a most hilarious ohio-african safari

A couple weeks ago we scored some free tickets for both the African Safari Wildlife Park and Cedar Point, so we decided to take a little 2-day road trip as a fam. We left early Sunday morning for the Safari Park, stayed in a hotel that night, and spent Monday at Cedar Point.

When we told friends we were planning on doing the Safari Park, we heard things like, “Only go if you’re already in the area. It’s not really worth the 5-hour round trip.” And from my friend Megan–“That place is hilarious.”

Now, we’ve been to a lot of zoos and seen tons of animals and even been on several “safaris,” but no one has ever told us “that place is hilarious.”

We mentally psyched ourselves up for an adventure. And hoo boy, the drive-your-car-through-the-hungry-animals “Safari” did not disappoint. We were cracking up the entire time and had so much fun we went through again.

The first time we got a free cup of food that didn’t last us very long. The second time we paid $10 for 2 big cups of food and 2lbs of carrots. So worth it.

The animals ranged in size and aggressiveness from itsy-bitsy spankin’ new fawns to great big bison, elk, and a 2200-lb Scottish Highlander (think big, shaggy cow with horns bigger than my thighs).

Nina liked the little deer. Aren’t they just as sweet as can be?

There were way too many deer to count. I’m glad we didn’t bring Gabe’s dad. I fear that one of the older males might have ended up on the wall of his cabin.

Nina might have liked the deer and the llamas and alpacas and even the baby bison, but the mama elk got a little too close for her personal comfort.

Gabe (and the rest of us) got the biggest kick out of the car in front of us. They had all four windows down the entire time, and these animals know no strangers (and have no boundaries). It’s a miracle that they made it through unscathed (well, except for the obligatory animal snot and slobber all over the place.

Our van only has two windows, so the girls had plenty of room to “hide” if they needed to. And Gabe made me close the windows anytime something too huge came along (I did feed a big ol’ elk bull and a couple bison).

But we went out of our way to avoid this guy (who was surprisingly adept at putting his head in a car window without his horns making any contact).

The zebras were adorable. And so funny when they chomped their carrots.

The pictures suggest that we followed the rules and put the carrots in the cup. But it was way more fun to feed them to the animals by hand. And we all escaped with all 10 of our digits.

And then… And then… be still my heart. GIRAFFES. The giraffes and zebras were the only animals actually behind fences. Someday I will see them in the wild roaming free. I can’t wait.

Other highlights of our trip included a $3 car wash, celebrating 5 years in our house with dinner at a Japanese steakhouse, Frosties at Wendy’s, swimming at the hotel, watching a marathon of Swamp Monsters on Animal Planet, and beautiful weather/awesome rides at Cedar Point.

Gabe rode this crazy thing. (Zero to 120 mph in 4 seconds, then straight up and straight down 420 feet.) INSANITY. It hurt just watching.

We also made a quick trip to Lake Erie (so much prettier than I remember) after buying Livi some Zanfel for her awful, awful, awful poison ivy (she’s on the road to recovery now–thank you, Jesus!). Gabe took this sweet HDR shot (which is actually 3 shots put together with all different lighting–I have no idea how he does it).

And a great time was had by all (that’s our story, and we’re sticking to it). Cambodia is our big deal this year (just like last year), so no vacations or anything, but we don’t mind. Who says you can’t have fun on a two-day road trip to the top of Ohio? Rock on, Ohio!!

Have you taken a fun mini-trip this summer? I’d love to hear about it.

11 thoughts on “a most hilarious ohio-african safari

  1. Karen Robbins

    Ran across this post as I was looking to link to you for a post I’m doing today 8/9. We found people who didn’t rate the African Wildlife Safari very high but we found it to be entertaining and hilarious too! My granddaughter especially thought it was funny when the buffalo drooled on Grandma. I think they should hand out coupons for a car wash though.

  2. Beth in the City

    We went to Cedar Point this summer! My husband has a sister in OH so we visited them for a few days then headed to the Point for two days, then back home. We loved it! My 15 yo son and husband rode that crazy coaster but Mariah and I stuck with more mild rides.

  3. Susan J

    Next time you’re in Texas, you’ll have to make your way to the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. Very similar concept, but the giraffes and the zebras are free roaming. Cheaper than Africa at least! They also have “safari tents” you can sleep in (with all the comforts of home) and be right next to a watering hole the animals come to. So fun. Glad y’all got away for a weekend.

  4. Jennifer

    Those pictures are awesome! Love the one of the zebra who looks like he’s smiling and Ava’s expression. LOL!

    Speaking of giraffes in the wild, I have to tell you a story. My family came to visit me in Namibia, and while they were there, we went to Etosha, the national game preserve. Just as soon as we got there, we saw a huge giraffe standing completely still in the middle of the road. We assumed, like good Americans, that this was some statue, meant to welcome all tourists to the park, like it was a zoo. We were commenting on how real the “statue” looked when it turned its head and looked at us! LOL! He was the real deal, out in the wild, likely wondering why there was a carload of screaming foreigners yelling at him.

    And we took a “mini-vacation” last weekend to Texas, where we ran our first half marathon. 🙂

  5. Betsy E

    Sounds like somewhere we’ll have to take our grandkids when they are a bit older! Gabe’s pictures were WONDERFUL!!! Tell him that I felt like I was in the van with you. Thanks also for helping us see that Ohio has some really neat places to go. BTW…what time were you there in the day (hungry animals are more fun to see than just ones sauntering around.) ALSO…some of my best memories of being a kid on vacation with my parents, and as a parent with our three were the 2 day type vacations! Cheaper and more fun all in one short space of time.

      1. Betsy E

        We also took our kids to Blue Hole Castalia, Ohio, when they were little on a trip to Cedar Point. It closed however in the 1990s according to info. on the internet. One of the things our kids liked best about that side trip was feeding fish (at that time they were raising fish of some kind.) Sad that it’s now closed. Would love to take my grandkids there too. 🙁

        Thanks for the time info. That’s good to know!

  6. Cheryl Pickett

    It’s been decades since I went to the safari there-as in I was a kid, but my inlaws were there a year or two ago. They are 60+ year old kids and had a ball too.

    As far as taking little trips near home, Dave and I have done that more than once and it really does work. We don’t live on the lake for example, so a day trip to the beaches/water front of Lake Huron makes it seem like we’re a world away even if for just a day. Yay stay-cations!

  7. Megan Bradford

    So glad you thought it was hilarious too! All I can remember from it is that I was crying I was laughing so hard. But my brother-in-law was in our van too and he kept putting carrots behind Sean’s head, so the animals would come way in to get them, forcing Sean to move out of the way. You will have to see our pictures some day!

  8. Sharon W

    Oh my word! I would have been TERRIFIED the whole time, even if my windows were closed and the animals WEREN’T bigger than my vehicle!!! Except I wouldn’t be afraid of the deer. I was shocked when I moved to my current city and found that they roam all over the neighborhoods! Now I’m over it. I read recently that Zebras are really mean. Sure didn’t look like it from the pics though! Yay for getting to see a giraffe so up close and personal! I love how his tongue wrapped around the carrot!

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