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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dolphin Love

Getting to Orlando from San Diego on New Years Day was a bit of a pain. Lindbergh Field was shrouded in fog, and had been all night. Nothing was flying in or out and travelers all over the country were delayed. Our 8:50 flight finally took off at noon!
My niece, Julie, and her beau, Scott, picked us up at MCO turned over the keys to my brother's car, with the GPS preprogrammed for me with directions to our resort, their house, and Discovery Cove. We were finally checked in at 10:30 pm EST, after traveling 13 hours! Treklet was exhausted, hungry, and headachy to the point of tears. I ordered pizza delivery, which she ate in her PJs, and she was snoozing by midnight.
We were up early at 7:00 ( 4 a.m. CA time!) and I called Julie after I made some coffee. Her offer to pick us up, instead of us meeting her at Discovery Cove was appreciated more than she'll ever realize!
Our tiring journey was soon to be rewarded....
We checked in, had our picture taken, got a complimentary breakfast, then we're given wetsuits and snorkel gear. We changed and headed for the Tropical River where we swam through an aviary! We got out of the water and were given cups of pellets and fruit to feed the exotic birds. Treklet and I were able to get a few of them to step up onto our arms, and I even had one stay on my shoulder for a time! A beautiful tame fruit dove tolerated me stroking its back as it ate from the cup. There were spoonbills, ibis, touracos, hornbills, doves, conures, lorikeets, hammerkops, toucans and many, many others.
Our next adventure was at Grand Reef, which features a white sand beach, and the opportunity to swim with bat rays and colorful tropical fish. Sometimes the rays would brush against us as they flew by. It was very cool.
Finally, the event we were looking forward to--our dolphin encounter! After a short orientation in a heated cabana, our group of 9 participants followed a trainer into the saltwater lagoon where we each got lots of opportunities to touch two bottlenose dolphins, Ipanema and Yoko. We were shown hand signals, which the dolphins obeyed, we each got to kiss Ipanema on the beak, get a ride from Yoko from the deep water back to the shallows, and feed her a fish. AMAZING.
After 30 minutes in the cool 72 degree water (which was warmer than the air temperature!) we were ready for a hot shower. We cleaned up, turned in our equipment, and filled up on a complimentary lunch before browsing the gift shops.
After a short visit at Julie's lovely house she took us to the grocery store then back to our resort. What a grand adventure. I must add that the day was made even more sweet by the huge discount we got on our tickets thanks to Julie's friend who works there.

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