Dry camping, roughing it – Dinosaur National Park Jun20

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Dry camping, roughing it – Dinosaur National Park

Dry camping, roughing it – Dinosaur National Park was our first opportunity to test our abilities and overcome our dependence to power, TV, & Internet. Having already received our dry campers seal of approval at Lake Ladoga with JoDee & Karl, we were feeling prepared. Apparently, we still fall into the rookies category as we weren’t as prepared as we could have been. Little things like extra water & sodas would have been helpful not to forget. I guess we’ve become a little lax or accustomed to a grocery run when in need of this or that. We made due without much sacrifice & more importantly we learned a few things during our stay.

Campground among the trees & along the river

Campground among the trees & along the river

Not nearly enough shade

Not nearly enough shade

Dinosaur National Park is a relatively small park with a quaint, but very nice Visitors Center & an amazing Exhibit Hall.

Places like Kartchner Caverns, the cave dwellings, and this place have provided such an amazing opportunity to really appreciate the cultural richness and anthropological history. I’ve been so blessed being raised in an era full of convenience, plentiful meals, formal education, and immediate access to healthcare. It’s being in a place like this that makes me ponder of a time when survival was the day’s top priority, and not what to wear to the movies or how to entertain oneself after the dishes are done. Perspective is another way to say it.

Now, back to the dinosaurs.

Our first afternoon after setting up, we bummed around camp & tried to acclimate to the 90 degree heat. We played cards and barbecued dinner. At 8pm it was still a sweltering 90 degrees inside the rig so we finally took some comfort with a little propane generated air conditioning & made a plan to visit the dinosaurs the next morning.

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Early morning trouble occurred when we arose at our usual hour, 7am, and realized that coffee wasn’t an option for another hour. See, we couldn’t run the generator until 8am, so we tried a few creative alternatives. We have a 12 volt to 110 convertor plug, but it was a no go, not enough power to juice our coffee maker. Next we tried the 110 charge in the car, but apparently brewing coffee is too big a job for the car as well. By this time, it was nearing 8:00, so we flipped on the generator and the coffee pot started to flow. We likely woke up a few campers too, but honestly, it was time they get up and enjoy the wildlife show.

Found the same bird in Wyoming in the Grand Tetons

Found the same bird in Wyoming in the Grand Tetons

I’ve never been much of a bird watcher, but spending so much time outside really brought them to the forefront of my attention. In particular was a bright yellow one that managed to escape my camera every time I tried to snap a picture, until we got to Wyoming.

First stop, Visitors Center and the informational video. Then we headed back out to the car to caravan behind the ranger who led us the 0.25 mile up the road to the Exhibit Hall. Inside this building is exactly what I had hoped to see – approximately 1,500 real bones in situ which means the bones have been carefully exposed but left in the ground as they were found. These impacted bones date back 149 million years! Activity in the quarry began in the early 1900′s and many dinosaurs were removed. Artifacts were being sent to Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to be reconstructed into full sized models. Long before the Exhibit Hall was built, much excavation had taken place under the direction of John Rockefeller. Years later in 1915, Earl Douglass had the very wise idea to preserve the site in its partially deconstructed form. This demonstrated how the bones were found layered in a myriad of directions, the result of forces of nature earthquakes, mudslides, and the receding ocean, which was present there 45 million yeas ago. I’ll admit I didn’t pay much attention to the dinosaur lesson in grade school, but seeing this now as an adult is really impressive.

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After staring at the wall of bones for some time, and not being able to identify any with anything more than cool, or look at that one, we wandered across the street to the trail head in search of more bones. It wasn’t long before we spotted a few, perhaps it was the small faded, white arrow that helped us find them. By this time, the temperature had started to climb again and we were in need of some relief.

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Back at the campground, we grabbed the chairs, our books & sunscreen and headed to the river to cool off. With a serious current and a water temperature of about 40 degrees, the river wasn’t plunge worthy, but more like toe dipping, so we put our chairs on the edge of the river and watched the wildlife activity.

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The truth is that even though we weren’t as prepared as we should have been, we made it work. It didn’t have to be perfect to make good memories. A lesson that I’ve finally fully embraced.