Day Thirteen

June 11, 2007

Roseburg, OR to Grants Pass, OR

The shower stall at the Roseburg Travelodge had a great echo effect. I could imagine a stoned band deciding it would be cool to record an album there. One anomaly in the motel room was that it had front and back doors. The rear door offered a pleasant view of the Umpqua River, though we didn't get much time to enjoy it.

We went across the street for breakfast at Denny's with some trepidation after some bad experiences at certain locations. Fortunately, it was a decent meal and we didn't get sick. Then I drove about 200 feet to the neighboring gas station for our second fill-up in Oregon. Alas, having someone pump your gas isn't like the old full-service gas stations -- I had to clean the bug-spattered windshield myself.

One reason we stayed in Roseburg was to be close to Wildlife Safari, a drive-through animal park in nearby Winston. It hadn't been in our original plans, but then my wife found a brochure about the place.

                   

Continuing my series of warning signs...

We paid $17.50 per person to enter. At the time I didn't feel like it was worth $35, but looking at the pictures below maybe it was. I tried to get a photo of every species we saw. We hadn't been to a drive-through animal park since we visited Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas ten years ago.

I'm not great at identifying animals but I am fairly confident of the following, thanks to the park's drive-thru map and Web site along with Wikipedia. Animals in the park are grouped geographically. Africa was first, starting with the gemsbok. The males, on the right, are known for their very long horns.

       

Wild turkey are native to America, but I guess this guy likes to explore other continents. Actually, I don't think he was an official guest at Wildlife Safari -- more likely a freeloader.

Here is an ostrich:

Notice how well the fuzzy babies are camouflaged:

Although they are native to South America, the rheas at Wildlife Safari are based between the Asia and Africa sections.

I think these are watusi cattle, known for their huge horns. I'm guessing they aren't very old since their horns aren't as big as some I've found online.

When we visited Fossil Rim, the giraffes were begging for food, practically sticking their heads inside our car. Wildlife Safari must do a better job of keeping people from feeding the animals because the giraffes left us alone.

       

I think these are addax, antelope native to the Sahara Desert.

These are blue wildebeests.

These are damara zebras, also known as Burchell's zebras. I'll confess to having a soft spot for these animals ever since I saw Racing Stripes.

       

       

Moving into the Americas section of the park, we saw these llamas enjoying the shade on a hot day. Incidentally, I learned from Wikipedia that llamas were originally native to the Great Plains of North America but migrated to South America about three million years ago (other llamas lived in North America more recently, but they were in a different, now extinct genus). Wikipedia also has an awesome photo of a llama overlooking Machu Picchu

My wife really wanted to see the bears, but that area was closed because they were introducing three new grizzlies there. This was a huge disappointment since she had been reading me stories about bear attacks since we left North Dakota. The Wildlife Safari staff had this grizzly surrounded by vehicles, and whenever it went in a certain direction, one of them would drive toward it. I guess this was their way of conditioning the new bears (which had been privately owned in Georgia) to stay away from cars.

These black bears were using what little shade was available.

We just saw Roosevelt elk yesterday near the coast, but these had much bigger racks.

       

The road looped back into the Africa area, where we saw this African elephant behind a fence.

There was a sizeable herd of blackbucks. They are native to India, but they are so popular on hunting ranches that today there are more in Texas. Adult males are dark brown or black as their name would suggest, but females and younger males are lighter. Only the males have horns.

       

       

Representing Australia, these three emus ran a slalom race between cars. They are surprisingly swift, sprinting up to 30 m.p.h.

       

       

After the race, this emu posed for me. Notice the blackbucks in the background.

I sensed that the yaks were wishing they were back in Tibet at 10,000-18,000 feet rather than lying in the 90-degree Oregon sun beneath those thick coats.

       

These are white fallow deer like those found in Illinois at Argonne National Laboratory.

The spotted animal on the left is a sika deer. I'm not sure what the animal nursing on the right is. Maybe a guanaco?

Here are more sika deer, which are found in much of eastern mainland Asia plus Taiwan and Japan,

       

This is a bactrian camel from Asia, easily distinguished by its two humps (the dromedary, or Arabian camel, only has one).

The only primate we saw at Wildlife Safari was this siamang.

