Coast to coast (almost) pt. 5: a visit to the Eocene

We drove into Colorado Springs last  night (Friday). In the morning we had a superb breakfast, the best so far, at Smiley’s. Across the street from Smiley’s there is Poor Richard’s Bookstore, a used bookstore large enough to spend whole days in, yet small enough to feel local-neighborhood-y. Definitely a welcome change from the Borders and Barnes-and-Nobel dominated existence. OhOne got yet another Nancy Drew, I bought a couple of books by Michael Chabon.
We then headed west on the 24 to Florissant fossil beds. We pulled over to the parking lot at a Firestone tire outlet next to the I-25 to orient ourselves, when the kids noticed a bird’s nest in the first “e” in the “Firestone” sign. Lovely.

Bird's nest in the "e"

Bird's nest in the "e"

Took a while to make our way through all the traffic headed to Pike’s Peak. In 45 minutes we were up in Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. The park’s features include some great trails through grassland valley and spruce, fir and ponderosa forest. Also, there are the famous petrified trees, and shale beds containing thousands of insects and plants from the Eocene age (58-40 Mya, the dawn of mammals). This may not have the popular appeal of dinosaurs,  but judging from all the kids buzzing around the insect and flower fossils, it is no less interesting.

They have so much shale there, they will never get through it all. So some of it is used by the park rangers to teach kids Paleo 101. They show them how to carefully crack a shale open, and more often than not, there is something inside. OhOne found what looks like a fly. OhToo found some fossilized twigs.

After lunch, we hiked through the grassland valley, and the forest. All-in-all a great day. We plan to leave Colorado tomorrow, and try to make it through most of Kansas.

View of the valley, Boulder Creek trail in Florissant NM

View of the valley, Boulder Creek trail in Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Click to enlarge.

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