Thomy and Jeff's birthdays are in May, so I thought ahead and bought a Groupon (or some such thing) for a trip to the Wildlife Safari in Winston, down in southern Oregon. We took the kids there years ago, but it was so long ago that I couldn't remember much about it.
The boys slept over at our house the night before, so that we could get an early start.
The trip took a little less than three hours. I printed off some travel games before we left, which was a lifesaver. The boys played travel bingo and checked state license plates off a master list as we traveled down the interstate.
Jeff slept a little.
Not big Jeff. He was driving.
The park is well known for its cheetah breeding programme, which is about the only thing I remembered from our first trip.
Exotic birds abound.
We stopped in the petting zoo. Thomy was up for feeding the goats, but Jeff was a bit hesitant until he saw that Thomy survived the experience unscathed.
Nana looks a little manic, and it's still early in the day!
The boys decided they would love to ride on the camel, so I thought, what the heck, the entry ticket was cheap enough!
I do think that camels have great character in their faces, don't you?
We decided that camel rides were over-rated, not worth the $10 for the five minutes or so of ride, so we signed up for the hippopotamus experience later in the afternoon. Meanwhile, we ate lunch and did the driving safari. This takes about 45 minutes and was great fun, because of all the different animals and birds that are running free.
There were several of these bears, just dozing in the sun.
You can buy emu food and the cars ahead of us were feeding them. Of course, a couple of them had to check out our car too. They were quite brazen, and this one had rather an evil eye, I think, but it turns out he looked scarier than he really was.
I do love a real, live flamingo. Or ten.
Finally, the time arrived to board the safari truck for the hippo experience.
We learned lots of interesting things about hippos, most of which I have forgotten.
I am the Queen of Google, a title I share with my sister, so I found some fascinating facts for you.
Hippos can hold their breath underwater for five minutes.
When in Africa, they spend up to sixteen hours a day submerged in water, trying to keep cool in the hot, African sun.
Hippos can weigh around 3,000 pounds, yet they can easily outrun a human, being able to reach 19 mph for short distances. They are also very unpredictable and are one of the most dangerous animals in Africa.
The giraffes had just finished their own encounter, where, of course, they had been fed, so this one ambled over to our truck to see if it could scrounge some from us as well.
It was a thrill; two encounters for the price of one, just my kind of thing!
How come giraffes are so stinking cute?
It was quite determined, and tried it from all angles. It stuck its head over the side wall of the truck.
Eventually, the hippo keeper convinced the giraffe that there was no food for it, so it cast us this disgusted look (you see it too, right?) and ambled away.
These are both males and they are very well trained.
We had seen just about everything once and some things twice by now, so we decided to go home.
There is a restaurant near the freeway entrance. It is called Noah's Burgers and looked like a fun place, so we stopped there to eat before we started the return trip home.
It was pretty weird, more of a ministry than a restaurant, so we took a few photos and used their bathrooms and headed on home. A rather odd little old man and woman, all dressed up as Noah and his wife, run the place. I am sure their intentions are good, but I didn't fancy microwaved burgers and tater tots for dinner.
We stopped at Burger King instead, which seemed to make everyone happy.
It was a fun day and I hope the boys remember it for a long time.