A Little Slice o' Roadside Cheeze!
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes! I grew up a mere couple of hours from this place--it was there all along--and yet only last week did I walk through the portals of Dinosaur Land!
Airfares to Charlottesville, Shendandoah Valley Airport, Richmond, Roanoke, Lynchburg--anyplace less than a hundred miles away from Waynesboro, basically--being obscene, Jeff and I opted to fly into Dulles and rent a car. Since our return flight was not until after 8:00 p.m., we decided to take the scenic route up the valley (via U.S. 11, mostly), which included time to stop and tour this mecca of roadside dino-parks.
From the moment you enter the gift shop and ticket emporium, you know you have hit paydirt. The gift shop is huge (three rooms, one is enormous), and chock full of souvenirs in the grand old tradition of roadside attractions of yore. Take it from a tourist trap aficionada, it's hard to find a good cheezy souvenir shop nowadays. At any rate, this one had all the goods, from a whole counter of cedar plaques (mostly of wolves, eagles, and Jesus),
to an impressive array of fireworks
and, of course, all things dino, and sauro, and thera, and... you get the picture.
For a mere five bucks apiece, you can tour the grounds, which contain a host of creatures, very few of which ever trod this Earth together. What a treat!
The entrance, through the gaping maw of a fiberglass tree face, extends a warning:
Right inside the enclosure, you come across an octopus with the eyes of a cartoon... and its little pal.
Right next to that is a skeery shark... why, it's literally a fish out of water! (That's a recurring theme, folks... stay tuned!)
Near the start of the dino trail, we came upon Dimetrodon, which, as Jeff was quick to point out, is not really a dinosaur (despite what the nearby info plaque said). It is a pelycosaur--a mammal-like reptile. And no, I'm not a compendium of knowledge of dinos. Jeff is, though, kinda, so I'm depending on him for the skinny on these creatures.
I don't know what this guy is, but he certainly looks pissed off. I think I will call him Scowlosaurus.
Old Scowlface was followed in short order by this contented fellow (or gal... how do you tell the gender of a dinosaur?).
If you are wondering why this terrifying tableau of nature red in tooth and claw is not garnering Jeff's attention,
it is because he can't take his eyes off this stunning example of instant-onset rigor-mortis.
Of course, Dinosaur Land also shows the tenderer side of the saurian world with several touching scenes such as this:
Cute little tyke, huh?
Then there is the Mosasaur who, with his pal the big-ass frog, is "swimming" in a sandbox as opposed to a sea.
What does Dinosaur Land have against our aquatic friends?
This guy caught my eye because he (or she--lord help her) is just one ugly dino. Whew!
They even had a statue of Ann Coulter! Now, this place is only an hour (if that) from D.C., so it stands to reason they would have a lovely tribute to Mantis, stick insect of the SS and all-around beltway insider.
Hey! Duuhh... where'd these EGGS come from?
Now, I know this guy isn't from the Jurassic, although I'm sure there are some who would make the argument that I am...
First the jaws of death, now the palm of peril--this was quite the thrill stroll for me!
And finally, without the aid of a sign Jeff is left to puzzle out whether this is Heckleosaurus or Jeckleosaurus.
Seriously, though, if you ever find yourself in Northern Virginia with a free morning or afternoon, head over to White Post (west of D.C. and south of Winchester), where, at the intersection of routes 277, 522, and 340 you will find Dinosaur Land! You won't regret it!