Southwest 2015 – Where the Wild Things Are

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Saturday, December 5th, 2015

After sleeping in the past couple of days, Julia and I felt a lot more charged upon waking this morning. We got up super early and even decided to take a walk through downtown Williams to get the blood pumping and decide what where we were going to have breakfast this time. It was brisk, but not freezing like the previous mornings so taking a stroll was perfect. We had seen a place called Cruiser’s Route 66 Cafe on the way into town and even photographed it last night, so we figured we should give it a try.

“Ready for a morning walk through Williams, AZ.”
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Julia and I settled into the cafe and thought about the day’s worth of photography to come. We had seen billboards for a place called Bearizona since we arrived in town and after checking it out online, it appeared to feature a safari style drive through to get to the actual zoo. Julia was excited as this would be her first safari like experience among wild animals. After strecthing our legs for a bit, we got back to the truck and drove over to the cafe for some breakfast. We ordered a most delicious plate of bacon, eggs, and hash browns with toast and enjoyed every last bite since we were not in a hurry. Unlike the previous destinations, this one was literally a five minute drive from the downtown area.

After wrapping up breakfast, we strolled over to the giant gift shop connected to the cafe to see what it was all about and saw lot’s of 50’s paraphernalia along with biker stuff, Coca Cola souvenirs, awesome metal printed signs and a lot more, but it wasn’t anything we really hadn’t seen before so we got our butts into the Starship and drove to the motel to get our gear and set voyage to Bearizona!

“Across the street from Cruiser’s Route 66 Cafe, there was a pretty cool looking Masonic Lodge.”
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Bearizona Wildlife Park

GPS Coordinates: 35.2575° N, 112.1541° W

Bearizona was very much like Southern California’s old “Lion Country Safari” where they had all sorts of wild animals roaming around while you drove through the park. The only difference is that unlike the Lions, Elephants, and Giraffes, Bearizona was all about the North American wildlife such as Bears, Wolves, and Bison. The entry fee to Bearizona was about $22 dollars per adult, not too bad for being able to drive through an area filled with wild animals roaming about.

“Super cool entry arch!”
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“Once we paid our entry fee, we cruised along slowly through the large gates and into the wildlife arena.”
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“We saw a lot of cool animals including this impressive but shy Alaskan Dall Sheep.”
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“It was feeding time for these Mule Deer”
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We drove by the Alaskan Tundra Wolves and they were howling, “How cool is that!?”, Talk about perfect timing. I asked one of the keepers who was outside their enclosure as we drove by about it and she says that they rarely howl and that we were lucky because they only howl in response to the microphone check at the Raptor Show in the zoo about a mile away.

“For safety reasons, we couldn’t roll the windows down, but you can still hear the howling if you turn up the volume a tad.”

“Julia was getting some great shots of the White Bison”
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Regarding White Bison

White Buffalo or White Bison is an American Bison possessing white fur, and is considered sacred or spiritually significant in several Native American religions; therefore, such Buffalo are often visited for prayer and other religious rituals. The coats of Buffalo are almost always brown and their skin a dark brown or black; however, White Buffalo can result from one of several physical conditions:

– They may be Albinos, in which case they will remain unpigmented throughout their lives, and may also have hearing and vision problems.
– They may be Leucistic, with white fur but blue eyes, instead of the pink seen in Albinos.
– They may have a rare genetic condition which causes a Buffalo to be born white, but to become brown within a year or two as it matures.
– They may be Beefalo, a Bison–Cattle crossbreed, and thus have inherited the white coloration from their cattle ancestry.

White Buffalo are extremely rare; the National Bison Association has estimated that they only occur in approximately one out of every 10 million births. (Source: Wikipedia)
In the case of the White Bison here at Bearizona, they get their color pigmentation from being a cross of Brown Bison and Charolais cattle. Therefore a White Bison isn’t a true Bison. They are actually 1/16th Charolais Cattle.

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By the time we wrapped up our little safari drive into the park, we passed the gates to the parking lot and even scored some pretty sweet Bearizona stickers from one of the attendants at the gate. The parking lot was a pretty good size, but looked a bit full, so I parked in the dirt with a few other chaps. It was time to grab our gear and see what the zoo portion of this wildlife park had in store for us.

“Gee, I sure hope I can remember where I parked the Starship when we get ready to go home later…lol!”
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“BEARIZONA!!!”

The zoo was set up like an old fort from the frontier era of the west and within the walls were many critters including some free roaming male peacocks and one really cool albino one. Julia and I walked past a few of the confection stands and got right to the exhibits. Fortunately the bulk of the population was hanging out at the Raptor Show, so we were spared the heavy congestion of people at the animal exhibits.

“Julia made a new friend.”
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“Our first stop was at the lair of a very cute Arctic Fox.”
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“The American Badger seemed pretty active today.”

“Oh these little guys make me laugh so much, I love the American Badger.”
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“This Red Fox stands on a rocky perch looking oh so majestic.”
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Fort Bearizona Barnyard

Julia and I headed into the Barnyard (a.k.a. Petting Zoo) to see what manner of fowl they had lurking among the trees. I could hear a few kids running around and screaming in there, so we agreed to keep it short…lol. Oh and of course I naturally I had to get a shot of Julia at the Barn door entrance.

