Thursday, October 27, 2016

WY to TX

On the move again!  From Utah, it was time to head mostly straight to east Texas.  With a couple fun stops along the way, because driving is OK, but the best part of traveling is the stopping and seeing.

And anything that has "National Park" or "National Monument" in the name deserves special attention.  Naturally a stop at Fossil Butte National Monument on the west side of Wyoming was in order.

Part of the evolutionary timeline along the entrance to the visitor center, and a nice view of the wide open space around us:

We heard an elk bugling!  John recognized it immediately, then I started paying closer attention and heard it too.  It has been too long!  We need to get back out west next year, is what I'm thinking.  Yes, just based on an elk bugle, makes me miss all kinds of things about this area.  We found the viewing binoculars and located the big herd of elk, also a bunch of pronghorns.  Very cool.

The inside of the visitor center was also most excellent.  Starting with some geology information, showing the layers in this area to set the scene for why there are so many fossils being found.  I'll probably get this wrong, but the details are something like: Large inland sea maybe with lots of silt, many animals that died were immediately preserved and then later compressed, and now they are still there in droves (in fossil form) if you know where to look.

Actual slices of rock showing a couple limestone layers from the cliffs across the way, I like it!

And plenty of fossils, beautifully preserved and displayed, a collection like none we have seen to this point:

It's a turtle - or one of my favorite Hawaiian words, a honu:

Watching a scientist working on a fossil, with a close-up view on the monitor above.  Funnily, we didn't immediately realize there was no glass in the window so he could hear everything we were saying about what he was doing, but hopefully I didn't embarrass myself too much:

Clearing off the fossil using what appears to be an airbrush:

Birds of the like we haven't seen before, although to be fair, most birds we see have more substance.  A stork fossil might look like this, for all I know:

Amazingly preserved snake fossils:

A cast of an early horse fossil.  There are some incredible finds in this area.

Back to the driving part, over to Denver for an excellent couple days with our friend Danny at his new place.  It was great fun, and I should have taken at least one photo of all of us there.  You'll just have to take my word for it.

Now for a slight detour from the normal route from Denver to Texas - we journeyed east, into Kansas.  We have visited the Kansas highpoint (the most excellent Mount Sunflower) but we had not yet raced in that state.  Time to fix that.

Sunflowers everywhere, including at a Kansas visitor center:

First up, a Saturday 5K in Wichita!  I had recovered enough from the 100-miler the prior week to at least run the whole thing, not super fast, but surprisingly decent.  Well, it was one of my slowest 5K times ever, but not by much.  It was good fun taking it easy, much more fun than a normal 5K where I try to run it as hard as I can, and still it was over so quickly.  Afterward they gave away brats and beer, sorry John on both counts!

Sunday was a half marathon (or in John's case, a quarter marathon) in Lawton, OK.  Another state with the highpoint completed but no race there up to this point.  This race was bigger and more of a production than the 5K, but we still found a good place to park with the trailer attached and it was another beautiful morning for a run.  I was really happy with the state of my legs and even pushed the pace coming back from the turn-around.  The post-race specialty was a free leg massage, so John got to participate this time.

We turned Kansas and Oklahoma green on our tracking map!  Only a few bunch more to go...

Now for some random photos of things we have "stored" at John's parents' house in Texas.  This is for Ryan who can't believe we (almost) never bring home race souvenirs like buckles and medals.  Sometimes we actually do...

My Dad made this, from a photo of my dog Whisper from when I was way younger:

See - race things!

Back in Texas, and it's good to be back.

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