. After about 20 minutes, Lauren was walking to her cabin. I opened the window and yelled for her and she heard me through the wind. She unlocked it for me as the dinner bell rang.

    At dinner we had sloppy joes, pasta salad, taco salad, chips and for dessert we had butterscotch covered sticks of something (potato sticks or fried noodles?). I added hot sauce to my sloppy joe and enjoyed the meal very much.

    After dinner, I took a shower which felt wonderful. The wind was still roaring so I wrapped our wet towels around a pine trunk to dry. I'm getting a raw place on the top of my left foot. I guess something is rubbing it. I washed it off and put a bandaid on it. Mary and I wrote in our journals. Lauren brought us 3 wool blankets because it's supposed to get cold this week.

    Mary and I went to the lodge. The kids played "The Hobbit" game and cards and the adults talked for awhile.

14 July 2009, Tuesday

    It got chilly last night. I got up at first bell but couldn't wake Mary. I went to the Dining Lodge and made two sack lunches and brought them back to the cabin. I couldn't wake Mary for breakfast so went down myself and had pancakes, link sausages and coffee.

    I finally got Mary up 10 minutes before we were supposed to leave. She felt bad from the cold. We went to the dig site. All the tarps were down because the wind was too strong. It was cool anyway and we didn't really need the tarp. Cloud cover was sufficient to keep us protected from the sun most of the day. I spent the morning trying to figure out the stratigraphic sequence between the Swift sandstone and the bald, white sandstone near the dig site. The geology is not straight forward; there are a lot of complicating landslides along the dip slope and some strange, vertical fault-like structures that I haven't figured out yet.

    I got back to the dig site by noon and had lunch. After lunch Mary wanted to go with me so we walked back to the camp site area. We walked up the little cuesta called "Cell-Phone Hill," so named for cell-phone reception at the top, and started finding lots of dinosaur bone fragments in one small area. We ended up with about 100 dinosaur bone fragments, the largest of which was about hand palm size. Mary said we should call it the Father-Daughter site. We walked back and showed the bone fragments to Glenn (Dr. Storrs), and we told him we would show him where we found them.

    Mary and I then hiked behind the Cell-Phone Hill cuesta and on toward the cuesta behind the dig site, eventually arriving at the dig site from the opposite end. By then, it was time to leave.

    We drove to Red Lodge and went to the IGA grocery store. Mary got some snacks. We re-boarded and went to Y-beria. I took a shower and then Mary and I went to the Dining Lodge for dinner. We had ham, corn, bread, garlic pasta, and salad. A white cake with peanut butter frosting was for dessert. It had started raining after dinner and several of us sat on the lodge porch drinking coffee and talking. After the rain stopped, we went to Glenn's porch to talk until it got cold and we left. I went to our cabin and caught up in my journal. Mary has been playing with the other kids. They played basketball while it was light and then cards at the lodge, at dusk.

    Mary and I both are taking cold medicine. I have a persistent ticklish cough which is very frustrating. Mary feels bad with a variety of cold symptoms.

15 July 2009, Wednesday

    I woke up before 1st bell and went down to make both sack lunches. I finally got Mary up before breakfast bell. We had scrambled eggs, hashed brown potatoes, corn bread (sweet, cake type; what we would call dessert corn cake, not cornbread), juice and coffee. We loaded up for the field by 8. I rode with Glenn. We were delayed a bit by road construction but finally got to the work site. They put together new rigging for the tarps and everyone started on their bones.

    Mary and I went to our "father-daughter" site and tried to dig out some bones. We only dug out two. Then we decided to hike over one of the small cuestas to see if there were any promising strata. We got back to the dig site around noon and ate our lunch.

    I took pictures of all the diggers and finally figured out how to force the flash on my camera when the subject is in contrasting light (it's a new camera). I had to do several repeat shots to figure this out.

