Less than five minutes after leaving the Dinosaur Valley State Park, I continued my prehistoric odyssey just down the road at a place called Dinosaur World. This Texas attraction is actually one of three in the United States with the other two in Florida and Louisville. Since I’ve yet to see those I can’t say whether or not they’re all set up the same way or if they offer different dinosaurs. What I do know is that it helps make this little patch of Glen Rose a dinosaur lover’s haven. You’ve got real dinosaur tracks for the more serious minded at the State Park, life-sized dinosaurs and activities for kids and families here, and the Glen Rose Creation Museum in-between the two for fundamentalist Christians who believe dinos existed with humans before dying out with Noah’s flood. Without getting into a religious/scientific debate, let’s just say I couldn’t drive past that one fast enough to get to Dinosaur World! They’d just opened for business as I passed through their elaborate gates and I was the only one there. I couldn’t wait to walk through their front door which had a T-Rex looming above and two Parasaurolophus trash receptacles on either side. As mentioned, this event definitely caters to kids and families though, in a related story, I’m still very much a kid at heart when it comes to dinosaurs!
Ideally, cross-country road trips are planned well in advance and performed with the company of a good friend or family member. A couple of weeks ago, however, I basically tossed conventional wisdom out the window in favor of doing a quickly-thrown-together solo vacation to Texas. It wasn’t without purpose, mind you, I had to be in San Antonio for my son’s Air Force training graduation on Veterans Day. I’d gotten the date of this proud event just a little over a month before it happened so I suppose the sensible thing for me to have done would have to simply flown in from Chicago for the weekend. Instead I decided it would be a lot more fun spending a week on the road while scrambling to get hotels and giving some out-of-state friends last minute notice that I’d be passing their way. I basically treated it as I would any Terror Daves road trip, minus a Dave. That meant lots of zoos and goofy roadside stops along the way which, in this case, included a town full of albino squirrels and a great white shark sitting in someone’s front yard. It also meant dinosaurs.
I was a young boy when my parents first took me to Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo and it would have a profound effect on me. The sight of their infamous Asian elephant, “Ziggy,” would inspire a lifelong love of elephants while a lone statue standing at the park’s west end would solidify my fascination with dinosaurs. Back in the early ‘70s when I was growing up, just about every dinosaur depicted was either T-Rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, or the long-necked Brontosaurus (later changed to “Apatosaurus” before recently going full circle). The zoo’s dinosaur, however, was none of these but rather an obscure duck-billed variety called (at that time) a Trachodon. Despite what I’d seen in books and cartoons, this dino gave me something none of the others had…a sense of scale. For the first time I could look up and appreciate the true size of these amazing, prehistoric beasts. Over forty years later, I’m fortunate to still be able to see this dinosaur standing at the zoo though only recently gaining an appreciation for the treasure that it is.
Recently, while on vacation, the Daves visited many dinosaur places and had a blast doing it. Being on vacation though you sometimes take for granted what may be in your own back yard. It may be ok to travel thousands of miles on vacation to a particular place but oftentimes you neglect driving just an hour to a similar place in your very own or neighboring state. This was the case with THE DINOSAUR PLACE in Montville, CT.
Finally, after fifteen posts we’ve reached the conclusion of our 2016 Terror Dave Road Trip! Are you sick of it yet? Because at this point of our vacation we sure were…and of each other too for that matter. I was reminded of that while going through all the photos from those last couple of days and noticing how whenever we’d photograph one another in front of a dinosaur, we’d angle the camera so it looked like the other was being eaten. Talk about passive/aggressive photography!
We left Moab, Utah on the morning of Friday June 17th and began the long, seven hour drive back to Colorado. Fortunately, I discovered a dinosaur museum that was en route called The Museum of Western Colorado’s Dinosaur Journey. Actually, it could have been The Museum of Barney the Purple Dinosaur and we’d of still stopped there just to break up the monotony. Fortunately, this was a lot better than that.
On the last leg of our road trip, we stayed a couple of days in Moab, Utah where we could finally relax and get a vacation from our vacation. Naturally we still enjoyed many of the things this fun, tourist town had to offer but without having to adhere to any tight schedules or long drives. Consequently, our first afternoon there was spent lounging around the hotel, catching up on emails, going through photos, and watching AMC’s presentation of JAWS which was an exercise in futility thanks to all the commercials they smothered it with. Later we stopped in the heart of Moab for dinner at an Italian place that served the best ravioli I’d ever tasted. Up until that point, I found southwest cuisine to be rather lacking so this truly hit the spot. With renewed vigor, we drove to Arches National Park which was just ten minutes away. Next to Saguaro, this would be our favorite national treasure and we loved the fact that it was open 24 hours. We spent the evening checking out all the lookout points before watching the sunset.