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KimTexan posted a topic in Fossil Hunting TripsThis post isn't so much about the fossils, but about me honoring the memory of Joe Gallo. It was the day I went out to do that in my own way and say goodbye and find closure for myself. So, if you're all about the fossils you may want to move on to another post. Two weeks ago Saturday I was on call. I had planned to go poking around at a Pleistocene area I had seen the day before NE of where I lived, but I got called into work to work on a kidney transplant. I worked from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM. By then it was too late to go to the Pleistocene area since it was over an hour away from where I worked and I’d have little time to hunt before sundown. I opted to go to a place about 20 minutes from my work where Joe Gallo, Fruitbat had taken me in April, this past Spring to fossil hunt. As I drove there I got emotional and tried to stifle my tears. I pulled into the area and parked my car. I sat there a few seconds trying to figure out what to do and how to go about this. I came here to remember Joe and say goodbye. I wasn't really sure how I was supposed to do it. I'd never done a fossil hunting memorial thing before. This was the only thing I could think of to get some closure and honor our friendship. It was going to where he had taken me. All the other places we had hunter were places I took him. I got out of my car and stood there looking at an open field of sorts strewn with a network of eroded washes and rocks. Joe had parked his Jeep Liberty right there. I visualized the position of everything how it was that Spring day when we were there. I remembered our conversation, where we walked as we hunted there and the poor mama killdeer bird Joe harassed. He wanted to see her nest. She was fierce and courageous. I laughed at him for harassing her. He said he didn't want to accidently step on the eggs and destroy them. I stood there and cried remembering. The field was an area of the Eagle Ford group I had not been to before that day in April. It had chunks of Kamp Ranch material all over the place, which consisted of finely crushed shell material imbedded in thin orange plates of something resembling sandstone. There really weren’t any obvious fossils there. That day in April we both looked. Joe mostly harassed the mama bird (I'm joking). This was the mama killdeer standing up to Joe. While I went to investigate some of the network of washes to see if I could find anything in them. I didn’t find anything. After a few minutes I walked back over to Joe. He held out a small piece of the Kamp Ranch to me and said “Here look at this.” He had a smile in his eyes as I took it. He didn’t say what it was. I looked at the plate looking at the tiny pieces of crushed shells. I didn't see anything so I flipped it over. Then on the other side there I saw a small little shark tooth! My face lit up with a smile. I said "That is really cool!” I held it out to give back to him and he said “No, it is for you.” Now he had a big smile on his face. I was touched. I said something to the effect of “Awh, thank you Joe. Are you sure you don’t want it?” He insisted I keep it. He often tried to give fossils to me that he found while we were out hunting. Some I insisted he keep. The shark tooth is my favorite though. It sits in my kitchen window above the sink. I walked off to looked bit longer. I found a pretty cool looking plate of ammonite impressions. It was the only fossil I found there worth keeping and the only thing I saw related to ammonites, but it was pretty cool. This was the shark tooth and my ammonite plate I found We had hunted a few other places that day and at that point it was getting close to sunset. I needed to go home. I stood there talking to Joe. He always seemed like a rather lonely man to me, although he denied that was the case. He was a loner and when I asked about friends he had he said that most had died or moved away and lived elsewhere. He didn't have any in the area. From what I gathered it seemed he didn’t have people he spent time with on a regular basis at all, if ever, besides his daughter who lived a few hours away. He had retired within the last year, so maybe he was still getting adjusted to being retired after teaching for 39 years in the Dallas Independent School district. Over the short time we had known one another we had talked about our childhoods a bit and had things in common. Our childhoods had been painful and difficult. I guess you could say we were both wounded souls. Part of our friendship was based on that connection of understanding what it was like and how it impacted our lives even now. I had found significate healing and come to a beautiful peace about my childhood over the years and was happy to help anyone along on their journey who was interested in finding it too. We had many shared interests. He had a B.S in Chemistry, a B.S. in Biology and a Masters in Molecular biology . I had a B.S. in Biology and Medical Technology with a minor in chemistry and I did a lot of molecular biology in my work. So we had a lot in common in our educational background. We both love of plants. We both had a strong interest in ferns. Joe knew so much more than I