A Weekend at the Museum

Have you ever heard the phrase “Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”? Well it’s Danielle Laporte who is credited with coining the phrase. The past couple of years I’ve been trying to do what I thought I was supposed to do on this earth. I’m supposed to protect those around me, do my duty, do something to better others. I have to accomplish something that makes my life worth while. All of this pressure, all of that desire to be a perfect person. Push, push, push. Ambition is good, but ambition in the wrong direction can be toxic. I don’t regret my time I spent in the Army, no, I learned a lot from it. But I almost lost who I was, who I was born to be. Thanks to God, and an insane series of events, I’m slowly remembering and it’s a more pain staking and annoying process than I had hoped it would be. Do you have places that you know if you go to them you’ll rediscover little pieces of yourself? My main three: Nature, museums and the gym. My life feels completely flipped upside down coming out of the Army, however now I get to be with my supportive boyfriend Josh full-time and we’ve been able to explore our new home area of Denver, CO here in the USA where we’re both from. We decided to visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (http://www.dmns.org/) on a random Friday that he had off from work. We anticipated that it would be less crowded because it was during the week and school hadn’t let out yet. However, we both forgot (I guess we’re both just old farts now) about how Friday is generally field trip day. Oh. My. Word. SO MANY children. However, that ended up being one of the best parts. Watching these little minds run from exhibit to exhibit wanting to touch everything, not understanding the vast majority of anything. It made me smile, that’s how I was when I was little. I didn’t care what would make me money or what would make me look good. I cared about that little earthworm I saw in the yard on a rainy day and making sure he survived. Although, I’m pretty sure that my worm rescues were probably the cause of death for many worms. I cared about giving presents to people I cared about, watching documentaries and exploring anything to do with the outdoors. I cared about whales and my family. I didn’t care about bills or what Lisa from three doors down thinks of me. I put my hand in the mud and made mud pies, or stole my brother’s toys (his were much cooler). Just walking into the museum and seeing the exhibits and how much more I know now than even just a few years ago. How just feeding a little bit of my curiosity every day has broadened my knowledge bank. I realized, I didn’t stop growing as much as I had thought I had. I had been learning every day. Now, I just need to give myself the grace and the courage to explore being who I was meant to be, not who I feel like I have to be. All of which was inspired by the museum visit …..A little more on the museum itself. It had a very easy to follow set up. Compared to other museums I’ve been to recently (I visited a few in Chicago when I was there this past winter, the Field Museum was a must see) I found it a bit pricier. However, for a smaller museum there was a ton to see and you could tell everything was updated and well maintained. There were a few exhibits that Josh and I missed. We had to prioritize and we both like to read the tags on each exhibited item. We have both seen more dinosaur bones and gems than the average bear so we didn’t go into either of those exhibits. However, I did notice that the dinosaur exhibit seemed really well-organized from the view I caught of it and on the map it looked as though it was of a good size. I would suggest that anyone with children who love dinosaurs or even for budding paleontologists out there give it a look. Also, there was an Egyptian Mummy exhibit as well, we ran out of time to see that and I had just seen a real life tomb while I was at the Field Museum. I’m telling you, that’s a must see for any avid museum goer. Part of the reason we didn’t have very much time is that we bought an IMAX show to go see as well as entrance into the Planetarium and we bought tickets to go see their temporary Viking Exhibit. Josh is very passionate about Scandinavian history, especially that of Vikings. I also find it pretty fascinating because it ties in with my own Gaelic history (have you seen my tattoo? Or my first name for that matter?) Alright so basically even without a map you’re very likely to see everything, there isn’t much that is hidden, besides the coffee shop that was way upstairs and closed before we had a chance to check it out. When you head towards the main exhibits they have a side exhibit on entomology (bugs) including a whole variety of them that are found here in Colorado. I’m always curious to learn about the local flora and fauna, especially when it differs from that of my home state of PA (Pennsylvania, pronounce each letter…”P” “A”…we’re an odd bunch <3). Many people find it odd that I don’t know of every organism out there considering my obsession with science especially biology or environmental science, however I studied mostly those that lived near my home town or marine mammals. I’m always working to expand that knowledge. Anyway, They had a collection of rare butterflies and it was fun to remember some of the terminology because it reminded me of an invertebrate course I took while in college and the entomological collection we had to prepare as a final project for that course. After that little trip down memory lane we went to the “Space Odyssey” exhibit across the hall of which did not disappoint. They had a lot of hands on exhibits, including a lot about the Mars Rover expedition and the impact of meteorites. We quickly realized that this was where our planetarium showing would be playing later in the day and we decided to move onto the Viking Exhibit as we were both dying to see it. I was frustrated because I had just finished an article in National Geographic from their