USA Surprises: Wildlife Prairie Park – Peoria, Illinois.
This week has been quite different. We have been staying in a small city in Illinois, called Bloomington. We chose Bloomington in part because it was a good location (2hrs in either direction would get us to either St Louis or Chicago). The other reason was because it was the hometown of Henry Blake in M*A*S*H.
Now, I love M*A*S*H. I grew up watching M*A*S*H. We had mountains of video tapes that we had painstakingly recorded off of the TV (I remember having to sit and press the pause button so you didn’t get the adverts and then having to remember to unpause). We had almost every episode. And Henry was one of my favourite characters, so I was quietly excited to see if I could get a feeling for why Richard Hooker picked this city as the hometown of one of my favourites.
In my head I imagined a bustling city. In reality it is a quiet town, which is home to a reasonably big university, but which oddly enough doesn’t make the city much busier. The university seems to have a massive athletics department and I’m sure on football game nights the town would come alive.
To fill in the week that we are staying here (which will include one day trip to Chicago and one to Nameoki, to visit a pastor friend of ours) we have done almost every activity in the area that is listed on trip advisor and is both open and child friendly.
This includes a winery, a milk/cheese farm shop, going to the movies and a children’s discovery centre… We also took the car in to get an oil change. I know, exciting times right?
I have to say, it’s been one of the quieter weeks we’ve had all year. But then yesterday, we buckled up and went for the hour drive over to Peoria specifically to go to the Wildlife Prairie Park.
There’s something awesome about going to a little country wildlife park. It is especially great to go when school is in its first week and no excursions have been organised yet! We had the park virtually to ourselves.
We played on the playground (The Daughter spent most of the time running away from bees), had lunch, went on the little train that toured you around the park, and then we drove up to the main wilderness area where we roamed the walkways and saw animals native to the area.
There were silver and red foxes, deer and goats, grey wolves, black bears, otters, elk and bison, bobcats, owls, massive bald eagles, a falcon and kestrels. The kestrel left us quoting Doctor Who… “Are those kestrels?”, “I do hope so” and “Now what do we do about those things that aren’t kestrels?”.