Thursday, December 1, 2016

Meandering through Napa Valley

Miles of vineyards along Hwy 128/29 in Napa Valley (Julianne G. Crane)

If you occasionally prefer the slow lane, rather than speeding along on the interstates--consider State Hwy. 128/29 in iconic Napa-Sonoma Wine Country.

Scenic Highway 128 north of Calistoga. 
 We began our drifting early one morning after camping at the Corps of Engineers Lake Sonoma Liberty Glen Campground off Pacific Coast  Hwy. 101 near Geyserville, Calif.

Traveling south on Hwy 128, this two-lane country road winds its way through hundreds of vineyards--many with tasting rooms including Meeker Wines in Geyserville.

Reflection (Julianne G. Crane)
For the Meekers, "wine means family." They started home winemaking in a basement in the early 1970s, and in 1977 they bought their first vineyard in Dry Creek Valley. "And now we’re into the second generation of Meekers focused on creating and sharing wines with character. We’d love it if you tried our wines and got to know our family." Their downtown tasting room was closed when we drove past their storefront, however, we did catch our reflection in their window.

The 23-mile stretch between Geyserville and Calistoga was a bit curvy in sections, however we didn’t mind and simply pulled over whenever anyone was bunching up behind us.

One of many vineyards open to public. (Julianne G. Crane)
After Hwy 128 joins Hwy 29 in Calistoga, the road straightens out some, but the remaining half of the journey is no less scenic because of the rolling hillsides and hundreds of historic vineyards and wineries, many of which are open to the public. For shopping and walking, there are also the picturesque towns of St. Helens, Rutherford, Yountville and, of course, Napa.

Family vineyards. (Julianne G. Crane)
"More than 400 wineries dot the fertile soils of Napa Valley, one of the world’s premier viticultural regions," states the Napa Valley.com.

For more information online:
- Napa Valley.com
- Visit Napa Valley
- Napa Wine Train

-- Julianne G. Crane

To read more articles about the RV lifestyle by Julianne G Crane, go to RVWheelLife.com

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Wildlife Safari near I-5 in southern Oregon year-round family RV Short Stop

Cars meander through the 600-acres of the Wildlife Safari (Julianne G. Crane)
I'm not a big fan of zoos.  In a perfect world all living creatures would be free to roam in their natural habitat. However, that is not the world we live in these days.

Cheetah Conservation
Therefore, wildlife parks like Wildlife Safari in southern Oregon have their place. And, this 600-acre park serves a crucial function in conservation and protection of endangered species "while educating the public about them and their important roles in the fragile ecosystem," according to its website.

"Wildlife Safari is home to a world-renowned cheetah breeding program as well as one of only two AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited facilities with hands-on elephant experiences in the USA; and up-close and personal animal encounters with more than 600 animals to see during the Drive-Through and in the Village."

The Drive-Through

Brown Bear (Julianne G. Crane)
"Wildlife Safari opened in 1972 and is the only drive-through wild animal park in Oregon. Nestled in a large wooded valley ... visitors can view more than 76 species from their cars including tigers, giraffes, zebras, lions, elephants, bison, elk and bears."

Driving in your own vehicle along the more than four miles of winding road, allow about 1-1/2  hours to complete the circuit. You will receive a map of the park when you pay.  It gives an overview of the park and will help you identify animals. All vehicles are allowed EXCEPT -- No open top vehicles (convertibles must have tops up at all times). No motorcycles.

Jimmy Smith and a curious Australian emu.
Attention pet owners: No pets in the Village or Drive-Through. Kennels are available outside the Village. Why? According to Wildlife Safari: "Pets in vehicles can attract the attention of other animals. This could endanger the lives of our guests and park personnel, as well as result in damage to vehicles. So, for the safety of everyone, pet kennels are available for visitor's pets."