about them. He had collected native ferns all over Texas. We both liked gardening, camping, photography and traveling and of course fossils. I have 50/50 custody of my kids. On the weeks I was without them I needed to occupy myself with something, because my house seemed so empty without them. That was when Joe and I would occasionally go out to dinner, go fossil hunting or just talk. He had been married twice and divorced from both. I was still going through divorce and had been for a year at that point. His last spouse and mine would have made a good match. We had enjoyed hunting and talking that day in April. He was a really nice, sweet guy with a quiet disposition. He was quite a bit older than I was. Our interest were simply friendship and someone to hang out with occasionally and go hunting now and then, nothing more. I also was eager to learn anything related to paleontology from him that I could. I hoped that he would be willing to be a mentor of sorts and he seemed delighted to do what he could to teach me what he knew about paleontology. As I stood there talking with him somehow I felt the void of people in his life. I am a very warm and affectionate person to my friends and family. I give hugs when I see them and when we part. Human touch is important to me. Many years ago when I did my clinical year of rotations for my Med tech degree I had lived with my grandmother in Florida. There were numerous times she would want to just hold hands with me. She said it was lonely getting old. She usually lived alone when I was not there. So I would sit and hold hands with her. Human touch meant a lot to her too. She taught me to see the need in others for human touch and have compassion for them in their need. I was of the belief that Joe didn’t get to experience human touch very often, since he lived alone. I thought I could be an agent to impart that to him. I can’t imagine how deprived I would feel if I didn’t get to hug and kiss my kids everyday. I thought about living alone as Joe did and I felt a sadness for him never getting to experience human touch and hugs and such. So before we parted I asked if I could give him a hug. I always feel awkward when I ask a man that so I always feel the need to qualify it. I told him it wasn’t romantic or anything like that, it was just the belief that all humans need to experience human touch and I thought he had a shortage of that in his life. He admitted that he never really got to experience human touch. So he gladly accepted my offer of a hug. I gave him a nice big hug. I think the hug really touched him. The look on his face became very soft, like I had melted his heart. It felt good to communicate care to him. We said goodbye and we got in our cars and parted ways. As I remembered that the tears really started flowing. I felt happy that I had not been too shy to offer the hug and miss the opportunity to communicate care for someone who would be gone too soon, in only a little over 4 months or so. I had come here to remember our friendship and hunting together and to say goodbye to him in my own way since I was not able to attend any service. I gave myself a moment to grieve. I bought tissue with me and had a good cry for the loss of him and the plans we made, but were never able to do. Then I said a little prayer for God to comfort me in my loss to help me find a new hunting buddy and mentor type. I also prayed for help to find something really nice to honor the memory of Joe and our friendship. That done I put the tissue away, pulled myself together and got my pack out of the trunk of my car and began the hunt. There really aren’t many fossils to speak of other than the crushed shells. So I was skeptical that I would find anything at all, but I wanted to believe that I would find something worthy of serving as a token and reminder of friendship. I had no idea my request would be grant, but it was. I walked around for a few minutes looking at the Kamp Ranch material. I wasn’t finding much of anything. I crossed over into a grassy area and walked around for a bit. I found a few cool pieces of septarian nodules with almost all aragonite that still had shell in them. They were cool, but didn’t really measure up to the kind of thing I was looking for to serve as a memorial type specimen for me personally. I walked around a couple more minutes and then from about 30 feet away I saw something! A big smile spread across my face. My heart began to beat a little faster as the rush of excitement at the potential this find may have. I quickly walked over to it to check it out. I knew exactly what it was. These things can be really good or they can be complete duds. I didn’t see anything yet to tell me it was going to be good, but I just knew in my heart it had to be for the sake of my friendship with Joe. It was going to be something to serve as a memorial to him in my house, so it had to be. This is what I found. I took off my pack and pulled out one of my trusty chisels and little sledge hammer. I placed the chisel over a crack running along the top of the rock. I gave it a couple of whacks. The rock looked loose enough to pry out. As I pulled out the 3 inch chunk of rock I saw a large cavity filled with small, fine, yellow calcite dog tooth crystals. Jackpot! This