Last Saturday we took a trip to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, and last Sunday I sat down and went through all the photos because I was tired of this blog being empty! I've been so caught up in work travel that getting my personal photos edited and blogged has kind of fallen by the wayside, but now that I'm home for a while I'm enjoying both getting out to do some fun stuff and the chance to enjoy those photos later. Though the doing stuff always comes first- I'd rather live life and be behind on photos rather than be caught up on photos and have nothing new to experience! Which explains why my Christmas photos are still unblogged. :) They're coming, though!
So, the aquarium. We've had a membership here on and off since we were in college and try to go several times a year when we do. This particular time our trip was spurred by a Groupon I purchased a few months ago to one of our favorite places to eat- Cheeburger Cheeburger- that's just a short walk from the aquarium's entrance. We took a leisurely morning at home working on a few projects and then left in time to arrive in Chattanooga just in time for lunch.
Mmmm, lunch! This was Darren's burger, with Caribbean Jerk seasoning and banana peppers.
And a basket of mixed fries/onion rings to share. So yummy!
For some reason the aquarium was packed on this particular Saturday. We're used to Saturdays being a little busy there, but with this being a non-holiday and non-event weekend, even the aquarium's staff was puzzled by the sheer volume of people! It made it a little hard to take photos with so many others around, but we got our cameras in where we could (yes, D brought his along this time, too!).
The seahorses are usually our first stop since they're located in the lower level of the River Journey (freshwater) side of the place. One of the daily kids' events was going on in the hall next door, so we had relative quiet while everyone's little ones were occupied.
Seriously, I could photograph seahorses all day!
The weedy sea dragons are absolutely gorgeous, but a bit hard to photograph since the front of their tank is round. No matter what angle you shoot from there's always some distortion, unlike shooting into flat-front tanks.
It never fails that while I'm photographing a clownfish, a child will turn excitedly to their parent(s) and exclaims, "Nemo!" My (and D's) inner scientist merely smiles and thinks Amphiprion ocellaris. The anemone clownfish. Yeah, total geeks!
The usual tour of the aquarium moves from the seahorses to the river otter habitat at the very top of the River Journey building.
I just love watching these guys play, though they move so fast that even with all the light from the glass roof they're wicked hard to photograph! I think that D managed to get some video of them, but I haven't really checked it out yet.
Further down through the exhibits is the touch pool filled with sturgeon- another of D's favorites.
And then there's Delta Country- another light-filled exhibit just swimming (no pun intended!) with turtles.
This might be one of my favorite photos from the whole trip. This is what we look like most of the time when we travel!
This turtle was happily nomming on a piece of wood at the bottom of his tank.
Paddlefish! Another of Darren's absolute favorites (seriously, the aquarium is just the perfect place for him!).
It's just a quick walk across from the River Journey building to the Ocean Journey annex. The top floor of this building has the same skylight setup as the freshwater building, with the space being split between a butterfly garden and an open area with touchpools full of rays and the harmless sorts of sharks that aren't inclined to bite your fingers off.
It's still a bit cold for many butterflies to be out (though there were a few!), but Darren did spot a lovely peacock out in the open.
This sign totally cracks me up every time I see it- especially that frightened little butterfly face!
The big saltwater tanks were a draw for the crowds on the day we were there, so I didn't get any pictures of sharks this trip. I did spend lots of time photographing the jellyfish, though!
The section of the exhibit with a whole wall-sized jellyfish tank is one of my absolute favorite parts of the tour. I shot the photo below before remembering that manual mode is a must in here- the camera's light meter simply doesn't know what to do in this sort of a shooting environment! I do like how it turned out, though- you can see me reflected in the mirror next to the tank. :)
There, that's better!
These little luminescent sea walnuts are just amazing!
Before heading home, we stopped off at Cold Stone Creamery (also with a Groupon, and also right across the street!) for a quick snack. Loooove their Peanut Butter Cup Perfection!
Little day trips like this are some of my favorites. They're just so laid back and don't require a lot of planning- simply go, enjoy, and then come back home!