The Great Hunter and I finally got out on the bike for a ride on Sunday.  We really haven’t done much together the last couple of months and we’re rapidly running out of time. Turkey hunting season starts this weekend and not long after that is deer hunting season. That’s at least four weekends out of the next two months. Then it will be cold and the holiday season with everything that goes on in December; so not much time left to do random things.

Waiting to board the Brussels Free Ferry.

We rode the bike to our favorite place, Grafton, Illinois. We opted to take the two-ferry route, first on the Golden Eagle across the Mississippi and then the Brussels Free Ferry across the Illinois River at Grafton. We stopped at our favorite ice cream place for pecan ice cream sundaes and they were sooo good.

We rode back across the Mississippi River to West Alton and decided to stop at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in the Army Corps of Engineers area near the Melvin Price Locks and Dam (wow, that’s a mouthful). “Back in the day” when I was a patrol officer with the Sheriff’s Department, I spent a lot of time in this area both during the day and at night. It is a very open area, and if you are used to living in a city where your views of the stars are obstructed by buildings and trees, you would be as overwhelmed as I was when I saw all the stars in this area. They reached from one side of the horizon to the other. Like nothing I ever see at home.


The Army Corps of Engineers website describes this area as:

Designed as a flow-through wetland with controlled water levels this area hosts an abundant array of waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors to delight birdwatchers of all ages. January and February are especially busy with eagle-watchers from near and far that enjoy viewing our national symbol.

The Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area (EDA) represents the Corps commitment to restoring environmentally and historically significant remnants of land.

The RMBS exemplifies a balanced management approach between sustaining the rivers as a national transportation corridor and recognizing the environmental attributes of the area. The project utilizes the river’s continuing influence to create bottomland wet prairie and marsh land to that which existed prior to the settlement of man in the area.

View along Riverlands Drive with the Alton bridge in the distance

A short drive from the city, just 40 minutes from downtown St. Louis , open space, fresh air, and spectacular views of nature’s glory are within your reach. The Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary is a place where families, school classes, and groups can visit to learn about the importance of habitat protection and restoration while balancing mans’ disturbances with protected refuges.

The RMBS includes Ellis Bay Waterfowl Refuge, Teal Pond, Heron Pond, Native Prairie Restoration Project, Least Tern Habitat Project Freshwater Marshes, Trails plus many educational resources.

Riverlands is a beautiful area and during the winter, American Bald Eagles are in abundance along the water and in the trees. Such an awesome sight.

So after this weekend, I will be a hunting widow for the next two months. Oh, yeah, turkey season starts again in January.

(If you’re like me and didn’t know, the Army Corps of Engineers is part of the US Army and is staffed by military and civilians. It “specializes in engineering projects…The branch’s motto is “Relevant, Ready, Responsible, Reliable,” and, reflecting that motto, the Corps is often first on the scene at disaster areas. Many other projects fall under the realm of the Army Corps of Engineers, including civil engineering projects such as dams, military facility construction, and the support of the Department of Defense.”)


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