yuuo: (We were strangers on a crazy adventure)
[personal profile] yuuo
Because I have to get this done before I start on awareness week stuff. I fell behind.

So we live in Lincoln, NE, about an hour or so away from one of the world's best zoos, the Henry Doorly Zoo, in Omaha. Home of the Leid Jungle, the world's largest indoor rainforest, as well as a desert biome, a swamp/cave biome, a butterfly walk, a super awesome aquarium, and some stuff we didn't get around to because it's a big ass zoo and we're both handicapped so can't move quickly.

My parents paid for us to stay in a hotel just over the Iowa border in Council Bluffs, about five miles from the zoo, so we could get to the zoo at whatever time we wanted without having to get up at stupid o' clock to do so. Got a good deal on Travelocity.

We spent all day the day before doing shopping, me in boots I know better than to wear because they make my feet go numb, then up early to water yoga the next morning, pack, then drive off away from the sunset.

I am tired
Needless to say, I was tired when we got there.

Nice thing about that hotel, it was attached to a major convention center, though that wasn't the attraction this time, since there were no conventions. The attraction was that it was literally across the street from a casino. We don't have those in Nebraska, but they do in Iowa. I was too tired to want to go, though, so I stayed at the hotel and napped while my wife went to play a couple hands of blackjack and soak up the crowd energy.

She's blue
She's blue da-bu-di da-bu-dai.

It hit about midnight and we turned in.

My wife and I
Goodnight from Council Bluffs, IA!

We got up way early to get free breakfast that morning, tooled around for a little bit, just to take time to wake up. At this point, I'd had about seven and a half hours of broken sleep, where I usually get ten, plus a nap later in the day. I took a one hour nap at one point.

I didn't get back to sleep until past midnight that night, btw. After five and a half hours of walking at the zoo. I want everyone to feel proud of my fat ass.

Our first stop, after spending six bucks on two bottles of water and cursing ourselves for not bringing our own water bottles in becuase we weren't sure they were allowed (but they were), we hit up the jungle. My wife had been there once before, back in 2010, when her Dad was visiting during her Cochlear Implant activiation. He has bad COPD, though, so after the desert, aquarium, and cave/swamp, he was too exhausted to hit the jungle. So this was Zanne's first time seeing it. I'd always loved it since the time it was first put in, and I missed it so much.

Isn't she bitty?
She looks even tinier than she already is next to rainforest-sized trees. Bitty thing.

But this place.

The central tree
The trees, guys, the trees.

They purdy
And forget the animals, the flora in that place is goregous! Look at those flowers!

Blue and red
Though the animals are really awesome. That's a blue and red macaw, and the red one was yelling at people pretty firmly.

They're just chillin'
Three animals all at once, and of course, the monkey is the only one that looked at the camera.

I'm sorry if these photos aren't the greatest, but keep in mind that I'm balancing a purse, a parasol (Sunscreens only do so much for me, and I have a pretty parasol for keeping off the sun), a bottle of water, and my phone, trying to take these pictures. My technique was literally- "please camera stay in hand okay, point in a direction, tap the screen, hope something took, keep moving and tapping, because the crowd's moving fast and it's noisy and crowded and holy shit is it humid."

Speaking of noisy and crowded and humid, by the time we got done with the main path, we were too ready to be out to be willing to go down the jungle trail. We forgot that while we were going early enough in the year to avoid summer vacations, it was late enough for school field trips. And there were a few of the little backpack-bearers marching along in there.

There was one girl with bubblegum pink hair up in twin buns who I wish I'd gotten a picture of, because the Sailor Moon fan in me was pleased.

We paused outside to look at the map and plan the rest of the day, now that we'd hit the most important attraction. We also had to weed out some of our pictures we'd taken, because there's onoly so much memory on those phones and I, at least, didn't have a data connection on mine to upload the jungle pictures to Drive or something so I could clear them off then and have plenty for later stuff.

Flowers at Omaha
This was where we stopped to sit down with our map. I just thought they were pretty.

Then we hit the aquarium, and as I am not much one on aquariums and had other things I wanted to take pictures of later, I didn't have any pictures for that. I'll link my wife to this post, either on IJ or DW, to see if she has any she'd like to comment with.

