Dust Storms, Fossils, and Stars

Trip Start Jun 23, 2010
Trip End Jul 27, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Thursday, July 1, 2010

This morning we said good bye to Moab, Utah. We hit the road bright and early and headed for Great Basin National Park. En route we decided to stop and do an afternoon activity. A while back we had seen a show on the Travel Channel called "Cash and Treasures". On this particular episode they had featured the U-Digg Trilobite  mine in Delta Utah. This place is in the middle of no where. It is 20 miles  off highway 50 (the loneliest road in America) The whole trip down highway 50 we were enveloped in a major dust storm. 60 Mile per hour winds were sand blasting our RV and jeep the whole day. When we arrived at the road to the mine, we found it to be a rough gravel road that was beating us up badly. We decided that the only option was to ditch the RV and take the jeep. Once in the jeep we had no problems.  The mine itself was at the base of a mountain range which provided so much needed protection from the dust storm. At the mine we were greeted by a real nice guy named Bevin who showed us the basics of mining for trilobites. The process is remarkably simple.  You pick up a rock (slate) and hit it with a hammer. When it splits on the fault, you look inside and see if you can find a prehistoric clam, trilobite, or fish fossil.  Apparently this mine is one of the only places in the United States with such a huge abundance of such fossils. About 1-10 rocks yielded a fossil. Some were only tiny clams that were not all that interesting, but other delivered well preserved trilobites that were really interesting to look at. After about 2 hours of searching, we had all found our fair share of specimens, and we were just about cooked from the 100 degree sun. We packed up our booty and headed back out on the road for Great Basin.  Thanks for Hunter's excellent navigation skills, we found ourselves in the park by around 4 pm.  We quickly found a terrific camp site right next to a raging stream that provided some very nice background music to our evening.  We started a camp fire and settled in for the night. Great Basin is a beautiful park, but what it is really known for is the sky over head. This is the darkest region on the United States. When the sun goes down, the sky lights up  with stars  of a magnitude that is almost unbelievable. I decided that simply craning our necks upwards was not the right way to experience this magnificent sky. With I pod  in hand I convinced everyone to grab a blanket and climb up on to the roof of the RV.  Once there I explained that for the next 15 minutes there was to be no talking. Just listing and appreciating. Everyone agreed, and we all laid down and stared skyward. I put the ipod in the dock and promptly selected “The End” by the Doors. A very trippy song for a very trippy sight. We all laid there quietly for a while and soaked it all in. Then the real light show began. There were shooting stars everywhere. Not like the ones that you see at home, These looked more like comets. I swear I could see tails on some of them. By now it was past 11 PM and we all decided that we were cooked. Time for bed.
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Ray on

Ed, Thanks for the invite to this blog. I had no idea the significant preoccupation for such an adventure, and what a great idea. In any case, to make your casa safe, I have moved in (you should have just asked, I'm so tired of Connecticut.)
My bro is a diesel guy, he told me the same thing with RV's and large boats- not worth it unless they are diesel. He works for NYFD at the brooklyn naval yard, I'll write next time I go down there and he can give your boys a tour of the fireboats. In any case, I'm glad you took the jump and are documenting the trip for the rest of us. Best of luck for the rest of the miles, hopefully you can keep your hands clean and just enjoy the scenery.

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