31 July 2016

Bellingham, Washington 2016

Eager to share my first camel experience in the benighted states of America, we sortied across the border to Bellingham one Saturday morning. On a scale of 1-10 (one is epic fail, ten is nirvana) the result was a resounding 1.
This photo of the border crossing from Vancouver shows you what we had to deal with right off the bat. Typical depressing autumnal BC coastal weather. But this was JUNE!

Nonetheless, our cheerful host Madeline tried to make the best of a rotten outlook as we duly signed waivers. Waiting for us in the drizzle and mud were two wet, discontented-looking bactrian camels Norman and Lexie. With two riding camels available for a party of four, a guide with each, we had to take turns. It was new for me, actually riding a bactrian, and it was different. We mounted via a prepared stand rather than onto the animal in a couched position.

It was not a surprise to find the absence of a saddle but, at this well-advertised site for family outings, Norman had no safety precautions such as a hand grip or even a piece of rope to grasp. It seems the idea was to clutch the tufty hair on the front hump and hope for the best. I did not place perfect confidence in the handlers to avert potential problems with my inexperienced riders. While we all forced sunny faces, the rain and general air of dampness oozed grey (some photos have been lightened/enhanced).

Brenda on Stormin' Norman gamely tries to show gay insouciance to her plucky family.

One of our party looks good here, managing the recalcitrant Lexie who insisted on trying to couche every few minutes, much to my dismay as I could only glance backward, awkwardly, from my own perch. Fortunately Lexie did have a grip handle.

Another fared quite well on Norman considering the promised trail ride of one hour ("rain or shine") was aborted to 5-10 minutes around the barn. To be fair, a full refund was offered.

Lexie relieved of her burden

Lexie's unhappiness was finally acknowledged and she was pulled out of service, depriving a ride for one of us. But really, we all just wanted to go to the barn too!

Madeline shone when she delivered educational information about camels and introduced us to the other residents, smug and safe from the elements in their comfortable stalls.

Some camel artifacts of interest in the office caught our attention as we departed with regret on all sides. Due to circumstances beyond most control: altogether a wet, cold, abbreviated, quite miserable 1.

© 2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman

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