    After taking the photos, I decided to do some geological reconnaissance. I told Glenn where I was going and what time I was coming back. I filled up my water bottle and added more sunscreen. I left the dig about 1:30, crossed the gravel road and entered some thick brush for about 100 feet on either side of a stream. I scared up several animals including a deer about 20 feet from me. I was more concerned about rattlesnakes, but never saw one. I had to probe the creek several times. Much of the creek had very steep cut banks, but I finally found a place to cross and then hiked to the nearest, small cuesta (Morrison Formation). I hiked around the cuesta to the next set of hills which were entirely composed of Cloverly Formation shales. Glenn found a Deinonychus claw here in the past. I found nothing unusual except for lots of hematitic plates and rocks. The temperature felt to be in the upper 90's, there was not a hint of breeze and it was uncomfortable. Finding nothing of interest in the Cloverly, I crossed over to the large cuesta composed of the Thermopoly Formation. For such a thick section of marine strata, I found nothing. I didn't have a lot of time because I promised to be back by 3 PM. I turned around and made my return trip to the dig site and arrived there by 2:55 PM. I finished my one-liter bottle of water as I arrived at the dig site.

    I helped carry items back to the camp site and then we all returned to Y-beria. At Y-beria, I took a nice, refreshing shower and then Mary and I went to dinner. We had chicken breast (mine with BBQ sauce), green beans, bread, rice, etc. Vanilla ice cream and sauce was for dessert.

    Some of us left at 6:45 to go to Red Lodge to see a movie. It was Lauren, I and four kids. We saw "Night at the Museum—The Smithsonian." It was entertaining. The adults stayed at camp for Glenn's lecture which we had already heard last week.

    Upon our return, Mary played cards. She had locked me in the cabin again. Glenn stopped by the cabin (and unlocked it) and we talked for about an hour. Then Mary and I went to bed.

16 July 2009, Thursday

    I woke up shortly after daybreak, but didn't get up till about 6:20. I went down to the Dining Lodge and made two sack lunches and brushed my teeth. I finally got Mary up and we went down for breakfast. We had french toast and bacon, coffee, etc. We went back to the cabin and packed our things for the day. I checked my towel and it was dry but the 3 pairs of socks that I washed in the sink last night were still damp. I turned them over on the juniper bush to dry the rest of the day.

    We left for the dig site at 8, but had to wait at road construction for a long time. Instead of going directly to the dig site, Lauren dropped us off at the Sundance Formation and I led everyone to the fossil localities. Instead of driving back we all walked across the gap in the cuesta back to the dig site. At the dig site, everybody settled in on their specific set of bones and I took some photos. At 11:30, I ate my lunch and then decided to explore the Pryor Conglomerate dip slope of the cuesta. Brian asked to go with me. We started out low and then climbed to the cuesta top. We looked at new exposures of the Morrison Formation as well. I took photos of a Clark's Nutcracker (Jay family) and explained the domal geology of the Chugwater Formation to Brian. As we came back to the dig, we looked at more Morrison Formation.

    We left the dig site early and went to Y-beria. We took showers and then re-boarded vehicles and went to Red Lodge. The kids spent a very long time in the Candy Emporium and I got tired of waiting for them, so I went to a bar-restaurant nearby and had a Bent Nail IPA and another local IPA (Re-bar or something like that). They were both excellent. I talked a lot with the locals there, but at the pre-designated time, I left and met everyone on the way to the van. We got back to Y-beria in time for dinner.

    At dinner we had meatloaf, baked potato (I had to show people how to eat potato skins; still, I was the only one that tried), a nice salad, brownies, and lemonade. Very nice meal.

    At 8 PM Mary and I gave a slideshow lecture on Guilin, China and Tibet. After the lecture, several of the adults went to Glenn's porch to talk and watch the sunset drop down over the mountains. Mary and the other kids played basketball, but Mary was wearing flip-flop sandals. She got stepped on and injured her foot. She went to the lodge and Lauren went to look after her. Lauren gave her an ice pack, and one of the mothers (Susan) took her back to the cabin. I gave her naproxen sulfate and looked at her foot. We may have to take her to the doctor's tomorrow. Her foot was worse than I originally thought. We'll see what it looks like in the morning.

