Omaha Zoo

Jun. 6th, 2015 01:12 pm
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I finally made it to Omaha Nebraska this week as part of a 4-day retreat for work with The Nature Conservancy.

I rarely take vacations, since travelling is more stressful than just relaxing at home. I've been in Minnesota for 18 years and still haven't gone across the northern border to Canada, east to Chicago, or west to see the rocks (Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse) of South Dakota. My plan last week was to leave Friday or Saturday and go see the rocks. Instead, I delayed so I could hear Bernie Sanders in Minneapolis on Sunday, then I took off immediately for Omaha. I spent the night at Motel 6 in Omaha, then I walked around the Omaha Zoo for several hours. I was tired of walking and didn't go to the Lauritzen Gardens afterwards. Instead, I drove to Nebraska City, Nebraska for the conference.

The indoors exhibits for the Omaha Zoo are very good. They have habitats specifically for desert biome, jungle biome, and a smaller building just for butterflies (even hotter and more humid than the jungle, so my glasses fogged up). Their outdoors exhibits bothered me, though, because they had large animals in small spaces. The Minnesota Zoo is much more humane in this regard.  The indoor exhibits in Omaha were even more impressive because some animals (mostly birds but some bats) were allowed territory that wasn't caged separately from the human paths. Animals were mixing in with people, and it was a great combination to see.

I recorded some video clips while I was there. They include The desert dome had an underground exhibit devoted to all kinds of nocturnal creatures. They even had a large beaver lodge down there and a very tall "cave" whose roof had a bright gap exposed to the sky's light. It really looked like a bat cave, although the nearby bats were kept in contained spaces.

desert dome pathdesert Cape Thick-knee
desert nocturnal Bush-tailed Jirddesert nocturnal beaver lodgedesert nocturnal cave

The Lied building housed the jungle biome. It was very large and its structural components masqueraded very well as native environment. It also included a few birds that could reach human paths. The bats in this daytime jungle building could roost anywhere, too. I don't know who the Lied family is, but their name was included in the conference center where I stayed in Nebraska City for the retreat event.

jungle Lied buildingjungle bats signjungle bats roosting
jungle view1jungle view2
jungle view3jungle view4

Elsewhere, the zoo included its large animal exhibits (with several many spaces under construction) and an Imax theater. The aquarium included an odd "virtual pool" where kids could jump around with the tidepool creatures. (At the Minnesota zoo, people can touch real animals in real water.)

apesMutual Of Omaha Wild Kingdomaquarium projected water for kids to splash

The one thing that actually surprised me on my mini-vacation, though, was seeing the many wind farms in Iowa.

wind generators in Iowa

Who knew Iowa was investing so heavily in sustainable energy sources?  Why isn't Minnesota dotted with these structures?  Is the wind really so less common here?
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
One-third of my vacation is gone, and I haven't enjoyed any of it yet.  I didn't turn on my computer for two days, so you know it was bad.

I made the mistake late Friday of grabbing a quick burger at McDonald's at 9pm.  By 11pm, I was already feeling the first twinge of nausea.  Who knows if it was the meat, the lettuce, or the mayonnaise that had gone bad?  Saturday was awful. I had to lay down on the bathroom floor a few times because using the toilet left me light-headed on the verge of fainting.  Sunday was better.  Monday was a little better, although walking around the house still leaves me very tired.

I try to stay horizontal rather than vertical, and I sleep a whole lot.  This evening, I finally feel steady enough to sit up at my computer desk to check messages and write a brief post.  I may lay back in a warm bath this evening, the first cleaning I've had since Friday morning.

Food poisoning is a lousy way to start a vacation.  My poor gut just can't catch a break.

interlude

Feb. 3rd, 2012 09:38 pm
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I'm officially on hiatus.  I'm taking off from work all of next week.  I have 9 days to do nothing, and I intend to do exactly that.

I'm hoping to rest, recuperate, and regenerate.  Maybe afterwards I'll finally have the attention and stamina to return to the local Occupation, to sign up for an online class, or do some extra programming at home.

If I never leave the house except to forage for food at the local grocery stores, then it will have been a very successful vacation.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I have updated the main gallery with the photos taken of me by my backpack guide on this recent trip

After rain, 2 nights without shower, and lots of sweating, I didn't look as nearly Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome as I expected.  :)

Here are the 4 photos of me that I added to the gallery.

