I owe a lot to dinosaurs. For instance, dinosaurs taught me how to read.
Well, not exactly 'taught' me, as such. I mean, they are the great pea-brains of the animal kingdom, plus they were all sort of extinct at the time. Maybe it would be more correct to say that dinosaurs were responsible for me learning how to read.
Like many children, I was gaga over dinosaurs. Like many parents, my mom got a bit tired of reading books to me that were short on storyline and long on names like "styracosaurus" and "archaeopteryx" and "rhamphorhynchus". So she bought a copy of the early-'70s equivalent of Hooked On Phonics and I've had my nose in a book ever since.
I never really lost my fascination with dinosaurs, though. Knowing that they were extinct always made me a little sad; I felt cheated knowing that I'd never get to see one up close. I'd stare at skeletons in museums or look at pictures in books and work my imagination into a lather trying to imagine what it would be like to be up close to a living, moving dinosaur.
The movie Jurassic Park was amazing for me. I was as slack-jawed and goggle-eyed as any ten-year-old in the theater when those first sauropods lumbered across the screen. Dinosaurs! Moving! Right there! But it was still only two-dimensional, trapped on a screen.
Then I saw the commercial on teevee for Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Experience.
Oh. My. Gawd.
Wild horses could not have kept me away.
I managed to talk Shootin' Buddy into coming to the show with me on Sunday afternoon. It was absolutely spectacular. The dinosaurs are lifelike enough that you can get a few moments of "willing suspension of disbelief", especially when the first brachiosaurus lumbers out with its head almost brushing the arena lighting array three stories above.
All your favorites make an appearance: ceratopsians, a stegasaur, a pack of raptors, an ankylosaurus the size of a panel van... You really get an appreciation for the ginormous size of these things when a t-rex is bellowing a challenge into your face from twenty or thirty feet away. I know I immediately scotched several of my "dinosaur big game hunting" fantasies as I sat there thinking "Wow, her head is bigger than I am. .405 Winchester is definitely not enough gun for therapod."
If this show is coming anywhere near you, and your kids are at all interested in dinosaurs, you need to go. I know my inner child would never have forgiven me if I hadn't taken her.