17 July 2009, Friday

    I woke up at daybreak, but didn't get up till first bell. Mary wouldn't get up. I went to the Dining Lodge and made two sack lunches and brought them back to the cabin. I finally managed to wake Mary so that I could examine her foot. She cut the little bandage off. I didn't notice any bruising, but her little tow looked out of place a bit and her foot close to the toe was swollen. I think we'll have to go to the Doctor's office. She got back in bed and refused to go eat breakfast. I brought her a yogurt and spoon, but she went back asleep and didn't eat anything.

    At 8 AM the kitchen crew loaned us a pair of crutches and Susan and her son Ian drove Mary and me to the hospital in Red Lodge. They took three X-rays of Mary's foot while I filled out financial forms. The financial lady called our Humana insurance call center (in India) and was told that Humana wouldn't cover our emergency room visit or X-rays because we were "out of network." The financial lady said that it was an emergency, but the Humana lady refused coverage. I'm kind of wondering what the insurance is for. Anyway, they gave Mary a sort of boot to wear. They told us they would call my cell phone when they found out more about the X-rays. Susan, Ian, Mary and I went to a coffee shop in Red Lodge. I bought Mary a ham and cheese bagel sandwich. After awhile, I got a call from the doctor and she said Mary, indeed had a fractured foot (a metatarsal) and that Mary should continue to use the boot. They were not going to put a cast on it though. They said that we should see a doctor when we got back home.

    We left Red Lodge and got to the dig site camp around noon. Mary and I stayed at the camp because she couldn't make the steep climb to the dig site. There was no shade and no breeze at the camp and the temperature felt like upper 90's. We put on sunscreen. Mary painted a couple of scenes using water colors that Susan had given her.

    The rest of the people left the dig site and came back to camp to drive to the plesiosaur site. Mary and I, again, stayed in camp the two hours they were gone. When  the group came back to camp, Pat started cooking. We had a fabulous meal, chicken alfredo with capers and roasted pine nuts, bean salad and iced tea. It was excellent. Alex and Janice had also Fed-Ex-ed two New York cheese cakes, so we also had a fabulous dessert. Thanks Alex and Janice, we really enjoyed the cheese cakes.

    We all sat around and talked for about an hour and then drove back to Y-beria. By then the sun was beginning to set. I took the loaner crutches back to the kitchen. I had bought a new pair in Red Lodge. However, Mary refused to wear the boot.

    Mary and the other kids played a word game called Taboo at the Dining Lodge. We went to our cabin about 10:30.

18 July 2009, Saturday

    I woke up at daybreak, but didn't get up till first bell. I brushed my teeth and made two sack lunches and took them back up to the cabin. I couldn't wake Mary for breakfast, so I went down and ate with the others. We had pancakes and scrambled eggs.

    After breakfast, I went back to the cabin and tried to wake Mary, but couldn't. I filled out my journal and tried to wake her some more, but it didn't work. We waited for Mary at the van, but she never showed up. They even waited beyond the usual time but left about 8:15. I took my field gear and lunch back up to the cabin and got my journal and the book "Roadside Geology of the Yellowstone Country" by Wm Fritz. Considering the cost of coming to the dinosaur dig, missing a day is expensive, but I guess she needs the rest to help heal her foot. We won't see the others till 5 PM. While reading, I saw a house wren up close and saw a small Downy Woodpecker about 15 feet away. There is a warbler-like bird feeding on something in the pine trees. A nice variety of butterflies is out as well.

    About 10:30, Mary text-messaged me, asking where I was and why I hadn't wakened her. I went up to the cabin and started packing. I went to the lodge porch while Mary packed. We ate our sack lunches and drank tea or hot chocolate. Mary painted with the water color kit and art paper that Susan gave her. It was very nice of Susan to do that. I napped a little and then we played cards.

    Our group came in from the field just in time for dinner. We had hot dogs, hamburgers, pasta salad, baked beans and chips. We had vanilla ice cream cones for dessert.

