Friday, July 25, 2008

Last of Vacation Photos

The mangroves around our hotel had ground crabs that came out at dusk. There is one in the center of this photo immediately to the right of the center trunk. The people in the balconies got treated to my backside pointed right at them when I bent into the bushes to take this picture. I'm sure they were thinking I was some wild woman of Borneo out there with my head in the bushes and my ass in the's a good thing I really don't give a crap what they think.

These are my toes when I kicked my feet up to relax and wait for a sunset.
The sunset the first night was rather tame, but still pretty.
This is Katie and I at Theater of the Sea's private beach, if you look close you can see the parrot fish swimming in front of us. They were so beautiful with red, purple, and turquoise colors. They also have mouths that look like parrot bills...I guess that is why they named them that!
This birdy is all ruffled up in the breeze. Looks like he is ready for the fashion run way.
These colorful fellows were stationed throughout the park on various paths and branches.

This guy is located somewhere on the premises and glows in the dark. We didn't see him in person, Theater of the Sea gave us this picture.

Katie got to hold a parrot after the parrot show.

The second night gave us a much more showy sunset. God knows my favorite color is purple!

These signs were posted by the bridge that goes out to the keys...I never thought I'd see a sign like this in America. It turned out to be false advertisement because I never saw a croc except the ones on my feet.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sea Lion Swim

This is Mimi. She is a California Sea Lion. She is also incredibly adorable. I am thinking of putting in a lagoon of my own, just so I can have my own Mimi!
Mimi was very affectionate and went to giving us kisses straight away!
She was a really good kisser--if you don't mind fish breath.
She even went to the trouble to jump through hoops for us. How accommodating!
Then she swam around with us and gave us an exclusive tour of her private lagoon.
She must really be a Georgia Sea Lion, because she had such Southern Hospitality! She could teach a few people I know some manners! We won't mention any names you all know who I am talking about...
Then Mimi was feeling tired from all the kissing and swimming and what not, so she asked us to cuddle with her for a little while so she could rest a bit.

Are you watching this Scott?! Even Sea Lions are better at cuddling than you are! (Ya damn cactus!)

After her rest and cuddle time, Mimi was the life of the party again. She knows a lot of jokes! Have you heard the one where a sea lion walks into a bar....

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dolphin Swim

Before I begin today's post, you must know the background story for this trip. When Katie was in Kindergarten her class made a book in which each child drew a picture of what they wanted to be when they grew up. It was filled with ballerinas, firemen, and teachers--until you got to Katie's page. She wanted to be a dolphin when she grew up. Now, all good parents are supposed to tell their children they can be anything they want to be when they grow up. Unfortunately technology has not afforded us the opportunity for "species change" operations as of yet, so it put me in somewhat of a dilemma. Since I couldn't encourage her to BE a dolphin, I encouraged her to save up money to SWIM with a dolphin. I opened a savings account in 2005 and put birthday money, Christmas money, and $10.00 here and there and promised her that when she was 8 I would take her to swim with dolphins. My friend Shelli and her husband Ernie went to a spectacular place for their honeymoon in the Keys called Theater of the Sea. Shelli said she knew we would love this place because it had so many opportunities for animal encounters for Katie (our nature lover) and they rescue animals (and anyone who knows me, knows how passionate I am about that). So I looked them up on the Internet and was impressed with how affordable it was and the fact that the animals are in REAL ocean lagoons--not man made pools. I booked the trip and today's post is about the dolphin swim. I'll post the Sea Lion swim soon--I can't take too much time away from my classes!
This is the sign at the front entrance. I was tingling with excitement when I saw it.
This is one of the several rescued kitties roaming the property. It was cool because it had a Mohawk--probably due to matted fur having to be removed upon rescue (I've seen that before when I worked for the Humane Society). What was doubly awesome was that the kitties roamed freely and weren't trying to eat the parrots--who were also roaming freely, or the iguanas--you guessed it--roaming freely!
This picture has three sea turtles (two of them blend quite well with the rocks) and one of them is wearing a life jacket because it's injury prevented it from being able to reach the surface for air on its own. I never knew they came in turtle sizes!
This is two of the MANY rescued parrots on the property. They seem to have no problem with public displays of affection. Their parrot show was very cute.
This is me and Katie waiting to go and have our dolphin swim. I was 80% scared and 20% excited. Katie was just 100% stoked!
This was our swim partner Stormy. He was 25 years old and 55o pounds and had two sons that were born in the park Twister and Sherman. I was a little intimidated by his size and the fact that the lady told us he was their dominant male dolphin. "Dominate" usually equals aggression--but Stormy turned out to be a sweety.
This is me and Stormy going for our buddy swim around the lagoon. He was making cool noises at me with his blowhole the entire time. I have no clue what he was saying, but he sounded happy.

