Let's go see Dinosaur Valley State Park in nearby Glen Rose, TX. The website says there are dino tracks to see there. I'm not going to read this small warning on the website: Check river conditions with park to be sure tracks are visible.
Around 1pm at the park it's 148 degrees outside, 200% humidity, so there is no time to waste in the sun before death. There are giant fiberglass dinosaurs at the entrance, but let's conserve our sweat for the real dinosaur evidence.
We park the car and trek down a "path" to the first "track site." I would expect that the official path down to the site would have an arrow (no), and that it would be obvious (no), and that it would be somewhat safe (no), and that there might be steps or a handrail in places where you are likely to slip to your death (no)...so we clutch each other all the way down.
The path suddenly ends at this sign:
After checking out the path, I'm pretty sure this sign is for real.
Just after the sign the path ends at a 12 foot or so drop-off straight into the river. Kids are standing here debating jumping in. They are covered with mud and scratches, possibly from previous poor attempts to hit the water.
I look out at the beautiful river, and it's polluted with tons and tons of pasty white parasites... Swimmers! They weren't in the brochure.
Hey, there's a park ranger. Let's ask him where to go next. Btw, IF he'd be still for a second, even while I'm talking to him, I'd have taken his picture.
Me: "Hey, so where are these dino tracks?"
Irritated and hot Park Ranger making his way out of trees, not looking at me: "Down there in the water."
Me (expecting to see a special area roped off): "Where exactly?"
Park Ranger (grrrrr): "See that lady over there on the right in the black bathing suit? There."
Me: "Just...right there?"
Park Ranger (moving on): "She's practically on top of them."
We aren't willing to jump into the river with the kids, so we climb over a bunch of rocks, slide thru mud and wade thru weeds over to the "track site," officially marked by the woman in the black bathing suit...
There is nothing to be seen. Aaron thinks perhaps the lady is sitting IN a footprint, and I really want to tell her to move, but then we are thinking SURELY THE TRACKS ARE PROTECTED SOMEHOW, RIGHT? Guess not...
So we have essentially just ambled our way down to a swimming hole.
We climb back up to the car, absolutely cooking. It's the hottest day of the summer so far. Wait, summer isn't even here yet officially, so there's a bad sign.
We drive to the next track site on the map. Again, time to go down to the river. This time, at least, there is sort of a direct path down that doesn't involve hopping boulder to boulder.
At the bottom, again, we find swimmers. Bummer. I mean, I'm glad everyone is enjoying the day, but they can do that on any other stretch of the river, and I was just hoping to look at the area not decorated by humans. I mean, we see humans all the time.
The arrow is pointing to where we guess the tracks to be. We can see it's roped off, and people are standing around it. As we watch other people, we gather that the way to get over there is cross those rocks in the middle.
Apparently the rocks are VERY slippery, as everyone is going across at a super crawl. So slick they are sitting down to reach for the next rock. I try a rock myself thinking it can't be that bad, but yeah, they are pretty well lubed up with moss.
So I'm thinking if I'm gonna bust my ass on the way over, I don't want to land directly on a big rock, so I decide to wade across from further down. Aaron wades too, but he picks his own route and tries to hurry so that he can reach the other side first and gloat. However, I know he struggled as much as I did, because the whole bottom of the river, wading or not, is an assortment of slimy rocks. If you slip, you bust your toes and slide onto another rock and slip off that one, etc... AND you can't see the bottom AT ALL.
We eventually make it to the other side to see the tracks that maybe five people are enjoying. I think there are three prints, but can only see two from where we're allowed to stand.
Picture of kids enjoying the dino print was stolen from the
Dinosaur Valley State Park website because I could not
take a good picture of my own.
It's ... impressive. Then again it's too hard to believe what I'm look at --- ya know, a freaking giant monster was standing there once. And I like to look at the whole river (deleting the humans with Photoshop in my mind) and imagine the dinos there again.
T-Rex shows up during Brontosaurus water hole time. No fair.
So we wade back so painfully slow, head up the path barefooted, and I burn the bottoms of my feet on scorching black pavement running to the car. We get inside and just pour sweat and think, no, can't do the third site. Too hot. Running...out...of...sweat...to...offer.
So we back up and enjoy the fiberglass dinos with the tourists who are newly entering the park and don't realize they aren't gonna get to see much else today.
[Wait, there was a dino skeleton foot in the welcome building, and the lady in the gift shop says that further up the river three whole skeletons of something-or-other (I'd never heard of this dino, and I've already forgotten) being excavated. Neato, but wish they would let me look...Also, many interesting tracks have been found but moved to museums.]
These fiberglass dinosaurs were donated by Sinclair after they were used in the 1964 NY State Fair. I used to want a toy of the Sinclair dinosaur just from looking at the simple green silhouette of it on the gas station signs. And, well, Aaron always wanted to stand next to a T-Rex without being eaten.
While in Glen Rose we also saw "Dinosaur World," which is a park with a path winding thru the trees, revealing about a 100 different "life-size and accurate" fiberglass dinosaurs. That was really fun, except that we tried to walk thru with the dogs, and we were all dying in the heat.
The giant welcoming T-Rex and the sign out front made us laugh.
I just now noticed that there's a hawk sitting on the T-Rex's hand.
I'll bet he sits there and pretends to be the dino's minion.