    At 7:30 we got in the van and went to Bear Creek for the pig races (see this Wikipedia link). It's a popular event and they raise a lot of money for charity. There were a lot of motorcyclers there. This weekend, a big motorcycle rally was in Red Lodge. We got back to Y-beria by 10:30 and went to sleep.

19 July 2009, Sunday

    Mary's cell phone alarm went off at 5 AM and we finished packing our sleeping bags and other items. We boarded the van at 5:45 and Lauren drove us to Billings. Mary slept in the back of the van. At the airport, Lauren stayed with Mary while I went to the National Car rental place. While they were washing our car, Mary, Lauren and I had breakfast at the restaurant in the airport. We went back to the car rental place and they ran my credit card. Reading the card, the girl said "you're from Kentucky?" I said yes and she said she was too. I asked which part and she said "southeastern Kentucky." I said "me too." It turns out she was from Leslie County. We talked about that for awhile and then I got my car. It was a black Nissan Versa. We loaded our luggage and said our goodbyes to Lauren and then returned to Red Lodge. It was still full of bikers. Mary was asleep.

    I drove up the Beartooth Mountains and finally got Mary awake to watch the scenery, before we got to the really grand part of it. This was US 212, the "most scenic highway in America." We had been up to the top pass two weeks ago, so didn't take any pictures till we saw new vistas on the other side (Mary took some of these because I was driving).

    We got to the Yellowstone Park Entrance, west of Cooke City and were told that this was a free weekend and we didn't have to pay anything. From the entrance all the way to Mammoth Springs, we saw hundreds of bison and a pronghorn and we both took lots of pictures. [Yellowstone National Park.]

    At Mammoth Hot Springs, we checked in to the Hotel and Cabins. We are staying in a cabin with two big beds, sink and shower. What a luxury. I spoke to a German family staying nearby. They pointed out a Bald Eagle flying overhead; I would have missed it.

    After checking in, we went to the Visitors Center and got information on fishing. Mary wants to fish. Then we went to the dining room next to the hotel and I had a smoked trout plate and summer squash soup. Mary liked both. Mary ordered spinach-artichoke dip with hot garlic pita triangles. She liked that too. At the hotel lounge, I passed some people from India and spoke to them in Hindi. They were surprised, and especially surprised when Mary said "Pleased to meet you" in Hindi. We talked for a little while. They were very nice. The lady was beaming at Mary.

    Then we got in the car and drove up a short distance to a parking lot at the Mammoth Hot Springs. Mary put several socks on her feet and wore hiking boots and was able to walk without the crutches. We walked on the extensive boardwalks through the large travertine deposits and took lots of photos.

    We returned to the cabin and both of us took a nap. I was very tired. We woke up at 8 and we went to dinner at 8:30 at the same dining room. I had Alaskan Pollock and a house salad. Mary had house salad and a bowl of the squash soup. It was all good.

    We returned to our cabin. Mary took a shower and I caught up in my journal and then we both went to sleep.

20 July 2009, Monday

    I got up at seven and got Mary up at 7:48. As she was waking up, I got a cup of coffee at the hotel reception area.

    We got in the car and headed east to Tower Junction. We turned south there and headed toward Canyon. We took lots of pictures and hiked a bit on the trail to Mt. Washburn. At Canyon, we went on a car trail and numerous walking trails to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We photographed the Upper and Lower Falls many times.

    We ate lunch at the Canyon Visitors area and then got back in the car and drove to Fishing Bridge Visitors Center at the northern part of Yellowstone Lake. We got ice cream at the General Store and then headed toward West Thumb along the edge of the lake. We saw many fumaroles, hot springs and mud pots between Canyon and West Thumb.

    At West Thumb, we turned west and headed toward Old Faithful. We got to Old Faithful about 5:30, made our way to the viewing area and waited until 6 PM when it erupted. We took photos but I'm not sure mine will be saved because my battery died.

