Thursday, April 2, 2015

Gray Fossil Dig

Just over the Tennessee border, in the town of Gray, is an active fossil dig.  The younger kids and I had a really fun day today accompanying Clay's high school Earth Science group on a field trip to the dig site.

The DOT was actually bulldozing for a new road and starting seeing bones.  They explained this is quite common, and they have paleontologists that routinely come check it out, usually finding bones as old as the Ice Age.  At this site, researchers found bones that were even older, back when this part of the country was very warm (they found an alligator)... so cool!  They have also discovered two new (extinct) species at this dig site - new kinds of red panda and badger.  Also prehistoric bears, tapirs, a mastadon, etc.

We had a great tour guide show us the active dig areas and patiently answer questions from all the kids, including Blossom asking things like, "When will it be Saturday?" and "What will happen if it's night and a girl comes out of a volcano that comes out of a mountain, that comes out of a rock?"  Hahaha!
The guide said she was very impressed with our group.  She said most teens come through and are very disinterested (or at least trying to act like it), and don't pay attention, just goofing off the entire tour.  Our group was asking lots of questions and actually listening (yay homeschoolers!)

The labs are inside the adjoining museum.  Researchers were busy cleaning and examing bones.  It was pretty neat to be able to see this work in person.  To preface this photo, I'll say that whenever Clay saw me snapping a photo, he decided to be totally goofy, so half of the photos I came home with look like this:

The museum was small, but pretty neat.  Some of the kids brought home applications to volunteer as site workers this Summer!

No one in the group had to be home yet, so we decided to spend more time in Tennessee.  We headed to Bays Mountain.  It's only a $4 entry per car, and it was really beautiful!  There was a lot to do there, and we picked the ropes course for this group, and a quick walk to see some of the nature center animals.  We had hoped to visit the planetarium at the end, but the teens found a really great hike, so we followed their lead on that one.

The low ropes course was intended for team building.  The kids had a blast on it!

On the hike, the boys had discovered what looks to be an old dam or bridge maybe.  It is all surrounded by forest now, but apparently used to have a road, as they also found a car at the bottom of it.  The whole structure was semi-dilapidated, which I guess makes it all the more desirable to a teenage boy!
ZB was not allowed to go on top of the structure (lots of holes over a pretty big drop), so she settled with just striking some poses next to it ;)

The group of boys (7 of them, I believe) went off to explore the woods on their own for a while, and ZB found her inner mountain goat and was rock climbing all over the place!  It was really the perfect place for it.
If you ever find yourself near the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee, and have a couple hours to spare, I highly recommend checking out the dig site or Bays Mountain.  I'm sure we'll be back!

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