Tuesday, July 19, 2011

USA: Omaha, Nebraska - 29 April to 2 May 2011

It has been 2 months since I'm back from The States, but all I blogged about was the Berkshire Hathaway's 2011 AGM.
So here is the next blog post about our trip to USA - Omaha, Nebraska.

It should take us 36 hours to fly all the way from Penang to Omaha (including transit time).
Penang(PEN) - Hong Kong(HKG) - San Francisco(SFO) - Dallas(DFW) - Omaha(OMA).

Due to the bad weather and short transit, we missed the DFW to OMA flight! We already knew that we might miss it due to the short transit, but when the SFO flight delayed future, we knew we were in deep shit. Once the plan landed in DFW, we ran all the way to catch the other terminal (Omg....DFW airport is so huge!). At that moment, we knew that there was no way we could everr join the Amazing Race. Haha.
Running to catch the next flight was really, really tiring! Coupled with my poor stamina, I was trying to catch my breath while running.
And the worse thing was, after all the breathless running, we still missed the flight...by 3 minutes! And it was the last flight of the day to Omaha! Arghhhhh.....

Hubby was exhausted, but could still smile for the camera.

Hubby, after we missed the DFW-OMA flight

Another bad news; Because it was estimated that there should be about 40,000 ppl going to the Berkshire Hathaway AGM, all flights to Omaha were full. The airline could not confirm our next flight out. At that time, we were like 'Oh shit, dont tell us we paid RM20k here for nothing!'

We were not the only ones who missed the flight. There were 4 others. In the end, all 6 of us were put on standby for the next morning and afternoon flight.

American Airlines then did not want to pay for our hotel in DFW. We were too tired to argue with them. All we got from them was a 'Distressed Passenger Rate' of USD59.90 of a nearby inn called 'Super 8' which was near the airport.

There was a van from Super 8 who kept making rounds around the airport to pick up distressed passengers like us.
The inn was clean and the condition was not bad. We shared the room with our friend.

Our room in Super 8

We were hungry then. Hubby & friend walked nearby the inn looking for food. They found a McD that was closed but has a 24-hour-drive-thru service. They later found out that they do not allow ppl to order through the drive-thru service. Their system's sensor need to sense a vehicle before they could order. Haha.
Luckily, they found a kind soul in a car that could order McD for us. So we did not go hungry that night!


It was the longest 28 April 2011 day ever!

We woke up very early next morning. 6am I think. It was 29 April 2011, Friday, the date Prince William and Kate Middleton got married. We watched the live telecast on the breakfast area downstairs. We ate self-served breakfast of cereals, muffins n waffles while watching the live telecast. The van then took us back to the airport.

Breakfast at the inn

One thing about US airports. The security is really tight. You need to remove your jackets, and shoes and laptop and carry-ons must go through the screening. So the queue at the security check was always long and thorough, which was why we needed to leave ample time for this.

After security check at the Dallas Airport, we had some time to stroll around.
Clinique products were being sold like snacks machine in the airport. Cool!


We were so lucky when we managed to get on board the flight although we were on waiting list. If not, we would have to spend many more hours at the airport, waiting for the next flight. Yay!...Omaha AT LAST on a bright and sunny Friday 29 April 2011 morning!

After this, we went straight for all the Berkshire Hathaway's AGM Weekend functions. (You can read about all that here)

Besides the AGM, in between the functions, we managed to walk around Omaha. We also stayed an extra day in Omaha for some sightseeing.
I must say Omaha is very pretty and clean. With wide spaces everywhere. Parks are in abundance.

One of the must-go-must-see places in Omaha is the Old Market.
Old Market is a neighbourhood located in downtown Omaha and is bordered by South 10th Street. The neighborhood has many restaurants, art galleries and upscale shopping. The area retains its brick paved streets from the turn of the century, horse-drawn carriages, and covered sidewalks in some areas.

horse-drawn carriages

cafes at sidewalks

We enjoyed exploring the cobblestone streets of downtown Omaha,

...lined with quaint and unique shops.

And I love this shop selling all kinds of sweets and chocolates imaginable! Even those old-school types. All colours! You just name it and they have it!

And they have many antique shops and shops selling collectibles in Old Market District.

They also have bookstores. This one is huge, with many many books inside. You need the ladder to reach some of the high shelves!

We enjoyed our walks in Old Market, exploring. The shops closed quite early, around 6pm, but most of the cafes and restaurants opens until after dinnertime.

Another place we visited was Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.
The longest pedestrian bridge to link two states, providing safe crossing from Omaha to Council Bluffs over the Missouri River for walking and biking enthusiasts, connecting to 150 miles of trails on each side. The Cable Stay bridge is 3,000 ft long, including the landings; the walkway is 15 ft wide, and allow visitors to stand about 60 ft above the river.
(Source: http://www.visitomaha.com)

We saw many people cycling on that bridge on such a bright and sunny day. Although bright and sunny, it was still cold with the strong wind. But it was a nice day.

Hubby standing Nebraska and me on Iowa state! :)

The next day, we visited The Bookworm, a bookstore hubby wanted to visit.

