Redding is a mid-sized town with a population of 90,000. Our camp is set atop a hillside, and the scenery is beautiful, with mountains as a backdrop and tall trees beginning to bud. We have found spring.
I have not quite recuperated from our trip to San Francisco, so we decide not to venture very far, choosing to visit a mid-town attraction, Turtle Bay Exploration Park and Museum. As it turns out, Turtle Bay is a three-hundred acre park with exhibits either side of the Sacramento river, connected by a sundial bridge. It is immediately apparent that we will not be able to see it all in a day.
“We’ll take our time,” Ric reassures me, “and see what we can.”
We start with the museum which houses aquariums of local species, and offers a hands-on understanding of the geology of the area. There is an exhibit explaining the inspiration for the bridge and the building process. Another display offers artifacts and stories honouring the indigenous peoples of the area: the Wintu. There is an art exhibit, and interactive rooms for young ones. The only thing missing is our own grandchildren.
Beyond the museum doors is a boardwalk spanning across a wetland area, where we encounter this sweet Ruby-Crowned Kinglet as well as a nesting mallard and a couple of bright blue scrub jays. There also seem to be an abundance of butterflies.
As we enter the exploration area, we find a bush and blossoming tree that are teeming with iridescent wings. As families rush past us to get to the play grounds, Ric and I are captivated by these beautiful creatures.
We bypass the play areas, noting how well done they are, and follow a cacophony of bird noises to the Parrot playground.
“Please use the hand sanitizer before entering,” a young woman greets us. “Don’t touch the birds, or pick them up. Let them come to you.”
We pass through two doors, and enter into the fray. Bright coloured birds – actually lorikeets, we learn – perch overhead, waddle along the path before us, and fly about. One alights on Ric’s shoulders and I snap a quick pic to send to the kids.
He doesn’t look too happy, a daughter messages back. I’m just glad it’s him not me. Those talons and beaks look sharp.
We don’t linger too long, although I have to admit that the birds are spectacular.
In the wildlife exhibit there is a golden eagle, a red-tailed hawk, foxes, a bobcat, a barn owl and others. As magnificent as these creatures are, I feel guilty photographing them. Having witnessed so much wildlife in its natural environment, throughout our journey, I am uncomfortable with seeing these creatures caged. I suspect that we are not alone in our sentiments, as this is the least populated of the exhibits.
We decide just to walk through the tall pines and observe nature in the raw.
I spot a large woodpecker and when I raise my camera to capture its image, I notice a deer grazing just beyond. In another spot, this busy nuthatch captures our attention. We sit for a while and just enjoy the day.
We’ve walked a fair distance, and so decide to stop at the coffee shop and have drinks and a snack before proceeding further.
“It’s your call,” Ric says, indicating the bridge.
Across the bridge are the Botanical Gardens and Arboretum that I had been hoping to see. I have to be honest. My legs are not up to the task.
“Let’s just go for a drive. I read about a lake nearby that might be interesting.”