is the rock I pulled out of the cavity. This is what was inside. Sorry, no fossils really, but it did form around mollusks of some kind, maybe ammonite. It was better than I had even hoped for. I had been wanting to collect one of these since I found them for the first time nearly a year before. I didn’t find them here, but at a location not too far away. They were large and intimidating. Some that I saw were about 3 feet long, 2.5 feet wide and maybe 20-24 inches thick. I estimate they would weigh a few hundred pounds. The worked needed to extract them and break them up had always seemed so daunting to me. I had believed they would required more brawn than I thought I had or was willing to exert to be able to bring it home. So I had never attempted to collect one. Today would be the day though. I was determined to extract this large chunk of rock. I didn’t measure it, but my guess it was just over 2 feet long and maybe 18 inches wide and about 14 inches tall. I have no clue on the weight, but maybe 200 pounds or more I’d guess. This is a hint that I saw after I had already taken out the chunk. The little veins of aragonite showing on the outside of the nodule. I put the chunk aside and attempted to pull out a larger segment of the rock. I soon realized that I needed to dig a trench around the rock to get it out. I didn’t have digging tools in my pack. Thankfully my car was only a couple hundred yards (200 meters) away. I had a small shovel and small hoe type thing with three prongs on the other side. This was a thick clay which my little shovel wasn’t a match for, but the hoe tool worked pretty well to hack into the thick clay and pull out large chunks of it. I dug a little trench around one side and the end about 10 inches deep and 6-8 inches wide. With this I was able to pull out a few large chunks of the rock. I removed them and then laid them to the side and worked to remove more. I had to use the chisel a few times to split it up. There was no way I could lift it out or haul it to my car without breaking it up. I have removed a few big chunks and dug part of the trench around it here. The color and lighting are off on this one. The light was getting low so my phone camera was having difficulty with the lighting. This is it from the side after a bit of the outside chunks were removed. By this point the sun had sunk down behind the hill to the west of where I was, but it wasn’t sunset yet. I only had about half of it out. I had been working for about an hour or so already. I began to worry I wouldn’t be able to get it all out before dark. I had to work quickly. I began trying to remove the chunks on the back side of the nodule, but it wasn’t going too well. So I had to dig a bit of a trench on the back side hacking away at the clay again. As I hacked away I kept hitting the rock, but assumed I was just hitting the gray shale coating . I didn’t care much how it looked or if I chipped it so I kept trying to dig out the side. Only later did I realize that the septarian must have fractured and lost a large chunk from the backside of it. Sadly the rock I was hitting was not shale, but the exposed calcite crystal covered in thick clay. The sun had basically set, but there would still be light for a bit longer. The last two pieces I wanted to leave a bit larger. They were essentially loose, but I couldn’t get them to budge. The bases were attached to shale that was still imbedded in the ground. I sat down on the ground a couple feet away and put my feet on one of the pieces and pushed with my legs to dislodge it. It came lose after a couple attempts, but then it was so big and heavy I could barely lift it, but I was determined. The next piece was even more stubborn. I had to dig out from behind it a bit more and then I sat down again to try to dislodge it with my feet and legs. Instead of push it out of place I ended up pushing myself back. I dug deeper into the clay and removed it. I tried again to push it out. Finally it came lose. I began to quickly take the chunks to a little hill with a level embankment near my car and pile them there. After a couple trips I looked down at my muddy hands in the dim light and realized both of my hands were bleeding and covered in blood. The dog tooth calcite felt sharp, but I had not realized that I was being cut by it. It was too late to do anything about it now. The sun had fully set and it was getting dark pretty quickly. I continued carrying the rocks to the hill. Then there were little fragments and small, but good size rocks with crystal on them. I put those in two backpacks I had and carried them to my car with my tools. I left the hoe tool there and then came back to fill the hole back in with the dirt and other rocks lying around and tried to pack it back down so that it didn’t leave a little pit. Then I pulled my car up as close as I could to the pile and loaded it into my trunk. Finally I was done! In all it must have taken me close to 2 hours to dig it out and haul it to my car. It indeed was a lot of work, but I was so thankful it was so close to my car. I had some bottled water I used to pour over my hands to wash off the mud. Then I had wet wipes to clean them a bit more. My hands weren’t bleeding too bad. The cuts were more like bad paper cuts, but my palms and fingers were covered with the little cuts, but in my mind it was so worth it. I got in my car and pulled up to where I had parked before. I took one last look at the field, I was a bit teary eyes, but I felt this had been a good trip. No real fossils to speak of, but I honored the memory of a friend. I think he would think the nodule was cool. He would have liked it. The next day I spent quite a bit of time cleaning up crystal. It was very time consuming. I must have spend over 4 hours cleaning them. Since the septarian had broken open prior to me finding it all the cracks and crevices had filled with mud. Even with all that work I only managed to get maybe half of them cleaned to a reasonable degree. I'll post a few pics of them cleaned up next.
