It is finally here, the day I have been waiting for all my life....well since I found out they had dolphin encounters. I wake up at four a.m.! I try to go back to sleep but cannot so get up to take a bath which helps. Finally we are all set to go and wouldn't you know we get lost on they way! But, Pete gets us there in time and he and Luke go down the street to spend the day at Sea World. Bree and I go check in at Discovery Cove.
First, they give you a badge with a time on it that tells you when your encounter is...ours is at two o'clock. It is now nine. We head to pick up our wet-suit vests and snorkle with goggles and then to our locker. We already had our suits on so we put our stuff in the locker and I take the snorkle and goggles. We stop at the first "lagoon" where there are fish and stingray which you are allowed to swim with. I hear the lifeguard yell at a few people and decide I better ask what the rules are because if she yells at me, I will not understand her. She tells me the rules and I decided to go in even though the water is rather cool. My daughter wants to sit on the beach and watch me. I go in for about 20 minutes and decided to try to learn how to snorkle which I picked up on pretty quick. But, it is no fun withour my girl so I head out. We walk to the other lagoon which is beautiful...it has waterfalls and high cliffs surrounding it. I ask this lifeguard about the rules and if we are allowed to touch the fish. She says there are no fish in this pond! I rush to my daughter who was going to sit out this one as well and tell her there are no fish and she heads to the water before I can say another word. The water is so warm. She wants to try my goggles and snorkel so I let her and she picks up on it right away. I think I should go to the locker and get her set but we will come back after the dolphin encounter and I will get it then. We spend about two hours in the lake and head out to lunch. There is a guy getting ready to go in and he asks if we did the lazy river yet. We say "huh?" and he tells us all about the river that leaves this lake and goes around the park, through tunnels and waterfalls, through the bird sanctuary and brings you back to the lake. We say we are going to do that after our encounter and head to lunch where we have chicken strips, fries and cheesecake for dessert. We make a note to make sure to tell dad there was a triple layer chocolate cake there as well!
After lunch we stop at the gift store where I do not like any of the shirts. My daughter finds a stuffed dolphin and a necklace so we put those in our locker and head to the encounter. Ours is at the sand dollar cabana. There are eight people in our group. I told them I was hearing impaired so when we walked into the water, we stood shoulder to shoulder, I was in the middle and one of the trainers stood across from me, facing me. He slapped the water and our dolphin came and was right in front of the eight of us, between us and the trainer. We were all petting him as the trainer talked about him. His name is Akai and he is the alpha male of the group. We talked about the similarities between humans and dolphins and we are both mammals. The trainer asked what we have in common as mammals and someone said, "Giving birth" another said "breathing air" and I blurted out "Hair!"
"That is right!" said the trainer, "How did you know that?" I was about tell him I have been waiting to do this for 30 years along with the rest of my life story but just said I had known it for a long time. He said when dolphins are born, they have whiskers like cats and dogs. He then had Akai turn over and he has a belly button! Dolphins are also warm blooded.
The trainer taught us a few hand gestures, and we each got to feed Akai fish who had his mouth open the whole time for food even when he was on his back. (Reminded me of our dogs when we would rub their tummies and their mouths would be open with the tongues hanging out). Finally, we got our pictures taken and each one of us swam out about 30 yards and Akai brought us back to shore.
Then it was time to go....I walked out feeling satisified with the experience.
Bree and I went back to snorkeling and went down the lazy river which was a lot of fun. Soon it was time to leave and meet up with the boys. Another stop at the gift store and I decided to get large bath towels for myself and my mother. We also purchased two pictures from our dolphin encounter, one with the two of us hugging Akai and the other is Bree giving him a kiss. We wondered if the boys were going to want to leave since it was five o'clock but they had a great time at Sea World. My son talked about how he touched and fed stingrays, fed the dolphins and walked through and underwater tunnel filled with sharks (five times) and even went to see a Shamu show!
SInce it was Father's Day, Pete made reservations at a nice restaurant at the park where we could have steak and sit next to the shark tank. Afterwards, we went and saw all the places they had been. We all said it was the best day so far the only thing we wished was we could have shared it with the other two!
I thought the dolphin encounter was going to be the highlight of the day, but I think learning how to snorkel with Bree and the dinner with the family were even better.
This is the Vacation of a Lifetime!