Jurassic Classic

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I've been a part of the American workforce since I was 15.

Like most Baby Boomers, I've had jobs I've loved and plenty I've hated. My freshman year in college I worked as a "litter critter" picking up trash and doing odd jobs at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas.

Dinosaur Valley State Park on the Paluxy RiverDino Valley State Park-600.jpg

Every park has a "hook" - something that brings tourists in the gate. It may be a beautiful lake or steaming geyser, but there's something that makes that park stand out.

At Dinosaur Valley State Park, that hook is dinosaurs.


Not actual real, live dinosaurs. Dinosaur Valley isn't a wealthy Texas oilman's version of Jurassic Park. Its main attraction is dinosaur tracks deposited in the soft limestone 113 million years ago by Tyrannosaurus Rex and his closest friends.

That summer I joined some of my closest friends as we picked up 50-gallon steel trash cans filled with watermelon rinds and dirty diapers in the 100-degree Texas heat. The smell was so powerful I learned to apply Vicks VapoRub beneath my nose before heading out on trash duty twice a day. It was the only way I could stomach the stench.

When we weren't hauling trash, mowing grass or scouring bathrooms until they sparkled like the Hope Diamond, we cleaned dinosaur tracks.



Take this job and shove it. 

At Dinosaur Valley, many of the dinosaur tracks are in the shallow Paluxy River. They're covered by one to two feet of the clearest water in the state until the hottest part of the summer. That's when the river stops running and the tracks fill with dark green algae. 

The real deal - Jurassicaly speakingDino Valley Dino Track - 600.jpg

One of my jobs was using a toilet brush to scrub each and every track my ranger bosses could find. If you ever find yourself in need of track cleaning tips, know this: Brontosaurus tracks are the easiest to clean because their round shape is a perfect fit for a toilet brush. T-Rex tracks are tough because it's hard getting into their clawed feet. It's a learned skill like anything else.   

By the end of summer, I'd gotten pretty good at dino duty. My litter critter friends were even better. As the tourists wandered back to their campsites late one afternoon, they crafted perfect sets of T-Rex and Brontosaurus tracks into the limestone river bed.

They thought it was funny. The head park ranger thought it was treason.

He fired them after making sure the forgers jackhammered the bogus tracks into dust. They didn't really care. This was their Jurassic version of "take this job and shove it." Labor Day was approaching and they were heading back to school and other pranks.

Summer was over, dude.

It's been decades since I scrubbed a dinosaur track and I probably never will again. You just don't see those jobs in the Help Wanted ads any more.


Jerry Lewis Directs Jurassic Park

Ranch Re-Do




Guest Room: 4-Ingredient Beer Can Chicken

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By Arthur Aguirre, author America's Best Barbeque Beer can chicken is probably the easiest of recipes, but turns out great flavors every time. The key to beer can chicken is to make sure that the skin turns out crispy.... ...Read More

Just Desserts: Skinny Lemon Cream Pie

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My mom Patsy often snacked on fresh lemons as a girl. Although we've never tried that, Bob and I share her love of their tangy citrus taste.

That's why you'll often find this waistline-friendly pie on our table. Cool and creamy with an addictive lemon zing, it's a spring and summer favorite.  

This lemony favorite is wonderful served with or without fresh berries.

Lemon Pie-600.jpgBesides having great flavor, this no-work dessert is one of my mainstays because it's literally easy as pie to make. You need only six ingredients, including fresh lemons. I never cut corners here. Using fresh lemon juice and zest gives this pie more pizazz. And you don't even have to pull out a mixer!

You need these five ingredients plus Cool Whip Lite to make this treat. Normally, I use a reduced-fat graham cracker crust but Tar-jay, as we say in Colleywood, was out of them. Bummer!

Lemon Pie Ingredients-600.jpgEven with squeezing and zesting the lemons, you can mix and bake this summer-rific treat in about 35 minutes. Let it cool, stash it in the fridge and four hours later, you've got a refreshing dessert.

We adore it topped with a dollup of Cool Whip Lite and fresh strawberries. But you can also use fresh blueberries, a mix of the two or nix the berries altogether and still say "Yum!"

Skinny Lemon Cream Pie

Serves 6-8

  • Lemon Pie-300.jpg1, 9-inch reduced-fat graham cracker crust
  • 1/2 cup Eggbeaters
  • 1 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 - 5 fresh lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (zest from 1 of the lemons)
  • 1/2 small container Cool Whip Lite
  • About 16 fresh strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Whisk the Eggbeaters, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Pour into graham cracker crust.

Bake 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Refrigerate 4 hours.

Top each slice with a spoonful of Cool Whip Lite and about 2 sliced, fresh strawberries before serving. 

In the mood for something sweet? You'll also enjoy:

You Could Go Grill Crazy with this Hot Freebee from T-Fal

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Grilling can mean you need two cooks. Around our house, Bob takes charge of the chicken, steak or other entree-of-the-day in the backyard while I fuss over sides and sweets in the kitchen.

But wouldn't it be nice to have a simple way to get grilled goodness indoors? The folks at T-Fal want to give one lucky reader a chance to do just that.  They've joined us to give away their new, portable grilling sensation, OptiGrill. It automatically grills food to the desired degree of doneness, from rare to well-done, so you get perfect results every time. (Check the end of this post for details on how to enter the contest.)

You can close the lid on this steak and not check it again until T-Fal's OptiGrill indicates the beef has reached the desired degree of doneness. Make mine well done, please!

Steak Ready to Cook-600.jpgWe tried this countertop hero along with T-Fal's recipe for Montreal Grilled Steak and Potatoes last week. But before we talk about that Texas perfect-pairing, I've got to tell you more about our Boomer-licious prize.

Stainless steel with two black, die-cast aluminum grilling plates, OptiGrill is large enough to cook about four sandwiches at once. I know I promised you steak but I normally save my indoor grill for grilled cheese, Paninis and other bread-based delights so that's important.

OptiGrill New Image 350.jpgYou could go grill crazy with T-Fal's new OptiGrill. This smart indoor grilling sensation automatically cooks food to the desired degree of doneness, from rare to well done, so you get perfect results every time.

Click "Read More" for details on how you can win this hot freebee ($179.99 value). Contest* ends Sept. 11.


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Love FREE stuff? We've teamed up with Stubb's Legendary Bar-B-Q to give away a $30-value coupon bundle good for an assortment of their fast, smokehouse-flavored favorites. Click here for details on how to enter. Contest ends Aug. 21, 2014.

Know someone battling cancer? Baylor Health Care System's Sammons Says... cancer blog is a great place to go for help. Here, you'll find information, resources, physicians, support groups and just about everything you need to help you navigate your way through this illness.


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