Monday, June 3, 2019

Denver 2018 day 6 Rocky Mountain Tri (Fecta)

August 1, 2018

The day that would eventually be known as the McGinley Trifecta started with a wandering attempt to gas up Silvermist the Fabulous Monkey, because Siri got into the local herbs again.  Then it was a pretty direct drive to the other side of City Park and the Nature and Science Museum, because one day of dinosaurs is never enough.

Museums and zoos out in Cowboyland opened at Nine in the morning, but we arrived at the more fashionable New York opening time of Ten AM…

Which is kind of amazing when you think about it, since we never make the opening time of the New York zoos and museums.  Must be traffic differences.

We had to spend some time at the full sized rearing Camarasaur statue in the elevator well of the parking garage.  Seeing the skeletons in a museum is one thing, but seeing a fully fleshed out representation in a natural(ish) setting drives home how incredibly massive and amazing these things were. And this one is the coupe of the sauropod world.  Imagine standing next to the true full sized Thunder Lizards…awesome!

Per McGinley museum etiquette, we went straight to the fossils on the top floor.   The natural selection game is a fantastic demonstration; they should really have a mobile version. 
As usual, the stuff we don't have in our home museum was the most impressive, like the Diplodocus or the Colombian Mammoth skull.  

I had forgotten about the Stegosaur neck plate bones. Looks like they were protected on the end opposite the Thagomizer as well.

We were looking at a display about different types of dinosaur teeth and their function showing several skulls, including the cast of our home Tyrannosaur and talking to another family.
Well, I was talking to another family, Anabelle was making her “stranger danger” face and wandering away while I was being a gregarious dinosaur geek.

They looked up and commented at the peg like teeth of the Diplodocus looming above us, so I started explaining how it was believed they used them to strip the needles and leaves off trees without chewing.  While I was talking about them swallowing stones (gastroliths) to grind up the food, a volunteer came running over from the information kiosk to tell me the volunteers were told not to talk about gastroliths anymore since they were disproved.

I was puzzled and mentioned the guy at Morrison Museum talked about them yesterday.  New Museum guy said their information was more up to date than Morrison.  I'm not sure what to believe.  He was basing it on “they told me to say,” while the Morrison guy had regular conversations with Doctor Bakker.  I found a paper from 2007 saying the stones people were calling dinosaur gastroliths didn’t match the geometry and finish of ones modern animals use, but I also found articles talking about them from after that, but those were in less scientific periodicals and may have missed the turn around. Well, you heard nothing here, folks.
Sorry, no conclusions from me today. Sometimes Paleontology seems like the creative writing of the biological sciences.

Passing a display that looked a lot like the teacher hat from “Spock’s Brain” we tried out the then current special exhibit of puzzle solving, “Mindbender!”

We didn't try it for long, and rated it an “Eh.”  Most of it was hand puzzles on platforms with a few minor interactive screens here and there.  It was a definite “tourist trap” type of exhibit.  We looked at it a bit, and then rejoiced at the amount of people it would be keeping out of our way the rest of the museum.

We did a quick pass through the upstairs Local Dead Animal exhibits and continued similarly through the world wide ones on the floor below.
There were two excited stops.
MANATEE!!!!!  Anabelle’s second favorite animal.


MOOSE!!!!!!  I’m not sure where that lands on her list, or if she just likes yelling, “MOOSE!!!!!!”

After seeing Coco, we had a longer than other trips' review of the Alebrejas exhibit as well.

Anabelle became Map Girl for this trip, using skills honed in the maze like Metropolitan Museum of Art. She marked off our locations and route, insuring we passed through every exhibit.

After discovering them in the AMNH at home, we spent more than a fly by in the Native American rooms in the Denver museum. The giant collection of shoes was a big draw for the women of the family. 

At the display about lacrosse, we learned the indigenous people referred to it as “the little brother of war.”  That made me feel a little bad about referencing George Carlin's "college activity"  quote on the way up to it.

I also quoted My Cousin Vinny by the section about a specific tribe, “What’s a Ute?”

Clearly I am still very educational to have around.

The little buffalo hunt diorama lacked a cliff…pathetic. Therefore we spent more time at the Kachina display, showing they’ve integrated Mickey Mouse into their designs since the 1930’s.

Disney might as well just get it over with and become a nation.

The body health assessment exhibit was nowhere near as fun as Anabelle remembered it, and the tall person bicycle pulse reader hadn’t been repaired in six years.  That meant though it was previously stuck below my target heart rate, now, through the magic of becoming an old fart, it was stuck above it.

We stopped at the cafeteria that used to be as filling and diverse as the one at the zoo. Sadly it had a snootiness upgrade since our last visit, and we opted for a shared “slice of pizza and granola bar” stop instead of a full lunch.  My Dog Food for Chairs shirt scored a direct hit on a practitioner of local herbs who stared with an unflinchingly puzzled look while we cleaned up.

The space exhibit rated another “eh” to our museum snob family.  However, the shiny things and gems section was greeted with the usual happiness by two thirds of us.

That is except for the creepy guy over focused on taking pictures.

In general Anabelle rated the place, “The Lesser Museum of Spoons and Shiny Things,” and we easily cleared it in half a day.  

In the parking lot we passed a New York plate, bringing our total up to thirty one in less than a week. Nobody really is from Colorado, are they?

As it was next door, and we knew we were coming back instead of overnighting at Colorado Springs the following week, we returned to the zoo and accidentally joined it.

The price of an annual membership, along with gift shop and food discounts easily covered two visits. We remembered seeing signs saying you could put your admission fee towards joining.  Since we were there only two days ago, we went to ask if we still could.  Since Zoo people are generally awesome, and Tony was particularly so, we could.

