So last summer, the girls had finally gotten moved down from Oklahoma, once school was out. It was a fairly traumatic thing, moving them away from their home, their school, and their friends and family. Not just for Abby and Emma, either…April had quite a bit of adjusting to do, as well.
To try and make the move as easy as possible, I was pretty much willing to do anything or go anywhere, if I thought they might enjoy it. So when I saw the sign for Cherokee Trace Safari Park, I knew that it was something that all my animal loving girls would enjoy.
So one hot, muggy Saturday afternoon, we made the 30 mile drive south of Tyler, to this drive-thru zoo. I’ve been to one of these before, but not since I was a little kid. And frankly, there were a few traumatizing events that happened then, too. So, I’m not sure what it was that made me think that this time would be any different.
However, I was so happy that the girls were finally with me in Texas…and I wanted to see them laugh, smile and be happy. So, we checked in at the office, I paid our entry, bought us each a bag of food, and we made our merry way into the happy land of goats, deer, deer, goats, a few cows, some ill-tempered Sicilian donkeys, goats, deer, buffalo, and maybe a few pigs. And some goats and deer. Seriously, like, it was mostly goats and deer. Ok, you get it.
Anyhoo…there were also some llamas. Some stupid, sorry, no-count, no good llamas. And llamas are complete jerks, you guys. Huge jerks. I don’t like llamas. I apologize for the name calling, but there is no other way that I feel I can accurately describe my disdain for this animal, without using some sort of derogatory words.
As we approached the “llama area” in my brand new truck, they quickly perked up, looking in our direction, and then all three of them came hurriedly towards us at a high lope. The girls oooed and awed over the cute little llamas. “Oh look at them”! “They are so cute”! “Look at their ears, they’re so big”! “Look how long their eyelashes are”! “Oh, I’m gonna feed them”!
I have always been pretty good at doing different, funny voices, so I began to talk in a voice that I felt a llama would talk in, just saying silly things that would make the girls laugh. And man, they were LAUGHING. I felt great! They are having such a fun time! They are so happy!! Way to go, Stone!
As the girls began to feed them, it was easy to see that there was definitely an Alpha in the pack, and he was the biggest jerk of all. He made a funny hissing noise that the girls thought were “so cute”! He pinned his ears back, and would stick his head through the window to get the food. Having been around horses all of my life, I can tell a cranky animal, when I see one. And he definitely was. I told them to be careful. I told them he was about to get ignorant. But no one listens to me. I’m just their chauffeur and arm candy.
I rolled my window up, when he came around to my side, because I’m smart. Even with their heckling (mainly April’s) I would not roll it down. I said “Girls, he’s not playing”! “I’m telling you, he’s getting ready to throw a fit”! To which April replied, “oh, quit being such a BABY”!!! Hahaha. She paid for this silly remark. Unfortunately, we all had to pay for it, with her.
He began to butt his head against my closed window, yet still no one heeded my warnings. He went around to April’s side, and hissed. Then she gave him some food. He took it, and hissed again. I said “ROLL YOUR WINDOW UP”! To which she replied, “He’s JUST PLAYING”!!
And that’s when it happened. He unleashed the most god-awful combination of bodily functions that have ever been combined on this earth. It was a massive conglomeration of a gassy, belching cough that was filled with loogeys, puke, and slimy green poop…and topped it off with a hair raising scream at the end. All of this, no more than 3″ from April’s face.
In an instant, we’d gone from laughing, having a blast…to one of the worst days of my life. There was gelatinous green poop/puke ALL OVER EVERYTHING. April had her hands over her face, and had yet to make a sound. I blacked out. I do not know what I said, but I expect it wasn’t PG. I didn’t know if April was laughing, or crying. And frankly, I don’t think she knew.
The smell was, simply put, UNBEARABLE. This horrible green substance was all over the inside of my windshield, on my dash, covered my rear view mirror to the point that you could not see anything in it. My GPS screen, yep, covered. Steering wheel, check. Sun visors, check. My plaid khaki golf shorts….completely slimed. I could feel it on my face, my neck, my ear. Everywhere.
All this time, April has yet to look out from her hands. The girls are in the backseat, laughing as if they have just witnessed the funniest thing that has ever happened, and the cab of the truck could not smell worse if the llama had got in with us, and took a dump on the console. April uncovers her face, and I can’t really get a grasp of her emotions. She definitely wants to cry. But she also knows that this is pretty funny. Her hair is just mangled in this green crap. And the truck looks like a bomb went off inside of it.
Well, here’s our main problem. WE CAN’T GET OUT! I’ve never had to fight the urge to get out of my truck so bad. But we are surrounded by llamas. Angry llamas. I begin to drive away, and they’re following us! They keep following us, they won’t leave us alone! I drive faster, they run faster. We are bouncing around the cab as I drive 40 mph across a pasture. I feel like I should be singing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
But we finally get rid of them. We are free! I bail out of the truck, wiping this awful mess off of my body. I don’t think I could feel more dirty if I’d been that guy that fell in the state park port-a-potty bathroom, trying to get his wallet. I just felt awful. The girls are still laughing. April is still getting her wits about her, trying to decide just exactly how upset she actually is. My new truck has been defiled. I’m already making plans in my head to trade it off. It’s of no use to me, now.
So, as we were leaving, we notice another car pulling into the “llama area”, and we watched them take advantage of another unsuspecting family. And then we laughed and laughed. It was SUCH a long drive home. The smell was something I’ll never EVER get out of my head.
And thats the story of our first “Family Day”. Hey…..I wanted a fun, memorable day, that the girls would never forget, and I promise you, none of us will EVER forget it.