Posted by: bree1972 | January 6, 2011

An Atlanta Fish Tale 1/7/2011

When we left Arkansas on the cold morning after Christmas Day, we knew we were heading into snow.  There had been a dusting of the white stuff at Julie and Matt’s late Christmas afternoon, but nothing compared to the predictions for the northern parts of Alabama and Georgia where we were heading.  Jason called to say be “careful, careful, careful”.  Since my “dozing off at the wheel” incident, he makes a point of checking on me if he knows I might be behind the wheel for any length of time.

We hadn’t been on the road more than 30 minutes when I went into sleep mode, waking when Ted changed radio stations or we stopped to let Maddie and Bear stretch their legs and “do their business”.  Opening the door of the truck and climbing out into temps in the teens made those doggy breaks real short.  Man, it was cold!

I started driving outside of Memphis and while Ted napped, the snow began to fall.  The fascination of all those snowflakes being swirled by some pretty blustery winds kept me wide awake.  Ted woke up a couple of times and snapped some shots of the snow beginning to build up along the highway.

When Ted began driving again outside Birmingham, we tuned into the Sirius Atlanta weather channel.  It didn’t sound good.  As the sun began to go down, black ice was being reported on more and more Atlanta roads.  I kept waiting for Ted to say, “let’s just get a hotel room and make the last 100 miles in the morning.”  But he didn’t, although he told me later he certainly considered it several times.  He knew I wanted to get to Jason and Blair’s to see them and Blake and have Christmas there, so he just kept driving.  Calls to Jason for road conditions near their house eased his mind somewhat also.

Jason . . .

 

. . . and Blake were ready to open gifts almost as soon as we arrived, but we ate the delicious dinner Blair had prepared first.

Ted and I had mentioned in the past that we’d really like to go to the Georgia Aquarium the next time we were in Atlanta, so on Monday afternoon we loaded up and rode downtown.  The company Jason works for, Brasfield & Gorrie, built the aquarium, which opened in 2005.  That afternoon, with thousands of New Orleans Saints fans in town for the Falcons/Saints game, the aquarium was swimming (pardon the pun) with people. 

The Georgia Aquarium is the largest such facility in the world, holding over 100 million gallons of water.  It also has the world’s largest collection of aquatic animals.  It is said 230 newly-constructed, average-size American homes can fit inside the facility.  It hosted 1,000,000 visitors during its first 100 days and 3.6 million its first year.  Here’s a few of my favorite shots from our visit:

The sting ray petting pool - hmmmm, I think I'd rather pet something warm and fuzzy, but this was fun for a second or two. This was in Georgia Explorer, the first of five exhibit halls, which also had interactive pools full of horseshoe crabs, sea stars and shrimp. Everything in this exhibit was from Georgia's rivers and coast.

 

This is a lion fish, and they are taking over the waters off the coasts of Georgia, North and South Carolina and Florida. Normally found in the Pacific Ocean, six were accidently released into the ocean near Miami Beach when a beach-side aquarium broke open during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It's believed others were also released by people who bought them for their home aquariums and then dumped them after they grew too large to keep. They also have a nasty little habit of eating the other fish in those aquariums. The "spines" along their backs are extremely venomous, so if you ever encounter one in coastal waters, go the other way! When I pull one of these babies in off our dock, you will be the first to know!

 

Jason and sweet Blair.

 

Up close and personal with a Loggerhead Sea Turtle.

 

One of a pair of rare albino alligators from the River Scout exhibit hall. Haven't seen one of these lounging off our seawall either - again, you'll be the first to know when I do! In the wild, these creatures would have had a 24-hour life expectancy because they would have not been able to hide themselves. This pair was hatched safely in captivity. In the River Scout gallery, the rivers of Africa, South America, and Asia are explored.

 

A couple of icky eels.

 

The underwater terrors of all those scary movies where people fall out of canoes - the flesh-eating piranha.

 

From the Coldwater Quest exhibit, the amazingly beautiful Japanese Spider Crab.

 

 

It's not all fish. There were a few mammals on display - like this precious sea otter . . .

 

. . . and awesome Beluga whales, which eat 28,000 lbs. of fish each year - each!

 

For the young and limber in the crowd, a twisty crawl through a tunnel brought you up in several places - right in the middle of the penquins' playhouse. Too cool!

 

Pacific Sea Nettles, a type of jellyfish. Divers off the coast of Oregon captured 150 of these in 48 degree water to bring to the aquarium for study and exhibition.

