Have you ever thought about hunting for dinosaurs? Marla and I have been wanting to for years. The summer of 2001 we decided to make our dream come true. We packed up our tent and camping equipment then headed to Wyoming for our seven day adventure. Traveling east through the southern part of Idaho, we didn't see much wildlife until we passed over into Wyoming. There we saw small herds of buffalo and a few deer. It was early evening when we stopped for the night in Dubois, Wyoming at a very nice Bed & Breakfast we found advertised on the internet, called The Stone House. The owneres were excellent hosts and we had a delicious home-made breakfast before continuing our journey the next day.
We got up the next morning and traveled to Thermopolis, Wyoming home of The Wyoming Dinosaur Center. We spent the first night at a little hotel in town, got up the next morning and went to the dinosaur center for a tour of the museum, then off to the dig. Our first day with the real paleontoligists was too short. We took a short bus ride from the center to the dig site. The first part of the tour was viewing a dinosaur bonebed in a covered area. So many bones! Walking above the preserved bonebed it was easy to imagine a flood washing dinosaurs of every kind down into the area where they met their doom.
The tour continued out to where the active dig was taking place. A small shed covered the bones of a articulated teenage Diplodocus. This is where we would spend our day working. We had to be careful where we stepped and how we worked. The rock we were digging on was shale-like and flaked off. The more experienced diggers were allowed to work closer to the bones and the rock there was harder. The tail had been taken back to the lab already and they were working on the hips, chest area, and the neck. They said the head may not be found because the connection of spine to it was fragile and most heads were missing from discovered specimen. On break we were shown the rest of the site. They had tried making a road around the hill, but every few feet there were more dinosaur bones and instead of destroying them they discontinued the road. There was one very large femer from a sauropod that they were trying to preserve. We thought it would be amazing to help with it.
We made reservations at a campsite and just seven miles outside of Thermopolis we found it. The campsite was very nice, we set up our tent by a creek and took a shower at the camp facilities then went back to explore the town. There is an amazing mineral hot springs park and we drove through the buffalo park.
The next morning, Marla was sick so we stayed at the camp. She was feeling better the next day and we headed back to the dig. We worked hard and cleared a lot of rock, found some very small bone fragments. There were a lot of people the next day and they had us go down and work on the big sauropod femer that we saw the first day. It was huge! and very sadly starting to deteriate. They had to get it out by the end of the season or it would be lost. This was the second season they had been working on it and we soon found out why. The earth around the bone was extremely hard. They gave us hammers and chizles so we could dig a trench around the bone, making it possible for them to lift it out. We worked all day and made a trench 1 inch deep and about 6 inches wide. My trench was just a about 1 1/2 feet long. Extremely hard rock! Before we left we went up to where the others were digging and one of the girls had unearthed a preditor tooth. It was the first sign of preditor in the area, so they were very excited. All the other bones they had found had belonged to herbivors.
We would like to go back some day and do that again, but it was time for us to go. We spent the night at the camp then took off the next morning and went up around through Cody then around to Yellowstone Park. We walked the trails to the mudpots and, of course, we had to stay for Old Faithful to errupt. We spent the day and found a campground south of the park and finished off our adventure.