Terry as the rain beginsawkward Terry on the approach to Carlton Peak
Terry taking his own photo of the cliff faceTerry coming downhill from Carlton Peak

I like all 4 photos.  The last one, especially, because it seems to have all the colors of the rainbow in it.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I have the full gallery uploaded now.  There are 47 pictures there.  Lots of pretty scenery.  I don't have any images of me yet, but the guide took 1 or 2 and may email them later during the week.  I'll consider posting them if I don't look like a drowned rat in those pictures.  :)

Cut for many images... )

I did something new, I learned some details about backpacking, and I saw some pretty sights.  That's what I hoped to achieve.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
Things didn't work out as well as hoped.  I spent only 2 nights and 2 days backpacking, instead of 3 each.  I'm back in town (and showered) already.  I'll check camera photos later, maybe post them tomorrow.  Right now, everything aches a bit and I need to relax.

I did learn a few pearls of wisdom that I'll recount here.


  1. One liter of water is not enough; bring containers for 2L of water at a minimum.  I was very happy with my Katadyn Vario microfilter!  It's a little bit leaky, but I really only cared about the "good water" which it provided easily.  The water was still stained slightly brown from the tannin from the leaves and pine needles, but it was very tasty!  I could drink my water immediately (which was refreshing) instead of waiting like the other guy who used the chemical treatment on his water (that looked very brown).
  2. Get a sleeping pad.  I can't believe I've been camping for so many decades without ever using one.  Such bliss!  My Light Core 1.5 kept me well insulated from the freezing ground, and it includes sticky spots that keep the sleeping bag from sliding around.
  3. Forget flashlights.  Get one of those nifty headband headlights that does Red light too.  It doesn't mess up your night vision, and you can still see well enough to do most anything.  I had to set up my tent at a camp ground the first night after sunset.  I really appreciated my new Energizer 7-LED headlight.  Both hands free, and still plenty of light to work under.
  4. Going uphill is the hardest part of a hike.  I consumed most of my water during frequent stops on uphill sections.  Leg muscles, heart, and lungs tire out quickly under the exertion, but they also seem to recover fairly quickly.
  5. Going downhill is the hardest part of a hike.  (Don't question the wisdom!)  It jars the bones, being especially hard on the feet and ankles.  The downhill jaunt (850 ft elevation) is what put the kibosh on my ability to travel any farther.  Both of my feet hurt, and my left ankle was only slightly sprained.  Recovery will have to wait overnight, I think.  I slowed down considerably when I began feeling the aftereffects of that shock absorber treatment.  That ache/pain marked the end of my first backpacking adventure.
  6. For your first trip, take it easy.  Try to avoid going more than 5 miles in a day, especially if hills are involved.  If "the plan" requires breaking camp as soon as daylight appears in the sky each day, then you're being far too optimistic for your first hike.
  7. For your first trip, avoid swamps, okay?  Just turn around and head back home immediately if you see swamp ahead of you.  Do they call them marshes instead?  Avoid them too.  Do they name a city after them (in French) and call them Grand Marais?  Definitely avoid them!  Renaming doesn't make them any more pleasant!  Do they place wooden bog walks for your convenience?  They lie; it's a trap!  There isn't enough wood in the whole forest for all the bog walks that need to be built!  Just turn around and go home, end of adventure.
So on my first hiking trip which happened to be near Grand Marais (French for "huge freaking swamp"), I plunged through way too much water/mud/detritus mush.  I slipped (but didn't fall) on frost-covered muddy bog walks in the early morning.  I discovered that my left boot had a hole somewhere and was making "squishy sounds" any time I stepped on it even on "dry" land.  Bad news, since wet feet are a great way to develop blisters.  (So far I don't see any.)
Mr. Bubble bubble bath
I am again very pleased with the performance of my Light Year 1 tent.  It held up well, keeping me very dry during the gentle rain that lasted an hour or two. There was actually frost on the ground in the morning, but the tent ventilated well and still kept me dry inside.  My sleeping bag (some REI model that I forget) kept me very warm even without extra clothing (besides a t-shirt, boxers, and socks).  I credit the sleeping pad for providing extra insulation.

Now, I think maybe it's time to go buy some Crown Royal whiskey to wash away all these various aches.  And maybe spend some time with Mr. Bubble.  I think a husband would be a better consolation right now, but a few shots of whiskey with Mr. Bubble will have to suffice.  *laugh*

Oh, and no ticks so far.  I think I'm good.  But all of my used clothing is in a plastic bag waiting to be washed, just in case.

