Sooke, BC to Casa Grande, AZ and Beyond

Recently we took another trip down to Arizona and the first day went from Sooke, BC to Casa Grande, AZ. If you want to read about our previous trip you can start here.

After 20 days of rain, the weather was heading for a cold snap and was even calling for snow which is unusual for this part of the country.

So, in looking at the weather forecast on Friday night, we booked a ticket for Phoenix, AZ with the thought of maybe heading over to San Diego to get some sand between our toes.

Early Sunday morning we headed for the plane and had a great flight with a short stopover in Seattle to change planes.

Once landed we caught a shuttle to the car rental and got the same type of vehicle we had last time… a Nissan Rogue.

We were in it and down the highway by 12:30 pm and after getting out of Phoenix were looking for a place to have lunch.

Finding a Jack’s (Jack in the Box) we proceeded to stock up on breakfast and lunch as we had missed both and as always, the first hamburger is always delicious.

Why Jack’s?

Normally, I’m not a big fan of fast food restaurants and especially hamburgers as the buns give me indigestion. But Jack’s does something called a butter bun which seems closer to a croissant than a hamburger bun that doesn’t bother my stomach.

Way more information that you wanted to hear!

This was obviously a place that we had stopped to eat before as right across the mall was a Goodwill store where Rob had purchased some shirt previously.

Not just any shirts, but short sleeved, lightweight, medium/small and most importantly with snaps. Talk about putting in an order to the universe!

But, as usual, he found at least one shirt that fit the requirements and bought it on the spot.

We carried on down to Casa Grande where I had booked a room online before we left and after settling into the Quality InnĀ changed into our bathing suits and headed for the pool.

To our delight, it was heated and I swam and Rob soaked in the hot tub.

I’m going to give a shout out to the Quality Inn in Casa Grande. The customer service was excellent, prices good, facility as expected (clean and neat) but they made you feel like a member of the family (distant relative) and you felt warmly greeted and listened to.

I was glad I had booked ahead as they were full to the brim with German military that came over from Germany to train at the skydiving centre near Casa Grande.

Apparently, it’s one of the best training facilities worldwide and they get all sorts of military personnel coming to the area for training.

One thing about the desert is that you don’t have to worry about landing on a tree, just maybe a cactus or two. šŸ™‚

After relaxing by the pool we headed out to the local Walmart to load up on supplies… cooler, sunscreen, nibbles and the like and had dinner at the local Golden Corral.

Back at the hotel, I checked the weather at home (1 degree CelsiusĀ or 33 degrees Fahrenheit). Left just in time!

But what was this!

The cold snap that was hitting BC was heading south and Phoenix was going down to 43 F. I checked San Diego (colder) and then the rest of Arizona and the cold was seeping its way through all of the western states.

We came down to escape the cold and were plunged right into the deep freeze.

So, I started looking further afield and the only place that was looking warm besides Florida was the western tip of Texas, right on the gulf at Brownsville.

Flexibility is our middle name when we are travelling, so the next morning we head down the road with South Padre Island in our sights.

Knowing that this is a long drive as we had done this trip before we prepared ourselves to reach the coast in 2-3 days of constant driving.

Anything to get away from the cold.

Starting off the next morning we decided to stop at the Ostrich Farm that was closed on our last visit.

You don’t need to be a kid to go to a petting farm. This was one of the highlights of the trip.

For $10 you get a cup of food (alfalfa pellets?), a stick with seeds on it, two tokens and some nectar in a little cup with a lid.

So basically… you pay them to feed the animals.

You walk in and it’s a large area with pens and assorted critters.

Our first stop was the Miniature Donkeys. They were in a round pen with holes for them to stick out their heads.

Everything was done with ease for the animals and pleasure for the visitors.

After feeding them we went onto the Fallow Deer. They have such soft muzzles and take the feed gently from your hand.

All the animals are so well fed that there isn’t any competition and they only come up to the fence if they are hungry or wanting a scratch.

An Aside: In talking to the staff they say that by the end of the day a lot of the animals won’t even eat they are so full.

We also found out that all the animals are taken away from the area that we saw them in for the night to the farm where they are fed a supplemental diet.

They also have a breeding program for the animals so I’m assuming they sell them to different farms.

Now… back to feeding.

Each animal has a sign posted with the best way to feed it and everyone was having fun.

Rob’s favourite was the budgies that came and landed on the seed-laden sticks and clean them all off in about 30 seconds.

feeding the budgies

Feeding the budgies

My favourite was theĀ Rainbow Lorikeets. As soon as you open up the nectar, they swarm all over you. I had them on my hands, shoulders and anywhere else they could perch.

When the nectar runs out they aren’t very happy and start to squabble. Rob got a bit on the hand and I got a tweak on the ear. They are little parrots so they have sharp beaks.

Rainbow Lorikeets

Rainbow Lorikeet

But they are beautiful and it was fun interacting with them.

Everything is set up to entertain visitors and animals alike and fun is had by all.

The ostriches are all females (no testosterone) and the stingrays are all males to avoid competition.

ostrich eyes

Don’t you just love the eyelashes on the ostrich

They have been running this ranch for over 20 years (probably longer) and the owners still work on the farm. We met one of them in the ticket area.

The day that we were there it was blowing a windstorm and was cool for the area, but the place was packed. Let’s just say they do a good business and it’s enjoyed by everyone.

It is calledĀ Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch.

Check out the link above and look under attractions to see all the animals that are there.

If you are ever down that way, it’s worth the time to stop and be a child again.

feeding the goats

Rob feeding the goats

It was a perfect way to start the day as then we commenced driving. I say we… but in reality, it is Rob that does all the driving. I get to sightsee, make comments and occasionally nap.

Driving from Casa Grande that morning we ended up in El Paso for the night.

We took the main highway I-10 rather than the usual side roads to make time. Google maps say it’s 5 h 35 min and 388 miles.

The wind from Casa Grande stayed with us all throughout New Mexico and into Texas and you could see the big trucks being pushed into the next lane when the gusts hit them.

Finally found a hotel “Red Roof Inn” (which I will not recommend to anyone) on the far side of El Paso so as to avoid rush hour traffic the following morning and crashed for the night.

And so ended our second day.