After six harried days in people-packed Orlando amusement parks, where we baked our skin dry in concrete surroundings and blistered up our feet standing in long lines, we careened into Clearwater Marine Aquarium for our second visit with an old friend, Winter the Dolphin.
Don’t get me wrong — we absolutely love Disney and Universal Studios — but when we drove up a familiar palm-tree-lined causeway to our destination on the Gulf of Mexico, both Neil and I simultaneously sighed out loud. There are some places on the planet that just feel like home, and for the two of us, Clearwater Marine Aquarium is one of those places.
The last time we were here was two years ago — July 2012. At the time, the film, “Dolphin Tale” had inspired a trip from Kentucky to Florida so that my child, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, could experience “dolphin camp” and meet the film star, Winter. The trip was eventful, because he’d endured some harsh bullying in a public school, and we were regrouping from that experience. Being at the aquarium for a full week was extremely therapeutic and restful for him.
I wondered if things had changed much for the aquarium and also whether Neil would react in the same positive manner he had before. After all, we were coming off of a full week of high-octane activity at two of the biggest amusement parks in the world.
Could a day at the aquarium measure up?
We’ll address that question tomorrow … but in the meantime to give you an idea of the answer, here are some photos from when we first arrived. 😀