Friday, April 27, 2012

A Trip to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch

In March 2012 my eleven year old son and I went to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio Texas. We'd headed to the city to bring my older son to The Alamo FIRST Robotics tournament (because he is not a public school student the school district does not allow him to ride on the bus due to liability insurance policies so I had to drive him the three and a half hours one way myself). We decided to just get a hotel and stay there while he competed.

We were so busy leading up to the trip that I'd not planned what we'd do with our time. Standing at the display of tourist brochures at the hotel the night of our arrival, I asked my younger son what he wanted to do with me while his brother had practice rounds for the competition.

I realized we'd never been on one of those drive through the ranch and pretend you are on an African safari experiences with him. He loves animals. When I mentioned it and showed him the brochure he jumped at the chance. At that moment all the tween "I'm cool" and "I'm grown just up like a teenager" facade faded away and there was the spark of joy dancing in his eyes that I haven't seen for a while. So it was decided! (I did negotiate in that afterwards we'd stop at the fine art museum.)

It was 68 degrees and overcast and occasionally sprinkling rain. That is much better weather for this kind of trip (or a zoo trip) than hotter or sunnier days when animals tend to look for shade or hunker down to keep cool. We bought some bags of feed and fed the animals. We saw almost every animal they have, very few were hiding in spots we could not see. It was a quiet Thursday during the school day so the place was nearly deserted. Amazingly we took about an hour to go through this ride. A good thing about this place is they let you do the route over and over if you so desire. They also had some other exotic creatures in displays near the gift shop and cafe.

The best part about the trip was the fun we had. We laughed a lot and even screamed. When some of the animals tried to enter the minivan we were laughing and howling at the same time as we mentally tried to will the automatic window closers to move faster. I really enjoyed this time alone with my younger son and especially liked seeing his "old self" the "little boy" in him. He had not laughed that much with me in a long time. (He is very peer-centered now and laughs and has a grand time with his age-mates though.)

Here are some photos I took of the trip.

I really enjoyed this time alone with my younger son.


MentalMom said...

Too bad we didn't know you were in town. Chris took the kids to Natural Bridge on March 23.
Next time you head to SA, let me know and we can try to get together.

ChristineMM said...

Hi Karen, We rushed in and rushed out or I would have called you. The older one had to leave robotics tournament at dinnertime to drive to Austin for a regatta and get up at 5 in the morning. It was a nutty trip! No plans to go to SA until Sept or Oct at this point!