Elephants, Giraffes, Kangaroos… Oh My!

About one month ago I called my mother and told her about this place in Indiana where we could get up close and interact with elephants. I have not been on a road trip with my mother in years, actually more like over a decade. It took about an hour but I finally got the lady to agree and go on a 6 hour road trip to Indiana! I also asked my mother-in-law and cousin to come along for the adventure. It only took them 5 Minutes to say YES! To kick off my 2018 bucket list I brought my family to Paoli, Indiana for a day trip to Wilstem Ranch.

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After driving 6 hours through rain, sleet, and a blizzard, we finally made it to Wilstem Ranch! The ranch is a nicely secluded area surrounded by lots of trees and large areas of grass. Fun fact about Wilstem Ranch, Franklin Delano Roosevelt would go there to hunt pheasants and quail. He even announced his candidacy for president at Wilstem as well. IMG_0703

Anyhoo back to the elephants! the elephant encounter is an hour long. For the first portion of the hour the elephant caregivers introduce us to the elephants and give us their back stories. Wilstem Ranch houses three female African elephants; Makia, Lovie, and Lou. Makia (pictured left) is the matriarch out of the three and she is 44 years old. Lou is 34 years old and a fun fact about Lou is that she only has one tusk because one never grew. I do not have any pictures of Lou because there were not enough caregivers there to supervise three elephants. Lovie (pictured at the very top) is the youngest of the elephants, he is 33 years old.

Now I know that animals in captivity is a sensitive subject, but these animals are well taken care of. They have ten acres to roam on the ranch, they are bathed everyday, and they were not forced to perform tricks. On the Wilstem Ranch website there is a tab for The Elephant Enrichment Fund Inc where anyone can donate money to help give the elephants more activities, enhancements to their habitat, and for the overall wellbeing of the elephants. I will link the website below! As an observer, I could see the compassion and love that the caretakers have for these animals. One of the caretakers has been around exotic animals all his life and it is his passion to care for them. These gentle giants are so peaceful and such amazing creatures. Meeting these elephants is an experience that I will never forget. I am extremely grateful that I was able to experience this with my family, especially with my mother. After our interaction with the elephants we were off to see giraffes and kangaroos.

 Let me tell you about these two cuties, Jabari (left photo) and Bert (right two photos)! Jabari is the youngest giraffe, unfortunately I forgot how old he is, and Bert is 6 years old. When we got to the giraffes we had to walk in very quietly because giraffes spook easily and to my amazement they were standing in front right when we walked in. So in order to get the giraffes to come close to us they had to be bribed with carrots and let me tell you they love their carrots. Feeding a giraffe is like nothing I have ever felt before. Their tongues are super long and so slimy! My hand was covered in saliva from their tongues. Gross but totally awesome at the same time. Now we were not able to pet Jabari because well he just doesn’t want people to touch him, but we were able to pet Bert! Bert is so soft and very gentle. He was definitely cool beans and I’m very glad that I had the opportunity to interact with him! There were two times that we got to feed the giraffes, one was when we were eye level with them the other is down by their feet and letting them come down to us!

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The only thing that the caretakers did not mention is that the giraffes will drool like crazy on you if you are not paying attention! I was luckily able to dodge the saliva as I was trying to feed them. These guys are amazing!

After we said goodbye to Jabari and Bert, we went to hang with some Kangaroos! I have been around Kangaroos before when I was in Japan, so I was very excited to get the chance to interact with them again. As you can probably tell that my mother loved her experience. She got to pet, get licked, and smelled by the kangaroos. Seeing the joy on my mothers face while she was interacting with the animals brought me so much joy and I’m glad that I got to do this experience with her. Oh and as a side note to all my pregnant or nursing mothers out there, for warning animals can tell when you are nursing or pregnant so be prepared for an interaction like no other. A kangaroo started licking and even nibbled a little bit at my boob because it could tell that there is milk in there. You cannot see my face in the picture but this totally took me by surprise. I jumped up real fast once I realized what it was doing. This definitely had my family laughing at me and my mother-in-law got evidence for future laughs. Good times!

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Our time with the kangaroos was not very long but luckily there were other animals for us to see.

Like mother like daughter! We love snakes! This is Katie and she is a python! She was adopted from a circus and she now resides on the ranch. We were allowed to hold her because she is use to being handled by humans. Let me tell you she is soft and she is actually really sweet. I kissed a python and I liked it! So if you guys are looking for a fun adventure to interact with the amazing exotic animals I highly recommend Wilstem Ranch! Linked bellow is their website with all the information. Check them out!

https://wilstemranch.com/giraffekangaroo-encounter/

Texas or Bust Part 1

 


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One of my first travels that opened my eyes to new experiences was my trip to San Antonio, Texas. My husband was working in San Antonio right after we were married and I decided that I would go with him. There is a lot to do and see in San Antonio, six flags, sea world, and the river walk. But aside from the usual tourist attractions are the hidden gems of Texas.

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The first adventure that I went on was to the San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden. I was excited to see this because I spent some time in Japan; one of the most beautiful, peaceful, and respectful countries that I have had the pleasure of visiting. Although nothing can compare to the natural beauty of Japan, the San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden came close.

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I had the pleasure of walking the stone bridges, looking at Koi fish, beautiful plants, and spending time by the waterfall with my husband. He’s not the really adventurous type and doesn’t really spend time in places like this, but I’m glad he came with me and experienced the beauty of the Japanese Tea Garden.

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Another gem that I found around the San Antonio area are the Natural Bridge Caverns. This was my first time visiting a cavern and let me tell it is a natural wonder.
My husband and I walked 180 feet under a natural bridge that was created by a sink hole. The cavern was filled with stalactites and stalagmites. Such beautiful formations I really wanted to touch but that is a third degree felony that I do not want on my record. Plus the oils on our skin and probably the bacteria that we carry stops the formations from growing.The natural formations are a site to see and I highly recommend them!

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After seeing my first set of caverns I wanted to see more. Luckily for me Texas is filled with them! Unfortunately my husband had to work and couldn’t go with me. So I had a solo adventure to Long Horn cavern.
I swore to myself that I would never buy a selfie stick, but with my husband not being there to take my picture I needed to get one and I’m glad I did!

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The Long Horn Cavern was similar to the Natural Bridge Cavern when it came to travel more than 100 feet under ground, but it’s the history of Long Horn that captured my attention. Long Horn cavern was at one point a speak easy! Cool right!? You can still see the lipstick and nail polish on the walls of the cavern! Can you imagine boozing and jazzing it up in a cave! The history geek in me came alive! There are pictures of the parties in the visitors center.

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Unlike Natural Bridge I was able touch the rocks in the cave without causing future damage. My favorite part of this cavern was the section filled with crystallized minerals. Some of the minerals were as large or larger than my head. My picture above does not to this room justice. Oh and I was able to touch these as well!
This cave was amazing to walk through. If you are tall or tall-ish, like myself, be prepared for bending over and ducking or you will leave with a souvenir on your head or you’ll wake up a hibernating bat!

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Oh yeah this cavern has a ton of bats. They aren’t your average bat, these ones are small and cute. The biggest one I saw was the length of my pinkie. I wish my husband was with me on this trip I think he really would have enjoyed this.

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