(Kinda wish I'd gotten pictures of the jellyfish, though.)

I also wish I'd taken flowers of the butterfly walk! We got so distracted by a little one with a broken wing drowning that I didn't even get my phone out. ;_; That poor thing.

Then! Off to the Desert Dome!

The Dome actually houses both a desert biome, and the cave/swamp system underground. The open lobby has wall murals and "Did you know?" style facts about the deserts. The jungle has info bits about rainforests and natives and such like that, too.

I gotta tell ya, the Atacama Desert remains the meanest place on Earth.

Desert shot in Omaha
I had a beautiful picture of a giant red sand dune from the Namib Desert, but for whatever reason, I deleted it before uploading it. So have this instead. Deserts are bleak, guys.

The Desert Dome is quiet where the Leid Jungle is noisy- in the jungle, it's loud caws and monkey cries and constant water running down the walls. The Desert was almost dead silent, except the regular hooting of a burrowing owl. A lot of desert animals are nocturnal, so most of what was around to take pictures of were all asleep and hiding. Except the owls.

Some of the animals, like in the jungle, run loose through the building, mostly non-flying birds that are homed in such a way that they can't leave the dome, but everything else is behind glass and fencing.

Staged abandoned mine shaft at Omaha
This particular display was set up to look like an abandoned old mine shaft from the Old West. Look closely at the ground, see how many rattlers you can find. Triple that. There were a lot of snakes in that display.

We passed a bobcat display, and while one was hiding and sleeping, the other was sitting up on a tree brach, lording down over the people who passed by. My wife said hello to him, and told him what a pretty boy he was, and she was rewarded with a slow blink, a feline sign of contentment. He was acclimated to humans enough that he knew when he was being complimented.

Desert Dome in Omaha
Then there was this. The classic desert look. Those vultures weren't caged, by the way.

Then we hit up the swamp and I about shit my pants in terror down there. I was kinda meh about the whole thing to begin with, but in the actual swamp part, it starts cool, taking you from a basic cave system into an old Louisiana bayou swamp house, then around into an actual swamp over a wooden plank bridge. The... problem is that there are very large crocodiles in those swamps. And uh. There's all of two flimsy nets between them and the people on those bridges. I don't know how they get away with this, it seems unsafe.

And naturally, my wife was captivated by the really big croc, and stood over the edge of the net and flimed him.

He was actually completely uninterested in her. I had backed away, because that was making me nervous, and something behind me hopped out of the water- probably a frog or god knows what -and the splash startled me. Me getting startled drew that croc's attention frighteningly fast.

So there I stand, terrified out of my mind, getting stared down by a predator that could rip me apart before I could run, and my wife is standing right over him, taking video and nary a care in the world.

I finally got her attention and we high-tailed it out of there before I started crying from panic.

At that point, we realized it was 5:30 and the zoo was actually closed. So we never saw the actual zoo part, just the special biomes and exhibits.


So that was the zoo! And I rounded of all that walking and such with vigorous exercise the next morning because my muscles were stiff and sore and needed to be worked loose again. I was damn proud of myself.

Date: 2017-05-15 02:45 pm (UTC)
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
From: [personal profile] beccastareyes
I gotta tell ya, the Atacama Desert remains the meanest place on Earth.

I know a surprising number of people who have been there. The qualities that make the desert hellish for life make it lovely for astronomers (parts are high-altitude and there's almost no water vapor in the air, which makes it good to build infrared and sub-millimeter telescopes). The European Southern Observatory apparently has nice observer quarters that specifically include plants and fountains to help with the dry air.

Also, I knew someone who visited because it is on the list of 'places on Earth most like Mars'. (Lucky duck got a fellowship to spend a year visiting Mars analog sites before grad school -- apparently her university gave out money to one senior for a year of international travel around a theme, and hers probably stood out.)

Date: 2017-05-16 05:08 pm (UTC)
free_to_dream: Starry Unicorn (Default)
From: [personal profile] free_to_dream
That was a lovely tour! Thank you for posting it! I'm glad you had such a good time :)


yuuo: (Default)

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