Off to the liquor store.  Hopefully some nice pictures of the landscape for tomorrow.
mellowtigger: (dumb)
Having a plan doesn't seem to help a whole lot.

I have 5 hours until my ride shows up, and I'm stressing out.  I'm experiencing again the reason why I dislike trying to do something I've never done before.  :(  For instance, I opened up the backpack and dropped in my tent and my sleeping bag.  Boom, half of the space is gone.  What?!  Have I erred in planning already before I even get loaded up?

I have all of my food in a ruck sack.  I'm bringing only dried foods (fruits, meat, milk, cereal) so I don't have to heat anything.  I won't starve, as long as no animal steals my food from me.  The food is the heaviest part of what I'm bringing. I was intending to put it at the top of the backpack for easy access, but now I'm wondering if it should be in the bottom instead for better posture management.

I have all of my toiletries (first aid kit, etc.) in another bag.  I went ahead and stocked up T'Reese on clean litter, fresh water, and tons of food.  I don't want her to succumb to my frenzy to get out of the door later when my ride arrives.

I still need to assemble clothing.  I still need to eat/shower/shave.

Gah!

If I weren't going anywhere, I might actually be adopting a cat today.  It's the first cat scent I've brought home that T'Reese actually liked.  She's sniffed my clothes before, gingerly, ready to dash in case a horrible beast bursts out of my sleeves.  This new cat, though, she actually shoved her face into my arm on several occasions to get a deeper sniff of this guy.  I'm sure he'll get adopted quickly, but I secretly hope that he's still at the shelter when I return on Sunday.

Backpacking!  Gah!

edit:  I have 2 more hours to go.  Everything is stuffed in.  I have no idea if I've forgotten something.  It's all so heavy!  I'm supposed to haul this thing for 25 miles?!  Gah!  Who cares if I've forgotten something, what weight can I take out of it before I leave?!

the plan

Sep. 27th, 2010 11:20 am
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
What with the recent freezing weather, persistent rains, and shaky economy, we've lost all of the other hikers.  It'll just be the tour guide and me on the backpacking trip later this week.  He's an experienced hiker and even posts his own list of recommended gear, so I'm confident that the adventure will work well.

He was out in the area this last weekend.  He said the freeze killed off the last of the mosquitoes, and the fall colors should be in full display while we're there.  Yay!  On both counts!

I still need to do some purchasing and packing, but I've got most of what I'll need for the trip.  Besides the 1-person ultralight tent, the most expensive piece was the water filter pump so I have drinkable water while out in the woods.  I'll finally be trying out [livejournal.com profile] geometrician 's backpack that I bought earlier this year.  Getting familiar with this new gear will require some patience and practice.  I think I'm prepared for freezing nights.  We'll see.

Our route is still not decided, but it'll be either the Caribou River or the Temperance River trail.  Either one will be about 24 miles total. I've been trying to go walking after work in recent weeks to make sure my feet are ready for the workout.

I'm looking forward to Thursday afternoon about 4:30pm, when we drive northwards to begin the adventure.
mellowtigger: (wild things)
Does anyone have experience with a small tent that they recommend?  I'm looking for a 1-person tent that is lightweight (for backpacking), repels rainwater, and resists wind and snow damage.

After doing some looking around online, my current choice is Sierra's "Light Year".
http://www.rei.com/product/779205

While I'm at it, would you like to recommend a backpack for hiking too?  That product is completely out of my experience.  Suggestions on winter camping are also appreciated.  I'm hoping to be prepared with the proper equipment for that adventure by this coming winter.
mellowtigger: (Default)
I happened to have Friday off of work and also the weekend free of the pager, so I joined some local Bears for a camping trip.  I left home 3pm on Friday and returned 9am on Monday.  I didn't get to see a whole lot of wildlife.  I did, however, get to see the Milky Way.  That was nice.  It's probably been 8 years since I was last far enough away from city lights to see it like that.  That first night, I also saw 9 satellites and 10 falling stars.

Here are photos of the Bear group that I camped with, plus one shot of me dozing off in a catnap trying to catch up on missed sleep after a morning of stripping down to just my bike shorts and being butch while swimming out to rescue a drowned tent.  (They say that good authors use a "hook" at the beginning to keep the reader interested in the rest of the writing.  *laugh*)  I'm the short, skinny guy in this group... and I'm also the old man needing his nap, apparently.  *more laughs*

whole groupme dozing at beach

Read the diary and see the pictures... )

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