SeaWorld 2009

You probably couldn't tell from the pictures I posted last week, but when we first got to California, the weather was crummy. It was cloudy and cool on Sunday. (My fingers and toes were numb by the time we left Legoland, even with my wonderful sister-in-law Julie letting me time-share her fleece jacket.) Monday, it rained buckets. (I didn't watch the evening news, but my gut tells me Stormwatch 2009 was the lead.) Even Tuesday started off gray and misty.

But Wednesday? Wednesday, California shone.

Thankfully, that was the day we went to SeaWorld.

Before we get started, let me be politically uncorrect and say: I love SeaWorld. I know it's touristy, and I know many people wonder if it's in a killer whale's best interest to perform all day.

But the fact remains that SeaWorld is an amazing, beautiful place. It's clean and colorful and stunningly well done. It rivals Disney in the quality department, in my opinion. The landscaping alone is astounding -- more than 4,000 different varieties of plants, many of them native to Southern California, and 30,000 square feet dedicated to annuals. (I did a story on SeaWorld's landscaping when I was at the TV station, and I remember them quoting me some ridiculous figure on how much they spend each year on plants. It rivaled the cost of maintaining the animals.)

And the creatures! Oh my word. My husband originally moved to Los Angeles (without me; this was before we met) to become a marine biologist, so maybe I'm catching his enthusiasm. But to stand nose-to-nose with a killer whale or dolphin is incredibly humbling.

(Seriously. Is she not looking straight at me?)

I'm always left with a profound impression that God is God, and I am not. His creativity awes me.

We started our day at Dolphin Stadium, basking in the bright sunshine and blue skies.

The dolphin show might be the only show that hasn't changed since I first saw it. And truthfully, that's OK by me, because I love watching the reactions of the people around me. My favorite moments are when the tourist, who is really a trainer, accidentally falls into the pool (the woman in front of me last week almost had a heart attack at that point) and when the young child who has the chance to feed the dolphins is encouraged to wipe their fishy hands on their shirt to get rid of the smell (all the moms gasp in horror).

From Dolphin Stadium, we meandered over to the Forbidden Reef, where you can touch bat rays gliding through a shallow pool and get the willies watching dozens of eels hanging out of a coral forest.

(Picture courtesy of SeaWorld. I can't stand still enough in that exhibit to snap a picture. Shudder.)

Then it was Shamu time.

This year, we caught the Shamu Story performance, which gave us all kinds of background on how the trainers work with killer whales. We learned the first killer whale ever displayed in the U.S. was a male named Namu, and that the first female ocra displayed was named Shamu as a shortened form of “she-namu.” Obviously, the real Shamu has long since died, and the killer whales you see today at SeaWorld have different names. But the Shamu moniker lives on as a way to memorialize the first ocra trained at SeaWorld.

Teyla didn’t catch most of the Shamu show.

And honestly, Connor didn’t either. He was started to get quite irritated with all the sitting and watching. Boy child = do, not sit.

So after lunch, Corey and Natalie caught a few more shows while Connor, Teyla and I hung out in the SeaWorld playground (technically titled The Sesame Street Bay of Play).

This might have been my favorite part of our day, because I got to stop rushing and take it all in.

It was especially poignant because, when Natalie was a baby and we lived in San Diego, I used to meet friends at this very playground on weekday mornings for play dates. (That's right. I used to do play dates at SeaWorld. Such is life in Southern California.)

I have many memories of chatting with friends on those soft cushions as we watched our babies play in the pit.

Sigh. I miss San Diego.

Tomorrow, we’re having a barbie on the beach. Or, more correctly, the next time I get a chance to post, which might be tomorrow or might be Friday. It's extremely frustrating to me to promise a post tomorrow and then not be able to deliver. So maybe I'll just stop staying tomorrow.

Hey! I know! Coming soon: a barbie on the beach -- and I don't mean a collection of blond, thin woman.

Although in San Diego, I suppose it's not uncommon. I overhead a lot of tourists last week muttering to each other, "Everyone is so thin here." That's what happens when it's swimsuit season every day of the year.


  1. My philosophy is that having animals in a setting like this (as long as they are treated well) is actually GOOD for the animals in the big scheme of things.

    The more "connection" people feel with animals, the more likely they are to care about their well being.

  2. I am always overcome with worship when I go anywhere like an aquarium or see anything related to ocean life. It boggles my mind what a vast array of creatures and plants there are way below the surface and how for many, many, many years, before the technology of scuba and cameras, it was all essentially unseen to the human eye - created completely for God's pleasure.

  3. Remind me why we live in Minnesota? Although I am happy to at least see the sun today. But I could totally go for playdates at Sea World.

  4. I TOTALLY feel that way when we visit a zoo or some other kind of nature/animal related place. God is a GENIUS. SO creative.

    Looks like a wonderful, sunny, happy time for your family.

  5. Love that picture of the dolphin looking right at you. Looks like a wonderful trip!

  6. Love all the pictures! Isn't it great how dolphins look like they're permanently smiling? Last time I went to Sea World, my daughter was too scared to walk under the shark tank, but I hope to do it on the next go-round.

  7. What great pictures! That looks like a great day. I didn't know you were that cold at Legoland. You could have worn my coat longer. We are having some work done in our house this week and probably next week too. The water is off today, so we'll be hanging out at Legoland. I'll be looking for that playground you found last time. Do you have some good pictures of the cookout at Moonlight Beach?