Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dinosaur National Monument: Day 1

We spent part of our vacation this year at Dinosaur National Monument. We stayed in Vernal and spent about 3 days doing stuff in the monument.

On the first day we ate lunch at the Green River campground, since it was one of the few areas in the park with shade.

After lunch, we went over to the temporary visitor's center. The regular visitor's center is closed, since it is falling off the cliff. The building's foundation is falling and causing all the walls to shift and crack, therefore the building has been condemned. So, they've set up a temporary one at what looks like used to be a picnic pavilion or something. It has a roof and a couple walls, but mostly it's outside. When it closes, they put up a gate.

They have a few displays from the real visitors center set up in the temporary one. I think it works. You don't get to see the fossil wall, since the visitors center is built around it, but there are other fossils around.

I knew the visitor's center was closed when I was planning the trip, but I thought the boys would appreciate Dinosaur National Monument more now than later, so we continued with our plan anyway. Besides, the visitor's center is closed indefinitely, so who knows when they would rebuild anyway.

While there, we also checked out the "Dino Store." I love National Park Service bookstores. They used to bore me to tears when I was a kid (where are the toys and cheap souvenirs!?), but now I love them. Since I was in high school and college, whenever I go on vacation I buy books as souvenirs instead of junk that gets lost or broken or clutters up my house. I bought the boys some books on fossils, geology, and dinosaurs. I bought myself several books on the history of the area. I can't wait to read them! Thomas and James also got to pick out one dinosaur toy each.

That afternoon, we went on the Tilted Rocks Auto Tour.

Here the boys are by the Green River, which runs through the park:

The nice green land you can see is a ranch on the opposite side of the river from the main area of the park. Where the trees are is the campground we ate at.

By the time we got to these Fremont petroglyphs on the tour, Thomas had fallen asleep, so just James came with me to get a closer look.

The tour ended at Josie Bassett's homestead. We ate dinner there and then explored the homestead. Being an archaeologist and history buff, the house fascinated me. Josie Bassett homesteaded there in 1914 at the age of 40 and lived there alone until she died in 1964. She had no electricity or running water and was miles away from the nearest neighbor.

The home has not, for the most part, been restored. The park service treats it with benign neglect. It is kept up enough to keep it from falling down, but it has greatly deteriorated since it was last lived in in 1964. There are still old newspapers plastered to the walls in places, once used as insulation. And, scraps of wallpaper still hang.

The house fascinates me, and the more I learn about its owner, the more she fascinates me as well. I picked up a book about her at the "Dino Store" to learn more about her life. She was at one point a sometimes-cattle-rustler who hung out with Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch!

After that, we headed back to Vernal for the night.

1 comment:

Corinne said...

OH MAN would I love to explore that house!! It was making me woozy just thinking about it :) What a great place to visit.