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.

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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.

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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.

 

  • This is our Airbnb, Postcard Place. It's located right in Pawhuska, just a two and a half minute drive from the Pioneer Woman's Mercantile. It even has its own Instagram account, @postcardplce. ⁣
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Postcard Place can accommodate up to six people. With comfy bedding (including clean duvets for each new guest), USB ports by every bed, make-up remover wipes, comfy blankets for tv viewing, complimentary coffee/tea, creamer, full kitchen, soap, shampoo, hand lotion, and even a luggage scale, we've tried to think of everything you might want when spending a night away from home. Of course, we also provide stamped Pawhuska postcards so you can send greetings to those who couldn't come along on the trip.⁣
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Find Postcard Place on Airbnb and book it for your next trip to Pawhuska and come @visittheosage.
  • Perched high on a hill in Tuscany is the medieval village of Montepulciano. In the center of town is the piazza grande paved with bricks laid in a herringbone pattern in the 14th century. ⁣
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Standing in the piazza, looking at the bricks, we were filled with a sense of awe at the history these bricks have seen. They've been there for 700 years so have seen times of war and peace, celebration and sorrow. Generation after generation of townsfolk were born, lived and died, and all have walked on these bricks. ⁣
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This is one of the things we love most about traveling. It gives us an authentic feel for history, one we wouldn't have if we just stayed at home.
  • We were so tickled when @thechefandthedish reached out and asked us if we'd like to take a complimentary cooking class with them. They offer private cooking classes with chefs from all over the world that you can take right in your own kitchen. ⁣
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For this class, we Skyped with chef Paola who taught us to make strawberry risotto, traditional bruschetta, and a delicious poached pear dessert that blew our minds. ⁣
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Risotto always seemed like a difficult dish to make, but Chef Paola explained it so well that it wound up being pretty easy. We spent a great afternoon with friends, learned something new, and enjoyed a great meal after. A class with The Chef & The Dish is a great gift idea, as well. Follow the link in our bio, and you can read more about our class on our blog.
  • The world is a big place, and there's so much to discover. Go places, and see things. It doesn't matter if you don't have a detailed itinerary, either. Sometimes, it's more about the journey and what you see and experience along the way, than it is about the destination.
  • During our trip in Tuscany with @italyunfiltered, we stopped at a small family winery. After learning about the organic methods they use to produce high quality Chianti Clasico wines, we had a tasting. ⁣
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Wine tastings in Italy are nothing like those in the US. They are glorious affairs complete with delicious foods paired with the incredible wines. This particular winery brought us samples of homemade, organic jams made from fruits grown in the family's garden. We dabbed these on locally produced pecorino cheese. Yum!⁣
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We're so glad that we had a local driver and guide. Stopping here was a highlight of our Italian adventure, and we never would have found it on our own.
  • The village of Marsaxlokk, Malta, is famous for these brightly painted fishing boats. The design is rather ancient, possibly dating back to Phoenician times, though it's still used today because it is very strong and holds up well in rough weather. One feature of each boat's decorations, are eyes painted on the bow of the boat. These eyes are said to protect the people fishing while they are at sea.
  • The blue cobblestones of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, are actually part of a recycling project which started 500 years ago. Iron foundries in Spain produced huge piles of waste, called slag. Rather than throw these piles away, the slag was made into blocks which was placed into ships as ballast. The ballast was offloaded in Puerto Rico when they loaded products bound for Spain. The blocks were then used to pave the streets. ⁣
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Pretty good idea, and 500 years later, they are holding up well!
  • The Overseas Highway connects Key West and the Florida Keys to the mainland U.S. While the entire road is a marvel of engineering, the centerpiece is the Seven Mile Bridge, which runs over water for, well, seven miles.⁣
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The next time you're driving, reset your trip odometer and wait until it gets to seven miles. You'll see that's a pretty long distance. And then think about the fact that people built a bridge over water with no land to support them for that distance. Pretty incredible-especially since the first one was built in 1912.

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