Review: Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge

If anyone remembers, I said I was going to visit this place at the beginning of the year. However, due to illness, I had to postpone my trip. Yesterday it was an unseasonably warm day for January (because Texas has refused to believe that we are still in winter…) so my husband and I were up for an adventure. We had been talking about Tiger Creek for a while and decided to head that way.

Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge is located, technically, in Red Springs, TX about 4 miles outside of Tyler, TX on FM 14. It’s just past Tyler State Park (which I have never been to but would love to visit and do a write-up soon!) located on a sizable piece of land in our East Texas Piney Woods. It’s honestly not too hard to find and has a big sign on the road that you’re meant to turn down. Now, once you get there, the road is gravel so if you’re going on a wetter day, you may want to keep that in mind if you don’t have a car that sits higher off the ground. Once you arrive, you are directed by signs to park in a gravel area and once you’re ready, head into the visitor’s center to pay for your guided tour. They do offer some special tours during the week that give a little more information and closer looks at the cats (safely), but they are not given on weekends as to not overwhelm the cats. You can find out information for VIP tours, etc at their website, which I’ll include at the end of my review. So, we were given the general tour of the grounds and cats. Now, the price can seem a bit daunting at $20 per person, but you have to keep in mind that this place is a non-profit and is completely run off of donations. Our tour guide that afternoon was named Zack and he had been working at the facility for a few years and he certainly knew his stuff! He had a great knowledge of all 37 of the big cats at the sanctuary, including their weights, how much they ate and their own individual personalities. He was also quick to answer the guests’ questions and handled our youngest tourists (around 3 and 5 years old) like a boss. Very professional, very knowledgeable and patient with kids and less-informed guests. Overall, I feel like I did learn a lot about the different cats in the sanctuary and really enjoyed the experience. If you really enjoy the cats, you can also sponsor or adopt them, for a fee, and your name will be placed on their enclosure. I’m considering sponsoring one of the bobcats, myself, as they are the mascot for my alma mater. Again, this is information that you can find on their website and also if you go to visit them.

Some things to be aware of if you’re not exactly “outdoorsy” include no plumbed restrooms (porta-potties) and a strong kitty musk. They are working to build a larger and more accessible visitor center that will include indoor restrooms and an education center for Big Cat presentations when schools come to visit. Again, this is a donation based organization, so if you love this place like we did, there are ways to help them achieve their goals. The “kitty” musk is always going to be there, despite how clean the workers keep the enclosures, due to the spraying done by large male cats. So if you’re sensitive to smell, just keep that in mind. Other than that, you have a generally good view of the cats and good bit of exercise and, from our experience, and excellent tour guide with a wealth of information to get to know these endangered species. Zack did tell us that there are roughly 400 or so wild tigers left in the world and that their organization is a part of a big cat alliance to help save those species of cats. I highly recommend going if you have nothing to do on a beautiful day or planning a visit in general.

If you’d like some more information on these cats or times to visit this wonderful facility, check out their website at: http://www.tigercreek.org .

I have a couple of pictures from our visit below. Now, they do have a good protective barrier between visitors and the cats, so please excuse the chainlink fence in the pictures.

 

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Writer’s Block

When I started this blog, I wanted to share experiences that I had. The problem is, this year is starting out slow and way too busy with work and too little money to go do anything. I suppose, that’s what I get for working in higher education; a small paycheck and it only comes once a month. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy what I do but there are a couple of downsides that make having a really fun time of life very difficult.

So, what does this lack of activity mean for my blog? Writer’s block in the extreme. I feel like, if I can’t go out and have experiences, there is nothing to really write about. I’m looking for more ideas until I get into a good rhythm for this year. My activities as of late have gone as follows:

  • Wake up and get ready for work.
  • Go to work from 8-5.
  • 3-4 times a week, I go to the gym after work.
  • Come home and have dinner.
  • Shower
  • wind down with a book or TV
  • Go to sleep.

On weekends, the book and TV time get extended and I tend to exercise in the afternoons. I’m in a funk and most of the events I’ve found for this month have either cost too much money or it’s during a time when I’m working on my fitness goals (Friday evenings). Yes, my favourite time to workout is Friday evenings because the gym is usually pretty empty and I get the run of the place. I usually do about an hour and a half for exercise on Fridays rather than the usual 45minutes to an hour that I normally do…and I feel AMAZING after I’m done. So, I am thinking of starting a fitness journey blog to tide me over for the need to write until my social life and travel time picks up. Everyone who follows this blog is more than welcome to follow the fitness goals blog as well, but it’ll be about my personal journey and what has worked and hasn’t worked for me. I am far from having reached my goal there, but I’m on the right track.

As for this blog, I have been scouring the newspaper and Tyler E-guide to find some fun stuff to do around town. I’m also excited to see a few more new places that will be opening in the coming couple of months that I’d love to try out. A few new restaurants and a couple of potential date places as well. Hopefully, I will get out soon. In the meantime, I will move on to write about other things.

 

 

Starting a Resolution….

Happy New Year, everyone! As promised from yesterday, I have finally thought of my resolutions for 2016. I’ve had a lot of time to think about them and really tried to give myself some attainable goals. I never make more than 4-6 each year, because I have some smaller short term goals that fill in the gaps. So, without further ado, here are my big goals for 2016.

