Monday, August 5, 2013

Denver 2012: Day 10


July 12th 2012

We slept late on purpose for a change, had a calm breakfast and went to the pool through the now miraculously working garage door. Once we’d been satisfactorily chlorinated, we dried off and ventured out on the day’s adventure.

The Downtown Aquarium was our goal and we reached it in time for lunch. I will admit that I compare every vacation (and in extreme cases every waking moment) to Disney World, but this time wasn’t my fault.

Before I could begin making my references to Disney’s “Coral Reef” restaurant, the waiter pointed out “Dory” in the tropical tank. Shortly after that, “Under the Sea” played in the background. The kicker was when the Mermaids showed up to frolic in the big tank while announcements were made about where their Meet and Greet location was. See, it isn’t only me!

Once we finished our excellent meals, and watching Ariel’s third cousin once removed, we entered the exhibit…from the front this time.

Honestly, there was a slight pause when I scarfed down part of the remains of Anabelle’s gigantic shark shaped rice crispy treat, featuring three flavors of sauces to color it with. Shhhhhh…I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.

Anabelle pretty quickly decided that the little descriptive plaques should “all say fish” to make it easier than the crazy names listed.

She did make one exception, for one of our favorites, the often imitated (by us) Grumpy Fish.


As we passed through the different environments there were a large amount of snakes on display, much like both the zoo and the museums. They’re kinda everywhere out there. (Oooooh, was that “kayen-da” or “Kihn-da”? Stealth Doctor Who puns while you wait.) There was a mosasaur skeleton which were also, oddly, fairly common.




The otter tank led to a flurry of attacks in the camera war, as we each took hundreds of pictures of reflections trying to get the little bugger as he swam by. I lost that skirmish, and did only a little better in the colorful fish and coral tank. Anabelle lifted my spirits considerably when a large green eel emerged from a cave, asking, “What’s that thing?” allowing me to belt out:
“That’s a Moray!”
She must really love me.


While we were passing through the aqua tunnel through to the big tank with a giant window in the next room, the Mermaid Show began. This was Anabelle’s favorite part and she ran, dragging Rosa along with the crowd that cleared out the tunnel to see the show though the giant window. I was also thrilled as I had the whole tunnel to myself allowing unobstructed views of groupers, nurse sharks, rays and many smaller denizens of the deep.

Then I noticed I was ignoring the swimming bikini girls in the next room in order to look at fish and thought,
“Christ, I’m old.”

I caught the end of the show and noticed we’d be able to know which Mermaid we saw was at the Meet and Greet later based on their tattoos, which is a fairly strange thing to notice.

I had more picture failures in the dark of the flood cave, but used my own issues to great effect in the habitat of the oddly located tiger. I simply went to the opposite side of the enclosure from my family and took careful aim and focus with my Smartphone. When the big cat immediately turned to moon me, as almost all wildlife did on the trip, Rosa was lined up for a perfect shot.

Anabelle was nervous to stick her head into the viewing areas under some tanks, but was brave enough to touch starfish and shells. She also conquered the previous year’s fear of the floor portholes in the shark room, and stood over one for family feet pictures.
Other shark photographs were taken using the shotgun method as we were both getting worn out and squinty.

The end of the aquarium featured a ray petting tank, but the part that held the Mermaid Meet and Greet was too shallow for any to reach us. Anabelle was thrilled when the Mermaid was finally brought in. This was mostly because: “Hey, mermaid!” but also because the only thing to see in the area besides the rays was an extremely ugly wolf fish.

She had a wonderful and happy meeting with the chick of the sea, before we went to the deeper side of the ray tank for a much less wonderful and happy time.


Anabelle REALLY wanted to pet a ray.
She was also REALLY scared to touch one.

She’d reach to pet one, then jump back, splashing me excessively. She always had a sound logical reason for jumping back.

“I don’t want to pet that one, it’s too flappy”
(As opposed to the non flappy rays.)

“I don’t want to touch its face.”
(Rays are sort of all face.)

“I couldn’t reach it.”
(Especially after jumping back about six feet.)

The one that popped up the side making us both scream like little girls probably didn’t help matters.

She finally pet two of them, and it was far less horrifying than imagined.

The lesson of the day, eventually passed on, was the border of a scary thing is a really bad place to stand.

Either say “no” and walk calmly away,
Or do it, and find out it wasn’t nearly as bad as you imagined.

Sometimes, Daddy has a good point.
Sometimes, it takes a great deal of cajoling, occasional yelling, and both of us getting soaking wet to get that good point across.

After her eventual success, we bought the picture of her with the Mermaid to let her get it autographed. (Which isn’t at all like Disney World.)

By this point we’d reached the time we had to go in order to meet up with the friends I’d only managed to leave a string of increasingly insane messages with the previous year. On the way out, Anabelle stopped to pet a giant lizard one of the keepers was holding, because she likes to watch Daddy’s head explode.

I had three websites and a GPS controlled map pre-loaded onto my Smartphone. Sadly, the entire city of Denver had absolutely no AT&T signal. (As opposed to the state of New Jersey which only has almost no AT&T signal.) With some plotting of cross streets, park names, and random guesses, we made it to the parking lot by the playground we were meeting them near just late enough to get a text message assuming we were lost.

We managed to find Scott and his daughter; and Cheryl and her son and daughter. The kids immediately vanished into the giant playground area and had a fantastic time running around together, while we were catching up, and ignoring how long it had actually been since we were in high school together. The kids only emerged briefly to play over by a stream where there was either a tank full of lobsters, someone with a bucket of crabs, a kid putting crayfish in a box, or some combination of the three.

When it reached dinner time we surrounded the giant jungle gym from multiple directions and flushed the children out. We were looking for a place to stop on the way home, Cheryl was heading home, but Scott recommended following him to Chipotle Mexican Grill. Much like dang near every “Fast Casual” chain, it started in Denver.

Not only did it have excellent and healthy Mexican food (which we were pretty used to in Denver) it also had a maniac East Coast sense of pacing and urgency (which we were in no way used to in Denver, but I, for one, was thrilled to experience.)

The adults talked more about Denver stuff while the girls rattled on endlessly. I heard my daughter mention the Mermaids, and be asked by her new friend if she thought they were real. I listened closely as she asked me that question as we left, and all I had time for was a, “Well, what do you think?” before realizing our electronic directions were all on hiatus. Anabelle’s reply made me very happy,
“No, I don’t think they’re real, but I like to pretend they are.”

“Yay!” I thought, “She’s whimsical but not crazy!”

We found our way home pretty easily, ending up on the street from the buffet fiasco earlier in the week. The picture war was a dead heat owing to the large number of water blurred pictures on both of our parts. Any good photos I had scored due to patience and a love of fish were cancelled out by nature’s propensity to moon me. In other words, there were a great number of crappy pictures...

 for every good crappie picture.

Day 11
Day 12
Day 13
Day 14
Day 15
Days at Distance


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