Sunday, November 27, 2011

Long Weekend

I just had a "sort of" 4 day weekend and can't believe it's already time to go back to work! It was only "sort of" because I did have to work 4 hours on Thanksgiving day, but it was from 7am-11am so I had most of the day off. Gene has a 5 day weekend, but he's taking an online class and had a huge amount of work so most of his time has been catching up with school.

Wednesday we spent the day in Decatur. Since Gene was almost transferred there last summer and there's still a possibility he'll be transferred in a year or two, I wanted to see the town. I've only been there twice that I remember and both times were to go to the zoo. I didn't pay a lick of attention to the town or the surrounding area. Wednesday's visit was all about seeing if we could stand to live in a town best know for their stinky ADM plant. My first test was to check out Rock Springs Nature Center. If this place failed to live up to Forest Park Nature Center in Peoria, the rest of the town better ROCK! Yeah, the place was AMAZING! Hiking trails, biking trails, museum, art gallery, kids' area, indoor birdwatching area, ponds... It was great and the kids loved it. We didn't do much hiking because of my foot, but we went into a pine forest that started out as a Christmas tree farm and the kids were in love. Logan right away decided he could live in Decatur and even Kaylin slowly started to come around. We then drove around town a little, ate at Cheddar's (!) and checked out the shopping mall. We drove back through town to the zoo and children's museum area and were impressed by Lake Decatur, the size of the children's museum and the flamingo and pelican exhibit seen from the zoo parking lot. The zoo was closed for the winter and the children's museum was almost closed for the day so we didn't go inside either. I'm not quite sure how we managed to squander our entire day in Decatur doing next to nothing, but we decided we'll have to go back another day soon and go to the children's museum and find the Caterpillar plant. Overall, I would have to say I could live in Decatur. I picked up several brochures at the nature center and Macon County has a lot of conservation areas and fun stuff to do outdoors. There are plenty of animal shelters and veterinary offices and of course the zoo where I could potentially get a job. It could be a fun adventure.

Thursday, we went to Thanksgiving dinner with my dad's family. The kids had a great time playing with their cousins. Kaylin made green bean casserole and cupcakes, so I didn't have to cook anything :) Kaylin was a bit overwhelmed because the boys decided to play boys against girls in whatever game they were playing and Kaylin happened to be the only girl against 6 boys. Uh, yeah. I don't think the fact that two of the boys are toddlers even helped much. Abbey and Mollie eventually showed up so that evened things a bit. It was a good time.

Friday, the kids went to my parents' house to play with their cousins. I went birding with Meghan. We did our usual circle of Banner Marsh, Emiquon, Lake Chautauqua, Sand Ridge and Spring Lake. At Banner, we watched bald eagles hunt and saw dozens of mute swans. We were shocked by the small number of ducks at Emiquon. Two weeks ago there were thousands and thousands of coots. A report from earlier in the week had tens of thousands of ducks. All of the coots and pelicans from our previous visit were gone, along with the vast majority of the ducks that had been reported earlier in the week. We did see a nice variety of ducks including shovelers, goldeneyes, hooded mergansers, pintails, green winged teal, mallards, grebes, etc. It was shocking that water that was COVERED two weeks ago was now mostly empty. We moved on to Lake Chautauqua and saw a group of 7 swans in a field on the way. Once we got there, we saw another 30+ on the water. I saw my first harrier and several more bald eagles. A nice man with a nice spotting scope gave us a close look at the swans and determined they were tundra swans. Woohoo! Another first! We talked to him about birding for a while and then moved on to Sand Ridge where I think we saw a red tailed hawk and a few sparrows. We stopped at the Jake Wolf fish hatchery because Meghan had never been there. The place is impressive, but as always, we were the only visitors in the incredible museum area run by a bankrupt state. We moved on to Spring Lake where the duck and goose decoys vastly outnumbered the living ducks and geese. We had planned to eat lunch at Larry's Family Bar just because the name is so stupid, but they were closed for the winter. Oh well. We had to drive to Pekin instead.

The birding was a little disappointing because we were expecting to see thousands of ducks, but it was still worth the trip. The icing was a stop at that crazy landscape store in Manito with all the huge lawn statues. I had never been inside and was sort of expecting to find gardening supplies, but the store was full of smaller garden statues and all kinds of cool stuff picked up at sales and auctions. I walked out with a set of 4 owl trivets that I plan to hang in the kitchen, a wooden pig tray and a flying pig garden statue. I LOVED the store and absolutely plan to go back. If you would have told me I'd actually BUY something from that place I would have laughed. It's my new favorite store.

Saturday we put up the Christmas tree. The kids were shocked at how small it is, but THEY picked it out two or three years ago! "Yeah, when we were smaller and it looked huge!" It's probably 5 1/2 feet tall so it's not tiny, but it is on the small side for a tree. I'm fine with it.

I have a doctor appointment for my foot on Monday and I hope he lets me stop wearing the cast, but I doubt it. I'm not in horrible pain or anything, but my ankle just doesn't feel right. The injured tendon still hurts, but I don't even know how to describe what's going on with my ankle. The muscles feel tight. My calf muscles are also tight. I keep putting heat and/or icy hot on them but it's not helping.

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