This is likely going to be the last post regarding the Road Trip of 2015 (unless Mr. Beetle makes a return appearance, in which case I’ll be posting his obituary). I just finished putting a few things into the car, and cleaning out some of the trash (whilst keeping a wary eye out for the aforementioned Mr. Beetle … I’m certain he’s still in there, somewhere, and we’ll find him when I least expect it). Katie and I are killing some time in the hotel room until leaving for today’s destination (Wichita, KS) primarily because we must first make a very important stop at Val’s to get some frozen pizzas, and Val’s doesn’t open until 11 (priorities, people).
We had an incredible day yesterday at the Henry Doorly Zoo. I suspect that next year, after an African exhibit expansion is complete, Henry Doorly will be the undisputed #1 on the Trip Advisor Zoo list once again. While the zoo is very different from when I was Katie’s age (a sky lift, the Desert Dome and the Lied Rainforest, a sting ray beach where you can feed and touch sting rays), there are a lot of things that are the same: the train, the sea lions, the hills (oh good GRIEF the hills …) I missed the lagoon, with its countless Koi all clamoring for fish food and/or popcorn; as a child, I could not go to the zoo without stopping on that bridge to throw a few popcorn pieces over the railing, enjoying the frenzy as the Koi all clamored for a bite. Katie enjoyed every exhibit (OK, maybe not the swamp part so much – the dark space, with alligators lurking in the waters, WAS a mite creepy). I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see the animals through her eyes.
So I’m about to put Omaha in the rearview mirror and head back to Texas, traveling from my childhood home to Katie’s. And like the reflection in a rearview mirror, Omaha is always in the background, sometimes up close and sometimes distant. The familial ties that bind from Staffords, Kramers, and Barretts – all of whom I got to see this week; we commented last night over pizza how nice it is to get together for a visit that’s not orchestrated around a funeral (which, unfortunately, seems to be the stage of life we’re in). The hometown ties that bind – my childhood home; my schools (yup, did a drive-by; they are the Millard South INDIANS thankyouverymuch, NOT the Millard South Patriots; I will probably never get used to that); the familiar signs of Bronco’s, Gorat’s, and La Casa; the trip along I80 from West Omaha into downtown and of course, the ever-present, ever-familiar zoo.
I have to admit to having a little bit of trepidation, embarking on this solo trip with Katie. I love my daughter fiercely, but there are times when she drives me absolutely, completely, 150% bonafide crazy. She’s got a strong willed streak – like Momma’s – and needless to say, our streaks sometimes come together in a not very pretty way. Not to mention, for the girl with boundless energy, Katie can be unbelievably slow … usually when I desperately have to stop for a potty break and she is taking FOR-EV-ER to get out of the car! 🙂 Add to that the anxiety over traveling solo, with long stretches in the car without a copilot/backup driver, and I was a little nervous.
But it’s been an amazing trip.