Sunday, July 29, 2012

Painting - SOLD

One of the paintings I have posted here on this blog has sold!

Winter Loneliness

If this keeps up, I'll have to set up my art website again. I'll be posting more paintings as soon as I can get some decent pics of them done. I've been very productive over the last while. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cattle Drive

The City of Cheyenne puts on a rodeo called Frontier Days (which costs taxpayers a poop-load of money every year, but I digress).

One of the events is a cattle drive. The drive starts at the north most point of my regular bike ride so I thought I would check it out.

I pull Mr. Bike off to the side of the road, behind a barbed wire fence, but was told I had to move to the south side of a dirt road. No problem, I say, but having been told the cattle's route, I wonder a bit about that advice; more on that later. 

The drive starts out with a few riders and a couple of wagons.

Looking between this soon to be important dirt road and the horizon you can see a bunch of little specs. So far so good.

The cattle are now making their way to this dirt road which, from the advice I received earlier, must be some sort of magical barrier the cattle will not cross. At least I hope not because there is nothing between me and the road. 

There are now, or soon to be, about 500 cattle making their way beside the fence I was standing behind.

Phew, someone has decided to sit on their horse between me and 500 cattle. I fell better already.

Hmmm, he rode away.

I am now looking longingly at the fence I had originally been standing behind which is, in fact, acting as a barrier to the 500 cattle. 

So far so good, they seem to be heading out along the magic dirt road. 

Here you can see where they are supposed to be heading.

Oh NO!  They've broken across the magical dirt road barrier!!  At this point, my heart rate is rising steadily. 

A cowboy sits - on the other side of the fence - on his horse. I said, "I knew I should have stayed on the other side of the fence. He said, "Don't worry, you'll be fine." I said, "thank you, oh savior."He just laughed. I'm not feeling better about this.

Heart rate is still rising. 

Heart rate is starting to go down as another cowboy, on my side of the fence, starts to shoo the cattle away. 

Phew! Two cowboys are shooing them away. I feel much better now. 

As you can see, these are not docile cows, but steers with action on their minds. 

 And long pointy horns.

They are all now being driven down the road on the other side of the fence from me. Heart rate is back to normal.

The End.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Digging for Dinosaurs - and a naughty museum secret revealed !

One of the very cool things you can do in Wyoming is dig for a day at a real dinosaur bone site. You need to go to Thermopolis and head to the Wyoming Dinosaur Center and Dig Sites.

One of the unique specimens they have at the museum is the Archaeopteryx. This is the only one in North America (if I recall correctly, it came from Germany). It is the first known bird and was around about 150 million years ago. It is also thought to be the transition between dinosaurs and birds.

So, my dig day started out well. Mitch was my guide. Here we are looking at dinosaur bones.
Then we went up to the site. This is a view looking out to the Wind River. It's the brown diagonal cut in the distance. If you arrive in Thermopolis from this south, this is the  drive you can take. You are at the bottom of the narrow break in the earth. It's quite spectacular.

Then we dug around for Camarasaurus bones. Mitch is a student at the University of Wyoming and he has a summer job at the Center, finding bones at his own site and dealing with people who sign up to dig for a day (like me). Here, you see Mitch's hand on the rocks surrounding a bone and in the next one, you can see the black round part inside the rock. That's the bone.

The bones (the black parts) are surrounded by rock or mud.

This was my big find. It looks like the occipital bone of the Camarasaurus. Apparently, skull parts are almost never found because they have the tendency to roll away.

This was my smaller find. The remains of teeth from the Camarasaurus. (The black bits.)

This is what the Camarasauras head looks like. You can see by the teeth it was a plant eater.

The big foot next to the skull is from a Supersaurus, which as you may imagine, is gigantic. Here's where the naughty secret about bones in museums is revealed. The actual Supersaurus skeleton would be too heavy to set up in a museum as it would collapse the floor, or so I am told. This model is made from Styrofoam. In fact, they aren't even sure if the head on this Supersaurus is really what the head looks like as they haven't found one yet (that rolling away problem I mentioned earlier).  They put a head on this skeleton they thought might be right based on similar dinosaurs. Many of the skeletons in museums like this are models. In the above photo, the skull is a bronze cast. Notice how shiny they are.

I also got a chance to work in the lab and wash and chip away the mud and rock from real dinosaur bones. Once cleaned up, real bones look like this:

Apparently, the reason the bones are black here is because there is a lot of cobalt in the soil.

I also got to keep a small bone fragment which I have here at home.

So, that was a brief recount of Maureen's latest adventure.