    We went back to the car and headed north to Madison Junction and then the road north to Mammoth. Just a few miles north of Madison, we stopped to fish (we bought licenses at Mammoth Hot Springs visitors center). We had 4-pound-test monofilament line and a spinner with treble hooks. I mashed down the barbs on the hooks and tied the spinner to the line. Mary hand casted the lure into the water a few times and then the spinner got hung up about two minutes after we started. We couldn't dislodge the hook from the rock and eventually broke the line trying.

    We got back in the car and headed north. We got in a long line of stopped traffic. It was due to road construction. After a long wait, it was our turn and we proceeded northward. We got to our cabin at 8 PM. I took a shower and then went to the same dining hall as last night. Mary had Angel Hair pasta and shrimp and I had smoked trout plate and fried calamari. We also played a lot of cards while waiting for our table and for our food.

    After dinner we went back to our cabin. Mary took a shower and I wrote in my journal. She is still having problems with her foot and it is swollen and bruised. We will see her doctor when we get home.

21 July 2009, Tuesday

    I woke up early but didn't get out of bed till 7. I went to the hotel lobby and got a large coffee. It's a bright, clear day. I sat on the cabin porch while Mary got up and finished packing. I also filled the gas tank of the rental car.

    We headed south and stopped at several mud pots, geysers, prismatic springs and also went back to Old Faithful. We walked around the Old Faithful geyser basin. We hadn't done that before.

    We had a small pizza at the General Store at Old Faithful and then had ice cream.

    After lunch, we headed south and left Yellowstone Park. In the Grand Teton National Park, we hit a lot of road construction in the northern part. The mountains and lake, however, were beautiful.

    We eventually got to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and found our hotel. It was the Quality Inn 49-er. The room was expensive, but fairly large. It was nice to see the news, after three weeks. I had been driving all day and was tired, so I took a nap. Mary and I walked around town which is full of touristy shops. The town square has four large arches made entirely from elk racks.

    We ate at a new restaurant, "Bon Appe Thai." I had Pak Kra Kraw with vegetables, extra-extra spicy and Mary had a yellow chicken curry. We also had vegetable rolls. We walked back to the room. Mary took a shower. We watched a little television and then went to sleep.

22 July 2009, Wednesday

    I got up at 7 and took a shower. I watched CNN for awhile and kept trying to wake Mary. Mary finally got up a little after 9. We went to the adjacent restaurant for our complimentary breakfast.

    After breakfast, we drove up the scenic drive through the Grand Teton Park. We stopped at Jenny Lake and hiked part of the trail, after visiting the visitor's center.

    Then we drove up to the Signal Mountain Lodge and had lunch overlooking the mountains and lake.

    After lunch we got a fishing license for Mary, some hooks and bait. We walked along the shore and stopped at a nice place. I tied the hook and baited it and Mary threw out the line. Nothing nibbled at the bait. After 45 to 60 minutes, the wind shifted and blew to shore. It became impossible to cast the bait, so we packed our gear and left. We headed north over the Jackson Lake dam. From there, we proceeded to the big highway and headed back to Jackson Hole. There, I topped off the rental car gas tank and we got back to our hotel by 6 PM.

    Because we have to repack tonight, I brought in all the stuff from our car into our room.

    I took a nap while Mary watched television. Then I got up, took a shower and we left by 8:20 to walk around for a good restaurant. We went to the Koshu Wine Bar [koshuwinebar.com], which, despite its name, is an Asian-Western fusion restaurant. We had Edamame, Miso Soup, soft-shell crab in lemon grass cream and blackberry balsamic vinaigrette reduction and finally lamb lollipops cooked in Cabernet beurre, romano tomatoes, herbs and fried shallots. We both agreed it was the best meal we'd had in a long time (Pat's meals were also outstanding!).

    After the meal, we turned in at 10:30. We have to get up early tomorrow.

