Shell’s Secret

  • Post category:Travel

When we came down out of the mountains in July of 2004 we had no real idea of where we were. This was before the iPhone and navigation systems in cars. We were traveling across country, moving from the Washington, D.C. area to California, my wife and our two grade school age daughters, and we came into tiny Shell, Wyoming, to stop for snacks and pop, as we still called it then. Though it was over sixteen years ago I still remember Dirty Annie's Country Store and the "singing cowboy" inside. I thought of him as a singing cowboy only because of his outfit--a sky blue western dress shirt and…

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All Fossils Have A Story

  • Post category:Travel

A first visit to the John Day Fossil Beds, in the dried out hills in eastern Oregon, is a surprise, the hills of banded red and yellow and black, pulp science fiction book covers made real. But another surprise awaits in these hills. The area is heavy with fossils and a common one is a tree, a redwood. Here in California we are familiar with the coast redwood (just called "redwood") and the giant sequoia (just called "sequoia"). This fossil species is the dawn redwood. Fossil photographs by Karl Volkman (Kevmin) via WikiMedia Commons All fossils have a story but the story of the dawn redwood--Metasequoia--is special. Up until 1941…

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Climate Change In Color at the John Day Fossil Beds

  • Post category:Travel

When people think of Oregon they tend to think of rain, a sort of never-ending rain, over forty inches a year on average. But eastern Oregon is all but a desert, receiving a third of Portland's average, and some of Oregon really is a desert, with less than ten inches of rainfall a year. This low level of rainfall exposes the ground and the ground can tell its story, the story of rains from the distant past. The red is from a time when the hills here were warm and wet, as wet as Portland is now, and volcanic ash fell from the sky, brining with it all that iron.…

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