|Looking out the window|
|Grandpa taking a nap|
|Grandma checking out the sights|
|The two happiest kids on the train...well three. You can see the smile on Nola's cheek.|
|Hahaha...my face. Clearly I was already tired.|
So we made it to the aquarium and put all of our stuff in the lockers and made our way up to see the all the fish. Our tickets to the aquatic show were for like 10:20, so we didn't spend much time looking around before seeing the show. This was definitely a highlight for everybody.
|Taking a breather before heading down to the aquatic show|
|Checking out the belugas...somehow Natalie was terrified of the sea lion housed near the stairs.|
Some shots of the aquatic show. Please excuse the blurriness of these photos. They allowed camera use as long as there was no flash, and unfortunately the low lighting made for less than perfect shots.
|Belugas during the show|
|Belugas doing tricks for treats|
|More beluga shots|
|Sea lion portion of the show|
|The screen behind the tank was new since the last time I was there. Very pretty!|
|A girl from the audience helping with the dolphin part of the show|
|Nathan and Grandma taking it all in|
|This is the unhappy/terrified look she had on her face the majority of the day.|
|Up close to a starfish!|
|Walking through the starfish exhibit|
|Natalie took a peek too!|
|He was way more thrilled than he looks, I promise.|
|This guy looked like he was running things.|
|The lighting in the tanks was just beautiful...|
|...all fanned out...|
|My dad said these were the kind of jellyfish in "Finding Nemo"...|
|...and he's the science teacher, so he would know!|
|How can anyone argue whether or not there's a God with such beauty like this?|
|Look closely and you'll see hundreds of baby jellies, all smaller than your pinky fingernail!|
|These little guys were a stage above the ones in the last picture.|
|And these were the full grown jellies of that species.|
|These guys moved around very quickly compared to the rest of the jellies we saw.|
|These were a gorgeous lavender color...|
|Yes, this crab is really as big as he looks. I had to look closely to see that it was alive!|
|The reef...so serene.|
|Love the color of these little guys!|
|Nola and I sat and watched the fish (and Nathan) go by|
|Then they went off somewhere and found a boat.|
|Row, row, row your boat...|
|Something creepy...wasn't there for that explanation.|
|Turtle who was hurt by a propeller and has a floating behind as a result. So funny to see her swim around like that!|
|This creepy looking eel has cataracts as my dad found out...|
|...he was one of Nathan's favorites.|
After we were all thoroughly exhausted, we gathered our stuff and bid the aquarium good-bye. As we walked outside to the bus stop, we realized that we had just missed a bus. So Kevin had the brilliant idea of checking out the cost of one of the cabs sitting in front of the aquarium, and surprisingly it was only $2 more than our bus fare. So we all piled into the cab for another memorable experience. The kids are still talking about how they took "a train, a city bus, AND a TAXI!" So I guess they loved it.
We experienced about a 45-minute delay for the train back to Champaign. And despite some pompous and grouchy station workers and TSA officials, we made it onto the train in one piece and with few meltdowns. Some nice napping took place here and there on the way home, and the kids were still wiped out when we finally got home. All in all, a wonderful experience. I'm so glad that my kids had such an amazing time, and I hope they remember this for a very long time!
And ever since Natalie got to have a train ride for her birthday, Nathan has requested a rocketship ride for his.
I'll have to get back to you on that one, buddy.