This past June, Mr. Dave and I experienced a spur of the moment adventure to deepest, darkest Southern Oregon. It was Mr. Dave’s fault that we ended up there and beyond. I was only along for the ride because I’m a supportive type wife who may be just too darn agreeable for her own good.
The plan for that fateful June morning was to get up early, keep a half dozen doctor appointments in faraway cities like Portland and Beaverton, and then return home where our three senior citizen kitties, most of whom still have teeth, would greet us just as soon as they realized we had left the house.
Perhaps, it was the most excellent weather we were experiencing that day that moved me to agree with Mr. Dave that we must go adventuring in Earl the truck. Springtime here in Oregon can be a devious season. Us North Westerners are apt to become a smidge too rambunctious when trees everywhere begin bursting into bloom, displaying sun bedazzled pink and white blossoms that gently sprinkle themselves over every sidewalk, parking lot, and lawn. When trees bloom, and puffy, warm zephyrs of mostly unpolluted air start drying up the last of winter’s river-sized puddles, and the sky overhead is a clear blue beautiful in every direction you look, we are apt to throw caution to the wind and agree to anything that keeps us out of doors.
“Let’s go someplace fun,” suggested Mr. Dave upon completion of our last doctor visit of the day. “We’ve got enough time and gas to go anywhere we want.”
“Goodness me,” said I, “where shall we go?”
“Wildlife Safari,” replied Mr. Dave, “We’ve never been there; and, it would be a good thing for us to go visit the free roaming wild animals that reside in that part of the state.”
OK, so maybe Mr. Dave didn’t say those exact words, but the destination I mentioned was correct.
“Sounds like a good idea,” I agreed. “Let’s go see the wild beasties!”
Three hours of truck riding fun later we arrived in a town called Winston which is located somewhere in southern Oregon……
By following a number of well-placed road signs advertising the place, Mr. Dave was able to direct Earl towards the entrance to Wildlife Safari, an amazing little gem of a place where humans drive through 300 acres of hilly, rural roads encountering wild things that mostly aren’t native to Oregon.
The trip through the park was epic! There were lions and tigers and bears. There were also cheetahs. I only saw one cheetah, however. The rest of the cheetah pack had gone adventuring up the hill and out of view. I expect one cheetah must have been elected by the others to remain in the roadside cheetah viewing area to deal with folks like Mr. Dave and me. It just sprawled in the heat in a dark patch of tree shadow napping. It never provided us with a photographic opportunity.
I was more impressed by the lions. There was a whole pride of them taking a siesta in the lion viewing area. Did I say it was a hot day? The sun was merciless. The lions were hot and sleepy. The head lion did sit up a bit when we paused to ooooo and ahhhhh over them. He knew his job. Provide the idiot humans with at least one photographic opportunity before collapsing back into a semi-coma state.
There was a free roaming giraffe, as well. It was beautiful. It walked around, providing many photographic opportunities for us humans. At one point, it stood in the middle of the road eating leaves off a tree. We had to wait quite a while before it decided to get out of the road so Earl could move forward. When you are on safari at the wildlife park, you must patiently wait for the beasties to get off the road in order to progress to the next exhibit.
There was this magnificent herd of zebras on a hilltop and dozens of antelope sitting in groups all over the hillsides. And water buffalo! A whole herd of them. There were other kinds of cow like critters with immense horns very much like the Texas long horn cattle you see in those western rancher verses cattle rustler movies. I don’t know what you call them, but they looked awesome.
There are feeding stations situated all along the driving route, and lots of the critters took advantage of the shade they provided. The nearness of the feeding stations to the road meant that we got a perfect view of llamas, some kind of goat-like critters, and plenty of poultry in the form of ducks with long necks and calico shaded feathers. The long necked ducks seemed to hang out mostly with the llamas and the goat-like critters.
The brown bears, hands down, were my favorite critters. We found one bear asleep under a ramp and another sitting quite humanlike in a pond of water. The bear in the water looked so happy. Right along the fence line surrounding the bear exhibit were a herd of huge buffalo. They were just standing there hanging out with the bears. Epic!
There were hippos in a pond, elephants scratching themselves on posts, a camel and so, so many more critters. Towards the end of the trail, by the cheetahs is a little hut where you can buy a cup of animal kibble.
“You want to feed the deer and the emus?” asked Mr. Dave.
“Sure do,” I replied.
Ten dollars later we each held a cup of animal kibble. That’s when the crazy emu attacked me……
I held out the cup as instructed by the lady who sold the kibble.
“Just shake it and they will come,” said the lady.
I shook my cup of kibble and it came. A huge ostrich with crazed eyes which I later learned was an emu. It didn’t come alone. With it was a long necked duck looking critter that had webbed feet and waddled quick as it could behind the emu. Behind them came thousands more emus and probably a lot more long necked ducks, too. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating the numbers a bit. There was only one emu and it came so fast and furiously that I got startled when it pecked at the kibble so hard that I almost lost my grip on the feeding cup.
Instinctively, I pulled my cup of kibble away from the beast and into the cab of Earl the truck. Not a good idea. The emu just stuck its mongo big head through the open window trying to get at the kibble. I screeched while Mr. Dave and the kibble lady snickered. I finely got the hang of how to hold the cup outside the door so that the emu could peck at it. I was happy to see that the duck got a lot of kibble that the emu’s pecking eating style caused to spill out of the feeding cup.
We drove on a bit and encountered the most beautiful little deer herd. I got to feed one. Unlike the pecking method the emu used, the deer had a gentler way of eating the kibble out the cup. I got this excellent pic of that gentle, beautiful deer.
Eventually, our trip through the wildlife park was completed and we were ready for a new adventure. The adventure of getting home before dark, which didn’t happen because Mr. Dave decided we would return home via the southern Oregon coast route.
Did I say, previously, that we had no paper map ? I did suggest to Mr. Dave that we should try to procure one, but nooooooo. We had something superior to a mere paper road map in the form of Mr. Dave’s magical, technically advanced telephone which has GPS capabilities.
Mr. Dave showed me how it works. He pulled up a program application on his cell phone that morphed onscreen into a simple road map of southern Oregon. A little blue car appeared on screen and positioned itself on the line. Mr. Dave informed me that the line represented the very road we were traveling on and that the little blue car graphic represented Earl the truck. I was quite impressed. As we traveled down the road, the little car on the screen moved forward in the same direction.
I would like to point out that it was I who suggested to Mr. Dave that we take the same road we had followed to get to Winston as our route for the return trip home. This seemed like a sensible driving plan to me. I am woman; and, we women tend to do logical things like return from places that are unfamiliar to us via the same path we used to arrive there. Thus, we do not get lost. Mr. Dave, a representative of the average guy, did not agree with me that the quickest route towards the southern part of the Oregon coast would be the way I suggested.
(Coming soon–Road Trip Part 2 wherein Mr. Dave keeps alive the pioneering spirit while Rennie learns that there are credible reasons in this world that might lead her to distrust advanced technology—- )