Monday, November 10, 2008

Too Late, Too Early, Good Food

On Sunday the Wife and I went out to do some Leaf Peeping, Hawk Watching, Goose Gazing, and museum perusing.  It didn't quite turn out as I expected.
We drove to nearby Hitchcock Nature Center where I'd hiked earlier this year.  The center has a tower that I thought would give us a great view of the fall colors.  I looked over the forest and saw:


The windy weather we've had lately had laid bare all the trees - not a pretty leaf in sight.  You could tell that if the trees were leafed out it would have been spectacular.  Instead, we got bleak.  I'd been looking forward to seeing the fall colors ever since we moved and I missed them (well, most of them).  I guess there is always next year.
Having missed the leaves, I shifted my sights toward birds of prey.  The center holds a Hawk Watch this time of year and is located on the fifth largest hawk and eagle migration route in the world.  When we arrived at the top of the tower we were greeted by a couple and their dog doing a bird census.  A red-tailed hawk flew overhead soon after we arrived but it was flying high and looked like a tiny red dot.  I'm not sure what I expected but I was hoping for more than a little red dot.  We decided that bird watching is a hobby that takes time, patience, and persistence, qualities that we really didn't have in abundance on that cold morning.

We climbed down the tower and walked along the trail a ways looking for acorns for the Wife's Acorn Award.  All we found were small acorns that were of no use to her.  We went back to the car and headed for our next destination.
We made our way to Logan, Iowa, home of the Museum of Religious Arts.  It opened at noon and we were a little early so we looked for a place to eat in town.  Logan is a nice little town (population 1,500+) with a nice courthouse, a couple of bars, several shops (closed on Sunday), and a nice restaurant - The Bunk House Cafe.  The Bunk House was a tiny place.  It would be hard to get a couple dozen people in there at the same time.  The place has a horse-centric western theme.  We both ordered breakfast (all they served on Sunday) that was delicious.  We finished it off with a hot steaming cinnamon roll for the Wife and a hot steaming chocolate muffin for me.  This place was the one bright spot of the day.

The Museum of Religious Arts was a lot bigger than we expected.  Since Logan is kind of out in the middle of nowhere, we expected to find a small room in some old farm house.  What we found was a large modern building with a well laid out collection of donated religious art and items.  The place was set up for Christmas and the main displays were of nativity scenes (hundreds of them) and dozens of Christmas Trees, all decorated differently.  There was a decorating contest underway and all the trees were impressive.
Along with these seasonal displays, there was a chapel modeled after the spanish style that reminded me of the missions we visited in California.  The main attraction was a wax exhibit called the King of Kings depicting, with life-size figures, the life of Jesus from birth to ascending.  As we exited this exhibit the Wife looked at me and said it was kind of weird.  I agreed completely.  The statues just looked too freaky and I didn't realize that Mary was a blond.
This museum would have been better if it had been smaller and less professionally done.  The Wife and I like odd places and this was ore ordinary than we liked.  I was irritated that only judeo-christian art was displayed.  I was hoping for a more worldly display.

After a visit to the gift shop we headed west to DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge.  The refuge is known for it's migrating geese and eagles.  We stopped at the visitor's center and bought a magnet.  We asked the ranger if there were a lot of geese.  She told us that we were a few weeks early and that the geese population in the park had been declining over the last five years.  In the past over a half million geese would be on the lake and chutes at any one time during migration season.  This is what we saw:


Not very impressive.  These are Canadian Geese.  We saw several wild turkeys and smaller water birds but not in the numbers I'd hoped for.

We had a backup plan.  DeSoto is known for the excavation of the Steamboat Bertrand.  We drove over to the excavation site, parked the car and walked a short trail to a sign describing the excavation - i.e. a large pond.  Yep, that was it, a large pond.  I was underwhelmed.  I was hoping to see something sticking out of the water or something.  There are exhibits at the visitors center of articles removed from the Bertrand but we decided to save it for later when we come back to see more geese.

Now, I was a little disappointed since we didn't get to see much of what we wanted but we still had a good day.  We got out of the house and we did find a nice place to eat.  That makes it a success in my book.

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