Only in Amarillo, Texas. Really. We’re driving around, running errands with the little one. Picking up a new bed for the beagles, gawking at the new Hondas that had just been unloaded. We’re driving through the bustling Saturday traffic and my lovely wife sees from afar a large red and white striped tent set up in a parking lot and, as we pass, the words “FREE ADMISSION” and what she thought to be the words “TIGER.” Could it be that, right here in the middle of the city, there’s a tiger chilling under a large carnival tent. We whip around quickly almost killing other motorists in the process…so excited at the prospects. When we pull up into the parking lot, just behind the McDonalds, we survey the scene. Looked like a bunch of curious onlookers. Many Nascar fans. A slew of little kids. Lots of Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorn apparel. I’m not saying nothing, I’m jussayin’. Pretty much your county fair crowd. You know, the type that play those games trying to win a five-foot neon pink plush bear and they always win it first and then have to carry it around with them all day on their shoulders. Whatever. Sorry, I digress.
We park the car and cautiously approach the tent. Me, with Baby Ellison in tote.
In case you’re wondering, that expression on my face is a mix between fatherly caution and shame. Complete shame that I was projecting toward personnel in charge of this event. I’m not a big animal rights guy, but this crap was crazy. They had a freaking tiger in a cage pacing around in his own urine in the middle of a steamy hot parking lot. My lovely wife said, “This is like one of those TV shows where the tiger gets out and kills someone.” Yep, this had RealTV written all over it. And, honestly, I was thinking that I wouldn’t really mind if that poor tiger broke out of that cage. Remember the rule of running from dangerous wildlife: you don’t have to be the fastest…just don’t be the slowest. I’m pretty sure that the tiger would’ve gone, first, for his keeper who would taunt him with a metal pole. Then, he’d go for the audience which I know that Erin and could easily outrun. Figured this was a good opportunity to get Ellison’s picture with the tiger. She slept through the whole ordeal.
We continued to survey the scene which included some monkeys who were completely freaking out (and were being fed McDonalds french fries by one of the employees…yeah, we can’t feed the animals, but he’s tossing french fries at the monkeys). They had some donkeys who appeared to be in pretty good shape. Just a little aggravated. Ellison, in her dream state, ignored the words “feed” and “bite” and in complete abandonment of her own well being, extended her hand out to punch one in the head. She missed.
Then, we exited out the back of the tent where we found the proverbial “that’s where they getcha” gig where you had to pay to see the white lion who was kept behind a tarp and then some other crap. That was $5. Yeah, no thanks. And then you could do a camel ride for $5 and a picture for an additional $10. My lovely wife took the opportunity to fire off a few pics of the “camel ride” which was really just a small round and a sick looking camel led by poor West Texas white trash who couldn’t find any better moment to take a smoke break so he just smoked on the job. Yeah, the really illy part of this photo is the Beef O’Brady’s in the background. We keep it hardcore in Amarillo.
We bounced before PETA showed up and shut the place down, Craig Hansen showed up and did some sort of expose´on the place and we find ourselves on an episode of NBC Dateline as a patron at a white trash petting zoo or some tiger rams his way out of his cage and mauls a McDonalds employee walking to his car after his shift. We went out to the fun farm/crazy corn maze (which was actually alfalfa because it grows better with less water…this is West Texas after all). Out there, the energy was a lot more positive. Except for the bunnies that were kept on chicken wire to keep from digging out, most animals appeared to be treated rather humanely. Ellison told me she wanted her picture taken with the bunnies. We happily obliged.
They also had a slide which daddy and daughter, much to the shock of onlookers, decided to take a stab at. It was like a water slide without water. Instead they used potato sacks. That’s Ellison in pink.
Mommy posing with the little pink dot. She slept through almost all of it including the hay ride out to the alfalfa, er, corn maze. Pretty good lil’ trooper when you get down to it.
The corn maze wasn’t really that hard at all. Sure, it looks like by the looks of the map that it’d be hard as hell. I mean, it’s a cowboy in the middle of the state of Texas for crying out loud. What they don’t show you is that that intricate design was impressed on about four acres of alfalfa. Once they got done putting down a cowboy-riding-a-horse-in-the-middle-of-Texas crop circle down on that land, there was barely a sprig standing. The maze was more like a dancefloor made of crushed alfalfa.
The zoo wasn’t the kind that Simon and Garfunkel sang about and the corn maze was neither “corn” nor a “maze,” but at the end of it, when you’re with two beautiful girls like my lovely wife and beautiful daughter, it doesn’t really matter. Good Saturday for la familia. Now, it’s back to the mill. Have a good week and save a bengal.