Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Petrified Shark Teeth

When we were kids, our family traveled from Indiana to Utah every other year to visit extended family. Sometimes we got to stop along the way to see various tourist attractions and other times we hurried right on through. We always made a rest stop in the middle of Wyoming somewhere so we kids could get out and run off some energy.

It usually took us 2 1/2 days to make the trip which meant 2 stops at motels. This was before the freeways and before big chain motels and restaurants took over everywhere. Motels were more likely to be smaller family owned operations.

On one trip west we decided to be tourists for a while. We drove through the badlands of South Dakota but thought they were not all that great. We also visited Mount Rushmore, which seemed more impressive. On that trip we stopped for the night at a little motel in Rapid City, South Dakota. The owner was friendly and could see we had a car full of rambunctious kids, so offered some suggestions for our entertainment. He sent his daughter, who was maybe 12 years old or so, off to guide us to an adventure. She directed us to drive up a dirt road onto the bluffs near town. There, she hopped out and told us we were going to hunt for shark teeth. We thought she was pretty funny, because sharks live in the ocean and South Dakota was nowhere near any ocean that we knew of. Besides, if there WERE oceans there, they would be down below us, not up on those bluffs!

Soon after starting to poke around in the dirt, she ran back to us....and sure enough, she had a shark tooth in her hand! That was all it took to energize the rest of us. We started to paw madly through the sand and dirt up there and pretty soon, we all had found some shark teeth!

They were hardly museum quality, but they were special to us. She explained that the shark teeth were petrified...lost there long ago when oceans did cover what is now South Dakota. We ended up with a little pile of shark teeth...and some new found knowledge about ancient oceans!

We stopped briefly in Rapid City again just a few years ago. It had changed so much that I could no longer even guess where that bluff is today. It is probably covered with a Walmart or some such thing.

No comments: