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Obstacles To Lions


9/23/12, Sierra Safari Zoo, Reno, NV - There comes a time when a day on the wagon is really something different - today was that day. 

The morning started with a glorious sunrise. The red sky gave promise to a rainy day, but it never materialized.  It looked like a cold front passed during the day, but it brought no rain to the wagon.

A mile south of my camping spot was Hallelujah Junction, which had a gas station.  I pulled into to get some water and pick up a few supplies. While I was there, I met Greg, a California Highway Patrolman.  Greg and I discussed my route, then he went down the road in his cruiser and did a recon for me. 

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A nice sight to wake up to in the morning.

What Greg had discovered and I soon saw first hand was a cattle guard at the highway exit, just before reaching Border Town, NV.  I had to exit the highway at this point as it turned into a freeway. On the right side of the cattle guard I found that the fence had been previously dismantled, then twisted back together.  I repeated this operation to get the horses through the fence, then put it back together.  Just as I was getting ready to pull the wagon across the cattle guard with a chain, Greg stopped by with his cruiser and offered it’s use for this job. I have to say that the C.H.P. definitely went out of their way to give me an assist today - Thank You.

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Now, this is something you don’t see every day!

The horses got a chance to munch some green grass in front of the casino during lunch. I thought about sneaking ‘underage Doc’ is for a little roulette, but I couldn’t find his sunglasses and I didn’t think his Coggins Papers would stand the age test by the door guard.  So he had to settle for spinning his oat pan instead of the roulette wheel.

After lunch I started driving down the stretch of frontage road, adjacent to Wahoe Lake. Far ahead of me, I could see the frontage road climb over a pass on the south side of the valley,  The grade was steep, and I wondered if the horses could pull it.

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There was only a County Line marker, but passing this sign meant the wagon has now pulled into 24 of the 50 State in the Union.

As I was driving down the road, Coy, Ramona and Kimberley stopped to visit.  Coy offered to let me go with him in the truck to do a recon.  I gladly accepted his offer.  What I found was as bad or worse than I expected.  The first hill on the pass was a 15% grade, followed by a second hill that had a grade that went as steep as 20%. I wanted to give it a try, so I hitched the lads up in a Unicorn and started the climb.

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A 15% grade on a gravel road is a tough pitch for three horses that are pulling 9000 pounds.

With a lot of encouragement, the team made the hill, but not by much.

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In addition to a lot of encouragement, I used a little ‘Snakey-eyed’ concentration to help the boys over the hill.

From our recon, I knew the second hill would be a little too much for the guys to handle.  So, I put the horses behind the trailer and traded in my three horsepower for 350 ‘Chevy’ horsepower. Thanks to Coy and his 4 wheel drive truck, we made it too the top.

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From the top of the first hill, the grade looked incredibly steep, but it wasn’t that bad. But, it was still steep enough that I knew the lads couldn’t pull it.

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The boys didn’t seem the least bit disappointed that they didn’t have to pull the steep hill.

It’s amazing how it works, but just when I need something to make my journey succeed, it shows up.  In this case it was some very kind people with a truck.

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Coy, his friend Ramona and her daughter Kimberly.

By the time I said goodbye to my new friends, it was getting late, so I started casting about for a place to stay. Just then, I met Tim, who works at the small zoo I was just driving by. I asked him if he had a place and he replied, “If the horses can stand being a couple hundred yards from some lions, they can stay at my place.”

“Will the horse be upwind?”, I asked.

When he replied that I would be, we pulled in. As we drove past the cats on the downwind leg, Bill got a little nervous, but stayed the course. After we settled in at Tim’s, they all got nervous at seeing the big Tom in his cage, but got over it in a few minutes.

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The Sierra Safari Zoo has the largest and most fully maned lion I have ever seen.  The also have, a very large lioness, an average sized lioness and a Liger.  In addition, they have a whole assortment of other animals. The Lion and Liger are supposed to roar on most nights, but I haven’t heard it yet. Just in case the lads get upset, I’ve kept them tied tonight.

From a tough cattle guard, to a really steep hill, followed by some huge carnivores, this has been an unusual and interesting day.  But, if it weren’t for the assistance of some really good people, it wouldn’t have been possible to make it too far.

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I guess the sign next to where the wagon is parked really sets the tone for where we’re camped tonight.

I’m not even going to try and guess what tomorrow will bring!