The Fossils That Weren't
Thomas Creek, Oregon
July 24, 2004
By Dan Kelly and Herb Bastuscheck

(Dan's contributions are in black and Herb's are in red)
All pictures by Dan

What a fun time Herb, Becky and I had; Herb is a wonderful person, and having met him face to face for the first time yesterday, I felt as though we had known each other for a long time. But of course we have known each other for a long time through "RockNet(s)". I felt very much at ease spending an afternoon with Herb, a great guy!

Hi: Yesterday was a fun, but interesting day - plus another record high temp for Oregon sites. I met Dan Kelly and Becky from Eugene at a pre-determined site to go up Thomas Creek to collect leaf fossils.

Now let me say, so there is no misunderstanding, it was HOT!!!, yesterday. Temps right at or near 100. That part of Oregon has set records for last couple of days for heat! They aren't kidding. Hot! Hot! Hot!

Well we arrived right about on time and Herb was waiting for us. He led us several more miles to a gate, were we saw the State Police Officer. We got out and were greeted by OVEN temperatures.

The road was gated at the first bridge. A friendly, neighborhood State Policeman just happened to drive up as we were getting out of our rigs. He estimated the distance to the next bridge as 2 miles.

Holy Cow it was hot. Well we headed off the two plus miles to the dig area, about a 45 minute or so walk, and got there and were greeted by even hotter OVEN temperatures. We had still to climb a 65-75% grade, SOUTH facing, Scorching HOT hillside, with NO trees for cover. Oh, Did I mention it was HOT!!! Well, Becky being the only one who's brain wasn't scorched, said she was going DOWN to the CREEK. Well, Herb and I thought Oh, we can do this, HA, I mentioned OVEN temperatures before, well this hillside was flat out SIZZLING! We went several hundred feet in elevation at a slight side hill, and that was just plain too much, we finally got smart, (Like Becky had done 30 minutes earlier) and went down to the river. After that HOT, SCORTCHING, SIZZLING, BRAIN FRYING, Heat, This is what awaited us!!

So, with water and drinks, we started out. Made the 2 miles OK. The area had been logged earlier, so the beds were visible, and at a steeper uphill angle than I remembered. Already heat waves were shimmering on the open hillside. We started up the hillside, Becky decided the cool stream would be better than the hillside. Dan and I forged upward and covered maybe 2/3 of the distance. Then yours truly ran out of gas. It was just too hot for me, and Dan didn't argue much either.

I can not even begin to tell you how good that water looked, and Felt! That's What I'm talking about!!

Here Herb and I are minutes after getting down off the hillside and first making it to the creek.

We have not even touched the water yet!! Did I mention it was HOT!!

Herb being the braver one, went full on swimming in the creek, Becky and I just chose to wade and rockhound of course. But the water being as cold as it was, Herb did better than I. Well, on our way out, we stopped at the bottom of the hill and grabbed a few sample pieces of the Opalite w/fossils, and found one chunk that has a nice partial leaf fossil.

We slowly headed back to the very cool stream to relax in the water, and collect pet wood, agate, and jasper along the gravel bar there. Pieces of the opalized layers along the road showed branch and leaf fragments. Dan and Becky at least now know where the bed is, and can wait until Weyerhauser opens up the road again after fire season later on for a return trip. Side roads seem to indicate that it just may be possible to drive up to the logged unit and make it to the beds much easier.

Well after another hour or so walk back to the vehicles, we arrived, HOT!! Did I mention it was HOT!! We got a pound or so of Opalite, and another pound or so of Agate and Chalcedony, and Becky found a nice burled chunk of Pet Wood. Here is some of what we got.

Well, back at the truck, we exchanged rocks, a few more stories. Herb showed us some of his loot from Virgin Valley, Wow, what neat stuff! He showed us a whole slew of things, loved to see it all.

And we got a few of Herb's Owls, they are great!

Rocks and owls were exchanged, and a really delightful time for talking about rocks, etc. was had by all.

What a great trip it was. Did I mention that it was HOT? But who cared, it was great to finally meet a "Rocknet" member in person, Herb being the first one. Great Time, Herb is a true friend, and look forward to many more times in the future of meeting up with him and swapping stories. It didn't matter how many rocks we got, what mattered is we have a great friend for life. And we even share our love of rocks! What more could you ask for. All I can say is: Couldn't have thought of a better way to spend an afternoon. That what I love about this Hobby (Lifestyle) FRIENDS!



Once again I found out what a truly wonderful bunch of people are assembled at this Message Board! Fossils will come later at another get-together.

Tomorrow my better half arrives in Portland.