Cable Natural History Museum: Be a Superhero

Cable Natural History Museum: Be a Superhero

Imagine being so strong you could pull a dinosaur. When I stepped on a scale at the Cable Natural History Museum in Cable, Wisconsin, I found out that if I was a dung beetle, I’d be strong enough to do just that, as dung beetles can pull up to 1,411 time their body weight. I’m glad I’m not a dung beetle, though. What a poopy life that would be! The dung beetle is one of several insects and flowers highlighted in the museum’s Nature’s Superheroes exhibit.

Dung_Beetle_ScaleEveryone who visits the museum gets a chance to be a superhero, too. As you enter the museum you are asked to don a superhero cape. This goes for adults as well as children. If you’d like, you can enter the phone booth an ordinary person and emerge as a superhero.

Mini superheroesSkip and I chose to evolve into our superhero personae in the wide open museum lobby. I was a tree frog and skip was a dragonfly.

Connie the Gray Tree FrogSkip the dragonflyWhat superpowers do a tree frog and a dragonfly have? Superpowers in nature are actually adaptations given to the species for survival. The tree frog can become nearly invisible, or at least blend in with the tree so well that predators don’t see it. The dragonfly flies fast, really fast, at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. Its four wings, which can each flap separately, allow them to fly in all directions. They can even do aerial stunts.

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Among plant life, the bunchberry’s superpower is also speed, whose pollination mechanism takes less than half a millisecond, making it the fastest flower on earth.

The force behind the Nature’s Superheroes exhibit was conservation sidekick Naturalist Educator, Emily Stone. She put the exhibit together with help from staff and volunteers, creating hands-on and interactive activities that make learning fun, like the opportunity to appear on screen flying along a nature path in your superhero cape.

Flying superheroElsewhere in the museum are exhibits of species native to the area, as well as a large room used for education purposes. On the day we visited, children were making owl puppets from paper bags.

Taxidermied ducksKids owl projectThe museum offers over a hundred public programs throughout the year. The night before our museum visit, Skip and I participated in the museum-sponsored Owl Prowl with host naturalist Susan Thurn, where we learned to call barred owls.

The Cable Natural History Museum will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2017. However, its building is only five years old and very impressive. If you’re in the area, it’s a fun small museum to visit, especially if you have children.

Cable Museum exteriorAfterwards, visit the museum’s property down the street, the home site of the museum’s first naturalist. The big attraction there for kids is the huge fallen limb from the oldest and largest tree on the property. Kids have enjoyed climbing on the limb for some time, so steps are now being built into the limb, and a small “fort” is being added at the base of the tree. What a fun way to adapt to nature’s occurrences.

tree with stair stepsThe Cable Natural History Museum, located at 13470 County Highway M in Cable, Wisconsin, is open year round. Check the web site for exact hours and admission rates.

Disclosure: Our trip to northern Wisconsin was hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, but any opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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Southport Light Station Museum, Kenosha, Wisconsin: Tour the Museum, Climb the Lighthouse

Southport Light Station Museum, Kenosha, Wisconsin: Tour the Museum, Climb the Lighthouse

Two families living together in one lighthouse keeper’s cottage would have been quite unusual in the1800s, or at any time, for that matter. But that’s the way it was at Kenosha’s Southport Lighthouse, one fact that we learned on our tour of the keeper’s cottage. Restored in the early 2000s to the 1908 appearance, the keeper’s cottage is now open to the public as the Southport Light Station Museum Read more

Cruise the Upper Mississippi on the La Crosse Queen, La Crosse WI

Cruise the Upper Mississippi on the La Crosse Queen, La Crosse WI

It’s a scene reminiscent of the Mark Twain era.  The bright white riverboat, powered by cherry red paddlewheels, pushes upstream along the Mighty Mississippi.  Blue heron or egrets may wade along the shoreline, while bald eagles perch high up in the trees.  You can become part of this scene when you take a narrated sightseeing tour or a meal cruise on the La Crosse Queen, one of only a few authentic Mississippi River paddlewheel riverboats in operation today.

paddlewheelsBoard the boat at Riverside Park in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and take a seat either on the open-air upper deck or on the enclosed lower deck.  The lower deck is where meals are served on the brunch, lunch and dinner cruises and where you can purchase beverages (including adult beverages) on the sightseeing tours.

upper_decklower_deckYour tour guide narrates the sightseeing trip, explaining what makes the riverboat authentic, pointing out wildlife along the shore, explaining the river’s history and geography, and throwing in a few corny jokes.

eagleAs you cruise upstream, you’ll pass through a railroad swing bridge, most likely see barges navigating the river, and on the longer cruises, experience going through the locks.  Depending on which meal cruise you choose, the trip may be narrated or you may be entertained with music.

swing_bridgePurchase tickets at the boat dock at the north end of Riverside Park next to the Hiawatha statue.  Meal cruises require advance reservations.  La Crosse Queen Cruises run from May through October.  For further details, including schedule, visit the La Crosse Queen Cruises web site.

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