You are currently browsing the daily archive for Saturday, December 31, 2005.

We rose early Friday morning and headed south towards Cincinnati. As we pulled around the corner to Newport on the Levee (a wonderful shopping plaza, parking garage and aquarium) Jonathan kept saying, “Go up the elevator, go up the elevator.” He had remembered from last year’s visit that there is an elevator in the parking garage!

I had purchased the tickets earlier that morning from Kroger while the boys were parading through the shower and breakfast, so we walked right in, handed them our coats and moved right into the aquarium. The Newport Aquarium is situated right across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati, in Newport, Kentucky, which is directly east of Covington. I took a different route this time, continuing on down I-75 which took us right through Covington and Newport. If you ever have a chance to drive through these two towns on the river – do it! They are beautiful. Even Andrew was pointing out items of the beautiful architecture – my sons have learned to look for unique or especially beautiful work – and they humor my architectural interests.

Jonathan’s assignment was to hold on to the strap of my backpack, and Andrew’s assignment was to not leave his older cousins’ sides. Jon won. One of the first big stops is the area where you can touch several creatures with the guidance of staff volunteers. Matt, Jose and Andrew enjoyed this particular area, and Matt – like his dad at historical sites – was pounding the volunteers with questions. We spent a good deal of time waiting in this area before entering the theatre. To me, this part of the visit is worth it. Once you are seated inside, the huge screen rises and you see divers in the tank with the shark, turtle, sting ray and other large fish.The diver, this time of year, is always dressed as Santa Claus. The best part is they and communicate with the audience. Once you leave the theatre, I always have to look at the fish native to the Outer Banks of North Carolina – one of my favorite vacation haunts. These fish are a metallic silver and when pulled from the ocean, they look like a long, wiggly mirror they are so bright in the sun light. One time, while flying my kite on the beach at Cape Hatteras – the graveyard of ships – I stood for the longest time, just watching the fishermen reel in these brilliant looking fish. For those who know me, understand this must really be a neat looking fish for me to take even the slightest interest.

The next section contains fish that glow in the dark, eels, crabs and a beautiful corral reef with all the fish you would see in Finding Nemo. In fact, you constantly here children yelling, “There’s Dory!” when they spot the blue fish. You can easily spend a long time in this area. Leaving the reef you enter the dangerous creatures – piranha and other grisly creatures. They have a turtle that is 118 years old. The last part is the alligators – and fortunately, for my stomach, they are the smaller ones – not the big, terrifying ones. Even at 41 years, my stomach becomes unsettled when I look at alligators or crocodiles – perhaps in another blog I will explain.
Finally, you enter a huge open, bright area where you can watch the otters play and go in to the bird aviary. I sat out on the risers to watch the otters (sleep) with Jonathan while the other three went in to the aviary. Afterwards, I went in while Matt sat with Jonathan and Andrew. I, like my mother, am terrified of birds – not as much as Mother, though. These birds are gorgeous and I got some great shots.

After leaving the otter and bird area, you enter, perhaps, the best part of the entire aquarium. You walk through glass tunnels while all sorts of fish – sharks included – swim all around you. It always takes some getting use to for me when a shark swims within a few feet of me while John Williams’ score for Jaws makes even more arm and neck hair stand. Ahhhhhhh! Despite the sharks nauseating presence, I still enjoy hanging out in the glass tunnels. There are a number of different species of fish, and one particular critter swam towards us with this huge gaping hole – its mouth. We promptly named this the “Dena Fish” after my younger sister.

We ate lunch in the cafeteria and then entered the last popular exhibit – the penguins. What a delight these furry entertainers are. Two mamma penguins were sitting on top of several new born penguins and the risers in front of the penguin window were packed. It probably holds 75, and there must have been well over a hundred folks hoping to capture a glimpse of the babies on the monitors where cameras were posed on them. Although my Yahoo photo site only includes approximately 6 photos, I took at least thirty shots. These feather folk know how to pose and play before their audience!

We left the aquarium and walked over to the rail that overlooks the Ohio River. We spent a good twenty minutes here so I could snap some photos. There was a college aged boy taking a photograph of his parents and I offered to take a photograph of all three. I learned they were both teachers from Athens, Ohio – he a retired principal, she finishing up teaching fourth grade. They asked about all my boys and after I explained that I had adopted my sons, the mother put her hand on her son’s shoulder and said, “This is our son we adopted 22 years ago.” I snapped a photo of this couple on my camera, as well, for I certainly enjoyed sharing a few minutes with these folks.
We left Cincinnati and headed north on I-71 so I could drive the boys through Montgomery, Ohio and a mile into Indiana Hill to see the estate, Peterloon, where a few weeks before I had attended a party with Phil Clary. Of course, as we drove up to the mansion, Jose said, “Wow! Phil must be a good choir director if he lives in a house this big.” Matthew and I were rolling. I explained to Jose that it is unlikely a public school teacher would own such an estate, and that we had only attended a party.
It was a fun and tiring day. To see all the photos from our excursion, please visit the photo section at my site: http://profiles.yahoo.com/dljh_dayton

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