Our plan was to spend the day walking around Salt Lake City, but since it was going to be rainy and cold, we decided to check out the Natural History Museum instead. Xander was way too young to even begin to understand what was going on, but he was fascinated by all the new sights and people. It was our first visit to a museum as parents, and we discovered something wonderful…being a parent really means you get to be a kid again! Somewhere in the awkward years of puberty, we assume a protective layer of nonchalance, depriving us of the childish enthusiasm that makes going to a museum so fun. As a parent, you get to rediscover the unselfconscious joy that springs from experiencing something new.
Parking was easy and free. Tickets were affordable–you can see the pricing here. We got there not long after they opened, so it was still pretty quiet and there was no line. I was worried about it being a madhouse because it was a rainy Saturday, but it never got particularly crowded.
When we made it inside the museum, we weren’t yet caffeinated (because we didn’t want to spend any more time with Xander screaming in his car seat than was absolutely necessary), so our first stop was the cafe. The huge windows in the seating area let us take in spectacular views of the mountains while we enjoyed breakfast and a cup of tea. Kris was holding the baby when he felt something warm on his arm. It turned out Xander had stealth pooped and blown out so badly that it was oozing out of his clothes. I grabbed the diaper bag and braced myself for the cleanup, but my stud of a husband said he had it under control. Want to know what to look for in a man, ladies? Find a guy who doesn’t flinch in the face of a poo disaster.
My men returned to me clean and ready to go, so we moved on to the exhibits. It was a delight to watch our little guy try to figure out what he was seeing in each area.The featured exhibit had live geckos from all over the world. We enjoyed spotting them in each new enclosure. Each glass tank had the number of geckos on the side, so it was a game to find them all. I hadn’t ever given geckos much thought, but they’re pretty cool little creatures. I can see why they’ve been used as the model for a variety of animated characters over the years because they have such personality and quirky features. Xander couldn’t see the ones that were camouflaged and not moving, but he tried to grab the ones that were resting on the glass.This last guy was my favorite because he reminds me of Gollum.
The museum had a pigeon exhibit, which was…kinda weird. They tried hard to show us how amazingly diverse pigeons are, but I walked away still mostly seeing them as flying rats. Maybe I’ve just lived in the city too long. I did learn that people competitively breed pigeons. Add that to the list of hobbies I probably won’t be picking up anytime soon.
We finished the afternoon off with the dinosaurs and a gorgeous view of the mountains. It really only took us a few hours to walk the whole museum…and I mean the whole thing–weird dioramas, gemstones (cooler than I expected), and all. We were forced to keep moving to keep the little guy engaged, so it would take much longer with bigger kids who wanted to read the explanations or play with the interactive features. There is a walking trail that goes up into the hills behind the museum that has stunning views of Salt Lake City and the surrounding mountains. If I came back on a day with better weather, I would go for a hike and have a picnic up there after seeing the museum.
I was nervous (as always) about how badly he was going to freak out in his car seat on the way to the hotel, but he was so tuckered out from all the stimulation that he slept the whole way there. The NHMU was a great way to spend a rainy afternoon with a 6 month old.
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