My entire family knows that nothing makes my heart fly like feeding the dolphins at Sea World. I would spend my last nickel on a little cardboard tray of slimy, cold fish. I love the way the dolphins smile at me, and make their little clicking sounds, and even linger for a moment to let me pet the rubbery tops of their adorable heads. (That part is called the "melon". I'm all fancy on my dolphin-ese since I'm fresh from Sea World and everything.) Needless to say, it was first things first right after we squished through the entrance gate (with enough other people to populate a small country), and we headed like moths to a flame toward the dolphin pen. Truth be told, that one exhibit is worth the price of admission to me, and my family could have easily left me there the entire day and picked me up as they were leaving. But they didn't. :) Buzzard generously provided me with cardboard trays of fish, then insisted we press onward.
Another feeding time highlight was the Australian Lorikeet aviary. We each got a little cup of nectar, and the birds happily landed all over us to enjoy their tasty drinks. I was trying to hold nectar in one hand and take pictures with the other, all while balancing a bird on my head and trying not to get sticky nectar on my lens. Tricky stuff.
Jackie took this one of the kids and I while my feathered friend tried to scratch himself a nest in my hair!
Emma was captivated by Shamu, and each time he jumped out of the water she clapped wildly and got very excited. It was super cute!
Our favorite show featured a sea lion, a playful otter, and "Uncle Max" - a 2100 pound walrus who was a riot! He blew kisses, did sit ups, spit water, and was a total crowd pleaser.
The boys hoisted this enormous python. (Oma, this one's just for you!) A Sea World photographer took their picture, which they were warmly willing to sell to me for bazillions of dollars and mucho cents. I was also entirely welcome to take my own photo, provided I was willing to kindly stay behind the red line, and twist my body around the mammoth stuffed animal display that had conveniently been temporarily erected directly between the red line and the big snake. If you're cheap and a contortionist, it's worth a try. I gave it my best shot, and this was the best I could do.
At the very end of the day, Jackie and Hannah took off to ride the big roller coasters. Buzzard took the boys on a water ride where they got drenched. Dripping. Saturated. It was dark by then, so they were shivering cold, but two of the three were still smiling from ear to ear. I'll let you guess which wet boy was not smiling.
It was painfully crowded. So very CROWDED that getting around was tedious. So c-r-o-w-d-e-d that I need a new word to describe to you just how CrOwDeD it was. But all eight hundred million people who were there seemed to be in a lovely mood, and we all shuffled along the crowded roads together just enjoying the magic that is Sea World. It was hard to say goodbye, and pack up our sunburned selves to walk on our blistered feet across three states to where the van was parked so we could all collapse and talk about how much fun we were able to CROWD into one single day. It was bliss.
We left Sea World at about 9:00 and headed to Chili's for dinner. Emma was golden. The child had no nap and a HUGE day of activity, but she sat in her little high chair late at night and watched the hustle and bustle in the restaurant. It was St Patty's Day, and all the waiters were dressed up and energetic. The boys wrapped up together in a furry blanket during dinner since their clothes were still wet. Food and drinks were super expensive at the park, and we had to wait in huge lines to get them, so we were all ready to guzzle mugs of icy cold drinks and devour heaping baskets of chips. We were completely exhausted, but also excited about our big day, so our meal was the perfect mix of contentment and joy.
The next day we headed to Austin, where we visited a super cool candy shop on Commerce Street. It is called The Big Top, and they specialize in nostalgic candies. The decor is reminiscent of an old time circus tent, and there is a huge soda fountain bar right in the center. You can find everything under the sun in there! I was happily reunited with a blast from my past...sweet tart candy lipstick. Aunt Jackie helped the boys each fill a bag with sweets for the ride home.