Sunday, September 24, 2017

I Talk To Animals

Mostly because I'm alone in my rig with two puppies and a talking parrot, I talk to animals all the time.  I even talk to myself in the grocery store, but I won't go into that.  The critters at the West Coast Game Park Safari are no exception.  While explaining how it all works to some new visitors, this little guy kept butting my leg with his head.  These miniature goats are just so darn cute!!

I gave him lots of chin scratches along with a good ear massage, which seemed to satisfy him as he went about his way looking for grain.
They are all kept in a huge corral out back until 10:00 when they are released into the public area.  They come on the run in a big long line for a bucket of grain tossed on the ground.
They really do keep this place clean, raking up everything in the mornings and washing down concrete areas.  Goats and sheep will be goats and sheep however, so watch where you step.  Not that it will help because it's everywhere.  Boot brushes are provided for cleaning.  This happens to be Miss Patty Chance's favorite kitty place too, so I told her I'd gather some in a baggie so she wouldn't feel left out.
Here's Lexi again, just because she's so magnificent!!!  She really likes it here but would give anything for a chance to get one of those goats.  That feather on a stick is fun, but she'd like something she can sink her teeth into.
I talked to the Queen of Beasts who stayed up too late last night.  Although there was a tasty Foster Farms chicken in her enclosure, she was saving it for a mid morning snack.  Along with other things, raw chicken is a staple around here.
You can really get up close and personal with the sheep by buying a few ice cream cones full of grain.  These first time visitors had a blast until one sheep grabbed the entire cone and scarfed it down.  Not that they need more since they are as fat as little piggies, but she bought more anyway, just so she could feed them.  Pretty good fun!!
This huge elk wasn't up and around yet, still snoozing in his paddock.  These brutes lose their horns every year and grow new ones.  I think these are the biggest I've ever seen.
Got grain?  No, but there's a hay rack full of alfalfa behind you, along with a couple of lamas.  All of the critters running around inside as you walk the grounds can be petted.  They are all very good natured and sweet as can be.
Even the donkeys love being petted.  This guy came up and gave me a head butt too.  Being a horse woman, I pretty much know where they like to be scratched the most.  Not on their face, but under their chin and down their neck.  Be ready to get your hands dirty.  I wouldn't tell anyone to try it unless you understand animal language, but they also love to have their ears stripped ... meaning sticking your finger inside their ears and rubbing all the way to the tip.  

Occasionally they don't appreciate that, it just depends on the animal.  Most LOVE it, but you need to be able to read their reaction so you don't get bit.  These guys are just so sweet they even let a tiny little girl kiss them on the face.
You can't pet the Wallabies, but they sure are cute too!!  There's more ... camels, peccaries, capybara ... and a whole pond full of huge geese.
Finally you come to the nursery of babies you can pet.  Although Todd is the King of Foxdom, this new baby is learning the ropes while he gets breakfast.  He loves pieces of apple and carrot, which he eats while you pet him.  They also have a skunk, two ferrets and a baby possum that is the softest ever and loves to snuggle.  Try it ... you'll like it I promise!!
My usual wonderful homecoming has turned rather sour.  I've had a couple of disasters happen immediately ... like four months of my mail and packages disappearing and major repairs to my truck.  It's not been a fun day at all.  That and a very early dentist appointment may make for a late post tomorrow, but I'll get to it because I have to tell you about my latest Indian acquisition from Eureka!!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

That Was NOT My Plan!!

Backing up a tad ... I actually did report the dog owner in Bandon.  She knew exactly who I was talking about, so apparently there have been several occurrences.  Next time I'll be sure to call early and not get stuck with the permanent residents.  It was WAY too close to the road for me to get any sleep ... akin to the trains in Harrisburg.

The views were spectacular along the coast just South of Port Orford.  It's one of the prettiest sections of highway and one of the roughest.  Driving was a breeze however, with only two stop signs the entire route.
Upon arriving in Eureka, I pulled in to the Shoreline RV Park and was given a spot just feet from the freeway.  UGH ... another sleepless night.  The good news is that I was actually in the end of town I usually spend the most time.  First up .... Samoa Cookhouse.  Unfortunately I don't have a lot of information other than it's been in existence for many MANY years as the cookhouse for the lumber companies. 
Still in existence today, they have a set menu you can check out on Facebook.  When I saw BBQ Ribs, I thought OH YEAH!!!  Turned out not so much.  You are first served the biggest slices of bread EVER (homemade every morning), the soup of the day, salad and pickled beans.  The entree comes in a huge plate ... red potatoes, corn and ribs along with a bowl of chili beans ... but the ribs were really rib tips simmered in sauce.  Not at all what I was expecting.  It's all you can eat for $14.50 for lunch.  
As you can see, it's served family style, so to save the waitress a little running, I sat near two other people and made some new friends.  Honestly, I thought they were two women.  Both had long pouffy curly hair.  One just wasn't as pretty as the other, to put it nicely.  When HE finally began to talk, I was shocked.  

