Thursday, November 17, 2011


Hi again.  November around here started off so beautifully, it was in the 70s and no storms or rain.  We were scheduled to make a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the US to visit Mr. C's Dad and Step-Mom.  Mr. C's fun sister, J, also joined us for part of the week.  Boy was I surprised when I checked the weather out there to find it was quite a bit colder than here in Illinois.  It was to be in the 50s F during the days and 28-32* F at night.  That changed our packing a bit as we added heavier jackets to the suitcases.  We planned to stay for 6 days.  Our flight out was uneventful, with the exception of as we were approaching Albuquerque, we went through some clouds which were really pretty, like cotton candy, until the lady next to me said, no, I think it's rain, not clouds, and we looked more closely.  It wasn't really rain, either, it was sparkly, and we finally came to the conclusion that we were flying (with the speed of the aircraft figured in) through the equivalent of a blizzard.  It was so pretty.  So we arrived safely in Albuquerque, had dinner with the folks and J and went to our motel for the night.  

During the week, we made a couple of treks to Sandia Casino (where none of us did great, but at least Mr. C and I broke even on our "spending allowance").  We don't happen to be big gamblers, although we do enjoy the video games.  We play penny machines only, LOL, but even those aren't really "pennies" anymore as some of them the least you could "bet" was 50 cents.  We searched out the older machines that let us use less, although there are no longer any 9 cent ones, the best we could find was 25 cents to play all lines.  Since all I really want are the fun to play bonuses, I have to play all lines.  To make finding "good machines" even harder, since I'm horribly allergic to smoke, we are limited to the small non-smoking areas.   Mr. C and I aren't big shoppers, either, neither of us get clothes just for the fun of it, we buy what we need when we need it, I  think we've only been to the "mall" one time in the past 2 years (although we go to WalMart or Meijers for groceries and whatever we need while there).  So when we go gambling, we treat it as a "shopping trip to the mall" with a fixed amount we allow ourselves to "spend", knowing we will probably be spending (or losing) it, LOL.  When we have "spent" our allowance, we move to the penny video poker machines, where I can play on $5.00 for hours, LOL.  

One thing we do spend too much money on, is eating out, and we do have our favorite places to go, one of which is Golden Corral.  When we travel with the 5th wheel, we even plan our travel time and routes and over night stays around Golden Corrals, LOL.  Boy were we impressed with the Golden Corrals in Albuquerque.  They were HUGE, about twice the size as the ones (even the newest ones) here in Illinois.  Mr. C prefers buffets because he is a big salad eater.  I prefer buffets because I am a picky eater and I can pick and choose what I want.  Many people hate buffets because they eat too much, I actually lose weight when we eat at Golden Corrals because they offer so many "fresh" vegetable dishes and indeed, I lost 5 lbs on this vacation.  

Besides some wonderful meals (both out and at the folks home) we had a good time visiting with Mr. C's Dad and Step-Mom and sister.  Mr. C and J spent a lot of time on their laptop computers while at Dad's and I finally got fidgety (ok, Blogger likes the way I spelled it that time, LOL), so Mr. C took me to Michael's and Hobby Lobby and I got some basic clay stuff and a very simple variety of clay tools (I didn't want to spend lots of money on tools I already have at home).  

I got a wonderful cutting mat that I will also use at home, although I discovered I have to work on the back side, as the black paint comes off somewhat on the clay, but that's okay, it still gives me rough 1/4" and 1" markings to work with.  So, besides the cutting mat, I got one blade, an acrylic roller, several knitting needles, a few "jewelry bits" and from Golden Corral, a straw, toothpicks and skewers.  Then I started playing.  I was still wanting to work on making my dragons smaller, so that's what I played with.   

These new dragons don't have the "decorative scales" canework, but still have the muzzle like I wanted it.  They aren't very decorative, as I was very limited on my available embellishments, but I had fun and it was good practice.  It was also fun to see what I could do with such a limited tool selection.  So, without further ado, here are the 4 little dragons I made one afternoon.

Here are some close ups of each one.

First came "Crystal", holding her crystals in her hands and tail, she sure is a greedy little thing.

