The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

An African Safari....Texas-Style

If you are going on a safari.....it's best to get an early start.  We consider 0900 an early start when heading out with two kids.  After breakfast, we packed the kids and snacks up in the car and set off.  Fortunately, we didn't have too many miles to cover before we could begin the adventure.  Get prepared...the only shots taken in this safari were with cameras.


After we arrived at the Wildlife Ranch, we paid our entrance fee which included a bag of animal food and got a second bag just in case.

First up, a Japanese Sika (left) and Aoudad sheep in the forefront.


These are Watusi cattle.  Bet you thought they were longhorns????

Bison strolling among the other animals.  The bigger animals preferred the hay or corn put out for them but the others loved the animal pellets we got at the gate.  Probably a good thing right?

Okay, you have to have your eyes wide open to see everything.  Steve noticed this on our second trip through.  It's a dung beetle pushing a ball of s_ _t across the road.  That is the pavement so you can tell how magnified this is.  He has good eyes.

With the bison are Fallow deer or Axis deer, I have a hard time telling them apart.

This young female Kudu Antelope stuck his head in for a quick visit and a snack.

Looks like these male Kudu Antelope are having a serious discussion.

These animals are very friendly and move from vehicle to vehicle looking for snacks.  Don't give them anything except the animal pellets.

This deer has quite a set of antlers.  Do you know the difference between antlers and horns?  Antlers come in all shapes and sizes but they have branches and points.  Only the males have antlers.....they grow them and shed them each year.  They start out as cartlidge covered with velvet (fur) which falls off when the antlers ossify into bone.  A few weeks after they lose the antlers, the whole process starts over.  On the other hand, horns are permanent.  If lost, they do not grow back.  They are bone with a cover of keratin like human hair or fingernails.

These elk have antlers antlers with velvet on them.

These Scimitar have some seriously long horns.

I'm not sure if Morgan was about to sneeze but we were stopped here because there were so many animals along the road.

Next stop, the Kenyan Preserve.

This ostrich was moving right along....directly towards us!  We weren't sure if he was saying "welcome" or move along.


These are Damaraland Zebra.

They have a brown shadow stripe between the black and white stripes.  Did you know that no two zebras have the same stripe pattern and that each side of the zebra has a different pattern?

Another ostrich....I think these huge birds were the least friendly animals in the park.  You don't want their heads coming into the car.  Notice their big toes.

The rhinocerus were in a pen along the road.  They are the only animal with a horn growing out of their nose.   It continues to grow their whole life.


The kids were quite sure this wasn't Maurice the camel that they knew in Turkey because Maurice only had one hump.

We are definitely moving across the whole continent this trip.

Ostriches again.  I wonder if he knows what an unattractive pose this is.  You can see the bone where all the feathers are attached.  There is nothing wrong with him, it's just how the underside looks.

I think this is an Emu but it could also be a Rhea.  They were very friendly and curious.

The Llamas were very friendly too.


By this time, you may be convinced we were in Africa but no....this is Texas and the cactus are in bloom.  Aren't they beautiful?

Where's the chow?  Such friendly little donkeys.

Right here boy, put it right here!!!!  I can't make it any easier than this.  They were so funny and expressive.  Definitely professional crowd entertainers having just as much fun as the people.

Yes, we had a wonderful time!  We drove through twice.  I would definitely recommend morning as the best time to visit before the heat hits and the animals move further away from the road to nap.

But the fun wasn't over yet.  Now it was time to get out of the car to check out the next adventure.



The lemurs had a lovely island home surrounded by a moat filled with fish.






Next on to the Petting Barnyard.


Lots of little goats.



There was only one more area to visit.  We wanted to see the giraffes.  Giraffes have horns which are bone with a layer of hair.

We had a wonderful time at the Wildlife Ranch.  Have to admit that we didn't visit the Gift Store or the restaurant.  They do have a nice outdoor picnic area.  Everything was clean and well taken care of.  In 2014, they are adding another whole area.  They give military discounts, senior prices, and be sure to visit their website for a coupon if you don't qualify for one of the discounts above.  Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch  is not just for kids.  It's located on FM 3009 just northeast of San Antonio.

We'll be back!

Homeward Bound; All Good Things Must End....Until Next Time

Harley, Harley......where are you Harley??????

There you are.  Sorry buddy, it's time to pack up and head home.  We'll see our friends again....some soon, some not until the next gathering.

We didn't plan on an early start.....good thing.....because we didn't have one.  Carolyn pulled out at 0800, Gloria came by to say goodbye as she wasn't leaving until the next day, Diana also came by just before she headed out, Margareta was out walking her dog and cat, Liz and Kim headed off to another gathering of another group, and Sue stopped by too on her way down to the office.  She was also going to be there another day along with Gloria.  I had a little delay when my safety relay wouldn't go back into the plug but we fought it out and I won.

I ended up having to back out of a pull-through slot since it was bordered on one side by a palm tree and on the other side by an orange tree and there was no way I could make the turn.  Not the best planning for non-park models but I was able to just back around the corner in back and go down the street behind me.  No problems going out that way.  The GPS decided which way we were going to head out of town and we were off.  The roads were good and traffic wasn't bad at all.  Fortunately the wind wasn't too bad either.  Sometimes there are some pretty good cross winds as you head north or south.

We were stopped at a border check station which was interesting since we were going north and not across the border.  I was asked if I was an American citizen and then sent on my way.  Fortunately the Dachsies watched quietly from the back seat and didn't launch into a loud defense of the truck.  Later we stopped for lunch at a rest area.  I was so glad that I just pulled up along the curb and didn't go down to the pull through area for RVs and trucks.....really glad.  The dogs were just taking a potty break when a cattle truck pulled in.  The smell was absolutely awful when he went past me and he pulled in right next to another truck in the pull through area.  Cattle poop was flying out of the upper level and splattering everywhere as he sat there.  I bet the other truckers were pretty unhappy with him and I would have been furious had he parked next to me.  There was plenty of room at the far side of the parking area so there was really no excuse and he certainly left a mess for the next visitors to the rest area.

The rest of the trip home was uneventful.  I made it safely home Monday night and had the RV unpacked long before Dave and Steve made it in from Florida several hours later.  It's always sad when a trip is over and I'm already ready for the next one.