I wanted to say what a lovely wig he had on, but I kept my mouth shut.  Really, I wanted to know where "I" could get one!!  Seems he was born and raised in Ferndale and she (who lived in Yuba City) had just bought a house there.  The names have been changed to protect the innocent.  FRED apparently lives in a barn and occasionally makes his way to the Moose Lodge for showers.  "See?  He's all clean!"  

We talked for quite awhile about the repairs on her house when out of the blue she invited me to come see it.  Yikes!!  You know me, I'm too suspicious of people to take up an invitation like that.  I'm thinking serial killers!!  Well just come to Papa Joe's for breakfast at 7:00 am ... we'll be there.  I thought about that one for a fraction of a second before declining.  

They went on to tell me about how his children don't want to see him, and vice versa.  He's had enough of those darn kids and never wants to see them again.  Well gee ... you live in a barn and wear a beautiful woman's wig ... I can't imagine why!!  She paid for lunch, so maybe he really DOES live in a barn.

As they left, I wandered through the logging museum INSIDE the cookhouse.  Lots of amazing stuff there you should check out.  Outside is another museum of ship related things.  In years past many ships were built in Eureka and sailed the high seas.
Instead of painting the name on the ship, they made these beautiful signs.  Unfortunately if the sign is here, the boat probably sank.  The waters here are just as bad as they are in Astoria Oregon.
Here's an amazing piece of artwork.  They have three of these boats, handmade with wood and nails.  Exact replicas of the original.
They even have some of the old Navy posters.  Men could make $17-70 a month and you got one whole outfit to wear FREE!!
This is the only one I've ever seen that showed a woman on the poster, least I'm guessing it's a woman.  Come to think of it, that hair does resemble FRED'S doo.  At any rate, it's a very interesting little museum.  They even have a radio room all set up where you can listen to current marine traffic.
So I left lovely Eureka thinking it has gone downhill terribly.  I've never seen so many homeless people camped out everywhere, not to mention people of questionable character roaming the streets.  At one point, I sat in my car and watched two guys hike through the parking lot looking for open car doors.  There was trash on every corner caught up in all the weeds and bushes no one cared to water.  Sad that such a beautiful little town has lost it's vitality.  

If you're up that direction, you will find that the town of Willits has completely been bypassed by the new freeway and there are two of my favorite round-de-rounds in the Clear Lake area, along with two new Indian Casinos.  

When I finally hit I-5 and headed South, my plan was to stop in at Cal Expo in Sacramento for the night.  There was the Hwy 50 sign ... nope.  There was the Hwy 99 sign ... no, not that one.  The next thing I know, I'm halfway to Stockton.  RATS ... I missed my turnoff to Hwy 80.  This was NOT my plan!!  I wanted to give Jonathan a long rest after the 7 hour drive from Eureka.  

Might as well just keep going now.  I went, but not very fast since the traffic was backed up through the entire city of Stockton, all the way through Hwy 120, Manteca and Modesto, clear to Turlock!!  I think I actually got up to 45 mph once ... it was 5-25 most of the very LONG way.  That turned out to be a good thing for Jonathan, but left me aching from the 9-1/2 hour drive in one day.  My bottle of Advil is close at hand.

I still have Bandon pictures ... I'll get those out tomorrow.  For now, it's unloading time.  Oh what fun!!!

