Monday, June 29, 2009

"Load Day"

"Load Day", the careful dance between safety, necessity and engineering. To pack properly, we store all provisions in waterproof containers. Instant mash potatoes and plaster will be worthless to us in Montana if they get wet on the way out, so everything needs to have a dry home. Then add in your Tetris and Lego skills from your childhood and "poof", you can conquer any load out.

We picked up our rental van this morning and will load it Tuesday with crew and luggage. The truck and trailer were also brought out of storage today and we used spiderweb bungee cords and tarps to secure everything in place. Dr. Storrs will be driving the truck with the trailer and I will drive behind in the van watching to make sure our supplies don't become offerings to the highways' shoulders and median.

We will depart bright and early on Tuesday from Geier and will drive for three days. I will post updates once we arrive in Montana.

This is going to be a wonderful expedition and we hope to bring back many quality fossils. We are also looking forward to meeting our new Dinosaur Field School participants!

Wish us luck!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sunday, a day of rest

Sunday, is the last full day of rest before we ship out. I, myself, now have a moment of clarity to see what personal affects that I need to bring. But no matter how much you plan or make lists, it can hit you while driving through South Dakota that you forgot your cell phone charger! So, with some forethought, family reminders and Post-its, you pack until your duffel bag is bursting at the seams and your spouse has to hold the sides, while you wrestle the zipper closed.

I image the crew is eating at their favorite native nook one last time, being with their family and possibly taking a nap. A combo that I too will follow shortly.

(Above: Michael Papp, field crew volunteer, exhausted from uncovering a previous find.)

Dinosaur Field School Locker

Today, most of the field crew met at Geier, Cincinnati Museum Center's off-site Research and Collection Facility to prep for our departure. Some crew were pardoned from attending this annual event, due to their distance away from Cincinnati. But all can be forgiven when they haul their weight in plaster up to the quarry (insert wink).

Matt from Britain will be joining the Field School again this year, but as a new crew member! I can happily report that he landed safely in NYC on Wednesday, after crossing "the pond" and grabbed a flight out West. This time he opted not to take the Greyhound bus cross country. We'll see you soon Matt! Safe travels.

Our goal today was to drag everything out of the Dinosaur Field School Locker and decide what to bring, replace and/or purchase. This was a rehearsal for "Load Day" which happens Monday. One always forgets how much stuff is crammed in this tiny locker. It baffles me to watch us unload it, for it is a clown car in disguise. It's cargo fills a truck bed and a 10-foot long trailer to their limit. For the crew, it is like opening a forgotten toy chest. They pull out the treasured contents with glee and say, "I remember that!"

Friday, June 26, 2009

Food, Glorius Food

Ever wonder what the crew members eat in the field when we don't have our beloved cook, Pat Monaco? Well, today is grocery day! I will battle the grocery store aisles to purchase the following in bulk:

  • Spam
  • Pancake Mix & Syrup
  • Sardines
  • Devilled Ham
  • Gatorade
  • Powdered Mash Potatoes
  • Canned Chicken & Tuna
  • Pasta Noodles & Sauce
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Chips
  • and more...Gatorade

Some of these items might not please your palate, but in the field, these items travel well, stay fresh and can be eaten out of the can or be prepared on a camp stove. After a long day in the field, the last thing on your mind is cooking a gourmet meal.

So...we are super pumped that Pat will be our field cook again this year! She hauls her kitchen trailer all over the country to different dig sites and cooks for the hungry, tired masses. For two out of the five weeks that we are in Montana, she makes every meal feel like Dinner Theatre. From Pat's entertaining antics to awesome cuisine, she does a great job. I actually feared a mutiny from the field crew if she couldn't join us again. Welcome back Pat!

(Pictured above is our pint-sized Grocery Store located in the Duke Energy Children's Museum.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

NAPC at Cincinnati Union Terminal

The 9th North American Paleontological Convention (NAPC) is being held in Cincinnati this month. Many of Cincinnati Museum Center's very own Curators are part of this great gathering, leading workshops and field trips to some of the tri-states' paleo hot spots. It has been an honor to have this Convention in our city, and tonight, the NAPC will host their banquet at Union Terminal.

If you ever find yourself in the Cincinnati area and have not visited Union Terminal, please stop in and see our beautiful Art Deco structure that is home to Cincinnati Museum Center. While you are there, you can visit three amazing museums, catch a film in our new renovated OMNIMAX theatre, or enjoy a special exhibit. We recently launched a new website to ensure the preservation of this national landmark. Please visit: to be a star for Union Terminal and share a memory.

Dinosaurs Unearthed is now open through September 7, 2009. It is the first exhibit in the world to have full size, feathered-covered dinosaurs!! The exhibit also houses one of our Paleontology Prep Labs that showcases fossils from Mothers' Day Site! A fantastic exhibit for every dino lover in your family.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Blog is Back!

Hello! I'm Lauren Scallon, Field Coordinator for the 2009 Dinosaur Field School, under the direction of Dr. Glenn Storrs, Asst. Vice President for Collections & Research and Withrow Farny Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at Cincinnati Museum Center. This will be my third year at the Field School and I am very excited for the opportunity to join the team once again!

We are gearing up for "Load Day" on June 29 with our Field Crew and so far, we have not stopped packing and planning. It has not been a one man effort, so I would like to thank all the volunteers and staff at Museum Center that have gone "that extra mile" so we could have everything we needed for Montana. From Paleo Bond to toilet paper, if we have asked for it, they have located it. Thanks again! Honestly, I never would have imagined that one day I would be laminating field permits from the U.S. Department of the Interior...

Stay tuned and we will try to post as often as we can. Viva Montana!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

2009 Dinosaur Field School

Well, the Field School is looking pretty packed for this summer, with 18 people braving the desert heat and sun over the course of 2 weeks. The crew from Cincinnati will be headed out the last week of June, hopefully arriving for the annual cookout of Bighorn Basin geologists, paleontologists and researchers in Powell, Wyoming.

Dr. Storrs is still assembling his team since a few of us have had to take a break this summer. Mac and Sara, our long-time field crew members are having to attend to their studies this summer, though they'll still be doing a lot of traveling (Mac in the Western U.S. and Sara to Mongolia, among other places.) I, too, will be unable to make the trek with a 10-week-old son at home...but I'll be there in spirit. Mike Papp has volunteered for another year of duty, and I'm sure he'll be just fine with the rest of the crew.

I'm not sure how regularly the blog can be updated this summer, but we'll try to make it exciting when we do!