I took her picture on my hand, so you can see she is barely as large as my fingers (and I don't have very big hands, LOL).

After Crystal I made "All Mine" who, as you can plainly see, is holding on to his ball for dear life and isn't about to share it with anybody else.  He is only about half the size of my fingers.

This is what he looks like from the back.
I'm still having trouble getting the eyes to look the way I want them, but I'll keep working on it.

The third one I made that day was a sleepy little pink pearl with striped wings.  Her eyes look pretty good, nice and sleepy, maybe even half asleep, LOL.  She too, is guarding her crystal pretty closely.

The final one I made that day is this little green guy who is getting into the holiday spirit with his candy cane.

He still has his own little crystal which he's guarding with his cute little spiky tail.

I find it interesting that the sleepy pink and this green one have the exact same wings and ears, but the wings and ears look different between the two because of the background color or the dragon.

Then it was time to return home, where the weather has finally settled into typical November weather, 40ish during the day and 30s at night (although last night it got below 28*F with possible snow flurries).  It did not snow that we are aware of, but brrrrr.  I hate being cold, it makes my Fibromyalgia so much worse, especially when it's windy and cold, so I'll be hibernating most of the winter by hiding in my house and not going out unless I absolutely have to.

Our chickens made it safely through the vacation, although we had quite a scare right after we got home:
Before I tell that story though, I've had a request to show that most of our chickens really truly lay blue/green/pink eggs.  They are Americauna chickens and they truly lay colored eggs.  These are not dyed eggs, they are fresh out of the chickens, and they taste so fantastic.  There is so much more yolk and flavor from "home grown/layed" eggs than from store bought, in my not so humble opinion.  (We do have 4 old Brahma hens that lay the big brown speckled eggs like the one in the back and they taste good, too, LOL).

I've shown pictures of our beautiful chickens in previous posts, but never showed a picture of their eggs (probably because they were too young to be laying when I posted about them previously.)  The big brown speckled egg in the back left corner is from an old Brahma hen (they have funny feathered feet, LOL) and I included it to show the difference between a "brown egg" and the pinkish egg, right in front of the big brown one, from the Americauna chickens.  I think we only have one that lays the pinkish eggs, but you can see the others are every shade of blue/green from robin egg blue to an olive green.

So, we kept our chickens penned up while we were gone, while we usually let them run loose during the day, when we're home.  From a previous post, you may (or may not) know we had a problem with leaving our chickens loose 24 hours a day, as some predator ate, chased, or carried half our flock away earlier this summer.  Now that the Farmer has harvested his corn and there is no cover for predators we let the chickens loose during the day, again.  When we got home, we started letting them out during the day, again, and when evening comes they take themselves back into the coop, we go close and lock up the gate and they are safe for the night.

