His wings were stretched out in the sun; he was magnificent. Upon closer look, the Bald Eagle had only one wing. The other, just a stump. Still, he exuded the majesty that we associate with the eagle.
The eagle’s home is at Dauset Trails Nature Center. Dauset Trails is one of our frequented places we visit on what we call, “Family Fun Saturdays.”
If you have never been to this treasure, which is free, by the way, (there is a donation box), I highly recommend it. Pack up a lunch head out on Highway 36 toward Jackson and High Falls. It is a great place for all ages. The following is taken from the Dauset Trails website: “ Dauset Trails is a private, non-profit nature center based on environmental education that is open for all to enjoy. There are 1200 acres of scenic woods, fields, creeks and lakes. You can see native, live animals on exhibit (non-releasable) and in the wild, hike and bike 17 miles of trails, horseback ride 10 miles of trail separate from the hiking and biking trails, enjoy wildflower landscapes in the Woodland Garden and Children’s Garden, picnic… All of our animals are non-releasable and have either been injured or orphaned.”
Having been to Dauset Trails, several times, we have our “plan of action.” First we picnic under the trees by the lake at one of several picnic tables. (The lake was a little low this month.) There always seems to be a breeze, and the ripples on the small lake and the blanket of pine trees make this the perfect picnic spot. Then we head across the covered bridge toward the Visitors Center. Note: always take water bottles. With all the walking that you’ll want to do, you’ll need them. We always head into the Visitors Center first. Here, my husband Bill was in heaven because he bought a magnet.
Then it is downstairs to the Wonder Room to see the reptiles: snakes and alligators. On this particular day, a small turtle was snuggled between two small alligators. I guess they had been fed, because they all looked like buddies.
Next, it was back outside, we circled the paths around the wild animals’ cages and enclosures. It is a really nice walk. The paths have been recently covered in asphalt, so it is easy on the feet. This is where we saw the eagle. Outside the bison enclosure is a covered pavilion to sit and watch these massive creatures. It’s amazing to think that herds of thousands of bison once roamed the Great Plains.
After our circuitous route, we head over a bridge spanning a lake, where tons of turtles claim home. There is turtle food to buy (bring your quarters) in machines. Just watch them swim over to the food; they come in all sizes.
Finally, we head over to the barnyard exhibit. (By this time, you’ll be glad to have brought cold water.) After seeing pigs close up, with a sign strategically placed on the wire fence, “Animals Bite” and the very pregnant goats, we top off our visit with our last stop. We cut through the Children’s Garden (which reminds me of the secret garden) and end up in the Woodland Garden Trail. Here we have races over hand-made stepping stones set in serpentine trails under the pines. Our daughter won all the races. By then it is time to go home. But there is one special place I always like to see. In the Memorial Garden is the gravesite of Hampton Daughtry, an active supporter of the Boy Scouts. According to the Daughtry Foundation website link, Hampton was greatly influenced by his minister, Dr. Robert Van Deventer, of Jackson. Hampton and his friend David Settle had a dream of creating a preserved area for future generations to enjoy nature and wildlife. And so they did. It is here that Mr. Daughtry is buried among the beauty he wanted to share with us all.