Sunday, September 18, 2011


While in DC, we visited the Air & Space Museum, The Spy Museum, The National Zoo, The National Monuments and the US Botanical Gardens.  After two days of non-stop action, we were all museum-ed out.  One of the most important things Gordy and I have learned as parents is to improvise and adapt as needed, so we ditched our plans to spend Day 3 of the trip back at the Smithsonian and instead took the Amtract Train to Baltimore to spend the day at the National Aquarium and Baltimore waterfront.

It was the best decision Gordy and I ever made and definitely the high-light of the trip for us all.

The National Aquarium is unbelieveable.  And we thought we had a great aquarium in New England!

Every thing about this aquarium is amazing and not a single detail was over-looked.  And I'm not just talking about the aquatic life on display - the tanks, the graphics on the wall, the lightings, the various computer monitors set up with information about each animal... it was all outstanding.

We purchased the package that admitted us into the aquarium and showed us the 4D movie "Earth."  What's 4D, you ask?  We didn't know either, but we assumed it either involved a VERY clear 3D movie or one where you didn't need to wear the stupid 3D glasses.  Everyone please stop snickering now.  Obviously, we aren't very worldly people.

We found out pretty quickly that 4D is a 3D movie, which you watch with the annoying glasses and during which, you periodically find yourself being squirted in the face with sea spray, poked in the back with a painful stick, rocked back and forth in your movable theater seat and then sprayed again in the face with cold, misty water.  Can you tell how much I enjoyed the water feature?  

Yep, I pretty much hated that movie.  But apparently I was the only one who did hate it.  In fact, it ends up that while this 40 year old woman does not enjoy watching a movie while being doused with water and poked with sharp objects, her 11 year old son thinks it is perhaps the best idea every invented.

Luckily the movie only lasted 15 minutes, because I didn't think I could take any more abuse.

After the movie, we returned to the aquarium and resumed our tour.  We saw everything, and because of the genius who decided on designing the aquarium with crowd-controlling flow patterns, we were able to spend plenty of time looking at the animals and exhibits that interested us the most.

... and that included our third and final rain forest of the weekend.  Obviously, since it was in an enormous aquarium, this rain forest was probably the best-stocked as far as wildlife was concerned.

We found beautiful, pink birds in the trees...

and a rare, black-berry-free Gordy on the ground...

And this cute guy, sitting and enjoying the sights (I am referring the bird below, but I guess the description applies to Gordy, as well!)

After we had had our fill of the main exhibits of the aquarium and the rain forest, we headed to the basement where there were windows where you could watch the dolphin show from underneath the water....

... and see the famous jelly fish exhibit.

Henry had been nursing a bad cold the entire trip to DC and wasn't feeling particularly cheerful.  Gordy thought that posing our Crab by the aquarium's crab would be appropriate:

We never pass up a good, cheesy photo-op!

After a delicious lunch at the Aquarium Cafe and a quick stop at the gift shop, we left the National Aquarium and headed out to the waterfront to see if we had enough time to ride the dragon peddle boats we had seen when we arrived.  Josie had been disappointed the day before when we ran out of time to rent peddle boats by the Jefferson Memorial in DC, and the dragon boats here in Baltimore looked so cute and inviting.

I had been hoping to sit this adventure out.  I've done peddle boats before and know that they are exhausting work and not as much fun as you would think, but the peddle boat rental company had a strict One Boat / One Parent rule and so I was forced to take up a position in the rear of Henry and Josie's boat.  

Josie started off peddling but quickly got tired.

I switched spots with her a few times so she could take a break, but Henry was stuck in the peddle seat the entire ride.

We did see magnificent views of the Baltimore Waterfront.

We left Baltimore and rode the train back to DC after the peddle boat ride finished and we left DC the next afternoon.  We didn't get to do everything on our list so The Family Elliot will have to return in the future.  It was a fabulous last hooray of the summer.

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