The girls and Patrick are off this week for Spring Break so we’re taking a mini-vacation in Wabasha, Minnesota. There are two big draws in Wabasha. First, Grumpy Old Men was supposedly filmed here. Turned out that not a lot was filmed here, but that was OK. (Part 2 of Grumpy Old Men was filmed at the Half Time Rec in St Paul, where I worked for years so I felt like I had that covered anyways.) The second and more important draw is the National Eagle Center.
Wabasha is less than two hours away from St Paul. On the way here, we drove through Wisconsin – and Pepin, the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We had a nice lunch in Wabasha, we wanted to be quick because we knew the eagle feeding was happening in about 40 minutes.
The National Eagle Center was great! We met one of the founders through a connection Patrick had. She told us that. Wabasha has always been a place to see eagles – especially in March. The eagles hang out here because there’s a lot of open water because of nearby Lake Pepin – the lake pours into the Mississippi, the river gets wider – but it quickly narrows so the water trying to get into the narrowed river keeps open water on the wider part of the river. About 10 years ago they decided to build the center.
Five eagles reside at the center. Each has been injured in some way. Most were nurtured back to health by the Raptor Center but were not well enough to be released to the wild. Lily and Aine got pictures taken with Angela the Eagle. Then (because we knew the founder) we got a great picture with the whole family and the eagle with wings spread. So that was cool.
We got to watch them feed an eagle. That was gross but cool. The eagle got to choose between rabbit meat and rat. She went for rabbit meet. I think the rat would have been grosser to see. The rabbit looked like raw meat; the rat was recognizable as a rat. Lily and Patrick got to hold a falcon, wearing the falconer’s glove.
Last, but not least, there are telescopes and binoculars all around the place so that you can look up and down the river for the eagles. They said there were about 30 eagles around. Of course with my untrained eyes I saw more like a dozen, but it was still fun. What’s kind of amazing is that with the binoculars, you really could scan through the trees and see a lot.
I heard that Read’s Landing is another great place to see eagles. The plan is to stop there tomorrow on the way home.