Friday, January 22, 2016

There Were Plenty Of Fish In These Seas

Our daily conversations are peppered with popular cliches:

Live authentically.
Tell it like it is.
Be all that you can be.
Today is the first day in the rest of your life.

While these sayings may contain some wisdom or at least a kernel of truth, I generally try to avoid them like the plague.

But after a lovely afternoon at the Seattle Aquarium last week, I was surprised to find that these old chestnuts were deliciously adequate to describe my visit.

* * * * *

Last Friday afternoon, my second- and fourth-born and I zoomed down from suburbia to our fair city's waterfront, where we ditched the car and strolled amidst a chaotic construction zone till we reached our destination.

^ Is that foggy horizon the spitting image of a January day in Seattle?

Yes. It is. We hustled out of the damp, drizzling rain and into the cozy warmth of the aquarium and came face to face first with this awesome sight

^ A massive saltwater aquarium full of native Puget Sound marine life, including a gigantic one-eyed rockfish and an underwater Seahawks football helmet. We strolled past the front glass at a moderate pace without taking much time to stop and stare.

Seen one silver fish, seen 'em all.

^ The next series of exhibits captured the variety and outrageous creativity of Pacific Northwest tide pool life.

Anemones, sea urchins, sea stars, mussels and other tempting specimens, all available for viewers to touch firsthand. And this was pretty cool, but honestly, we explore wild tide pools every summer during our camping trips to the Pacific coast.

So you know, been there, done that.

^ Following along a massive maze of rocky viewing areas, we were transported into an underwater landscape of coral reefs resplendent with tropical fish and sea life. Compared to our local species of gray, grayer and grayest, these flamboyant fishies were a breath of fresh air; we lingered especially long over the adorable little clown fish and the haunting white jellyfish.

We surely stopped to smell those roses.

* * * * *

At this point, the traffic flow directed us out of the main building and onto a covered pathway leading among a series of outdoor exhibits.And while I'm not going to complain too much, it's important to remember that we were stepping out into the chill of a rainy winter afternoon. Saturated from the beauty I'd witnessed inside, I wondered whether the remaining attractions could possibly live up to the adorableness we'd already seen in the comfort of the interior.

Little did I know that I was about to have my socks knocked off.

Outside live the marine mammals:

Northern fur seals.
Harbor seals.
And four of the most adorable sea otters you could possibly imagine.

And even on this damp and dreary day, they were forever in motion:

Eating and
Playfully chasing each other round and round

For almost an hour, we stood and watched, immune to the shivering cold, transfixed by the joy and merriment of these adorable beasts.So caught up in the moment were we that our cameras remained in our pockets, our eyes riveted on the animals' antics.

We were like kids in a candy store, and hands down, these were our favorite moments of the trip.

As we hiked back to the car, I thought how my visit had grown exponentially more satisfying with each new attraction; the payoff of the last exhibits being infinitely more rewarding than the first.

And I realized that even though I had fully enjoyed the early sights of our visit, we had definitely saved the best for last.

P.S. If you didn't find it, the underwater Seahawks helmet is visible in the second photo from the top. Counting from the left, starting with the woman in red and her child in white, look between the fifth and sixth people. At the height of their heads, the deep blue helmet sits on a rock.

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