Our friends, Mike and Venessa, wanted an African experience without having to fly all the way to Africa, so we proposed an overnight stay at Vision Quest Ranch in Salinas, now known more as the Monterey Zoo.
We met at their house in Morro Bay since Mike had volunteered to drive. Once on the road, it was a straight drive north on 101 for about two hours. Along the way, we stopped at Hahn Winery, one of the Santa Lucia Range wineries. Their tasting room has panoramic mountain views of the Gabilan Range on the east side of 101. We enjoyed their wines, particularly the Cabernet Savignon, of which we purchased a couple of bottles.
We got to the ranch by 3pm and were able to check right in. We had tent/cabins that overlooked the sandy area where the elephants, water buffalos and a solitary zebra hung out during the day. We found out later, that the zebra befriended the alpha elephant "Butch". They hung out together during the day.
Our cabins were rustic looking on the outside, but lacked little once inside. King sized beds, hot showers, refrigerators, robes and coffee makers made the Salinas "jungle" very manageable. Breakfasts were brought to our cabins at 9a.m.
|View of Mike and Venessa's cabin from our cabin.|
|Mike and Venessa's cabin had a superb view of the spot where the elephants like to hang. Perhaps it had something to do with food?|
|The zebra and his buddy, Butch, enjoying mid-afternoon snacks.|
|The cabins were quite comfortable. In the evening, the four of us got together for dinner.|
|Diane and George with Butch looming large behind us. The elephant handlers have you feed them carrots and slices of apples. Butch waits until you put enough carrots and apple slices in his trunk - he's thinking efficiency.|
|Mike and Venessa posing with Butch.|
|Butch was all to happy to show off his mouth full of teeth in trade for a few nuts.|
This mountain lion really wanted to make "friends" with a little girl on our tour. I'm sure the girl would have been dinner or perhaps a mid-afternoon snack had she been on her way to grandma's house when she encountered this mountain lion.
|I recall that our guide told us these two tigers were good friends. They were fun to watch.|
|There was a very thick piece of glass separating this female lion from us. Although the lion looks very serene and tame, as soon as a little girl in our tour approached, it became visibly ready to pounce on her. As she got closer, the lion went ballistic, clawing ferociously at the glass, hoping to get tender morsels for lunch. In the background, her brother is visible on his perch. |
After our tour of the wild animals, it was time to go home.
|We were home by early evening, in time to to experience yet another lovely sunset in Shell Beach.|