Wednesday, September 01, 2010

$2 Tuesday at Thanksgiving Point

Throughout the month of August Thanksgiving Point was doing a promotion allowing patrons to enter any attraction for only $2 instead of the ghastly exorbitant amount it usually costs. Since the offer is only good through August and since today is the last day of August, Grandma invited the girls and me out on a date.

It was fun to have a day out, even though we weren’t the only ones to have the idea. Somehow we figured that since school had already started it wouldn’t be too crowded, but it was a complete zoo of strollers, mothers, and preschoolers. That was fine. We had fun despite the crowd.

First we visited Farm Country. Rachel clung to me the whole time we were there. I don’t know why because all the animals were behind fences—she did better at the petting zoo at Bear World when the animals weren’t behind fences. Whatever the deal was, she was stuck to me like glue. If I managed to peel her off my hip and convince her to walk she’d pick whatever side of me was farthest away from the animal we were viewing.

The alpaca scared her senseless. I mistook it for a llama from the back and while we were walking to the front of its stall Karen told us that there is such a thing as a “guard llama” that is used to watch over flocks of sheep and other farm animals, even alpacas are sometimes guarded by llamas. They’re just little guys. I liked this one’s hairdo.

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We also saw a guanaco and also mistook it for a llama at first glance. Apparently we need to work on our species identification within the Camelidae family. At least we got the genus right for this guy.

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Rachel’s favourite part of the farm, from my observations and aside from the wagon ride, was the ramp between the pond and wallow. She enjoyed watching the cute mallard families—there were so many little ducklings about.

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I enjoyed looking at the Chinese goose’s strange knobby forehead.

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And wondering what that strange flap of skin under the neck of the African goose is called. It’s called a dewlap, I found out, and is absolutely pointless but more prominent in the African goose than the Chinese goose.

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We also saw Canada and Toulouse geese as well as Mouscovy and   Pekin ducks.

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Meanwhile, on the other side of the walkway there were some hogs cavorting in a bog (but not the hippopotamus…although pigs, hippos, and camelids are all in the order Artiodactyla, which means they are all even-toed ungulates—ungulate is just a fancy word that means “a creature with hooves or paws” and the fact that they are even-toed means that they have an even number of toes on their foot, so two…or four, I guess—so would it really be unseemly to have a hippo in the bog with a pig? That would make much more sense than a frog, who bears no relation to a pig. Poor, lonely hippos.).

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Rachel was fond of the little pink pigs. There were two that seemed younger—littler and skinnier—than the rest of the pigs. They had straight tails, which wagged constantly, and they pranced here and there, clearly pleased to be alive. The older—bigger and fatter—pigs had curly tails and a more lackadaisical outlook on life.

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We saw one of the pigs blow bubbles in the water while it was snorting around. Rachel thought that was funny. Also, the little piggy on the left was quite insistent on eating a feather it found floating in the murky water. The black pig half-heartedly tried to snatch it away but soon gave up chasing the energetic pig around.

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We quickly walked past the horses. Rachel is afraid of horses—although she loved the wagon ride and asked if she could ride a pony—but Miriam didn’t seem to mind their colossal size. She sat in her stroller bravevly staring up at a Clydesdale whose back was as tall as the fence. He was ginormous.

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Rachel really didn’t do much better with the poultry. She did manage to spook an old tom turkey, though, which was fascinating to watch. She screamed at it and he immediately puffed his chest out, fanned his tail feathers, and strutted around the cage making gobbling aggressively and rushing at the fence. This behaviour only encouraged her to scream some more, which in turn caused Tom to freak out more, which made Rachel go ballistic, which made Tom furious, which made Rachel inconsolable…and eventually we just had to leave. As I said, though, it was amazing to witness.

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We headed to the goats and Rachel faired no better there, though Miriam made a few friends. She was not shy about reaching out to pet the animals. I was afraid sometimes she was going to get her fingers nibbled, but she survived the petting zoo with all of her fingers intact.

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This little kid had wedged between the fences so that he could lick up food pellets that had missed the pen and landed on the sidewalk. He was desperately sticking his tongue through the holes in the mesh fence, trying to reach every last grain. I was a little concerned he had gotten himself stuck there but when he was convinced his tongue could stretch no further he nimbly found his way out.

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I’m ashamed to admit that Rachel’s sudden attack of zoophobia extended even to rabbits. They were so fluffy (I could die!) but she acted like it was the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent she’d ever set eyes on and wouldn’t get near the hatch.

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Not even when I pointed out the little baby bunny, hiding behind its momma in a box full of straw. It was probably good to stay away from the bunny because it was likely a real killer with a vicious streak a mile wide. We all know how ferocious baby bunnies can be.

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I was impressed, though, that she wanted to go on a wagon ride, although she just about had a panic attack while we were waiting in line (because we were in view of the horses). She bravely got on the wagon and was so happy the whole time—we talked about how Auntie Em rode the band wagon in Nauvoo and how this was kind of the same thing only without the band.

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I don’t think Miriam thought the ride was bouncy enough so she bounced up and down on Grandma’s lap to enliven the experience.

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She also spent some time waving at the animals we saw. She was so funny today—she waved at hordes of people walking by, at ponies, and trees, and anything else that looked like it might wave back.

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When we finished with the wagon ride we stopped off at some little playhouses—a dance hall and a jail house to be specific—and Rachel was brave enough to go inside. Actually, I had to go through the jail with her, but she braved the raucous dance hall on her own.  