Monday we let them loose and then took my Dad and Mr. C (and my Mom and sister, G, and I) down to Golden Corral in Springfield, Illinois for Military appreciation day.  Veterans (and active Duty) got free meals that day.  We went early (3:20 pm) so my Mom got early bird senior price, Dad and Mr. C ate free and G and I got regular lunch price, and we hoped to beat the crowd.  It was plenty busy even at that time and we had a short wait to get in and get seated.  But when we came out, the line was over a block long, OUT THE DOOR.  We were very glad we went early and everybody enjoyed themselves immensely.  However, back to the "Great Chicken Scare" (only it should be titled the "Great Susie Scare"--yep, ME).  Between the shorter days of winter, daylight savings time change, a cloudy day, and the hour and a half to and from Springfield, as well as waiting and eating time, we misjudged the time and didn't put the chickens away before we left.  So by the time we finally got home, it was well past dark.  The chickens had put themselves to bed, as usual, but we still had to go get the eggs and close the gate.  (Another side note here, we live in the middle of nowhere and it is DARK, DARK, DARK out here in the middle of nowhere, LOL).  We grabbed our flashlight and headed back to the chicken coop (which is at the far back corner of our little acre (in the middle of nowhere!!!).  As we got about halfway to the coop, I heard the chickens were really agitated (usually once they put themselves to bed, they just sit on their roosts and quietly go to sleep).  They were moving around and squawking and grumbling, I mentioned to Mr. C, "I wonder what's got the chickens so upset. . ." and then I heard it, somewhere out in the field behind our house, came howling, growling, snarling, yelping and it was CLOSE (we truly thought our flash light would show them, but they were just out of light range).  They couldn't have been more than a half block away from us, whatever "they" were.  There were at least a half dozen, perhaps more, several were howling, and some were fighting, snarling, growling, or yelping).  We know we have wolves, coyotes, and possibly wild dogs around here, we've seen the coyotes and wolves.  I was so scared, if I had been alone, I'm afraid I would have run right back into the house, but fortunately, Mr. C was there and he led the way and we locked up the gate and got the eggs and then high tailed it back into the house.
Our Puppy (who isn't a puppy anymore, she's 2 years old now, LOL, but we still call her puppy, she's so cute and little) who you've all heard way too much about, remember?  This puppy:
Snuffles started barking at the back door and pacing, then she got up in her window (we have a garden window at the back of the den with a ramp for her to get up into--it's no good for growing flowers, it gets too darn hot :-(  )  So, she got up in her window and started growling, a low continuous growl for about a half hour.  I'm soooo glad I wasn't home alone, I'm such a chicken s**t, LOL.  So I suspect our predators were back again and hung around for awhile trying to get into the chickens.

The next day Mr. C kindly put up motion detector flood lights on the back corner of our house and at the back of the chicken coop.  (We already had one on the side of the garage/barn, but it doesn't shine as far as the back of the house or the chicken coop).  He also set up a "Google" reminder alarm to go lock the chickens up and get the eggs before 4:30 everyday.

Now, I'm all caught up and so are you, whether you like it or not, LOL, so I'll get off here and go get dinner started, then I can "play clay" for awhile.  Oops, I almost forgot, I have to walk on the treadmill before I can play, too.  I just HAVE to get some of this excess weight off and get back in walking shape again.  I promised myself I'd walk on the treadmill at least twice a day (with my back injury I can't go for very long at a time, but I can walk more times to make up for it).

Until next time, have fun.  Smiles, S

Dragons, Dragons, Everywhere!!!

Whew, I've been so busy, but having fun, so pardon me for not keeping up my end of the blog (I never could keep a diary regularly, either, so guess I shouldn't be terribly surprised, LOL).

So, you may ask, what have I been having so much fun with?  Well. . . first of all, you may (or may not) remember that in my last post I mentioned the arthritis in my hands was giving me fits with caning.  I finally, regretfully decided that I will definitely have to give up caning, at least for now.  Between my back injury, shoulders, wrists and thumbs I just can't do the reducing anymore and it has gotten to the point that I dread even sitting down at my clay table because I know how much it is going to hurt.  So, I started some sculptures.  I decided to start with Dragons.  As many of you know, even before I married and became a Castle, I collected and enjoyed all things "Fantasy" from sand castles to dragons to fairies.  I have tried to sculpt dragons before, but could never get quite the look that was the kind of dragon I wanted to create.  Although they are beautiful, I didn't want to create mean, horrific dragons, but didn't want cartoon (Pete's Dragon) type dragons either, but I couldn't picture quite what I "see" a dragon as looking like (just Google Dragon pictures and see the variety, LOL).

I have made a couple of little dragons in the past and they were cute, but not quite right.

I still had lots of canes to make, so I gave up on Dragons and went back to caning.  You've all heard my frustration with making "faces" on people type sculptures, so we won't go there again, yet.

So I knew I wanted to make some dragons and I knew I needed someplace to start and would need some help.  Then I came across Birdy Haywood, on FaceBook.    and followed her link to her webpage, and then found that she has instructional project sheets and even better yet, a DVD on making Dragons .  So I ordered it.  Although this DVD is only in UK PAL format (and won't play on my DVD player) it plays just fine on my computer.  I just can't say enough good things about Birdy and this DVD and Birdy's teaching methods.  She is so calm and encouraging and just "gives" the knowledge that you can DO IT, and I did.

