Friday, December 25, 2015

Winter Wishes

Waking up to a white Christmas and wondering now what the new year will entail. Making reservations for parks to take HaRVey the RV next summer and dreaming of warmer places to go.

Combating the cabin fever with a couple of new TV videos, thanks to my husband.

Here's a toasty warm fireplaces to hang out and chat.

Ocean side, I can just imagine digging my toes into the sand and the sound of the waves.

Better yet, how about snorkeling along the barrier reef off Belize.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Monday, December 14, 2015

International Owl Center

126 Cedar St., Houston, MN
Located just across the Mississippi River from La Crosse, we have the only owl education center in North America, International Owl Center.

This very cool place in Houston, Minnesota has displays, programs, a gift shop and of course live owls. They just opened up this visitor facility in March of 2015 and have big plans for the future.

Presenters Karla and Uhu

During our own visit to the Owl Center we enjoyed a presentation by the Karla Bloem, executive director and the owl ambassador Uhu. I won't give away all the details so you'll enjoy the program yourself.

Uhu, Eurasian Eagle Owl

Uhu, Eurasian eagle owl,  is a member of one of the largest species in the world. Shown here at 5 pounds, they can reach up to 10 pounds, the same size as an eagle.

The center offers a number of programs, you can even arrange an off-site program for your event or group.

Alice, Great Horned Owl

Other owl ambassadors include Alice, a great horned owl, who was injured at a young age. She is now a permanent resident.

You may also want to go their website and view other owls on a live cam, .

Educational displays

There are displays throughout the center offering lots of information about owls and how to get involved.

Owl displays

Gourd Owl Tree Decorations

One of my favorite parts was the gift shop. Beautiful, artistic representations of owls. From charms and tree ornaments, purses and t-shirts. The owl decorated gourd ornaments were especially sweet and for under $10.

We were scoping out the owl houses too, now we have to see if we have a good spot for one. We do hear either barred owls or great horned owls in our backyard.

Now that I know what they sound like I'll be able to identify which one and provide them with another nesting option.

New center image for the future

Aviary image for the future
Plans are in the works for a new owl center and aviaries for the many owl ambassadors and research studies. As you may guess donations are always welcome.


The International Festival of Owls will be celebrating their 14th year, March 4-6, of 2016, in Houston, MN. With visitors from all over the world, you can participate in programs and trips to hear owls, plus partake in contests and actvities. Lots of things for all ages. For more information

The International Festival of Owls will be celebrating their 14th year, March 4-6, of 2016. With visitors from all over the world you can participate in programs and trips to hear owls, plus contests and awards. Lots of things for all ages. For more information

Sunday, December 13, 2015

SunDay FunDay Part 3

Display Owls at the Center in Houston, MN
The saga continues on how to have fun in wintery months of upper Midwest's Coulee Region.

The warmer weather and lack of snow made it a great day to go birding again. We traveled to the overlook just south of Brownsville, MN to see the Tundra Swans. They have continued to revitalize themselves along the upper Mississippi before the long venture south. We even saw a White Egret hanging out in the trees. To find out more about viewings go to Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge websites.

Tundra Swans south of Brownsville, MN
We then ventured to Houston, MN to enjoy a program at the International Owl Center. They were offering a free visit for anyone from the counties of La Crosse and Trempealeau. It was a real surprise to find this new treasure in our area, they just opened up last March. If you're reading this today Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015 they have a program at 11 and 2 pm. Otherwise it's well worth the $5.00 admission whenever you get a chance. It was so good I'm devoting the next blog to their efforts.

Ultimate Perfect Margarita

To wrap up our day we had to celebrate with some libations. There's nothing like Margaritas and Salsa to spice up the dreary weather we are having. We went to none other than Manny's Cochina, Onalaska's very own bit of Mexico. A very authentic restaurant run by the Rivera family.

With 1/2 off Margarita's we couldn't resist the Grande Ultimate Perfect, I even had a second one,  just try their cucumber margarita which was delightfully cool and refreshing.

Other treats included Cerviche Fresco Cocktail with homemade tortilla chips and a bowl of Queso Dip with Chorizo served in a hot molcjete. Check out their menu at

Get this they even have their own SunDay FunDay with $5.00 fish tacos and 1/2 off Margaritas all day. Great minds think alike.

Sunday Funday


Sunday, December 6, 2015

SunDay FunDay Part 2

Norskedalen- Bekkum Homestead
We couldn't wait til Sunday to start having fun. Warmer December weather made it ideal for a road trip on Saturday.

Norwegian Specialties

First stop Norsekedalen for their 31st Annual Old Fashioned Christmas weekend. Among the bluffs is a recreated Norwegian village from the settlers days. Located near Coon Valley, WI, about 30 minutes from La Crosse.

Each building had something to offer from a person doing blacksmithing, a wool spinner and of course a Lefse lady, making the potato based flat bread like food. Lots of food and crafts too, sorry I forgot the names of the specialty dishes.

Norsekedalen ride

Mississippi overlook
Then we had to stop along the Mississippi River in a little town called Stoddard to see migrating birds. Due to the warmer weather the tundra swans were still feeding before their long journeys and also saw a large gathering of Pelicans too.

Packer Fan

Along the way we were reminded we are in Packer country. A very loyal fan shows their support with hay bales for Wisconsin's professional football team.

Mount La Crosse Chalet

Ski Lounge

We also checked out the local ski hill Mount La Crosse. They are still waiting for snow but would happily sell passes and gift cards. Since the lounges were empty it was a perfect photo opportunity to try and capture the beautiful wood details and ambience.

Ski Lounge

This will have to be a place to hang out on a snowy day and drink some hot chocolate and people watch, even though we don't downhill ski.

Last Stop

Spice it yourself
Our "sunday"  outing wouldn't be complete without a Bloody Mary. Those who have lived in the area may remember Hungry Peddler. Well it's still there. Current employees don't remember the yummy popovers they used to have with dinner, but everything else remains the same. They offered a spice yourself Bloody and mighty generous beer chaser. A nice way to end our adventures for the day.