Saturday, August 28, 2010

Vacation meant to be spent alone

My title means nothing. My last two titles were Go-Go's lyrics to their song Vacation so I'm continuing for my own pleasure. I'm having a blast with the kids and don't actually want to be alone.

We left home Friday morning at 8am, hit no real traffic and only minor road construction and following a quick lunch and gas stop, pulled into Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines around noon. I had been expecting a small zoo that would give us a nice break from the car ride. I wasn't expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised. We loved the place! We fed ducks, baby swans and zillions of koi at the pond. The koi were so thick around the feeding area they looked like you could walk across them. We happened upon a tiger when she was being very playful and jumping on the windows and interacting with the kids. We played with the tiger for probably 20 minutes before another family came and I made the kids leave so the other kids could have a turn. They had a budgie feeding area with nearly 300 parakeets. You couldn't even go inside unless you bought a stick of food for a buck. We spent another 30 minutes covered in birds. The zoo had some great exhibits (NINE ostriches!) and we had a great time.

We drove on toward Omaha. I had expected to stop in Council Bluffs, but had no idea how big it was. I was confused by the sudden multi-lane highways and no hotel/gas/restaurant signs. Suddenly we were over the bridge in Nebraska and I saw the dome that could be nothing other than the Henry Doorly Zoo Desert Dome! It was "rush hour" so I exited just to get my bearings and found a Comfort Suites that's actually called the Comfort Suites at the Zoo. Indoor pool and breakfast? Check. Perfect! I can see the zoo structures from the parking lot. It will be a 2 minute drive this morning.

The kids swam for a good hour. So far everything's gone well. Now I just need to somehow pass the next 2 1/2 hours before zoo time. This is the number 1 zoo I've wanted to visit the past 15 years! I've always thought we'd do a train trip to Denver "next year" and make a stop in Omaha so I just never made the drive. I'm crazy-excited! I just read about a new sea lion pup and a tiger cub that are on exhibit. I hope this place lives up to at least some of my expectations :)

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