I am doing the jury duty thing today so I have a lot of time on my hands to make a trip report post. This post isn’t rich in fossils despite visiting 3 different sites. It was something of a strike out for the day, with the exception of 2 pieces from the 3rd place we stopped at. One of the pieces was a true keeper for me though. I was on call for my work this past week, including the weekend, which means I have to stay close to home. I had a couple really long days without sleep. One 27 hour and the other 24 hours. It wipes me out. Thankfully I didn’t get called in Saturday night, because I had plans to go poking around a few spots with @Fruitbat aka Joe. He lives maybe 7 minutes away from where I do. The day was on the cool side, in the low 50s, overcast and breezy, but reasonably pleasant. The first place I wanted to check out was about 15 minute from my house. It was in the Austin Chalk, upper I think. I didn’t have high expectations of finding anything noteworthy, but I keep trying, because I’m surrounded by the upper Austin and upper Ozan, which have next to zilch from what I’ve on numerous attempts. The area we went to is a new development that recently broke ground in Garland on the southwest corner of Shiloh and Buckingham roads. It is mostly black clay like material, but a bit of white chalk and light gray shale are exposed and I think limestone or marl was exposed during trench digging. There is also the Duck Creek waterway on the east side of the development. We didn’t find much more than Inoceramus clam fragments in the development area. I did find an interesting looking clam about 1.5 inches wide imbedded in chalk. No clue what it is. Since we didn’t find anything there we headed to check out the large creek. It seems the city channeled the creek to bury water or sewer lines in it. So it was down to the bedrock with a concrete strip running down the center. The banks were about 10-15 feet high in most areas. The East bank being layers of chalk and marl like stuff. The west side dirt and clay. When I got into the creek I couldn’t find my phone. I assumed I’d left it in my car. Later I realized I’d put it in my coat pocket and had it the whole time. I didn’t get any pics. There was only one picture I wish I’d been able to take. In the creekbed we came across a circle that looked like a giant flat cinnamon roll about 2 feet wide. It didn’t look like any ammonite I’ve ever seen. Joe said it was an Inoceramus clam. I squatted down to have a closer look and sure enough the side was exposed revealing the tale tale pattern of Inoceramus shell edge. It isn’t the biggest clam I have found out hunting, but it was probably the most complete large one I’ve seen. I’m tempted to go back to take a pic since I drive by there most weekdays. There wasn’t much of interest otherwise. Since we didn’t find anything of interest we headed south to Dallas to our 2nd spot. I’d seen an exposure off of 30 I wanted to check out. It was part of the Eagle Ford formation. We arrived and parked our vehicles on the edge of a large field and made our way walking towards a hill in the distance with an exposure visible. There were huge piles of construction dirt and rock in the field. I have explored those before so I didn’t revisit them this time. Most notable were the very large septarian nodules with brown and while crystals. I’d been here before and collected a few pieces. We walked through high grass and underbrush then headed downhill only to encounter a wash or small creek we couldn’t cross. The creek doesn’t show up on any map. We worked our way along through considerable underbrush between knee and waist high along the creek. Joe took a little rest while I explored the area looking for a crossing. I found one a Joe soon followed. After crossing a couple of them I came to a dense hedge of Chinese privet. If you’ve never encountered it you’re blessed. If you’re considering it for landscaping think twice. While it is pretty it is a very aggressive shrub that grown incredibly dense making areas impassible. It will take over a whole field and thin forest if left unattended and nothing else can grow there. I didn’t notice it until I came to it and realized there was no getting through or around it. Here you can see a dense patch of it. It’s maybe 5-8 feet tall in most places. We realized there was no way to make it to the outcropping from where we were. We walked back to our cars after maybe 30 minutes of trying to get to the outcrop. We would have to come