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Mysterious Snow Leopard

Meet Yari, a fun bundle of joy just getting to know the world.  Snow leopards are an endangered species, with only about 3500 left in the world.  Due to their shy nature, their numbers have not really been calculated.  Don't you just want to give her a big hug??  This picture is from last year when she was a baby.
Here she is today, all grown up.  They are native to the high mountain ranges of Asia, which means lots of cold and snow.  Their fur is multi-layer and amazing to touch.
Here's that natural instinct to stalk dinner.  Actually, it was a donkey that got a little too close.  The donkey had to go!!
As the clouds came in and out, her color changed from dark grey to lighter grey with a shadowing of yellow.  Even though it was around 60 degrees, you can tell she was panting a little.  This is hot weather for her!!
Would you look at that tail?  It's at least six inches across and used for balance.  Too big to allow petting, she put on a spectacular show for us, chasing one of her toys.  It's a gallon water jug smashed flat by her teeth and attached to a long stick.  
Once he started throwing it around, she began playing like your house kitty would, trying to grab hold.  When he ran it up the wall however, she followed it up and over in a spectacular back flip, catching it before she landed on all fours.  On the second run, she actually chased it around the wall, sprinted up, pushed off the wall and again caught it mid air with a flying leap.  She was WAY too fast to capture with my camera!!  
Once she catches it, she's supposed to let go, but THIS time decided to make sure it didn't get away.  It's firmly planted between her teeth.  When she gets too possessive, it's time to go.  By the way, this is the same caretaker that takes everyone home.  Lexi the lynx was raised with a Caracal cat from Africa ... Yari was raised with Ruckus the bobcat.
Meet baby Ruckus.  When he was little, I got to hold this beauty.  
Meet Ruckus today!  He looks pretty much like your kitty, right?  
One of the first wild animals that ever sat on my lap was a bobcat named Bob.  Bob is still here at the facility.  Ruckus is also too big for the public to pet, so he just strutted around showing off his manly self.
Now that these babies have grown up, new babies will be arriving for the caretakers to take home.  Just like your house kitties, these guys are all litter box trained.  Lucky for them, all of these babies will be staying here.
This is the bobcat that wanders my back yard in Arizona.  A little different color, you can tell she's not as well fed as Ruckus.
The Cookhouse story has to wait until tomorrow.  I'm heading out again, getting ever closer to home. Today will be the longest drive of the trip, so I better get packing!!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

My How You Have Changed!!

If you've been reading my blog of awhile, you'll recognize this picture.  This is 6 week old Lexi, a little ball of furry fun.  When the keeper put her in my lap, she immediately crawled up to the top of my head for a higher vantage point.  I can't even begin to tell you how much fun she was!!
I'm thrilled to announce this is Lexi today and she is still at this facility.  It's so cool to see her again all grown up.  In the lynx world, two females usually stay with one male, so Lexi has a built in family right here.
She's fully mature now ... just look at those feet!!  At this point however, you can't have her on your lap.  Although there is no government money at all in this facility, they DO have to follow certain State rules about people getting close to mature wild animals.  Lexi has her eye on a deer that wandered by.  
She's really dialed in here.  That natural instinct to chase and catch prey never leaves them.  Her telltale ear feathers show she's a lynx.  And SOFT .. oh my gosh, she is SO SOFT!!!
There were two baby bears here last year, this one being Clyde.  They were found abandoned in the wild, rescued and brought here because they were so young.  By the way, all of the critters here are handled with dog collars and leashes, just like your pets.  Since they were so young, they were still drinking milk.
This is Bonnie ... as in Bonnie and Clyde ... both black bears, but Bonnie has a brown coat.  I got to pet her while she was having her snack.  Once these guys get bigger, they are not allowed around the public.  Not that they would hurt anyone, but they COULD.  
THIS is Bonnie today.  WOW ... in one short year she grew into a brute!!  The elderly bear that lived in this compound passed away, so they decided to keep Bonnie and have her raise a family.  
Not having an immediate home for Clyde, they kept them in the same area.  In no time, like normal siblings, they didn't get along AT ALL ... and so Clyde was transferred to another facility.  Bonnie grabbed a huge piece of grass in the above picture, then sat down at her dinner table and ate it.
"Yeah, I like it here .... they take good care of me.  I've even got a climbing gym to work out on and my own private swimming pool."  Bonnie is almost four feet tall and I'm sure weighs in the neighborhood of 300-400 pounds.
Here's the newest addition, Ruckus.  He came by his name naturally.  He sure can make a ruckus!  Unfortunately, he was WAY too rambunctious on this day.  If they don't mind (and he didn't) they are returned to their compound without the milk treat.  Yes, he IS biting her arm, although not hard.  He kept wrapping his legs around her, which I think scared her a little.
That made him want to play even more.  Yup ... his mouth is wrapped around her arm again and that's not allowed.  Back in his quarters, he created an even bigger ruckus by climbing up the wire and showing off for the crowd.  Ruckus is slowly being introduced to Bonnie.  They close her off and let him romp throughout her territory and swim in her pool.  Hopefully she will get used to him through his scent before they put them together.
There's even MORE pictures coming tomorrow.  Yari the snow leopard is up next.   In the meantime, I drove rather leisurely down the coast to Eureka California.  I made reservations at an RV park so I could take my time.  I'm sure glad I got those windshield wipers on because it poured down rain from Bandon to Gold Beach.  

