On our way back from Ft. Snelling State Park we stopped at the airport on cargo road. Now as we were passing Ft. Snelling National Cemetery Alison described an almost perfect Snow Owl with it’s back facing the highway but, it was well inside the Cemetery, and with the turnaround from 494 it would have been a 15 minute journey but, she had seen an Owl. We took the 24th avenue exit, and drove around the side of the airport, underneath a runway to the fed-ex building where a snow owl has been spotted daily since early December. We watched the airplanes for a few minutes but, short of spotting the owl we were not really expecting to see anything so we headed to Black Dog Road. I have not seen a large number of owls this year as I usually do but, they have Eagles. This was a quick trip, we did not go as far as the East outlet from Black Dog Lake. The kids had gotten their fresh air for the day and were not afraid to express it. Once I arrived home I noticed I had a text from Bill D that their were not any Snow Owls at the airport with a timestamp dated before we even stopped (opps). After I got home I saw that someone had reported one in Dodge County, I don’t think that is going to happen.
I took the kids to “Winter Trails Day with REI” at Fort Snelling State Park. They had a large number of demo’s, groups (Everyone from the Minnesota Rovers, to Skijoring groups with huskies). REI brought every pair of rentals it owns, along with a couple of snowshoe vendors, and about half the visitors packed theirs for naturalist guided tours. Most people strapped on a pair and walked around from station to station. Some of the stations were geocaching, cold weather camping, animal tracks, building snow forts, cross country skiing, along with various vendors. We hit about every single station, I can’t name one we did not hit. Ali very impressively got every single animal track correct where she would match up a mold of an animal track to the animal that made it and they were not the typical squirrel/dog tracks either, Ali initially had the Eagle/Turkey tracks reversed but, recognized their the eagle’s talons. I grilled a ranger if they had any snow owl’s in the park but, he had said about the only thing he could offer since he worked St. Paul is they picked two off of streets/highways last month (snow owl versus vehicle, never would have thunk it being an issue). The naturalists were pretty busy giving tours and being mobbed by people but, they had the stations laid out pretty well. Inside the shelter was a large fire, hot chocolate, and an impressive array of stacks of brochures and maps. When we arrived home the kids threw themselves down on the ground in front of the new but temporary Christmas Tree we have planted out in our front yard.
After a photography get together in Edina, I hit Rice Park in St. Paul for a quick walk through the park. I had wanted to go check out the lights for a couple of years. It was about five degrees out with a slight breeze? I am sure I will return for winter carnival. The rest of St. Paul was really lit up with some of the bigger attractions hopping with the rest of the city mostly in hiding. The State Capital and Cathedral almost caught me on my way back home in addition to another half dozen hot spots on the brief 5 block drive through town to/from I-35E.
The temperature was pushing 1 degree out with wind chills of -10 to -15 below the kids were content with video games but, it was sunny out so we went for a hike. The kids naturally layer with wind resistant outer gear (were working on it). I hit Blackdog Road, checking out various spots along the way, nothing. We stopped at the East end of Blackdog Lake got out and walked the trail. 10 or so Swans out on the lake. The warm water from the power plant generated ground level condensation (fog, clouds) producing a pretty cool effect, a decent number of waterfowl were swimming around in the heated dense fog rising from the water. I kept asking the kids if their fingers, faces, toes were getting cold, nope, not a once did they say yes. We turned around at the State Park parking lot, usually we pass the swamp and turn around at the train tracks on the East end of Blackdog. On our way back Ali spotted an Eagle across the river, I pulled over, let the kids sit in the heated car, it took about 10 minutes until it took to the air. On the West end parking lot I spotted a pair of Eagles in the tree. After another 10 minutes or so we were off to the wild bird store to top off our feeders.