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Fossilis Willis

Earlier this month @JD3B and I went a incredible fossil hunting road trip. The title may be a bit misleading, as only one day was actually spent in the badlands. There were however, plenty of good times. We were lucky to have the opportunity to visit a few storied formations, and even luckier to have a couple tff legends to guide us.

 

The first morning was an early one with a 3:00 am wake up. I was at Jacob's (JD3B) by 4:00 and on the road before 5:00. First stop, the Helena, Montana area to visit the world renowned @RJB museum of natural history. We arrived late in the afternoon and honestly, this place alone would have been well worth the long drive from western Washington. One of my few regrets from this trip was not getting any pictures of Ron's amazing collection. If you know where to look however, pictures can be found elsewhere on the forum. Ron, you could charge admission! After touring his prep lab and drooling over display case after display case, it was time for a couple frosty beverages. Over the course of a couple cold ones and a lot of laughs, we went from online acquaintances to friends. He was a gracious host who not only let us park our RV in his yard for the night, but gifted us with some beautiful fossil to remember our stay. The next morning we bid Ron a short lived farewell. We were to meet up again in few days to do a little "fishin". But in the mean time, we set our sights to SE Idaho to try our luck hunting trilobites.

 

Here are my first fossils of the trip, acquired from the "gift shop" at the RJBMNH. Thanks again Ron, you're all right. I don't care what Jacob says about you.:heartylaugh:I didn't get specific IDs for these, but first one is bird tracks, second is sand dollars, then pectin and cockles.

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Fossilis Willis

From Ron's we headed south to the far southeast corner of Idaho. I read about a Cambrian exposure that produced a variety of fossils near the town of Liberty. We spent most of the day driving and arrived in Liberty right around sundown, and had to search in the dark for a place to set up camp. We found a suitable site close to where we thought the exposure was supposed to be and settled in for the night. Early the next morning we set out on foot and after a little searching we found the site. The exposure was very weathered and it took a bit of work to dig back to solid material. It didn't take long to start finding lots of trilobits along with some little brachiopods and lots what I believe were hyoliths. Eventually I found a couple nearly complete trilobites, my first self collected trilos. We spent a few goods hours at the site and with no shade and running low on water, we decided to head back to camp.  This was beautiful location with abundant fossils and I intend to return someday.

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Fossilis Willis

After spending a second night at our scenic albeit improvised site in Idaho, we started making our way to Kemmerer Wyoming. Here would sign waivers and get directions to a nearby quarry to dig the famed 18 inch layer of the Green River Formation. Upon arriving at the site, the quarry owner pointed us to a suitable place to park the RV for the next few days then led us to section of the quarry that would be ours to work and equipped us with the necessary tools. We spent the first afternoon clearing away badly weathered rock and after moving a massive pile of material, we had very little to show for it. The next morning we continued removing the rotten of rock and eventually got to more solid material. Unfortunately it quickly went from soggy, delaminated layers to much harder layers that wouldn't split along planes. We struggled most of the day and began to get disheartened. Eventually we decided that for the sake of moral we would move over to a nearby site that had rock from slightly deeper in the formation. This proved to be a good choice because we began to find much more and better fish. This area was "bottom cap" material which is extremely dense and heavy. When we quit for the night we had renewed hope for the rest of our time at the quarry. The next day we continued to work what we dubbed "the honey hole". Sometime that afternoon we were joined by Ron, and I was glad to have some good fish to show off. We were also joined by Ron's youngest and oldest sons and the atmosphere got a bit more festive. We spent the next couple days hanging out, splitting rocks and lifting slabs all day. And I mean ALL day. I would try to be on the slab between 5:30and 6:00 and go until dark. Heck, one night me and the guys donned head lamps and stayed at until about midnight. I had so much fun hanging out with these guys and getting to know them. I really hope we can do it again next year. By the time we had to pack up and leave we had about as many fish slabs as we could comfortably fit in the RV. And we still had 1 more stop to make.