  1. Be Happy. Now, this one is going to be seem a little vague and very broad, but I really need to work on this. I think that being happy, in most cases, is a choice. I haven’t spent a lot of time being happy in recent years because I was trying to get a good job or trying to look too perfect or keeping up appearances for others. All of that stress led me to a downward spiral in mood in 2013 and 2014 and kept me in a more numb state in 2015. I want to work on having a more positive mindset while maintaining my realism. I plan on supplementing this with meditation and continuing therapy for now, as well as using some of my other goals and strategies below.
  2. Work on my health. Now, losing a bit of weight and getting into shape is a part of this, but it’s not the whole thing. I was recently diagnosed with Hypertension (very high blood pressure, in case you didn’t know) and I want to get back down into normal levels. I am 26 with a medical issue that should not be taken lightly or allowed to get worse. If it does get worse, I’m at a high risk for heart attack or stroke…and I’m not about that right now. To curb that, one of the best things I can do is exercise and eat right (less sodium rich food). A sub goal for getting healthy is that I would like to participate in 5 active events; be it 5k runs or a cycling challenge. I think having these goals within my overall health goal for the year will help me accomplish more and stay on task with my health.
  3. Spending more quality time with my husband. I know we’re getting into the big, vague, cliche resolutions here, but hear me out. My husband and I absolutely do love each other. However, we are both very career driven and spend a lot of time with work-related items and agendas. A huge goal for us is to have more quality dates. While a movie and dinner is not a bad date, it doesn’t allow for much interaction between the two of us. Nor does it allow us to really blow off any steam from all of our work stresses. We have both made this goal for 2016 in order to reconnect. Every month we will come up with some date ideas and look for a good time to try it out. This month, we’ve come up with a date to kick off the new year by going to the Tiger Creek Big Cat Refuge (which I will review over the weekend) on the 2nd to check out the tigers and learn more about endangered species conservation efforts. After that, we will be going out to shoot skeet on a friend’s property. We are making for a date that includes something I like (tigers) and something he likes (guns…but he also likes tigers, so no big game shooters here). It’s a win win and something that we are looking forward to upholding this year.
  4. Cooking more at home. I actually do love to cook, however, we have been spoiled by the accessibility to many restaurants and their convenience. The bad part is, those places end up costing us quite a lot throughout the year. So, we are looking at a way to cut costs AND be able to control how and what we eat. It will help us be healthy and save a little extra cash as well. I would like to try one new big recipe a week and also become an expert lunch packer from home.
  5. Finally, document my life better. Now, I don’t mean that I think I should plaster all of what I do on social media. I mean, I would like to have maybe some more pictures, or write daily in my personal journal. I want to have memories to look back on physically as well as what I have saved on my mental hard drive. This also goes for my blogging and trying to get more consistent with my posts.

So, as this is Feel Good Friday as well, I wanted to share quickly that I have had a wonderful day spent with my husband and dog. I was also glad to find out that my wonderful Dallas Stars hockey team is on top of the NHL again. And I have an adorable quote to share from Kung Fu Panda, that always makes me feel good and it always makes sense:

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift…that is why it is called ‘present’.” 

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read my post. I appreciate your support, even if there aren’t very many of you yet. ‘Til next time, y’all!

 

**Update**

I am quite under the weather today and didn’t think it very smart to go out in the cold to see the tigers. That date will be rescheduled and I can’t wait to let you guys know about how it went. Sorry for anyone expecting the review.

Thanks!

 

 

The Obligatory End of the Year Post

Oh, 2015. If I had an overall feeling for this year, it was just kind of there. It wasn’t bad (a vast improvement of 2013 and 2014), but it didn’t really have much excitement or major milestones or big accomplishments. I like to do these type of things in lists so, here’s a list of highlights (I guess you could call them) for the year 2015:

  1. I have been on the planet for 26 years and can now remember things that were officially 20 years ago. This isn’t really a big thing, just kind of interesting.
  2. My husband and I embarked on our longest road trip yet without ever leaving Texas. We ventured from our home in Tyler all the way to Big Bend National park. All and all, it was roughly a 12 hour drive and one of our favorite trips so far. We got to see the stars like we have never witnessed them before. It was peaceful and strikingly beautiful in that area and a second trip will definitely have to happen.
  3. I bought a gorgeous Felt bicycle (Felt is a brand, if you didn’t know) and hope that 2016 has less rain so that I can take her out more often.
  4. I ran my first 5k and it has inspired me to keep going further with my running and fitness goals in 2016.
  5. I got to go to, not one, but two NHL games this year. The best part is that my Dallas Stars won both games I attended. There are few spectator activities that I love more than Hockey, so these two events were real treats for me!
  6. The obvious, but important fact, I have made it through another year alive and (relatively) healthy. Here’s to more life ahead. 🙂

I am still working on my goals for 2016 and plan on posting that with a special New Year’s edition of “Feel Good Friday” tomorrow. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read me this year, I hope you’ll continue to follow me into the new year and I hope to have some better adventures with you this time. Have a safe and happy holiday!

Until tomorrow, y’all! Happy New Year!