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The birth of Alice the T Rex how she found a home on the Naramata Bench

On Tuesday of this week, two large flatbed trucks pulled up to a stunningly situated 13-acre property on Lower Bench Road, not far from Munson Mountain and bordering on the KVR Trail and Okanagan Lake.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Their cargo? A 12,000-pound, larger-than-life stainless steel sculpture of the fearsome dinosaur know as the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

"Alice," as it's been named, is so big it was transported from metal sculptor Kevin Stone's 8600-square foot studio in Chilliwack to the Naramata Bench in three separate chunks -- head, torso and tail -- on the beds of two large flatbed trucks.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

It then took the artist and all the helping hands -- Stone's wife Michelle Stone and sculpting apprentice Josh Guretzki and another crew that was already on site when they arrived, and a couple of cranes -- six hours to put it all together and affix it to a concrete base constructed in advance.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

All of this is a pretty cool story. But it's that much cooler because the fellow who owns the property and now owns Alice, 54-year-old internet investor Frank Schilling, a guy who made hundreds of millions of dollars primarily through astute Internet investing, has positioned the dinosaur so it can be seen by anyone walking or biking the KVR.

Indeed, you'd likely get a pretty good view from a boat on the lake too.

The morning after its arrival and assembly, as the Chilliwack gang finished their clean-up work and prepped to head back home, sculptor Stone admitted it was the first time Alice had ever been fully assembled.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Josh Guretzki, Michelle Stone, Kevin Stone, lurking dinosaur

"We've never had it together before last night, and it was dark then," he said, "so right now is the first time we've ever really gotten to see it all in one piece. It's pretty great."

We asked how it was that celebrated investor Schilling, a guy born in Germany and raised in Canada and based in the Cayman Islands, commissioned a Chilliwack-based sculptor to create a gigantic T Rex for his Penticton property.

"We started on this in July of 2021," said Stone. "I had a big stainless steel falcon go to a gallery in Miami. And Frank is friends with the gallery owner, Barry Skolnick. Frank saw it and called me up and asked if I could build a 'big chrome T Rex.'

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"And I said sure. We talked about how big it would be and I tried to guesstimate the cost and time frame. And I was really close on both."

Ultimately, Alice was, as one might expect, a pricey proposition.

"We're at $90,000 in material cost and about $320,000 in labour," said Stone, who answered in the affirmative when we suggested Schilling's final bill was close to a half-million.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"Without customers like Frank," he added, "I can’t get to show the world what I'm capable of."

And those capabilities are mighty impressive.

"Last year I finished a Game of Thrones dragon that shot fire and was 55 feet long and 45 feet wide with the wings, then I have a 55-foot eagle at Dollywood in Tennessee, an 85-foot Chinese dragon, several large birds and a lot more," said Stone in a quick rundown of his prior projects.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

And yes, Alice, like Stone's other works, is beefy. Weighing six tons, it's 51 feet long, 15 feet across at the hips and made of 18-gauge sheet metal.

"And the structural frame inside is overkill," said Stone. "It has 12-inch tubing inside that's one-half inch thick."

Each of its feet are an inch and a half thick and were fastened to the base by the sculptor himself using 16-inch anchors and a huge drill bit.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> The artists and their creation

"There are 12 anchors," said Stone. "The concrete has rebar in it, and the anchors are built like drywall anchors. When they go in they spread. There's no bringing them out. Those are what you’d anchor a high-rise building with."

Guretzki and Michele Stone played big roles in Alice's creation.

"Kevin taught me how to build all the skin, template it, cut it, hammer it and stick it on there," said Guretzki.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"The entire thing was handmade," said Michelle. "Each panel was templated in yellow paper, then we took those templates and transferred them to metal and Josh would cut it out.

"The bigger pieces, Josh and I would hammer together, because they were so hard and vibrating so much on the hands that your hands would be bruised from the machine."

Polishing was a big deal too. Every weld had to be polished and some areas were worked to a mirror finish.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"We start with red Scotch-Brite (hand pads) for the deep scratches and blue Scotch-Brite for the medium scratches," said Guretzki, "then I'd work through sandpapers to 2000 grit, then polishing pads. We did the teeth, the eyes, all the important fabricated areas."

As for that six hours spent on assembly, Stone said it was less than he envisioned considering the job at hand.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"Frank had an on-site construction manager here, Jamie (Seddon, owner of Blackhawk Contracting), and he had everything arranged, including the trucking. Everyone was super professional and made our lives a lot easier."

And, he hinted, Alice might not be the last dinosaur on the property.

"Frank had initially talked about giving Alice some friends," he said. "We talked about a stegosaurus and a brontosaurus. So we'll see if he pulls the trigger one day."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

If he does, it'll be even more eye candy for passers-by on the KVR. And for folks on the property too.

And there'll be quite a few of those going forward. You see, if all goes according to Schilling's vision, the property will soon be a boutique resort with multiple AirBnB cottages and more.

Indeed, there's one Airbnb cottage open already -- a glorious bungalow with ultra-high-end amenities, accommodations for four, and a lake view to die for. And it's just a few meters from Alice.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> The already pen AirBnB cottage

The entire 13-acre facility, complete with cherry, peach and nectarine orchards and those ridiculously impressive views of the lake, even has a name: Eden Park.

To reiterate, it's not Jurassic Park. It's Eden Park.

"Frank has a vision," said Eden Park caretaker Michael Gall as the T Rex arrived Tuesday. "He's always liked dinosaurs and he's looking to transform this property with his creative visions.

"He just wants to show that people have dreams and to bring that to the community. And he loves the idea of people coming up to the gate (that borders on the KVR) and taking photos."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> The already pen AirBnB cottage

Staying up close and personal with Alice won't come cheap. A night at the luxurious "Eden Park Lakehouse" will cost you upwards of $1,000. But it comes with perks. Like freebie wine. And privacy. And that monster view. And a dinosaur.

"I feel like when this place is done," said Gall, "people will understand where Frank's vision was leading."

But will Alice always be Alice? In an Instagram post from Thursday, Frank Schilling hinted at a name change.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"So happy that my giant dinosaur finally showed up at @edenparklakehouse," said the post. "My heartfelt thanks to @metal_sculptor_kevin_stone and his wonderful wife and partner Michelle Stone for getting it done. I feel like she needs a new more permanent name now that she’s moved to new surroundings…. Open to ideas."

Whether it's Alice or something else, it'll get reactions. Tuesday during install, we spotted a group at the KVR gate looking on with some amusement.

"It's pretty cool," said Kathryn Snider of Penticton. "We'll always remember we were the ones who got to watch them install it.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Watching from the KVR

"But I do think it's very generous of this fellow to spend all his money and let the public enjoy such a magnificent sculpture right here. Parents love to go for walks on the KVR and little kids don't, so this is a great incentive."

As for Kevin Stone and team, their next project is likely another piece destined for Barry Skolnick in Miami, who'll in turn donate it to a new cancer clinic in the area.

But the really big news is a move to Las Vegas, a move spurred by the desire for a winter that’s not all rain and snow.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"My next studio I hope to have 30- or 40-foot ceilings so I can put these things together before I ship them out," said Stone. "And that'll be in Vegas. We've been working on it for four or five years, trying to get our visas."

To check out Alice yourself, head along the KVR Trail approximately a half-kilometer from its Vancouver Place "0 marker."

To see more of Kevin Stone's work, go to his website here or his Facebook page here or look him up on TikTok or YouTube (where you'll find action videos).

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

To get more info on Eden Park accommodations, look for it on the AirBnB plaftform or Instagram.

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