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Given how paranoid she was at the farm, it probably won’t be surprising to find out that Rachel didn’t really want to go to the dinosaur museum…until I told her that everything inside died thousands of years ago. Unfortunately I lied to her because I didn’t know there would be a tank full of garfish inside—apparently they are a “living fossil” of dinosaurs past, along with crocodiles and sharks and the like. For some reason Rachel didn’t mind the garfish even though they are carnivorous and have visible rows of sharp teeth. Whatever, kid.

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The Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point has the “distinction of being the world's largest display of mounted dinosaurs” and, really, it’s huge. It just kept going on forever—long after we were tired out.

At the beginning of the museum there’s a little NASA room where you can explore outer space with the “Anderson” family. They need to update their display because they were still touting Pluto as a full-blown planet. Silly educational facility. Rachel enjoyed experimenting with light despite that little discrepancy. There were a lot of fun stations set up to explore properties of light since studying light, apparently, is how we’ve come to know so much about space.

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After we were experimented-out we entered the dinosaur part of the museum. Rachel and Miriam both enjoyed looking at fossils.

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But Rachel was super-excited to see her first dinosaur skeleton. That she remembers seeing, that is. She wanted her picture in front of this dinosaur, whatever it is, because she correctly identified it from the shadows of other dinosaur skeletons on a sign, due to its spikes.

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She also wanted her picture taken with many other dinosaurs to help show how big they are. I don’t know what it is with the hand-clasping thing but she’s doing it in most of the pictures I took of her today. Apparently it’s her new pose.

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Miriam was so sleepy in the museum and spent most of her time sitting in the stroller zoning out while sucking her thumb and pulling her ear.

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We were excited to find the Utahraptor, which Uncle Jacob likes to pronounce as “ooh-tah-raptor.” It’s pronounced the same way as the state of Utah, though, since that’s what it’s named after.

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There were a lot of hands-on exhibits. Rachel played a computer game to help her learn about carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores; she coloured a picture of a dinosaur and made rubbings of fossil casts; and she experimented with the different joints in our bodies. Apparently we’re not all made of hinges—we’re made of hinges, ball-and-socket, gliders (and more).

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There were a lot of hands-on exhibits that were marked with a hand in a green circle. Rachel was very good at remembering to look for the circle and then even double-checking with me before touching anything. She’s an avid rule-follower like her mother…unless it’s her mother who made the rule in which case she has few qualms about breaking it, but isn’t that just the way it goes?

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There was a build-a-dinosaur station with huge Velcro-on body parts. Both the girls had fun with this. It was about this point in our excursion where I realized I hadn’t checked on Miriam’s diaper in several hours. She had soaked through her diaper and her clothes so spent the rest of the day wearing her diaper and sweater because I forgot to pack an extra change of clothes for her. It was classy.

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There was a cute little dinosaur to climb on. Rachel waited so patiently for a turn but it was impossible to get a turn quite by yourself since there were so many other kids around.

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Strictly from observation, once again, I think Rachel’s favourite part of the museum was the “Erosion Table.” It’s a gigantic sand/water table that fits probably 30 kids at a time. There are slopes so the water runs down and you build up land formations out of sand, finding plastic dinosaurs and plants while you dig. Rachel and Grandma had a blast playing while I ignored all the signs saying “no food or drinks or gum or throwing or splashing or…” and nursed Miriam. They confiscated all our other snacks and drinks but there’s little they can do about lactation. Bwahaha!

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Towards the end of the museum things kept getting more and more recent in history. There was a graphic display of skeletal Neanderthals attacking a mammoth. One poor Neanderthal was in the process of being squashed to death by the mammoth which raised all sorts of questions from my three-year-old.

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Soon we reached the “modern-day dinosaurs” section with the garfish tank and a wicked display of sharks. Grandma saved Rachel just in the nick of time before she was gobbled up by this huge man-eating shark.

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Grandma let Rachel choose a toy at the gift shop—if you ask Rachel if she’s spoiled rotten, she’ll tell you that she’s not rotten—and she picked out a lovely triceratops. Recently it was decided that the triceratops isn’t even a dinosaur so, again, this so-called “educational” facility needs to revamp its exhibits because there was definitely a triceratops display.

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However, the triceratops is legendary and so I think they will continue to exist—they’ve already been immortalized in literature and movies so we can’t exactly make them go extinct in our minds. I like what this article said:   

You'll get a lot more hits on Google if you type in Triceratops instead of Torosaurus, and if you don't understand why that matters, you're, well, a dinosaur. So let's agree: A Triceratops isn't a baby Torosaurus — a Torosaurus is a grown-up Triceratops.

Triceratops is extinct. But Torosaurus never happened.

Long live the triceratops! Long live killer bunnies! Long live wonderful family outings! And long live bedtime! And that (bed) is exactly where I need to go because it has been a long, been a long, been a long day. And I can’t stop quoting things. And that is a sure sign of tiredness. It’s like I just can’t have an original thought anymore and just start snatching at things that already exist in my brain.

2 comments:

  1. I don't care what science says. The triceratops has always been and will always be my favorite dinosaur.

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  2. Triceratops will always be a dinosaur. I learn many new things from your blog Nancy. :) I knew about Pluto, but I did not know about the Triceratops.

    Rachel and Miriam are gorgeous! Looks like you had fun. I just told Cameron that I want to go play with the erosion table at Thanksgiving Point! HAHA!

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