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June 2021: Travels with Kev News

Riding Omaha zoo train
Paula, Mackenzie, and I on the Omaha Zoo Train

Update: I removed the Amtrak news from this article.

June 2021 means I completed another journey around the sun for the (age redacted) time. The older I get, birthdays seem to come faster but are less exciting.

Besides the body getting older, it was time for my second vaccine shot. Surprisingly, taking off the bandaid hurt more than getting the vaccine. I had almost no side effects; I just felt out of it for a day.

My Travels for June 2021

I took a short trip, my first train trip past Chicago all year. This trip had a particular reason.

Those who know me well will not be surprised to find that I returned to the great Omaha area to visit my sister and family. What made this trip memorable is I went there to bring Paula and Mackenzie back home with me on the train.

I plan on writing more about this adventure soon, but here is an abridged version.

Little Mack and the Omaha Zoo

Feeding giraffes at the Omaha Zoo
Paula and Mackenzie are feeding the giraffes at the Omaha Zoo.

A visit with Little Mack is not complete without visiting the Omaha Zoo. While I was in the greater Omaha area for two full days, one of those days included a visit to the zoo.

She had two reasons for going this time. The first is obvious, to see her favorite animals and play in the recently re-opened children’s area.

The second reason was that she wanted a new stuffed critter for her pending trip with Uncle Kevy and her mom, not just any animal but an alligator!

Mackenzi gets her “support alligator.”

Mack and her alligator
Mackenzie wanted an alligator from the Omaha Zoo. Not the little alligator but the big one!

Before my visit, I would talk to Mackenzi and my sister on the phone while going for my morning walk. I would ask her what stuffed critter she wanted to bring on this train trip. For a couple of weeks in a row, she said an alligator.

Now she didn’t have one, so I asked her about it, and she said in a polite two-year-old way that she needed one. I let grandma know her plan, and she said we should take her to the zoo when I visit and get her one.

Paula found the alligators and showed her a smaller gator, but Mackenzi had another idea. One quick text to grandma sealed the deal; she could get the big “gator.” How could you say no when she was that excited?

Mack left the zoo with her support alligator, an essential for her first Amtrak adventure.

Back to the rest of the zoo visit

Omaha Zoo Carousel
Mackenzie’s first time riding a critter on the Omaha Zoo Carousel

While at the zoo, Mack and I had a deal; if she rode the zoo train, I would take her on the carousel. We both held up our end of this agreement and had a good time.

It was the first time she had ridden on an animal on this carousel, and she was proud of herself.

She loved the train because zoo trains are fun. The other reason was she could see a few of the areas only visible from the train, like the lions that were not on display.

Mackenzie and Amtrak

As I said before, I plan on writing about Mack’s trip later, but it went well. She had a few meltdowns, mainly because she wanted to see Grandma and Papa so severely, and she still didn’t understand how traveling worked.

My niece is waiting in the Omaha Amtrak Station, holding her support alligator.

The advantage of taking the train is Mackenzie could get up and walk around. She would be in her car seat for eight hours if we drove.

She liked being able to walk around the train. We made a few visits to the Sightseer lounge, and she found a friend on her last visit to that car. They played together for a while as my sister and I watched Illinois.

We took Amtrak from Omaha to Chicago and Metra from Chicago to Fox Lake. This trip was not her first ride on Metra, but the first time she was old enough to enjoy it.

A week before the train, Grandma sent Mack some activities for the trip. I don’t know if the excitement of the journey was too much or if they were not what she wanted, but they didn’t last as long as we thought.

Mackenzie runs to Papa.

She was a trooper, albeit impatient at times. But I get that way, too, at times.

Three were a few cute times, like when she pulled her suitcase to the train while wearing her backpack.

One precious moment was when she got off Metra in Fox Lake, IL, and ran to Papa. Once in his arms, she waved to the engineer, who tooted the horn and waved back at her.

More Zoo Visits to come!

If you follow me on the Travels with Kev Instagram or Facebook page, you know that my niece LOVES animals and trips to zoos.

While she was here, we went to the Racine and Milwaukee County Zoos. While both are smaller than her home zoo, they offer different experiences and critters she has not seen before.

One thing that she enjoyed at the Racine Zoo was petting the sheep; she usually pets goats. She wants to go again, which is always a good thing.

Thanks from Kev

Racine Zoo Mack and sheep
Mackenzie at eh Racine Zoo was excited when the sheep came out for her to pet.

Thank you for following me and those who have asked me questions or told me about their trip that I helped.

Not every trip will be perfect, but often our attitude will reflect our memories of the trip.

Over the next few months, I plan to add to the site’s Riding Amtrak section. I hope you will come back to find out about my adventures.

If you want to keep up with my travels, join my email list below or the Facebook page.

Safe Travels!


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Kev has been traveling with Amtrak since 2012, celebrating his tenth year this year. Over those years, he has been on over 700 trains covering over 200,000 miles of rail. Kev enjoys helping others achieve their travel dreams by assisting them with support and information. Kev enjoys making music as an organist.

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