First I watched the DVD all the way through. Then I did the practice parts Birdy suggested (several heads, and the eyes).  Then I created my first Dragon:  the green one in this pair:  I watched a section of the DVD and then did that part of the Dragon.  Watched the next section and did that part, etc.  His eyes aren't quite right, and his wings are from an extra piece of cane I happened to have around, but otherwise I was pretty pleased.

Then, I felt the green guy really wanted a friend to love, so I created the pinkish one to go along with him.  Again, the eyes aren't quite right, I wanted a sleepy, calm, relaxed look and instead she looks worried, to me.  Here they are from a couple other angles, with a close up of the heads:

I chose to do my "muzzles" slightly
differently than Birdy's, but finally
 found the shape and look I was searching for to make them "my own".
  Mr. C is absolutely enthralled with them and thinks I should start selling them, but I told him I need a bit more practice first, LOL.  His opinion still really made me feel good though.  We were talking about these two dragons and I told him what I felt their faults were and how difficult I find it to name things I make, and said, "Even so, I'm 'pickled tink', meaning tickled pink or pleased, with them."  He started laughing and said, "Pickled Tink?  You just named them, 'Tickle and Pink'".  So, I present to you, "Tickle and Pink", my first two dragons.  This sculpture is a big bigger than my spread out hand, a total of about 6 1/2" wide, 6" deep, and 5 1/4" tall.  Each Dragon, if spread out would be about 11" from tip of tail to top of head, but since they are curled around each other seem smaller.

I wanted to go a bit smaller though, so next I created this little cutie:  This one was "designed to be a little girl; a teenager to go with Pickle and Tink", but HE had other ideas, and turned out to be a boy.  No, don't ask me how that happens, it appears that Dragons have a minds of their own and I was apparently mistaken and he was indeed a HE and not a SHE (just look at that proud ruff, only the "boys" have those, LOL).  Anyway, I refined the muzzle a bit more as well as refined his wings a bit, and again I was happy.

This little guy has been busy out exploring nature and if you'll look closely you'll see he is quite fascinated with what he found in his hands (front feet?).

Due to his wonderful find, Mr. C has christened him "Flutterbye".

I just love the expression on his face and his eyes; he looks so surprised.  It was just the perfect look.  

I really liked his size, he easily sits on my palm and is about 8" tip of tail to top of head if stretched out.  The way he is posed he is about 4" on the bottom and about 4 1/4" tall.

For the next one I just decided to use up some bits and pieces of canes I had sitting around.  Again, this one turned into a little boy, but this time with spikes from the top of his head to the tip of his tail.

He's a bit wild looking, some say a bit retro, perhaps "an old hippie" left over from the 1970s, LOL.  He is a bit bright and wild looking and every color or hue of the rainbow, which earned him his name of Sir Hue (again thanks to Mr. C).

He's busy with a special bauble/jewel he found stuck in these rocks.  He seems quite fascinated and I suspect this will eventually make its way back to his hoard of jewels and gold.  Sir Hue is about the same size as Flutterbye, although with the rock pile the total sculpture is a bit bigger, about 5" at the base.

Yes, making this particular type of dragon does still involve some caning, for the "scales, wings, and ears" but not the huge canes I previously made for resale.  These canes start out about the size of a quarter and don't get much bigger than that after several recombinations and since they are reduced as they are put together they stay soft and pliable.

One of the best things about making these dragons is that they were all made almost entirely from recycled clay.  Only white, black, and the translucent for the claws were new packages of clay.  I'm also excited that I can use some of the special effects clays with these.  Pearl and glitter clay don't work well for caning, as the mica particles in them cause drag and distortion in the slices when slicing them, but for sculptures, any of the clays can be used.  Hooray!!!

Well, this is probably long enough, and I have another one to write about our recent trip.  I hope you enjoyed my first "successful" foray into sculpting and hope you'll become one of my followers so you can follow along on my journey into sculpting with Polymer Clay.  Smiles, S

P.S.  I almost forgot, I had a commission for a couple bulldog sculptures, from a "cartoonish" photo, which I completed to my satisfaction (and theirs).  It's the first dogs I've done in Polymer Clay and I was quite pleased.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Absolutely no excuse!

