Monday, May 1, 2017

Anabelle and Daddy Ad-veeeeen-tures! Yeah! *Jazz Hands* Day 17 –August 4

Jurassic Parking

Because of the latest in a string of late nights, we both were a bit reluctant when the alarm went off… until we remembered it was Museum of Natural History day!

I followed the traffic predictions and advice perfectly, choosing the right highways to get to the lower level of the George Washington Bridge section of Route 80.

Just in time for an accident to happen just out of sight ahead of us stopping traffic cold.

The delay was far shorter than usual for that area, and barely lasted beyond my tirade of profanity about wasting time on traffic research.

With a new awesome navigator at her peak, she got us through and around some road work on 81st street and into the AMNH parking lot.

To continue our reverse tours, Anabelle decided we should start with the animal exhibits, instead of rushing through them when burned out and leg weary at the end of the day.

Though we did have our usually early stop in the Gottsman Hall of Planet Earth, to see Mami’s “countertop rocks.”

She also decided to be made unnaturally happy by Moose in the American Animal wing, for reasons I’m not really clear on.

Since our previous visit, I’d gotten and read Windows on Nature, a fantastic book covering the history and creation of the animal dioramas.  This extra knowledge in the bucket that is my head caused me to heartily agree with her suggestion. 

Anabelle is one patient kid, considering the extra random bits of facts I was spouting, over and above my usually Museum level torrents.  That’s not counting the patience for the extra time I was spending taking in the landscapes and their perspective tricks behind the animal displays.

Having moosed out enough for a bit, we checked out the jewel of the taxidermy collection, the African halls.  (Though we did pass it several more times on route to other things during the day because “MOOSE!”)
Between the two floors of the “Dark Continent” we strolled the far less jewel like Asian animal dioramas. 
Considering the refurbishments in nearly every other similar section created halls that simulated the feel of being at another part of the globe, that hall is in need of some serious loving and simulated the feel of being in someone’s leaky basement, furnished in the late Sixties.

Up on the third floor, we continued the “stuff we skip” review with the reptile hall.  That may have put it on the “stuff we skip” list forever more.  It isn’t dioramas, the old style mountings lack much of the life like qualities the more advanced halls have, and she’s not a huge fan of most of that branch of the evolutionary tree.  Thanks to that combination Anabelle was thoroughly creeped out by the hall of dead scaly things we share the planet with.

Before continuing on lesser experienced exhibits, Anabelle declared we should head up to the fourth floor, because she missed the dinosaurs…


Random aside: 
There’s something about looking up stairways at the Museum of Natural History that always gives me an almost “Main Street USA” style feeling of satisfaction and anticipation.  I think it comes from all those years as a kid running up those steps to get to the dinosaurs.

As we walked through the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs (and others halls I was practically raised in along with the Bronx Zoo), featuring my favorite, the triceratops, I was a little boy again. 
My daughter was still a snarky pre-teen, but since I was a smart ass kid, and she’s a dinosaur geek with her favorite, the parasaurolophus in the same room as mine, we got along fine. 
Plus we bonded over our dimetrodon fandom in the Lila Acheson Wallace extinct mammal hall.

We started to get hungry, just as we reached the Café on Four next to the head of the Titanosuarus peeking out of the Wallach Orientation Center. 
We kind of rushed through the Modern Mammal room, because after seeing all the dioramas first, the bones were somewhat lacking in substance.  (HA!)

Titanosaur!!!! It’s FREAKIN’ HUGE!!! WOOOO!

Sorry, I’m OK now.

The Café was packed, and had limited selections, leading us to try a picnic lunch beneath the immense sauropod’s noggin.  Our sandwiches were completely stale; we tossed them in the bin, wolfed down some granola/power bars and water to refuel a bit, and continued through the halls.

Normally, we start with the dinosaurs, and by the time we get to “the fish room” up on four, Anabelle is hungry and tired.  Having recently refilled her tank, it was the first time that she spent a while taking in the “prehistoric everything but dinosaurs and mammals” room, and declared it full of cool stuff.

I know the floor is laid out through evolutionary branches, and the beginning is supposed to be the Orientation center. However, I’m far too big of a showman for that. Our big finish was in the Hall of Saurichian Dinosaurs featuring one of the most famous Tyrannosaurs on earth, with its real skull on the ground at eye level for visitors and scientists to look at.
  The other feature in there is the Apatosaurus, in front of which I proposed to my wife. 
The two of us took a puppy faced “we miss you” picture in “the spot” as normally we do that with all of us.  Besides my general little boy wonderment, Anabelle put up with me taking a picture of her sitting next to the Apatosaurus leg bone that I have a picture of her with on her first birthday.  (I also have a picture of me with it back when I was a lad, and it was still a Brontosaurus.)

