Thursday, August 20, 2009

Random Thoughts about SeaWorld

About three months ago, I took Spark to SeaWorld for the first time. He loves all things associated with the sea from sharks to whales to dolphins to sting rays, so SeaWorld seemed like a logical place to take him. Buzz, who had injured a foot, would stay home with Flower (who I wasn't sure would enjoy the sea life as much as Spark).

It was my first trip, too, so I was actually kind of excited about maneuvering myself and a 4 year old through a jam-packed theme park in the middle of one of the hottest summers on record. Yeah. Fun.

I happened to take this trip with Spark about 3 weeks before my last day of work at my job. I had also just finished weaning my daughter from nursing. To put it lightly, June was turning out to be just a tad emotional...just a tad.

The day went pretty simply. On the advice of a friend who frequents SeaWorld, we hit up the water park first so that as we toured the huge inferno we could stay cool by dripping dry. Before I knew it, we had spent about an hour jumping waves in the wave pool and about three hours floating down the river in plastic tubes. Thinking we should at least justify the outrageous entrance fees by seeing at least one show, I convinced him to come along with me to see the sea lion show The Cannery Row Caper. We both laughed as we watched the crazy sea lions try to figure out who was eating all the fish at the cannery. (SPOILER: it was the walrus.)

We then spent some time (sweet, glorious air-conditioned time) looking at the tanks filled with sharks, sting rays, eels, and jellyfish. After that, we visited the penguin encounter (again glorious air conditioning!) and made plans to feed the dolphins. Although Spark wouldn't touch the dolphins, he picked up the dead fish and fed it to the playful sea mammals.

We decided to end our day with the summer show Shamu Rocks Texas, which turned out to be a lot of killer whale antics set to music, including some AC/DC. As we waited on Shamu to appear, I succumbed to buying a $6 light sword that I had to remind Spark was just for show, not for actually whacking people with.

Finally, to the tune of AC/DC's Thunderstruck, the DJ for the evening chanted "Shamu" in place of the "Thunder" and really had the crowd into it. The arena was completely packed; at least 50 people stood in the back of our section alone, wanting for Shamu.

Then, Shamu burst through the gates, sleekly gliding through the tank of saltwater. The trainer stood on the other end of the saltwater pool and suddenly dove into the water. A few moments passed, all was silent except some Toby Keith song. Then, Shamu leapt from the water, threw the trainer into the air, and they synchronized an Olympic figure-skating triple axel kind of move above the water before diving back into the pool. Applause exploded as Shamu rose just above the water with the trainer riding her. It was magic.

Spark was completely beside himself. To be honest, so was I. I hadn't seen anything like this ever in my life. I tried to wipe my tears off my face, but they just kept coming in torrents, running hot down my cheeks. It was so loud that I couldn't explain to Spark why I was crying. And how does one explain the emotional piles adults take on until final there is a proverbial straw? Shamu was my straw. She allowed me to release all that I felt inside about leaving work, weaning my daughter, spending a day in the hot sun with this wonderful 4 year old.


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