Glengarry Glen Rose

Daddy and the Big 3 at Dinosaur Valley State Park

Wifey has been itching to get out of town for a couple of weeks now, and today she planned an afternoon road trip to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX.  To be honest, I’ve been dodging the road trip since she started wanting to take one, mostly because a car trip to the grocery store with our kids is a trying experience, so the idea of spending an hour or two in the car with them seemed to be a less-than-fun prospect.  With a newborn that cries without ceasing a lot of the time, a toddler who hates to be confined, a 5-year-old that can’t control THE VOLUME OF HIS VOICE, and a 6-year-old whose entire life is an Oxygen Network drama, I was sure that I would not survive such a trip.  Or at least they might not survive it.

But today my wife finally completed the sale (further securing her position at the top of the leader board, btw) when I agreed to this excursion.  It would take us 2 dreaded hours to get there, leaving us an hour or two to explore the park, after which we would stop for dinner at a local eatery before getting back in the car to make the return trip.  For those of my more math deficient friends, that is at minimum 4 HOURS in the car with the kids.  I made sure we took every possible precaution against carmageddon by feeding all 4 kids before leaving (The Baby included), taking plenty of snacks to appease any hunger that might arise, bringing the iPod loaded with our kid’s favorite tunes (and buying all the necessary adapters to plug it into our car stereo), and finally drugging the kids with Dramamine to ensure a quiet ride. 

Except I didn’t really do that last one.

The trip there was much better than I had feared.  We jammed hardcore to the sounds of Journey, The Knack, Pat Benatar, Pearl Jam, Katy Perry, and The Black Eyed Peas (video of Bubba singing Teenage Dream soon to be released).  Wifey and I enjoyed the scenery, the older 2 played car games, The Baby slept nearly the entire time, and Peanut was precious and happy.  We arrived at the park around 4 in the afternoon, leaving us about an hour and a half to explore before dark.

Dinosaur Valley State Park was fairly lame.  To be fair, we didn’t have the time or ability (with 2 babies in tow) to hike any of the trails, but the 2 scenic points were mediocre at best.  The first had quite a few dino footprint (the selling point of the park) but they were pretty hard to see and not well-marked, and we had to cross a slightly treacherous little river stepping rock to rock to get to them.  The second was supposedly a scenic overview of a valley filled with various fossils/footprints, but I can’t verify that because the overlook was barbed-wired off so we couldn’t get close enough to actually see into the valley.  This information did not appear on any of the literature by the way, nor was there any signage in the park to let visitors know that the overlook was closed.  BUT, despite the lameness of the park, we had a good time climbing rocks, crossing rivers, hiking paved-trails, and spending time together.  We ate a good dinner at Hollywood & Vine, a surf-club inspired hamburger joint that was very satisfying and reasonably priced.

Our journey home was less fun due to general exhaustion around, which led to a screaming baby, an intermittently screaming Peanut, an antagonistic Bubba and an overly sensitive Sissy (who began to cry over our cats because we gave them away…a year ago).  But Wifey and I turned up the music to drown out the chaos in the back half of the van and eventually 3 of 4 monsters fell asleep and the last 1/4 of the trip was very pleasant.

Everyone survived our first road trip as a 6-top, and we had fun and learned nothing.  It was a success of a day!  Good job Wifey!


Bubba and Daddy’s Dinosaur Outing!

For Christmas, Wifey and I each gave our older kids punch cards good for a one-on-one date with us each month.  Today, I took Bubba on his January Daddy/Son Outing.  I took him to the Heard Museum, which is a pretty small nature museum in a town nearby, but they usually have a pretty cool exhibition or two that is fun for the kids, and it’s not crazy expensive.  For the past few months, they have had an exhibit called “Dinosaurs Live!”, featuring an outdoor walking tour populated by animatronic dinosaurs. 

 Before you become too impressed, I should mention that this exhibit is nothing like the huge Walking with the Dinosaurs show that tours the country (which I would love to go to but I just can’t sacrifice the kidney needed to pay for it).  These dinos keep their feet in one place, but move their arms, heads, and some even their torsos and make fairly canned roaring noises.  BUT, we had a great time.  And despite knowing that the dinos were robots, Bubba still ran away in fear several times (watch the video below to see it!) so they must have been convincing enough for him.  My only other complaint is that I wish that there had been a few more dinosaurs that people have actually heard of.  Bubba is a pretty severe dino-dork, and he hadn’t seen or heard of 7 of the 10 bots displayed, and neither had I.  But we learned about them and were frightened of them just the same.

As an added bonus, the other major exhibit at the Heard was about bugs, so we got to see quite a few tarantulas, Giant and Madagascar cockroaches, scorpions, beetles, and a wide variety of stickbugs. 

The coolest bug, in my opinion, was the katydid, which blended in so completely with its habitat, that I couldn’t find it.  After I had given up, Bubba shouted “There it is!” and pointed right at it…directly where I had been looking.  It was super-cool.

So, our first daddy/son outing of the year was a great success!  We laughed, no one cried, and there were no regrets.  I was a good dad today!