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Tanis ODonnell and Rachel riding a beautiful elephant at Wildlife SafariWildlife Safari




Mother's Day Weekend




Winston, Oregon

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Elevation: 459 Feet




Mother's Day Weekend 2005 crept up on Linda and I like Oprah on a spare rib in the middle of feasting lions.  With Linda and I working full time, her going to school part-time, Tanis T-Ball and gymnastics and my rock climbing, we barely had the ability for us to plan anything further than a week.  As time has gone on, I realize that work doesn't make me tired.  Work is just the warm-up for home and activities on the weekend.  I end up using the work week to get caught up on my sleep and rest for my body and mind.  Linda doesn't get any time for anything.  If she isn't working, she is studying and in between studying bouts she tries her best to fit a life in for her and our family.  This is her last term and there is no one more ready for her to be done than her.  I keep telling her to keep her chin up and that most people take twelve years to get their undergraduate degree.

Tanis ODonnell with a Great Horned Owl looking at him - Wildlife Safari on Mother

One of the difficulties of being married and having two mothers with a single weekend of separation is that you have to pick whom you are going to honor that year with your presence.  Now this is a very tricky thing.  Most holidays are very easy, you go to one on even years and the other on odd years.  With mothers, there is a bit more to it.  You must bring in other factors such as which is closer and when was the last time you did what with whom and who might need you more than the other. 

Kirks Dik-Dik - Madoqua Kirkii - Winston, Oregon

To help in this dilemma, my own mother has picked up this odd annual tradition of leaving my brothers and I for that weekend with a friend of hers from Alaska.  I think her logic must be around the fact that she wants to really enjoy herself on her special day and that happiness involves half a state between her and her children.  I don't blame her, I think I would enjoy it more too.  My brothers and I can best, sometimes.  We get together and all the things that make us laugh, while at the same time my parents grimace and roll their eyes, start leaping about like a chicken-coup full of barking, purebred Mississippi Leg-Hounds when Shaqille O'Neal and Ming Yao stroll by in short-shorts and go-go boots.

Cape Eland - Tauratragus Oryx - Wildlife Safari

We hadn't spent much time in Myrtle Creek all year and decided to head south for the weekend.  The Bliven's had a foreign exchange student from Tawain named Rachel, a quiet girl who absolutely adored Tanis.  Linda wanted to spend time with her family and go to Wildlife Safari, an animal preserve with some incredible animals out in the middle of nowhere.  I hadn't been for quite a few years and was looking forward to going. 

Chilean Flamingo at the entrance to Wildlife Safari - Winston, OregonEvery time I had been there had been in the dead of summer.  When the heat is out like that, the animals pretty much find some shade or deep grass and hide out until it gets cooler.  When we showed up in the late morning, it was overcast and not much warmer than 60 - 65 degrees.  I was hoping that we would see some activity, and I wasn't wrong.  Most of the animals were up and moving around with the exception of the Hippos and the Rhinos.  But they are just big and grey and don't do much but glare at you with contempt at the frail little monkeys we must look like to them.  Evidently, more tourists are killed in Africa each year by hippos than by any other animal.  I guess those aquapigs have a bit of a temper.

The park was free for another few weeks so we only had to pay for the vehicle tour we took later on.  We got on the elephant ride as soon as it opened.  Tanis hadn't ever ridden an elephant (then again, how many of us have?) but needed someone older to ride with him.  We elected Rachel since she would be leaving back to Taiwan soon and hadn't ever been here either.  Now, as I have mentioned before, I am not the nicest person in the wold and I tend to try to have fun with more timid people.  Rachel was very quiet, rather timid and was a ripe target for me to throw a few apples at.  Waiting in line for the ride I mentioned the elephants looked a bit pekish.  Rachel asked what I meant and I explained they looked hungry.  She gave me a quizzical look trying to figure out if I was kidding or not.  I kept a deadpan face and told her these were asian elephants, much more prone to eating asian people rather than white people and these elephants probably hadn't had a little asian food for a while.  She smiled and then frowned quickly.  Smiling again, I could tell she wanted me to crack a smile to show that I was kidding.  How little she knows me.  I kept a straight face and tossed a worried glance over at the elephants.  She followed my gaze and her mouth came open, hanging in what I can only think was "um..."

By the time we got up to the front of the line, she was holding her stomach and complaining that maybe she didn't want to go.  I told her politely, but firmly, that I wanted her on with Tanis as a diversion in case the elephant really did eat someone, she might appear as a better meal for them.  I could see she was resolved to go through this and I shouldn't make her completely miserable.  But it was too good.  I couldn't help myself.

A small primate swinging around at Wildlife Safari - Winston, Oregon

They rode on the elephant without a vegetarian becoming a carnivore.  Tanis and Rachel both had a good time.  As we were waiting our turn to ride the little train around the park, the little monkeys in the middle of a pond above the trains started woop'ing it up.  I hadn't ever heard racket like that!  They would make this low to high woop'ing that was extremely loud.  Me and the rest of the crowd kept egging them on with more and more woop'ing.  It must have lasted close to an hour of those monkeys screaming back at us.  Surprisingly, no feces was thrown at the crowd.