The 2018 RV Trip Continues
Windmill In Flower Field
Wednesday, April 4
On our way out of Amarillo, we stopped by another canyon to let Lil get in a hike or two. Palo Duro Canyon is the country’s second largest canyon, cut through the high mountain desert by the Red River and spans across the panhandle area of Texas. It was a comfortable 55 degrees outside, and the wind dried our skin and dusted our faces. We all crawled around some of the canyon formations and walked along some of the many trails on the canyon floor among the hardwoods. We passed a segment of the red rock full of gypsum veins, also where Lil took a refreshing dip in the little creek that ran through.
Click on the photo to see Palo Duro Canyon.
We left that area and drove east on through Texas through modern day ghost towns and past junkyards. We caught lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant on the side of the road, where the wind nearly ripped off the side door to the RV. After lunch, we drove on, passing a small wildfire burning as it was fueled by the winds.
We arrived in Wichita Falls to stay the night. The only reason we stopped here was because it was a halfway point to our next point of interest which I picked based off a Facebook post I saw just the other day.
Thursday, April 5
I couldn’t sleep well, dreaming of the next stop where we would have the opportunity to hunt for fossil ammonites! We left Wichita Falls early, knowing we had only a few hours to hunt before we needed to hit the road again. Our goal this morning was Lake Texoma, where hundreds of ammonites of all sizes could be found in the limestone formation (Duck Creek Formation). I was pretty excited. Once again, I had all our excavation equipment packed in my backpack, eager to use it. We walked along the shore with Lil, my eyes panning back and forth looking for the circular formations. I was discouraged at first, not seeing whole pieces but finding many fragments discarded by past hunters. We eventually came to a spot where they were more plentiful, although tenaciously embedded in the hard rock. Justin and I worked hard extracting these from the hardened stone. We walked over mammoth sized ones searching for more manageable pieces. We found a few 5-8 inches wide, and two around 12 inches wide. I bloodied my knuckles and blistered my hands working to aquire a few to bring back. When we were satisfied with our finds, we walked back to the RV. It felt like miles for me, weighted down with what I would guess is 70 pounds of stone. We have a deal, if I want it, I have to be able to carry it out, and thankfully I’m a stubborn fool willing to break my back getting my finds out of their resting spots. I was absolutely overjoyed with what we came out of there with.
For the other fossil hunters I’ll share this with, I hope you get some good direction from this if you want to give the place a try. For other readers, forgive me a moment while I digress into detailed directions for other hunters.
We parked the RV in a gravel lot next to the Lake Texoma Spilway just off highway 91, next to where all the boat trailers were parking. We immediately walked along the shoreline, but if you go, you will want to walk to the end of the lot to a gate with a gravel road behind it (see photos). Walk that gravel road past two boat ramps, the second is pretty broken up and not used. You will descend a short way down to the shore where the limestone banks open to cliffs. Fight off the urge to dig and hunt here, better areas are ahead, though you’ll see a lot of fragments of ammonite as you walk. Continue west along the shore past the first small cove into the second cove into an area that looks like limestone ledges you can walk on out to the water. Most whole ammonites can be found embedded within the limestone you are walking on. Either stroll back and forth looking for the unmistakable circular patterns, or begin prying and breaking away segments of the rock to see what you can reveal within. Work carefully, these fracture very easily. With patience and luck, you’ll discover many rewarding pieces. Tools you must bring; gloves, chisels, rock hammer, 3-pound mallet is useful, crow bar, safety glasses, a way to carry back 50-100 pounds of ammonite the mile or so you’ll walk, water, sunblock and patience. These pieces can be very large. We saw some the size of car tires! I carried one out that was approximately 12 inches wide and it was very heavy and awkward. I had a backpack for the smaller ones, but didn’t realize I’d have such a heavy load to carry, though I was damned determined to get these all back to the RV. It was 60 degrees and very overcast when we went. A t-shirt and jeans was sufficient to keep us warm, you’ll be working hard to liberate these treasures so don't overdress. Respect other hunters you may encounter, follow property and state laws, and good luck!
After all our hard work, we left Lake Texoma, headed for Bluebonnet Ridge RV Park where we’d rest up for the night.
Click on the photo to see the ammonite adventure.
Friday, April 6
This is a lovely park, bluebonnet flowers bordering the site here and there, and plenty of lush green space to spread out. Justin spent a bit of the morning fishing in their catch-and-release pond. The air was humid with stormy skies in the distance. It felt refreshing to be in green humid air after so much desert driving. I took advantage of the extra free time to rearrange all my fossils and rocks I’ve been collecting. Once we got everything situated, we left for Louisiana.