Summer Vacation - Dinotopia

I wrote about the first half of our summer vacation - the eclipseapocalypse - in my last post. A total solar eclipse is a tough act to follow, so the obvious choice was to go looking for dinosaurs. First stop: Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite. (In the wider photo a fairly distinct three-toed footprint can be seen about a meter in front of Suzie's feet.)

After many hours of driving across Wyoming, including a stop at Devil's Tower, we arrived in Belle Fourche, South Dakota to go digging for fossils.

This dig site is in the Hell Creek formation, which is a geologic formation that dates back to the end of the Cretaceous period, about 66 million years ago. It's lousy with fossils, including turtles and alligators, fish, and dinosaurs like Triceratops, hadrosaurs, raptors, and even the most recognizable dinosaur of all, Tyrannosaurus rex. We spent two days digging with paleontologist Walter Stein, and excavated a bunch of neat fossils. I'll eventually photograph some of our coolest finds and share them here.

The actual digging is super hard hard, and it turns out all us amateurs strike pretty much the same pose while we're digging:

After two long days at the dig site we were totally beat. Walter, however, has been doing this for years, so he knows all too well that inefficient work can take a toll on the body. Here, he demonstrates the proper relaxed posture for cleaning a fossil.

If a couple days of backbreaking work in the hot sun of South Dakota looks fun (and I can say without hesitation that it is), I recommend checking out Walter's paleontology tourism company PaleoAdventures for yourself.