We took a quick spring break trip this weekend to the city of Omaha. I assumed the place would be crawling with crazy drunken college kids, but to my surprise, it was not. At least, they weren’t hanging out at the zoo.
Despite the cool, damp weather, we did brave the zoo. Two of the most popular areas of the Omaha Zoo happen to be indoors, so we knew we wouldn’t be completely rained out.
The zoo boasts the largest indoor desert in the universe…or the Midwest…I can’t remember exactly. In any case, I will focus the remainder of this column on our time in the desert.
As on every trip we go on, I pushed a ridiculously long double stroller, in which, no child ever rode. I was so excited to see the narrow, winding path that led visitors through the seemingly endless desert exhibit. There were several occasions when I seriously considered just leaving the stroller wedged on the path, and just walking away. At one point, some man handling a rattle snake, stopped his presentation to the crowd, and began directing me out of a jam – much like the people who let you park in their yards at the State Fair.
“You’re stuck on the ledge there,” he said.
“Now you’re hung up on that rock,” he continued.
I don’t get embarrassed easily, but I’m sure my face was red – which would have really stood out against the entirely sand-colored background. In fact, I would say, my face was the only color in the entire dessert.
I walked past hundreds of displays that seemed to feature nothing but rocks and dead branches. I’m sure there must have been creatures in those displays because everyone else was oohing and ahhing at every stop.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, we entered the area of the building that featured nocturnal animals. I could no longer even see the path, let alone any animals. Every stage of the tour got darker and darker. At some point, it seemed to me, we were simply walking through the boiler room of the facility. In that area, I’m pretty sure I did catch a glimpse of a giant rat. I’m not sure if he was part of the exhibit or just an indication that the zoo needs an exterminator.
As we neared the end of the dessert exhibit, it was clear that we were definitely worse for the wear. I had completely sweat through my shirts, the stroller frame was bent, and Callum was nowhere to be seen.
Just as I started to panic, I heard his voice behind me. I turned to see him standing on a pile of sand (in a spot not meant for guests, I’m sure), hunched over like an old man, yelling, “Look at me! I’m Moses!”
Just then, the folks ahead of us reached the exit. The open door brought in much-welcomed light and a cool breeze.
“All right Moses,” I said, “Move your butt. We’re headed to the promised land.”