This is a nilgai, an Indian antelope also known as a blue bull. If you look closely, you can see several colors of fur in his ears.

The cheetahs are in a fenced area, much to the relief of the many prey animals in the park.

There were more animals including hippopotamus, rhinoceros, and bison, but we didn't see them. We did see mustangs, lions, and Siberian tigers, but I didn't get pictures worth sharing.

The free section of the park, which includes everything except the drive-through part, was quite enjoyable. Wildlife Safari is known for their cheetah breeding program. A couple of women brought out a cheetah in a fenced area. One talked while the other played with the big cat. I learned that cheetahs are not limited by exhaustion but rather by temperature. If they run too long and overheat, they can suffer brain damage. This particular cheetah had been a litter of one. Since cheetah mothers want multiple babies (better survival chances), they refuse to nurse a single cat. Then they can go into estrus again. The Wildlife Safari staff had to bottle-feed this cheetah, and they gave her an unusual litter mate... An Anatolian shepherd dog! They get along very well, but they are closely supervised when together "just in case."

The cheetah was the highlight of our day (alas, I neglected to take a single picture of the experience). I felt better about spending $35 in entrance fees when I thought of it as a contribution to help Wildlife Safari continue their breeding program. The gift shop was a real disappointment, though. Wildlife Safari needs some graphic designers to create cool T-shirts, postcards, etc.

The California Redwoods were next on our agenda, so we drove south to Grants Pass to spend the night. Since we were almost in California, I figured it was okay to play a Dave Alvin CD, Blue Boulevard, as we headed down I-5. Besides, I was out of Oregonian artists to play. Traffic in Grants Pass was much worse than I expected for a town of 30,000. Downtown featured painted bears, much like the painted cows Chicago hosted years ago. I should have parked to take pictures, but we were more interested in finding a place for lunch. We ended up at another Dairy Queen.

Then we looked for a motel. While I like to go-go-go on vacations, my wife wants a slower pace so I made this a short day (I would rather have driven at least another 80 miles to Crescent City, CA). Besides, she wanted to do some laundry, an unavoidable chore on a three-week trip. I had a coupon for Super 8, but I figured I'd try an independent place first. The pink Sweet Breeze Inn turned out to be more of a boutique motel than a typical "mom & pop" place (I didn't learn this until I visited their Web site back at home). When I asked about a room for the night, the clerk quoted a rate that was higher than I wanted. Although he tried to negotiate with me, he wasn't going to come down as low as the Super 8. Besides, while I appreciated that he was willing to negotiate, a part of me was annoyed that he didn't offer me his lowest rate in the first place. Rather than feeling like I was getting a deal, I felt like I could have been gouged. I didn't like that feeling, so I walked out and headed for the Super 8. Fortunately, the room was very nice at the Super 8 so I had no regrets.

I had to drive ten miles down the interstate to collect another county, so I left my wife at the Super 8 to relax and do laundry. On the way back, I drove another route through Grants Pass just to see what was there. A message board at Jimmy's Classic Drive-in said "Everyone needs a fried Twinkie." I drove past and then thought, "Oh, why the Hell not?" and turned around.

You know you've just plain given up on your health and fitness when you eat a deep-fried Twinkie. That said, it was pretty tasty. They put whipped cream on top, but it was melted by the time I got back to the motel. I got another for my wife, but she only ate one bite and asked what it was. When I told her, she said she liked regular Twinkies and didn't want any more. So I was stuck with two fried Twinkies to eat. The second one was just too much. I finished it, but I didn't feel so well afterward. It was like eating an entire funnelcake at the fair.

It was late by the time I had recovered from my fried Twinkie binge, so our dinner options were limited. We ordered from Abby's Legendary Pizza, yet another PNW chain. I was intrigued by the hula-chick pizza, which was topped with pineapple, chicken, and linguica. I had to Google linguica to find out it was a type of pork sausage. In retrospect maybe I should have had the Lone Star BBQ Chicken or Lone Star BBQ Ham instead. Anyway, the hula-chick pizza tasted good enough, but I woke up at 4:30 AM feeling all-around awful: strange dreams, a little heartburn, a little nausea, too tired, too hot (though it was under 65 degrees in the room). It had to be the linguica.

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