After a long drive, we arrived to our campground near Omaha, NE and even nearer to a racetrack which conveniently had a race going on that night.
Luckily, the race seemed to end at a reasonable hour and we were able to get some sleep before our big trip to the Omaha Zoo. I’ve always wondered if it is better to have low expectations or high expectations for anything. In the case of the Omaha Zoo, our expectations were high and we all left a bit disappointed. The large crowds and high temperatures didn’t help. We all agreed that the aquarium exhibit was pretty impressive, though. One of the penguins took an interest in Dirk’s knee cart and spent a good amount of time checking it out. After the zoo, in true stalker fashion, I looked up Warren Buffett’s address on the internet and we cruised by his place. Warren Buffett lives in the same house he has lived in for the last 50 years never seeing a need to upgrade. It was a nice house in a nice neighborhood but not what you would expect for a billionaire. But, considering that Mr. Buffett gives away 99% of his money, he is not your typical billionaire. Oh, and Nebraska has corn. Lots and lots of corn. And Godfather’s Pizza.
The drive to St. Louis, MO made for another long day. We had four things on our agenda for St. Louis. We quickly found a parking spot nearish to The Gateway Arch (agenda item #1) and upon exiting our car, the heavenly scent of BBQ got our tummies rumbling. We vowed to find and become patrons of the restaurant that teased us so early in the day. After all, eating good BBQ was agenda item #2. But first, The Arch. The park around The Gateway Arch was being redone so there was a lot of pesky construction in the area. We made our way to the ticket booth and were able to get tickets to the top with only a very short wait time. Since I do have some issues with small spaces, I had already spent the last few days exploring countless reviews of the trip to the top and I had googled many images of the pods that take the guests to the pinnacle. I felt like I could do it. Because of the unusual shape of the arch, guests cannot be taken to the top in traditional elevators and unfortunately, the elevator from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory had yet to be invented when the structure was built 50 years ago (wink). The system they use is a combination of an elevator, escalator, and ferris wheel. 5 guests sit in a tiny pod. Lucky for us, we had a pod to ourselves. The door is clear so you can see the stairway system (use of which will incur a $700 fine and a police escort) on your 4-minute ascent. Once we made it to the top, we were treated to spectacular views of the city. The ride down was the same but a little shorter. Anyways, I did it and didn’t freak out. Our next stop was the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank (agenda item #3). I am not sure how I convinced the family to join me on this one but I am glad that I did. I love old architecture and the nearly 100-year-old Fed building did not disappoint. I love Macro Economics even more than old architecture so what I found inside the Fed impressed me greatly. Macro teachers know that the three best Federal Reserve Banks in terms of teacher support and community education are Atlanta, St. Louis, and Dallas. I have spent many days at the Atlanta Fed and am really happy to have visited the St. Louis Fed. Their museum was extremely relevant, informative, interactive, and up-to-date. Prior to leaving, we inquired about the BBQ smell and were told that it must be Sugarfire. We were warned that they close when they run out of food so we had better hurry on over there. Sugarfire did not disappoint. Mmmmmmmm. Last on the agenda was City Museum. In 1983, a couple bought an old shoe factory. In 1995, they started construction on City Museum. They were either creative geniuses or a mad man and woman because this place is the stuff that dreams and nightmares are made of. It is like being in The Lion, Witch, & the Wardrobe, Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings all at the same time. It is a playground of epic proportions with slides ranging from 2-10 stories tall. Unusual materials are welded all over to create strange scenery and epic climbing structures. This is a museum for exploration. There is an old school bus hanging off the roof of the eleven story building that invites guests inside for a peek over the edge. Beneath benches and giant whales, one may find a hole in the floor. If you dare to squeeze into it, you may be rewarded with entrance into the cave system. Some walls have crevices that invite guests in. This is truly a wild creation and something that I will continue to be in awe of for all of my days. St. Louis was a city that the whole family enjoyed. It is not a typical vacation destination but maybe it should be.