 

Living corals and thousands of tropical fish inhabit this huge re-creation of a tropical Pacific coral reef, complete with crashing waves. This was from the Tropical Diver exhibit.

 

In the Ocean Voyager exhibit we rode a "people mover" through an acrylic tunnel and felt like SCUBA divers under the sea. The gentle giants of the sea, like this huge whale shark, swam around and over us. The whale shark is the world's largest fish, and the Georgia Aquarium is the only aquarium outside of Asia to house them. The facility has four - two males (Yushan and Taroko) and two females (Alice and Trixie). This whale shark exhibit alone holds 6.3 million gallons of water.

 

We happened to be there for the final holiday performance of the famous mermaids from Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida.

 

All the exhibits and fish and mammals were amazing, but this tiny Australian Weedy Sea Dragon from the Coldwater Quest exhibit was my "favorite thing". Sea Dragons are not Sea Horses, although they're in the same family. This one's a little blurry, but I found him fascinating!

Any visit to Atlanta should include a few hours to explore the Georgia Aquarium.  I’ve  just hit a few of the high spots of this wonderful facility, and a sixth arena – a dolphin exhibit – opens in a few months.    Here’s a little tidbit about how the Georgia Aquarium came to be – the Georgia Aquarium was funded by a gift of over $200 million by Bernie and Billi Marcus.  Bernie was born into poverty, somehow found the means to attend college, became a pharmacist, then branched off into other endeavers.  The most profitable was founding – with another gentleman –  the Home Depot Corporation.  The land for the aquarium was donated by the Coca-Cola Botting Company.  The Georgia Aquarium opened debt-free.

Snow outside Jason and Blair's on the morning we left to come home.

What a wonderful holiday we had – in Arkansas, in Atlanta, and then home for New Year’s Eve and a party with friends.  It was our first New Year’s Eve at home in several years, and it was such fun to enjoy the weather here that night.  It was warm enough for our friends to have their party outside by the pool – although by 10 p.m. temperatures had begun to dip, and most of us had moved inside the pool house.  By the next day it was cold again, and that has hung on all this week.

Bear and I received our official registration notification this week, and I went into Albany Wednesday to take care of the orientation I needed to work with him at the hospital.  We are ready to go and hope to work for the first time on January 19 at a nursing home, then the next week at a hospital one day and two assisted living homes later that week.  Please send up a little doggie prayer that Bear gets over his “fear of Fords”.  We are still struggling with that.

See you Monday morning – have a great weekend, and God bless.

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Responses

  1. What wonderful pictures! That’s really a treat. I actually was introduced to one of the albino alligators last week by a friend who spent Christmas with her daughter there and brought back photos of the aquarium. A most impressive creature! But I like your presentation better!

  2. WOW! That aquarium is AWESOME! So much water, can you imagine if the glass ever broke while…oh never mind…my mind started wandering. 😉 Seriously, your pictures are great! I love the area where you can crawl up, like in the middle of the penquins…that is really cool. The sea turtle was pretty neat too. If I ever make it to Atlanta I’d love to see that! Great pictures Brenda!

  3. Awesome pictures-looks like quite a place. I’ve got a pretty serious fish phobia so those piranha things would have sent me to the moon! We did the aquarium in Tampa once-they had baby sharks to pet. For some reason they don’t bother me like regular fish do. Their skin feels very strange-almost like sandpaper.

    Glad your drive was ok-my cousin drove from Alabama to South Carolina and ran into some really nasty conditions that same day.

    Good luck with your new adventures with Bear-he’ll come around with the car thing once he realizes he’s going somewhere great!

  4. The Atlanta Aquarium is definitely my most favorite stay-cation, even more than GA Veterans Memorial Park. Thanks for the mini-tour!

  5. What beautiful pictures. Thank you so much. Sounds like you had a wonderful holidays with family. Glad you enjoyed the snow. We had a white Christmas here in Northwest Ohio for the first time in several years. Congratulations to you and Bear. You both will be wonderful!

  6. What an amazing bunch of fish. So many odd shapes and sizes. Didn’t God have fun designing them?
    When you’re driving have you ever thought of playing a CD of a story or a bible story?
    Every time I listen to “Adventures In Odyssey” it keeps me laughing and thinking so much I’m never sleepy.

  7. Beatutiful aquarium pictures Bree! I love aquariums! They are so interesting. So glad you had a beatutiful Christmas wiht you family. And prayers are sent for Bear! Have a beautiful day!

  8. The Atlanta aquarium is beautiful, we were there in July. Your photos are stunning! Can’t wait to hear about Bear and the hospital work.


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