Ashfall Fossil Beds is located somewhere along Robert Frost’s “Road Not Taken” outside of Royal, Nebraska (population 63).  The truth is the road to this place should be taken.  By everybody.  Ashfall, discovered under a cattle pasture, is unlike anything you’ve ever seen or likely will ever see.

DSCN1294 DSCN1292

About 12 million years ago, some prehistoric animals (like barrel-chested rhinoceroses, and three-toed horses) were hanging out, minding their own business when a giant volcano erupted in Idaho and spewed forth about 25 bazillion tons (give or take) of volcanic ash.  The animals (clear over in Nebraska, mind you) had no place to hide, no shelter, and no way to filter this cloud of volcanic ash (which was basically finely powdered glass dust).  They slowly suffocated near a pond–likely the only source of water around.  As they succumbed to the choking thick clouds of ash and died, they fell into the water and were buried in still more ash.  A few corpses were scavenged by some saber-toothed something-or-other, but not many, so the bodies really didn’t move much at all.

Let’s pretend for a moment that you have a budding paleontologist in your family.  Now let’s pretend you don’t.  Now let’s forget all that because you simply MUST go to this place whether you have an interest in paleontology or not.  I truly think I can safely say that there is no where else on Earth where you will find so many complete skeletons of prehistoric animals piled on top of each other that are still on the ground in the EXACT SAME SPOT where they fell and died 12 million years ago.  These are so well preserved that the scientists can even tell what these animals ate the day they died!  The paleontologists here haven’t tried to move much of anything.   Instead, they just built a building right over the top of the fossil beds, protecting the fossils from the elements, and providing a great place for visitors to stand to marvel at the phenomena that is right in front of them.

DSCN1290 DSCN1286

Paleontologists are still at work excavating at this site.  If you visit in the summer, you can talk to them and their student interns as they work.  Slowly, delicately (with paint brushes if need be) they remove small layers of ash as they hunt for more fossils. They expect it will be about 25 more years before they are done excavating inside the building.

The Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park is well designed, informative, easily accessed by everyone and is just plain cool.  A Nebraska State Parks Daily Use Permit is required for your car, and there is a small admission charge.  Because it is so unique and so fun to visit, it comes in at #5 on this year’s list of Nebraska’s Nicest Nine.

 

  • Steve writes: When I first set my eyes on the outside of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, I was unimpressed. In fact, I thought it was plain ugly. Construction continued, and I returned several times over the years, each time finding more to like about it. Finally, on a visit with Ann, the inside of the Cathedral was open for a visit. So we went inside.⁣
⁣
Architect Antonin Gaudi's creation is brilliant. The way he uses stained glass to bring color to the stone inside, combined with the shadows created by the shape of the stone is breathtaking. Truly, this cathedral might be the most impressive one I've seen anywhere. This place should be on your bucket list. It's worth a trip to Barcelona to see it.
  • We've been going to the @PWMercantile for a couple of years now, especially since we bought a house in Pawhuska. Over that time, we've seen a number of changes both to the restaurant and to the merchandise they have in the store. But one item has remained constant: these turquoise beads.
  • One of our favorite stops on our hosted food tour of @visitkansascityks was the @403club. Sure, they offer a great selection of locally crafted and larger production domestic beers. But they also have pinball machines. In fact, they even have a pinball league.⁣
⁣
We spent about an hour in this fun spot, sipping, playing, and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. It will definitely be on our list of places to go again, someday. Beer and pinball are a pretty good mix.
  • On our visit to Italy, we visited the Prosecco region. While we toured a number of wineries, we actually stayed at an inn run by the Roccat winery. ⁣
⁣
Prosecco is a sparkling wine, and people often see it as intergangeable with champagne. This isn't the case at all. Champagne is made from the Chardonnay grape, while Prosecco comes from Glara. Because of this, the two wines are completely different.⁣
⁣
We enjoyed a tasting at Roccat, where they served us glasses of crisp, clear, delicious wine alongside some crunchy breadsticks that were just the right thing to enjoy with the wine.⁣
⁣
If you ever have the opportunity to go to Italy, make sure you include time to head to Valdobbiandene and try some Prosecco.
  • Located in @clearlakeiowa, the historic Surf Ballroom has hosted some of the biggest names in music. It was on this stage that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and JP "The Big Bopper" Richardson performed their final show on February 3, 1959. After the concert, they boarded a plane for their next town on their tour. That plane crashed shortly after takeoff, and the date has been remembered ever since as "the day the music died."⁣
⁣
@traveliowa
  • Set in Millennium Park in Chicago is one of the city's most iconic art installations. It's a giant, shiny bean which reflects everything in sight. It's fun to walk around (and under) the bean and see how the shape distorts what it reflects.⁣
⁣
Folks come from all over to see this art installation and take it in. Children love running around it and gazing into it, not realizing they are learning about convex and concave shapes. ⁣
⁣
Standing here you'll hear a multitude of languages and see people from all walks of life there to enjoy the art. And that's why we love public art so much--it brings people together.
  • On our cruise from Italy to Greece, we made a stop in Mykonos. There, we had the chance to take part in a Greek cooking class in a woman's home learning from her.⁣
⁣
We spent an afternoon with lessons about Greek cuisine, and how they waste nothing, not even excess juice from a cucumber. We also saw how to make incredible dishes like this spanakopita, or spinach pie. Sitting in her dining room, enjoying the light, flaky crust and delicious filling is an experience we won't soon forget. ⁣
⁣
While traveling, we try to find opportunities to experience local culture. It's amazing how similar people in the world really are if you just take some time to see what life is like.
  • Do you remember that song from "The Music Man" about trouble? You know the one about the kids in the knickerbockers, shirt-tail young ones, peekin' in the pool hall window after school. ⁣
⁣
Well, we got to peek in a replica of that pool hall on a recent visit to The Music Man Square on our hosted to Mason City, Iowa. It's the town where "The Music Man" creator Meredith Willson was born and raised and his legacy lives on. ⁣
⁣
Before you go see @thehughjackman and @suttonlenore in this Broadway favorite, consider a visit to the real River City.⁣
⁣
Click on the link in our bio to see our latest blog post about why fans of "The Music Man" need to visit Mason City, Iowa. ⁣
⁣
@themusicmanbway

Second most popular blog in Pawhuska