The picture encountered some difficulty from a guy who was immensely proud of his backpack and felt the need to lean it into our photo.

Our snack worn off, and our packed lunches wisely discarded, we hiked down to the lowest level of the place to eat in the gigantic, and well stocked cafeteria.

Following some random extra dinosaur pictures of course.

Since we were downstairs, we figured we might as well do the real fish room. 
The authenticity of that hall trigged Anabelle’s occasional aquarium phobia.  This was in direct contrast to her love of manatees and dolphins. 
Let’s just say there were highs and lows in that room and leave it at that.

On the way out we held a moment of respectful silence since visitors are no longer allowed to sit in the giant clam that both of us posed in as little ‘uns.  Lame.

In one more first time for her, we went into the Northwest Coast Indian section on purpose to view exhibits, rather than as a passage to Rocks and Minerals.

And I quote:
“TOTEM POLES! I had no idea!!!”

Someday she’ll listen to me.

Anabelle found the masks creepy but was overjoyed to find and insane amount of various sized and shaped spoons. 

I have no idea where this spoon fetish came from. It showed up in the Art Museum the previous week and went crazy on this day.  In a reversal of the MET, the AMNH became known as “The Museum of Spoons and Shiny Things.”

Contrary to the rest of the day’s choices, tradition was held in the hall of human evolution. There was simply far too much to read, and it slowed her down on the way to shiny things.

The Ross Hall of Meteorites room was acceptable, as they were kind of shiny and space is cool.

However it was the Guggenheim Hall of Minerals and Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems where the shiny overload took off. 
She grabbed my phone and took over a hundred pictures.  I tried to point out the various detailed educational playbacks and displays, and found her “girly” side overwhelmed her “science is my favorite subject” side:
“I don’t care, they’re just pretty.”

We both had a long and busy week, and we were both kind of getting museumed out.  This may explain why we took to posing in imitations of the weirdest looking masks and mannequins.

We took a quick path through the New York Environs to the gift shop. (Because it’s not a visit unless we see the giant tree section when we’re not trying to.)

She did some shopping, found some shiny rocks for Mami, and identified the “Book of Shiny Things” (that is, a guide to the rock and mineral halls) that we ordered online once we got home.

The Asian people section got another trot through.  It’s all really cool, but we’d seen better examples of much of it in the Art Museum.   Tired though she was, she made it a point to stop in the primate room.  I was confused at first given its older design, but she pointed out the Proboscis Monkey and some others that aren’t at the zoo, and therefore the reason to seek them out at the museum. 

It was nice to see her wisdom and curiosity bubbled up through her exhaustion.

There were a few more must sees before leaving.  To quell anyone’s fears about me being overly intellectual or highbrow given my love for museums, the three key items were:

A)   The balcony overlooking African Peoples containing the Sanford Hall of North American Birds:
To see the display of Brown Footed Boobies and Tropical Frigate Birds, in commemoration of two events:
            1) Dad seeing it and saying, “Frig it, you booby!” every time we went.

            2) The little boy we’d never seen before looking at it, grinning up at us and yelling,             “BOOBY!  Booby booby booby booby booby!  HA HA HA HA!” And running off.

B) The Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples:
To allow me to pose with a finger in the air in front of the giant Easter Island statue to make it look like I was picking its nose.

C) The Plains Indians Hall:
To bask in the awesomeness of the mini diorama of Indians driving bison off a cliff.

Here we also discovered Sacred Medicine Man – “Walking With Facepalm at Dad's Jokes.”

Anabelle’s amazing navigation skills got us out of Manhattan without a hitch.

We figured a Thursday night would allow us a relaxing dinner at our old “place to stop on the way home” Jose Tejas.

Oh yeah, that worked.

Jose’s was packed and had over a twenty minute wait even on a week night.

No wonder we switched permanently to On the Border.

We finally sat and it was excessively yummy…as are most restaurants when one is exhausted and starving.

At home was some winding down to Chopped Junior, and (unfortunately) Cupcake Wars.

I don’t mind the other shows as: “Can you make a meal with whatever’s at hand in a half hour?” is a life skill I often employ to feed myself.

“Can you make eighty gazillion randomly weird flavored cupcakes in a couple hours with the help of some strangers?” is not something I do in my kitchen with any frequency.

We read together, laughed the laughs of the insanely worn out, and went to bed.

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