Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Dinosaurs of Country Junction

There's a chain of stores in eastern Pennsylvania called Country Junction. There are currently five locations: Lehighton (which I believe was the original), Wilkes-Barre, Quakertown, Wind Gap, and Hazleton. These stores - which collectively bill themselves as "The World's Largest General Store" - feature a happy jumble of furniture, home furnishings, tools, decorations, plumbing supplies, pet supplies, food, toys, lightbulbs, wall hangings, dinosaurs...

Yes. Dinosaurs.

I haven't been to the Lehighton location since the original building was destroyed by fire back in 2006. But I know back in the day that I would stroll through that shop I would stop to admire the dinosaur statues that were mixed in with their taxidermy animals and statues of Charlie Chaplin and the Blues Brothers, and the Tyrannosaurus head mounted next to assorted bison and water buffalo and other largish creatures.*

The Wilkes-Barre location, the only other Country Junction I have visited, also featured a great many dinosaurs, inside, outside, among the furniture, everywhere. Not all at once, but you could usually count on running into a Velociraptor or two somewhere in the store. At least, before it, too, was heavily damaged by fire on Thanksgiving Day in 2008.

That store has since reopened as a slightly less whimsical version of its former self. Gone are the velociraptors by the outside patio furniture, or even the access to the outside where the velociraptors stalked among the patio furniture. (Gone is the toy department, too, unless I missed it in my last visit.) But a few dinosaurs apparently stop by from time to time.

Back in January I photographed this fine fellow standing guard outside the front entrance.

It's a Triceratops - which, despite what you might have heard, is not getting excised from the dinosaur books. I can't vouch for the general accuracy of this representation, though I can tell you that the beak and horns probably didn't have that fossilized appearance on a living specimen.

The price tag informed anyone interested that they could purchase this dinosaur for the low, low price of $1900.00.

I can't remember if I have been back to the Wilkes-Barre Country Junction since that visit in January. But I stopped in at the end of July with one goal in mind: to find and photograph dinosaurs. I was thwarted in this effort by the pronounced lack of any dinosaurs...until I spotted this guy as I was leaving the store.

For the life of me I don't know what this is supposed to be. The neck made me think it was a sauropod of some sort, but the teeth make me think it's supposed to be a carnivore. A cartoonish Tyrannosaurus, maybe?

The inside of his mouth is wonderfully (if not necessarily accurately) detailed, from the ridged roof of his mouth to the oddly banded tongue. And in his mouth... a price tag. This head-and-neck alone with set you back $1999.00 - $99 more than a complete Triceratops! Inflation, you know.

I hope there will be more dinosaurs visiting the Country Junction in the future. And I hope that if they do stroll by, I'll have my camera ready!

*I have no idea if these animals are the real deal or every bit as simulated as the dinosaurs.

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