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Jurassic Birthday

If you remember last week, we left off with me having a semi-nicer backyard and wanting to find a way to showcase and share it with my closest friends. I thought of making an event called “We-Got-Our-Garage-Painted-We-Have-A-Gazebo Party”.

But my son had other ideas.

My son M always wants to have an outside birthday party. But his birthday is in the cold months of Michigan winter. So he decided we should have a summer birthday party for him. We had just seen the new movie Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. This influenced us to want a Jurassic theme. We brainstormed and my son had some very specific requests:

1. A T-Rex to greet people with a party hat.
2. A “When Dinosaurs Ruled The World” Banner

Among other things.

And I am guilty in all of this as well. I went from thinking about a Jurassic Park theme to turning our backyard into an actual Jurassic Park.

And my son just assumes all mothers have these magical abilities to make multiple large-scale decorations from scratch. He did doubt that I could get them all done in time. Shows what he knows.

Before I present the photo gallery of the completed party (Oh ya, there is a video too.), I wanted to let you know that I had two distinct seating areas with their own multi-media experience. Inside the gazebo I had the score to Jurassic Park playing on a Bluetooth speaker. On my patio I had the movie Jurassic Park playing on my laptop.

A great idea if you wanted to take it a step further is to project the movie after dark. Unfortunately, we did not have the resources for that to happen.


“Welcome to Jurassic Park!”

Welcoming T-Rex. So realistic that my dog barked at it while I was making it.

The Visitor Center

Jurassic Park Ford Explorer photo op.

Don’t Touch!

The T-Rex escaped its enclosure!

Park Information board

YouTube link:

Your past shapes you. It can’t be undone.

Dinosaur Gardens

My family was lucky enough to get a chance to escape up to northern Michigan this summer. This gave me the opportunity to introduce my son to the land of dinosaurs, better known as Dinosaur Gardens.

You see, I visited there when I was only a little older than he. And I not only lived to tell the tale, but I left with proof.

Dinosaur Gardens

Dinosaur Gardens

I didn’t tell my 4 1/2 year old son where we were heading. I had visited the Dinosaur Gardens website, but I was still afraid that maybe they would be closed or something. Then, of course, he was asleep when we arrived. I groggily took him out of the car and, holding him lovingly to me, said, “Hey, look what is over there in the woods!” and pointed out the giant brontosaurus to him.

An immediate look of horror crossed his face. This is a little boy who actually likes scary things. (And making up stories. I am planning on him to be the next Stephen King.) But, well, apparently he doesn’t like them when he first wakes up.

We took him into the gift shop, where the sight of toy dinosaurs quickly woke him up.

But when we began down the path into the woods, M wouldn’t budge. He was afraid of the brontosaurus. Mind you, it did tower over even mom and dad, let alone him. With some gentle but firm coaxing, he entered the forest. But first he said, “This is very weird and ridiculous.”

I can't imagine why he could be scared...

I can’t imagine why he could be scared…

In time he became so comfortable, he even began to feed the creatures himself!

M feeding one of the animals.

M feeding one of the animals.

I had told my husband that my mom had brought me here 30 years ago. He asked me how she knew about it. My mother’s grandmother had a newspaper clipping she had saved about the extraordinary sculptures someone had made in Osseneke, Michigan. So, they had brought my mom (and most likely her older brother) up here once when she was a girl. I love that this roadside attraction, many of which thrived in the days of drive-ins in the 1950s but have since become extinct, continues to roar on for generations of my family.

Even my husband was charmed.

Even my husband was charmed.

I asked my son if he would bring his kids back to visit. He said that he would, and that I could come too.

I think it is amazing that this tourist attraction has survived for 80 years. And not only been maintained, but improved! There were two new exhibits that had been added in recent years. While we were there, we saw several concrete statues that had either been recently repainted, or had had their previous paint carefully removed and were primed for a new coat.

This was the only sick animal, and I thought it was very clever how they explained his illness.

This was the only sick animal, and I thought it was very clever how they explained his illness.

This is a great stop for everyone. If you like art and dinosaurs, you will love the statues and appreciate all the hard work that must have gone into them by the artist, Paul Domke. If you are a nature enthusiast, you will love the walk in the woods. If you like souvenirs, they have those too. (Personally, I like all four of those things.)



I love that all this was created from one man’s imagination gone wild. He stood on this piece of land and saw that the fabric of time was thin here, that others would be able to come after him and experience prehistoric times as he could, with a little help from his own hands. I love that he had a dream that most would call crazy, to build dinosaurs in northern Michigan’s harsh climate. But he did it. And it has endured for nearly a century.

Yes, I had to recreate the past.

Yes, I had to recreate the past.

That is all I am asking out of my writing career. That isn’t too much to ask for, right?

The End

The End

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a Bug – AVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!

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