My favorite stretch of road is from Port Orford to Brookings, although it is the worst section of road.  Most of Hwy 101 has been repaired with only two stop lights on the entire trip.  Not repaired well mind you, just drivable.  One particularly bad section I had to navigate at 5 mph because a bicyclist jumped in front of me on a terribly narrow one lane steep section.  I doubt he will do that again since I was literally on his butt all the way up the hill, overheating all the way!!  I realize they are "cars" too, but really dude ... let the cars go by first.

So here I am at a VERY noisy RV park (road traffic is terrible), but with pillows, quilts, levis and backpacks stuffed in the windows, I slept pretty good.  I'm paying $84 for two nights so I don't have to stress over finding a spot at the Elks Lodge.  Today I'm going to go find the fairgrounds where you can also stay ... just to check it out.

Last night's dinner at Samoa Cookhouse was an experience like no other.  I'll tell you all about my new friends tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Yawning Good Morning

It's a perfect day in my book when I get to see these babies.  This is why I stop in Bandon at the West Coast Game Park Safari every single year without fail.  I'm there when the door opens and always stay several hours.

Unlike other parks, this is a small walk-through facility that for the most part, raises hand fed babies.  Although my preference would be for these guys to be in huge condos out in the wild somewhere, these animals have all been raised in captivity.  Their babies, and babies from other zoos, are hand raised in the keepers homes, just like your puppy or kitty.  Upon return to the zoos, they make wonderful examples of why we should work harder to keep them alive in the wild.
This huge lion kept tracking something overhead.  Although I looked up, I didn't see anything, but am guessing there was a big bird in the tree.  These animals never lose their natural instincts, even when hand fed.  They are always looking for that next meal.
It was a little early for lions ... they are NOT early risers.  Noon probably would have been a much better time to get up.  
Maybe he was just showing off his canines for the neighboring lioness.  There apparently was something in the air that he didn't like, because he immediately walked around like the regal King he is and sprayed everything in site.  Yes I got pictures ... no I'm not showing them.  
The Queen of the Day was next door.  Every so often you could hear loud huffing going on.  I think the King was trying to impress his Queen.
It didn't work.  She was just as bored as he was!!
So who's got the bigger teeth?  I could have sat and watched them all day, but the tigers had just crawled out of bed too.
If you come around 10:00, they are usually up and roaming around, ready to eat.  In the afternoons, they lay out in the sun and do what we would do ... nap.
This white tiger is actually the same as the Bengal tiger.  If a baby inherits a recessive gene from each parent, it will be white.  Otherwise, it will look just like the big guy above.  Several babies have been born here, all hand fed and exchanged with zoos for other babies.

The same is true for leopards.  The female here is black ... a recessive gene.  The male looks like the leopard you expect, covered in spots.  At 21 years old, she has had several sets of babies, either two black or two spotted at a time.  Unfortunately, they didn't come out to play.
There's SO much more to see, including capybaras, American bison, camels, the biggest elk I've ever seen, and lots more "kitties".  Unfortunately, this time of year is when the birds lose their brilliant feathers, so the peacocks were a little lacking in beauty.  
This is the latest Eurasian Lynx baby.  Native to Siberia, Asia and Europe, she is just 8 weeks old.  She doesn't even have a name yet, so if you've got a good idea, let me know and I'll pass it on.  About 12 inches tall, she's still learning how to manage those long legs.
Obviously she loves her "dad".  This nice guy takes all of these babies to his house where he litter box trains them and raises them to maturity.  He does play with them (with what else, a feather on a stick) but doesn't allow them to bite or attack him or his pant legs.  I want his job!!!
She is very similar to the Canadian Lynx that you are more likely to see in Washington or Canada ... or here.  Lexi is the lynx I held on my lap and petted last year.  You won't believe how she's changed.  
To keep from having hundreds of pictures (I took 300 on this day), I'll show you Lexi tomorrow, along with Yari, Bonnie, Roscoe and Ruckus.  You're gonna love them!!!