I know, it's been awhile since I've been here and I have absolutely no excuse, except. . . LOL.  Actually, last year was just crazy with Nick and the girls living here and I just plain didn't have time or energy to blog or do much of anything other than enjoy their company.  In addition, although I don't much express personal "feelings" etc. on my blog, since August I've been in the worst depression I've ever had to battle and I'm not willing to state out loud, just HOW bad it has been.  Who, why, what, where,  and when etc. don't really matter to anybody but me, and I think I'm finally winning the battle.  It was a close call, there, for awhile, but I've forced myself to just keep plodding along and I finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.  So, what am I doing to pick myself up and keep going?

My house is clean, for me (I'm not much of one for dusting and such, we live in the middle of a corn/bean field, with 5 grain bins right next door to us and dust is a constant force of nature that I choose not to fight).

We've been busy getting "the farm" ready for winter weather, we've got the pool covered and ready for winter, the 5th wheel is winterized and awaiting our April trip, we've cut down some dead trees (and had some delightful cookouts with the wood, LOL, I just adore roasting those new HUGE marshmallows, LOL).  We've been working on getting the barn/garage cleaned out so we can park the cars in there this winter, and getting the chickens ready for winter weather.
We already have a heater to put under their water buckets, but Mr. C is such a softie; he doesn't want the chickies to get too cold this winter, so he's installing a couple heat lamps for them.

We have the nicest and prettiest little flock of chickens and the prettiest rooster we've ever owned and he's even a nice rooster, hasn't ever chased me at all, LOL.  Here he is crowing to call in the other hens after I tried calling them all to me for a picture.

I love living in the country and being able to have my chickens, pool, no neighbors, peace and quiet (except during harvest when the dryers on those grain bins in the photo above are whining 24 hours a day!!!)

But, there is a downside to living in the middle of nowhere, too.  We didn't really notice it when we were lots younger, more fit, thinner etc.  But there is a lot of work to do to keep this place up and we've decided in the past year that it's just getting to be too much for us.  I'm not sure if we're just getting lazier or just getting older, but we poop out a lot faster than we used to.  So, we've been discussing some retirement options and have started making some plans towards our goal of full-timing in our 5th wheel for a few years and seeing some of this beautiful country we live in.  This includes "selling off the farm", LOL and all THAT endeavor entails.  We've lived here for 22 years and have accumulated LOTS of junk.  I'm a typical polymer clay/general crafting/sewing/scrapbooking hoarder, which means making some hard decisions as we downsize into living in a 5th wheel trailer.

I'm not complaining about the 5th wheel, it's the nicest house we've ever owned, it's honestly a modern condo on wheels, but it's like going from a 3 bedroom farmhouse with a den and a huge storage barn to a one bedroom "apartment".  Some of it will be given away, some of it will be put in storage as someday, when we are "forced" to give up the road, I'll want it and won't want to reinvest in it.  Some of it will be sold, hopefully, but we aren't much for garage sales  (I'd really like to find some way to sell all my stained glass equipment and glass, but it's extremely heavy to ship, so I have to try to find somebody fairly local to take it away, LOL).

So we have a 5 year plan to downsize and get the farm sold (good Lord willing and the creeks don't rise, and the economy doesn't get much worse, but all these things make it a questionable venture, LOL).  In many ways I'm looking forward to it, but in others, I dread it.
So, in the meantime, I've forced  myself to get going on clay work, and have recently reopened my Castle's Corner eBay Store .  The  hot summer is over and we feel we can safely ship canes again.  It isn't completely filled yet, (I've been very busy, LOL) but at least the Christmas Poinsettia canes are in there (do you realize that Christmas is only 62 days away???  Crafters have to get busy NOW, LOL).  My tiny Play Clay Group has managed to meet twice this month and are getting our rusty skills polished up again.

