We left Madison, Wisconsin on Sunday morning (making a quick stop at our favorite Farmers' Market on the way out of town), and drove first to Iowa City, Iowa - home of our beloved alma mater, the University of Iowa. We walked around campus for about an hour, and then "treated" the kids to lunch at The Airliner and new Hawkeye gear from Iowa Book and Supply - where the employee asked Will if he was starting as a freshman this fall 😭 - before hopping back on the road to Lincoln, Nebraska.
Our apologies to friends in Iowa City area. Since we didn't know exactly when we'd be in town and we did know our stop would be brief, we didn't reach out to plan any get-togethers. We'll be back next summer for a college tour though!
Our first couple of days in Nebraska were fairly low-key: playing disc golf, playing in the backyard, shopping, lunches out, dinner with friends, playing video games, and watching movies. I took only a handful of photos, and those I did take (or had taken of me) were all of me and my puppy nephew, Fabio. We're best friends. (Of note: I taught that puppers to shake. It took almost four years of bi-annual lessons, but e...v...e...n...t...u...a...l...l...y he figured it out. Also of note: Fabio is the only dog I've ever known that doesn't cause me any allergy issues. It's glorious.)
|Tom, Will, and Forest out at the disc golf course.|
As the weather heated up into the 90s (nowhere near as hot as it was in College Station during our absence, but still quite toasty), we decided an afternoon at the pool was in order. AJ and I took all three kids and spent the afternoon at the backyard pool belonging to friends of hers - they had a great pool with a diving board and a FANTASTIC backyard in which I schooled my boy at corn hole.
|Will, AJ, Hallie, and Forest|
|Proof I was there too.|
|15yo boys and diving |
boards make me nervous...
|...but 13yo girls and diving boards are a dream.|
On Thursday, Tom and I took the kids to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. As one of the most well-respected and highly touted zoos in the country (and one that somehow Tom and I hadn't visited since before Will was born, despite its proximity to Tom's parents' house), Henry Doorly fully lived up to our expectations. We saw just about everything, but it took us six full hours and that was with the just four of us, all of whom are fast walkers and don't stall much in between exhibits. There were SO many animals, the animals' enclosures and exhibits were the nicest and largest I've seen in any zoo I've ever visited, there were plenty of zookeepers on hand to answer questions about the animals and staff members strategically positioned to control the crowds, and the grounds were incredibly well designed and maintained. At one point I compared Doorly Zoo to Disney World - as in, Doorly is the Disney of zoos - and everyone agreed. If you're ever visiting or even just passing through the Omaha area, the Henry Doorly Zoo is not to be missed.
Picture overload coming, and this is after I pared them down three times...
|Giraffes and ostriches.|
|Can you see the two BABY elephants in the middle?!|
|One of the many primate islands.|
|Posing by a few of the painted sculptures in |
the Tanuki (a Japanese raccoon dog) "garden".
|It was HOT - the tiger had had enough.|
|The baby (maybe more of an |
adolescent by now?) rhinoceros.
|Up close and personal with a lemur.|
|Zoom in on her eyes...|
|All of the enclosures were impressive, but |
the sea lions' space was one of my favorites.
|Will, up inside the prairie dog enclosure.|
|The GIANT tree-esque play structure in the children's |
area was surrounded by a netted tunnel in which little
spider monkeys ran and played. It was so cool.
|A quick break for Dip'n'Dots.|
|...two rabbits (?)...|
|...and two polar bears.|
|Inside the desert dome.|
|Inside the desert dome.|
|This picture doesn't do this area - an underground swamp |
for alligators, crocodiles, and beavers - justice. It was incredible.
|Will and I move a little faster than Tom and Hallie, so |
we usually ended up outside of the enclosures a few minutes
before them. We took quite a few different pics to "prove" it.
|Touching all sorts of underwater critters.|
|This fellow was showing off for me.|
|Inside the jungle enclosure.|
|On the bridge behind the jungle's waterfall.|
|Zoom in - you'll see what felt like a million bats.|
|Seriously - the Disney of zoos.|
|Such a great day...|
On Friday, we celebrated Tom's birthday. We started with God's Donuts, of course - Tom's mom called their favorite donut shop and explained what we needed, and they gladly obliged. I feel like the donut shop should sell God's Donut on a trial basis, and then if it becomes as popular as I think it will, they can pay us royalties.
Later in the morning the boys visited Lincoln's disc golf shop and played the one local course left on their list. We picked up lunch from Runza - a Lincoln "specialty" - and then headed to Scheel's to ride their Ferris Wheel. Later we went down to campus for a happy hour beverage and appetizer, and then we spent the evening at home, relaxing but also preparing for our long road trip home.
We celebrated Tom's birthday again on Sunday, which was his actual birthday. I'm so glad we were able to spend the day at home together, rather than sitting in the car together.
Happy weekend, friends!