Behind the Scenes: Escape from the Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods is a National Park near Colorado Springs.  It’s full of beautiful red rock formations and was originally inhabited by a variety of Native Americans.  Some of them left petroglyphs to mark their place in history.

The current English name came from two surveyors who explored it in 1859.  One dude said to his friend, “This would be a capitol place for a beer garden.”  He clearly had his priorities straight.

His friend thought beer was a tad parochial for such grandeur, so he declared it was better suited as a garden for gods.

I’ve always liked that name, and when I needed to name a dinosaur park (for science purposes), I knew I had finally found my chance to use it.

As for the actual story, it was inspired by a distant memory of when I read Jurassic Park as a child.  I was about eleven or twelve at the time, so the book was kind of dense, especially compared to my favorite books when I was that old: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and The Five Love Languages.

I don’t remember a whole lot from the book, perhaps because it contains almost no advice on how to maintain a healthy marriage (my favorite subject until I actually got married).  What has always stuck in my brain was a short little scene near the beginning.  I think Crichton put it in as a mood setter rather than plot development.  Anyway, a small child and his mother go visit a beach in Central America, and the little kid finds a cute little dinosaur.  The scene ends ominously, and you are given to understand the child is, like, super dead.

I think that scene scared me more than the rest of the book because the people involved had no reason to believe there was a predator nearby.  Everyone else in the book either creates man-eating monsters or goes to visit man-eating monsters.  They really ought to have some idea what they’re getting into.  I mean, come on, guys, what did you think was going to happen when you signed up for this?  They’re dinosaurs and they’re the size of buildings and they eat whole cows off of cranes.  Of course they’re going to eat their creators and the businessmen and oh-look-chaos-theory-my-hand-is-wet-does-that-make-you-wet math guy.

But not those two.  They were strolling along, having a pleasant day at the beach, and suddenly someone’s dead because of a creature they thought was goddamn extinct.

I had a very active imagination as a kid, and that scene really didn’t help.  I already had a complex where I thought sharks lived under my carpet (not under the bed, that’s where the serial killers were, duh), now you’re telling me there’s dinosaurs at the beach?  And they’re going to eat me while my mom does needlepoint?

At any rate, it’s been a very long time since I was eleven, and that scene won’t leave my brain.  So I wrote a story kind of like it.  Except there’s no children and no blood and nobody dies.  The youngest person is in his twenties, and the most violence is when someone gets tackled.

Dinosaurs do escape from a park, though.  One of them even goes to a nearby beach and makes friends with a lovely man.  It’s a love story for the ages, I’m telling you.  They even share a beer together.



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