“The Password is Cute Photographer Girl.”
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“I’ve got to admit, I’ve never seen chickens like this before.”
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Julia and I laughed pretty hard when we saw a white fluffy chicken called a “Silkie”. It’s feathers are said to be a smooth as silk, hence the name. Of course trying to get close enough touch it’s proclaimed silk like plumage was another story. The Silkie was a favorite of the kids in the barnyard and so it was accustomed to making very fast getaway sprints. Julia and I said he looked like a small, fast Yeti and so that was how we remembered him, as the Yeti Chicken.

“The Yeti of the barnyard stands tall to keep an eye our for approaching kids.”
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“This sign apparently translates as ‘Do Chase’ in kid language.”
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“There is something oddly satisfying about a chicken in a forest. Julia kneels down to feed a small goat.”
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“This little lady had a total glam metal hairdo, she is a Buff Laced Polish Chicken.”
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After we had enough of the Barnyard, Julia and I set off to see what other exhibits we could visit. I had heard about some Bobcats being around here, but when we got to the exhibit, the two Bobcats named Remmy and Sig, they were doing what all cats do at about 1 in the afternoon…”Take a cat nap”
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“Moving along, we came across a cute Javelina making her way to get a drink of water.”
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“We also found some North American River Otters playing around for the kids that were watching through the glass.”

The Junior Black Bears

The American Black Bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent’s smallest and most widely distributed bear species. Black Bears are omnivores with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in search of food. Sometimes they become attracted to human communities because of the immediate availability of food. The American Black Bear is the world’s most common bear species.

It is listed by the IUCN as a “least concern” species, due to its widespread distribution and a large global population estimated to be twice that of all other Bear species combined. Along with the Brown Bear, it is one of only two of the eight modern Bear species not considered globally threatened with extinction by the IUCN. American Black Bears often mark trees using their teeth and claws as a form of communication with other Bears, a behavior common to many species of Bears.(Source: Wikipedia)

Despite their name, American Black Bears are not all black, some of them are blue-black, brown, cinnamon, dark brown or even white. They are very accomplished swimmers and can live up to 30 years in captivity.

“This little tyke was caught wrestling with a small pine tree…lol!”
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“Here is a great example of a Cinnamon Colored Black Bear, she was definitely enjoying the spotlight.”
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“Here’s a closer look at their claws, a formidable weapon.”
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“These little Black Bears where really fun to watch as they wrestled around a small pine.”

Julia and I heard over the loudspeaker that there was a free guided photo safari tour via bus in about 30 minutes, so we hauled on over to the front of the main zoo entrance and hung out while the bus arrived. It was an opportunity to take a much needed break to rehydrate and grab a snack while we waited. We wandered over by the souvenir store next the entrance and saw some very cool dreamcatchers including the biggest one I had ever seen!

“Julia poses for scale on this monstrosity of a dreamcatcher.”
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“There were a few Peacocks roaming the grounds including this skittish albino.”

The Wild Ride Bus Tour

About 10 minutes before departure time, the bus finally pulled up and it was pretty cool looking! The exterior had a very sweet wrap design and the interior seats were orange and black like my website! The best part was that all the windows were removed for better photo opportunities. Julia and I were first in line and we hopped aboard. Just like in our high school days, we shuffled all the way to the back of the bus like all the cool kids used to do, Ha!

“I really need to get a 4×4 version of this for the Off Road ventures!”
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“Loaded up and ready for the tour!”

“Big Brown Bison roamed around the side of the bus.”
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“This Bighorn Sheep was looking ornery and appeared to have a desire to ram the bus…lol”
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“I love it when she smiles like this, I knew she was having a great time.”
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“This beautiful creature is an Arctic Wolf.”
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“The wolves are definitely fed very well, the hind leg of lunch lays out in the open for them.”
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“One of the Alaskan Tundra Wolves relaxes in the light of the setting sun.”
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“The last stop on the bus tour was the Black Bear den, This lumbering 650lb (295kg) big boy was a very cool sight.”
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It was time to leave the wildlife park, the sun was setting and we were getting very hungry. Julia wanted to go back to the place we ate at when we first arrived in town since this was our last night here. We stopped in for dinner at the Red Raven for another very delicious Rib Eye plate and chatted about everything we experienced today. She was having an excellent time and that’s all I needed to hear to have an excellent time too.

“I love adventures with this wonderful girl!”
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After dinner we took a stroll through town to walk off the big meal we had. We almost swung by the Pine Forest Restaurant for another slice of their magnificent pie, but we were way too full. Instead the last stop on our walk for the night was at the Grand Canyon Railway Gift Shop. We took our time looking around at all the great stuff they had. I saw a really cool Kokopelli statue that I wanted, then Julie made me smile and warmed my heart with a cute hand puppet she found. ^_^

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“Another fine day comes to a close.”
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Tonight would be our last night in Williams, AZ. It’s been a fantastic and wondrous experience here, but it was time to fetch our saddlebags and head northbound to Page, Az via Flagstaff. Of course we will be stopping at a few places along the way including the Little Colorado Gorge that I had wanted to see so badly. That’s about it for this day though, so stick around for the next chapter in our epic Southwest Venture.

Until the next travel blog, remember to get out there and “Shoot the Planet!”

“Cheers!”
~Indigo

 

©Indigoverse Photography. All Rights Reserved.

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