By JOE GIDDENS
Years ago, I was wandering the deserts of Central Utah.
It’s a stretch of country that more closely resembles Mars or the cover art off a ’70s prog-rock band than it does anything terrestrial.
It’s a beautiful and weird stretch of country such as the small town off a state highway where the gas station was populated exclusively by ginger, but I probably just needed to inspect a larger sample size.
At the time, I was prospecting for phytosaur fossils in the San Rafael Swell. A Triassic reptile that, if around today, could easily be confused for a gator. Which also helps give an indication of the West’s wetter climate at the time, alongside the massive amount of petrified wood of long since fallen conifers some 200 million years ago.
The minerals in that area gave all the fossils eroding out of the rock a dull purple coloration with a lot of white mixed in. Most of the petrified wood was brown, but those phytosaur remains had that purple as did the occasional a slab of fossilized fish scales.
Wandering the backcountry looking for fossils gave me the same feeling as Easter egg hunting.
I felt a sense of exictement every time I found some random fragment of bone against the bare rock.
That’s the feeling I had when I came across two vertebrate lying on the ground. That feeling didn’t last long as I yelled to my superviser in the wash below that I discovered fossils that they should identify.
“Just toss it down to me,” he said.
If you drive north from there, you’ll find the point of contact where that 200 million-year-old unit of rock meets the next youngest unit of rock, the “Nugget Sandstone.”
The Nugget has the distiction of being the remains of the largest pile of sand that has ever accumulated on our planet.
It was a vast desert that would easily dwarf the Sahara. An environment where the adapations of conifers, fish and phytosaurs wouldn’t give them any advantages.
The stereotype of science types not being athletic held up as the catch wasn’t successful, and the vertebrate cracked against the ground.
Which brings me to “The Avengers: Endgame.”
I’m tired of time travel in movies. Of passing convoluted timeline narratives off as complexity, of completely nullifying both narrative stakes and consequences. Those vertebrate will remain cracked; those phytosaurs remain extinct.
Time travel removes sakes and consequences of decisions. Most of the times it comes up in pop culture it’s not born out of a creative drive.
Instead it’s hitting the snooze button to keep a franchise going. Billion-dollar franchises aren’t going to let their characters stay in the ground when there’s a product to produce.
Or perhaps Mike Myers summed up time travel in movies in “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.”
“I suggest you don’t worry about this sort of thing and just enjoy yourself.”