OH YES MAM! It's my 13th Anniversary and not a MIL in sight or sound!!! Ps. YOU MUST VISIT... ***UPDATED*** with a few PICS. ;-)
So. We went to meet Winter today!!! OMG If you haven't been there you MUST go!! Especially if your children or yourself has ever read "A Dolphin Tale", seen the movie, or actually remember when Winter was originally found. It was amazing. Don't be expecting it to be your decked out aquarium. It isn't. It is actually a working Vet and rehab facility for Marine animals. There main focus is to rescue, rehabilitate and then release our native Marine life. No bells and whistles here. However, the story of Winter and the amazing people that care for her, come to real life the second you walk in, and seeing her with her BF Panama, is heart warming. Because they are a working animal hospital, you basically observe what the trainers, and vets do day in and day out to care for these and animals. They do have presentations they call "shows, but it's not a sea world show. What you basically witness is the dolphins physical therapy, and training sessions throughout the workday. I wish we lived close enough for me to work, or volunteer there. I would in a heartbeat.
We got a particularly good tip from a marine worker there about Hope the dolphin. She is seriously attracted to anything shiny and metal. So while in the underwater viewing area at almost closing time, the worker showed my girls how to use keys to get her to come right up to the window! It was so amazing. I have one pic where it looks like she was kissing my youngest daughter through the glass. Lol Hope stayed right in front of us until we had to leave. Sweetest thing ever!!
The winter the dolphin tour you can take, is a trolly ride away back over the bridge and located on Fort Harrison. It has all the actual props from the movie, clothing, Winters original tale models, etc to look at. That was very cool too, plus the trolly ride is included in your ticket price.
Due to the attention the movie brought them, they are in the process of expanding the hospital and building brand new amazing facilities for their animals and all future rescues. If you happen to be out on that side of the coast I think this is a must see for the family! I know I sound like an add for the place, but I was really struck with all of them. You can clearly see how much the staff loves what they do and their animals, but even better, you can tell how much these amazing animals love their caretakers. <3
After leaving there we headed back over to the Bay Area and went to Hula Bay for Dinner. It is a hidden gem right off West Shore South of Gandy, and is right on the bay. You can actually ride right up to it on a boat to dock and go eat. They have a massive outdoor area to sit, eat, and enjoy our incredible Florida Sunset. ;-)
Oh! And the band they had out on the deck tonight opened with Sublime, and played Bob Marley and Dave Matthews after that. Could it GET any better? Lol
All in all it turned out to be a very nice Anniversary, especially with the absence of you know who! Lol
Tomorrow is Fort Desoto Doggie beach.
EDIT* Got to my laptop. Here are a few pics. I don't have the one of Hope looking like she kissed my daughter through the glass downloaded yet, but you can see the kids holding up the shiney ring of the key ring to get her to come over to the window. so cute~!
That is Winter and her trainer. HOW SWEET IS THAT??? ;-)