tsa-la-tsi-s-gi gv-do-di ka-ne

dance - with - snake

DANCES WITH SNAKES

Home ] Articles ] Club List ] Collections ] Rock Recipes ] Photo ]

 

 

Ralston Quarry Field Trip

June 18th, 2005

 Well, everything started off good…

 

Brandon and I met up with George Paizis, his daughter Nicole, and her friend in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Sand Springs at 9:00am Saturday morning. Turns out we had a small crowd for this one due to the short notice, the show in Colorado Springs , and other factors. By 9:15 we headed for Ralston , Oklahoma and an abandoned quarry on private property to collect brachiopods and other marine fossils. Permission had been secured a few days prior to the trip. As none of us had been to this locality before, we were following directions from a couple of different sources including Mr. Shaha, and the property owner. We made good time driving the 45 miles to the property, but when we got there, there was a bit of confusion on which way to go, due to two different sets of directions and landmarks to get to the same locality. I called the property owner and we eventually ended up where we were supposed to be.

I had brought both 4-wheel drive ATVs with me in anticipation of rough or wet terrain, and George was driving a 4-wheel drive extended cab Dodge diesel pickup. We figured we were set to go collecting! We made our way through the pasture for nearly a mile, following an old set of ruts and traces until intersecting the original access road, which is gated, and was or still is a county road right-of-way to that point, a mile off of the main road. So far we had no trouble navigating the terrain, even after the heavy rains we have had recently. I would recommend a high-clearance vehicle for this part of the access. At this juncture we followed the old access road to the quarry. It turns out a high-clearance vehicle is somewhat mandatory for this segment as there are several washes and rough drops. This site is a shallow excavation of perhaps twenty feet at its deepest, and runs for over one half mile through a limestone formation. Certain areas of the old quarry cut into dessicated limestone and shale layers where some very nice Spirifer type brachs and Productid Brachiopods weather out. There are numerous species to recover, however, it appeared that the site had been fairly well picked over in the distant past. We did recover some nice specimens none-the-less.

Around noon or so, we decided we had collected what we wanted from the site, a couple of handfuls of nice specimens, and some matrix pieces with various species represented in them. We loaded our specimens and tools (not really required here) and headed back the way we came. This is where we made a bad decision… At the junction of the old county right-of-way and the pasture route, I decided to see what condition the old road was in, as it was a direct route to the main road. Around a quarter mile or so in there was a deadfall, which I politely crashed through, forgetting that George was following in his truck. No problem, he crashed right on through too. Further down the road there was another smaller deadfall which presented no problem either. Ok… now the fun begins…

There were a couple of wet areas as we proceeded, which initially were no problem. Further down the road however was a wash, which was a little bumpy (high clearance required). No problem for the ATVs. Just past that was a wet section of road that was somewhat rutted, but hadn’t had any traffic on it in months, or possibly even years… at least not when it was wet. Brandon and I traversed these with no problem on the 4-wheelers, but George hit the wash a little hard and things started flying around in the back of the truck. Well, he took his eyes off of the task to glance in the back of the truck, and consequently, slid off into the deep rut on the driver’s side, where he politely high-centered the differentials. This would be a good time to tell you how we heroically pushed, pulled, and manhandled the truck out of the mud… but I can’t do that. We did try digging it out, pulling it out with my ATV (it was just a thought), winching it out with the 2500 lb winch on the ATV (another wasted thought), and eventually surrendered to the fact we needed professional help.

I headed for the truck and trailer parked at the property owners house, and found he wasn’t home. After loading my ATV, I headed for Ralston to look for a tow truck or a 4-wheel drive and it’s owner with a lot of cable, and a sense of adventure. Turns out everyone was at harvest… No luck in Ralston, off to Fairfax and the nearest tow truck according to one of the original settlers of Ralston. Again, no luck. No wrecker to be found in town. Clue here, Cingular’s All-Over network? Not All-Over…

Back to the scene of the… whatever. I unloaded the ATV again and headed back to the where I had left the others. They had made no progress and couldn’t get a call out either. George and I left the kids with the truck and headed to the end of the road to get a cell signal and try to locate a wrecker. While he was trying to authorization from his towing service for a vehicle recovery that required more than a ten-foot tow distance, I noticed that the folks who lived right there on the corner had come home. This was a farm with several tractors and farm implements sitting about. I had a bright idea to ask for assistance from the farmer. I rode around to the driveway and up to the house slowly so as not to seem like just another dimwit on a 4-wheeler out tearing up the countryside. The Farmer met me at the back porch… I began to plead my case and before I could even finish explaining what we were doing back in on the road, he very  gruffly told me we should not have even been back in there. I explained we had permission to go into the old quarry, and who we had permission from. He still ranted about how the owners should tell people not to drive in on that road at all, he just didn’t understand why they can’t tell people that.

 I listened patiently until he stopped to take a breath, then politely offered to pay the gentleman for his assistance. This didn’t work either… His explanation was: “One tractor is broke, two other have brush-hogs on ‘em and he ain’t a-gonna take ‘em off cause he’s gonna have to use ‘em shortly. He ain’t got enough cable or chain to git plumb to the other side of the mud-hole, and he ain’t gonna tear up his tractor tryin' to pull some darn fool out of the mud, especially when he shouldn’t a even been back in there in the first place”

I politely extricated myself from the conversation, not even bothering to ask to use a phone book, or where I might find a wrecker. I got enough of a signal on the cell to call information and finally got connected to a wrecker service in Pawnee, 12 miles away. The service agreed to come out and see what they could do. Finally, three hours and countless failed attempts later…

About 20 minutes later the wrecker showed up. I pointed him in the direction of the truck, and informed him he would need to back in the quarter mile to the scene, as there was no place to turn around on the narrow right of way. Just a few minutes later, George's truck was once again moving under its power, having been winched out to maneuverable ground once again. George and I agree, winches are good things to have, and 4-wheel drive does not mean all-terrain and invincible.

 

 

How’s that for a memorable field trip?

 

Virgil G. Richards

 

                               

 

 

 

© 2009 - DANCES-WITH-SNAKES.COM        

VIRGIL G. RICHARDS

Return to McRocks