Ever since Phil first visited Ox Ranch back in 2015, he’s been trying to find a way to go back. I didn’t need much convincing since this meant a reunion with some of our favorite people. After our brief stop in Austin, we pressed on for the ranch. Phil had built the ranch up a lot over the last two and a half years and yet, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
After passing through the tiny town of Uvalde and leaving civilization behind, we pulled up to the gates ready to start our adventure. Ox Ranch is a weird hybrid of hunting ranch and zoo. You can read more about it here if you’re really curious. Upon driving in we were greeted by fallow deer, watusi, longhorns, zebras, zedonks and a whole host of other animals we had never seen before.
On the first morning we began our daily routine of piling into the gator which is the preferred mode of transportation on the ranch. Driving the gator was definitely a highlight of the trip for Will and Ethan – they loved it! That morning as we were cruising towards the house to meet up with our friends we had our first of many giraffe encounters. Of course we had to stop and say hi. We never figured out what this giraffee’s name was so we named him Roger and his friend who was off camera Rosie. Once arriving at the house we corralled all seven kids, their parents and the rest of the group and took off for the river. It was the perfect way to cool off on a summer day in Texas. The kids had fun on the “slide” and floating through the small section of rapids.
Day two was spent exploring the ranch on a hay ride. The wagon was pulled by a gator (of course) and a tent was jimmy rigged on the back to provide some shade. Once the coolers were filled with enough water, Gatorade and beer to last a week we set off to find some animals. We stopped to feed more giraffes, have a close up visit with the watusi and other cattle, visit with the very friendly kangaroos, say hi to Sushi the camel and ended with a splash in the pool.
On our last day at the ranch we spent some more time exploring the property including stopping a the home of another women who lives on the property and visiting her farm animals. The kids loved the fresh milk and cookies. Will also enjoyed the misters – a necessity when it’s 105 degrees out!
As I mentioned, we had many encounters with the giraffes during our time at the ranch but our favorite and the friendliest of the giraffes was Buttercup. She usually visited the house each morning and evening in search of carrots and someone to lick with her fuzzy tongue. Even the big kids couldn’t get over the amazement of having a giraffe quietly saunter up to you.
While seeing the animals and experiencing all the unique opportunities the ranch had to offer was wonderful, some of our best memories were simply spending time with our friends. From meeting Viv, to watching our kids play together, cooking, card playing, reminiscing about the good ‘ol days in California (including the 1/4 of the Horsemen who couldn’t make the reunion). Having the opportunity to catch up with these friends was definitely the highlight of the trip.