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Pasco man turns Washougal house into ‘Jurassic Retreat’

The children's bedroom at the "Jurassic Retreat" rental house in rural Washougal includes a variety of dinosaur-themed toys and games. (Doug Flanagan/Post-Record)

A dinosaur head is perched on one of the walls in the "Jurassic Retreat" rental house in rural Washougal. (Doug Flanagan/Post-Record)

The rooms in the "Jurassic Retreat" house in rural Washougal are themed after characters, including Ian Malcolm (above), from the "Jurassic Park" movie franchise. (Doug Flanagan/Post-Record)

The rooms in the "Jurassic Retreat" house in rural Washougal are themed after characters, including palentologist Alan Grant, from the "Jurassic Park" movie franchise. (Doug Flanagan/Post-Record)

The rooms in the "Jurassic Retreat" house in rural Washougal are themed after characters, including John Hammond (above), from the "Jurassic Park" movie franchise. (Doug Flanagan/Post-Record)

Animatronic triceratops (left) and velociraptor (right) stand outside of the "Jurassic Retreat" rental home in rural Washougal. (Doug Flanagan/Post-Record)

A towering animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex stands outside of the "Jurassic Retreat" rental home in rural Washougal. (Doug Flanagan/Post-Record)

A 56-foot-tall animatronic apatosaurus welcome guests to the "Jurassic Retreat" home in rural Washougal. (Doug Flanagan/Post-Record)

Doug Flanagan/Post-Record The "Jurassic Retreat" short-term rental home in rural Washougal features themed rooms, a hot tub and five animatronic dinosaurs. (Doug Flanagan/Post-Record)

Todd Perkins became interested in dinosaurs after visiting a natural history museum with his family when he was 5 years old. Soon after, the movie “Jurassic Park” was released into theaters and became a worldwide phenomenon that turned Perkins’ interest into a borderline obsession.

“(My interest) just built and built,” he said. “Later on, my hobby was building replica television and movie-type cars that I liked. I had KITT from ‘Knight Rider.’ I built a ‘Jurassic Park’ jeep a few years ago, too, and I was like, ‘What’s the next progression? Is there anything else I could do?'”

Eventually he found that “next progression” in the form of his short-term rental property in rural Washougal, appropriately dubbed “Jurassic Retreat,” which he opened for bookings in November. The three-bedroom, two-bath industrial-style home, located about 12 miles north of downtown Washougal, has themed rooms, a hot tub and five life-size animatronic dinosaurs — a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a triceratops, an apatosaurus and two velociraptors.

Guests can rent the home through Airbnb for $300 to $500 per night depending on the season.

“(I didn’t want) just a normal place where you’d go and say, ‘OK, this is where we’re going to put our stuff,” said Perkins, who lives in Pasco, Washington, and owns a car wash business in Hermiston, Oregon. “This would be someplace different, where you don’t have to go to Universal Studios or some big theme park to get that same feel. It seems like things are picking up, and people seem to enjoy it. There’s just not as much stuff to do when the weather’s bad, but in the spring and summer I can see people coming here, then going to Dougan Falls or Multnomah Falls and all of the trailheads. But right now, it’s just kind of cool to see the dinosaurs, I guess.”

Perkins originally planned “Jurassic Retreat” for the forests of Leavenworth, Washington, but sold the house that he built in the central Washington mountain town after deciding that the location wasn’t right for his vision.

He eventually found the perfect spot during a family vacation to the Oregon Coast.

“Driving up through the Gorge, I (realized that the) trees, ferns, moss and the gorgeous (scenery) kind of felt prehistoric to me,” he said. “That was when I was like, ‘It’d be great to find something here.’ I liked the look and the feel of (this area). This wouldn’t work in the Tri-Cities that great because (that area is) desert, and there’s nothing around it that looks cool. And this house, in particular, was mostly finished, so I could buy it and in three months be up and running.”

Perkins purchased the Washougal property last summer and completed renovation work right before welcoming his first guests in late November.

“My cousin — he’s more of a builder-type trades guy, a mason — came down and stayed for two-and-a-half months, painting, doing all of the odds-and-ends stuff, building the fence and getting the area ready for the dinosaurs,” he said. “Once we brought them down, we got tractors with lifts and had to get everything into place. I’d come down about three days a week and work with him. We did have to paint the whole interior, and we redid the plumbing. It was a lot of work to get it to where it is now.”

Perkins helped design the dinosaurs’ coloring and postures with a manufacturer in China.

“I did a little research on what they were,” he said. “The T-Rex is pretty close to a full-size one. The raptors are more the size of the movie ones — raptors, in real life, were the size of chickens. The color schemes were a big deal because a lot of places that do dinosaur stuff use brighter colors. Here they’re more muted, like the movies. They’re not like ‘Godzilla.’ I tried to get the more earthy tones.”

Inside, renters can watch all five of the “Jurassic” movies — “Jurassic Park” (1993), “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” (1997), “Jurassic Park III” (2001), “Jurassic World” (2015) and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” (2018) — along with a selection of other Steven Spielberg favorites on a 75-inch television.

One of the bedrooms is themed after paleontologist Alan Grant, a main character in the first and third “Jurassic” films played by Sam Neill. It includes a magnifying glass, Grant’s trademark hat, and a variety of paleontology tools.

Another bedroom pays homage to John Hammond, the billionaire owner of the park played by Richard Attenborough in the first film, with his signature cane and hat.

“We’re not affiliated with or endorsed by Universal Studios, so I can’t be like, ‘This is John Hammond’s room’ or ‘Dr. Grant’s room.’ Basically, it’s like, ‘That’s the philanthropist’s room’ or ‘paleontology room’ or ‘chaotician room,'” Perkins said. “We have minimalist pictures of the characters, but there’s no face — just the outline. That was the idea, kind of character themed with (a focus on) their jobs.”

Most of the rooms feature a variety of decorations and items meant to add touches of authenticity and nostalgia. An amber-encased mosquito is perched on a small table in the entryway. Fictional books “written” by the movies’ professor characters sit on nightstands in the upstairs bedrooms. And a framed drawing of the famous scene from the first “Jurassic Park” movie in which a park-goer is plucked from a toilet seat and eaten alive by a Tyrannosaurus Rex hangs on a wall in one of the upstairs bathrooms.

“Little cues that make it feel (authentic),” Perkins said. “It’s the ‘nerdy’ details that make the difference. I could see (movie characters) Ian Malcom or John Hammond staying here. It’s got a feel of, ‘You’re not in a normal house.’ It just all fits right.”