 In addition to caning, I've come up with several sculpting ideas (oh no here I go again, trying to sculpt, and not only trying to sculpt, but trying to sculpt very, very small, as in miniature, LOL).  No, no, NOT just TRYING, that isn't positive, I have PLANS for some very small sculptural scenes, and WILL be sculpting in between new canes.  The arthritis in my hands and wrists is giving me a bit of a problem with the cane work, but hopefully they will get stronger as I use them more.  I've even written a story for my first sculpture and it will be on-going for the small scenes I am planning.  My first book is nearly written, I just need to get the photos ready to go for it.  Bits from the small sculptural scenes will be able to do double duty as part of my second book.  I'm even considering a children's book illustrated in clay to go along with the story I've written.  So you can see, I'm moving on and moving forward.  I still am a bit "fragile" and fighting to stay up rather than down and to keep moving upwards (why is it so much easier to get down?) but I have a wonderfully supportive hubby and Mr. C just keeps believing in me, even when I don't believe in myself.

I also can no longer say I never win anything.  My wonderful friend, fantastic quilter, (and former sister-in-law) was having a give away on her blog for MyMemories Software and I WON!!!  That should be something fun to play with during my coming cold winter hibernation.  Tracey makes beautiful quilted pieces (from wall hangings, to baby quilts, to runners, to full size quilts) and has an interesting blog, Mad for Quilting.  Here is one of her most recent Halloween pieces:  Her blog isn't just about quilting though, Tracey writes about many of her interests and has a very interesting job that she sometimes blogs about.  She works for the Jaguars.  When her mother first told me about her working for the Jaguars, I thought, wow, that must be interesting to work for a specialty car company. . . (yeah, so not sports oriented, here, LOL).   She wasn't blogging back then, so I had nothing to go by, other than the name.  I think it was about a year before I realized she worked for a  football team.  It never dawned on me, before her job, that professional sports teams would have to have an office staff to handle all the stuff that goes on "behind the game".   Anyway, Tracey writes a fun and interesting blog and does beautiful quilt work, go take a look at her blog to see for yourself.

So, that's my story and since I'm in the middle of reducing another cane, I'd better get going and get it finished.  I hope you're all having a wonderful Fall (or Spring, depending on where you live, I guess).  The weather here has sure been beautiful, although our colors aren't as vibrant as usual.  Have a Happy!!!  Sue C

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The rest of the Story!!!!

While researching our route home from our vacation, I saw "The Wilds" in Ohio and since I have always wanted to do a "safari" kind of thing we decided to make our stop (we try to not drive more than 6-8 hours, including stops, a day) near there, in Zanesville, Ohio.  The campground "Wolfies" wasn't anything to write home about, but it had good sized, easy pull thru sites, so it was adequate.  

The next day we drove out to "The Wilds".  It was a pretty, scenic drive making one wonder, where on earth with all these hills, trees, etc. could they put a "safari type park"???  I never realized that Ohio was so hilly and scenic.  Our GPS told us to take certain roads, but we'd find big (or little) signs that said "The Wilds" this way with arrows etc., so on the way there, we followed the signs.  Suddenly there it was, all spread out before us.  

Turned out we should have followed the GPS, LOL and we did so on the way back.  We were kind of wishing there had been a closer campground to "The Wilds", but on second thought, our truck wouldn't have liked trying to nagivate the small country, hilly roads and the tons of trees and low power lines over the roads.  So, you're probably thinking by now, get on with it, what about "The Wilds", was it worth it, was it any good????  

Here is what the literature says about "The Wilds":  "The Wilds is a private, non-profit conservation center located on nearly 10,000 acres of reclaimed mine land in rural southeastern Ohio. It was created as the conservation center of the future by a group of civic leaders, political leaders and zoo professionals who believed that a serious scientific approach was required to find solutions to environmental concerns."

The land was originally a completely depleted strip mined area, so there is hardly any top soil left.  Part of The Wilds plan is to renew the land.  There are many government agencies using part of it to try to save different species of plant as well as wild life.  As an example, the American Elm has been nearly depleted by some little beetle.  The Forestry Dept has been working with this and has planted some new Elms there which, so far, appear to be immune or resistant to this destructive beetle.  

This is a place devoted to conservation, most of these animals are so endangered as to be nearly extinct in the wild, so it wasn't quite like a well stocked zoo or an actual African safari with only African animals or anything, but it was extremely well done.

