Part 6: Hanging Out in the Hall of Horns and Teeth
DAY EIGHT: We got up in time to fill up on Fruit Loops, waffles and sausage at the free breakfast bar (so we could skip lunch) then loaded up in the tank — where the trunk light was still flashing — started it up and drove to the Museum of the Rockies (not to be confused with the Museum of the Rocky, which is dedicated to a cartoon flying squirrel, or the Museum of the Rockys, which is dedicated to Sylvester Stallone’s film series about a fictional boxer).
The Museum of the Rockies is the home base for famed paleontologist Jack Horner, who recently claimed that the Triceratops is nothing but a teenage Torosaurus. I arrived at the museum ready to read Mr. Horner the riot act, but the receptionist said he was out at a dig and wouldn’t be in today. Lucky for him.
We entered the Siebel Dinosaur Complex but didn’t get far before the intercom announced that some movie about Yellowstone would begin soon in the auditorium. Since we had all day to kill, we ventured in to watch the show. It wasn’t that great. We then ventured back into the dino complex and rushed through the boring stuff about the origins of earth and made our way to the Hall of Giants, where they had a decent Allosaurus skeleton, many other bones and a fake sauropod being attacked by raptors. I don’t care for feathers on raptors — it’s hard to take a dinosaur seriously that’s wearing a boa.
We skipped through the Mesozoic Media Center because I wasn’t there to watch video and came to the centerpiece of the exhibit: The Hall of Horns and Teeth. At center was a Torosaurus. There was a large collection of Triceratops skulls and the largest T-Rex skull ever unearthed. It was a nice collection. Not as good as New York or London, but on par with Chicago and Pittsburgh. Better than the Smithsonian.
There were exhibits on Native Americans and Montana History that we breezed through. The major traveling exhibit on display was Leonardo Da Vinci: Machines in Motion. It was an interesting collection of gadgets and whatnot based on the works of Da Vinci. Did you know Leo made tanks, elaborate guns and even a (hydro-powered) robot? He was the Tony Stark of his day.
At 2:30 there was a show in the planetarium called “Dinosaur Chronicles” that we waited around to see. We were expected “Jurassic Park”-style CGI dinos towering over us in the full IMAX planetarium experience. Instead we got some 45-minute film that looked like it had been made in the 1960s when the planetarium opened and they had never bothered to update it.
The first 20 minutes were a tired history of earth and the science of paleontology. When they finally got to the dinos it was just drawings that were so out of date I felt like I was back at the Stockton Elementary School library. Oh, and there were cartoon dinosaurs. It was very disappointing.
Afterwards we hit the gift shop. The Wife wanted matching shirts but couldn’t find a design to suit her. They were pretty lousy designs. We wound up with some ornaments (because nothing says Christmas like dinosaurs) and I got a sweatshirt because frankly I’ve got enough T-shirts. Sadly they were not selling the triceratops skull that you could sit on that was down in the basement.
That night we returned to downtown Bozeman and had dinner at an Irish pub and then did a walkabout along the main drag.
DAY NINE: Our flight was to leave Bozeman Airport at 2:30 p.m. We were assured it was a small airport and it wouldn’t take long to get to our gate. Of course, we were assured that last year in Sacramento and we ended up missing our flight because it took 2 hours to get our bags checked.
Determined not to let that happen again, we arrived at the airport around noon. We parked the tank in the lot and went inside, expecting our stop at the Hertz desk to be the first of many long waits. There was no line. We handed in the keys and that was that. They didn’t go out to make sure we hadn’t dented it or anything.
We then went to wait in the luggage check line. There was no line. Since we were so far ahead of schedule, we stopped to admire the T-Rex skull that was on display at the luggage carousel. This alone made the Bozeman Airport the second coolest airport ever.
We then went through the security checkpoint, which had a small line, and then we were went to find our gate. Gate 5. There are only 5 gates in the entire airport. The whole procedure of getting to it from parking the car took maybe a half-hour.
The flight took off on time and landed on time in Minneapolis. The descent was painless so I put Jeff back on my Christmas card list. We had an hour layover in Minneapolis, which is good, because that’s about how long it takes you to get a chicken sandwich and fries from the Minneapolis Airport Burger King — the Slowest Burger King on Earth. Why are airport Burger Kings so damn slow? Why is Burger King the only fast food joint in the airports I frequent? What do the other fast food joints know that BK doesn’t?
Our flight out of Minn. was delayed because we had to wait on a flight attendant who was on another flight that was late. Sigh. Then we waited what seemed like forever for the plane to leave the runway.
MEMO TO THOSE WHO FLY: A suitcase is not carry-on luggage. I don’t care what George Clooney told you in “Up in the Air.” George Clooney does not carry his luggage on planes. He probably doesn’t even do his own packing. Don’t take his advice on this seriously. If it’s got wheels it ain’t a carry-on. You see, wheels indicate you’re not carrying it, you’re rolling it, and you’re rolling it because it’s TOO BIG TO CARRY. So CHECK IT. Now, I know you’re afraid it will get lost if you check it, and I know you don’t want to wait in line at the check in counter, and I know the airlines are screwing you with luggage fees, but for God’s sake it’s not all about you. Have some consideration for your fellow passengers.
Why is it every time I fly I find new reasons to hate flying?
We eventually landed in St. Louis and I had another relatively painless descent, so I’ve decided there’s really something to the Jeff Peine Method. The Peine’s were there at the airport to pick us up and we arrived home in the dark which was good as we couldn’t see the jungle that our yard had become.