Eighties in the Arizona is a rarity in mid-May, so when it we had highs in the 70s the 16th and 17th, I saw an opportunity to get our cars out one last time before summer hit us like a blast furnace. Mid-80s were predicted for the weekend, so I announced an ad hoc drive to Out of Africa in Camp Verde the 21st.
For such short notice we had a good turnout. David and Irene Grubbs drove their XJ8 “Claret”; Neil and Jamie Cooper and Sydney Rulloda came in their XKR, Phil and Nancy Parker in their XJ-SC, and Andrea and I in our XK-120.
Never one to take the direct route, I led the group through Payson and Pine. At Strawberry, we stopped at the aptly named Strawberry Inn for breakfast. Even though they no longer grow strawberries locally, we agreed that the only option for dessert was strawberry pie.
From there we wound around on the Mogollon Rim and then took the long descent into Camp Verde and to Out of Africa Wildlife Park. Out of Africa isn’t your typical zoo. They understand big cat behavior, much like we’ve grown accustomed to the foibles of our Jaguars. You don’t just see a bunch of felines pacing in cages, the staff interacts with them. Tiger Splash is their premier show where staff members play with big cats while Dean Harrison, one of the founders explains cat behavior. It’s like playing with your house cat only a whole lot bigger.
Other parts of the park are like a normal zoo, but the animals have lots of space.