(Source: Rick Steigmeyer, Wentachee World)
OHME GARDENS — And then there’s the saga of Gary and his alpine vacation.
Gary is a tortoise found wandering on Ohme Road July 3. Rather than have him transformed into a speedbump, a thoughtful driver stopped to rescue the salad plate-sized shelled reptile and brought it to nearby Ohme Gardens.
Employees of the Chelan County-managed park were happy to provide Gary with a new home. So they turned it loose among the park’s alpine meadows and evergreens. A picture of the tortoise in its new habitat was even posted on Ohme Gardens’ Facebook site July 6 as if he was their star attraction.
Within a few days, employees got a call from a Sunnyslope family whose tortoise, yes Gary, had escaped his heated terrarium.
But then there was the matter of finding Gary.
“We put up a wanted poster asking visitors to let us know if they saw a tortoise while walking through the gardens,” said Bonnie Richmond, Ohme Gardens administrative assistant. A small tortoise isn’t easy to find among the garden’s thickly landscaped crags.
But one of the volunteer gardeners found the tortoise near in area known as Enchantment Falls the next day.
The owners, Gunnar and Dakota Myhre, came to pick Gary up within 20 minutes of being called. They said Gary had gone missing June 24 and had already been in the wild for nine days before he was brought to Ohme Gardens. The Russian tortoise is accustomed to much drier, hotter climates than the alpine gardens have to offer.
“They were happy to get him back to his heat lamp. This wasn’t his type of climate,” Richmond said.