Fourteen years ago, Cowboy and I came to Glen Rose for the very first time. As big time animal lovers, we had heard about Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and decided to make an overnight trip of it. We had absolutely no idea that one little overnight stay would change the course of our future.

On our day at Fossil Rim, we took a behind the scenes tour, rode around in an open-air Jeep, snapped tons of pictures (with actual film!), and made memories at every turn. And then we saw them. The majestic giraffes.

A combination of gangly grace, long eyelashes, and sticky sweet tongues. I had never been so close to these amazing creatures, and I was quickly falling head over heels in love. Our guide, the legendary Jan Bussey, parked near the herd and shared her knowledge and passion for Fossil Rim while we hand fed these beauties.

Oh my stars. I think I could have parked there all day head pointed up, hands outstretched, smile plastered across my face, and heart leaping for joy. I had found my spot.

Cowboy and I never forgot that trip. In fact, living in the Metroplex, Fossil Rim became our go-to daytrip for birthdays, anniversaries, or just a day out. We brought friends and family. We became ambassadors, telling anyone who would listen about the landscape and critters of Fossil Rim, most especially my beloved giraffes.

Not too long after we began visiting Glen Rose, Cowboy and I started looking for land, an escape from the city. We looked far and wide, even as far north as Oklahoma. We saw little pieces and big pieces of land. Some with houses, some without, and some with houses that weren’t long for this world. Looking became our weekend occupation, as we bumped along miles and miles of country roads.

And then one day, Cowboy looked at me and said, “You know, I’m not sure why we’re looking all over the place. Wherever we go, we are going to have to drive to Fossil Rim, so we might as well be close.”

Have I told you that man is a genius? So just like that our search was narrowed to the tippy top of the hill country, where the deer and the giraffes roam.

And the rest is, as they say, history. Ten years ago we bought our dream place, and seven years ago we built our barndominium and moved into Wild Horse Valley. We filled it with our own little zoo of horses, donkeys, cats, and dogs. And we still love to visit Fossil Rim, and even volunteer when we can. In all these years, it still takes my breath away.

In fact, October is one of my absolute favorites at the Rim. The weather is cooler, the animals are frisky, and if you time it just right you can catch the European Red Deer in rutting season and hear their soulful bugling across the park.

It’s easy to take for granted sharing your town with giraffes, rhinos, and cheetahs, but it is truly a gift. If you haven’t had a chance to visit lately, I encourage you drive on out, soak up some sunshine, and sit in wonder of your tall neighbors. And if you’re not from around here, be careful. You may come for the giraffes and find yourself staying for so much more.

Tammy Ammon is a Somervell County resident, blogger, farmgirl, wife, and mom to a gaggle of fur-kids. She shares her rarely graceful, sometimes challenging, and always hilarious farm life on her blog – myfarmtasticlife.com. Contact her via email at tammyammon@yahoo.com.