Big-Arse Dinosaur Alert

“Diane, we have breaking news ….. It seems the employees of a creationist dinosaur park in Cabazon, California are holding off the authorities in an armed stand-off. As you can see from Chopper One, there are snipers situated in the head of the T-Rex that are preventing the FBI and ATF from breaching.”

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While not a reality as of yet, let me assure you that, oh yes, this could one day come to pass. And after what I saw and sensed at the time, that day may not be that far off. Any similarities in this situation to the Branch Davidian assault in Waco are purely intentional.

Recently I came across some photographs of my trip to the Cabazon Dinosaur Park and it brought back memories of my adventures there. But before we get too carried away here, let me take you back to shortly before my entire belief system, you know the one that I have, the one that says “hey, it’s all good” came under a heavy barrage of 155mm “what the fuck” shells. My mum is heavily involved in this adventure from several years ago and is the one who originally said “ooh, it would be ever so nice to and visit the dinosaur park”. Many things begin with an “ever so” in her world – how they end up is usually rather interesting.

bronto2

Anyhoo … I was visiting and after doing all kinds of work in the garden (yard would be an inadequate name for what my mum has) and also working on the house, it was decided to give mummy’s little soldier a treat. Now I would have been most happy with an ice cream or a happy meal, but nothing but the best for Mrs. F’s number one son. And since Sunny Jim was already planning to go and shop for some new clothes at the Ralph Lauren outlet store just down the street, she thought that going to the Dinosaur “Museum” just down the road from the outlet mall would be suitable recompense for all of my efforts this week.

So after my buying assorted and sundry Polo items that were either blue with white stripes, or white with blue stripes, off to the Dinosaur Park we went. I was giddy with anticipation. And after several misadventures at a roundabout (you would think that an English driver could do better) and noting that, contrary to my aunts assertion, my mother could not handle freeway driving anymore (she seemed to be doing just fine at 85mph) we pulled into the parking lot.

bronto

I was immediately confronted by a giant brontosaurus that seemed to be about the same size as the one that Fred Flintstone used to pilot for Mr. Slate: yabba dabba doo. This concrete behemoth was the only thing besides my mother’s car in the parking lot. Immediately I was thinking that maybe this was the Jurassic equivalent of “The World’s Largest Ball Of String”: currently residing in Branson, Missouri; Darwin, Minnesota; Cawker City, Kansas; Valleyview, Texas; (oh, but it was so much more than that …)

The brontosaurus doubled as a gift shop but when we went inside, everything was locked up and nobody was manning the fort; so to speak. We wandered (it was well over 90 degrees already) around in search of the ticket office. All the while we were searching, there was an equally behemoth (and I mean truly fuckin’ hoooooooooooooge) tyrannosaurus rex staring over the fence. (An interesting placement and interpretation of the beastie,” I remember thinking at the time.)

trex

After trudging past all of the empty parking spaces we came to a rather ramshackle ramp that had a, to be polite, rather bogus looking display next to it. “Oooh look, dinosaurs,” said the Duchess, “this is going to be good.” Immediately the camera came out and pictures were taken from angles that only Fellini or Polanski could appreciate. At the top of the ramp was an equally ramshackle hut with an open window. It looked like the tea shack at Vicarage Road football ground where Watford plays: arguably the worst stadium ever to grace the Premier League in England.

Above the window was a hand-made sign reading “TiCKets” written in multi-colored Sharpie. Ignoring the immediate impulse to order a “pie ‘n’ a bevy” I settled for two tickets to enter and view the “attractions”. The price of admission was $5. We chose to just say “no” to the options of “digging for fossils” in the sand box or panning for treasure. Both of us thought that digging in the world’s largest litter box would be more likely to yield “kitty roca” rather than a trilobite.

entrance

So, lighter by $10 since I paid for my mum’s ticket as well, we entered the little shack. Immediately I noticed that things were not as they seem. Taking up half of the shack was a dinosaur display with an itty-bitty, teensy-weensy, historical misnomer. There was a Crusader in the display with the dinosaurs. Now, I haven’t had a history class in several decades, but I do remember that the Crusades were fought in Palestine ‒ not Jurassic Park. But since there were only two teenagers working inside the shack, I just decided to let it go and keep looking around. Sometimes, though, you just have to cut your losses. And sometimes, your mother just wanders around looking at stuff going “Oooh, that’s ever so nice.” So rather than bursting her bubble, and by now it was become awfully sodding difficult, I just stifled my urge to start laughing out loud and kept on looking around.