Of course, as long as we were there, and it was close to Three PM, we used our new membership to enter. 

Following the well-worn Sloth trek path, we waved at the animals on the way to the birdhouse, singing in one case. (Everybody’s got a Water Buffaloo-oooooooooooooooo!)  We instantly realized where we recognized Tony, the zoo volunteer that set up our membership. His picture was posted along our most commonly used route.

The Sloth was exactly where it was last time, and as we were peering up trying to identify if the baby was with it, we met a very helpful fellow zoo nerd.  She was another kind of fellow nerd as well, sporting a groovy John Byrne Wolverine shirt. 

She pointed us towards the rocky section where the mother and baby usually hung out, and sure enough, they were camouflaged in exactly where she said. 

Later, as newly minted Denver Zooites, we learned their names. Baby Ruth (ha!) was the daughter of Charlotte and Elliot.  This is how I knew the other animal names mentioned so far.  The Bronx Zoo will always be home, but there’s something ridiculously welcoming about the environment and people of the Denver Zoo that make it a very close second.

We stayed in there for an extended period, because they were adorably, if slowly, moving around and eating together.

Hoping to see all three of her favorite animals in a single day (the Museum’s stuffed manatee counted) I brought Anabelle over to the Tapir at the edge of the Elephant Passage.  Sadly there was a keeper hosing the area down. 

Close but no Perissodactyla.

We peeked in at several other animals at “Our Zoo West” on the way out.  The gift shop welcomed us to the family by playing Disney music and discounting more zoo purchases…including more zoo gummies. Tasty!

We drove across town to the scheduled animal viewing of the day at the Denver Aquarium, completing the very awesome Museum-Zoo-Aquarium McGinley Trifecta

As we handed in our ticket, the guy noted and asked about my Dog Food For Chairs shirt, in the first vocal acknowledgement of a crowd filled day.  What is it about aquariums and that shirt?

For the second time in a row, we seasoned aquarium visitors entered the proper side, starting with local fish.

And the Pike from The Sword in the Stone.

Anabelle handled her big tank phobia really well, which I am extremely grateful for since I reach some kind of fish based Zen calm in those rooms.  
In repayment, I stood next to her in the flash flood room. FWOOOOOSH!!!

There were enough Morays, including some free swimming ones, (COOL!) to allow frequent singing. 
There was also a Lumpfish, which clearly was named in a huge fit of creativity.

Anabelle even braved going under the tanks near the end to look through the domes!

The Mermaid show was insanely Disney oriented, starting with Nemo references and ending up playing “Under the Sea” while Cora swam around and Kaya combed her hair with a Dinglehopper. 
I don't know how they pull that off without legal issues. Maybe Atlantis doesn't have copyright extradition treaties. It was nice to see there was always a SCUBA diver close by for Mermaid safety.

The oddly placed Tiger was again in the mangrove exhibit. They have a bunch of them, all originally from the Washington DC National Zoo.  Weird.

Anabelle’s braveness was most tested by the giant Shark tank.
She felt we took far too many photos.  Combining Rosa and cameras, with me and fish, that was a given.
Overall she did very well, using the small jellyfish tanks to soothe herself between posings.
She even proudly stepped up to pet the rays with no hesitation this time.

She took a photo with the Mermaid at the edge of the ray tank. The resident of the sea also asked about my Dog Food For Chairs shirt. 

Seriously, what the heck is it?

The giant Octopus moved more than I’ve ever seen that type of animal move in any aquarium I’ve ever been to. That’s a major “WOO!” for my cephalopod loving family.

(Or perhaps, “Cephalopod loving me and my daughter” and “they sure seem happy about that weird and creepy thing swimming around” wife.)

Before heading down to dinner the mystery from our first visit of “the big ugly fish” was solved. It was a Wolf Eel. 

A big, ugly Wolf Eel.

The Aquarium is owned by Landry, the Rainforest Cafe people. They have a much more upscale menu there, though. We ate next to the tank, where our neighbors alternated between a watch wearing Mermaid, and what I would hope is an extremely well fed, if cranky looking Barracuda.

The food was outstanding, above and beyond what we’d normally expect from our starving levels.  They ordered a mess of appetizers and I got the broiled seafood platter.

Then there was much happy sharing and fish watching.

I was planning on trying to get the children’s dessert of a giant Shark shaped rice crispy treat, because I’m basically a five year old when it comes to food. I’m glad I changed my mind in a moment of vacation weakness, as the Crem Brule with the fish cookie was outstanding.

That’s a fish shaped cookie…not a Mackereldoodle.

In a demonstration that she has not been corrupted to be overly classy by Food Network, Anabelle ate the mint leaf on her plate.

A nearby family had a little girl who kept running by our table to catch up to the Mermaids, at about the same speed that the ever crankier Barracuda would swim away when the Mermaid showed up.  She did a highly festive and entertaining dance with the fish when Rock Lobster played. Awesome!

The little girl, that is.  If the Barracuda danced, it was out of our eyeshot.  Maybe it was waiting for them to play Heart.

Full and happy, we exited into the gift shop, which was full of stuffed Sloths. Those things are everywhere out there, it’s like they knew Anabelle was coming.  They also had a stuffed Penguin Mermaid, for added weirdness.

The big old Grouper swam over to the window by the exit to wish us farewell, and we went to Silvermist the Fabulous Monkey.  Anabelle continued as navigator.  This role continued to be marginally hindered by her bringing one of more of the stuffed Sloths with her, even on days she didn't purchase one, to dance as we drove.

Tired from the triple awesomeness, we only had a brief stay at the pool, meeting the family from yesterday as we left.    There was a bit of playing Guillotine (the card game) before running out of steam.

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Frigate you Booby! West-  For Dad.

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