A month or so ago, Jennie and I departed the great American Midwest for the much greater American West, in an exploration of a landscape that has been etched on my memory ever since I first glimpsed it as a kid. I've only passed through or flown over since then, so this two-week ramble around the Great Basin was long overdue. In planning the trip, we were a bit overambitious, and though we had trimmed it back once already, by the time we hit the road and got a feel for how long things actually take, we rearranged things again to lessen the amount of time driving. Hint: arriving at the gates of a national park usually entails another couple hours of driving.
Along the way, I took gigabyte upon gigabyte of photographs, which I'm only about a third of the way through sorting and processing to share at Flickr. These photos naturally included the dinosaurs we saw along the road. I'll start my short series of posts inspired by the trip with some of these charismatic creatures of the Mesozoic.
My favorite was a Spinosaurus perched outside a rock and fossil shop in Orderville, UT, a small town sitting between Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. As we rounded the bend in Rt. 89 into town, this guy came into view, and it was impossible not to stop.
Not the most accurate by-the-book spinosaurid you'll ever see, but refreshingly depicted in a posture that's kind of right.
For sheer volume of roadside dinosaurs, it's hard to beat Vernal, UT, a short drive from Dinosaur National Monument. Some have seen better days, such as this dopey pink sauropodosomething.
Outside of a hotel, there's a green, spiky-backed sauropodosomething with a rather uncomfortable electronic sign on its neck.
There's also a T. rex, naturally depicted in classic man-in-suit posture, as any red-blooded American tyrant dinosaur should be. He's also a bit of an angler, it would seem.
The best Vernal has to offer is a Morrison tableau featuring Ceratosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Camarasaurus.
In what must be a show of Jurassic herbivore solidarity, the young Camarasaurus has found a savior in Stegosaurus, which ably deploys its thagomizer in its defense...
... by bashing him in the tender underparts.
You want a close-up of that, don't you?
As you approach the Utah entrance of Dinosaur National Monument, a gift shop boasts a big green sauropod of its own. Like most sauropods you see on the side of the road, the sculptor likely had no specific taxon in mind. Just a long neck, long tail, and some pillar legs, and you've got what springs to 90% of folks' minds when they hear the word "dinosaur."
Now that we've come to the gate of DNM, we'll be entering the park to check out the new quarry visitor center. Before that, I'll share some vintage dinosaur art photographed in a surprising place. Stay tuned!