To celebrate Rachel's first official day back at school, Grandma took us on a field trip to Thanksgiving Point. Every Tuesday in August every venue at Thanksgiving Point is only $2, which is a steal of a deal when you consider the exorbitant amount they usually charge per entrant. And, yes, I consider $10 per person an exorbitant entrance fee.
We went last year and even though it was rather crowded (ie. packed!) we had a lot of fun.
Rachel even remembered a lot about the Museum of Ancient Life; she talked about it the whole drive. Miriam was too young last year to remember much of anything but she was very excited about it and she kept saying, "Dia-saurs. Rawr!" She had a blast this year.
The girls had fun touching the touchables and did a good job at remembering to not touch the untouchables. There are signs telling the kids what to touch and what not to touch—green for go, red for stop. Fortunately almost everything within my girls' reach was touchable which meant that I didn't have to say no very often. I like when kids are able to just explore and this museum is set up perfectly for exploration.
They have some fun play areas—we stopped by one that had cutouts of dinosaurs and the kids were supposed to match them with their holes. The girls loved this. Miriam found a mammoth shape, called it an elephant, slapped on her "trunk" and started trumpeting around the room.
The "erosion table" was a hit, of course. Miriam seemed to enjoy it more than Rachel did, which was a little surprising because Rachel is usually very assertive and Miriam very passive.
I guess Miriam's cuteness was paying off, though, because children were handing her dinosaurs and trees left and right. She had the time of her life!
Rachel, on the other hand, barely managed to scrape together a couple handfuls of sand. Kids kept coming and taking the things she'd thought she had claimed and this was clearly upsetting her. To her credit she didn't throw a fit and instead quietly gave up and came to sit on my lap.
"You didn't play very long," I pointed out. "What's wrong?"
"It's just too crowded today," she sighed.
And it was. If I had to describe the erosion room in two words it would be "mass chaos." If I had only one word it would probably be "entropic." If I had one syllable it would probably be "Eeeeeeek!"
I think the only reason Miriam tolerated the overpopulated mess was because she had unlimited access to sand and water. And she thought that was awesome.
We had a bit of trouble at the "build a dinosaur" station because there were a bunch of boys there who wouldn't let Rachel help. She's used to the neighbourhood boys who swoon with every step she takes and basically worship the ground she walks on and these boys were just not submitting to her authority.
I walked her over to a Gastonia dinosaur and told her it was named after Gaston! It is.
She thought that was cool enough to warrant both a smile and a picture, but that might have been because when she asked, "Like in Beauty and the Beast?" I said, "Yes, just like that! Only different!"
There's a couple of super-humongous dinosaurs—I think they're Supersaurus or something. They're huge. Huge, as in "Miriam is as big as a bone in their toe."
Rachel was a little nervous about being underneath such a gigantic creature—what if an earthquake were to happen, right? You can never be too safe—but after watching her fearless little sister she kind of joined her for a picture. Kind of.
And here is Rachel streaking past a couple of Tyrannosaurus Rex...es. I can't pluralize dinosaurs. I just can't. Apparently this is one of the few museums in the world to house multiple T-Rexes...T-Rexi? I dunno.
But seriously have you seen Night at the Museum? You never know when one of those puppies is going to jump off the display and chase you around.
We made a stop to visit the big shark they had on display. He might seem oversized but they made him to scale of a tooth found in some ancient riverbed in the Carolinas. The girls named him Bruce. It's possible they watch too many movies, yes.
Miriam's least favourite room was the one with the skeletal barbaric human lifeforms spearing a mammoth skeleton. She had to close her eyes to get through that one.
She opened them for the elephant bird painting—and an actual elephant bird egg which seemed big enough to me to put a human baby inside—and the skeleton of a baby mammoth. The elephant bird only disappeared in the 1600s. It just makes so sad for Horton, who was only 300 years too late to meet an actual elephant bird!
Why of all silly things!
I haven't feathers and I haven't wings!
ME on your egg? Why, that doesn't make sense.
Your egg is so small, ma'am, and I'm so immense!
Your egg is so small, ma'am, and I'm so immense!
We then walked into the "conservation" area of the museum that had displays of endangered species and species that have recently (at least when compared to dinosaurs and elephant birds) gone extinct, like the Xerxes blue moth (which went extinct in 1943). After explaining to Rachel what the room was about she waved her around in the air and said, "So, when will all these animals go extinct so they can come to the museum?"
"We don't actually want them to go extinct," I clarified, "We're trying to keep them alive."
"Oh!" she said.
We finished off with a quick trip in the excavation department. They have (probably fake) skeletons plastered to the floor which are then covered with sand and they give the kids brushes (and free reign) and tell them to go "excavate." Miriam was using her brush as a shovel but Rachel kind of had the right idea.
When we got out of the museum it was still relatively early in the afternoon so Grandma suggested we visit Cabela's. I've never been but when we went to Arizona Aunt Marcie told us all about it. Quite truthfully I thought she was telling outlandish tales. There was no way a store would be a fun place to go with children.
Except maybe IKEA. And only if they don't know that the things in IKEA are actually for sale.
Cabela's was amazing, though. They have an aquarium with fish in it—just regular kinds like catfish and bass and trout and blue gill. Their catfish, though, were as big as my children. I've never seen catfish that big in my life!
I've actually been studying fish and fishing a lot recently because I'm a den mother. And I know nothing about fish or fishing. And yet I find myself answering questions about fishing. How did this even happen?
Since there is no chance that I would ever take the cubs fishing—not on your life, thankyouverymuch—I just now had the brilliant idea to take them to Cabela's on a field trip.
Then maybe I can grab a random hunter-fisher-man in the store and ask him to help my cubs identify five different kinds of fish because I really only recognized the catfish today. And I only know blue gill were in the tank because some guy walking through the aquarium pointed out a fish to his buddy and said, "Look, there's a blue gill!"
Using my handy dandy wolf scout handbook as a reference I'm going to guess that this...handsome...fellow is a trout?
My cubs are going to love me after this field trip.
I am still not taking them fishing. Ever.
They don't only have an aquarium at Cabela's though. Oh, no. They have an entire museum in there and their displays not only rival but far surpass the quality in say...the Bean Museum. Really—the displays were quite beautiful and interesting and large.
They had a huge display in the center of the store—again with live fish—that Rachel was rushing past in an effort to get wherever her four-year-old legs were taking her and then she stopped dead in her tracks and turned around and stared.
"There's an old grandpa monkey in there!" she laughed.
I looked where she was pointing. She was looking at a porcupine standing on its haunches. I laughed with her. And then I told her it was a porcupine.
In addition to this display they had another room off to the side called the "large game room," or something like that. It was also filled with some of the most beautiful displays of taxidermy I have ever seen. I almost felt like I was up in the mountains, with a stream gurgling quietly in the background, light filtering through the leaves on the trees, and little squirrels popping up everywhere.
The girls had fun racing around and identifying creatures. There were signs on all the animals but the girls weren't very picky and just shouted out "Bear! Moose! Deer!" It was great fun.
And so I find myself now in Aunt Marcie's shoes. I'm going to actually recommend that you go to Cabela's. Soon. Go on a date. Go with your children. Go with your cub scouts. Go. It really is as awesome as they say.
And...they have great fudge.
(Though I never thought I'd hear my mother-in-law say, "I'd like a piece of cow drool, please.")