Saturday, September 20, 2008

Do the zoo!

Sept. 15 – As we planned this trip, nearly everyone we knew who’d ever been to Omaha told us about the zoo. It’s THE place to be for families visiting Omaha, and for good reason. After a morning at the Mormon Trail Museum & Winter Quarters (with the every-so-child-friendly Sister Maxfield as our guide) the girls finished off the PB&J supplies (oops, not enough for me!) while I tried out a cheeseburger at Zesto which claims to have “the best cheeseburger in town.” Well, I haven’t tried all the burgers in Omaha, but I can tell you it was a pretty darn good burger!

The zoo was extensive, and the best part was the Desert Dome. At first glance it doesn’t look very large; tall, yes, expansive, not hardly. But enter the glass doors and you find yourself on a winding path through desert flora and fauna. It took us a few turns to realize that those mountains weren’t just sculptures, but additional exclosures for high-dwelling desert critters. We saw plants and animals from our own California deserts to Australian lands. While we didn’t read every sign, we did manage to spend more than an hour in this portion of the zoo, enjoying the winding path and the creatures here.

The zoo has also made great use of the basement of Desert Dome. Downstairs is the Creatures of the Night exhibit, another winding path with somewhat spooky nighttime lighting. The animals downstairs all believe it’s night, so they’re quite active. Those we’ve seen sleeping at other zoos were running, climbing or flying about in a relative frenzy. My favorite were the flying squirrel type creatures. They sounded likely squeaky toys as they wrested with and chased each other. E’s least favorite, but a fantastic display, was the swamp area complete with wooden boardwalks raised a foot or so above the alligator, nutria, beaver and other animal enclosures. Imagine walking through the swamp setting at Pirates of the Carribean, only without the friendly restaurant and banjo music and with live animals lurking in the dark. Fantastic!

We stayed at the zoo until closing, walking our legs off and still not covering it all. The girls and I would certainly return to this zoo if we return to Omaha again.

We wandered the streets of Old Market and enjoyed looking in some shops, then dinner on the raised sidewalk before heading back in the dark along surface streets. It was a bit spooky being in a “big city” after having been in small town America for so long. (Bismarck is big, but doesn’t have the same feel as Big City America.)

We’re back in camp, toilet paper has been replaced though the lights still don’t work. Looking forward to moving on tomorrow.

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