GUESS WHAT WE SAW: It matters not what you do on a vacation -- tobogganing, hiking, eating, sitting upon a rock and writing sonnets -- because if you see a Golden Eagle, perched high on a bare branch, that will be the moment that will trump all other moments, regardless of how terrific they were. It's a serendipitous event that doesn't come around for everyone, even if we're often in forests frequented by the dramatic birds. So, yes, we return home talking about it, replaying the moment, again and again, for friends (because we were too in awe to snap a photo). Seeing a Golden Eagle up close, though? It's far rarer, but visitors to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek are getting that opportunity, courtesy of Topaz. Topaz is, in fact, a Golden, and she is now serving as an exhibit hall animal ambassador.
HER BACK STORY: Topaz hails from the Lake Tahoe area, with a pretty sticky issue: Her wing would not fully extend, making flight impossible. She's lived at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum for a few years now, but keepers determined that the 11-pound eagle was ready to join the ambassador team, which includes "hawks, ravens, owls, turkey vultures, and other winged representatives." Want to see her in person? Or in eagle, rather? She holds court on three days a week at 1 p.m. Details.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Wildlife care and medicine is quite different from how we treat our at-home pets, but the on-site hospital at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum gives visitors a deep peek into what it is like setting a raccoon's leg or tending to a hawk's wing.