Sea World and the Moral of the Story by Melissa Swedoski
Have you ever taken a trip and almost instantly regretted it? Have you ever taken a vacation with family and learned some valuable lessons? Have you ever returned from one of those adventures with a huge bruise across the right side of your face? Well, then, my friends, you should come sit a spell and let’s swap stories.
Thanks to the long Fourth of July holiday weekend, my little family of four, plus my dad, sister, her boyfriend and two little dogs, loaded up and headed to New Braunfels, where we found a rental house on the river.
Our first full day, we opted to drive the 45 minutes to Sea World in San Antonio. This place has its own water park, roller coaster rides, a Sesame Street Bay of Play for toddlers and babies, a river raft ride and river boat plunge, plus Shamu, dolphins, penguins, sharks, and lots more. To say that this was a full day is an understatement. To say that going on the Fourth of July weekend might not have been my best idea is like saying invading Russia in winter is a bad idea. (Thank you, Princess Bride)
Our girls are actually quite hardy, but in 95+ degree heat, even they will start to wilt. In the first hour at the park, the only thing we accomplished was visiting the restroom and getting lunch. We tried to time things so we could see shows, but alas and alack, toddler time and big people time don’t really mesh well together on a schedule. But I will say here and now, the babies were never the problem. So you know that only leaves the tall people, right?
We checked out the sea lions, which the girls really did enjoy. We headed to the penguin exhibit, which was a nice break from the heat. We strolled through the carnival game area, where the 2-year-old played the duck pond game (where you pick the duck out of the water and get a prize). Unfortunately, rather than being ecstatic over winning a fuzzy stuffed duck with a Sea World t-shirt, she screamed and cried because she didn’t get to keep the rubber duck. Yep, she’s that kid. She has a whole rubber duck collection at home. Seriously.
We watched the water skiing show, to which my husband commented, “I can’t believe the only show we’ve watched is guys on water skis.” Valid point. We wandered some more until we found the real duck pond, which the girls loved. And would likely have jumped in given two seconds of freedom. With sore feet, we opted to head to the dolphin cove and call it a day. Unfortunately, most people are spot hogs when it comes to the dolphin pool, so it was difficult to see much, even though I finally got close enough to one guy who’d been there at least 15 minutes for my 1-year-old to accidentally kick him. Oops.
We decide to go to the shark cove, which is basically an indoor aquarium. The girls loved it. However, they keep rails in front of the tanks, which the girls could easily run under to get right up to the glass. One side, though, had a tall ledge, so the 2-year-old couldn’t quite conquer it. I went under the rail and helped her up. I turned quickly to get back under the rail (afraid of Sea World police?) and ran my face smack dab into the rail, at a pretty high rate of speed. It felt like what I would imagine a fist punch would feel like. The entire side of my face exploded, as tears came pouring down. As I told my husband, I wasn’t crying per se, it was just my body’s reaction to this ridiculous pain. And yes, I have a two inch bruise running across my cheekbone.
And just so you know, ← this was the best part of the day for the girls. Yes, that’s dirt and mulch they found next to the dolphin cove.
Moral of the story: there probably is one, but let’s face it, I’m going to plan something equally ridiculous for us to do next year. Because family vacations are a lot like labor and delivery: eventually, you forget the pain and just remember the smiles at the end. As I told my husband, it’s not so important that they remember seeing a dolphin for the first time, but that they remember they were happy.