Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Time With Friends In Atlanta

Last Saturday we actually were able to leave town, on account that Vaughn had a little bit of vacation time. (Not much time but enough to take a quick 3 day vacation.) Our friends, the Laney's, live in Atlanta, Georgia; and they told us to come down for a good time. We packed up the kids and drove the 4 hour drive down to Atlanta. I have to say, the drive was a good one up until we hit Atlanta rush hour and it was anything but rush. We were only a few miles away from our friends' house, but it took us more than 30 minutes to get there. (I couldn't do that kind of traffic every day. I would have road rage for sure.)

When we were living on St. Maarten, the Laneys were the first ones we became friends with and the bond has lasted a long time. Tyson and Peyton, pictured above, were the best little buddies. Looks like they picked up right where they left off 3 years ago. It was fun to see them get along so well after being away from each other for so long.They took us to the Atlanta Aquarium, downtown by Olympic Park. While we were standing in line for our tickets, a hoard of protesters were demonstrating their first amendment rights. They didn't like the fact that the aquarium had a dolphin show. But that isn't the highlight of this picture. Vaughn and I watch the show Whale Wars on Animal Planet. And if you look to the center guy, with the bald head in the photo, he is from that show. In fact, last season he was held in a Japanese prison for boarding one of their whale killing vessels to stop them from illegally whaling in the Antarctic seas. We heard his voice over their megaphone and both Vaughn and I whipped our heads around and knew who that Australian accent belonged to. I wanted to get a picture with all of us and him, but we were right in the middle of the line and it was too long to go to the back and start over. So this shot will have to do.

The second we got into the aquarium the kids ran to the nearest observation window and stood there to watch all the fish dance in the water. Peyton, Jacob, Taryn and Tyson.

Look at how huge this Sting Ray is! They were all over the place. I love to watch them swim. They remind me of a dancer under water.

This guy was the main attraction at the aquarium, a whale shark. And they had two of them in the same tank. The tank was massive. (That is a poor description) It took them years to build it. And what an amazing sight it was to see. The tank held an arrangement of fish. Tons of them. We sat memorized, watching the fish glide through the water and do tricks.

A beautiful Manta Ray. This one would do flips in the water. The kids loved watching, and I admit I did too.

Tyson and Taryn acting like they were swimming with the fish.

I think this was a Grouper fish. That thing would feed my family for a month. It was as big as Tyson.

I love this picture of the sharks. They look like they are coming towards the boys for their lunch.

My kids could have sat and watched the fish swim all day. They love animals, all kinds, and they loved the Gatlinburg aquarium so much that I knew they would love this one.

More fish.

Seeing a whale shark this close was amazing. They are such a big fish. I would freak out if I was swimming in the ocean and saw one of these monsters.

I couldn't get enough of the rays. I think they are such a beautiful fish.

Tyson was fascinated with the sharks and how close they came to the big glass.It's the jellies dude! Whenever I see jelly fish I think of Finding Nemo and Dory getting stung by them. (That was Tyson's favorite show when he was little and he would watch it over and over.)

Look at that! So cool! Vaughn even turned around for the picture!

The touching pool. Tyson and Peyton got to touch the sea anemones. The guide showed them how to touch them without being shocked. I was for sure someone was going to get shocked, but miraculously they didn't.

The Beluga "white" whale. They had two of them at this aquarium. They were magical to watch swim through the water.

Look how pretty. This was the whale that Herman Melville's used in his famous novel Moby-Dick. The only difference is that this whale is a lot less scary than the one in Melville's novel.

This is the face of pure joy! She was so happy during the time we watched all the fish.

My best buddy! Laura and I met 5 days after I moved to the island and we have been great friends ever since. Love ya girl!

This was towards the end of the tour and Taryn was not happy because she didn't get to sit on the rock behind them.

One more touch pool and it was with little sting rays. Tyson about fell in trying to touch this one, but he got to feel it and he said it was kind of slimy.

The Jackson crew in Atlanta.

The boys. Vaughn and Jason became really good friends right off the bat as well. They studied together and hung out a lot. It was nice to rekindle those friendships.

After the fun at the aquarium we went to a niece of Jason and Laura's birthday party. She had it at a little gymnastic gym and the kids had a ball. Once Taryn learned that it was fun to jump into the "pit" she wouldn't get out. She wanted to stay there for the rest of the day. It was a little hard to get her to go home when it was time.

Tyson learned how to hang on to the rings and swing. He was a regular monkey. We all had such a good day with our friends. It was one of those days you wish you could draw out just to be able to have more time.

Sunday morning we got up early to make our drive back to Knoxville. Vaughn had to be back at
the hospital at 4:30 a.m. the next day. So, we had to drive early enough that he could go home and rest before another grueling week. One last picture of the kids before we left. They sure had fun together.

Before we left the state of Georgia we found the temple there and took a few pictures of it. It was on the way home so we really didn't have to go out of way to see it.

Quite a pretty temple. Bigger than Detroit and Nashville, but still smaller than St. George or Salt Lake.

Two eternal sweethearts. I love this man! A great way to end the weekend. Thanks to the Laney's we were able to have a mini-vacation with them. Thank you all. We love and miss you already. We will be going down again to see more of the sights as soon as Vaughn has another day off.