This was Andreya’s (Bob’s granddaughter 6 years old) last visit of the summer and what a day long adventure it was – I think she and I were both wore out by the end of the day! Lots of firsts for Andreya, three fossil hunts – two impromptu – and fun right down to the last minute picking of flowers from my gardens for her Grandmother Donna.
Andreya has been asking Grandpa Bob to take her fishing for a while now. A trout stream borders this property, so they dug up a couple of worms in the garden and Grandpa showed her how to bait the hook and throw in the line.
I asked her if she wanted to learn to ride and with an excited nod of her head, off we went to the barn. Coco the “wild” burro adopted through the Adopt-A-Horse-Or-Burro program was cooperative – sometimes he just stands there and won’t give rides. 🙂
Andreya looked up at the big palomino gelding’s head and said, “No!” I just laughed. Something about donkeys makes them non-intimidating. Is it the Eeyore stories or that they are like teddy bears with big ears? Or just so much smaller than a 15 HH horse – which is like sitting on the cab of a pickup truck while it is moving?
I asked her if she wanted to feed my very friendly free-range hens who had been hanging around us and she found that to be so much fun. They even leaped in the air to get the piece of bread she was feeding them.
Then it was off to Quarry Hill Nature Center for a fossil hunting adventure! Quarry Hill, a city park in Rochester, is the only other fossil park besides Lilydale in the Cities that I have been able to locate in Minnesota. I’ve been there before and reported on it (Lots more pictures of the park and nature center here: http://www.bluffcountryfossils.net/blog/quarry-hill-nature-center-rochester/) but had never climbed the hill all the way up to the quarry. Today was the day!
And then up a fairly steep trail going to the quarry at the top of the hill. Don’t discount the trails for fossil hunting! I found all of the fossils we brought home just walking the trails near and at the quarry!
This was the first wall of the quarry we encountered. Galena Formation with probably Dubuque and Maquoketa shale on top. As we were climbing to the quarry I noted sandstone, no doubt the St. Peter Sandstone. So this is the basic hierarchy of formations in this quarry, I believe, top to bottom:
Stewartville member of the Galena Formation
Prosser member of the Galena Formation
Cummingsville member of the Galena Formation
Decorah shale – greenish
Platteville Formation – fine grained limestone K-bentonite layer
Glenwood shale may have lots of rose quartz
St. Peter Sandstone
This is what the formation map for this area says the layers are. So what you are finding on the trails as you are climbing may be Decorah and Glenwood shale. Once at the top you are in the Galena Formation and the shales that perch above it.
The quarry is overgrown with small trees and is holding water after heavy rains in the northeastern area.
Some areas are more fossiliferous than others, and a staff person said the primary concentration of fossils was on the west end in the middle from what she had been told. It was a beautiful walk around the wooded rim of the quarry.
There were safe little bridges where appropriate. Under this one was a steep dry wash and I could see fossils below even from the height of the bridge. This would be about the area the staff person was saying would be most fossiliferous.
After that hike, we were both hungry! I asked Andreya if she wanted a culinary adventure. She said she would try new food. So I took her to Opa! Opa! a Greek restaurant that has the best Gyros I have ever tasted. She had the Kids Gyro which is basically pita bread, french fries (Which I forgot that she doesn’t like and we brought them home and fed them to the chickens.), Gyro meat (A bit spicy for her I think.), chips and sauce. She filled up on the chips, cucumber based sauce and pita bread. And we dined al fresco.
Andreya napped all the way back to Spring Valley, but was ready to go swimming. So off to the pool we went – But oh no! The Pool Was Closed! August and we finally get hot weather and the pool closed?! But it was so she wanted to play on the various playground equipment.
Here are the fossils we gathered from the Spring Valley playground on the south side of town. Mostly bryozoans, but this one I posted on TFF and speculation has run from the worn siphuncle of a cephalopod, to an Archimeades bryozoan, to the internal parts of a worn crinoid segment – so, a very worn, unknown fossil at this point.
Then I suggested we go to Masonic Park (Where Wolffish and I had seen the kids swimming by the bridge.), where she could splash and play to her heart’s content in a fresh, clean stream – and we could fossil hunt too. 🙂
Gia jumped in the back seat of the car, and I had her following with her finger on the road map as we drove to it, just 3 miles from Spring Valley. As soon as she saw the great white cliff she remembered the park and exclaimed, “This is my favorite park!” And she started talking about her memories of being here with her Mother and Grandma Donna.
I had grabbed my fossil backpack for this little adventure and had no more sat it down on the rocky beach to put on my water shoes, then I found a Maclurites and a worn Lisospira! Andreya was already in the water splashing and throwing rocks – kids… 🙂
I had never seen the water this low and decided to explore around the edges of the island that the creek normally cut off from access. What fun we had wading back and forth across the stream. Collies are not known for being water dogs and at one point Gia got cut off across the stream from us. With lots of verbal encouragement, she finally decided to brave the creek and come across to us. No, she did not have to swim, but it went up just past her belly and she didn’t like that at all!
It was a lovely walk with the towering cliff on the other side only slightly obscured by folaige.
And there were very few insects. But as we got around to the other side of the island I slipped on a rock and fell into the water! I was holding my camera above my head and couldn’t get up! Andreya had to come back and rescue me by holding the camera so I could use both hands to raise myself out of the water – she was my hero!
But then we hit a path of burning nettles and without long pants Andreya couldn’t go through them. So, on an unexpected mis-adventure we started a trek across the island with Gia leading the way.
I had enough fossils for that day and was good and soaked, so we decided to head back to Spring Valley and get Gia her reward for protecting us while fossil hunting – a free pup cup at Dairy Queen. Andreya wanted to try the new Ships Ahoy! blizzard and I had a Mint Oreo blizzard, then back home we went.
Grandpa had been sleeping all day as he works third shift in Winona, but it was almost supper time and he was planning on roasting sweet corn on the grill for Andreya as she had said it was her favorite the last time she was here and he got up and took her to the garden to pick her own sweet corn.
They went to the store and got hot dogs as that is what she wanted besides sweet corn and while Grandpa Bob was grilling I gave her a real dinosaur bone from Wyoming (Thanks Jim – Old Dead Things from TFF!) and since we never found a Hormatoma for her this summer, I gave her a Loxoplocus bowdenii that Herb from TFF (Thanks Herb!) had given me and made it into a necklace for her.
After dinner, Andreya cuddled on the couch with Paris, my cat, and watched SpongeBob Squarepants until it was time to go.
Then she gathered some flowers from my garden for her Grandma Donna and off she went with Grandpa Bob.
A perfect day with lots of fossil hunting!