Thursday, May 24, 2012

RoadTrip Day #4: Neil Smith National Wildlife Refuge


14 May 2012
Morning
On the road again, after a great visit with family and friends in Wisconsin. Today we are heading south to I-80. Over the next 2 days, our trip will take us through Iowa and Nebraska before we reach our final destination of Fort Collins.

First stop, Dubuque, Iowa, for a quick break and snack. We stop at an A&W/Convenience store not far from the welcome sign for the city. Several photos and a couple of Project BudBurst observations of Plains cottonwood and white clover and we are back on the road. Thanks Dubuque! Next time, perhaps we can stay a little longer and explore the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.
Visitor Center at Neil Smith National Wildlife Refuge

Afternoon
A spiderwort at the Refuge, just about to flower!
We just barely made it to the Neil Smith National Wildlife Refuge  today before the Visitor Center closed. Neil Smith National Wildlife Refuge was one of the first Project BudBurst Refuge partners, so we are extra excited to see their beautiful landscapes. We chat with Refuge Manager Cheryl Groom, tour the Visitor Center, get our Blue Goose Passport stamped, and then head back outside to check out the plants and wildlife. Lots to see at Neil Smith, but we are on a bit of a schedule, so we can’t linger long. We notice Little bluestem and Common milkweed in the butterfly garden in front of the Visitor Center. Still too early to make an observation for Project BudBurst but we’ll find something else I am sure! We hop back in the car and drive along the auto tour. We are rewarded by a herd of bison roaming the grasslands and we take a few pictures. We’re careful not to bother the bison though, since they could squish us and our car with little effort!
This Refuge is known for it's bison herd

Evening
We arrive in Council Bluffs, IA just in time for the sunset. It’s time for a good night’s rest. Tomorrow we’ll be visiting another National Wildlife Refuge and we don’t want to be sleepy when we get there!

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