Cooling off in Hot-lanta!!!!!

Last Thursday Cheney and I ventured south to Atlanta to drop his brother Casey off at the airport for his flight to the Dominican Republic.  We decided to make a day of it and visit the "new" Georgia Aquarium nearby.  The day started off smoothly - except for me waking up late.  We left the house at 6am for the 2hour 45 minute drive - which should have put us at the airport at 8:45.  Casey's flight was scheduled for 10:10.  Well about an hour outside of Atlanta, we stopped for a quick bite to eat that wasn't so quick and then hit traffic in downtown Atlanta.  Those two things combined made for a late arrival to the airport - 9:20.  We dropped Casey off and made our way to the aquarium, parked and received a phone call from Casey that the airline wouldn't let him on the flight.  So, after paying the parking fee, we drove back to the airport to help him sort out a hotel, change planes, etc.  Unfortunately, the next flight out wasn't until the next morning.  But, all was good.

After sorting through the particulars, we finally made it to the aquarium.  One thing I've determined - if it is scorching hot outside, the aquarium is a great place to be.  It was quite frigid!!  Aquariums are one of the most relaxing places to hang out and observe.  I think Cheney enjoys them so much because he's a diver, albeit it has been awhile since he has done that.  When we lived in Alaska, he spent a lot of time exploring life under the 38 degree water.  Not a place for me.  Give me a fish tank any day!!

I was looking forward to taking pictures - so much so that I had studied up the night before on what settings to use on my camera. Unfortunately, when I was getting my camera out of my bag, I checked the memory card and it was MISSING!!!  I was so upset with myself.  I spent the night getting everything ready - charging the battery, making notes on settings, etc.  But waking up late through me for a loop and I was unable to double check things.  So, my pictures were completely dependent on my iPhone.

I was looking forward to the whale shark exhibit mostly and I was not disappointed!!
 The aquarium had a HUGE tank that housed 4 whale sharks (largest animal in the ocean, but also the gentlest), 4 huge manta rays, sharks, and thousands of other fish - the giant groupers were quite fascinating.

The other areas of the aquarium were divided into habitats - Georgia Coastline, Amazon Experience, Cold Water Adventures, and Ocean Explorers.  Each one focused on different types of ocean life.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a great picture of my favorite exhibit - the river otters and the sea otters.  All otters were entirely too fast for my camera. I did manage to capture one picture of the penguins - he was sleeping so it was quite easy.

I was amazed at the intricate details on the fish in all of the exhibits.  It was as if someone had handpainted each fish with amazing color and designs.

In the tunnel, we saw 3 divers.  2 of them were visitors to the aquarium who paid to swim with the whale sharks and manta rays.  Amazing!!  Not sure if I could do it or not. I have a thing for masks on my face, but I think it would be a pretty amazing gift for Cheney.

I could sit all day long and watch the Manta rays... they were so graceful as they moved through the space.  Like a choregraphed dance routine they flipped and turned throughout the water.

The starfish were equally amazing!  My favorite were the ones in the cold water exhibit.  They were reminiscent of my time in the Northwest.  The colors were breathtaking - electric purples, blazing oranges, and sunny yellows.