Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Summer Adventures Part 4: Paleo-themed tourist traps

Towards the tail-end of the summer my girlfriend flew out to California, and we took a road trip through the Pacific Northwest. Of course, we saw the typical roadside attractions in Northern California such as the "Legend of Bigfoot", "Confusion Hill" (home of the "Chipalope" - Oh yes, half chipmunk, half antelope[fixed really stupid typo!]), "One log house", "Tree House", and the big grand daddy of them all, the "Trees of mystery" - home of a 70' tall Paul Bunyan statue.

In Oregon, we stopped at a weird place called "Prehistoric Gardens" - basically, a bunch of outdated extinct reptile sculptures in the forest. Well, let's just say that it was only worth our money because of how funky some of the models looked and how bad/off the wall/totally insane some of the information was.
The tyrant king himself welcomes weary drivers in from the road.

The second weirdest depiction of Triceratops I've ever seen.

Pretty standard Ankylosaurus model.

Oh, no! A killer Elasmosaurus (w/ lens flare!) in the middle of the... forest?

This one really screwed with me. OK, I've heard this (obviously) for Oviraptor, but ornithomimids?

My brave companion facing the evil Pteranodon.

Cold blooded? Cretaceaus?
I don't want to know how an Ichthyosaurus made its way into the forest.
In Newport, Oregon, we found the trashiest tourist souvenir shops I've ever seen, which says a lot because I've been to Disneyland, Pier 39, and Fisherman's Wharf. What's worse, these were built right next to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and named "Aquarium Square Shops" - completely misleading. Anyway, this was literally the first thing we saw when we made it to Newport - a big blue pliosaur.

They didn't even try with this one. They call it "Nessie", the "Yaquina Bay Sea Monster", and "Kronosaurus" all within 4 feet. What?! First off, Nessie is the Loch Ness Monster. Second, I've never heard of a Yaquina Bay Sea Monster (wouldn't be a bay monster?), and it is obviously a sick marketing ploy just like Tahoe Tessie (rhymes with nessie, but at least they bothered to put a 'T' on the beginning). They didn't even bother coming up with an original name (seriously, it doesn't take more than half a second to think of a name other than one used by an already established fake sea monster), AND they go ahead and call it Kronosaurus at the same time.


Lockwood said...

"I don't want to know how an Ichthyosaurus made its way into the forest." Well, it says right there on the sign that "they were often stranded like this during periods of low water." So it's just waiting there patiently for the sea to come back in.

I've been past Prehistoric Gardens a couple of dozen times over the last 30 years, but never stopped. I'm relieved to see what a wise choice that was. I've also seen that whatever it is in Newport, but I generally skip it.

I do hope you had a chance to see some of the real geology and other science along the coast. There's some great stuff over there, and I hope this post holds the lowlights.

Boesse said...


Yes, I've paid careful attention to some of the geological and paleontological sites in Oregon. Several times a year I visit some fossil localities along the coast in Oregon. This last time was purely sightseeing, through.

I'll be posting more on my summer after I get rid of this cold.