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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bubbles in Baltimore 

After dropping my mother-in-law off at the airport this morning, I asked Celeste if she wanted to go home. She'd been a little down that we were just dropping M--- off curbside instead of going in to the airport and doing some planewatching, so it's not surprising she wasn't ready to head straight home — "Go somewhere," she said.

So I called Evelin to see how she and Quinn were doing and if she had any plans for the afternoon. Nothing was on tap, so Celeste and I headed north on the Baltimore–Washington Parkway. Pretty quickly, we were at the Inner Harbor and I was pointing out Camden Yards and urging her to yell out "Go Sox!"

Since we'd only planned to be dropping M--- off at BWI, neither Celeste nor I were really dressed for the weather (upper 30°Fs and windy). Luckily, I at least found a pair of socks for her in the T.R.U.C.K., so it was only a cold couple of blocks from the parking garage to the National Aquarium.

Celeste With the Bubbles Once inside the aquarium, Celeste — and a lot of other kids about her size — was immediately enamored with the big tubes of bubbles. She kept running back and forth from one tube to another, watching the bubbles. Once we made it into the main area, Celeste was fascinated with the cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus), southern stingrays (Dasyatis americana), and the big green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas).

Since the aquarium was fairly crowded, we had to check Celeste's stroller, which meant I was carrying her much of the time. It worked out pretty well since the higher position gave her a better view into most of the enclosures/tanks, but I was worried whenever she'd get excited that she might end up going for a swim. It didn't help that about halfway through she started talking about going swimming. (Friday morning, Evelin took her to an indoor pool and they had a great time.)

We gradually made our way up to the top floor where we found Celeste's favorite exhibit (at least up to that point) — the puffins (Fratercula arctica). Back in September, I picked up a copy of Night of the Pufflings at the estate sale in Maine, and it's one of the books that Celeste has been reading a lot lately. She was quite excited to see puffins up close, and we got to talk about lundi (Icelandic for puffin) a lot and we went back to see them several times.

We continued through the rainforest and then down through the main tank. Celeste would run down the ramps and then sit along the rails to watch the fish for the first few levels, but as we got deeper and down to the sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) and other sharks, I was carrying her again.
Celeste in the Big TankCeleste in the Big TankCeleste in the Big Tank

We hadn't bought tickets to the dolphin show, but we did get to see part of it, at least the underwater side of it. Seeing a dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) jump is cool, but it's even cooler to see one zoom through the water, disappear above the surface and then plunge back into the water with a curtain of bubbles. Celeste also thought it was neat to see the dolphin's bellybutton when she swam close to the tank window.

After the dolphins, we had a snack and then headed into the Australian river gorge exhibit, something I've been wanting to see for three years now. It was pretty crowded, and Celeste was flagging, so we didn't get to go though it animal by animal like I might have wanted to, but it still was an impressive exhibit. A little smaller than I expected, but lots of interesting animals, including a couple of grey-headed flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) hanging from the ceiling.

We made a quick pass through the gift shop and the bubbles before heading back down I-95 to home. I was pretty sure Celeste would take a nap on the ride home, but she spent most of the ride reading Who Will Guide My Sleigh Tonight, which she found on the sale table. (Funnily enough, the author, Jerry Pallotta, is Celeste's second cousin.)

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