When we set off in our RV, it was with the intent to discover our own country. We had traveled abroad for many years and had unintentionally discounted what the U.S. had to offer. Only in retrospect did we recognize a prejudicial perception that America was nothing more than a sprawling connection of dots made up of Walmart’s and Strip Malls connected by massive interstate highways.
We wanted to see if the true unvarnished history and character of America still existed.
The good news is YES, the 50 states offer an incredible kaleidoscope of lifestyles, cultures, oddities and natural wonders.
The bad news is it is endangered.
We each have a choice of using our wallets to choose how our money trickles through our society by our fiscal choices.
A Case in Point, several times while driving through Arizona we have passed the roadside attraction Rooster Coburn’s Ostrich Ranch and Monster Truck rides. We always drove on past, thinking we either didn’t have the time to stop or didn’t want to spend whatever it might cost, always pressing on to some preconceived destination and deadline.
We found ourselves staying in Tucson longer than expected, so John started looking for a little weekend activity. He remembered that Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch was within striking distance.
We headed out Highway 10 on a beautiful South Western winter day, keeping a lookout for Exit #219 so we wouldn’t blow right past it.
Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch is one the largest roadside attractions in the U.S. Roadside attractions used to be plentiful, but they are a vanishing part of the classic Road Trip experience, being replaced by Quickie Marts, Outlet Malls, Indian Casino’s and massive Truck Stops.
The Ostrich Ranch sits at the base of the historic Picacho Peak Mountains where the furthest west and final battle of the American Civil War was fought. It’s a pretty setting and the Picacho Peak State Park and campground provides great access to explore the area.
Rooster Coburn’s is family owned. The family has a long history in the entertainment and animal training business. We pulled in and parked near one of their MONSTEROUS Monster Trucks. The behemoth is a repurposed bus on a massively elevated chassis.
We both got out of the car feeling the same giddy excitement we enjoyed as kids. Was this going to be fun, silly, thrilling or just weird and disappointing? Was this destination worthy of our hard earned dollars?
We strolled past a tall fence that hid a large bird enclosure and into the shade of the Entrance /Picnic/Outdoor gift shop and Monster Truck waiting area. John checked us in for the Monster truck ride and Animal attractions. I checked out the Ostrich Eggs, Ostrich Feather Dusters and other novelty Ostrich products. We were given feed for the Deer, Goats, Miniature Donkeys, Prairie Dogs, Lorikeets and of course the Ostriches.
We wanted to check out the animals before our truck ride started. This place over delivered on amusement and animal interaction. The animals each seemed to be entertainers in their own right, trying to earn our interest and our treats.
Have you ever petted a Deer, played a sort of whack a mole game with kissing goats, been covered in lorikeets, scratched the ears of a miniature donkey or fished for Ostriches????? We sure hadn’t. We laughed for HOURS! Not just chuckles but deep rippling shared laughs with the other visitors. We wiped licks, saliva goat kisses and tears of laughter from our faces. We could not stop smiling.
As if the animals were not enough entertainment we still had out Monster Truck ride to experience so we joined the other guests and headed up the steep ramp to board the beast. Our driver, Danna Barrett, co-owner and daughter of founder Rooster Cogburn, was part naturalist, historian, zoologist and thrill-seeker. After a brief introduction and safety talk, she brought the beast to life and maneuvered the colossal vehicle over the rough desert terrain. Slowly at first we meandered through the ranch as Danna shared her knowledge of Ostrich nesting behavior, natural geological & plant features of the Picacho Peak Mountains, and historical tidbits. Then she let loose her inner Stunt Car Driver. We sat in the back near the boarding gate for the bounciest ride, and were not disappointed as she barreled through off–road dirt race course causing us to be airborne more than once.
Danna is a perfect spokesperson for why we all need to cherish and support local businesses in our communities and during our travels. Without these individuals creative and often financially risky enterprises our culture would be a lot poorer.
What do you think? Do you commit to supporting the Unique, the Little Guy, and the Quirky? The bigger question is, Do You ultimately support creativity and diversity? If you embrace this practice spread the word that our little choices make a difference in ripple effect enriching our lives and communities and ultimately our country.
If nothing else, you’ll probably have a lot of fun and be surprised along the way.
If you are ever near Exit #219 on Highway 10, be sure to stop at Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. It is a MUST DO.