Our last stop in Texas is Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas. Once again, Dale does his homework and gets us a great campsite (site 39) at the Dinosaur Valley State Park. No one is around us and it is beautiful but very hot!
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
A safari game drive in Texas? No way! Yet here we are driving through Fossil Rim Wildlife Center on a safari drive. Wow, it almost feels like our Africa trip where we witnessed the great migration with millions of animals moving through the savanna. Ok, there aren’t millions of animals but there are hundreds.
Our tour guide & driver is Warren Lewis, the Chief Marketing Officer. Jason Ahistus, the Carnivore Curator and Garrett Gosdin, one of the Marketing Associates accompany us. Since Jason is in charge of both red wolves and cheetahs, we know we are going to learn a lot!
Wildebeest are our first encounter. They are such a cool species. Each female has only one baby a year. Amazingly, the baby can walk in a few hours and keep up with the herd in a couple of days.
But what happens when a newborn calf’s mom dies right after giving birth at Fossil Rim? Well, the veterinarians step in and hand raise it wearing tan overalls. Hmm, why tan overalls? Read their heartwarming story in Veterinary Team Assists Orphaned Wildebeest.
How About Giraffes?
As we drive through the park on its 7.2-mile loop, we see the giraffes, including a baby. I must admit I am a sucker for giraffes, the world’s tallest land animal. To learn more, read our blog Giraffes. And feeding them is fun, although very messy. They drool. A lot!
Everyone gets a cup of food when they start the drive. So you have to devise a strategy of which animals to feed so you don’t run out. And it is hard as all the babies come running up to the truck looking for a handout.
Red Wolves and New Habitat
And now to the red wolves! As many folks know, we are passionate about helping save our American red wolf from extinction. So we are thrilled to see both the new habitats and their red wolves. And to learn more about these incredible, critically endangered animals, read our “Red Wolves” blog.
US Fish & Wildlife needs more wolves in human care in order to have a robust rewilding program. This past May, for the first time in years, red wolves were released into the wild in Eastern NC from breeding facilities.
Without organizations like Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, there would no way to save the red wolf. Over the years, they have had 31 pups born which is an incredible boost to the population in human care. We applaud their efforts and commitment!
Plus they have one of Dale’s castings in the entrance to their Nature Store. Nothing like posing in front of the sculpture!
Cheetahs & More Cheetahs
Having never been very close to a cheetah, I am stunned at how feisty the babies are. One of the little girls stomps her feet and hisses at me. Not once, but twice! The babies will stay with their mom for 1.5 years (the males) to 2 years (the females) and learn to hunt and take care of themselves.
Most of the adult cheetahs we see just laze around. It is, after all, over 100 degrees. With one of the most robust breeding programs in the country, Fossil Rim consistently has one of the largest cheetah populations in the US.
Overall, Fossil Rim is simply amazing. Everyone we meet is so passionate about the animals in their care, the safari drive is out of this world and the conservation work they are doing is beyond inspiring. We will be back!
But What About the Dinosaurs?
The morning after our tour of Fossil Rim, Warren is taking us dinosaur tracking with a guide from the State Park where we are staying. That is a first. Dale & I have both seen plenty of dinosaur tracks in museums, but never before where they actually made them millions of years ago.
We meet Asa, our guide, who is a dinosaur expert and just an all-around great guy. We learn about the Pleurocoelus (think brontosaurus) and Acrocanthosaurus (think tyrannosaurus) dinosaurs that roamed these rivers 100 million years ago. We are standing in the “Ballroom” where there are so many tracks, it looks like the dinosaurs were dancing.
Now, this is so much fun! Thank you, Warren for an experience of a lifetime!
Tropical Storm Fred
As soon as we finish dinosaur tracking, we check the weather. Tropical Storm Fred is moving onshore and it looks to be heading toward home. And we have to drive right through it.
Hmm, should we stay the last night planned at the state park and get some hiking in or head for home & try & beat the storm? Common sense prevails and we unhook the Underdog and say goodby to Texas.
After slogging through what feels like a tropical storm on the border of Texas, we cross into Louisiana and spend the night at DArbonne State Park. Again, we get a premo spot (site 44) right on the lake. I just wish we could stay longer…
A Last Minute Campsite
Driving down the road trying to beat the storm, we decide to stop near Atlanta. We use an app called HipCamp and find a spot right off the Interstate in Eastabooga, AL.
We drive up and park next to a bunch of old farm silos. Turns out this used to be a chicken farm and the owner has turned the silos into bathrooms and a very cute laundry.
We are the only ones at the campsite and we enjoy a quick breakfast the next morning before heading out on the last leg of our journey! And we just make it before Tropical Storm Fred hits. And boy are we glad we are not driving as we get almost 5 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. Ah, it is great to be home!
What’s next? Unpack, repack, refuel and Wahington State here we come! Stay tuned…