Halloween is closer than I realized so this weekend we kicked into pagan mode. We went to the local, ever-most-sincere pumpkin patch, snapped a few pictures, and brought home some gourds that Charlie Brown would have been proud to have worn as a helmet. We don't try that hard to get perfect pictures. The kids fake horrible smiles.
Then I told the kids, "Get ready for a voyage to the wonderful land of Ogden." And then we headed for the Eccles Dinosaur Park near the mouth of their canyon. Ogden is a strange place. The city seems too small to be run down the way it is. But I actually saw a news article that said the highest incomes in Utah are in Ogden and lord knows the real estate is cheaper there. Snow Basin is also a very nice ski resort. Industrial relics are pretty common throughout the valley so the strangest thing about Ogden is the people. They were 80's before 80's was cool. They beat everyone to the punch on the Farrah Fawcett hair coming back, but I don't know if it counts when it never seems to have left. If Ogden can be looked to for what is coming next in fashion then we should all prepare for poofy hair, hat-head and stonewashed jeans.
My friend Sam is from Ogden (Actually Layton, south Ogden). He is a cool guy. I'm not sure if he is an exception to the Ogden anomoly. But come to think of it, I do remember that he left a button-up shirt with the sleeves ripped off in my car once. He was a little upset when he found out that I had been using it to wipe the fog off of my windshield during the winter, "That's my favorite shirt!" he said. And I remember one morning when we went to see our friend Jana. I forget where we decided to go but while we were walking to the car she started laughting really hard for no apparent reason. When Sam and I asked her what she was laughing at she cited Sam's outfit as the culprit. He was wearing very expensive, very technical hiking boots with worn-out blue sweatpants that had blown out ankle-elastic (they sort of looked like blue terry cloth karate pants) and he wore a red and white flannel shirt over a plain white t-shirt and topped off the whole look with a winter beanie. I was used to seeing Sam dress like this but when she pointed it out I realized it WAS funny to the average person. Then again, what does Jana know? She's from IDAHO.
We took our kids to the dinosaur park around Halloween 2004. The experience took me off gaurd because the whole park was decked out for the holiday. I didn't know where to start the damage control when my then 4 year old son looked at the bloody jeans and tennis shoes hanging out of the mouths of dino sculptures. I'm sure I panicked a little and started a speech like "Ethan, you need to understand that dinosaurs disappeared 60 million years before any human being ever lived..."
It is kind of a funny idea that they have dinosaur displays where one dinosaur statue is tearing the flesh off another dinosaur statue and then you make it spooky by hanging a bloody leg out of some meat-eater's mouth. Seems like dino-business as usual to me. Here is a picture I took in 2004. They had two meat eaters roaring at eachother in a face off. For Halloween they put some bloody jeans in the mouth of one dinosaur and a torso in the mouth of the opposite dinosaur with red ropes connecting the torso to the jeans. They didn't do that display this year. This is the Torvosaurus(?) who had the jeans in his mouth. At the time, I wanted to preserve the dinosaur viewing experience so I tried to take the pictures to minimize the Halloween stuff.
This year I decided to embrace the Halloween decorations and just let my kids accept the experience for what it was. I made no attempt to explain all the plastic brains hanging from the trees.
There is one scientific theory that if humans DID exist during the age of the dinosaurs, that they surely would have used the dinorsaurs for rodeo purposes.
There is a less accepted theory that humans WERE in existence for a short time but were quickly wiped out by the dinosaurs because of man's annoying tendency to hump the legs of the giants.
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While we were walking around the park my wife constantly complained to me that she had the Dead Milkmen song "Born to love volcanos" stuck in her head. She said, "It's especially annoying since the guy who wrote it probably didn't REALLY love volcanos." I told her that only someone who truly loved volcanos could come up with a line like "she looks like a little volcano with her red hair and brown dress."
The dinosaur park also holds answers to questions in american pop culture. Like "Was Tolkein's GOLLUM character just a rip off of a poorly sculpted deinonichus?"
"Was Lisa Simpson inspired by the footprint of a chasmosaurus?"
Overall, I have grown to like the haunted dinosaur park and make no attempt to make sense of the scenes to my kids. It's better to just go and have fun.