23 July 2009, Thursday

    I woke up at 3 and couldn't go back to sleep. I got up at 6:30 and finished packing. I woke Mary at 6:45 and carried my bag to the car. We went to breakfast at 7 and checked out at 7:20. Mary finished packing and we left about 7:35. We got to the airport about 8 and I checked the car in. We had a difficult time checking in for our flights. There was some computer glitch and it couldn't find us. The lady at the counter spent 30 minutes and we finally got our boarding passes. Then the computer said that additional documentation was required for one of the flights, so she spent more time fixing that glitch. Then we went through security which took awhile because of all our hats, coats, crutches, carry-ons, pillow, boarding passes, boots, wallets, belt, coins, etc. We got to the gate area and Mary took a nap. Then we played cards, At boarding they said there was a problem with one of the tickets but that they would fix them. We pre-boarded because Mary was on crutches.

    The flight to Salt Lake City was short, about 30 minutes. Upon arrival at SLC we got to ride one of the little electrical carts to our next gate area. For lunch Mary and I went to Wolfgang Puck Express and had Spicy Chicken Pizza and Tortilla Soup. We played cards. We then went to Squatters Pub Brewer and I had an IPA and we played cards some more. We pre-boarded our flight to Detroit for the same reason as before. The flight was over-booked which might have been the reason for our ticketing problems, but we shouldn't have had to suffer because we got our tickets mid-March.

    Apparently, according to the captain's announcement, the plane was over-loaded and we had to switch runways. We were still on the ground an hour after we left the gate because they had to get permission to change runways. This made us very late for our connecting flight to Lexington which took off as we were un-boarding in Detroit. We went to the Delta Service Center and they re-scheduled our flight for the next morning (it was too late for any flights tonight). I asked about where we were supposed to stay in the meantime. They said that because conditions were out of their control, all they could do was offer us some small discount at a hotel. I told them that the captain said the plane was overloaded and they had to switch runways. It was their fault the plane was late because the plane was overloaded. I ended up having to talk to the supervisor and she gave us free hotel vouchers and food vouchers. That took about 45 minutes and it was really hot there.

    Anyway, Mary and I finally caught a hotel shuttle to the Comfort Inn. Her foot is hurting and we had no luggage. Mary took a shower and felt much better except that her foot was really swollen and sore while trying to run to catch our missed flight. There is something very wrong with airline travel these days.

    We went to the restaurant/bar/lounge (lizard) area and I had fish and chips. Mary had a dinner salad and fried mushroom. The bar area was filled with people that had missed their connections and lost their luggage. One fellow had been there two days.

24 July 2009, Friday

    I got up at 6, took a shower and got dressed in the same clothes as yesterday. I woke Mary and we went downstairs for the free continental breakfast. The breakfast area (same area as bar/lounge) was pretty dirty and the floors were sticky. The attendant was very dour and showed irritation at our presence. I got a quick coffee, but neither of us wanted to get anything there to eat.

    We brought our carry-on bags down and caught the 7:30 shuttle to the airport. We made our way to security and they moved us to the head of the line because of Mary's crutches. We walked to our gate and played cards. I went to the "Coffee Beanery" near our gate. There were two lines. I got in the closest one. It was finally my turn and the lady said "are you paying in cash?" I said "yes" and she said I needed to get in the other line which was now longer. I said "why can't you take cash?" and she said that her finger was sore. I said that she should have told us that this was a credit card-only line. She said that it wasn't a credit-card-only line, but that she just wasn't taking cash. I said that she should have told everyone before they got in the long line and she responded that she couldn't do that because it was for credit cards and cash; it's just that she wasn't accepting cash. None of it made any sense to me, but there was no reason for arguing with someone this limited. I got in the back of the other line and waited my turn. The other customers couldn't believe it either. I finally got a coffee and returned to Mary. She asked what took me so long, and I explained what happened.

    We got to pre-board early because of Mary's foot. The flight to Lexington was 1.5 hours long and uneventful. When we got to the baggage claim area, we saw Elizabeth and Nora waiting for us. We hugged a lot, got our luggage, which I thought would probably be lost and we went home in Elizabeth's car.