Rain began to fall midway into our short drive from Lincoln to Omaha. We were reminded of our friends John and Pam who don’t drive their RV in the rain, and for good reasons – one being that it just isn’t fun! We also try to avoid it, but sometimes it’s darn near impossible. Fortunately we made it to our scheduled stopover at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum in Ashland, Nebraska just as the wet stuff started coming down.
Any kind of air or space museum is still a draw for Steve, even though we’ve been to several during our travels. Since he had planned this stop he knew Betsy would be able to fit into and exit the huge parking lot there. She got a good shower while we ran inside to check out the museum.
Steve enjoyed the SR-71 Blackbird prominently displayed in the lobby. It’s still considered to be the world’s fastest aircraft, holding several speed and altitude records.
Within the museum were two large hangars housing dozens of vintage military airplanes. Included was the B-36 Peacemaker, the largest production bomber ever built. Pilots referred to it as the “Magnesium Monster”.
As Steve checked out each flying machine, I was drawn to a display hanging from the ceiling. It was two “towers” of neckties hung from a steel wire frame, with the ties representing the lives lost in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. It’s quite an ingenious tribute to the victims.
We took our time going through the museum and watching several of the movies they offered, as the hard rain continued outside.
The rain finally let up, so we made our way back onto the freeway to complete the short drive to Omaha. Once we were settled at Haworth City Park just outside of the city (Steve’s review here), we started looking for things to do in Nebraska’s largest city. In the process we learned that the Omaha area — or more accurately, what became the Omaha area — was a rest stop for early explorers and others on their way west, including Lewis and Clark.
At our campground on the banks of the Missouri River was a Children’s Lewis & Clark Interpretive Art Wall. It commemorated the 200th year of the Corps of Discovery’s historic journey, as seen through children’s eyes.
With the campground located next to an old bridge that crossed over the “Mighty Missouri” from Nebraska to Iowa, it was a no-brainer to drive across one day to visit the Lewis and Clark Monument at Council Bluffs, Iowa.
We arrived on this high bluff the evening of July 4th, and stayed to watch hundreds of fireworks shows below. You see, fireworks are legal in Nebraska, and these folks take it seriously!
On another hot and humid day we drove to into Omaha, the home of legendary billionaire Warren Buffet. We were hoping to meet up with him for lunch and some financial advice, but somehow it just didn’t work out 🙂
After recovering from that letdown, we headed out to the riverfront at Lewis & Clark Landing. This is an open space park along the Missouri River named after the famous 1804 expedition. It provides easy access to walking trails connecting the Landing to the Heartland of America Park and the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. We racked up over four miles while walking in heat and humidity that reminded me a lot of my recent stay in the Philippines.
A monument by the river called “Labor” is quite imposing, and purported to be the second-largest labor monument in the U.S. The bronze figures are 8 feet tall and weigh 800 pounds each, the three bottom ladles weight 6,000 pounds apiece, and the top one 4,000 pounds. The monument salutes the dedication and hard work of those who built this city.
The peach arrow in the picture indicates the high-water mark of the 1952 flood, which crested at 40.20 ft. The yellow arrow points to the level of the more recent 2011 flood, and it crested at 36.39 ft.
Next we crossed the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, which connects Nebraska and Iowa here. It’s 2,300 feet long in a unique S-shape which reflects the grace and power of the Missouri River flowing beneath it.
Finally, at the Heartland of America Park we walked around the lake and watched the fountain shoot water up to 300 feet in the air. At night a light show is added while the water spouts “dance”.
During our walk I spotted this mama duck guarding her eggs in a little corner among the reeds. She looks a little camera shy, doesn’t she?
A visit to the zoo is rarely on our list of things to do. But thanks to Beverly and Denise, who had highly recommended the Henry Doorly Zoo (Trip Advisor’s best zoo of 2014), we got up early one morning and gave it a try. The imposing Desert Dome near the entrance displays the worlds largest indoor desert. Here we saw geologic features from deserts around the world, along with many animals from each environment.
The rest of the zoo contained thousands of animals from around the world, and the stellar natural habitat re-creations were spread over 130 acres. The highlight for Steve was at the Kingdom of the Night where all of the nocturnal animals were, while of course I enjoyed the aviary with the many vibrant exotic birds. We spent several hours gawking at the impressive displays, as we dashed between the buildings in yet another torrential and long-lasting downpour.
Who would guess one of the best zoos in the world is in Omaha?
Rain, humidity and hot sunny days were all in the mix as we enjoyed our time in Omaha. We even had fog one morning, and it gave the sun and our campground a surreal look as the day began.
My old tromping grounds!!!
I guess you can’t beat a free motorhome wash!
Love the tie towers! And the orange bird – striking! Sorry Buffet stood you up, at least the walk gave you a feel for back home! 😉
Loved the bridge! What a cool zoo.
Love the planes, MonaLiza! Just in that one photo, I see a B-17, a B-29 and a B-52…that’s a lot of history!
Beautiful Ibis indeed. Looks like you managed to find some interesting sights to see in Omaha and how rude of Mr. Buffet not to buy you lunch 😉 That heat and humidity isn’t sounding very enticing!
What a nice tribute to the towers and those who lost their lives…love The Towers…very creative!
And what a treat to catch the mama duck protecting her eggs.
I would have been in the aviary, too … that ibis is just gorgeous.
Every time it rains here, I wish it would go over to California, but wishing apparently doesn’t make it so. Luckily, the rains here in NM seem to be of short duration, but when the drops fall they are big and fat and noisy.
I remember Steve’s entry in the World’s Landing Competition. Has he ever told you about it?
Hello Mike, I remember it as the World’s Strangest Landing Competition, and I thought I did fairly well. Hey, we both lived to talk about it, didn’t we? At least I didn’t miss the airport like this guy I know who did down in Mexico! Hope things are going well, and say hello to Jeanie for us –
What a beautiful Ibis, and the orange Bishop Weaver is absolutely stunning too. So many interesting sights to see there, Mona Liza. Love the pic of you with one foot in each camp. 🙂
Looks like you’re finding a lot of interesting things to do despite the heat, humidity, and torrential rainstorms. I would never guess that Omaha would have a world class zoo! Love the photo of you looking out at the rain, and also the photos of the ibis and weaver bird.
I heard rumor that Mr. Buffet was also disappointed that he couldn’t do lunch with the two of you. I would not have guessed that Omaha had such a renowned zoo. Love that ibis and bishop weaver. You are having some great adventures but the heat and humidity would be a tough one to handle. I remember our summer in Ohio.
I don’t drive in the rain either but you sure found great places to be while it poured. Sorry Warren didn’t show. Knowing him as I do, I’m not surprised.
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