Vacation Memories – Part 3

Wow, I have really slacked on getting around to writing this. This will be the last installment and it is pretty long. I almost broke it in two, but decided I would rather finish this up here so I don’t have to sit down and write another post about the vacation. It is getting harder and harder to remember details, but sitting down and doing this has really helped me commit things that happened to memory.

I believe we’re up to Friday. We spent the first part of Friday at Ripley’s Aquarium. We were pretty sure that Grace would love the aquarium because she really likes fish and aquariums in general. We weren’t disappointed. When we first walked in the door, there was a large, round aquarium and Grace was immediately mesmerized by it. After leaving the big aquarium at the entrance, we quickly walked through an exhibit about Mars. Yes, you read that correctly. The aquarium had an exhibit about Mars. It was pretty interesting, but out of place. We moved through it quickly to get to the part we had paid for.

The first REAL exhibit contained fish from the Amazon. Grace did not like the piranhas. Now, for those who have never seen a piranha in person, they are actually quite boring to look at.  They sit eerily still. That is sort of the weird thing. Instead of swimming, they seem to just float around. Still, I don’t think that the near lifeless fish were what Grace did not like. I think it was the creepy, horror movie music that was playing in the exhibit.

Next to the piranha aquarium was another tank with some more fish from the Amazon. There was a sign that explained how one of the fish in the tank was able to jump six feet out of the water and into the air. Jennifer pointed out that there was only about 3 to 4 feet between the surface of the water and the top of the tank, which did not have a cover. We decided it was time to move on.

We moved on to the next exhibit that had tons of reef fish. Grace loved watching the brightly colored fish       . After the reef exhibit we came to one of those long tunnels that you walk or ride through while sharks, string rays and other fish swim over your head. Grace pointed and giggled as we made our way through it. We have also been to the Ripley’s aquarium in Gatlinburg, and I couldn’t help but think there were more sharks swimming around at that one. I never thought I would find myself wishing there were more sharks swimming around me.

In the center of the aquarium was a large touch tank that was surrounded by various things for kids to play with and on. There was a tunnel to crawl through, some large valves that were part of an exhibit about how the aquarium water is maintained, and another area that was setup to look like a pirate ship or something. We started by letting Grace run through the tunnel. She loved it, especially when some other kids started crawling through the tunnel with her. I just knew she was going to run through as fast as she could and smack her head on something, but she was pretty careful about it. She also spent some time playing with the valves at the water exhibit and tried to turn the wheel on the pirate ship.

After all that fun, Grace wasn’t about to hold mommy’s or daddy’s hand anymore. She had tasted freedom and it was too good. It was at this point that angel Grace turned into…um…not so angel Grace. It was sort of funny though. If you grabbed her hand, she would just go limp and lay on the ground. There was no temper tantrum or screaming. She would just lie there. It was an instantaneous response. If you let go of her hand, she would almost immediately get up. If you grabbed her hand again, limp Gracie returned. It was sort of entertaining as she was so methodical about it. It was past her nap time and it had been a big morning, so after a few minutes we decided it was time for us to leave. I picked Grace up and we all headed for the car.

On the way home we stopped by a seafood market to pick up some seafood for us to cook and eat that evening. Grace had fallen asleep on the way to the market, so Jennifer stayed in the car while I went in to get the seafood. While I was standing in the market waiting to be served, Jennifer walked in holding an alert Gracie. “She woke up and said, ‘Where’s Dada?’” Jennifer told me. We bought some fresh scallops and grouper for our dinner and left.

We got back to Ocean Lakes and we decided to make a trip to the pool, knowing full well that Grace probably wouldn’t like it. We first tried going to the large, outdoor kiddie pool they had. It was pretty neat. It had one of those mushrooms that had water running out the top and over the sides. It also had another thing that towered out of the pool with arms extending outward at the top. There were buckets at the end of each arm that filled with water and dumped when they were full. It looked like something you’d find in a water park, but Grace wasn’t impressed. She wouldn’t even let us put her feet in the pool. We decided to retreat to the heated, indoor pool to see if we would have more luck there. We had a little more luck as she was fine sitting on the edge and kicking in the water, but she wouldn’t let either one of us take her out into the pool. She also didn’t like it the first time she saw me go under the water, but eventually it didn’t bother her.

