At a charity auction a few months back, I won tickets to an animal safari park in Ohio. We love a great adventure and took off early in the morning for the 4 hour drive. Once arriving, we got the low-down from a park ranger and purchased 4 buckets of animal food before entering the gates. Children are allowed to be unbuckled as you are on a dirt path, barely creeping along, stopping to feed the animals along the way. That sounded easy enough.
Moments after entering the path, we were stopped by llamas. Maybe alpacas? I can never remember the difference.
The children thought is was hysterical as they fed them carrots from the window.
They were friendly as we scratched their heads and told them just how handsome they were.
After pulling away from the the llamas (maybe alpacas?) we headed into the next section of the park where we were to be greeted by deer. But, a deer is not what greeted us. From the middle of nowhere a buffalo charged our mini-van. Dennis and the children were feeding other smaller creatures from the driver's side window and did not see this beast creep up on us.
He got a glance just as it started to rock the passenger door. That's when Daddy did it. CURSING. Dennis spit out a string of profanities as he fumbled with the electric windows. Being a forward thinker, I threw all of the carrots outside of the passenger window hoping the buffalo would move away to eat. Instead, it attracted all of the other buffalo and they wanted more carrots. They started rubbing their wet and snotty noses all along the windows of the van. Three of our children were crying while Jack cheered, "This is so awesome!"
Thank goodness the park ranger noticed our paralyzed mini-van and came to our rescue on a golf cart, of all things. He simply beeped the horn and they scattered away. Wow. Wish we would have thought about that.
After finishing the safari park, three cheers for zebras and giraffes, we decided we needed something a little more tame for the afternoon. We found a seat in the grandstands and waited with baited breathe for THE PORKCHOP DOWNS.
Who doesn't love a good pig race?
The kids were totally into it!
And listened carefully as the rules of the race were explained.
Then something unbelievable happened. Before the race, a special competition was to be held and they were looking for volunteers. Jack jumped at the chance and quickly ran to the microphone. Realizing he didn't have permission, he looked back to ask if it was OK with us? Dennis and I applauded his bravery as he signed up for A PIG CALLING COMPETITION!
Dennis asked me if Jack knew how to do a pig call and I simply shrugged my shoulders. I was a mouth-open, nervous wreck as my man, the youngest by far in the competition, walked to the microphone. And with tiny fists clenched he yelled, SOOOOO-o-oeeyy! The crowd went wild, confirming his spot in the final round. Nola sat with a red face and said, "Mom, this is so embarrassing."
Minutes later Jack took the stage once again in effort to earn the grand prize, the title of Pig Calling Champion and an ice cream cone. He was hands down the crowd favorite as he belted SOOOOO-o-oeeyy! from his 40lb frame. Yes, my friends. My son won. And, although he claims something was in his eye, I think Daddy may have teared up.
Now, we couldn't let Ohio's newest pig calling champion have all the fun, so we treated everyone to ice cream.
Not forgetting that we were with a celebrity.
We were on a high when it all came crashing down. It boiled down to a camel ride.
The big kids happily took off on a camel just as Katie and I were about to get on. You see, she met the age requirement but was not tall enough...even for the baby saddle. I tried to explain that she was over 2, she is actually 4, and could follow directions and sit up on her own. Please, she can scale our refrigerator and ride a bike. I feel pretty confident that he thought I was lying and Kate did too. She was appalled and quickly said, "I not a baby. I from da China." He wouldn't budge.
Dennis handled it so well as he swept her away for some one-on-one time with a bunny. I, on the other hand, was broken hearted at the rejection. My tiny warrior. So brave. So small. So determined. I'm going to make a camel ride happen. Just wait and see.