Monday, January 14, 2008

It Was "Wicked Awesome"-- We Saw a Bald Eagle Along the Mississippi!


Yesterday's drive turned into an adventure along the portion of the Great River Road near Alton, Illinois. Our first stop in the late afternoon was the Melvin Price Lock and Dam, where we ambled around inside the National Great Rivers Museum, gawking at the displays and pushing all the interactive buttons. Kate and James and Ricky went into the tugboat wheelhouse to try their hand at navigating a virtual barge down the river, while I kept peering at the seagulls "surfing" the winds inside the lock.

Funny how you can try to impress upon kids the specialness of an experience, but they take away what they want to remember. My children couldn't stop talking about the forty cent postcards I let them choose from the gift shop. They both chose the trio of baby raccoons, and carefully placed them inside the library books we'd brought along for the ride! They were busy making up stories about "their" raccoons talking to the bald eagles in the books when we saw an eagles' nest right along the highway! It was huge, with the "twigs" being more like branches from a medium size tree!

We drove a little further and took a quick peek at the Piasa bird painted on the bluffs, then headed farther up the river in hopes of seeing an eagle at dusk. Lots of beautiful vistas, lots of wide expanse of river, but no bald eagles.

No bald eagles until we turned around, headed back toward Interstate 64 so we could be on our way home. That's when we noticed a car stopped along the roadside. The bald eagle was perched in the top branches of a tall tree by the river, and it was a majestic bird. A juvenile bald eagle, brown feathers and all, was soaring between the bluffs and the tree. It was a wondrous sight.

Now, if you've seen something like this before, it might seem like old hat, like I am exaggerating the excitement. It's true, what we are accustomed to seeing doesn't evoke much spine-tingling excitement. The new, the rare, the unusual, that's what produces exclamations of wonder. I was hoping yesterday's experience wouldn't be relegated to a blase' memory for my children, so this morning I was pleased by James' reply when I asked them, "Wasn't that really cool yesterday, seeing that bald eagle in the tree by the river?"

My son's reply describes it well, "Mom, it wasn't just cool, it was WICKED AWWWWWESOME!"

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