Earlier this week we took a little fossil hunting trip that resulted in Seth finding the big megalodon tooth he has been hoping to find for many years. If it were up to Seth, this story would end right there. But you know me, I’ve got to drag it out.
We hunt shark teeth and other fossils on a private beach, so we don’t meet many others there, but when we do there is a standard greeting that includes, “Find anything good?” So when we passed a guy out hoping to find some good teeth, Seth ended up showing him his new found meg. The man was really impressed and clearly a little envious. I think what bugged him was how casual Seth acted about the tooth. Later we passed him again and he brought it up stating that that tooth was a “five year find.” I assured him that Seth has been hunting shark’s teeth for more than five years and understood the value of the tooth. I explained that his apparent lack of excitement didn’t actually correlate with his actual feelings. That made the guy feel better, knowing that Seth wasn’t just some lucky newbie.
We didn’t stay on the beach as long as we’d hoped because Beatrix got her feet wet in the first five minutes. Despite being carried back to the van to change into dry clothes, she cried that she was cold for the rest of our time there. It was shady and chilly and none of us complained too much about leaving. After a quick picnic lunch we headed home.
We’re the type family that will stop our van on a country road if there is a cow standing close to the fence. We’ll roll down the windows (only the front two roll down so everyone has to leeeeeean forwards) and “Mooooo” at the cow. Same thing goes for wild turkeys. Jonny rolls down the windows and the kids all make their best turkey calls. I talk to squirrels that hop out in the road, begging them to please be more careful. (Jonny would probably want me to add that he does not talk to squirrels.)
Driving home from our fossil hunting trip we spotted two dogs, apparently out on an unauthorized joy run. One of the dogs, a black lab, had shimmied under a fence and into a big pasture next to the road, but his friend wasn’t joining him. He seemed a little worried that she wasn’t following, looking back and forth between her and the pasture. As we got closer we saw that his friend was wearing a collar that would be associated with an electric fence. That confirmed that these two were escapees. Naturally we slowed down to talk to them. I rolled down my window and said something along the lines of, “You silly bad puppies, what are you guys doing?” They both rushed the van and started jumping up at my window, teeth bared in doggy grins and claws scratching the paint. “Better pull over, Jonny!”
We pulled off and Jonny and I got out to take a look at the dogs and check them for identification. Both dogs had their names and a phone number inscribed on their collars. Their names were Jack and Casey Lou. They were clearly very friendly dogs, so we let the kids all pour out to meet them too. I climbed back in the van to search for the cell phone, a poorly functioning ten dollar Tracphone that is rarely charged. I found it, but it was dead. Thankfully I was able to find the charger cord and call the dogs’ owner. He was at work and couldn’t come meet us, but was clearly very concerned about his dogs. We offered to throw them in the van and drive them home, but the fellow said he’d call his dad to come get them. A few minutes later he called back to say that his dad was about ten minutes away. When he eventually found us, the dogs recognized his truck and went running over in excitement. “Dad” was clearly a little dumbstruck by the scene: a 12 passenger van on the side of the road, six kids running around mostly barefoot (their socks got wet at the river), climbing fences, etc. I guess we’re an odd bunch. Jack jumped right in the truck, but Casey Lou just couldn’t make it. Dad said he couldn’t lift her, so Jonny handed Silas to me, and then picked her up and placed her in the truck. He asked Dad how far from home the dogs were. “Right far,” he said, “A few miles.” Evidently a man of few words, Dad climbed in his truck to drive away. On second thought he stood back up and asked us, “What are your names?” “Jonny and Ginny,” I replied. “Thank you,” he said, maintaining a look of mild confusion. “No problem. They’re great dogs,” I replied. With that, Dad drove off, maybe shaking his head a bit.
We got a text message the next day. I had no idea that our phone had texting capabilities, and neither Jonny nor I know how to send one, but we were able to read the brief thank you note that Jack and Casey Lou’s owner sent us. Goodness, who wouldn’t have stopped for a couple of smiling dogs?
p.s. If you are interested in fossil hunting along the shores of the Potomac River, Westmoreland State Park is a good place to start.