Spring Break - Here, Fishy Fishy

Seahorse met some seahorse.

Spring break, day two. We woke up, got ready, and walked to breakfast on our way to the Tennessee Aquarium. Other than being rather chilly, there were no problems. I forgot how much I love this aquarium. I know the Georgia Aquarium, just down the road (literally next door to our new church building) is billed as being the world's hugest, most luxurious, most amazingest aquarium in the history of aquariums (oh sorry, that was Trump) but Tennessee's is nothing to sneeze at. I think it is actually more accessible and set up in a way that makes it easy to see everything without being overwhelmed.

We started with the river building, which features otters (they weren't doing anything) on the top floor before you wind your way down the dark ramps to see the various fish exhibits. Violet was once again in manic mode, wanted to race her way through everything on a quest to... get to the end? I really couldn't figure out why she was in such a hurry. 

There are alligators back there...

We made it through and switched to the ocean building, which brought you to the top floor into the "touch a sting ray" pool and the butterfly garden. Both girls got to hold a butterfly! This building also holds the penguins, which was really fun. First grade does a huge unit on penguins every year, so it was fun for me to see these guys up close. They really are amazing swimmers, and the exhibit was partly underwater, letting you watch them dive and leap.

Taller than a penguin... barely!

Finally, the live versions!

At lunch, we played pictionary. I drew this and told Violet to guess what it was. "It's a penguin!" she said. "Or... a volcano."

We had planned to go to the IMAX movie after lunch, but neither girl was really into it, and Annie was heading dangerously close to naptime meltdown. So we cut our loses, took another stroll over yesterday's bridge, then headed back to the hotel for some R&R. The nice thing about our aquarium passes - they let us in and out all day. So once everyone was rested up, we headed back and did the ocean exhibit all over again. A good thing too, since Violet rushed us through the first time. This round we arrived just in time for giant manta feeding. It was bizarre! Shrimp would come sailing down into the water and the mantas would shoot up the window and then sink back down, catching the shrimp against the glass and swallowing them. Talk about up close and personal! The sea turtle was feasting on an entire head of lettuce as we watched. Then we headed to our IMAX, which Annie and I ended up spending in the lobby (she's just not ready for 3D IMAX movies quite yet).

After the movie, we followed up on a recommendation made by some random dog walkers we passed at one point the previous day - dinner at Boathouse. It sits right on the river with great views of whatever happens to be sailing by. Alas, it was a rather stormy evening, so there wasn't much action on the water, but we enjoyed dinner and made it back to the hotel before the rain started, so... win!


A little sea salad for this big guy.

Last night in the hotel!
Our last day in Chattanooga, we packed up, checked out of the hotel, and headed to Ruby Falls. We figured this would be a good way to wrap up our trip and wear out the kids before we threw them back in the car for the ride home. Before we planned this trip, we were on the fence about Ruby Falls. It's dark. It's a lot of walking. Was it going to be too scary? But seeing Violet race through the dark caverns at Rock City convinced us she would handle it just fine, and she did. Annie, on the other hand, was in full clingy mode and insisted on being carried almost the entire way. By me. Try as he might, Matt could not convince her to take a turn in his arms. She lasted to the waterfall itself, then totally fell asleep on me during the return trip. Exhausting! I swear she's gotten heavier in the last few weeks. I was sweating by the time we made it back to the entrance!

The lights! The majestic music! Cheesy touristy goodness!
If you can get past the commercial touristy aspects, it's a pretty cool place. Some guy, drilling into the earth hoping to build an elevator down to some caverns, hits a hidden pocket of fresh air. He jumps down the shaft, crawls on hands and knees for hours in the dark through an 18-inch tall passageway, and discovers an underground waterfall! Had he started his elevator drilling just six feet over, he would have missed the pocket altogether and Ruby Falls would be unknown to this day. It's rather amazing to think about. Also, who has the guts to crawl through the dark for hours into the unknown? Not I, said the sensible school-teaching mother of two. No thank you. But it does make for a lovely end to our little spring break journey to Chattanooga.

View from the top.

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