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Local dinosaur duo takes trip for the ages

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) –  Thousands of people travel across the world to visit one of nature’s most beautiful and breathtaking views, the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

One local couple recently took a road trip across the country to get their sightseeing in, but their passion for the prehistoric took them on a unique adventure and taught them a life lesson for the ages.

“They’re the closest thing that we have to an animal from mythology,” said Jess Witkins, a self-proclaimed dinosaur aficionado.

Witkins’ fascination with all things fossilized began with the classic film Jurassic Park and has now spread to her loved ones.

“Okay, she likes dinosaurs I like dinosaurs too and went with it,” said Jess’ husband Joe Gantzer. “We are classic and Jurassic,” said Jess with a laugh.

This dino-loving couple even has the plastic proof, two blow-up dolls they’ve named and adopted as their own. “It’s our family!” explained Joe.

This family took their fun on the road visiting prime archaeological sites across the country for a grand adventure.

It was “a small child’s dream and for us, it was just great photo opportunities,” said Joe.

Those opportunities were endless, and a trend was born when the person who took their picture at the Grand Canyon prompted them to pose.

“We’re a couple of nerds rolling around in dinosaur shirts we end up making people smile,” added Joe. They even brought along props to leave their mark.

“We made a lot of good friends passing out these tiny dinosaurs and telling people to have a dino-mite day. We would give them to kids, we would interact with other public art in the cities lots of bartenders,” described Jess.

Those tiny dinos got in on the photo fun. Jess and Joe are spreading the love and the puns hoping that everyone they come across on their trip has not only a dino-mite time but learns something they can bring home.

“In today’s day and age, we’re on our phones more or even when you’re out in public you’re not greeting people in the street. This has been a fun way to meet people while we’re traveling make someone smile in their day,” described Jess.

Teaching us that maybe some days we all could get a little more in touch with our pre-historic roots and savor the moments we have before they go extinct.

You may recognize Joe and Jess if you are from La Crosse.  They both went to UW-La Crosse, that’s where they met. Jess works for the La Crosse County library system and enjoys freelance writing.

She wrote a bit about their adventures in the most recent issue of the Coulee Region Women Magazine and Joe is a member of the band TUGG.

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Brittany Lake

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