15 May 2003


Dolphins at Sunrise

Syd woke up coughing, coincidentally right before the sunrise. We opened the blinds in our bedroom and watched the sun come out of the ocean and into the clouds above. Then we saw something poke through the surface. Excited, I led Syd out onto the deck and to the end of the walkway. Sure enough, a school of dolphins were playing around just offshore. We watched for a bit before I went to get the camera. But it was as challenging as photographing a lightning bolt. I tried a couple movies, but I was always looking in the wrong place. I finally decided just to enjoy the moment.


Syd woke up Daria and told her about the dolphins. Now that everyone was up, we ate breakfast. The forecast called for scattered rain throughout the day, so we decided that today was a good day to visit the aquarium.


A Visit to the Aquarium

  • In front of the alligators
  • Tobin and Syd at the ray tank
  • We arrived at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoake Island soon after they opened, so there was hardly anyone there. This gave us virtually uninhibited access to the fish. The place had vastly improved since Daria and I had been here for our honeymoon 5 years ago. Syd had only one purpose in mind - see the sharks. We blazed by the lesser fish displays, pausing at the alligator tanks; although they said there was a turtle somewhere in there, we could not find it. Right before the shark tank was a tide pool exhibit where you could touch manta rays, star fish, hermit crabs and horseshoe crabs. Syd screwed up the courage to put her hand in the manta ray tank, but she wasn't brave enough to reach down far enough to touch a ray. She did feel the starfish and hermit crabs, along with a baby horseshoe crab.


  • Syd follows a sand bar shark
  • Daria, Gavin and Syd watch the shark
  • Another shark swims above
  • After pulling herself away from the tide pool exhibit, Syd charged on ahead to the shark tank. This exhibit contained a mock sunken ship with a whole variety of fish, including 5 sharks. One species was the sandbar shark; another was the nurse shark. [I forgot the third species.] We stood right up against the glass, transfixed by the sight.


    We learned that, within a half hour, there would be a question and answer session with some divers who would be in the tanks with the sharks. So we killed time by revisiting the other exhibits that Syd ran right by, and also spent a good amount of time (and money) in the gift shop. Then we returned to the shark tank and got a good seat.


  • Syd and the diver
  • There was an aquarium employee standing in front of the tank. Behind her were two divers, inside the tank with the sharks. One of them carried a long striped pole. The woman took questions from the audience and relayed them via microphone to the divers; there was an underwater speaker dangling in the tank whose sound was carried to the divers ears via the water.


    Syd had many questions for the divers. She first had asked what the stick was for; the divers replied that it was to keep the sharks away - the sharks thought it was a natural barrier and would swim around it (and the divers). Syd also asked whether sharks get sick. We found out that sharks rarely get sick; hence the research by cancer cure seekers. She then asked what color the shark's blood was; it was red, but we learned that horseshoe crab's blood is blue. The area started filling up with school children that just arrived, so we decided to give up our spaces. As we got up to leave, Syd ran in front to ask a final question, but she forgot what it was. So the woman suggested that she wave goodbye to the divers. They waved back, and they blew kisses to each other.


  • Sydney poses inside a shark
  • Gavin's turn in the shark
  • After that, there wasn't much left to do at the aquarium. We explored the surrounding grounds. We found a cutout of a shark which was used to pose for photographs; this was the same one Daria and I had goofed around with 5 years ago. This time, we had Syd and Gavin poke their heads in the shark mouth for pictures. There was also a fossil pit, which was donated to the aquarium by a local mining operation. Kids were welcome to search for ancient fossils of shells, plants and shark teeth. This had been picked over by several children, so Syd wasn't able to find much.


    Dancin' at Big Al's

    We left the aquarium and searched for a place to eat. Daria had seen a diner named Big Al's on the island, on our way in. We arrived there right when both children were fast asleep. Rather than risking eating with a grumpy Syd, we decided to eat at home. As soon as we started the car, Syd woke up and asked whether we were there yet. We went inside the place, which was utterly covered in Coca Cola memorabilia. They sat us at a table located next to a dance floor with a mirrored ball spinning above. Rock music from the 50's and 60's played over the speakers. Syd was transfixed by the ball, so she ventured out to the dance floor to get a good look at it. Then she started to dance. Throughout our meal, she would return to the floor and dance a little, taking bites of food in between. A boy at another table joined her for a while. Every move she would make, he would try to duplicate. At one point, Syd slipped and fell; the boy copied her and did the same, thinking it was yet another dance move. We asked the wait staff if this was alright; they answered that kids did this all the time - that was the point of the dance floor. When I went to the counter to pay for food, they gave Syd a bumper sticker saying, "I Danced at Big Al's".


  • Bedtime stories
  • Back at the beach house, we waited out the storm as the children slept. But it never came. In fact, half of the day was sunny. The weather maps showed that the storms passed us by to the south. We had a simple dinner of quiche and salad. Syd and I went to the hot tub for a bit before turning in for the night.

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