My children have spent more time at River Bend than I have (so far), as it's one of the key field trip destinations for Rice County schoolchildren, offering experiential environmental learning programs. They also offer summer day camps and an Outdoor Adventures Program that gives both youth and adults the opportunity to learn skills like rock climbing, archery, fly fishing, geocaching and slacklining (which is kind of like low-altitude tightrope walking -- it looks fun). I'd been aware that Minnesota State Parks & Trails has a program like this (the "I Can Camp/Fish/Climb/etc." series) at sites around the state, but I only recently discovered that River Bend also offers this kind of skills-based education.
Since joining the board I've been making a point to explore the grounds more. Admission is free every day (but memberships are a great way to support RBNC). Today was a glorious fall day -- sunny, pleasantly cool and free of the brisk winds that have been with us for the last several days. With my camera in hand I walked the Overlook / Walnut / Racoon trails at the north end of the grounds. This was the first time I'd been on any of these trails. Here are a few of the sights. I'll start with my favorite shot of the day, though it's out of sequence.
|A perfect hill and sky|
|I think this is the edible Chicken of the Woods mushroom. Impressive!|
|I need to learn trees better - I think these are aspens turning gold|
|Brilliant sumac amid prairie grasses|
|Layers of autumn hues|
|Goldenrod gone to seed|
|Closeup of the fluffy goldenrod seed clusters|
|Fall color -- and a paper wasp nest high in the tree on the left|
|Paper wasp nest seen closer|