One of my kids’ favorite activities in Utah has long been visiting the Bean Museum at BYU. The facility is something of an oddity, a throwback to an earlier era when taxidermy was cool and political correctness didn’t exist. The walls are lined with disembodied animal heads donated by now deceased wealthy benefactors with a penchant for big game hunting. Thankfully, the staff periodically updates the displays and the ancient pig fetus in a jar has been replaced with an impressive, non-moldy collection of water fowl. The current highlights include a 10 foot Kodiak bear, a giraffe torso, neck and head, sheep of the world, and Kieran’s favorite, a la Napoleon Dynamite, the liger. (Look for a ghost of Tom amongst the sheep.)
Animals are always a highlight of our travels. Much of the world is an open air zoo, and for the right price, you can interact with the critters of your choice. In Gibraltar, McKane tried to tame some wild monkeys, while in Bali, I hoped they wouldn’t jump on my head.
In Australia we spent quality time with wombats, kangaroos, and koalas.
All these encounters were fun but the one that took the cake was our interaction with the Komodo dragons on the Indonesian island of Komodo. The dragons roam the island freely and the only thing that stands between them and visitors are some diminutive park rangers equipped with sticks…not tranquilizer guns, not knives…sticks. They assure guests that only one unfortunate tourist has ever fallen prey to the beasts–an elderly Swiss man in the ’70′s who ignored their advice and wandered off for a closer photo opp. We worried a little about the lady in the skirt and white hat who demonstrated reckless abandon in her photographic efforts but unlike the poor deer in the bottom shot, she emerged from Komodo unscathed.
3 of our 4 kids think will consider the trip lacking if we miss out on this guy…the blue-footed booby…in the Galapagos. We keep warning them our funds might be in short supply by next June, when we hit South America, but how could we deprive them of meeting him?