Feb 22, 2011

In which you decide I've never seen an animal before

I think the reason I crashed so hard yesterday was that we spent the weekend in Atlanta. As we left to go home, I told my parents, "Yep. This is the last trip we're making until after I'm feeling better ... so you can come see us, but we won't be back until the summer." HOLY COW. That trip whooped me.

On Saturday, we drove downtown to the Georgia Aquarium, easily my favorite attraction in town. Little did we know, there was a national cheerleading competition being held at the Georgia Dome, and there were literally THOUSANDS of cars on the interstate and side streets. It took us over an hour to get from Marietta to the aquarium ... and another 20 minutes to find a place to park. We were exhausted before we ever walked through the doors!

But once we finally made it inside, we had a great time. Granted, the crowds were six people deep at every turn, but the boys managed to see everything they wanted to see, and the animals were all out in their full glory.

The boys glued themselves to the windows.

Jake was fascinated by the touch tanks. We had to be vigilant to be sure he didn't dive in.

The big boys weren't quite as interested in the touch tanks ... they're old hands at this point; ready to just see some big sharks. Go big or go home, ya know?

One of my early favorites were the lion fish. (I think that's what they're called ... I couldn't read a lot of the signs. Too many people were obscuring them. I have a feeling you're not invested enough to Google it. Surprise! I'm not either.)

 Really close to the We're Calling Them Lion Fish were the sea turtles.

I have a huge crush on sea turtles.

They remind me of our 10th anniversary trip to Kauai (which someday I MUST blog about), because we snorkeled with them and I touched one before I found out it was illegal.

This guy totally stole my heart.

It was hard to tear myself away from my new boyfriend, but some pushy people related to me wanted to move on. Nearby we found the jellyfish.

I think they look really cool, but I'm totally biased against them because of a nasty encounter with a whole herd of them at Virginia Beach one summer when I was little.

At the end of the Tropical Diver exhibit is this large tank with so many beautiful tropical fish and a few small sharks. I love this tank, just because it looks so HAPPY in there.

I have no idea what kind of predator/prey shenanigans go on in there, but the light is gorgeous. Sometimes that's enough.

I did get freaked out one time when I was looking through the viewfinder and this guy swam right into the frame ... but then I remembered that I was OUTSIDE the glass and I was okay again.

Little Jakey just couldn't get enough ... he's like me. He could stand at one exhibit all day long without getting bored. I've had four or five aquariums throughout my life -- even a 45-gallon aquarium as an adult -- and I could stare at them for hours.

My very favorite tank at the Georgia Aquarium houses the beluga whales. Internet. I. DIE.

I just think they're the most entertaining, majestic creatures ... they look like real live stuffed animals.

I reacted like the kids and kept pushing until I could get right up against the glass. OUTTA MY WAY, PEOPLE.

It was as if they'd decided to put on a show just for us on Saturday.

 I couldn't put my camera down, because they just kept swimming right up and smiling at me!

And one of them blew bubbles every time he came up to the glass wall.

A few of them even got into a little synchronized swimming action for us ...

I'm telling you, I didn't want to walk away from them. Could've stayed there ALL DAY.

Nonetheless, those other people wanted to keep moving, so we headed over to the otters. They were very playful and cute. As a matter of fact, they're so fast that I hardly got any decent pictures of them!

Next, we were all captivated by the sea dragons. They almost look like giant dragonflies underwater.

I can't decide if I think they look prehistoric or futuristic.

We took a stroll up to the penguin exhibit, which has a tunnel tour you can do where you crawl in and get to pop up in plexiglass bubbles in the middle of the exhibit ... right there among the penguins. The boys would've loved that, but there was a 20-minute wait, so we skipped it.

But guess who we saw on the way back down? My belugas! Yes. Another viewing spot. That means, more pictures.

I'd apologize for it, but as Kevin Costner said in Field of Dreams, "You are a guest in my corn!" Meaning, I can do whatever the heck I want to, because it's my blog. So I'll just subject you to some more cuteness.

I think this one looks drunk.

Okay, we finally decided to move on to the largest tank in the aquarium. [Cue the Jaws music.]

The moving sidewalk wasn't moving, so we churned along with 650 other people through this unmoving sidewalk tunnel.

This is a large Grouper that Grayson would love to have slapped on the grill and eaten. GROSS.

We saw some beautiful rays swimming overhead ...

And when we finally got to the piece de resistance, all the animals were out in full force.

The whale sharks are so huge ... such gentle giants.

There are some other things in there that don't look so "gentle."

But I love to watch them all.

So do the boys.

We're so lucky to have such a beautiful facility just a couple of hours away ... if you haven't been, you should go! (Although, who needs to, really, if you've stayed with me this long and seen all my pictures?)

On the way out, I took some pictures of the gift shop so you could see just how NUTS it was on Saturday ... the line to check out with stuffed animals and T-shirts was about 30 deep.

Insane! Nicholas bought some stuffed animals with his own money, Nathaniel bought a sucker, and we bought Jakey a "Hairy Otter" T-shirt. It's an otter dressed up with glasses and a wand. It was a must-have.

I recommend going early in the morning if you plan a trip. Mid-day was a mistake. Enjoy!


Tamar SB said...

What awesome pics! Sea turtles are my favorite too! I used to collect every sea turtle thing I could get my hands on as a kid! And those sea dragon pics are stunning! Hope you're feeling well


Meredith said...

The GA Aquarium looks awesome! We went to the VA Aquarium in Virginia Beach this weekend and while not nearly as big as the GA one, my little one stood and watched the fishes for HOURS. So much fun!

Wade's World said...

We love the GA aquarium, but we've sworn off ever making another Saturday trip. Both times we've gone it has been swamped, and you could barely see the exhibits, which is a crying shame considering that the exhibits are amazing!

And great recap of the aquarium. I loved the pics!

HandyFamily said...

I can totally understand why you would have been wiped out! That trip would wipe me out without being pregnant. The pictures are amazing, I have never even seen sea dragons before. I will have to add the aquarium to our future(my son will be attending college in FL in the fall) trips south.

RLR said...

Thanks to all of your photos, this aquarium is now on my list of to-dos. Maybe this summer...

steigler7071 said...

Thank you for some amazing shots! The one of the Beluga on yuor second round...he was right in your face but OMG, I died for that picture. Absolutely amazing. We are going to Myrtle Beach, SC this summer (we have family down there) and of course the aquarium will be on the "must see" list for our 2 year old. We have all been there but I can't wait to see her reaction!

paige said...

Gorgeous photos. I'm really taken with the little dragon thingies. So pretty!!

Janet said...

Super photos! We took our boys to the aquarium in Chattanooga many years ago. So much fun and eductional too!

Jessie Weaver said...

I love the pictures of your turtle boyfriend!! And I also had an unfortunate adventure with a jellyfish--I think it was at Myrtle and not VA Beach but I could be wrong. All down one of my sides. ICK. They give me the heeby jeebies.

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

I'm glad everyone's inspired to try to visit! It's an awe-inspiring place, for sure.

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