Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Loveland Living Planet Aquarium and visiting Kayl (June 17th; A guest post by Miriam)

The drive to the Aquarium was pretty smooth. Even though it was our first "long" drive all being crammed into our van together, there wasn't very much fighting, and Phoebe was pretty good. We got there a little earlier than Naanii, Bumpa, and Josie, so we were walking around the outside, which had an interesting structure, a surplus stage from a U2 concert that the Aquarium bought.

When the rest of our party came, we all headed inside. The first stop of the trip was the South American exhibit. Phoebe was in paradise. She was screaming "Wa-wa", "Fish!", and "This! This!" 

She loved everything, even the electric eel simulation, where you put two fingers on charged electric circles, and you get shocked. 

Phoebe holding her hands because they feel funny after getting shocked
Miriam glancing into a tank

My favourite part of the South American exhibit was the poison dart frogs. 

Near the poison dart frog exhibit, there was a rope bridge, and we were hoping that Phoebe wouldn't notice it, but she did, and had to go across it.

[Mom edit: I actually didn't mind taking Phoebe across the bridge and, in fact, was happy to do so. Andrew was holding her though, and was trying to keep her mind off wanting Mommy. He is also afraid of heights and didn't want to go across the bridge. But Phoebe is an adventurous baby these days and once she knew you could go across the bridge she needed to go across the bridge.]

In the end, everyone went across it except for Dad, Naanii, Bumpa and...I can't remember whether Auntie Josie went across the bridge or not.

There were a lot of things in this exhibit, and we weren't even halfway through!

[Mom edit: We were really impressed by the collection of large freshwater fish, the biggest of which are found in rivers in South America, like the pirarucu of Brazil. Auntie Josie was telling us stories about fishing in Brazil when she was on tour with BYU's Young Ambassadors and encountering these huge fish.]

[Mom edit: For scale, just see how big these pirarucu are compared to my little kids staring into their tank!]

After the South American exhibit, we went to see the Penguins. They were all Gentoo penguins, the largest species of Antarctic penguin other than Emperor penguins. Phoebe also loved the penguins. 

[Mom edit: All the females seemed to be brooding on nests made of stones, so none of the penguins were particularly playful or active—either sitting on nests or checking on whoever was sitting on nests. Alexander appreciated the fact that one of the penguin's names was Georgia (and then was over the moon that one of the gorillas at the zoo's name was Georgia)].

When we were done in the Antarctic section, we headed down into the deep sea exhibit. We saw sea urchins, and some very large lobsters (why do they have to be so big, they are essentially sea cockroaches). I really enjoyed the jellyfish too.

Zoë watching jellyfish

We had tickets for a program at 2:30, at the claw, and by that time it was 2:10, so we hurried (as fast as 11 people can) over there. There were only 8 tickets, and Phoebe wasn't big enough for the program, but there was also a water table nearby, and she actually went to Naanii and Bumpa! (She only lasted for 10 minutes, she screamed for the last 20 minutes). The program was pretty cool. It was a virtual reality 4D short film, we had to put goggles on, and Dad's were broken, so he had to watch almost backwards in his chair. It was really disorienting not being able to see your hand in front of you. The film was just about different sea creatures and how we need to protect our oceans. 

After that, we went back inside the aquarium to look at the ocean exhibit, with touch pools and the shark tunnel. We learned that some sea anemones don't really sting you, you just get stuck to them. Phoebe wasn't very gentle, but the water was somewhat deep, so she couldn't touch the majority of the creatures.

Phoebe (and everyone) liked the shark tunnel. It had sting rays, fish, and a turtle that sleeps in weird positions. 

I forgot how silly stingray faces look!

Here are some pictures Mom took of us with Auntie Josie in the shark tunnel:

Here are some more pictures of us enjoying the exhibits:

Of course, it wouldn't be a trip to the aquarium without posing in the megalodon's jaws. Here's our family:

Our family with Naanii:

And here are some pictures Mom took of the rest of us with Naanii, Bumpa, and Auntie Josie:

We spent a few minutes enjoying some of the outside play structures (that Phoebe got to play on while the rest of us were in the VR movie thing):

We left the aquarium around 3:30, and drove to cousin Kayl's house to visit with him. (Now we can say that at least half of us saw all of our cousins. Sadly, Zoë and Ben missed seeing Riley).

Mom edits from here on out:

 Kayl has grown up so much over the past few years! He was very excited to show us his bedroom and invited us all in to play with his magnatiles. We also think magnatiles are awesome, so we had some fun building with him. Then he took us downstairs to show up the computer room, where he likes to play Minecraft. We're hoping to get the kids set up to play with him on a server sometime. He was very excited to see everyone, remembered everyone's names—even Phoebe (who he had never met before). He's a good, sweet kid!

Phoebe was not about to cooperate for a picture, but we tried. I'm hoping that maybe one of the pictures from Andrew's phone worked out better than this... I'll have to check...

Here's a picture of the original three amigos (it felt like they were the only three cousins for a few years there...with a three year gap before Benjamin came along):

After saying goodbye to Kayl (and his family), we drove down to Naanii and Bumpa's house for dinner—hot dogs! Then we played with Naanii's fun fairytale block set and Phoebe surprised us by identifying, "YELLOW!" She's actually pretty good at colours and will select the appropriate colour (usually) if you ask her about such things, but this was the first time she offered a colour name all on her own.

It was a good, busy day!

(And a much more successful trip to the aquarium than the one my parents were due to take on Friday with my sister Kelline, her daughter Amy, and Amy's three kids (who were all down for a visit from Canada). Kelli did end up going to the aquarium anyway, but my dad—as previously mentioned—ended up in the hospital having surgery. Kelli joked that if he didn't want to go to the aquarium he could have just said something; he didn't have to get out of it in such a dramatic way! (He's home now, by the way, as of last night)).

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