Anna, Alexandra, and I are packing to spend a long weekend at a dude ranch in Bandera, Texas. We pile extra pillows, blankets, snacks, Alex’s disc player and my writing notebook in the back of the Saab. After whizzing along a seventy-mile-perhour highway singing to Madonna, we climb into “hill country,” the homeland of cowboys and endless dusty horse trails, juniper trees, and cedar fever. Bluebonnets dot crude swales cut along the roads. I read out loud from a guide-bookentertaining Anna and boring Alex-about how the end of a tectonic plate creates the irregular copses of oak trees, stony hillsides, and layers of sedimentary rocks perfect for fossil hunting.