Since Grace didn’t get a very long nap, we decided to get her ready for bed and put her down fairly early so we could make our fresh seafood. Jennifer prepared the meal while I fed Gracie and put her to bed. The meal wound up being fantastic, and we really enjoyed the peace and quiet.

The next day was Saturday, and was our last day to do stuff. We started it by making another trip to the beach. This time, Jennifer said she wanted to leave Grace’s sandals on and see if it made a difference, and did it ever. Jennifer held Gracie’s had as we walked onto the beach. She walked all the way to the beach on her own, which was way more than she did on the first trip. I then sat her down in the sand and she even played with her toys for a little while sitting in the sand. Being the little ball of energy she is, that didn’t last too long. She wanted to run, and run she did. In fact, she ran all over the beach. Jennifer and I sat there and watched her, and one of us would run in grab her if she started to wander too far off. She loved the sea shells, and she would pick them up, look at them, hold them in the air, and then put them in her mouth. It was a much better experience at the beach then the first trip.

That evening went to a Seafood buffet we had a coupon for and had been planning to go to all week. I wasn’t all that impressed with the quality of food, but the selection was fine. Jennifer feasted on Crab Legs while I tried a little bit of everything that looked good to me. The saddest part was the desert buffet. They didn’t have ice cream and most of the stuff they did have didn’t taste all the great. The most interesting part about the restaurant was they had a “live” mermaid. This was essentially a girl in a bathing suit with some sort of fish tail thing strapped around her legs. I took Grace to see the mermaid. I was pretty sure the girl in the pool was the same girl that was on the register where we had paid, so I found that amusing. Guess cashier duty was over. Anyway, when she saw Gracie, the cashier turned mermaid splashed her tail up out of the water and made a wave, which apparently tickled Grace because she laughed about it. Then the mermaid made Grace a necklace and gave it to her.

After we left the restaurant, we headed back to Broadway at the Beach for a final visit to check out the stores on the side didn’t get to on Wednesday. Nothing impressive to talk about there, none of the stores were that memorable. They had a store that sold tee shirts and memorabilia from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. It was mostly stuff from the 80’s, and it was mostly tee shirts. Several of the stores we visited sit along a lake that is in the middle of Broadway at the Beach. There were machines along the docks so you could feed the fish that were in the lake. I am pretty sure they were carp. Jennifer had apparently never done this before and was enthralled with feeding the fish. That’s right, I said Jennifer. She every quarter I had (all two of them) to get handfuls of fish food to sling in the water. Grace found it fun to watch, but she became much more interested in the ducks and the fireball was shooting in the air across the lake. A putt-putt place across the lake had a volcano that seemed to go off every 5 minutes. When it went off, would Grace point and shriek with glee. She must have found it very impressive. Meanwhile, Jennifer fed the fish and ducks, paying no attention to the fire in the sky. Later, as we continued to walk along the lake, the volcano went off and I heard Jennifer say, “What was that?” I couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed it before or how excited it making our daughter. She said, “I heard you saying something about fire, but I had no idea what you were talking about.” Now, when I hear people talk about fire shooting out of something, I generally take notice, but that’s probably just the pyromaniac in my. Anyway, I picked on her about how mesmerized she had been by those fish.

That night both Jennifer and struggled with stomach issues. We believe that we got food poisoning from the seafood restaurant. So, the last night of our vacation involved many trips to the bathroom. Jennifer still had a touch of nausea in the morning and wound up puking up her breakfast. I was fine by the morning. Jennifer was better by lunch time on Sunday.

Anyway, that concludes a review of our vacation. Hope everyone has enjoyed it. We enjoyed the trip. Check out the pictures we have uploaded to our Flickr account to see pictures of the trip.

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