Clearwater Aquarium - Home of Winter
On our last full day in Florida, we visited the Clearwater Aquarium. If you've ever seen the movie Dolphin Tale, you'd know this place as Winter, the star of the movie, is homed here. Winter lost her tail in a sad accident with a crab pot and has a prosthetic tail that she swims with. We got to see it as well as the newest addition to the aquarium, Hope.
One of the neatest things we did was take a cruise into the Bay with the aquarium team where they tossed a net and brought up all sorts of sea animals for us to look at. We saw puffer fish, pig fish, sea ray, and a variety of other animals. We stopped at a small island and chose sea shells, and scanned the bay for dolphins. Clearwater was stunning and the kids all loved petting the rays, watching the otters and turtles and most of all, seeing sea life in action.
Universal Studios Florida
Not to be out done by Disney, we spent a day at Universal Studios. Wow did we have a great time! We rode the Simpson's ride, walked through midtown New York, rode a bicycle to save ET, became Minions, hula hooped, and helped the Transformers save Earth. Caiti's favorite ride was The Mummy, which she rode 8 times! Similar to Space Mountain, it is an indoor roller coaster that (obviously) won her over, as did the Transformers ride for the boys. In all, a simply amazing time was had at Universal Studios.
The Magic Kingdom is Magical Indeed!
Not every kid can say they've been to both Disneyland and Disneyworld, but now we can! We had an absolutely amazing day at Disneyworld, riding everything from the Tea Cups to Space Mountain, Peter Pan's Flying Adventure to Big Thunder Mountain. We saw the Electric Light Parade, Princesses galore, a little rain, and a LOT of smiles! Thanks Mickey for an absolutely magical, most memorable day!
NASA should be spelled W-O-W!
We saw THE coolest things yesterday at The Kennedy Space Center. From launch pads to the shuttle Atlantis, Apollo, moon rocks, assembly buildings and even an alligator! It was more impressive than words can express.
Wowza - a Real-Life Turtle!
You will never believe what we saw on our walk tonight. Just sitting in the middle of the sidewalk! Oliver walked right around him and the rest of us stopped to gawk. He came out of his shell a little, but not much. After snapping a few photos, we went on our way (and hope he did too!)
Vacation Bible School - Kingdom Rocks!
The kids had a great time at VBS this past week. The theme was Kingdom Rocks and they learned all about how God is our rock in life. They played games, made friends, learned new songs, made crafts, created prayer boxes, and most importantly, learned that they are loved.
VBS is a half-day camp, so we followed it up each day with a camp of our own. We went to the library, swam in the pool, went bowling, panned for gold in the local mine (they actually got some!), and went to the Latta Plantation. A busy, and super fun week!
Myrtle Beach, SC
Nothing beats a week at the Beach. From digging in the sand to belly flopping in the pool and making smores and riding water slides. The kids club here at Myrtle is amazing and we are having a spectacular time! On our first day, we played in the sand, dodged waves, made a 3D floating ship (that we swam with in the pool), played Bingo (TMB won a kite and CRB a sand toy), and then to top it all off, made cookies in the kitchen with the executive chef, Paul Stamp. So cool.... AND yummy! And, not to be outdone on the yummy scale, we had a night of s'mores. Ever the gentleman, Micah made some for the staff. They said he could have as many marshmallows as he'd like after that =)
On the Fourth of July, we had so much fun! We started out the day making very fun sand art bottles, and then we made magical sun catchers (flags, stars and rockets), all followed by a really cool shark tooth necklace. We participated in water balloon games and so very cool, the annual pie eating contest! The girls joined the hula hoop contest and came in 1st and 2nd! As if all that weren't enough, we bounced in the bouncy house, made sun visors, had our faces painted, got very cool balloon animals from Uncle Sam and had our hair braided. All topped off by super amazing fireworks on the beach. WOW!
Today we made friendship bracelets - fun! They say that Myrtle Beach has more mini golf courses per capita than anywhere else - and so we had to try our hand. We had lots of fun putting the greens today. We capped it off with our first Banana Splits - Yummers!
The Kids Club here at the Marriott is sooo cool. Today we made Tie Dye T-shirts, participated in the Scavenger Hunt put on by the Marriott's Kid Club, played several rounds of Bingo (MXB won a pool toy, and CRB stickers), and joined the second hula touney of the week. Yes, a little someone won twice! In addition to the fun and games, we got in lots of beach time, jumping waves, seeking shells, building water forts and flying our kite, of course. The nice ladies at the Kids Club sent us an awesome gift basket as a parting gift. They are so great!
We spent two days in amazing Columbia, the capitol of South Carolina. We spent the first day at the South Carolina State Museum. It got all five thumbs up! Coincidentally, we were there at the same time as the King Tut exhibit, so we had a blast in Egypt! We made cobras, put on a puppet show and practiced our hieroglyphics. We also saw a model of the dead King Tut! We had a picnic by the canal and saw the Nobel prize medal won by SC resident Charles Townes for his invention of the laser -- and maser.
On our second day in Columbia, after watching a movie about Sherman's March on Columbia, we took a walking tour of the city where we saw several really neat historical sites. Our first stop was the State Capitol building where it was marked with 8 stars (we counted 8 anyway). Each star marked where a cannonball had struck the building. Remarkably the State House was spared destruction because Sherman found it 'handsome'. Also at the State House we saw several statues and the African American History Monument. (If you are not familiar with the March on Columbia, it's not surprising. It wasn't even included in Ken Burns' "The Civil War" and yet it is a significant piece of Civil War history.)
Following the State House, we saw Trinity Episcopal Church where the iron spikes were removed, melted down and made into cannonballs. We then saw the campus of USC - the University of South Carolina, not Southern California - which was closed during the war and used as a hospital facility; and the Horry-Guignard house across the street that was used to store food and medicine for use at the hospital. We then looked at the Presbyterian Church, which was painted pink and on Lady Street. Its spire was the tallest point in Columbia at the time of the war and as a result was used as target practice by the Union Army. Remarkably, it survived the war. Our last stop was the Baptist Church which is where the Secession Convention met.