I am doing a little Flashback Friday today, as I am seriously behind on blogging our family life. Last month Dawson and I went on a mother/son trip. I had originally purchased him and I tickets to the Game of Thrones live concert, but our event was cancelled. We were seriously bummed! So I started looking for something for us to do together, and came upon a Groupon for Turpentine Creek Animal Refuge in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Dawson is very much an animal activist so I was hoping this might be something he would really enjoy. We stayed two nights in the Siberian Suite. (If I was going to choose which place to lodge at the Refuge, this would be it again and again.)
This ended up being the trip of a lifetime. Directly outside the window of our suite were two large tigers, Montana and Poncho. Out the front porch was a lion and liger pair. We could see panthers, other tigers, and bears from our suite.
Dawson and I arrived on Sunday evening and settled into our super cool suite. It was amazing, more like a small apartment than a hotel room. It was getting dark so we said "Hi" to the tigers next to our suite and went to get dinner at Amore. If you are ever in Eureka Springs, stop by and see these folks. They make you feel like you have just come into their home for an Italian dinner. Excellent!
We were up bright and early on Monday morning because we were so excited to see all of the other animals. We took off on a little self-guided tour around the perimeter of the compound and read the stories of all of the big cats. (It wasn't until we completed our tour that we learned that we weren't supposed to be on that road without a guide. Ooops!)
It is astonishing the work that Turpentine Creek does for these sweet animals. Without the owners, staff, and volunteers each of them would have been euthanized. Instead, they have created natural habitats for them to live out the rest of their lives ... their "forever homes". They have a vet clinic on site, a geriatric wing, and even a section created especially for a group of cats that were rescued who were traumatized and cannot be around any people.
The caregivers are so amazing, and it was heartwarming to witness their interactions with the animals. They spray perfumes at the cats for scent stimulation, spray water hoses into their cages for them to play in, and meticulously clean and preserve their habitats. We were told that the animals are allowed to do whatever they want while in their habitats. They do not "tell them what to do". They want things to be as natural for them as possible.
Of course none of this is possible without funding which comes, in part, from the admission fee into the refuge, products purchased, and rooms rented. One hundred percent of all proceeds goes back to the care of the animals. We saw a sign thanking those who have donated large sums of money. Ellen DeGeneres was on that list.
It was raining on Monday so Dawson and I took some time roaming around Eureka Springs having coffee (the best Cafe Au Lait I have ever tasted), shopping, and then stopping for dinner at a little Mexican place.
We also took some time to tour Quigley's Castle, the "strangest dwelling in the Ozarks". It was, in fact, the strangest dwelling I have ever seen. The inside was crazy. But it was neat to see the individuality of Mrs. Quigley in creating her home, filling it with those things she loved. God bless Mr. Quigley for being open to her wants and desires. I love seeing places like this, feeling other's lives from the past.
On Tuesday morning we took one more pass through the general public compound spending tons of time watching Bam Bam the bear (spending time watching him play is worth the admission price alone) and saying good-bye to Goober, the only monkey at the refuge.
This trip was magical. Dawson and I had never gone on a trip alone, sans those Boy Scout campouts of his youth, so it was so incredible to spend some time with my adult son. We played cards, ate, and just enjoyed the refuge and the beauty of Arkansas.