We just got back from a super quick trip to Dinosaur Land. It's been, I don't know, 25 years since I'd last been to Vernal, so Memorial Day seemed like a good time for a visit.
We headed out after church yesterday and spent the night in Vernal. Our kids have only stayed in a hotel a handful of times, so it's still very exciting. An indoor pool, breakfast in the lobby, an ice machine in the hallway--the kids couldn't have ask for anything more. Throw in a room upgrade that included a pull-out couch (not sure how a hide-a-bed is an upgrade over an actual bed, but whatevs) and it was like we hit the lottery. We could have just headed back home and the kids would've been just as happy.
But we didn't. We drove to the bone quarry at Dinosaur National Monument. It was just like I remembered it--a giant wall fill with hundreds of hundreds-of-million-year-old dinosaurs bones. While this is pretty amazing, it's really not that interesting. (I know, I'm awful for saying that.) It only kept the kids' attention for about a half hour. Luckily, we got to ride to and from the visitor center in a open-air shuttle bus, which the kids loved.
From there, we went to the new Natural History Museum in Vernal. The fact that there were actual dinosaur sculptures made it instantly more engaging for the kids, but after about 10 minutes I was worried that we had seen all there was to see. I was actually pretty disappointed. Still a nice family trip, but was it worth a three-hour drive?
We eventually made our into the gift shop, where we let each kid choose one little item. Paige went with a necklace. Curtis found a bag of "Genuine Fool's Gold" that he was super stoked about and Tate, despite being given the option to choose whatever he wanted, chose one polished green rock. He happily hung on to it every second for the rest of the trip. (When we got back home, he promptly walked out into our front yard and said, "I know where my rock goes" and dropped it into the landscaping gravel.)
After the gift shop, we were about to leave when we noticed one small section of the museum we had skipped. Since it had been such a short visit, I figured we better see everything we could. When we entered the Mesozoic Era exhibit, I thought we were just going to see some boring rocks. It turns out, it was the entrance to a whole other--and much larger--section of the museum.
And that's when it got good. There were glow-in-the-dark rocks and bones and interactive displays (and a shout out to a rock formation baring the name of a certain someone in the family). There were cool prehistoric animal sculptures and caves to explore and bones to dig (which was Tate's favorite part of the whole trip).
The kids loved it. When it was time to leave, Curtis (who never gets excited about anything) was already asking me when we could come back to Vernal. Traci and I just looked at each other and said, "Well, wouldn't we have felt stupid if we had missed this whole section of the museum?"
For a 27-hour vacation, we couldn't have had a better time. Thanks, Vernal!