Monday, January 20, 2014

"You're Wundeful"

Monday December 23rd, my mother, sister and I became part of that crazy crowd of people who try to travel during the holidays. You know, the delayed flights due to snow, Christmas presents stuffed in luggage that inevitably gets lost, and boring layovers. It had been a long day, and right as we're gathering our luggage in Colorado Springs, my aunt and I turn around to witness a tiny elderly woman struggling to lift a heavy suitcase onto a wheel chair. We immediately asked if she needed help, to which she exclaimed "Oh, you're wundeful!! You're wundeful!" A young man offered to help her get her things outside to the taxis waiting and was met with the same line. I wish I could know her story, where she was going and what gave her such a fantastic outlook on life. It became the mantra for our Christmas week, everything was "Wundeful."

On Tuesday morning, my uncle let me tag along while he went out to hunt with his birds. While I wasn't allowed to handle the birds, because I don't have a hunting license, I was allowed to watch and to walk around with him. He would flush rabbits from the brush and yell "Ho Ho!" Then his goshawk would swoop down and attempt to catch the rabbit. It was too windy when I went and he didn't catch anything but I heard he had a successful hunt later in the week.

Their 4 pups are the most fantastic little crazies. Acorn is a handsome red Brittany who will literally throw himself on top of you when he wants to snuggle. Rampart was the ladies-man and the prize hunter, best on a leash and best manners all around. Pinon is the momma and has to put up with her crazy pups all day. I'll always have a soft spot for Blaze, who is a grumpy old man that still loves to snuggle and head-butts your arm when he begs for food. They make me excited to have a pup of my own one day, to have a big crazy snuggle bug to act like I've been gone forever when I come home from work.

This was the view from our hike in Red Rock. The hike was absolutely gorgeous and we got to take two of my aunt and uncles four pups with us. Alex and I spent most of the hike trying to find good rocks to climb on top of and trying to get the best view possible. After the hike we got to go to the Cheyanne Mountain Zoo, where I wandered around taking as many pictures as humanly possible. We got to see where they train the elephants and give them enrichment; they were also keeping a black rhino in the elephant building because the animal was new and they wanted to minimize stress. This particular zoo is famous for their giraffes. You can pay for greens that you can then feed to the giraffes. Due to this practice, the giraffes associate people with food and walk right up to the fence at all times. While it's typically not a good thing for wild animals to be this interested in people, these giraffes will not be released and help to raise interest in the conservation of wildlife. While I strongly believe that wildlife should be kept wild, the 5 year old child in me was extremely excited to touch the nose of a fully grown giraffe. One even licked me!

This poor guy was stuck in an enclosure with a few very rambunctious kittens and was very obviously not pleased with his predicament. At one point, he stalked a little boy through the fence and let out a ferocious growl. Can't really blame him though, I'd probably be in the same mood.

The next day we got to go to Serenity Springs, a big cat reserve about an hour away from Colorado Springs. I spent the day walking around enclosures that held beautiful tigers and lions and leopards. At one point I was within 3 feet of a tiger, and I can honestly say in that moment I knew with perfect clarity that I am in the right field. It's all I can think about to see these creatures in their natural environment, to see that they can survive out in the wild and have the ability to thrive.

We went to go see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and all I could think about was my soon-to-be adventure in East Africa! All in all it was a "wundeful" visit and another piece of an adventure life.