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THE FINAL LEG…TEXAS                              November 4, 2010                     Mileage so far: 5611

PALO DURO.  Dick picked up his friend Chris at Dallas Love Airport on Tuesday, and they drove toward the Palo Duro Canyon area that afternoon.  On the way to Caprock Canyon, they discovered that the nearby town of Turkey was the home of the 1940s country western musician, Bob Wills.  A monument in the town lists his many accomplishments in the field of entertainment.  Dick and Chris camped at Caprock Canyon State Park at the Little Red River campground.  The tent was positioned on the canyon lip.  What a place!  First night they froze.  The next day they explored the Permian redbeds exposed in the canyon bottom.  Believe it or not there was water in the stream bed.  Above the redbeds were the Dockum and Ogalala beds. These light-colored strata were in striking contrast to the deep reddish-orange Permian beds. Dick was amazed by the prominent pure white gypsum (selenite) streaks splashed like lightning bolts through the red beds.  What an amazing place! 

The next day Dick and Chris headed over to Palo Duro Canyon, but along the way discovered a road to Ceta (also Cita) Canyon, and the gateway to a famous fossil site that had been excavated by the CCC in the mid 1930s.  The site was known for its Blancan-aged mammal fauna and the presence of a giant gopher tortoise (Gopherus canyonensis) and a small Hesperotestudo.  Dick had been looking for this site for years.  BINGO!  We received permission to enter the canyon through church camp property.   We found a stream flowing through the canyon and a rather significant waterfalls along its path.  The camp manager indicated that building ruins occurred along the canyon wall.  It may have been the site of the old CCC camp.  Dick and Chris were unable to locate the fossil diggings. 

Following their explorations in Cita, Dick and Chris moved onto Palo Duro Canyon.  This was a much larger canyon than the others that they had visited.  Very picturesque!  Some hiking and bike riding in the canyon bottom provided a break from all of the driving. Each morning they had coffee and breakfast at a quaint restaurant in Quitaque.  The rule of thumb in this restaurant was whoever got up for more coffee had to pour coffee for the rest of the breakfasters. 

Dick and Chris left for Dallas Friday morning, but got distracted on the way by Mount Blanco, another famous fossil area, south of Caprock, that was originally collected by Edward Drinker Cope and his field crews in the late 1800s.  This site is the type section for the Blancan North American Land Mammal Age, a several million year period of time that ended in the early Pleistocene, about 1.8 million years ago.  This site also was the type locality for another gopher tortoise, named by Cope.  This leg of the journey filled in a blind spot for Dick in his reconstruction of the history of fossil tortoises.  Another interesting hotspot was a fossil museum in the town of Crosbyton which was operated by creationist Joe Taylor.  It gives a very different view from the traditional scientific view point.  VERY INTERESTING…  Need to try that one on Dana Ehret at his dissertation defense on fossil sharks on November 15th.

Entrance to Palo Duro Canyon
 State Park

Mt. Blanco, north of Crosbyton, TX,
 major fossil site.

Fossil museum in Crosbyton, TX


Photographer Chris snapping scenes at Cap Rocks

Little Red River below the camp site at Cap Rocks

Water falls in Cita Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

Veins of gypsum crystals streak the
Permian red rock at Cap Rocks

Stream in the bottom of
Palo Duro Canyon


      After getting Chris on a plane to Florida on Saturday, Dick drove back to Austin to finish his survey of fossil tortoises at the Texas Memorial Museum at the University of Texas.  This time he concentrated on the late Pleistocene Hesperotestudo wilsoni from Friesenhahn Cave in Bexar County, Texas.  This was an amazing collection that included complete shells, many plastrons, and other body parts.  This extinct species was thought to be related to other small extinct tortoises found elsewhere in the Southwest and in Florida.  Their relationships to one another, though, are still open to speculation.  Dick still hasn’t made it to the basement of the lab yet.

Elizabeth and Carissa at
 Elizabeth's farm in Paris, TX,
 my last stop before
starting the drive east.
     TEXAS IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR… November 9, 2010 ONE MORE THING…. Dick did a dive off of Elizabeth's Figaro yesterday. He claimed that a mountain lion attack his gelding, the saddle broke, and he was on the ground defending his horse against this monstrous cat who had intent to maim his trusty steed. Other witnesses claim it
was a mini horse in the adjoining pasture that came running to the fence. He thinks it was the cat.... However, Dick was graceful in his departure according to all witnesses.

     Dick bought a Vietnam era military knife at a Paris TX antique store yesterday. Steve Hutchens put Dick onto this instrument for digging fossils. He has been looking for one for several years. Now he can dig with the BIG BOYS!

     Dick always finds it difficult to depart the farm. The weather was great during the past few days. But now it is the time to turn the wheels back toward Florida. In two days, this trip will be history.

*Home At Last*
total milage- 6970
stay tuned for the next adventure

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