Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Beware of Cabazon dinosaurs!

This photo was taken in 1987.

We would pass by this huge sculpture, "Mr. Rex", whenever we were traveling on Interstate 10, in California near Palm Springs.  Nearby a second sculpture  named "Dinny" kept "Mr. Rex" company.
After repeated trips of children begging from the back of our van, "Can we  P~L~E~A~S~E  stop at the dinosaurs?", we finally did.

The dinosaurs were built as a roadside attraction by the then-owner of the Wheel Inn Cafe.  Claude Bell, was a Knott's Berry Farm sculptor and portrait artist, who wanted to lure travelers off of the interstate, to check out his dinosaurs.  He was hoping the curious would then remember that they were hungry, and would eat at his adjacent cafe.

Work began in 1964 on "Dinny", the first dinosaur. Bell, working essentially alone, used mostly salvaged materials to complete the 11 year building project. "Dinny", is an Apatosaurus (formerly known as Brontosaurus).  Back in the 1960's and 1970's there wasn't much going on along that stretch of freeway...no windmills generating power, no outlet malls, no casinos, no Starbucks or Taco Bell.
The only focal points on that bit of desert landscape were the landmark enormous dinosaurs and the Wheel Inn Cafe.

"Isn't it strange and sad what time can do?" (from Liane Moriary's book what alice forgot)

Mr. Bell died in 1988 and his heirs sold "Dinny" and "Mr. Rex".

Fast forward to May, 2013.  We were zipping along the I-10 returning from a river trip, when my son-in-law pulled off the freeway at the dinosaurs.
Unbeknownst to us, the simple non-commercial attraction had changed.  It is now the "World's Biggest Dinosaur Gift Store".  And there is a fenced-in museum, which costs $9 for adults, and $8 for children.  
Add to this sad development, that the dinosaurs are now being used to promote a Young Earth creationist belief.  (As in, the dinosaurs were alive about 6,000 years ago.)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Earth_creationism

So the previous quick "get the wiggles out" travel break is now a get out your wallet stop.   And with every gift shop purchase and every museum admission you buy, you are supporting a religious group, you probably don't agree with. 
Travelers beware!

Claude Bell is probably spinning in his grave wondering how the evolution of his dinosaurs ended up like this.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

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