Last week I served as a chaperone to my son's sixth grade class field trip. They went to a beautiful camp in Adams County, Ohio, called Woodland Altars. We spent nearly three days there, and I was quite impressed with the whole program of instruction. I was also impressed with the marked difference between the behavior of the kids on this field trip, and the behavior of the kids in my sixth grade class when we went on these kinds of trips.
One of my favorite sites on this trip was Serpent Mound, an effigy structure built by the "Fort Ancient" culture, which flourished around A.D. 950-1050 along the Ohio River. The Serpent Mound itself may not strike a casual visitor as anything like, say, a pyramid or an aqueduct, but, as with Stonehenge and the Celts, it is a structure that proves the astronomical prowess of the Fort Ancient people.
Even more amazing--at least to me--was the "Cryptoexplosion Structure" (PDF Map). This is, believe it or not, an impact crater nearly 5 miles in diameter, the remnant of a meteorite impact nearly 300 million years ago. The surrounding countryside is strikingly beautiful, and as you drive over the hills and ridges it is fascinating to think that these are all that are left of a crater similar to those one can see on the moon's surface.
We were blessed with perfect weather, which meant good hiking and camping, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and peaceful redbud observation. I got to be better acquainted with the teachers, too, and I was genuinely moved by their sincere interest in the educational process. I was particularly impressed by the enthusiasm and high spirits of David House, whom I hope to get to know even better.
All in all it was a great chance to get away and be with the kids. If you manage to get out there yourself, be sure to pay a visit to the House of Phacops. Proprietor Thomas Johnson is an authority on trilobites, and he is slowing building a museum with many interesting fossils, gems, minerals, and geological curiosities. Some items are for sale (including some exquisite trilobite fossils). He is a warm and friendly person, and can tell you all about the geology of the area (and other areas as well).