And even though I was staying at my mum’s rather than a Holiday Inn Express, my spidey senses were on full alert and the huge sign saying “Don’t swallow it! The fossil record does not support evolution” was also a clue that something was rotten in the state of Denmark. Meanwhile, mum was busy looking at all the little dinosaur models and not noticing that each little plastic figure had an equally little label reading “Don’t swallow it! The fossil record does not support evolution.”

cabazon

By now, I was beginning to sweat (from trying to contain the sarcasm) and starting to glance around with a vague unease: that sense of being out of balance. I was also noticing that there were a lot of security cameras and signs pertaining to the cameras. Everywhere I looked, there were signs pertaining to Genesis having all of the answers: hey, Peter Gabriel was a pretty righteous dude, but I don’t really see him as the new Messiah. The Duchess had managed to touch and eyeball everything in the wooden shack by this time and so we ventured back out to the heat to see what other revisionist wonders were to be found.

I was not disappointed as I was able to find my very good friend, Sir Crusades-a-lot, busy fighting off a herd of velociraptors. Next to the diorama was a signboard alluding to the fact that dragons of yore were actually dinosaurs with a Jones for virgins chained to rocks (I added the virgins bit). At this point, my mum was beginning to smell a rat. We wandered over to the next display which featured a triceratops. The triceratops is a cool dinosaur. In fact, it is one of the coolest dinosaurs with its three horns. And in the display with the very cool triceratops was an equally cool lion and, I suppose, a lamb that was being as cool as a lamb can be.

crusader

These three cool animals were all lying down together that, rather than giving off an aura of cool cubed, totally evaporated into a miasma of mixed metaphors which left me slack jawed and drooling just a little. I believe that this was actually the desired effect. Next to the display was another sign board telling how the dinosaurs were also taken on board the ark and looked after by Noah, his missus, and all the little Noahlings. The reason that we have the vast Diaspora of fossils was that flood scattered the remains of all dinosaurs that did not go up the ramp two-by-two. After all, dinosaurs were created on the sixth day along with the lions and the lambs and humans.

There was a moment of epiphany for my mum at that point. “Oooh, I think that there is something funny going on here!” my mother (under)stated, “is this one of those compound things that you see on the news?” My answer was a simple and terse “yep”. And then we wandered down to check out the giant, massive, huge tyrannosaurus that overlooked the property. This was a massive concrete structure that overlooked the surrounding area: and the whole time we are approaching it I am thinking that a 50 cal machine gun would dominate all avenues of approach if mounted at the opening in the head of the dinosaur. Everything was giving off a Jim Jones vibe.

sniper

And the vibe carried over to the displays inside the t-rex. Everything had a National Enquirer / The Sun feel to it as it screamed “Darwin was a wanker” in the most hyperbolic ways possible. (And the other signs read “smile, you are on camera”.) My mum was ready to leave at this point. And we were still the only people, other than Muffy and Buffy, the Kool-Aid swigging teenagers that were “on duty”, so to speak. We wandered back up the hill, and my mum took some more photographs of the various and sundry displays. On our way back down through the nearly deserted parking lot, we ran into another group of intrepid tourists in search of the front door. (Remember that when designing a good location to defend, a difficult approach to the front gate is very, very important.) When the lady asked my mum if it was any good, my mother looked her in the eye and stated “it was very interesting.”

I did not dare make eye contact with her until we were out of earshot because I was going to really start laughing, and so was she, if I looked at her. Once the other rubes were gone, my mum looked at me and said “well, I never …. “ and then she did what she should have done earlier and took me to Burger King and bought me a cheeseburger and an ice cream.

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