Our Anniversary at Vision Quest Ranch
This September 11th marked our 23rd wedding anniversary! Who knew that twenty-three years ago we would still be putting up with each other? Ok, she puts up more with me than I do with her, but either way we are still happily together. To mark the event and celebrate our new family adventure to the Monterey Peninsula, I really wanted to do something extra special. Since neither of us are the material gift type, I looked for a unique experience. I found one!
Nestled in the Salinas Valley is an amazing, exotic, and wild experience awaiting us at Vision Quest Ranch. Vision Quest Ranch is also home to the newly remodeled Monterey Zoo. The ranch was formerly Wild Things Animal Rentals, Inc., which supplied trained animals for the movie industry. In 1994, law enforcement officer and animal enthusiast Charlie Sammut purchased the ranch and has been transforming it into one of the most unique and wonderful places in the region.
Today, Vision Quest Ranch hosts animal lovers for a one-of-a-kind overnight bed-and-breakfast safari adventure! As soon as I saw their website I knew Mish would be all in so I booked our stay. On our anniversary, I gave her an envelope with our reservation information. Her eyes gleamed wide as she read the brochure. By the look on her face, I knew I got the perfect gift. Unfortunately, we had to wait until November to go because the ranch fills quickly. The anticipation was almost too much for her.
Finally, the day arrived. We packed an over-night bag, pic-nick dinner, and bottle of Champagne and off we went on safari! I specifically reserved the Big Cat House bungalow because it offers the best views of the animals. We were given the magic code to drive through the secure gate and right up to our bungalow. From the outside, the bungalows look like unassuming giant canvas tents on wood decks. However, awaiting us inside was quite a surprise. Each of the eight bungalows are uniquely decorated in different animal themes and come with all of the comforts of a luxury hotel room, including large bathrooms, plush his and hers bathrobes, television, heated bed, complimentary snacks and beverages, and, of course, incredible vistas from the deck.
Mish quickly offloaded our gear and eagerly turned her attention, and camera, on the main event in front of us. Majestically strolling along in the open enclosure among the bungalows were four elephants. We watched them in awe as they casually went about their business completely unconcerned with us. No matter how many times we have seen elephants, they always impress us.
Later that evening, the keepers brought around an adorable capybara for us to ogle at. Next up was feeding the big cats. The keepers took us on a behind the scenes tour of the zoo and to feed the cats their dinner. The cats definitely enjoyed being fed a meal of raw ground meats and bones by adoring fans. Just when we thought that our safari could not get better, the keepers whisked us off to tuck the elephants in for the night with a bedtime snack of carrots.
The huge animals allowed us to pet their trunks and feel their tusks as they contently munched their snacks. One hungry elephant would not let anyone pass by without a toll of three carrots. Mish happily obliged by giving him her carrots and mine. I don’t think that I could have gotten my allotment of carrots from Mish anyway.
We went back to our bungalow completely overwhelmed and enthralled with the day. That night, we ate our pic-nick style dinner and toasted our incredible life together. Since we were married inside the San Diego Wild Animal Park, having an anniversary at Vision Quest Ranch seemed fitting. We went to sleep listening to the roar of a lion, hooting of an owl, yapping of coyotes, and laugh of a hyena. Despite the din, we slept fairly soundly. I think we both woke up occasionally when the lion let out a particularly loud roar to assert his kingship.
The following morning, we woke up eagerly anticipating breakfast. The breakfast itself was not very important, it was the fact that it was delivered by the elephants that mattered. As if to pay us back for our treats the night before, they returned the hospitality by giving us pastries and coffee. The keepers gave us some apples to thank the elephants with. Mish gave them my helping of apples too.
After breakfast, we strolled around the ranch to stretch our legs and look at more animals. As we passed along the main enclosure, an overly affection, and delusional, ostrich persisted in trying to court my wife with a mating dance. The large bird was obviously very confused. His dance was much more comical than alluring. Mish was impressed, just not in the way he intended.
We took a tour of the Monterey Zoo part of the ranch before we left. I got a chance to see the lion who woke us up. He didn’t seem concerned by our lack of sleep. We also watched some frisky tigers play with each other. When we went to move on, the big cat leapt up on the glass to play with Mish, at least I think it was a playful gesture.
Reluctantly, we finally left Vision Quest Ranch and headed home. Mish was so impressed by the facility that she bought a year family membership. I guess we will be returning shortly.