Hello! Today is my final post of our week long vacation to Missouri. And that's a good thing, considering I'm leaving for another vacation in August and I will have plenty more pictures and stories to share.
By the time we reached Day Six of our vacation, to be perfectly honest, we were all ready to go home. But, we paid in advance for our hotel and thought it would be wasteful to just leave, so we stayed the full time as planned, but decided to do something just relaxing and totally us, and not touristy at all. We went to the Springfield Conservation Nature Center!
Now, spending time outdoors is always a treat for our family. We love to hike through the woods and see wildlife. We really didn't know what to expect of this Nature Center, we just knew it was FREE and close by. But, we ended up being very pleasantly surprised and it ended up being one of the highlights of our trip.
The Nature Center is right in the city, but it you would never know it! The first thing I noticed when we stepped outside our car was all the birds singing. My, what a sound that was! I love to hear birds sing! The parking lot was very wooded and secluded and it seemed hard to believe that there was a freeway just a few yards away. We went inside the Nature Center Building first to get a map and more information about the trails. The interior was very well kept, and was just this wonderful interactive experience for children, or adults young at heart. When we first walked in, we headed straight to this picture window and this is what we saw!
It was a room filled with windows and outside the windows were all these bird feeders filled with wild turkeys, squirrels, and yes, even a deer! And there were not only plenty of birds to view, but because the entire Nature Center is an interactive learning experience there were all these pictures and information about all the birds you could spot. After we were done watching the birds, we headed to check out the rest of the building. It was filled with exhibits that had something of interest for all ages. One of my favorite exhibits was the Missouri Night Life exhibit. You walked into a room of total darkness and then a voice would start speaking about all the creatures of the night. As a specific animal was mentioned, a light would come up on just that animal, it seemed to come out of nowhere, and you would hear the sounds the animal makes and learn more information about the habits of the creature. There were also many other exhibits like a cave you could enter and learn about the Missouri Caves, and lots of interactive things like a tree, where you would open various doors and see insects, or animals that live in or off the tree. My husband's favorite exhibit was a shooting gallery, that one I thought was pretty funny to see in a Nature Conservation Center, but I suppose hunting is part of wilderness.
After our fun inside the building, we decided to check out the trails. The Nature Center has three miles of well maintained paved trails, including a board walk over a marshy area. The trails really form one big loop, but there is a short loop too if your not up for a three mile hike. We opted for the longer trail and were quite happy that we did. In the longer trail you not only go through the woods, but you see rivers, a lake, a field, a marsh, and lots of wildlife. We found this little guy in the woods:
Here is my daughter cooling her feet in one of the shallow river spots.
Now it's my turn.
This was such a romantic spot to stop and take a couple's picture. The trail was filled with cute little bridges like this.
Now my son needs to cool his feet too!
A view of the lake on the property.
Hubby checking out some small fish.
My son-in-law and daughter take a turn for a romantic picture.
We really liked our hike because it took us through so many different views of nature: woodlands, marsh, sunny meadows, lakes and rivers all in one three mile hike. It was so peaceful, and we saw and heard so much wildlife. We even got surprised by another deer as it bolted in front of us as we walked the meadow path. And the birds; oh my the birds! We saw so many different species and their song was so beautiful to hear. If your ever in Springfield, I strongly suggest checking the Nature Center out. It was a wonderful experience.
The next day we headed out for the long twelve hour drive home to Wisconsin. We chuckled and talked a lot about our trip and made a few jokes about how my husband's family (who are originally from Wisconsin yet moved to Missouri) always talk about how wonderful Missouri is and how life there is so much better than life in Wisconsin. I've always jokingly referred to it as 'The Promised Land' because they bragged about it so much. But even though we enjoyed our vacation, we were never so happy to be home in Wisconsin again. We live in beautiful Buffalo County which is filled with rolling, lush hills, and gorgeous scenic drives, and we are known for the best deer hunting in the state because our area is populated with enormous bucks with trophy antlers.
So as we were done making jokes about The Promised Land and came down the hill into our little town, we were greeted with this beautiful sight:
To us, it was as if God was telling us, there is no place like home, and we already live in the Promised Land. What a welcome home present....to be treated with this beautiful double rainbow landing right into our small town church. God is good. He is faithful. AMEN!
Have a great day! Amy