Animal Encounters

'Hulking Hippo' encounter with a nosy ostrich.(Julianne G. Crane)
There are a number of personal 'Animal Encounter' opportunities for an additional fee. This is the perfect way to see and sometimes touch a few of these amazing creatures. During the Hulking Hippo encounter a "keeper will tempt the hippo out of the water so visitors can admire their unusual teeth and body structure while they receive their favorite treats."

The Safari Village

Jimmy Smith walking through The Safari Village (Julianne G. Crane)
The Safari Village area is free for guests throughout the day. It offers a relaxing walk-through area with more than 300 animals. The White Rhino Cafe features burgers, chili dogs, corn dogs, nachos and other munchies. There are restrooms in this area. 

If you go:

Cotton Top Tamarin
Wildlife Safari
1790 Safari Rd.
Winston, OR 97496
 541-679-6761
Directions: Take I-5, Exit 119 West on Hwy 42/N 99 towards Winston. Right on Lookingglass Road and follow the signs on the right.

Costs:
Adult (13-59) $17.99/person
Child (3-12) $11.99
Under 2 - free
Military or Veterans (with IDs) receive 10% off.
Price includes 2 drive-throughs of the park in one day
Also check Groupon.com for Up-to-39-percent off

East African  Crown Crane (Julianne G. Crane)
Hours:
Opened 363 days a year
(Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
Nov. 8-March 12
Drive-through: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (last vehicle admitted at 4 p.m.)
Village and Gift shop: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
March 13-Nov. 7
Drive-through: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (last vehicle admitted at 5 p.m.)
Village and Gift shop: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (March 13-Sept. 1); 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Sept.2-Nov.2)

This is an excellent way to spend a few hours.
For information on the Wildlife Safari RV Campground click here.

-- Julianne G. Crane

To read more articles about the RV lifestyle by Julianne G Crane, go to RVWheelLife.com 

Creature Photos from the top:   (Julianne G. Crane) 
Brown Bear- Ursus arctos
Usually dark brown, subspecies vary from light cream to almost black. Tips of guard hairs are white; they give the bear a grizzled appearance. Large hump of muscle over shoulders, dished profile and longer claws on front paws. --
Wildlife Safari Website 
Emu- Dromaius novaehollandiae
These soft-feathered, brown, flightless Australian birds reach up to almost seven feet in height. They have long thin necks and legs. Emus can travel great distances at a fast, economical trot and, if necessary, can sprint 31 mph. They are opportunistically nomadic and may travel long distances to find food. Emus will sit in water and are also able to swim. They are curious birds who are known to follow and watch other animals and humans. Emus do not sleep continuously at night but in several short stints sitting. -- Wildlife Safari Website
Hippopotamus- Hippopotamus amphibius
Back is purplish grey-brown, pinkish undersides. Patches of pink on face. Hide is virtually hairless.

-- Wildlife Safari Website 
Common Ostrich- Struthio camelus 
Male is black and white, female is brown and off-white. Only bird with just two toes and is the largest non-flight bird.  Can run at up to about 43 mph, the fastest land speed of any bird.   The ostrich is the largest living species of bird and lays the largest eggs of any living bird. -- Wildlife Safari Website 
Cotton-top Tamarin- Saguinus oedipus is part of the most diminutive family of monkeys, Callitrichidae, the marmosets and tamarins; it weights a little less than one pound on average. Its head–body length is 8 – 10 inches while its tail—which is not prehensile—is slightly longer 13–16 inches. The species has modified claws, called tegulae, on all digits except its big toes which have the flat nails, called ungulae, common to other primates. The white hair on the back of the head and neck inspires its common name, "cotton-top". The skin of the face is black with gray or white bands located above the eyes. These bands continue along the edge of the face down to the jaw. -- Wildlife Safari Website 
East African Crown Crane - Also known as the Grey Crowed Crane.  The body plumage is mainly grey. Wings are predominantly white. Head has a crown of stiff golden feathers.  This crane does not migrate. Its geographical range is Uganda and Kenya, and South Africa. Habitat is dry savanna, nests in somewhat wetter habitats. Conservation status: Endangered. -- Wildlife Safari Website