Mark joined me at my folks' house, and then we drove up on the Fourth to my cousin Kari's in Sioux City.

Here's my folks at Kari's and Jake's.

And here is poor, abused, neglected Jake doing all the work.

And Kari. Bonus points for anyone who can spot Balthasar in this picture.

The next day, we went to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha to see the new desert biome.

It turns out that, while interesting, many desert creatures are not as photogenic as we might have anticipated. Ah well.

I came out of there with story ideas, though. Don't think I didn't.

Mark is kind of into giraffes.

He thinks they're nifty.

And later....