Monday, September 05, 2005

Treasure hunting in Nevada

Kevin and Maria were visiting this weekend and I got a wild hair to take them trilobite hunting in the extremely remote Highland Range of eastern Nevada. I have been searching for a particular species, olenellus gilberti, for some 15 years now, with very little success to show for my efforts. This particular type of trilobite is one of the oldest fossils in the world, dating back some 550 million years ago, from the middle Cambrian period of geologic time.

The elusive olenellus gilberti.

After poking through some fairly picked over diggings, and downing four bottles of Miller High Life in quick succession, lest they get too warm in the mid-day heat of the desert, we suddenly were drawn to the real treasure that was everywhere in our midst, the largest and most plentiful crop of pine nuts we had ever come across. The pinyon pines in these mountains, pinus monophylla, were bursting forth with big fat cones loaded with delectably tasty nuts that we proceeded to gobble down by the score.

We began filling up bags with these exquisite delicacies and soon had our hands covered in the stickiest pine sap known to man. It was well worth the torment of tar encrusted hands as we headed for the small town of Pioche afterwards to drink more beer and walk the crowded streets of this rural county seat loaded with visitors taking part in a plethora of holiday weekend festivities.

It was great to be in a state where you can still freely walk the streets and drink from an open container, toasting all the cowgirls strolling past in their holiday finery.

Long live the free state of Nevada! Liberty never looked or felt so fine.

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