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PrehistoricWonders
2 hours ago, Fossilis Willis said:

After spending a second night at our scenic albeit improvised site in Idaho, we started making our way to Kemmerer Wyoming. Here would sign waivers and get directions to a nearby quarry to dig the famed 18 inch layer of the Green River Formation. Upon arriving at the site, the quarry owner pointed us to a suitable place to park the RV for the next few days then led us to section of the quarry that would be ours to work and equipped us with the necessary tools. We spent the first afternoon clearing away badly weathered rock and after moving a massive pile of material, we had very little to show for it. The next morning we continued removing the rotten of rock and eventually got to more solid material. Unfortunately it quickly went from soggy, delaminated layers to much harder layers that wouldn't split along planes. We struggled most of the day and began to get disheartened. Eventually we decided that for the sake of moral we would move over to a nearby site that had rock from slightly deeper in the formation. This proved to be a good choice because we began to find much more and better fish. This area was "bottom cap" material which is extremely dense and heavy. When we quit for the night we had renewed hope for the rest of our time at the quarry. The next day we continued to work what we dubbed "the honey hole". Sometime that afternoon we were joined by Ron, and I was glad to have some good fish to show off. We were also joined by Ron's youngest and oldest sons and the atmosphere got a bit more festive. We spent the next couple days hanging out, splitting rocks and lifting slabs all day. And I mean ALL day. I would try to be on the slab between 5:30and 6:00 and go until dark. Heck, one night me and the guys donned head lamps and stayed at until about midnight. I had so much fun hanging out with these guys and getting to know them. I really hope we can do it again next year. By the time we had to pack up and leave we had about as many fish slabs as we could comfortably fit in the RV. And we still had 1 more stop to make.

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Looks like an awesome trip! How long did you stay? What quarry did you go too? Id love too see your finds when you get the chance too post pics!
 

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Fossilis Willis

From the Kemmerer area we headed east to the White River badlands of Wyoming. There we met up with @jpc who was kind enough to take Jacob and I to a ranch he has access to. We spent a very warm day hunting a couple series of gullies on the ranch. Our guide had an eye for fossils surpassed only by his knowledge of the local geology and the fossils found therein. While Jacob and I at times struggled to see some of the fossils against the light colored matrix, they couldn't escape jpc's eagle eyes. Most of the best finds we came away with were actually spotted and recovered by jpc, who then gave them to Jacob and I. I did find lots of odds and ends such as pieces of bone including a few jaw sections. My best find of the day was a partial oredont skull. It was missing the brain case, but the upper and lower jaws were mostly intact. When it was all said and done I came away with the partial skull I found plus another puzzle skull that jpc found and donated, along with a turtle that was 95 percent complete. Jacob walked away with another partial oreodont skull and a camel leg bone. All in all it was a great day to finish off a great trip. This is another location I can't wait to visit again. As I've said in the past, my bucket list never seems to get any shorter. I'm always adding to it and when I do visit a location more often than not it gets circled or underlined, but rarely crossed off. Thanks again jpc for an unforgettable day!

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Sounds like a great trip! I’m jealous!:envy:

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FranzBernhard

Great report, great scenery, great fossils! Thanks for taking us along!
Franz Bernhard

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Such reports give rise to a joyous but slightly painful yearning in me. Thanks for sharing your adventures!

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caterpillar

Great report. I recognize this Badlands lanscape.

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Fantastic report.  You had me really cracking up with that first part.  Im glad you found some fossils in the badlands too.  Wish I could have been there if only to pick on JP.  :)   You forgot to mention that when we got to the fish quarry that we had two rock saws and the quarry owner had one and non of them worked!   I for one was quite worried.  Coleton made some phone calls and went to some town and bought a brand new one.  Coleton really saved the day.  Without that saw we all would have come home with fewer fish.   And Will, you are really good at doing a report.  Was fun reading this one.

 

RB

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15 hours ago, caterpillar said:

Great report. I recognize this Badlands lanscape.

yes, you do. 

 

Nice report fossilis willis.  We had a good day out there.  I am still looking for the next non-oreodont skull.  Since I saw you guys, I rebuilt the rock wall in front of my house.  One of the more incomplete oreodont skulls from that day is now part of the wall.  

 

RJB- someday we will get a chance to pick on each other in the field, I hope.    

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48 minutes ago, jpc said:

One of the more incomplete oreodont skulls from that day is now part of the wall

No! No! No! :( that poor skull! You could have sold it to me! I love oreodonts! :default_rofl:

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What a wonderful trip. Nice fossils and even nicer memories made with fossil friends! :thumbsu:

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26 minutes ago, Randyw said:

No! No! No! :( that poor skull! You could have sold it to me! I love oreodonts! :default_rofl:

You are about 8 hours away.  If you start driving now, you might be able to get here before the cement sets up.  If you do, it is yours.  

 

It is the white bit near the top of the wall in the center of the photo.

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Fossilis Willis
22 hours ago, Familyroadtrip said:

Looks like an awesome trip! How long did you stay? What quarry did you go too? Id love too see your finds when you get the chance too post pics!
 

Jacob and I spent the better part of 4 days at the GRF quarry. I won't say which one until I get the ok from the owner, I don't want to get uninvited to next year. Most finds still need substantial prep. I have a few small finds that need no prep, I'll post those soon.

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Fossilis Willis
19 hours ago, Randyw said:

Sounds like a great trip! I’m jealous!:envy:

 

16 hours ago, Ludwigia said:

Such reports give rise to a joyous but slightly painful yearning in me. Thanks for sharing your adventures!

 

15 hours ago, caterpillar said:

Great report. I recognize this Badlands lanscape.

 

55 minutes ago, FossilNerd said:

What a wonderful trip. Nice fossils and even nicer memories made with fossil friends! :thumbsu:

I'm glad you all enjoyed the report. Trip reports have always been one of my favorite parts of forum. That's often my first stop when I login.

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PrehistoricWonders
10 minutes ago, Fossilis Willis said:

Jacob and I spent the better part of 4 days at the GRF quarry. I won't say which one until I get the ok from the owner, I don't want to get uninvited to next year. Most finds still need substantial prep. I have a few small finds that need no prep, I'll post those soon.

no worries, totally get it. Was just curious cause I’ve gone too a GRF quarry twice this year, wasn’t the same one bc the one I went too only has “Split Fish” Fish, but wanted too see if it was one I recognized.

 

Nice! I love prepping! Actually working on this 13 1/2” Diplo today! It’s my first fish with a Scribe!

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Fossilis Willis
9 hours ago, RJB said:

Fantastic report.  You had me really cracking up with that first part.  Im glad you found some fossils in the badlands too.  Wish I could have been there if only to pick on JP.  :)   You forgot to mention that when we got to the fish quarry that we had two rock saws and the quarry owner had one and non of them worked!   I for one was quite worried.  Coleton made some phone calls and went to some town and bought a brand new one.  Coleton really saved the day.  Without that saw we all would have come home with fewer fish.   And Will, you are really good at doing a report.  Was fun reading this one.

 

RB

I did forget to mention the saws. Coleton definitely saved the trip. I owe you both big time! Glad you got a laugh out of the report.

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31 minutes ago, Fossilis Willis said:

I won't say which one until I get the ok from the owner,

 

No need, even if you get the okay.  It isn't germane to your awesome trip report.  Those that are curious can send you a PM. ;)

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55 minutes ago, jpc said:

You are about 8 hours away.  If you start driving now, you might be able to get here before the cement sets up.  If you do, it is yours.


I heard Randy’s car peel out of the driveway from here! :default_rofl:

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19 minutes ago, FossilNerd said:

heard Randy’s car peel out of the driveway from here! :default_rofl:

I was tempted! If I didn’t have to work early tomorrow …. I would have loved to add that to my collection! I’ve bought some that looked worse!

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Fossilis Willis
2 hours ago, jpc said:

yes, you do. 

 

Nice report fossilis willis.  We had a good day out there.  I am still looking for the next non-oreodont skull.  Since I saw you guys, I rebuilt the rock wall in fornt of my house.  One of the more incomplete oreodont skulls from that day is now part of the wall.  

 

RJB- someday we will get a chance to pick on each other in the field, I hope.    

I'm looking forward to doing it again.

 

That's an awesome addition to your wall.

 

I would love to follow you and Ron around in the field for a day. We can all pick on Jacob.:heartylaugh:

31 minutes ago, JohnJ said:

 

No need, even if you get the okay.  It isn't germane to your awesome trip report.  Those that are curious can send you a PM. ;)

:thumbsu:

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Wow you had an amazing trip with good pals . Some wonderful finds. The badlands have some amazing views . Ralph @Nimravis just in case you have missed it, a heads up. 
 

love the report thank you . 
all the best Bobby 

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12 hours ago, Bobby Rico said:

Wow you had an amazing trip with good pals . Some wonderful finds. The badlands have some amazing views . Ralph @Nimravis just in case you have missed it, a heads up. 
 

love the report thank you . 
all the best Bobby 

Thanks Bobby and yes it is a great report.

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