Sunday, July 10, 2005

Fossil Hunting: but first . . .

The AUsome social group was going to go fossil hunting Saturday. Eldest Son wanted to go to Batman, Youngest Daughter wasn't feeling well, so it was going to be just me and Youngest Son. Someone was monopolizing the printer, so I wrote down some quick notes about how to get there. Meeting place Kwik Trip at 7583 Mineral Point Road at 2. Check. Go to something Camel something where the quarry firm lets groups look for fossils (of which there are aplenty). Without the printer, I yahoo'ed for the map--Mineral Point, Madison. Hmm. East of the Beltline? OK.

We went back and forth along that rather busy street 5 times, and got out and walked around looking for 7583. Hiked through a mini-mall looking for someone who had a phone book. (I didn't bring the cell phone.) The computer shop had one, and the owner was helpful.

I gave up and decided to go look for the quarry--it was going on 2:45 by now. (The quarry wasn't in the phone book, of course.) Westward ho!

And into farmland almost immediately. After a couple of miles, I spotted a Kwik Trip. We were now in Middleton. I stopped--it was 7583 Mineral Point Road, Middleton. (Can I please do something disastrous to the Middleton fatheads who renumbered the road? Please?) Nobody there knew anything about the group or the quarry, so on into the West again. I spotted a couple of stone trucks. The empty one turned north! Follow that truck!

A couple of miles later, the truck went into a factory area. Oops. But on the other side of the road was a quarry! Up the road we go to a loading area, where signs all around warned of the requirement for hard hats, and a lone man was washing his truck. I waited a while, and when he was done he said he'd never heard of fossil hunting in quarries, but that Camel Hill quarry was west on Mineral Point road.

Back to Mineral Point road (it is now 3:15), and west again. Big hill with big industrial road, check. A little farther on we speed past a sign that looks sort of like "Cxxx Hill." Success? Turn around, go up Camel Hill Road. Houses only, but at least we're in the right area. Back to that industrial road--and it leads to a quarry. Take the low road, and there's the gang!

There's only 30 minutes left in the field trip, but Youngest Son and I find more fossils than he can carry. His favorite part was trying to chisel open rocks to see if there were fossils inside.

But a half an hour was long enough to go hunting, and we found clams and mollusk tunnels and cephalopods and a good time.

Ice cream and smoothies at the mall with the group afterwards, then home with the haul; where Youngest Son decided to test a fossil-free section of the rock with vinegar to make sure it was limestone. It was. Now we just have to figure out how to file the rocks . . .

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