Shark Teeth

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I don’t think we’ll need a bigger boat for this one, guys.

Well, just one, really.  A teeny tiny one, but it’s mine and I collected it fair and square.

Perhaps I should back up a bit.

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This way to the beach…

There is, within a few hours of driving from here, Calvert Cliffs State Park.  There’s a short hike from the parking area (almost 2 miles of wagon-and-stroller friendly hiking trail) that takes you through the woods and down by a small stream that flows along beside you for a time, then joins up with a wetland and some beaver ponds covered in lilypads and cattails.  There are dragonflies everywhere zipping about like multicolored jewels on fairy wings.  When you get to the end of the trail, you are standing at the lapping edge of the Chesapeake Bay, and just a few feet from an 18 million year trip back in time.

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A disused alternate trail clearly needs investigation.

According to the information posters on the signboard next to the beach entrance, the cliffs are basically three strata of time: modern near the top of the cliffs, and stretching back some 18 or 19 million years, and every time the Bay laps at them, every store that comes through whipping the winds across the cliff face, every small animal that scurries up it seeking shelter dislodges a little more of the past.

The beach is absolutely covered in fossils.  Most famously there are shark teeth ranging from the extremely tiny (like mine!) to the terrifying dino-shark sized ones that others have found.  And you, my dear member of the public, may go there and pick up a few fossils of your very own for an extremely cheap entrance fee!  Or splash around in the Chesapeake for a while to cool off on a horrifically hot day.  Whatever floats your boat.

So the other day my father and my son and I took a picnic lunch and went back in time.  I may have also taken a few photos for inspirational purposes: a lone mushroom that practically glowed in the brush by the trail, a frog sitting at the entrance to his home, a bench that looks like a bus stop in a Miyazaki movie…

If you’re nearby I do recommend a trip out there.  It’s lovely, and a nice walk, even if you just go down a trail part way and turn around.  But it’s worth it to plop yourself down on the beach with a sieve and a shovel and hunt for your very own shark tooth.

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Not just shark teeth.  Fossilized ray teeth, seashell fossils, crocodilian teeth, and ancient bones are mixed in with crab claws and a wide variety of bivalve shells and small children.  Also barnacles.  Wear some water shoes.  Trust me.

Just Awesome

Summer vacation means travel for so many.  Images of fun family vacations, time spent at the beach maybe with the kids getting sunburned and building sandcastles. Maybe everyone going camping and toasting marshmallows.  Me?  I don’t travel so much, and I never have.  The one exception has been various geek-culture centered conventions.  For a while in college and just after, I would travel up and down the east coast and hit a fair number of events, hanging out with friends and trying not to be too bad a leech (and let’s be honest, probably failing.)  It was fun and I met some amazing people.

These days, thanks to that whole “adulting” thing that is so trendy anymore I’m back to not traveling much, but when a con comes to town I like to swing by if I can, and when I know some of my friends will be there too, I make extra effort.  So yesterday I loaded up my dad and my son and we hopped a Metro train down to DC and went to AwesomeCon.  It was busy.  Very, very busy.

Unfortunately, for a newly-minted first grader who gets stressed out by both loud noises and crowds, it was not quite so laid back a day as I’d hoped.  It can be so easy to forget that something you are comfortable with can put someone else straight into survival mode, and when that someone’s your kid…  well.  He handled it well enough, mostly,

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Who doesn’t love a nice cup of exothermic expanding foam-turned-solid?

thanks to having some ear protection and finding robots at more than one booth.  He didn’t speak to anyone, though— not my friends who he’s met before and is a shy fan of,

 not the nice library lady who had a cool programable robot at her booth, not the NASAand NIST scientists set up with fun activities for kids (who were very cool and seemed honestly excited to talk to him even when he didn’t answer,) not even Santa Claus (who was likewise

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Santa and Krampus looking for targets in Artist’s Alley

cool with the kid and gave him a candy cane anyway.)

Still…  He managed to convince me to buy him a comic book, and hit literally every booth in the not insignificant science area, and when we were finally walking out he pointed and got very excited to see a girl about his age in a Ladybug costume.

On the whole, I thought he’d done pretty well for a silent, wide-eyed kid insisting that his mom carry him through most of the event.  I figured he’d put the experience in the back of his mind as something he’d done and lived through safely, and maybe someday he’d want to go to another convention.  As I was tucking him into bed, he asked a new question as part of his long, well-practiced stalling routine.

“Mom, can we go back to the convention tomorrow and get another Star Power book?”

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That’s my boy.