There were many ways to enjoy "The Wilds".  

Wilds Animal Encounter (shorter for younger children/families)

Safari Transport Pass (closed air conditioned bus)

Open-Air Safari (open air, like a very long jeep, with a roof)

Sunset Safari Tour (expensive, LOL, includes a buffet type meal)

Wildside Tour (in the back of a truck, more personalized and expensive)

There were also Horseback Safari Tours, Zipline Safari Tours, Mountain Biking, Birding Tours, Fishing Tours, a lodge, camping yurts and more.  

We chose to take the Open-Air Safari, which is a 2 1/2 hour tour in a vehicle that looks and rides kind of like a very long jeep with a roof over it.  Unfortunately, for my back, it was a rather rough ride, over unpaved roads, but well worth every second of it.  The driver is also the guide and explains what the Wilds is, how it came about, how it works, what the animals are and other information to make the experience complete.  Ours was a young woman and she was great, she was humorous and informative.  She would stop wherever we saw animals and we couldn't have asked for a better experience.  Check these photos out to see what we saw.  Warning, this is a rather photo heavy post, but I hope you enjoy it.  

The sign when you first arrive:  

You arrive at a parking lot and take a bus up to the introductory building where you "choose your adventure" and get your tickets etc.  (If you go, be sure to use the facilities in the building, especially if you have children with you.  There are only 2 stops in the 2 1/2 hour trip and the first is porta potties, LOL.  

So, you board your transport and away you go.  There are many Sally Ports (double gated areas keeping the wild areas separate from "The Wilds" areas.  Funny thing is, as we pulled up to the first gate, there was a white tailed deer right there by the fence grazing, LOL.  Our guide told us the wild animals tend to stick around the perimeter of "The Wilds" as it is a safe place to be.  The Wilds is divided into different areas with gates between the areas but Sally Ports (double gates) between the outside and the inside (so to speak).  The entire perimeter is double fenced with high and electric fences to protect both the wild population of animals as well as the animals within "The Wilds".   

This is the first animal we saw and I thought, yeah, it's going to be this way, the animals will be there, but at a distance that you can barely see and was slightly disappointed, until . . . down the road a bit and around the corner and right there in front of us:  

(Of course there are some places they aren't as close to the road, but they are wild animals, no one can control where they are located.  As the day got hotter, they tended to be further away in shadier areas).

A bit of educational lore, this is "the FaceBook" of the One horned Rhinos.  Apparently the Rhinos get together, face their hind ends together and all take a collective . . . hmmm, not sure how to put this politely, but this is their social interaction place to see and be seen (or actually to smell and be smelled. . . ).  So there are these huge dung heaps placed here and there and not just a bit here and there, but an actual gathering place.  Surprisingly, it didn't smell particularly.  
Just around another curve in the road we saw these rhinos.  These two were very friendly towards each other and one even came up to sniff our transport and walked so closely along the side that I could have touched it's back, if that had been allowed. 

They were also affectionate with one another, these two looked like they were kissing:  

The animals are kept in the pastures with other animals they get along with, which is why there are many gates separating the different pastures.  

The next several pictures are of animals that get along with one another and were right there along side the rhinos. 

First was a male camel (darker color), and then some female camels with some kind of donkeys.  I apparently didn't make it home with my brochure that gave the names of the animals :-(  .  

Up, over, and around the bend, we had our first stop.  There was a huge lake (there are more than a hundred lakes in this place, it is huge) and there was a walking path you could take down (and I mean DOWN hill) to the lake and back (UP HILL) and there were animals across the lake we saw later while driving.  

My back was acting up enough that we didn't even try to take the hike down to the lake and back.  There were water birds there and huge bluegill and catfish that you could feed.  The people and kids that went said it was so much fun.  

Then back in the "bus" and away we went:  around the next bend and over the next hill we came upon 3 giraffes.  These are 2 different species of the 3 species they have at "The Wilds".  

Once again, these animals were no more than 30 feet from our transport.  

