Monday, August 23, 2010

A Day to Play

For the past two days we've been playing catch up with friends Rene and Barb, sharing evening meals and playing card games and causing multiple full bottles of wine to mysteriously empty themselves. Rene decided that we needed to see at least one of the area attractions before Denny and I headed off to Alaska, so today he and his lovely wife drove us to the wildlife park known as Northwest Trek. Northwest Trek was created after the Hellyer family graciously donated several hundred acres of land near Eatonville, Washington. The Tacoma Metro Parks area acquired more land and now Northwest Trek has 725 acres, 435 of which is home to the herd animals of bison, deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, moose and caribou that roam free. There are smaller fenced exhibits of grizzly and black bear, lynx, wolves, coyotes, fisher, wolverines, otters, beavers and also displays of reptiles and insects. The park operates a tram that meanders through the herd animal area so you can get up close and personal and the rest of the animal displays are approached on foot by the looping walking trails throughout the exhibit area. There are picnic areas if you wish to bring your own lunch or you can purchase some excellent sandwiches at the cafe near the park entrance.
This is the type of park where you can spend as much or as little time as you like. The tram ride takes about an hour and if you catch one of the park employees giving a talk on one of the critters you may find yourself standing there asking question after question as I did about the tiny Western Screech owl on display as we were wandering the paths. Which is how I discovered that they obtained the little guy when he was discovered starving in a yard. Medical tests showed no physical problems but he wouldn't hunt long enough to get enough food to keep himself alive or to have the strength to fly. So he became, after a long and intensive training session, a teaching exhibit. Weighing 5 ounces, or the equivalent of 150 paperclips, his eyes are 80 percent of his head, which doesn't leave a lot of room for his brain. The young lady holding the owl had a wealth of information about this adorable little creature and I walked away amazed and intrigued. I can deal with rescue animals but I wasn't thrilled with the enclosures for the cougars, bears, lynx, wolves, etc as I considered them way too small and the cougars' behavior only reinforced my belief. But much of the park was interesting, the employees were very knowledgeable and gave the impression they enjoyed their jobs, the park is beautiful and the opportunity to see baby bison, deer and bighorn sheep was really fun. All of us walked out admitting that we learned quite a bit and we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon.
The evening was complete after Barb's wonderful meal of homemade split pea soup, with crusty multi-grain bread and Caesar Salad and another card game before we begged off to finish packing for our trip.

The RV Vagabonds are going to be off-line for the two weeks we're going to be in Alaska since I'm not taking the laptop with me. I'm hoping the grandeur of our largest state will keep me from suffering Internet withdrawal symptoms. In the meantime, I'll take lots of pictures which you'll see once we get back in the states and back on the road again.


SkippyMom said...

The third pic of the bison about blew me away - they're huge and you are SO close. eek! Pretty animals. It looks like a wonderful time [and hey, nice weather! bonus]

Have a great trip. Gonna miss you.

PS - I SO DID NOT cry. HA!

Linda in New Mexico said...

Have a super cruise, I'll say it first so I don't forget.
The park looks very interesting and beautiful. Poor little "tupid" owl. One of our baby hummers didn't make it cuz he couldn't or wouldn't put his little beak in the hole on the feeder to suck out the nectar...his momma bird and daddy bird tried but he was "tupid" too. He would just sit and look at the hole or put his beak under the hole but never got any nectar. The kids and I had a funeral for dumbdumb as they named him.
I don't know if you got to see the buffalo encloser at Sandia Pueblo while you were here. They eventually had to put up a three componant restraining fences, railroad ties buried in the ground, iron railing with cross pieces and finally a chain link because the critters kept breaking out and roaming free....freeway, homes, you know the wide prarie.....not. So to be that close to buffalo is quite something. I love their St Bernard noses...big and BIG. Love you guys have a super trip, The Olde Bagg, Linda the other

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