March 2017 issue that went into some very good detail about what modern scientists believed to be a generalization of Viking life. Also, it reminded me a lot of my trip to York in the UK where they have an excavation site that you can visit that goes into detail about when they were under Viking rule there disputably between 866 and 867. We wandered around and it never disappoints to see items that were owned by people, just trying to live their lives like we are now, but so many years ago. There were ancient swords, jewelry, and even had a full set of rivets that were found at a burial site. Some viking remains as well as their clothing were on display as well, it made the exhibit feel very human. To keep things a bit lighter they had a few role players out explaining things to the kids that were dressed up like vikings and they even had little card board viking helmets you could wear around as you explored the exhibit. I think my favorite part was playing the viking board game of Hnefatafl. It’s a bit odd to figure out, but they had it set up on a touch screen with pretty thorough instructions. Of course, I figured it out faster and I was victorious in the end! 🙂  Eventually we had seen most of the viking exhibit and it was time for lunch. Their prices weren’t bad at all and everything was pretty tasty, however it was mostly Tex-Mex food or the salad bar. They had some burgers and such, but if you don’t like that kind of thing I suggest bringing your own food. We had a 1:00 P.M. IMAX show to catch so we rushed off to that. We went and saw Extreme Weather 3D. It was an impressive IMAX theater and a pretty good show, although we had rushed around all morning and during the parts that were common knowledge to me I dozed off a bit. This was to Josh’s amusement, normally he’s the one who dozes off during things like this! It was pretty awesome, featuring footage on wildfires, glaciers and tornadoes. I especially enjoyed the bit about glaciers because I had used similar equipment during school. I didn’t doze off because it was boring, I had just tuckered myself out! This showed because during our Planetarium show, Cosmic Journey: A Solar System Adventure, I dozed off again. However, before I dozed off, I had a renewed faith in humanity. There was a class of maybe second or third graders sitting in front of us. Not only were they respectful to the people around them and well-behaved but when the movie started they couldn’t stop pointing at all of the planets and stars. They kept reaching out to try to touch the Sun, Saturn, Pluto, whatever was on the screen at that time. Watching their behavior and their fascination in science. Not just one kid, but a majority of the class. It gave me some faith in this next generation in not only their behavior but also their curiosity. I have a firm belief that scientists push our nation forward. I hate when I see a kid being discouraged because he or she feels that it’s too nerdy or that his curiosity makes him a loser. Shortly after smiling to myself about this I dozed off remembering some old computer game version of The Magic School Bus: Explores the Solar System. After both shows and all of our exhibits, we didn’t have too much time left until the museum closed and I was pretty tuckered out. So we just wandered through an exhibit about Native American history, of note they had at least one item that was marked as returned because they realized it had been stolen and I thought that was very honorable. Through this exhibit was a beautiful view of the city and the mountains behind it. We also wandered through the Expedition Health Exhibit, because I’m never too tired to learn more about anatomy. I was quite impressed with the experiments that you could complete and many of them were the same if not similar to experiments I had done during my biology coursework in college. I was quite impressed. Overall, a simple day trip to the museum was able to renew my faith in humanity and my faith in myself just a bit. I even bought a Human Anatomy Atlas and two little guide books on birds and mammals so that I can freshen up on my biology. Remembering to learn even something little every day has made my transition out of the Army just a little bit easier. I can honestly say I am a happier person for it. Was it just simply a trip to the museum? Sure. But sometimes the simplest of trips can be so much more than that. However, my favorite purchase may be the shirt that I got for Josh that says “May the Norse be with you” from the viking gift shop (of course, they had a gift shop). I never want to stop learning and hopefully my next step in remembering who I was born to be will be to get back with nature. I miss her, and being in the city for a while, I need some green in my life! Not only that but Josh and I are constantly looking into ideas for our road trip this fall. We’re going to try to make it to as many National Parks as we can across the United States while visiting friends and family across the country. Not only that but I’ve never been to Denver before so each new place we visit is a mini adventure. I’m also headed back to PA (remember that’s “P” “A”) to see family around my birthday to see my grandma for hers just four short days after mine. Josh and I are renting this beautiful modern ranch just north of Denver and a lot of people plan on coming to visit. Between that and my trip to Costa Rica that I’m planning with my friend Lindsay the end of July I hope that I have enough time to work on my blog, my mom’s book (promised her I’d finish it if she passed away, R.I.P. and I miss you Mom) AND I’m applying to start editing papers and creating lesson plans online for various colleges and such. I’ll make sure to keep everyone posted, and again I’m going to try and get new blog posts out every Friday, so keep an eye out!  Any requests for an entry or questions feel free to contact me, I’m always looking for feedback. As always, never stop exploring.

–Gwen

 

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