Just down the road from the Giraffes, a small herd of wild horses (I mean the original wild horses, not the kind we call mustangs) came wandering up.  These horses have completely flat backs unlike the slightly curved backs of domesticated horses and have never been able to be tamed or domesticated. There are very few of them left in the wild though, they only exist in places like "The Wilds".  There were two colts with this herd.  

We drove on, seeing other animals from a distance as the day got hotter.  We made our second stop of the trip at the medium sized carnivore exhibit.  There were some Cheetahs as well as a pretty dog type carnivore that looked like a cross between a wolf and a fox.  It's a Dhole and our guide said we were lucky to see one out, as they are almost never out and she's only seen them twice this whole summer.  

The cheetahs were lounging in the shade.  Most of them were fairly young ones, actually born there at "The Wilds".  

There were restrooms and food and drinks available as well as a path to walk up on a kind of board walk to see the animals.  I hate to see them enclosed, but the enclosures are very large and this is the only way they can be here and they certainly have more room and natural environment than most zoos.  

Back on our bus and away we went.  By this time it was past noon, it was getting quite hot and the animals were more amongst the trees and shade platforms, but we still got some interesting unexpected pictures.  

I can't remember what this funny creature is called, but there are very few of them left in the wild and they are quite docile.  The staff compare them to guinea pigs, LOL.  She said they aren't usually so close to the road.  

There were some antelope type animals at a distance and a herd of zebras and white rhinos that we couldn't get close to.  

We also saw some wild cows that, from a distance, look, act, and sound like normal cows (kind of like Guernseys, I think), LOL.  

The bull has been locked up all summer and was just that week let loose with the cows and our guide was thrilled.  She said she's only seen him one time and to have them so close and actually moving around was a real treat.  
The thing that tickled me was that from a distance they just looked like brown cows and a dark brown bull, but when we came at them at the "watering hole" we came up on the bull from the back and he looks like he's wearing pantaloons or Mr. C thought a tuxedo backwards, LOL, you see what you think:  

We were all so excited watching these special cows that we almost missed this, coming to get a drink:  

And, so, the saga continued, watching the zebra and the cows getting drinks and cooling off in the water hole, right beside the road.  It was fantastic.  

But as the Bull entered the water, the zebra got a bit worried and decided it had had enough to drink and beat a retreat.  

This was the end of our tour and we headed back to the "gift shop" and "little eatery".  

However, one final little bit of fun, as we were waiting to exit the bus, one of the horseback safari guides was "advertising" and brought his horse up where I could pet her.  She sure was pretty.  I love horses, even if I am allergic to them, and it was a great end to a fantastic day.  

So, was "The Wilds" worth it?  It was $30.00 each for our particular "safari", and yes, in my opinion, it was well worth it and I would do it again.  I wish I could be a part of an organization like this or live on a hillside overlooking "The Wilds".  

The next day, our final day of actual vacation, we went to see Cowboys and Aliens. . . Harrison Ford, how could we resist. . . ??? . . . The special effects were fantastic, and I suppose the movie was fantastic, too, but I don't like scary and this was EXTREMELY SCARY!!!!!  (which also must mean it was very good and well done or I wouldn't have been so scared, LOL).  I don't think we'll be buying this one on DVD though, as I sure don't want to see it again (sorry folks, I'll admit I'm a chicken s--t).  

We still had fun though, and a wonderful vacation, over all, just having some quiet time to ourselves, even though I never did get around to any claying on this trip.  

So the next day we headed for home and had an almost uneventful trip. . . if we only didn't have to go through Indianapolis. . . wouldn't you know it, a stupid street sweeper pulls out of the construction area on our left going about 10 mph, RIGHT IN FRONT OF US.  I wouldn't have pulled in front of something our size even in a zippy little sports car, let alone going 10 mph!!!  We were glad to get home and the rest of the week will be spent cleaning out the trailer and getting it ready for winter.  THEN, it's back to my clay table, hooray!!!

Hope you enjoyed our vacation.  I know strangers might not care, but this is one way I can share it with my family and friends all in one fell swoop.  Hope you are having a great summer, it sure has been a fast one.  Smiles, Sue C