Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Weekend In Omaha and The Loess Hills

Obligatory leaving-for-a-road-trip selfie

If you follow the Kidsperts FB page or my instagram or Twitter, you've probably heard by now that this was not the weekend getaway I had intended. I had my heart set on taking a fall colors road trip. Unfortunately, the weather has been quite warm here and trees haven't exactly changed colors yet. I was hopeful I could talk the family into going up to Northern Minnesota to Lake Itasca area, but only the youngest mini and I were on board for that one. Harrison has asked numerous times to go to the Omaha Zoo (Henry Doorly Zoo) to see the new tiger cubs. We hadn't gotten around to re-visiting The Loess Hills like we had wanted this summer (read about our first visit here). So we decided to make it a weekend in Omaha.

We left early Saturday morning with Starbucks in hand and went straight to the Zoo.

Our first mission upon arriving at the zoo was to see the tiger cubs. The polar bear just happen to be on the way. The polar bear in another of the mini's favorites to see.

The first time we viewed the cubs they were asleep. We went back to their enclosure numerous times while at the Zoo.

Since we had just been to the Henry Doorly Zoo in the spring (read about that here), we told the minis to pick the animals they wanted to see. I had no interest to making the Zoo visit an ALL DAY event. They chose: the big cats (which obviously house the tiger cubs), the alligators in the Kingdom of the Nights display, the elephants, giraffes, rhinos, zebras, cheetahs, lions, riding the train, the seals, the Alaskan Adventure splash pad, and the tiger cubs (again). All good choices!

Taking a break on a bench.

They thought it was "so cool" how they were glowing in Kingdom of the Night.

Feeling the fur from a tiger that had died from old age at the zoo years ago.

Sometimes you just need mom snuggles while waiting for lunch.

The minis talked us into a $15 Elephant Pretzel....that thing was HUGE! It was larger than a small size pizza. We all ate it and still had half of it to eat later for a snack.

I think Hubs was the most excited to sit in the caboose of the zoo train.

"Look mom I can skip! With only one leg!"

The zoo keeper leading the zebras. I was impressed with all of the commands they knew. While the zebras were fun to see, our favorite part was seeing the cheetah carefully watching the zebras be led in!

During our last visit to this Zoo, the Alaskan Adventure splash pad wasn't open. This time aroun, it was only 64 degrees out, but the minis insisted we play. They manged not to get soaked, thank goodness!

"I'm riding Free Willy!" said Harrison.

Our last viewing of the tiger cubs found them very playful! They were running, climbing, chasing each other, and wrestling. We had such a great time watching them play. Even Elizabeth exclaimed "oh, they're just so cute! I want to snatch one up and snuggle him!" This from a girl who won't even do that with our cats!

We were all tuckered out from the big zoo day and happily checked into our hotel for a little relaxing. The minis requested a "hotel room pizza party just like in Arkansas" (read about that recent road trip here) and then a big and unexpected highlight of the trip: the water park in the hotel!

We've been to several hotel water parks. They're fun and keep the kids entertained, but this water park was exceptionally awesome! There was plenty to do for all ages. I even got a moment of relaxation to myself in the hot tub!

Practicing her bobs in the water.

Waiting for the bucket of water to dump on them.

Elizabeth isn't exactly fond of the water dumping on her, but dad talked her into it. I don't think she liked it any better this time....although there weren't tears like there have been in the past!

We spent a good portion of our time in the lazy river.

This hotel had everything we needed: a coffee bar right outside our door, plenty of open areas with seating/running areas for kids, a breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant, and microwaves in the rooms.

After our breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and drove an hour north to Preparation Canyon in the Loess Hills. This was one of our favorite hikes in Iowa and it didn't disappoint this time around...although it definitely kicked our butts! We hiked the two mile trail before we called it quits. Then we decided to take "the back roads home" (small highways and dirt roads). It took an hour longer to get home, but we had some excellent views of the Iowa countryside. We got to see trains, corn fields being plowed, and farm equipment hard at work.

We did some eagle watching.

Halfway through the hike Elizabeth started complaining that she couldn't walk right in her shoes. I looked down and she had them on the wrong feet!

We came to an area that had numerous pine trees cut down. We're unsure of the reason behind cutting them all down and then leaving them (in a field of dry prairie grass....I'm thinking that's not the smartest thing), but it was a sad sight to see.

We stopped to do some bug catching. Harrison caught ants and Elizabeth caught a grass hopper.

My favorite line of the the getaway happened as we geared up for our hike. Harrison was gun-hoe about finding things and exploring during the hike. As Hubs and I readied the hiking backpack, Harrison dashed up to me and said "look mom! I found crystals in the parking area!" It was broken glass.

The weekend was a great quick getaway for us! I still have hopes of doing a fall colors road trip, but it probably won't happen this year as our schedule is already full for the month. Next weekend we're breaking into the Halloween spirit with a visit to the pumpkin patch to pick out our carving pumpkins!