Today Nicholas, Rachel, and I took a trip to Dallas and visited 3 places while we were there. I took 380 pictures while we were there. Do you think that is too many??? I just love taking pictures, especially of my two sweet children. Of course, this is the reason that I can't ever get my blog postings actually posted on the day I write them. I have several postings written and ready to publish on the blog but I always need a few days to go through all of the pictures that go with the journaling. I also have a hard time narrowing down to just one or two pictures. Maybe that's why Nicholas has 5 scrapbooks made for his first year of life! If I kept up that pace of scrapbooking for both of my children then I would need a whole room just to store them all. Thank goodness for blogs. They are online scrapbooks and they take up no space on my bookshelves!
We started the day at a PTA outing at the Dallas World Aquarium. We got to watch the otters being fed fish for their third breakfast of the day. Their tank had huge glass windows that extended well below the water line so we could actually watch them as they swam underwater!
There were cool crocodiles, tarantulas, and Nicholas' favorite - snakes!
At one point we were walking through an enclosed tropical exhibit and this funny little bird flew right up to me and landed on a post of the railing we were next to. I was pushing Rachel in the stroller and trying to navigate around a field trip of children so we were rather slow moving along the walkway. The little bird stayed right there just looking at us. As I finally made it a little farther up the walkway, the little bird flew over to the next post beside us and again just looked at us. This continued down the walkway. I thought it was kind of weird but figured it was just my imagination until a friend of ours commented that he seemed to be following us. Sure enough, we got off of the walkway and he flew into a tree just above us. Then as we made it into a hallway and were getting on the elevator, we saw him fly out of the tropical area into the elevator hallway and then he perched on a railing as he watched us leave in the elevator. Crazy!
Nicholas stared at these spotted skates for a long time. He loves sting rays and thought these little guys were really cool looking.
While Nicholas was engrossed watching skates, Rachel was mesmorized by the giant waterfall. She stared at it for about 10 minutes with a look of amazement on her face.
We looked at the giant aquarium for a while. It is so neat to be able to see all the action taking place under the water when just earlier we were walking on a path over the water and couldn't see all of these cool creatures from around the world swimming around just below us. There were giant turtles, huge catfish, manatees, and fish.
Next we went to the shark and ray tank. This is our favorite part of all. We walk through a 40 foot glass tunnel that goes through the tank so you can see the sharks and rays swimming all around you!
We saw a lots more cool critters.
Owls...Nicholas enjoyed watching the owls but as Rachel and I approached the exhibit, they got kind of creepy. They were both perched at the top of the post when Rachel and I first came up to them. They instantly both started staring at Rachel in the stroller. One even came to a lower branch and started stretching his next out to get a better look at her. They never looked at me. They just stared at Rachel the whole time. They were enclosed in glass but we moved on rather quickly...
There was even a beautiful jaguar exhibit. I know, it isn't what you'd expect to find when visiting an aquarium but this is no ordinary aquarium!
We left the aquarium and our friends went their separate ways. The three of us headed over to the McKinney Avenue trolley. McKinney Avenue is full of restaurants and shops but it is also runs between many downtown and uptown Dallas businesses so the trolley is a great service for the area. However, we love to just hop on it and ride these beautifully restored antique trolley cars up and down the street...and it's free!
The area has high pedestrian traffic so it is hard to find places to park. Most of the businesses have small parking lots and they've posted signs stating that the parking is only for their patrons and they will tow your vehicle if they see you walking somewhere else. Therefore the biggest challenge for us when we ride the trolley is always finding a place to park our car. There are places along side streets but we found a parking spot at an empty building that was up for lease. I figured no one would care if we parked there since the building wasn't being used. We walked to the trolley stop and waited on a bench for the next trolley to pick us up.
While we were sitting on the bench, I told Nicholas that I was still a little worried about our car being towed while we were riding the trolley. He said, "I know what we should do. Let's say a prayer that our car doesn't get towed." Great thinking little buddy! He didn't want to say the prayer himself so I said a little prayer to keep our car safe and untowed while we were gone.
Our trolley soon appeared and we hopped on. We got trolley 122 this time. 122 is lovingly known as "Rosie". Rosie was built in 1909. She is 28 feet long and weighs 14 tons but she is the smallest trolley in the fleet.
We lucked out and got our favorite driver, Leo. He has a 12 year old son who he has brought along with him on rides before and he is great with children. He let Nicholas blow the whistle a few times and talked to us a lot while we rode.
I asked Leo where we might stop for some ice cream along our ride. He said the only place he could think of was a gelato place that we had just passed. I told Nicholas that we weren't going to be able to go because I didn't want to make two round trips in the trolley today because I wanted to get back to the car to make sure it hadn't been towed. Nicholas said, "No, you don't have to worry about that. Remember, we said a prayer to keep it safe." You are right, little buddy, but Mommy thinks we should still get off after one trip around, just in case!
I asked Leo about the best places to park for just riding the trolley. He recommended the Cityplace Station or the Trolley Barn. Good to know for next time!
We made it back to our starting place and were glad to see that our car was still happily sitting in its parking spot! I wanted to take Nicholas to Pioneer Plaza in downtown to show him what is said to be the world's largest bronze sculpture - a cattle drive of 70 huge longhorns and 3 cowboys! I had a general idea of where it was but Stuart and I haven't been to it in probably 13 years. We saw it on a trip to Dallas when we were still living in Louisiana. I managed to find it pretty quickly with some guidance that one of our friends had given me at the aquarium. I was glad that we went because Nicholas had a blast running among the herd.
The longhorn statues travel across a little stream. Nicholas enjoyed jumping across the rocks in the stream and then he noticed the little minnows in the water. He decided that he needed to catch some of them...with his hands!
I struggled with this because I don't think the water could have been very clean but sometimes you've just got to let boys be boys. So he squatted down and for about 15 minutes he studied the minnows and would quickly dash his hand into the water to try to catch the quick little fish. He never caught one but he had a blast trying. On the way home he talked about what he needed to bring with him to catch the minnows the next time we went to Pioneer Plaza.