If a picture is worth a 1000 words, then this will be my longest blog post yet - as there will be SOOOOOOO MANY pictures uploaded!
Today's agenda was Discovery Cove - at least for John, Brayden, Mikayla, Michele, Nati, Ellie, and Mom and Dad. The rest of the crew headed over to Universal - I might just have to write up a post and include pictures of them even though I wasn't there.
This was the part of the trip that was most pivotal in terms of timing. We wanted the kids to be old enough to swim with the dolphins - and age six was the cut-off. So, it was significant that we waited until Ellie was old enough.
I'm not sure if I ever mentioned this, but "Swimming with Dolphins" has been on my to-do list ever since our 12th grade English teacher played "When You Wish Upon a Star" and had us use jumbo crayons to list all the things we wanted to before we died on a piece of paper. This event was on top of both Michele and I's lists. So, today was a very BIG deal.
We were impressed with Discovery Cove right from the start. You felt like you were walking into a jungle paradise with ton of people ready to meet your every need.
We had requested an early time slot for our dolphin-interaction time - one, because the dolphins are "fresh" for the crowds, and two, in the event of thunderstorms, you are pretty much messed over. There was a chance of thunderstorms today - but not until the afternoon. We were thrilled when we walked in and found out we were among the first to interact with these guys.
After listening to a trainer give us instructions - and then watching a video - and then another one because "the dolphins were a little slow moving into the lagoon" - we headed out. Our dolphin's name was "Dash" - and her daughter, "Dot" worked with the group next to us. Dash was a bit of an "alpha" female - but moreso- overly social. It took her a while to decide to just hang out with us as she kept checking out the new dolphins in the other pool. The wonderful thing is - these dolphins aren't forced to do anything. So, when she did return, we knew it was because she wanted to. And, that made me very happy.
After the group introduction time, we each got to kiss Dash. Then give her a little backrub. There was no faking the smiles we all had - even though we knew the camera was on us - it was such an experience, we were all GIDDY!!!!!!
After the kisses - we got our family pictures - I'm thinking between this and the one at Disneyworld, my Christmas pictures might be set for 2010, so pretend you didn't see these when they arrive in your mail in December!
Finally, the opportunity to let Dash take us for a ride. With one hand on her dorsal fin and the other hand on her flipper - she took off with us. Whew! I'm practically in tears just writing this, it was such a thrill!
Don't you love how it looks like Dash is smiling too? =) At the very end, they let Dad come into the pool, even though we didn't pay for him to do the interaction - just to allow us to take a picture. How cool is that?
And, that picture - taken by Dad - was our farewell "trick" by Dash.....
While it was a bit of a let-down after playing with Dash, our next stop was the Aviary building where we got to feed the beautiful birds - and even let them land upon us. =)
After the birds, it was back in the water - first to the Manta Ray pool - to touch those amazing creatures - and then to the tropical fish pool - where we snorkeled. Both kids were a little leery of the Mantas - but they both touched them - and I was thrilled to have Mikayla snorkel along side of me - that is, until I pointed the extra large Manta (in a pool that we didn't expect to see it) and Mikayla nearly took in water out of panic! Poor thing - after that, she was done and ready to join Ellie in the sand!
One of the last things we did, was cruise through the "Lazy River". We were slathered in really nasty "animal friendly" sunscreen, so I ended up doing this picture in the "Antique" setting, just to try to salvage the "romantic" backdrop of it.
Oh, what more can I say? A day nearly "too good to be true"! God, you've been so good to us!