Friday, October 5, 2012

Camping at Big Sur and a Wild Animal Adventure

Around this time of year our friends, Mike and Venessa, pack up their Coleman camping trailer and head  for Pfeiffer Big Sur. This time, Diane and I joined them in their annual event. We packed up the truck with our meager camping gear and headed north on Highway 1.  

Venessa and Diane relaxing at our camp site.
The Pfeiffer campground is huge and has a variety of  natural settings. Our campground was sunny with oak trees and what looked like Douglas Firs. On the dangerous side, there was plenty of that nasty poison oak surrounding the campsite.

Mike in front of their Coleman camper
During the three days we spent camping we kept busy with hikes, bike rides, evening camp fires and a trip into Carmel for dinner. One of the ways we amused ourselves around the camp site was by observing (and keeping an eye on) the aggressive squirrels and the Steller's Jays. Both of these animals appear to be a fixture at these campgrounds and are very comfortable around the campers. Likewise, they are very opportunistic and are quick to abscond with unattended food items.

A walk around the campground.

A hike to the falls.
This fellow made off with a peach probably 3x his weight.
After the fun-filled three days at Pfeiffer, Diane and I went on a separate adventure to Vision Quest Ranch, a wild animal sanctuary in Monterey where they also offer an unusual B&B. The facility has a variety of wild animals who have been "retired" from the film industry and from private collections, as well as animals they themselves have bred from birth. There are elephants, water buffaloes, ostriches, zebras, a camel, tigers, lions, a bear, a hyena and many more.

View of the field from our bungalow's porch.
We checked in, got our key and headed off to our bungalow (a combination wood frame and canvas structure). Looking from our bungalow, we could see the elephants, a zebra, an ostrich and a couple of water buffalo graze in the field below us  - it felt as if we were in the Serengeti (only we didn‘t have to fly for 16 hours and suffer going through TSA security screening).

During our brief stay at the ranch we had the opportunity to feed some of the wild cats and elephants. In the latter part of the afternoon, some of the staff came by our bungalow first with a baboon and then with an animal related to a sloth. With each animal, they explained in detail their habits, personalities and idiosyncrasies. The staff seemed very knowledgeable and caring.

One of the staff came by with a young baboon.

The zebra and "Butch", the elephant are best buddies.

During the night, we could hear the roar of the lion, as he signaled other lions in the area that this was his domain. Also, other animals made their presence known during the night, but we could not place the types of animals.

Jacob is the undisputed king at the ranch. His roar can be heard 5 miles away.

These big cats eat about 12 lbs of meat per day. They only get fed 6 days a week, though.

We got real close to the elephants and were given the opportunity to feed them.

The zebra now thinks he's one of the elephants.

In the morning, breakfast was brought to our bungalow with an elephant in tow. We waited on the front porch of our bungalow and at 9:30 a.m. two staff and Marika, the elephant, came by. At that point we were able to feed Marika pieces of apple and carrots.

Feeding Marika at our bungalow.

Later that morning, we had a very informative tour of the facility, which included seeing most of their animals. After the tour, it was time to go home. Luckily, it was a quick two-and-a-half hour drive away.