Tuesday, July 05, 2011

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

With some of my family out of town, it was difficult to come up with a plan to celebrate my birthday. After much thought (okay, I flipped a coin), I decided to go to the Aquarium of the Pacific with Ryan and my mom.

We had a great time so I thought I'd share some of the pictures and give a little guided tour along the way (there was supposed to be some video, too, but I can never figure out how to turn the sound off when I'm recording and I'm sure you don't want to listen to me telling my mom to get out of the frame and my son to "quit touching that" repeatedly so we'll just stick with the photos for now).

Normally, I time my visit to the aquarium so that we're done by lunch time and can hit my favorite spot for lunch right afterwards, but we had to make some scheduling accommodations for mom so we got a late start. It was lunchtime when we arrived so before heading into the aquarium, we got a bit to eat here:

Good ol' Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. If you've never been to one, the whole restaurant is based on the movie "Forrest Gump." The dishes are all based on the scenes where Forrest's army buddy, Bubba, does nothing but talk about shrimp for days on end. They play music from the 60's, the movie runs on screens throughout the restaurant, the waiters ask you trivia about the movie and so on. It's a lot of fun plus they have a dessert called "worms 'n dirt" that Ryan just LOVES. Also, it's basically on-site at the aquarium so you don't have to move the car or walk far to get to it.

AFter stuffing ourselves full of all the shrimp we could hold, it was time to head to the aquarium. This is a dolphin statue that's right outside the front entrance.

If you're looking for something to do in So Cal, I have to say, you really get a lot of bang for your buck at this place. It's overall one of the least expensive attractions and they really have a lot to look at as well as some great hands-on experiences for the kids.

When you first walk inside, you're greeted by this life-size blue whale (and her calf - located on the other side) suspended from the ceiling. It's hard to get the perspective from my terrible photog skills, but trust me, it's IMMENSE!

This is a newer exhibit since the last time I was there - all about the melting polar ice caps and the dramatic effect that process is having on all the species that live there. As part of the exhibit, they have an arctic fox on loan from another facility.

This exhibit had some great photos and videos to look at so I grabbed a couple of still shots of the best ones. I love penguins!

Then it was time to head on to the underwater exhibits.

I have no memory of what kind of fish this is - I just loved its color scheme. It's funny how, as jewelry artists, we all stress about color schemes when Mother Nature has no problem putting the wildest combinations together and just going for it.

Nice picture of a rock, right? Nope, that's actually a CRAB! I thought it was such a fantastic disguise that I had to take a picture of it.

Ryan's favorite - jellyfish! If I remember correctly, I think these are called Sea Nettles.

This is a certain species of nudibranch. They move around by flipping that ball-shaped structure open and closed.

It's not that I'm particularly enamored of nudibranchs, but this was one of the best pictures I took all day so I had to post it LOL!

Sorry this is so blurry - it was a hard shot to get because the exhibit was in pitch black darkness AND this guy was hiding in a cave. This is a giant Pacific octopus. The bright spot in the middle is his eye.

This is one of the coolest things - live shark egg cases! They cut a window into the case and seal it with clear packing tape so you can actually watch the baby sharks developing inside the egg cases. These are both baby swell sharks. The white ball-shaped things are the yolk sacs. There were recently hatched baby horn sharks in this exhibit as well. The horn shark's egg case looks like a corkscrew so it would be hard to do this technique with it.

Another one of my favorite exhibits - sea horses!!

Didn't this one pose so nicely for me? You'll see in a post later this week how I worked this inspiration into a finished piece of jewelry!

And, of course, it wouldn't be a day at the Aquarium without watching the sea lions and seals get fed. They don't have a "show" like at Sea World, but they have taught them all to do a few behaviors that the animals are more than willing to demonstrate in return for some fish. This is Parker on his raft.

"Hey, come back here with my fish!"

"Now that's what I'm talking about! Give up the sushi already!"

The best thing about this exhibit is that in addition to this upper viewing area, it also has an underwater viewing area where you can watch the animals swimming in around rocks and caves and really see how graceful and FAST they are in the water.

We had such a great time and spent so long inside that by the time we came out, it was dinnertime already (before facing an hour commute home on the freeway). We strolled over to nearby restaurant row and had dinner at Gladstone's.

It being Father's Day weekend, however, there was a bit of a crowd so I took pictures while we waited.

This is a view of Rainbow Harbor taken from the waiting area outside the restaurant. I just thought those buildings were cute.

And off to the right from our dinner table was the old Long Beach lighthouse.

And in between Rainbow Harbor on the left and the lighthouse on the right, looking straight ahead all the way across the harbor is the Queen Mary. If you look closely, you can see the top of a white dome between the 2nd and 3rd smokestacks on the QM - that's where they house the Spruce Goose.

Then, of course, there were my charming birthday dinner companions (and Sharky - the stuffed shark Ryan weasled his grandmother into getting for him at the gift shop...hey, whose birthday is this, anyway?)

Oh, and if you ever have your birthday at Gladstone's? Don't actually TELL them it's your birthday...otherwise, they bring you a basketball size plate of blue cotton candy (and no, I'm not exaggerating!) It was SOOO embarrassing!

Plus, then I got the joy of telling Ryan that no, he could NOT eat the whole thing because if he barfs in Grandma's Lexus, she is soooo going to 1. Make me clean it up and 2. Throw us out on the side of the road and 3. NEVER EVER EVER let me forget it. Fortunately, he listened to me (after only a minimal amount of whining) so we avoided that whole scenario.

And that's how I spent my birthday.



TesoriTrovati said...

Fun! Looks like a good time was had by all. I think you could be very inspired by the aquarium. I agree, nature has a great way with intriguing color palettes!
Enjoy the day!

lunedreams said...

Lovely!! Looking at AND eating sea creatures. What could be better? Glad you had a nice day!!