Day Two Dawns...

Friday, March 16, 2007


B10 awoke early, which surprised me since we didn’t end up going to bed until after 11 pm. We stayed up late playing WAR with his new deck of cards and watching Man vs. Wild on The Discovery Channel.

He let me sleep until 8 am, if you call not turning Animal Planet up TOO loudly letting someone sleep. Breakfast was already being served by the time we got dressed and made our way to the dining room. B10 could barely eat, his excitement was boiling over. Then – horrible mother that I am – I made him come back to the room and watch more Animal Planet while I called my Mum to ask about CW.

FINALLY (as B10 said) we were on our way to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. I bought a combo pass, which gave us a ticket to the Aquarium, and also tickets to the Ripley’s 4-D Theatre and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. It saved money, and we can use the tickets up to a year from now (though, we’ll be walking down there tomorrow, when it’s not raining).

The Aquarium was as phenomenal as I remember. It’s small, but extremely well-maintained, and packed to the gills with educational tools. It’s so much more than the tanks with animals inside. There are two huge touch pools (Horseshoe Crabs and Stingrays) and they do diving shows throughout the day. Not only that, but in their Discovery Area they have all sorts of hands on activities to play with that are top-notch. Plus, B10 and I were able to attend a free class about Crazy Critters (taught by a trained educational instructor in true “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” style).

They also have brought in an exhibit about Mars for 2007. Entitled: Mars: The Search for Life! it helps the visitor “follow the water” and discover how NASA is searching for life on Mars, because of the massive amount of water frozen just below the surface. There were miniature versions of the Spirit and the Opportunity (the Mars Rovers) that B10 was able to control, an actual meteorite to touch, videos about the rock from Mars found in the Artic and how Martians are portrayed in Science Fiction, and a place where you could discover your age and weight if you lived on Mars.

We ate lunch there, and it was typically expensive, but atypically delicious. I’ve never put much hope in Museum or Aquarium (or Zoo) restaurants, because lets face it – they aren’t there to bring you culinary delights. This meal was surprisingly good, B10 had an 8 inch pepperoni pizza and it was a brand name frozen pizza. I had fries that were cooked perfectly and well seasoned. We both got bottled waters (he didn’t need any caffeine today), which meant I spent about $14 for lunch. Not bad for two people, in my opinion.

This was the gift shop where my checking account became depleted, but I knew that going in to this school field trip. B10 wanted a baby stuffed stingray and while I knew CW would also want a stuffed toy – he’s more of the baby white seal kind of kid. I ended up buying four books (three on Mars/Space and one on the Ocean) and a new Food Chain game to play. After that B10 said he was ready to go back to the hotel and work on his Math homework. (He’s doing two pages today.)

We took a rest in the hotel room, before spending the evening taking a stroll through Gatlinburg. We found a little Methodist Church that we will go to on Sunday morning and B10 got to see Taffy being made (another of my favorite memories). I picked up Quizzno’s for dinner for him (he loves the toasted subs) and we headed back to the room to spend some time on the computer and reading his new books.

Tonight’s plan is to watch Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel and play our new game “CHOMP!” that we got at the Aquarium.

I miss my youngest Caterpillar and my Fiancé, and I can’t wait until we can take family trips that include the whole family…

God bless Homeschooling!