Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 21: 2 Wild 2 Kingdom

white tiger!

A white tiger happy to get some peace and quiet far away from Siegfried and Roy.

I’m typing this on the Third of July, Independence Eve, a time when a lot of internet users are either binge-watching, traveling, or stocking up on recreational explosives to celebrate the United States of America’s birthday (observed). Clicking is down, my energy levels are even farther down, my movie reviews are caught up for now, my to-do list for coming events feels infinite in length, and I have six episodes of Luke Cage season 2 left to burn through. For my own reasons I don’t feel like skipping MCC too much this week, but now’s not the time for that 2000-word essay on social awkwardness that’s been coalescing in my head since last December.

Oh, hey, everyone loves animals, right?


(P.S.: Happy Fourth of July from us here at Midlife Crisis Crossover! Remember, don’t drink and firecracker, especially around pets, who hate hate HATE your proud fireworks display.)

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, marvels, history, and institutions we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Beginning with 2003’s excursion to Washington DC, we added my son to the roster and tried to accommodate his preferences and childhood accordingly.

2008 was by far our least favorite road trip to date, and still holds the ignominious title as of 2018. Our next vacation had to be better. Step one was plain enough: we looked at Anne’s brainstorming list of future road trips and chose the one that screamed “dream vacation”. That’s what led to our long, long drive out to the farthest reaches of South Dakota and beyond. At nine days it was the longest we’ve ever taken. The farthest point of 1,180 miles made it the longest drive of our lives. It would be the farthest west we’d ever been up to that time. It was also our first vacation using exclusively digital cameras to record the experience, leaving behind the 35mm film of our childhoods forever. They weren’t expensive cameras for their kind, certainly not the most advanced as of 2009, but we did what we could with the resources and the amateur skill sets available to us.

We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

And now, a second and final round of photos from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, named Best Zoo in America by TripAdvisor in 2014. I have no idea what misstep cost them the crown in 2015, but we liked them well enough that it’s nice to know they were rewarded for their ongoing efforts in conservation, wildlife diversity, and cool habitat design. The Omaha zoo photos in our previous chapter were the ones I liked most, but some of these outtakes have their endearing qualities to me.


The klipspringer has two horns, but we nailed the perfect angle to turn it into a non-majestic unicorn.

bunnies in mud!

Can you find all three bunnies in this mud pit? Or maybe a fourth bunny I missed?


Industrious dam-building beavers taking one of their six daily coffee breaks per union rules.

rain forest!

The Lied Jungle, their rain forest habitat, was among the most scenic indoor areas.

long-tailed something!

A critter, somewhere on the monkey-lemur spectrum, that climbed toward us on the Desert Dome walkway.

monkey sleeping!

Adorable sleeping monkey.

animals down below!

High walkways offer a bird’s-eye perspective on animals chilling at ground level.


One habitat walkway lets guests hang out behind that habitat’s indoor waterfall. My old notes indicate this was in the Desert Dome, but this very much seems a rain forest feature.

scarlet macaws!

Scarlet macaws confirming animals come in other colors of the rainbow beyond brown and green.

weeping gorilla?

The section called Gorilla Valley fulfilled my son’s years-long wish of getting within mere inches of real primates, with only smudged reinforced glass separating the two.

Rosie the gorilla!

Rosie the gorilla! declines to perform, possibly in the throes of an existential crisis.

flightless birds!

Penguins frolicking in grass. We’ve seen several zoos in our travels, and…that’s a new one.

giraffes below!

Alternate shot of giraffes sauntering beneath the Skyfari lifts.

leopard below!

Skyfari sighting of a leopard in repose. Thankfully leopards can’t jump this high. I assume.


Alligators swimming around, flailing their cute, tiny, muscular, murderous paws.


If there’s a jellyfish tank out there somewhere with ugly specimens in it, we haven’t seen it.

All told, the indoor attractions received the bulk of our attention — the lion’s share, if you will — because the rains ensued and discouraged any outdoor browsing beyond what we managed to see on the skylift. We left sooner than my wife and son wanted, but a little later than I’d expected. We still had a long drive ahead of us…both planned and unplanned.

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email signup for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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