Dinosaur Fossils and the Indestructible Camera

“Look straight down,” the balloonist told us, “you see that dirt road that kind of squiggles off to the left? If you were to follow it down into that canyon you’d end up at a bunch of dinosaur fossils.”

Vertebra fossil, embedded in rock

Vertebra fossil, embedded in rock

“Real fossils?”

“Yes. Still embedded in the rocks. There’s a walking trail about a half mile long where you can see them.”

We were a few hundred feet above the Utah desert on a sunrise hot air balloon flight.

I made a mental note of the road and its relation to where we had left the car. My daughter and I were both keenly interested in checking it out.

The balloon flight itself was fun and interesting. We buzzed a cliff ledge and got buzzed by a small private plane. We saw terrific views of the Utah desert.

Shortly before landing, I dropped one of my cameras from the balloon.

I watched it land on the desert floor and made a note of surrounding landmarks. After we landed, I hiked out into the desert until I found it again. To the utter amazement of all, I returned with a perfectly functioning, completely unbroken Olympus DSLR.

I even took a photo of the balloonist and showed it to him to prove the camera still worked even after being dropped from a hot air balloon.

After the crew folded and packed the balloon, we all piled into vans to ride back to the launch site.

Once there, Sydney and I prepared to go find dinosaur fossils. The balloon crew warned us that the road went through rough desert terrain and was only suitable for Jeeps and dune buggies.

Undaunted and having a rental car whose well being did not mean all that much to us, we set out in our little Toyota Yaris.

Our poor little rental car in a place meant only for off-road vehicles.

Our poor little rental car in a place meant only for off-road vehicles.

After several miles of carefully picking our way through rough roads and sometimes no roads at all, we ended up in a small parking lot. Ours was the only car there that did not have four wheel drive.

Sydney photographing a large fossil. (Dark horizontal section on left.)

Sydney photographing a large fossil. (Dark horizontal section on left.)

We didn’t have to walk more than 50 feet before finding our first dinosaur fossil. The half mile trail was practically littered with them! In all, I suppose we found something like 25-30 fossils all still embedded in the rocks. Small placards or sign posts pointed out most of them.

Petroglyphs by the roadside, about 20ft. up

Petroglyphs by the roadside, about 20ft. up

Later in the afternoon we drove into another desert canyon in search of adventure. Along the side of the road we spotted a tiny sign that simply said “INDIAN MARKINGS”.

We stopped and discovered that the cliff face high above the roadway was covered in dozens of ancient petroglyphs.

Sydney photographing dinosaur footprints.

Sydney photographing dinosaur footprints.

Sydney's hand in a dinosaur footprint.

Sydney’s hand in a dinosaur footprint.

More dinosaur footprints

More dinosaur footprints

Further on, we stopped to take a break and wandered down an unmarked trail where we stumbled across a giant rock with the large footprints from some unknown type of dinosaur embedded in the exposed face.

It was a good day.

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