Then Stormy gave me a dorsal tow back to the beach. I was amazed at how powerful he was. I didn't know if I could hold on tight enough he was going SO fast.

Next Katie had her turn to buddy swim and she said he was chirping at her also. I can't believe how brave she was to have her little 64 pound self swimming beside a 550 pound dolphin!

She loved the dorsal tow and the look on her face in this picture proves it! After this Stormy took off and disappeared for a few minutes because his sons were performing a show in the next lagoon (separated by a gate) and he went to go and watch them for a few minutes. What a good dolphin daddy he was! The trainers just asked us to get out of the water until he came back because they don't reprimand the dolphins or force them to do anything they don't want to do. In a few minutes he was popping his head up by the beach waiting for us to get back in and swim with him.

Next Stormy gave us kisses--what a flirt! Scott says this the only other guy he approves of me kissing.

Katie and Stormy sitting in the Sea...K-I-S-S-I-N-G...

Then we got Stormy hugs! Dolphins are awesome!

Katie really loved the hug part--she kept accidentally covering his eye and blowhole. Stormy was very patient and seemed to know she didn't mean to.

This is Stormy and I slow dancing. I was playing "What A Wonderful World" in my mind's iPod.

This is Katie fast dancing with Stormy. It looked sort of like the Twist...

We (and another little girl who swam with us, but we didn't know) gave Stormy a goodbye rub...

And then a goodbye wave.

Then we were off to have some lunch and explore the park before our Sea Lion swim. I 'll post those pictures soon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Our Trip to the Keys-Day One

Right before our trip to the Keys Katie lost another tooth. The tooth fairy is having to reach into her retirement fund because the teeth are coming out so fast around here!

Enroute to the Keys I took various pictures that were interesting to me, like this one of a YELLOW John Deere. What blasphemy!
I couldn't believe I was actually riding through the Evergaldes, so I took a picture of this sign to make it more real to me.
We even went past the Everglades National Park...
Of course I talked my sweetie into driving because I can't take pictures and drive at the same time (ahhemm...Jenn...).
I was disappointed because by the time we got to this sign I had only seen ONE alligator on Alligator Alley and it was dead on the side of the road. Scott refused to stop so I could take a picture of a smooshed gator. I told him a smooshed gator picture is better than NO gator picture, but he was unconvinced. So I think they should change the name to Alligatorless Alley.
So I still had to settle for more pictures like this...not as exciting as I had hoped.
Then we finally go to the hotel. It was very nice. We stayed at the Key Largo Marriott Resort. Our room was great except the refrigerator was hidden in a false drawer in the dresser and we didn't find it until we were packing up to leave and Scott was checking every drawer to make sure we didn't leave anything behind. We could have had cocktails in our room at night...or even COLD water. I guess we will know better for next time.

This is Katie checking out the lagoon behind the hotel. We saw sharks in the water by the boat dock, so knee deep was the limit for exploring the reef.

Katie found a lot of hermit crabs in the reef, like this one who refused to peek out for the camera.

This was Scott over checking out the cabanas...I think he was trying to find me a cabana boy so he could relax...

Katie and Scott paused for a picture during their reef exploring (notice Scott is nowhere NEAR the water).

Scott snapped a picture of me getting ready to get in the pool.

I got revenge by catching a photo of him in the pool.

Some palm trees are really TALL.

And this was just our first day of the trip. Stay tuned for pictures of our dolphin and sea lion swim. I had to neglect my studies for too long to post this!