Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Epic Winter Road Trip - Wild Spaces and Family Faces

(DISCLAIMER: I post NO ads through sponsorship. This blog is a labor of love - that is not subsidized by sponsorship at this point in time.)

The night we spent at Great Wolf Lodge was fantastic. It's always refreshing to be around folks where you pick up right where you left off - despite the years passing.

This time, we headed further south to spend 2 nights with my family in Southern California. We kept the evening simple with a sushi dinner to catch up with my mom and brother. After a good night's rest, we were ready for a day outside.

As a special treat, my mother offered to take us to the San Deigo Safari Park and take us on a jeep safari through the open savanna there. The Savanna is truly what makes this place stand out among zoos. (Well, that and a robust rhino and condor breeding program.) 

 I grew up in Escondido, so it'll always be the Wild Animal Park to me, but I loved seeing all of the improvements and expansion this park has made since my childhood.

It's very different than a typical zoo - mainly because of its wide open savanna and large open air exhibits. There is no traffic noise these animals have to contend with, and the staff is top notch as well.  The savanna includes hoof stock and herbivores from around the world. Their have had a special emphasis on breeding programs have aided in keeping condors, rhinos and other species on the map. All of that, and it offers all of the things typical zoos do as well. While zoos are a problematic attraction in the world, people tend to not care about things they don't experience - including animals. For example, carved ivory is beautiful - but so are rhinos and elephants. But if you've never really seen an elephant or rhino up close - but you've seen a lot of beautifully carved ivory - are you really going to care much about the plight of those creatures? For most, the answer is saddly "No". Just as we often don't think about where our food comes from. (This is NOT be advocating. Just bringing awareness.) 

  Anyway - I digress.

The weather cooperated to a lovely 70 degrees and sunny. It was a great way to get some energy out and go see some new creatures we don't get to see in the Pacific Northwest.

To get an idea of what a trip through the savanna might look like, check out this live cam (and other live cams). 

In my tween years, I spent a lot of time at this park. I even painted faces as a voluenteer during their winter holiday Festival of Lights. This trip to the Safari Park was really special though. I'd never been out in the savanna. Seeing the animals up close and free ranging was a magical experience. The jeeps weren't too loud, which made The Impossible Girl very comfortable - and we got her a buddy from the gift shop that she could hang on to. (Never underestimate the power of a stuffed animal.) 
 I left my phone and my camera off to enjoy the experience first hand, but luckily My Sailor captured lots of photos from the day.

We hiked for miles and spent lots of time learning about the natural world and why protecting it is so important. 

The Australia exhibit was fantastic, and included a platypus area! It was dark, so we didn't grab any pictures in there, BUT I'm so glad that the San Diego Zoo Safari Park follows along with KultureCity

It truly took the 'guess work' out of taking someone with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) to a place like this. 

They offer packs of tools at the Ranger Station (including lap pads, fidgets, headphones, etc.). While we brought our own, they have clearly posted signs that indicate that indicate when noisy areas are coming up (and headphones might be helpful), or where quiet areas are, etc.
 For those of us helping someone with SPD, we know what these signs look like, so we don't get taken by surprise and can gear up appropriately to help our SPD kid enjoy the experience. I really hope this catches on. It will help SPD folks manage as adults as well - if they have a little warning, they can prepare themselves for what's coming. 

A big request on the way out was that we find the cheetah, so we hiked around the park and tracked down the cheetah exhibit. And it certainly showed us what cats do most of the day. Sleep! 

It was a long day on our feet, so we grabbed an early dinner at a local seafood place in Escondido and headed home for a bit of a movie and some more rest. Tomorrow was the BIG day! 

No comments:

Post a Comment