Monday, January 12, 2015

Natural History Museum of Utah (or how to totally stress yourself out in one afternoon)

Today was the free day at the Natural History Museum of Utah, something we've (I've) been looking forward to for a long time. Admission to this particular museum would run our family $40--and that's just me and the three older kids. Yeah, not in our budget. Tempe especially asks to go to a museum every single Saturday, and it breaks my heart that I almost always have to say no. We hit up all the free museums (the Church History Museum, the BYU MOA, the UMOCA, the Bean Museum, the Eagle Bay learning center, the UMFA on every third Saturday), but there's only so many times you can go to the same museum. I've been wanting to take them to the Natural History Museum, so this free day was perfect.
I was a little worried about crowds because some free days are just not even worth it because of how crowded they are, but we decided to brave it anyway. 
Fail #1: I picked the girls up at the bottom of the hill when they got out of school because I didn't want to check them out and I thought leaving at 3:40 would still give us plenty of time.
Fail #2: It was raining today. Like, downpour raining. That reduced my interstate speed to around 50 MPH, which meant it took us about 40 minutes to get to the museum itself.
Fail #3: This was the museum's fail--they have entirely too little parking. I circled the lot 3 times, and finally pulled behind a lady sitting in her car with the engine on. I waited for a minute and then actually got out of my car to ask if she was leaving soon. She did not react well. I honestly don't see why, because the parking lot was completely full and there were several cars circling, looking for spots. I think it's just common courtesy in that situation to NOT be sitting in a parking spot doing nothing while you wait for someone to come out. But whatever. We ended up parking in the satellite lot and taking the shuttle, which put our arrival at 4:25.
Fail #4: Biggest fail ever. I did not check the museum hours. I don't know why. I really thought it was open until 8 pm for some reason. No. They close at 5. 
We rushed to the elevator but Tempe was already starting to quietly weep. I apologized profusely and promised we would do our best to see some stuff--we definitely didn't see everything, but we stuck to the 2-minute schedule and were able to see and do quite a few things. It is an awesome, almost entirely interactive museum and I think we could probably spend 3 hours there and not get bored!

Playing in the sand table
Beautiful girls in a mountain meadow full of wildflowers

All three girls had fun putting the pottery jars and jugs back togther--fun magnetic exhibit!
Juno was terrified of the dinosaur skeletons but the other girls liked them!

So we had fun, even though we only had 35 minutes to explore. The girls all agreed that we saw plenty of stuff and we'll have more fun next time we go (next free day is in April).
Fail #5: We left the museum and went and stood in the pouring snow/slush/rain where the shuttle had dropped us off. Then the shuttle came, drove right past us, stopped at the edge of the driveway and picked one person up, then zoomed away while we were running after it, screaming and dragging four kids and a stroller and a diaper bag. I could see it stuck in the massive amount of traffic pouring out of the parking lot, but we couldn't get to it, so we were resigned to standing in the snow and waiting for it to come back--actually, I don't know if it would have come back at all, it might not have since it was officially after hours at that point. Luckily, a very sweet couple and their three kids saw us running after it and offered us a ride to our car, even though it meant kids doubling up and the mom sitting on the floor. It makes me cry just thinking of it. I did not get their names, but I am so grateful that they stopped for us, because we were all on the verge of tears and I was trying my best to find some good in the situation so my kids would still have fun and not leave on a bad note. So THANK YOU anonymous strangers!
Fail #6: Because we got to the museum so late, we left at rush hour. It took us 30 minutes just to get back to the interstate an then another 45 minutes to get home, in the pouring rain, with very poor visibility. There were minor emotional breakdowns, but surprisingly, nothing too terrible.
All in all, it was not a super successful trip. I was so looking forward to taking my kids to this museum and I think I was the most disappointed of all. At least now I know what to do in April to have a better experience!

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