Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Midwest Thunderstorms

2815 - 3295

I had to wait to make this posting, because here in southwestern Missouri we are in the midst of some real "Auntie Em, Auntie Em" weather.

The Severe Thuderstorm Watch is over (though the tornado and hail watch continues), and lights have not flickered for an hour, so I am posting now so none of you early perusers will be disappointed. I got to drive through a real firehose rain storm (where even windshield wipers on high are not enough) in Kansas City, and dodged lightening bolts on down to Joplin, Missouri (right where Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma meet).

I came due south today from Sioux City. First stop was at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, an incredibly impressive facility, apparently recently voted #1 Zoo in America. Their two newest exhibits are amazing; one Tropical Rainforest, the other Desert -- both multi level, enormous, and climate controlled. Check out this waterfall in the tropical rainforest.

I had someone take this shot of me with a monkey. I am the one on the left.

The gorilla and orangutan exhibits were huge, with lots of interpretive materials (and lots of orangutans and gorillas!). Here is cute juvenile orangutan who was hanging around.

My animal close encounter today was with this bird. It actually landed on my head, then moved to the table (this was right after a couple of peahens had come up to me). The birds at Henry Dooley Zoo know they have a good thing!

Back on the road, my next stop was at Castle Unicorn, a B&B in Pacific Junction, Iowa (how can there be a Pacific Junction in Iowa?). It was pretty cool, but I am glad I decided against the $219 to sleep in a fake castle.

On to Weston, Missouri. I had plugged my desired destination into Bonnie, but she brought me to the Weston Brewing Company. Maybe she felt it was time for today's beer research? So, I had a tasting sampler. I liked the Cream Ale, but my favorite was the Drop Kick Ale (made specifically for the Kansas City Wizards soccer team). Disappointing (the taste, not the name) was the Flying Monkey Four Finger Stout. I do wish I had asked what the Four Finger was all about.

I was about to ask the waitress about my original purpose for coming to Weston, when I spotted it, over in a corner off their patio: the World's Largest Ball of String (Not Twine). Amazingly, it was just stuck over there with a bunch of junk, including flattened cardboard boxes, with no signage or anything.

I also stopped at the World's Biggest Coal Shovel in Rich Hill, Missouri in the evening. My zeal for seeing "The World's Largest..." is becoming evident.

Tomorrow: Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri, then on to Branson.


  1. re: Flying Monkey, the reviews echo your experience - a good solid B. And the name?

    "The label on our Stout is a tribute to Jerry Garcia," explained Jordan. "He was missing his middle right finger and so is our monkey, and he has Garcia's beard. That's why it is called Four Finger Stout. We have a pretty good logo. We can do a lot of things with it."

  2. Well, that's no Oklahoma Field Twister, but it's still pretty impressive...

  3. As Sgt. Phil Esterhaus used to say: "Hey, let's be careful out there."

  4. I'm guessing Pacific Junction has something to do with the Union Pacific Railroad. Was that today's quiz question?

  5. It was the quiz of the day! You're the winner! You get a giant purple spoon!