Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Friday Family outing

Several weeks ago, Chuck’s sister mentioned about taking us to the Tennessee Aquarium. She is a member and she thought it would be nice for all of us to go and have a day together down there. I thought it was a very nice gesture and I would make time to go.

I was off for Good Friday, the boys are on Spring Break, Cheryl was off with her kids too. So this worked out wonderfully.

The trip to Chattanooga is not a very long trip for us. It is just about 33 miles from the house to the parking lot. So it isn’t an all day ride to get there. That always comes in handy.

We caught up with Cheryl around 10 and started our day. Little did we know this was gonna be an all day thing. Of course, we first explored the gift shop. The look around places like that tend to be a little costly. But Cheryl got our tickets and off we went.

We started in the Ocean’s Journey part of the aquarium. This is the most recent part of the TN Aquarium. It was built 2 or 3 years ago and we haven’t had the chance to get down there. So, I was thrilled that we got to go there first. And the first exhibit belonged to the penguins. Now, I love penguins! And in this tank there were 2 different kinds. The Gentoos are the 3rd largest behind the King and the Emporer penguins. And the Macaroni, remember Happy Feet, the leader with the yellow hair. That was what was in this tank. They were so fun to watch. The lady put the bucket of food down and one thought that it was a buffet, so it helped itself to the food. Several others decided that it looked good, so they joined in. When she got done cleaning, she put on the head phones and microphone and started telling us about the penguins and answered questions. While she was talking, Bug, the Gentoo, stood right there, patiently waiting for her treat.

It was really cool to be able to be there for that. To watch them swim to get their food and to watch them play with each other. The boys and I got a kick out of that.

We moved on to the next exhibit and when we got there, they were just about to have a diver come in and talk to us about that certain tank. There were 3500 fish and 7 sharks in that one tank. He volunteers once a month to come in and do this. He must really like his job. Once again a very interactive tank for the kids to enjoy. After we got done there it was off to the touch tank. Now, we have touched stingray before, but they always enjoy something like that. We did this while at Dauphin Island, so to do it again was a treat for the boys.

Butterfly Garden was next.

It was a place where you cannot touch or pick up the butterflies. But if they choose to land on you, it is ok. Now, I, being scared of anything flying around me, was not a happy camper. But I survived with my heart racing through the entire time I was in there. There were some beautiful butterflies that I just had to take a picture of.

There was one that was struggling to get moving. Turned out they took it out too early and it wasn’t ready to come out, the wings weren’t fully formed. We were told that it would most likely die. It was sad to see it struggling like it was. You can’t help them, or they would die.
They are so fragile that anyone touching them like that would harm them more than help them.

Some were on the floor, so you had to watch where you stepped. Some were on the screen, some were in the plants and some landed on people. It is actually against the law to remove a live one or dead one from that area. "Check for hitch hikers" was the sigh as we left. Fans blowing and mirrors all around to make sure you are clean.

We watched the McCaws doing tricks and being fed. Angel and Amy are part of the largest McCaws in the world. They were beautiful and funny too. It was neat to watch them eat and play with the woman that was feeding them.

Finally lunch was suggested. I was about starved to death. But we were done with the one building and decided to move on to get something to eat. Now, they built a lot around the aquarium, that way you don’t have to move your car to get something to eat. We decided on Mellow Mushroom. Ok, pizza again, but this wasn’t Pizza Hut and it was something very different. On our way over there, we spotted the Easter Bunny. They were advertising for Easter on the Southern Belle. PJ had no problem getting on his lap.

It took some convincing to get the teenagers over there. But I got them to do it. Why not have fun? You are only a kid once. Heck, I hugged him too!

After lunch we headed to River’s Journey. This is the original part of the aquarium that was built about 15 years ago. It houses the TN River, Nickajack Lake and Rivers of the World. There are some very interesting things in there. They even had a Sturgeon touch tank. Now that was different. Weird actually. They really have everything there. Alligators, all kinds of turtles, snakes and frogs.

I was behind Chuck’s neice, she was snapping pics on her cell phone. So whatever she snapped I snapped. I will make her a scrapbook for her 13th birthday. That way she will have a nice memory of our family trip.

We hit Ben and Jerry’s after we got done shopping in the gift shop. Now, you think I would pass up good ice cream. No way. I spotted that on the way in and I was planning on hitting that if no one else was.

The place was packed. But they move very fast. I knew what I wanted and PJ and I split it. Eric got the waffle cone with 2 scoops and then the others got what they wanted. Since I picked up lunch, Cheryl picked up the treat. She is like me, this was a special day and we don’t do this stuff everyday.

We got done and got to talking. I wanted the boys to see the Coolidge Park and the carousel that was there. So, it was suggested that we go over there. Ok, I didn’t mind the walk and it was a beautiful day. Past the aquarium, up the sidewalk, and several flights of stairs we were at the bridge, sucking wind, but we made it that far.
The bridge was built in 1910. They have done many renovations to it. This was my first time walking across it, and hopefully the last for a while.

Little did we know how long of a walk that we were in for. But it was worth getting to the other side. Next time I am down this way, I want to go to the Hunter’s Museum
and walk along the Trail of Tears. It is a lovely story when I heard it a few years ago.

I have only been to Coolidge Park once, that was several years ago. I made a date with Chuck to go there, have a picnic and go on the carousel ride. A Valentine’s Day date.

Very interesting about the animals on the carousel were made by a local man from Soddy Daisy. He goes to craft shows and displays his work. I have seen him before and come to find out, he teaches classes too for something like this. I loved going on the ride, it was an old fashioned ride with old fashioned prices. .50 cents per child, 1.00 for adults. PJ had never been on a carousel before, so it was a good thing that we did go over there. He was on all kinds of animals. Couldn’t make up his mind what one to go on. So, a little on each was fine with him.

Coolidge Park in the summer has the fountain flowing. The kids come down to play in the fountains. They love it. It is a fun time in the summer time.

I took several shots of it. This is the only old building left in the area that hasn’t been updated. Now, I couldn’t get close enough to it to get a good close shot, so I did the best that I could. I took from several locations. Some were different than others, but the best I got was from the walking bridge.

It was a gorgeous day. The weather was perfect, the aquarium was fun, lunch was delicious and Ben and Jerry’s was just too good.

This morning my feet hurt, my calves were sore, my back was aching. But it was worth it all. We all had a great time and I would do it again.