Bryan just had an unexpected long weekend...the first REAL WEEKEND he's had since starting his job in September...so we took advantage of it and headed up to Nebraska for some camping. You know, since it IS the good life.
We'd heard great things about their state parks, and the parks did not disappoint.
We tented, of course.
At Louisville State Recreation Area. It was packed. Only 10 spots left in the entire campground when we made our reservations online five days prior.
We had a shady spot, close to air-conditioned restrooms and shower house. And close to the river. There were people everywhere - floating down the river, fishing, swimming, playing tag, riding bikes... And a dude driving the Mystery Machine.
Our spot was gorgeous. In the back of the park - tents only, no RV's. I don't know that our kids had ever seen so many fireflies or stars. And we saw the space station fly overhead as we turned off the lantern for bed on the last night.
We played Uno in the tent every night. And roasted marshmallows and enjoyed lots of s'mores. We landed on good radio stations - oldies and some classic rock. Oldies as in REAL oldies, not the 70's, 80's and 90's stuff stations are passing off as "oldies". Each morning we had delicious pancakes and biscuits and gravy in a downtown cafe - one that serves homemade pies and malts. While waiting for breakfast, we played Dominoes. I won once. In the car, we listened to the iPod, and I read Harry Potter to the family. Good thing I don't get carsick while reading in the car.
We visited the Strategic Air and Space Museum. It would have been really fun and fascinating five years ago when Zach was obsessed with space, but it was still a very fun learning experience. So many awesome planes and interactive games and activities.
But I was so tired that I actually fell asleep for a few minutes...gasp! I did NOT sleep the night before.
After the air and space museum, we broke for a late lunch and then headed over to the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari. We saw a lot of animals and gorgeous land as we drove through the park, and enjoyed a mile hike around the bears and wolves. We were only able to catch glimpses of the wolves as they ran through the brush, but a bear came out as I made kissing sounds at it. I would never have thought that a crazy bear would respond to this silly mom entertaining her youngest child, but evidently he finds my kisses irresistible too. Luke thinks I'm a bear whisperer [kisser] now.
Did I mention that we tented through a horrible downpour on our first night? This is why I was so tired at the museum... And some water pooled under our tent in spots, so the rest of the weekend it felt like we were walking on a waterbed. But the pooled up water was nothing compared to the lightening and thunder... Why must it always storm when we camp? One of these days Bryan is going to mean it when he declares it his LAST time tenting.
Thankfully, it was perfectly smooth sailing after that stormy night. Clear skies. Blue by day, starry by night.
I forgot to mention that we went to an Omaha Storm Chasers game on Friday night too. It was a beautiful night for baseball. And we enjoyed a Storm Chasers win!
On our final day, we stopped by the Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium at Schramm SRA. It cost us all of $2.50 in admission fees and we learned a lot and had a great time. A must see, for sure. Our favorite thing there is the classroom with interactive games and an awesome touch table - AWESOME! And... As our final bit of vacation fun, we opted for a swim at the water park at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park in lieu of showers. Yea, that's how we roll. We surfed, slid, swam and splashed till our hearts content... No pictures though, as the camera battery died last night.
On the drive home we were already brainstorming plans for our next Nebraska camping trip. Good times. Nebraska is ... the good life.