The moment I stepped into the bookstore, I felt all cozy and warm. The place had me felt all warm and cozy, with cookies and biscuits for customers to munch on. This bookstore is also pet-friendly, which means that customers can bring their pets there.

The other tourist place we visited was Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo.

It was a very windy day. The wind was so cold that hubby refused to take off his thick jacket although it was a sunny day.

I find this zoo kinda special. It has many complexes and buildings, with each building housing different exhibits. And you can actually feel how is the condition of the place, the humidity, the smell, etc.

For instance, the 'Desert Dome', which is also the world's largest indoor desert.

Inside the dome, you will see geologic features of deserts around the world, such as Namib Desert of South Africa, Red Centre of Australia, and the Sonoran Desert of the Southwest US.

As I walked into the dome, besides looking at the desert exhibits, I could feel the heat of the desert. It became so hot that hubby had to take off his jacket.

Beneath the dome was the Kingdom of the Night. It is the world's largest nocturnal animal exhibit. The Kingdom of the Night features a wet cave, a canyon, a Eucalyptus forest, a dry bat cave and a swamp.

As we walked into it, the air became more cool. We could smell the cave-like musty smell. It was like we were really walking into a real cave. I do not like the damp and musty smell, so we walked by hurriedly. Furthermore, I was scared of the bats as well.

As we walked towards the swamp, it was almost pitch dark. There were some low lighting here and there though. Our walk was guided by a bridge, with netting on some parts. Only then we realized there were crocodiles (or were they alligators?). It was kinda scary because it was so dark that we could hardly see them, yet you could feel their movement just beneath the bridge.

I dared not put my hands out of the bridge, just in case the crocodiles decided to jump up and snap at my fingers!

Then we went to another bulding which is the Wild Kingdom. This building houses reptiles, insects, amphibians and small mammals.

The Hubbard Orangutan Forest has an outdoor habitat that includes two 65-foot (20 m) tall, 100-short-ton (91-metric-ton) Banyan trees interconnected with vines enclosed by a stainless steel etting. There is also a 20-foot (6.1 m) waterfall nearby.

In Hubbard Gorilla Valley, we saw Orang Utans and Gorillas.

Orang Utans

I think below looks like King Kong, don't you think so?

Western Lowland Gorilla

The Lied Jungle is one of the largest indoor rainforest of the world.
In it, we walked along a dirt trail on the floor of the jungle as well as on a walkway above the animals. In it we saw the blue monkey, common squirrel monkey, pygmy hippopotamus, Malayan Tapir, Clouded Leopard, Gibbons and etc.
Malayan Tapirs


We also saw Polar Bears in the Durham Family Bear Canyon.

(photo: wikipedia)

I like the Tufted Penguins in the Scott Kingdom of the Seas Aquarium.

(photo: wikipedia)

During warmer months, Little Penguins can be found outside near the entrance of the aquarium.

In the Scott Kingdom of the Seas Aquarium, there is also a shark tunnel.

And the Round Pompano Tank.

The Butterfly and Insect Pavilion is a unique exhibit. Viewed from the sky, the exhibit resembles a winged insect.

The name of the donors of the Pavilion

The Butterfly Conservatory has natural light, large trees, rocks and water elements
The butterflies are beautiful.

And what is nice about this zoo is that in many of the buildings, you get to learn things such as below.

After all, Henry Doorly Zoo's mission is conservation, research, recreation, and education.

There is also a Giraffe Complex where you get to be eye-to-eye and nose-to-nose with the giraffe herd.

But I like them in the wild better.

There are many other individual exhibits such as okapi.

Do you know that although okapis may have the stripes of a zebra, they are actually the only living relative to the giraffes.

This is another individual exhibit; Zebras

The place is huge. After several hours and a lunch and several more hours later, our legs hurt and we were tired.

Oh, we also watched a show in the Lozier IMAX theatre inside the zoo. Totally regretted it. It was like paying to watch 1 hour of Discovery Channel. Usually I like watching Discovery, but the show we picked was about polar bears and it was really boring!

But overall, we had a great time in Henry Doorly Zoo. There was so much to see and the entrance ticket is cheap!

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo
3701 S. 10th Street, Omaha, NE 68107

Opening Hours
March 1 through October 31: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily. Buildings stay open until 6 p.m.
November 1 through February 28: 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. daily. Buildings stay open until 5 p.m.
Open year-round except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Zoo Admission
Children (2 and under): FREE
Children (ages 3 - 11): $9.00
Adults (ages 12 and over): $13.50
Seniors (ages 62 and over): $12.00

Zoo and Lozier IMAX® Theater Combo Rate (includes Zoo admission & 1 ticket to an IMAX® film)
Children (2 and under if sitting on lap): FREE
Children (ages 3 - 11): $13.00
Adults (ages 12 and over): $17.50
Seniors (ages 62 and over): $16.00

After we left the zoo, GPS took us to Walmart and Borders and for dinner.
Slept early that night as we were to fly to Los Angeles early next morning.

p/s - Click here for more of my USA trip.

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