I think it’s been established by now that I like fossil hunting. I’ve blogged about it several times, and have posted about my shark tooth searching excursions on Facebook even more. And something I’ve learned from that: You guys are pretty into it, too. Not only do the posts get tons of interest, I’ve also had many readers tell me they’ve gone fossil hunting with their families on my recommendation and loved it. Which is why I know you’ll be interested to hear about one of our recent adventures, easily one of our favorites this year.
A few weeks ago, on a lovely Sunday in November, we went on a fossil hunting tour with Ruddy Duck Adventures. This is fossil hunting and then some. The day-long outing in Calvert County includes a fossil hunting excursion with an extremely knowledgeable guide, plus hot chocolate on the beach; a visit to the fantastic Calvert Marine Museum, including lunch brought to you there; and dinner at one of their restaurants with a beer tasting for the adults.
Our adventure started at Flag Ponds Nature Park, where we met our guide, Russ, in the parking lot. From there we hiked the half-mile to the beach, during which he gave us the prehistoric background on the area, engaging the kids as they talked about what it was like millions of years ago. Once on the beach, he didn’t waste any time getting us started on our search for shark teeth and other fossilized remains of the Miocene Epoch.
And this was one of the best parts of having a guide. Russ is a huge fossil hunting enthusiast and knows about much more than just the shark teeth and skate dental plates that we’d normally look for on our own. He showed us all kinds of interesting fossils and talked about the species they came from that once inhabited the area. He also brought along special gear for the kids to use, which made them feel like “real” fossil hunters, and had them find some of the fossils for themselves once he led them to a general area after spotting the piece.
He was also happy to answer all of my random questions about his fossil hunting methods and habits. I learned some new ways to look for fossils (you’ve got to go yourself if you want to find out!) and that some of these guys and gals are super hardcore hunters. I asked Russ when he’d last been out to search and he casually told me it was during the previous night from 11pm to 2am when the tide was low — and he wasn’t the only one there. Needless to say, we were getting the grand tour from someone who was passionate about his hobby, which in my book is the best way.
After a good while on the beach with a nice stash of fossils, we headed back to the parking lot where we had snacks and hot chocolate (on my suggestion, Ruddy Duck now brings that down to the beach). We parted with Russ there, but not before he gifted us with Megalodon teeth a friend of his found in North Carolina and provided the itinerary for the rest of our day.
The next stop was the Calvert Marine Museum, which was a perfect continuation of the adventure. You can explore how the Prehistoric past, natural environment, and maritime heritage come together to tell a unique story of the Chesapeake Bay. Fascinating exhibits, including display cases full of fossils and artifacts, live fish and other creatures, and large installations are engaging for all ages. We toured an old lighthouse, watched otters play and pet a terrapin, checked out dug out boats, and learned more about the Chesapeake waters on the Marsh Walk. And the kids brought in their findings from our fossil hunt to compare with some on display there.
Our lunch was delivered to us at the Museum, so we took time out of our self-guided tour to eat outside by the water and enjoy the nice day. We’d made menu selections in advance, so everything was ready and we didn’t have to worry about finding a lunch spot, which let us relax and enjoy our outing more.
We spent more time at the museum, then explored the area for a little while before dinner to work up an appetite. We finally headed to Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grill, a cozy restaurant right up the road, where our table was reserved and we selected dishes from a special menu for guests on the fossil tour. It was a good meal that included a beer tasting and plenty of yummy fare for all of us.
We finally headed home that evening feeling quite satisfied — and not just from the food, but from a day full of fun, enriching adventures and wonderful, quality time together. Thanks, Ruddy Duck Adventures, for helping make it happen!
Ruddy Duck Adventures in located in Solomons, MD, and they offer tours all year round, starting at $89/adult ($20/child) for the Island Tour Winter Special. When you consider all that you get — the fossil hunt with an expert guide, snacks, admission to the park and museum, lunch and dinner for everyone — it’s more than worth it. You could even make it a special gift for an adventure-loving kid or adult (it’s in the KFDC Gift Guide!) or just a unique outing for the family. Either way, you’re in for a treat.