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Entries in batavia (2)


Easy Outing: Buffalo in Batavia!

When my husband went on a vacation to Colorado about four years ago, I was so excited to get to see a herd of buffalo that live in a Denver city park. Little did I know there is a herd living just a few miles from my home!

Photo by Michael Kappel on Flickr. Taken at Fermilab in April 2011.The buffalo roam a large pasture at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the physics laboratory in Batavia that is part of the U.S. Department of Energy. I just heard about them last month from Tracy Richter – one of our valued contributors here at GWYM. Yesterday turned out to be a perfect day for my daughter and me to check them out when I was eager to find something free and low-key we could do to get us outdoors in the sunshine.

But first .. what are buffalo (or more correctly, bison) doing in Batavia? According to Fermilab’s website, the lab’s first director bought a male bison and four females to Fermilab in 1969 to help “recognize and strengthen Fermilab’s connection” to its “prairie heritage.” A couple of years later, the Illinois Department of Conservation gave the lab 21 more bison – the descendants of those first animals are what you’ll see at Fermilab now.

Having passed Fermilab countless times and seen some security measures and signs from the road, I wasn’t sure how hard it would be to get on the campus. But it was actually very easy. Fermilab's grounds are open to the public every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (from mid-October to mid-April) and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. the rest of the year. Here’s a map detailing the areas that are open to the public, and you can click here to check the current status of the access to Fermilab – to make sure it hasn’t become more stringent since my visit.

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Easy Outing: Red Oak Nature Center in North Aurora

It was a dreary, frigid day: My daughter’s nap was too short, and the afternoon ahead of us loomed very long.

You can stay cozy indoors and watch birds refuel at the feeders outside a huge window in the Red Oak Nature Center. Photos by Tara Burghart.So we bundled up in our coats and boots and hopped in the car for a short drive to a place I’ve been meaning to visit for months: The Red Oak Nature Center.

Red Oak is part of the Fox Valley Park District, and it’s located on Route 25, either in North Aurora or Batavia, depending on who you ask. It’s open year-round, seven days a week, and admission is always free. After our very enjoyable visit, it’s definitely on my go-to list for those days when you just Have To Get Out Of The House!

Once you’re on Route 25, you’ll have to keep a close eye for the sign letting you know you’ve reached the Nature Center – it would be easy to zoom right past it. (It’s located one mile north of Route 56/Butterfield Road.)

The parking lot was nearly empty when we arrived. It’s then a few minutes’ walk over some railroad tracks and down a walkway to the Nature Center, where we were indeed the only visitors.

A very nice park district employee greeted us and gave us a brief orientation to the building, making sure we knew there was a rabbit in the “Discovery Room” and lots of other animals in the “Wildlife Room.” I decided we’d skip the nine-minute orientation video, since my main goal for visiting was to let my daughter just walk/run off some energy!

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