Wednesday, July 11, 2007

July 10, 2007

Tuesday July 10th was our first full day of the Elderhostel program. Breakfast was provided at 7 am by a local family and it would be good and varied each morning. We started out at 8:15 in the morning. We went by bus to a place in the "desert" where there are dinosaur tracks in a sandstone layer. These are three-toed tracks of two types of "meat eaters" the grullator tracks made by 50 lb Megapnosaurus and the eubrontes tracks - made by larger 700-1000 lb Dilophosaurus dinosaurs. The sun was already beating down unmercifully upon us and we soon started roasting in the sand, while the instructor showed us how to figure the speed the animal who made the tracks, by measuring the stride, then doing complex algebra or calculus (or so it seemed) on a poster board. He also showed how to figure it's height. The tracks are not protected except for a cable across the dirt road so cars won't drive on them. They exist as they were found in a dry wash. Flash floods have washed the debris off the layer or strata of sandstone that the tracks are preserved in. The kids brushed dirt out of the dino tracks with dry paint brushes which they enjoyed doing. It became very hot and the talk by the paleontologist seemed very long. It was interesting to see the tracks, but the 114 degrees heat about leveled us.

We staggered back to the buses and the kids were greatly relieved to jump into the swimming pool before having a "pizza party" at the Inn. After a full tummy from a big breakfast and lunch, I was ready to take a cool nap, but then we left for the "Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm" near St. George. The story goes that a local Dr. Johnson was digging up his property and removing a hill to build a subdivision in the year 2000 when he noticed what looked to him like a dinosaur foot on one slab of sandstone. He mentioned it to his son-in-law who is a geologist, and --- the rest is history. This is now a site, covered with a building, that has the largest single block of dinosaur tracks in the world. I think these dinosaurs lived 2 million years ago. The "foot" that Dr Johnson (a dentist) saw was really a natural mold of a footprint the dinosaurs made in the mud long ago from the layer of silt and sediment that covered the print and later became rock. I must say, although, the site was very interesting, I almost was falling over in a sleeping stupor. Braden and Emily gave up the lecture and sat down at the gift shop to watch the Disney movie "Dinosaur."

We eventually returned to the Inn for a much appreciated swimming adventure at Sand Hollow Aquatic Park. Although we only stayed an hour it was the perfect thing to revive us and the funnest thing for all the kids. I swam around where the kids played and they went down the water slide, then I decided to try to work off some of the food I've been eating. I did about 20 laps in the huge pool - at a leisurely pace - and felt much more in the world of the awake. Of course, soon after that we were again on our way for another wonderful meal at Dixie College. Monday night we had turkey with all the trimmings and apple pie, and this night we had chicken cordon bleu and triple chocolate pie. The evening was concluded with a showing of the movie "Jurassic Park." The paleontologist told us that most the movie was "Hollywood's idea" but the kids liked it, and it did hold my scared attention. I recognized some parts where the movie was filmed in Hawaii. In the middle of the movie, Braden went to another room to watch wrestling on TV, but returned for the end.

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