I was on spring break last week, so we decided to do a mini vacation. We stayed pretty close to home, but there’s plenty to see here, so it was tons of fun. Isaiah had been to some of the places we visited, but he doesn’t remember his first visit. We had three days of fun adventures.
Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum
I’ve been to this museum several times because it’s free and really interesting. Of course, I love history and Sgt. Floyd is a big part of the local history. The museum is in a riverboat, right off of the Missouri river. It was an instant hit with Isaiah because it was a boat. There’s tons of cool Lewis and Clark stuff inside and quite a few models of different types of boats and various activities that used to take place on the river. The top level of the riverboat is still set up as it was when it was in use, with the captain’s quarters and other rooms. At the very top, the navigation equipment is all set up for kids to play with. They can even ring the bell. Of course, that was a huge hit with Isaiah!
Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
This museum is set up for kids. When you arrive, each kid is given a passport to fill in along the way. First, they get to pick what position they’d like to have on the Lewis and Clark expedition. Isaiah wanted to be a soldier, so he stamped his passport as a sergeant. There are lots of things in the same room where kids can try parts of each person’s job, like standing guard or identifying animal tracks. The next part forms a circle around the first room. It takes you through Sgt. Floyd’s time in the area, starting with him getting sick. There’s a huge scene of his burial with life-sized talking Lewis and Clark models. That part freaked Isaiah out pretty badly. The rest of the room has a scene showing those on the expedition examining “strange” animals and plants to learn about them. It has some stuffed animals there, too. My favorite part is the life-sized Seaman looking at a prairie dog. He barks and cocks his head as the prairie dog moves in its cage.
Dorothy Peacut Nature Center
This is one of Isaiah’s favorite places to go. They have lots of kid friendly activities inside and great trails to walk outside. It was too cold to go outside while we were there this time, but that didn’t keep Isaiah from having a blast inside. He played with the animal furs, went into the underground prairie tunnel and looked out through the badger-cam, admired various animals in the room and played with all the activities.
When we got home, my dad told us that a coworker had told him about some bald eagles in the area. We loaded up in the car and headed out to see them. There are about 300 bald eagles about forty minutes from our house! A little over half of them are juvenile, so quite a few didn’t have the distinctive white heads. We couldn’t get nearly as close as we would have liked, but we took pictures of what we could see. Isaiah thought those were pretty amazing, too. None of us had realized until now that bald eagles migrate through here every year. Now that we know, we’ll be waiting for them next year!
DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge
Since there were so many eagles here, I decided to check the most recent numbers at DeSoto Bend. Their numbers from almost a week before reflected the number of eagles we’d seen the night before, as well as huge numbers of other birds, so we decided to stop there on our way to visit my grandmother. We went into the visitor center, where there were almost no birds to be seen. We did, however, spot two pelicans on the water. Unfortunately, they were too far away to get a picture. After hanging out there for a while, we started following roads around the refuge, looking for signs of birds. At one spot, we parked in a lot and I got out to take some pictures. I could see a juvenile bald eagle in a tree and was hoping he’d move closer. I gave up after a few minutes because he wasn’t showing any intention of moving. As I turned to get into the van, an adult bald eagle flew over, less than ten feet above my head! He’d caught a fish on the lake and was headed up to a tree branch when I saw him. We followed him to where he landed and I got some nice pictures of him enjoying his dinner.
After the adventure with our bald eagle friend, we headed back inside the visitor center to let Isaiah look at the exhibits. There are some kids’ areas that have things to touch that Isaiah really loved. He got to touch furs, feathers and deer antlers. The antlers were his favorite. He put one on his head and said he was a reindeer!
Henry Doorly Zoo
When you live this close to the best zoo in the nation, you don’t want to pass up any opportunities to check it out. Besides, the lion cubs are getting bigger and are so fun to see! Isaiah voted to go in the jungle this time, so that was where we started. We went through the top part of the jungle (the canopy), where Isaiah was thrilled to be on eye level with some fruit bats. The monkeys and gibbons bothered him because they’re so loud, so we had to move passed them pretty quickly. He loved the birds, tamarins and otters, though.
After the jungle, Isaiah wanted to visit the sharks, so we headed for the aquarium. We hit it just right because the penguins were not only in the water, but actively playing with visitors. They would come flying up against the glass and stare at whoever was closest them before rushing away, only to come right back. Then we went to see the shark tunnel. Isaiah was sad that the rays weren’t sliding down the sides of the tunnel, but got over it quickly when he spotted a sea turtle. It was resting in a corner, but when Isaiah walked up, it lifted its head to watch him. Isaiah says the turtle is his new friend.
Of course, no trip to the zoo is complete without stopping to see the lion cubs. We got there as they were settling in for a nap, but they were still as adorable as ever. They’re doing some work on the outdoor lion enclosure, so the mama lion was having trouble going to sleep. Every time something happened outside, she’d jump up to make sure her babies were safe. One of the cubs decided within minutes that it had to have been long enough that he could get up now. Of course, the answer from the adult lions was “absolutely not!” We went around and visited all the other cats before going back to the jungle for a few minutes on the way out.
Wow, that was a busy few days! And so much fun! I took hundreds of pictures, so I can’t possibly share them all here. Feel free to check out the rest on Flickr.
And now, back to the regularly programmed school week…