Canada. Majestic landscape, hockey, and as any New Yorker knows, (but doesn’t care to admit) the better side of Niagara Falls. And now as Vancouver plays host to the 2010 Winter Olympics, nightly we all learn more.
As a frequent traveler to the ‘Great White North’ I can offer advice on Canada, but I wonder if anyone shares the same interest as I do in Alberta – Dinosaurs.
As a child, I dreamed of dinosaurs. All through elementary school I knew almost everything about these colossal creatures. I mean everything: names, weights, diets, climates, and time periods. I even knew that the closest major excavation site was located in a place called Alberta. (Although I didn’t know where that was?)
Eventually, I learned the provinces of Canada and as my travels took me places, I decided to fulfill a childhood desire. I booked my flight to Calgary.
I landed in late spring snow flurries. Still cold in May? Yes. But my friend Mary warmly greeted me at the airport (also saved me from immigration) and determined my childhood curiosity would be our first stop. I agreed.
We drove ninety minutes to Drumheller and arrived in ‘Dinosaur Town.’ Countless dinosaur replicas adorned every street corner. They advertised businesses, restaurants and the museum itself. The once coal mining town now thrived upon the museum traffic.
At first glance, the Royal Tyrrell Museum didn’t seem “royal” at all. It reminded me of a mid-sized suburban high school, not the grandiose edifice I envisioned. After all, the 120,000 sq. feet museum is internationally recognized as one of the premier paleontology museums in the world. But no matter, today was not about the sizzle but the steak itself. Plenty was promised inside.
As a visitor you travel through time. You walk the 3.5 billion year geological timeline in celebration of the diverse history of known life. With my interest in a certain few periods, my brisk pace catapulted through the eons. Each step time changed, but I had not. My thoughts, the same as my childhood, “Where are the dinosaurs?
That quest continued until I reached the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods (65-250 million years ago) and stood before the entrance to the grand hall. Suddenly all my old elementary school friends greeted me: the flying reptile Pteranodon, the classic archenemies -Tyrannosaurus Rex faced off against Triceratops, the amour plated Stegosaurus, the local discovery Albertosauras, and many more. Close to forty fossils. All here. All amazing. All remembered.
Soaking in all the exhibits, reading each an every word time passed quickly. Closing time approached. But before exiting we decided to walk towards the excavation labs. Apparently, each scientist on staff periodically works on the display floor to provide a Q&A for those inquisitive types. Yes. (a small fist pump)
For the next twenty minutes I asked away. Excited by my interest he started talking even on Friday close to 5pm. We discussed the many new dinosaur discoveries in mainland China (second field trip?) and my childhood perceptions. But I am most thankful he confirmed that the T-Rex still seemed to be the king of the jungle. (second fist pump)
Then on the way out, I noticed a sign that revealed 1800 man-hours were performed on a small skeleton with another 2200 man-hours left. Wow, two full man-years, before being displayed? Seems like forever, but in comparison, I guess hardly a drop of water in the ocean of time.
Stay Adventurous, Craig