Sunday, April 12, 2015

Time traveling

Mere's husband, Bob, here with a quick cameo post. Mere got a bit of a breather this weekend as I took the boys up to Tennessee to my in-laws' cabin. Part of the motivation for the trip was a side excursion to the Coon Creek Nature Center -- about an hour away from the cabin. The older two boys made the trip with me early on Saturday, while Cheese Puff stayed at the cabin and fished with his Coachpa.

By way of background, the Coon Creek Nature Center is one of the properties owned by the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis. It just so happened that Saturday was "Family Day" at Coon Creek, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to check the place out.

Going into the day, I really didn't know what to expect. I told Little Elvis that we would be hunting for fossils and he was very excited at the prospect. Turns out, as I learned at the little orientation we had before heading for the fossil site, the whole region had been seafloor about 70 million years ago. The Coon Creek location had been part of a sandbar in relatively shallow water and thus was home to a lot of aquatic species. The grey sand of the sandbar was excellent material (matrix is the scientific terminology) to preserve the fragile shells.

After orientation, we had a short walk to the creek (did I mention that it was a perfect day weather-wise, sunny and around 70, and no bugs?), where we picked up chunks of matrix that volunteers had cut from the creek bed. Our task was to carefully pick through our chunks with plastic knives to see the surprises within.
Baby Plum was the cameraman. At this point in the adventure, he had tired of chiseling away at his chunk with a plastic knife (which he had somehow managed to cut himself with) and was more interested in playing with my iPad anyway. Little Elvis thought it was so cool that he was the first person to ever look at the creatures he was unearthing and that these critters hadn't seen the light of day for 70 million years (that's a lot for an 8 year-old brain to take in).

After a first pass with plastic knives, we did a more formal cleaning and Little Elvis wound up finding an excellent specimen of Tennessee's state fossil, Pterotrigonia, which is now prominently on display on a shelf in his bedroom.
All in all, it was well worth the hour's drive to travel back in time. I'm sure we'll be back to Coon Creek for the next "Family Day" if not sooner.


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