My parents were visiting this weekend which meant a lovely Italian meal at Lucca, breakfast and baked goods at La Mie, baking cookies, searching out the Penn State game (which is not such a popular team here in the middle of Iowa) and an outing to the Neil Smith Wildlife Refuge and Prairie Learning Center on Saturday.
The Neil Smith is a 5,000 acre restored prairie—back to the way the landscape was in the mid-1800s when the first settlers came here—and wildlife refuge about 30 minutes away from Des Moines. One of the things that's been a little hard to get used to here in Iowa is that it seems like all of the land is either being farmed or has been developed. There is a real lack of open space, so spending time here was a real treat.
The learning center had some great exhibits (that are, not surprisingly, geared towards all ages, so we were looking through a root system area with a boy scout group) and the building was impressively built to suit the landscape.
And there were buffalo! We went on a walk around the prairie hoping to see some animals (they have buffalo, elk, white-tailed deer, pheasants) and we were lucky to see buffalo. My parents, who had no idea that they'd be doing this on their visit, were very excited to be able to bring this story home with them to New Jersey.
I'm definitely planning to go back and visit in the spring because while it was beautiful with the golden colors, I can only imagine how lovely it would be when the grass is all in bloom.