September 6, 2013

Labor Day Weekend, Part 2: Naturally Curious

Our weekend continued with a Saturday drive in the country.  Or as Henry would like you to note, a rural area.  I had a rough idea of where we were going-- having decided to skip the state park in favor of a county preserve that housed a bird sanctuary.  Liam loves birds, so I thought we'd give it a try.  The sanctuary's website indicated that the birds were fed at 1pm, so I wasn't worried when, at 11:30, we were hopelessly lost.  I wasn't even worried 45 minutes later as we drove along the single lane roads of the preserve seeing no sign (literally) of the bird sanctuary.  Finally, I parked the car at a trail head and checked the park service map.  Sure enough, the property had another entrance miles away.  We actually had to exit the park, drive through a small town and then enter another gate to get to the birds' shelter.  I'm not sure many people ever find this place but it turns out that it was well worth the trouble.

This facility houses raptors that have been injured so severely they will never be released into the wild.  As she was feeding them, the naturalist told us each bird's story.  I'm not sure either of these activities were suitable for children; the birds ate freshly killed rodents and the details of the birds' injuries were quite sad.  Most were hit by cars *    The eagle, however, was shot.  Yes, shot.  For fun.  That's what the guy told the authorities when they caught him.  Since eagles are federally protected, the penalty for hunting them is a fine of $20,000 and confiscation of all property used in commission of the crime.  The man lost his gun and pick-up truck.  The eagle lost its left wing and will hop around a cage for the rest of its life.

If there's anything Liam loves more than birds, it's mice and rabbits. After seeing these served as meals, he quickly lost interest in the sanctuary.  He didn't seem upset, just ready for a change of scenery.  We traveled back to the main entrance of the park and went for a hike.  The boys really enjoyed throwing stones once we reached the river but all I could think was that my flip flops had not been the best choice in footwear that day.

This fall, I'm looking forward to taking several short hikes through the area's forests (we'll get to that state park one of these days).  It's great to show the boys that there's more to being outdoors than being on a wood chipped playground.

Around 3 pm, we realized that we were very hungry so we stopped at a farm-themed restaurant.  It was cute, different and very overpriced.  Although we plan to return to the area again, I think once is enough at this eatery.
I have no idea what this farm implement was for...but it had a seat so Henry had to try it out!
Back at the hotel, the boys got their second wind so we went for a swim.  This time we brought in a few pool toys.  We spent at least an hour splashing and laughing.  Well, some of us laughed and some of us pouted.  Because we're four.

No sooner had we dried off did the boys want ice cream.  I really wanted a nap.  Being outvoted, I duly drove the car all of 1/4 mile to the nearest Steak 'n Shake.  Henry finished his Mint Oreo, Liam ate only the candy from his M&M shake and I (wanting to set a good example for my younger son) enjoyed an entire S'mores shake.
 Apres swim sundae.  Why not?
We returned to our hotel room and had a better night's sleep.  This was very helpful because there was more swimming and exploring in store for us on Sunday.

*The naturalist gave this explanation: the birds are on the road eating killed rodents and small mammals.  These forest dwellers traveled to the middle of the highway to eat scraps of food thrown as litter by passing motorists. 


  1. There's a similar sanctuary (that's much easier to find) just a few miles from here - made me think much differently about throwing an apple core or banana peel out the window!

    Sounds like a fun day - love the mini-vacation idea.

  2. Sounds like a perfect day to me! A swim and Sunday.. Would be a day from heaven! I had a few this summer!