If I go down in history for anything in the world, I want it to be for inventing Dinosaur Day, the day on which we honor our long lost reptilian overlords, the dinosaurs, by going on Dinosaur Pilgrimage. Last year, we celebrated the inaugural dinosaur day with a trip to the Cabazon Dinosaurs, home of a terrifying creationist museum. This year, aided and abetted by roadsideamerica.com, a website that has come to dictate far too many of my day to day activities, we went on yet another ambitious journey into the desert, in the middle of July, where it reached 44 fucking degrees celcius. But nothing will stop Dinosaur Day!
Armed with seven hours worth of educational paleontology podcasts, we ventured forth to Apple Valley, California (stopping along the way at the Donut Man, in Glendora, the Official Donut Purveyor of Dinosaur Day), home of the now tragic, crumbling Apple Valley Dinosaurs.
What was once a magnificent . . . mini golf course, is now a tragic monument to the loss of our long-departed lizardly overlords. I braved six inches of barbed wire to get close to one, and, apart from that time at the Cabazon Dinosaurs, and that time at the Natural History Museum, and that time at Science North when I was five, and that time at the Bruce County Museum, and all of those other times when I’ve stood next to fake and/or reconstructed dinosaur skeletons, it was the closest I’d ever been to a dinosaur.
So, I cannot over-emphasize the strangeness of this place, you know? Wire and cement skeletons of fake dinosaurs were everywhere, a few had vestiges of their original paint jobs, and it was so hot and desolate. I’m fascinated by the strangely melancholic desert cities in the middle of California – who are the people who choose to live there and why?Once, the area was booming, but it certainly isn’t anymore. And, most importantly, who builds their dinosaur golf course out there? My theory is that since Apple Valley is Route 66-adjacent, it might have been a tourist draw once, but now, there is nothing surrounding it. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
Anyhow, we stopped at the Route 66 Museum in Victorville because it was there and because it was free, and it was fascinating too. They have a 9 foot tall hula girl statue from Hulaville, which looms large over the entire museum, and which Aaron completely failed to notice because he is an oblivious boy who was busy reading the descriptions of antique radios. And also the Route 66 Museum is right next to a Wonder Bread/Hostess warehouse store (yes, really) so next time we go out into the middle of the desert for no good reason I am going to buy a gross of Twinkies.
And then we were off to Peggy Sue’s Diner and Diner-saur park. If you’re going to have a giant 50′s diner with an entrance shaped like a jukebox, you need something to distinguish yourself from all of the other 50′s diners. And apparently that thing is dinosaurs. And to think I was already excited that there were sandwiches named after Fabian and Frankie Avalon and Richard Nixon! I could eat a Frankie Avalon sandwich AND ALSO there were dinosaurs.
And King Kong, don’t forget King Kong.
And in case anyone needed any help with dinosaur identification, voila! A handy guide to dinosaur taxonomy:
And then we went home and watched The Land that Time Forgot, which had WONDERFUL and TERRIBLE fake dinosaurs in it and also cave men and Really Excellent Science. Although it did suffer from a little too much “we are on a German U-boat and not very pleased about it”-style exposition before we got to the actual dinosaurs, but they were such good actual dinosaurs that I can’t complain much. We also made our own Special Edition Dinosaur Day Ice Cream by throwing vanilla ice cream in the stand mixer with blue food coloring, malt balls, chocolate chips, and marshmallows, which, somehow, stands for dinosaur? Whatever, it was awesome.
I am thinking that for next Dinosaur Day we need to do something really big, and maybe actually involving real dinosaurs, like volunteering on a paleontology dig or something? Whatever we do it will be amazing because Dinosaur Day is officially the BEST DAY OF THE YEAR.
There are more Dinosaur Day pictures on that facebook thing, if you want ‘em.