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Published: July 27th 2015
Welcome to Nebraska?
Well, Omaha is in Nebraska, but their welcome sign was over the middle of a freeway, and we drove most of the way there through Iowa, so.....
This will be a relatively short post as our recent trip to Omaha was just a short one to visit the zoo. However, I’ll post plenty of photos which will probably show what we did better than I can describe it.
As I mentioned, there was really only one reason that took us to Omaha – it’s zoo. It has a reputation for being the best in the world which is a massive call for a zoo that sits in pretty much in the middle of nowhere. However, we’d heard nothing but good stories about it, and it’s only just over two hours drive away so decided to head up for the weekend. We made the short drive up and checked into the hotel before ducking into Omaha to explore.
The first thing that struck us was the Omaha is a very green city with plenty of parkland trees planted everywhere. In fact our first stop was the ‘Heart of America’ Park which sits between downtown and the Missouri river and is a large green space with a lake as a central feature. Walking and cycling tracks loop the lake and join a river walk
to connect the park with other social infrastructure such as theatres and additional parkland. At the centre of the lake is a series of ‘dancing fountains’ with a central fountain that punches water tens of metres in the air, not unlike Captain Cook Fountain in Canberra.
With the kids on their strollers we set of for a stroll around the area. Unfortunately we’d chosen a day with the weather well over 40 degrees Celsius, so before long the boys looked like two little beetroots with bright red faces. After shoving a load of water into the heads and motivating them with an ice block, we decided discretion was the better part of valour and took them back to the hotel for a swim and an early night.
The next day we wasted no time and got to the zoo as early as possible. Once again the weather was fairly oppressive which the temperature topping out at 44 degrees making it a tough day to walk around a really large zoo. However, it turned out to be a cracker of a zoo and we thoroughly enjoyed the visit. Our first order of business was to
The boys cooling down with a tasty ice block.
ride the train zoo which was an old steam train dating back to the 1850’s. The ride provided an excellent overview of the zoo and opportunity to orient us to the key attractions the zoo had on offer. After the train ride Judy volunteered to take the boys on a camel ride which would have to rate as one of the easiest ways to blow $15 in about 2 mins…….but they loved it!
Some of the highlights of the zoo were Sting Ray Bay, an indoor shallow pool where the kids could feed and pat sting rays…..Steve Irwin would have been shitting himself. Paddy unparticular had a great time and we had to bribe him to leave and then all he wanted to do was go back there! We also visited the desert bio-dome which was the most significant landmark in the zoo. The dome featured three separate desert environments including an Australian desert. More impressively, under the dome was swampland which was set on reverse cycle so that we could wander through in the ‘night time’ and the nocturnal creatures would be active. We trod along a walkway which sat atop the swamp environment and watch
Riding the Camel
The ride consisted of cutting a lap of the little enclosure of which you can see the entire thing in this photo. Worst $5 ever spent.....
huge fish, beavers and even alligators cruise around the swamp doing their thing. We were all surprised at how large the beavers were – much larger than we’d expected. The other cool attraction in the swamp was a white alligator, one of only thirteen in the world, and boy he was white. To be honest, I wasn’t overly interested in seeing the swamp, but I’ll readily admit I was wrong – for me it was the highlight of the zoo.
The kids also enjoyed the aquarium, which by itself could have been a stand alone attraction. The boys loved the walkthrough tunnel where the sharks, fish and stingray swam alongside and over them. They were beside themselves with excitement with lots of screaming ‘shark, shark, shark’ at the top of their lungs going on! At worse case, the air-conditioned environment offered a welcomed release from the oppressive heat. After the aquarium we make a running stop through the primate section where the kids cacked themselves laughing at the orangutans, giggled at the spider monkeys, and marveled at the size and power of the apes. We really didn’t do it justice though as we simply ran out of
Sometimes it gets so hot you have to have your bum dragged through a sprinkler.....
time. With the zoo closing at 5pm, we’d barely seen half of it – it was just too big!
When we finally returned to the car we found that the children’s packet of crayons had completely melted in the heat. They weren’t just a messy goo, but a thin liquid which could have passed through a strainer. It was incredible to see what the heat had done, and I’d hate to know just how hot it had got in the car that day! Once we’d cleaned up the rainbow mess left by the crayons we headed for dinner at a local Chinese place we found with the help of Google. After walking in and finding it without air-conditioning we decided to chance our arm at finding somewhere a little cooler. This proved to be the best decision of the day as we discovered a Vietnamese place which was simply superb – the best meal we’ve enjoyed in the US since we’ve arrived. Most importantly they served prawns, not shrimp (means no bloody shrimp on the Barbie jokes when they here our accent too). After a cracking dinner we drove home having thoroughly enjoyed the day
Merry Go Round
This ride was a bit much for John....or maybe the heat was......
despite the heat. Is it the best zoo in the world? Not sure, but if it’s not, it would certainly give the best a good shake – it was well worth the drive.
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