Mascall Overlook: Wonderful and Weird Oregon

Oregon is full of volcanic landscapes from different periods in Earth’s history. The Mascall Overlook near John Day, OR, is stunning.

15 million years ago, this was a receding forest being replaced by grasslands. It was populated by horses, camels, and giraffe-deer. Then, as so often happens in Oregon history, a volcano exploded. The upheaval filled the valley with lava and ash and pushed up the plains, creating this unique landscape and capturing the denizens in fossils who weren’t fortunate enough to escape .

Glad we ran across this gem in our wanderings about the state.

 

 

Terminator Pigs of the Badlands: Wonderful and Weird Oregon

Out in Eastern Oregon is the John Day National Monument, a large parcel of desert land rich with fossils and history predating human existence. It is a beautiful place, and one of the fossils they find in the area are entelodonts, also known as ‘Terminator Pigs.’

I love my dinosaurs, but there were some really interesting and gruesome large mammals that walked the Earth as well. These ‘pigs’ were the size of a buffalo, and look at those teeth! Those do no look friendly.

The extent to which they hunted is widely debated, but those teeth weren’t for eating grass. They lived in the forests and on the plains of North America and Eurasia from the late Eocene to middle Miocene epochs (37.2–15.97 million years ago), existing for about 21.23 million years. Their fossils are quite rare, and I find their existence fascinating to ponder.

Here’s what they probably looked like. I wouldn’t have wanted to meet one.

 

 

 

#SciFi Worth Reading: To be Taught, if Fortunate #BookReview

What’s out there? To be Taught, if Fortunate by Becky Chambers explores four worlds. Exploring other worlds is one of my favorite parts of science fiction, and this story certainly delivered.

The worlds are experienced by the four crew members of a ship launched at the turn of the 22nd century. Ariadne O’Neill is physically and mentally transformed with the exploration of each planet.

Wanting to know what would be found next, I eagerly kept returning to this book. Very well written, it was easy to immerse myself in the story and see the worlds as Ariadne did. How she and the others reacted to their novel experiences seemed real. It was emotional and enjoyable to travel the galaxy with Ariadne and her three crewmates. I highly recommend this book.

 

At the turn of the twenty-second century, scientists make a breakthrough in human spaceflight. Through a revolutionary method known as somaforming, astronauts can survive in hostile environments off Earth using synthetic biological supplementations. They can produce antifreeze in subzero temperatures, absorb radiation and convert it for food, and conveniently adjust to the pull of different gravitational forces. With the fragility of the body no longer a limiting factor, human beings are at last able to journey to neighboring exoplanets long known to harbor life.

A team of these explorers, Ariadne O’Neill and her three crewmates, are hard at work in a planetary system fifteen light-years from Sol, on a mission to ecologically survey four habitable worlds. But as Ariadne shifts through both form and time, the culture back on Earth has also been transformed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the story of the wonders and dangers of her mission, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.