Louise Speaks; Earlier I had blogged about the Picacho Peak State Park. Well just a few miles from Picacho Peak State Park is the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. This is absolutely a must stop if you are ever driving from Phoenix to Tucson or on the I-10 FWY.
The Ranch is a three generation family owned working ranch. This ranch has been featured on many TV shows like Larry the Cable Guy, Chef vs City, Amazing Animals, Only in America and many many more. The Ranch has been open to the public since 1999 when there were just ostriches to feed. Now there are plenty of other animals and critters to feed. Along with the ostriches there are miniature donkeys, dwarf goats, fallow deer, peking ducks and my favorite the rainbow lorikeets…I want one of them. You get cups of food and you just walk around the ranch and feed the animals. The animals are in pens, but they know you have food so they come right up to you. When they say ostriches bite so hold your hand out completely flat…they’re right, I have the bite mark to prove it. The goats however are so friendly that if you put the food in your mouth they will gently come and take it from between your lips to make it look like you and the goat are kissing. Thelma did this but it took several tries to get this photo op.
In addition to walking around the ranch and feeding and visiting with all the critters; they have Monster Truck Tours. The truck is bigger than huge. What was most enjoyable about the tour is the information that was given. The tour guide told us about desert life and some interesting facts about cactus and rattle snakes. I’ve lived in Arizona for over 50 years and still learned some interesting facts. As part of the tour they take you ostrich fishing. You put food on a pole and the ostriches come follow the line and grab the food right off the pole. At the end of the tour as you are heading back to the ranch there are desert fields with mud puddles from the recent rains or from watering some of the desert wild life. Our tour guide asks if we want to go on a real adventure. Of course we all say yes. She revs up the engine and takes off at full speed going down a small hill and right into the mud. Of course water and mud splash everywhere, but because we are so far up, we don’t get wet and dirty but the truck sure did. The real adventure was going down that hill and then back up the other side at a fast speed…this was as much fun as an amusement park ride.
This was a fun way to spend the day. The truck tour and the feeding takes only a couple hours but it was interesting, educational and truly was an adventure. There is a gift shop on site and if you want to stay longer you can buy more food and just keep feeding the animals. Like I said earlier, if you have not been here, you have to go visit. It’s right on the I-10 Fwy but its only open on the weekends, so plan accordingly.
Louise Speaks: One of the good things about going on one of our camp outs with the Yavapai Road Runners is that the camp wagon master picks some fun activities for us to do. One of the reasons we were staying at the Picacho Peak State Park was that we are fairly close to Casa Grande, Arizona which just happened to be hosting the annual Running of the Gourds Festival.
This festival has over 10,000 people in attendance. There are two performing stages, food booths, and over 100 exhibits. You can’t imagine what they can do with a gourd. People are buying them by the truck load. They have bins outside by type and size of gourd. They are priced by the size. When you go to pay you put it through a hole and if it fits that’s the amount you pay. People who buy them I’m sure take them home and make beautiful decorations out of them and probably come back next year and display them in one of the exhibit booths. There is also an area where the decorated gourds are judged so these artsy fartsy people may be planning on entering their masterpieces next year.
Inside the exhibit hall are books on how to sand the gourd and there are millions of patterns on how to paint them or on ideas of just what to do with a gourd. People have made planters, lamps, wind chimes, bowls and even purses out of a gourd. It was really pretty amazing to see what you can do with a gourd. These finished items are rather expensive but people were buying them up like hot cakes. So when you see the bins outside and knowing you can buy a large gourd for a dollar and then sand them and paint them and sell them for $50 to $100 I’m guessing it’s a good way to make some extra cash.
There are gourd farms just down the road from where the festival is held and I’m told that other than selling gourds for art purposes, there is no purpose to a gourd. So the farmer takes his time and uses his land, all 35 acres, to grow a totally useless product, that he then sells by weight to the festival, who then sells them for almost nothing to some crafty person who then works all year to sand and paint these gourds, to then enters them in a contest or sells them to some person who wants a useless (but pretty) gourd to collect dust in their home. I just don’t see the purpose of doing this. But if over 10,000 people attend…me being one of them, I guess there are a lot of gourd lovers.
As small as the festival is, we spent several hours here. Looking at the exhibits, enjoying the Indian Hoop Dancer as part of the free entertainment and buying up some gourds…the time just flew by. This was a nice way to spend the afternoon, and it was definitely something different. If you happen to be in the Casa Grande, Arizona area around mid February, it’s worth a stop.
Louise Speaks: Well just like we have done all of the county seats in Arizona we’ve decided to visit all the State Parks in Arizona. Turns out there are 31 State Parks but only 14 of them have campgrounds. We are still going to visit them all but we are definitely going to camp at them all as well.
Since getting the RV and joining the Yavapai Road Runners RV club we have been to many places. The club seems to like to stay in Arizona so the State Parks are very popular, This month’s campout was to Picacho Peak State Park. Not a place I would like to come to in the summer as it is in the desert, but in February, it is very pleasant.The Arizona State Parks are divided into 4 regions, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest. The Southwest are mostly desert so we do those during the winter cooler months for obvious reasons.
Picacho is Peak in Spanish. The mountain itself gets it’s name because of the very noticeable peak. Picacho Peak is between Casa Grande and Tucson Arizona, and is about 100 miles southeast of Phoenix. . The peak can be seen from Tucson, 45 miles away. I remember as a kid driving from Phoenix to Tucson and we would spot that peak and it seemed like forever before we were beside it. There are many hiking trails up and around Picacho Peak…none of which I went to explore.
The campground itself is nice but with very few amenities. We did have water and electricity and there are restrooms and showers but that’s about it. No cable or internet so good thing we brought lots of wine.
One plus however, is that being in the desert, far from any big city and being in the Arizona desert are the fabulous sunsets…you just can’t beat it.
Picacho Peak is close enough to major cities that there are things to do. There are restaurants in Eloy or you can drive the 45 miles to Tucson or back to Casa Grande. We were here for the Gourd Festival and the Osterich Farm, which I am posting about separately.