This was our third Christmas without gifts, our third Christmas to celebrate experiences and our family.
Two years ago was Galveston and Moody Gardens. Last year was Waco, Cameron Park Zoo, and the Magnolia Silos.
This year was something that fit the bill for the animal-lover, photographer, and military-obsessed genes in all of us.
Our first day of vacation was actually spent trying to take care of all of the pets, traveling to Uvalde, and enjoying our very last-minute vrbo rental (because our vintage camper wasn’t ready in time). 🙁
Day two was an animal experience of a lifetime. We met my parents at the beautiful Ox Ranch main lodge… and headed out on our three-hour exotics tour. Our sweet guide, Candace, drove us around to all the best spots for interacting with and photographing their beautiful creatures.
We first met a red river hog that was very friendly and very hungry. He hung around with us quite a bit. We all got to feed him. And he marked most of us with slobber, as he rubbed on our legs.
A (still un-named) sweet little longhorn then came over to check out my camera. He was precious! And was very curious to see what I was up to.
Evan got to feed a couple of elands.
And then we were all totally entertained by the camel and ostrich enclosure. While the ostriches strutted around, flapped, and hissed at us… the camels (Sushi and the gang) couldn’t wait to visit and eat. Dad and I fed them. The kids totally got sneezed on! (Ben said it looked like silly string!)
Our next visit was with Fireball, a TALL, beautiful, sweet kangaroo. He was lovely. Evan fed him some bananas. And I got to pet him. The whole time I scratched his neck, he was licking me! So cute!
Out in the fields, we got to see the longhorns, buffalo, yaks, and more.
We got an all-too-short encounter with the beautiful giraffes.
And then we met Dilbert… the cutest lechwe antelope we’ve ever run into. (and I guess, the only one we’ve run into) 😉
We tracked down the zebras.
And then, as we sat around the firepit back at the lodge, we had a kangaroo come around to snag some of our popcorn. It came right up to us, snacked with us, looked right into my camera lens. Swore he was going to hug me.
It was the most amazing outing! But… time for lunch!
We drove off the ranch, into Camp Wood, for lunch at Nueces Country Smokehouse. A few brisket sandwiches, a cheeseburger, and a delicious BLT later, we headed back to the ranch.
This time, we drove up to Drive Tanks, where we got one more giraffe encounter (with Buttercup) before going into the warehouse.
Once inside, we got a complete (and a little bit behind-the-scenes) tour. Our guide, Riley, walked us through all of their guns, artifacts, and tanks. He spouted out information and cool facts. He quizzed Ben (and totally stumped him on a couple of things). 😉
And then we headed outside to meet up with Spencer, who pulled the highlight of the trip together for us. The Leopard A5 German tank experience. Evan and I got to climb into the loader and commander’s positions of the tank. Ben climbed into the driver’s seat. And Spencer road along, giving Ben instructions on how to drive the course. It was pretty amazing from the top of the tank. Can’t imagine how thrilling it was for my all-American, history-loving, WWII-fanatic, tank-obsessed kid!!!
I’m sure you’d love to find out more about this 18,000+ acre ranch… and all it has to offer:
Please! Go hunt, take the guided tour, visit the guys out at Drive Tanks too. Would love to see these businesses thrive. And I’m sure you’d have a great time!
Take it all in. And ENJOY… every time you TRAVEL TEXAS!!!