As I inched closer towards the end of my stay in the Petrified Forest National Park, things at the quarry remained fairly consistent. We had excavated a significant chunk of the fossil layer, extracting plenty of bone fragments and teeth along the way. I had become quite good at setting up the shelter every morning and making jackets around rock. Meanwhile, the temperatures continued to rise. It got so hot one day that we decided to not hike to the quarry. Instead, we went to both the old and new plant sites to move a bit of equipment. The old plant site was incredibly interesting as it was at the heart of the rock formations and petrified wood.
As I approached my last day working out in the field, I began to think about all the things I would miss about being out there in the park. Days weren't going to be the same without Norman's stories, Aobo's high energy, or the relaxing conversations after a long day of digging. I would miss the connection with nature too, with waking up to the alarm clock-like morning sun, seeing horny toads on hikes, and watching the sunset on the seemingly infinite horizon.
Alas, the day of my departure was here. It was decided that the group would have their showers that day, so we all left for headquarters early in the morning. I enjoyed one last breakfast at the HQ cafeteria and showered away the dirt and sweat once again. I bid farewell to the people who had accompanied me during this unforgettable experience and crawled in the truck, heading back towards the Holbrook bus station.