Marolt: Give ‘em bones to pick (and choose from) | AspenTimes.com

Marolt: Give ‘em bones to pick (and choose from)

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt

I can take museums in small doses. This is especially true on vacation. Show me an itinerary with a museum visit on it and I’ll contract a mysterious, mild illness that isn’t so bad that I need a doctor, but bad enough that I think it would be better if everyone else went on ahead while I rest up a little and then miraculously recover as soon as it’s too late to catch up with the tour guide.

Call me crazy, but Snowmass Village needs an Old Bone Discovery Center in the middle of town (assuming they can find that) like it needs state-of-the-art avalanche control on Fanny Hill.

A little personal history will shed some light on my dark, indoor archaeological views. Family gossip has it that my great-grandparents found museums of all types excruciatingly boring. Despite their best efforts at hiding this fact while attending school field trips, their children, my grandparents, grew to loath the occasions when beautiful, sunny days were wasted indoors on preordained visits to exhibits displayed in musty rooms void of attractions that aid in the quick passage of time. Of course their own children, sensitive and observant as they were, picked up on this disdain for historically significant displays jammed into one space and grew to dread time converted into history at these places, too. Needless to say, my viscerally negative reaction to museums is easy to confuse with unalterable genetic code.

A trip to the museum is a vacation day wasted. If your intention is to spend thousands of dollars visiting Snowmass Village, one of the premier ski resorts of the world, with the intention of it being an educational field trip with a paper on its significance due at the end, then the Old Bones Discovery Center is just the thing. For everyone else, it will be a pantry full of inedible racks of ribs collecting dust, whose intention is to feed the mind, but keep the spirit of adventure starving. Mothers inclined to play Mozart to the babies in their wombs will love it!

You probably believe I hate carcasses from prehistoric animals. That notion is wrong. Loyal readers will remember that when mastodon madness took hold on our village several years ago after the bulldozer driver unearthed the first skull while working on expanding Zeigler Reservoir, I caught the fever worse than any practical human. As the archaeologists worked furiously on the site of the great discovery, I found myself rapturously combing the hillsides of the Droste property collecting fossils of seashells. It was my own small way of participating in the madness.

It wasn’t folly. I long for the sense of purpose that discovering fossils gave to my mountain bike rides. The rush of finding a rock-hard clam shell perfectly in tact is still fresh in my veins. What I learned, though, is that the great thrill was in searching and finding, not in the presentation of being shown someone else’s stash and then standing politely and quietly while they yammered on about where they found this and how they found that.

And so it should be with our local prehistoric haul of big bones from animals extinct. Rather than gather them all in one place to bore teenagers to tears and fill their parents with the urge to imbibe, I think it a much more palatable solution to set up singular displays of these significant historical petrified calcium deposits throughout The Village.

The stony frame of a long dead beast should stand in the lobby of the Westin with a plaque telling of the behemoth’s life and demise briefly enough to allow the imagination to wander. Another should be set up at the Town Center and yet another at the Viceroy. A couple could be set up in the plaza of Base Village to add some interesting decoration there at last. Smaller displays could be erected in every establishment that wanted to host one. These old skeletons could become to Snowmass Village what the slot machine is to Nevada.

How much more pleasant would an introduction to locally-grown old bones be, if you could take in the magnificence of one set in 10 minutes before dinner somewhere and then look forward to taking in another set on the way to breakfast somewhere else the next morning. A gradual and gently spaced introduction to our mostly forgotten historically significant discovery could actually be turned into a way to help people discover all our town has to offer and keep them coming back.

Roger Marolt believes that spreading the bones could be equal to spreading the wealth. roger@maroltllp.com


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