Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Playing Hooky

Above: a full Blue Whale skeleton (Balaenoptera musculus)
Last night, a pretty bad thunderstorm blew through the area.  Thunder, lightning....the works.  Our dog, despite his large stature and intimidating appearance, is a real wuss when it comes to storms.  He freaks out and barks at the thunder and lightning.  This is particularly annoying if the storm comes through when my wife and I are trying to sleep.

Usually...the only way either of us can get any sleep is for one of us to go outside with the dog...sit on the porch with him on a leash, and let him see there isn't someone trying to break into the house.  Meanwhile, the person sitting with the dog can try and sleep in a chair, but it usually doesn't amount to much rest.

So, last night I drew the shortest straw.  At 11:30 pm, only seconds after laying my head on the pillow, lightning flashed outside.  The dog started barking....and panting...and I got up, put my clothes on and drug him outside on the leash so my wife could sleep.

I sat in that chair rocking until about 1:30 am....until the lightning and thunder abated.  Then staggered inside and climbed into bed. 

If only we had a hammock out there.

Originally, I had planned to go out for field work this morning.  But, the late night meant a very late start in the a.m..  At about 8:30 am (after some coffee and cereal) I heard my 2 year old daughter stir.  I walked to her room to help her get ready for the day.  She stood there, hugging her favorite blankets....wearing a cowboy hat that she had apparently drug into her room the previous evening without my notice.  I started getting her dressed...putting on a new shirt, then pants....when suddenly (and without prompting) she said:

"Can we go ta tha 'seum?"

"Where?" I asked.

"The 'seum, and see tha dina-sars?"

"You want to go to the museum?" I asked.

"Ya, and see tha dina-sars."

What father could resist?  Especially a father who also loves dinosaurs. 

She happened to ask on the right day.  No teaching obligations, and the field work....well, I was already dragging alittle from the long night.  I'd just have to put in that much more time tommorrow, and long days in the field are fun, so long as the temperature stays below 85 degrees F.  Not to mention that it was going to be wet and cold out there this morning (the temp dropped down to the upper 40s during the night).

So, I marched into the kitchen and said to my wife:

"The kid wants to go to the museum.  What do you think?  I could probably skip what I need to do this once...."

And so we all went to the 'seum.

The state natural sciences museum is great.  Its free.  Beautifully laid out.  The exhibits are easily accessible and visible to both children and adults.

The Paleontological exhibits are favorites of my daughter.  Here are a few examples:

Above: a Maiasaur with eggs and hatchlings.

Above: Acrocanthosaurus (background) and Camarasaurus (leg in the foreground)

Above: an awesome Megatherium reconstruction.  The little kid in me can't help but wish these still roamed the landscape.  Wouldn't that make field work more interesting?
_________________________________________________________________________ doesn't just have dinosaurs....aside from the paleontological exhibits...the museum also covers the natural history of our state.  These exhibits are broken down by the eco-regions in the state (the coast, the Piedmont, and the mountains).

Above: The entrance to the Coastal exhibit.  Note the Cetacean skeletons lining the ceiling.

Above: hagfish feeding on a shark carcass in the coastal exhibit.

Above: a little saltwater aquarium in the Coastal exhibit.

Above: a beaver dam on a stream in the Piedmont exhibit.

Above: a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the Mountains exhibit.

 The natural history exhibits are also full of nice terrariums with live amphibians and reptiles (all upkept very well).

Above: a common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) in the Piedmont exhibit.

Above: a live butterfly observatory.

Above: a nice little pair of live Pygmy Rattlesnakes (Sistrurus miliarius).

So I'll have to spend that much more time working tommorrow because I played hooky today.  So what?!  I got to spend some time with my family.  Plus, what could make a father happier than to have his daughter actually request to go to the museum to see dinosaurs?

In the future, she may not want to hang out with daddy all day.

I better get while the getting's good.


  1. You MUST enjoy experiences like that with your daughter. I loved doing stuff like that with mine. However they are now teenagers and hanging out with Dad is not cool.

  2. I agree! I try to remember it when she is hopping up and down for my attention and I'm working on the computer....just to put the work aside and play with her while she still enjoys it!

    The time when I won't be cool is coming....