Last week we took our first mini family vacation, just the 3 of us. It was just 2 days but I think we all had a great time, especially Jude. We left at nap time on Sunday afternoon and drove to Council Bluffs, IA where we checked into a inexpensive little hotel. Jude slept until we pulled into the parking lot…how perfect. He’s not a fan of the car seat so we had to do our traveling during nap times. We were planning to go to the zoo on Monday but arrived in town Sunday afternoon about 3 so we had all evening. Caleb grabbed some brochures from the lobby and we started to look for a kid-friendly activity to do on a Sunday night. We weren’t hoping for much. We found a brochure for Vala’s Pumpkin Patch. We’ve been to the pumpkin patch multiple times this fall but this was no ordinary looking pumpkin patch. They advertised animals, pig races, trains, play areas, food and music. We called it a cross between Silver Dollar City and Red Barn Farm. It was fabulous! I might even venture to say it was better than the zoo that we made the trip for. Jude pet the animals, rode the train, and played on the playgrounds. We ate dinner there and left with kettle corn and caramels. I would love to make this a yearly family tradition. It turns out we stumbled upon the largest pumpkin patch in the world in the tiny town of Gretna, NE.
We went back to the hotel, got in our pjs, read multiple tractor books, and were planning for a long wakeful night with Jude who doesn’t sleep well away from his own bed. We put him in his pack n’ play next to our bed and turned off all the lights. We whined and cried for less that 5 minutes and then crashed and slept all night. What a treat. We woke about 8am, ate breakfast at our hotel and headed to the zoo.
I was a little disappointed with the zoo overall but I have very intense emotions about the respect and care of animals and am not sure I’m totally cool with the idea of zoos in general. I know and understand that education and preservation of the species is important but I still long for animals to be in their natural environments. And then I’d love to travel to those places to observe and learn about them there. But anyways, we still had a good time seeing the animals. They have many monkeys at the Omaha zoo which Jude is very into now. We saw the cats (lions and tigers), giraffes, hippos, bears, and various small animals and birds. The aquarium was closed for remodeling in addition to tons of construction taking place in and around various exhibits which was kind of a bummer. I think we just chose a time a little too late in the season although we almost had the place to ourselves and the weather was beautiful. We left the zoo at nap time, ate a quick lunch, and headed home. Jude slept all the way home.
It was a great mini-vacation!