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Wildlife and Hushpuppies

A recent Saturday was dreary, cold, and blustery, but also perfect for a visit to the new Visitor Center at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge on Highway 67 in Decatur. The migrating birds were noisy and active.

After a closing that lasted almost two years, the expanded, gleaming, interactive Visitor Center is welcoming visitors and receiving rave reviews. The educational wildlife displays appeal to all ages, and a beautiful auditorium is available for those who want to watch the informative video. Open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., this is a wonderful attraction for North Alabama residents and visitors. It is especially popular from November to February each year when untold thousands of Sandhill Cranes are on site, along with a rare sighting or two of the larger, stark white Whooping Cranes. A walkway leads to a separate Observation Building, and other trails provide exercise and a chance to glimpse other species native to the area.

If you head east on Highway 67, you can combine the wildlife educational experience with a great meal and a view of the 121-foot tall Cross of North Alabama which was put into place in April 2023. The cross is near Libby's Catfish & Diner, which is open from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. every day except Sunday. I went for the hushpuppies. Steve went for the salmon. Many go for the chicken livers. The breakfast menu is extensive, and meat-and-three lunch specials vary from day to day. It has a homey, local vibe and is a place for Priceville folks to see some of their neighbors.

We enjoyed our outing very much, and I believe you will, too. The Visitor Center and the Cross are free, and Libby's prices are reasonable. You can have fun without breaking the bank.

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