at it from a different direction. There were lots of spring flowers in bloom along the walk. I thought I’d share them with you. Per Joe this is a form of wild mustard. This is actually the bud of my favorite wildflowers. It is a milk thistle. I don’t like the prickly part, but I think they’re beautiful, but that isn’t why I like them. I like them because I am fascinated by them. I have picked them many times and arranged them in a vase beautifully. I leave for a few hours or overnight and they have completely rearranged themselves! Not just a little either. Individual stems will move by an inch or more at times. I think it is chemotaxis or something. It isn’t phototropism, because it happens at night and the direction they move is not uniform or unidirectional. Can’t wait for them to be in bloom. I don’t know what these are. I think these are 2 varieties of evening primrose. I think these are a form of verbena. We drove around the back side of a large warehouse and found a spot to park. We were able to access the exposure from there, but only because someone had bulldozed a path through the Chinese privet. Much of it was the Eagle Ford gray flacks shale. I found the top valve of an oyster or possibly clam (I still need to clean it up). I also found a very weathered fragment of a medium size ammonite that was only identifiable because of sutures. Other than that the only thing of interest was more septarian nodules. This is one of the smaller ones I saw. You can’t see the septarian qualities on the exterior, but it’s definitely a septarian. It was very heavy or I’d have taken it home to open up. If they have a split in it like this one they usually are filled with crystals. I also found quite a bit of small crystals laying around. Usually it’s calcite, but I’ve read the formation has abundant gypsum. Nothing of real interest there other than septarian nodules so we moved on to look for our third location. We drove west on I-30 and then south on loop 12. The first spot didn’t have anywhere to park nearby. So we drove across the freeway to look at an exposure off of a parking lot in a low area. I think this is likely to be the Kamp Ranch formation, a subunit that underlies the top layer of the Eagle Ford about 75 feet under it near Arcadia Park. This location was not very fossiliferous, but it did have yellow/orange thin plates largely consisting of conglomerates of shell fragments. It also had gray and black clay/shale with large septarian nodules. These are some of the fragments I picked up. This is one, which was buried that I tried to extract but I wasn’t successful. It was too big and I didn’t feel like putting in the effort needed to extract it or break it up. I walked around picking up plates looking for anything of interest. I came to a wash area and found this plate. This is the find of my day. It is covered with small ammonite impressions. It’s the only hint of ammonite that I found. There are a number of impressions that are partially covered up. I think with a little prep work it could be a real beauty. I’ll have to practice on the back side to make sure it doesn’t leave white marks. While I was off finding this Joe was off harassing this poor mama killdear bird nearby. He was trying to find out where the eggs were so we didn’t step on them. Turns out she was sitting on them. He said she was giving him the broken wing routine. She also spread her wings and tail trying to defend her eggs and nest. Her eggs are just behind her. Joe found this little plate and gave it to me. It’s got a little shark tooth on it on the top left. From there I had to leave to go home. It was a relaxing day, except for fighting through the little jungle like underbrush and vegetation trying to cross the wash/creek and having to retrace our path because of the Chinese privet. But it was a nice day overall. Oh, this is a closeup shot of part of the ammonite impression plate that I forgot to insert above.
sward posted a topic in Fossil Hunting TripsAs Richard (Vertman) kindly mentioned in his latest update regarding his "100 Hours Collecting in the Austin Chalk of North Texas", he invited me to join him in his adventures on Sunday, 21 April. Having met Richard before, I jumped at the chance to be able to spend the afternoon hunting with him, regardless of the possibility of not finding much of anything. His knowledge and experience, along with his willingness to share that knowledge with a newbie like myself and train me how to spot and identify various formations, made the decision to join him a no-brainer. The last time I met up with Richard, he took me to some locations he had hunted in the past. At one of the locations, he found a couple of Ptychodus teeth. I was not lucky enough to find any on that trip, so Richard made sure I was going to find some this time. We went to a location with some Kamp Ranch formation exposed that he had success in before. Needless to say, Richard was going to make sure I found Ptychodus teeth this time. My haul after a short time at this exposure: "...WOW!!!..." was all I could say. Also included were various other teeth: This forum is full of tremendous members that are more than happy to help people to learn. I'm proud to be part of such a great group of people. THANK ALL OF YOU!!!