Picture Diary: Sea Life Park

My mom first floated the idea of going to Sea Life Park last weekend. The admission is half-off with an empty Coke can until October or something. You know the Higas got empty Coke cans. The weather was shaky all week, all the way up to this morning when we awoke to a steady drizzle. Lynnette has never been the type to let her plans be thwarted by inclement weather, so we headed out anyway. So confident was my wife that we’d run into better weather that she didn’t bother packing a jacket for herself or Madison. We picked up my mom on the way out to the other side of the island. Here are a few of the pictures we took today.

It was overcast and muggy as hell when we finally got to Sea Life Park. It rained off and on as we rode H1 all the way out to Kahala, then followed the road into Hawaii Kai. Every time the rainfall would stop, my mom would remind Madison to pray for continued good weather. Every time it started up again, she would groan. Lynnette cited Guy Hagi’s weather report as the source of her optimism. When we got to that intersection in Hawaii Kai right before Roy’s it was pouring. It was one of those selective downfalls where you can see the wall of rain 100 yards off and it’s completely dry and then it just slams the car when you hit it. “Stupid Guy Hagi,” I said. And then somehow as we got to Sandy’s it cleared up. “Shame on you for doubting Guy Hagi,” my mom said, like I had blasphemed. I couldn’t argue, though because of Upside to Grandma Coming to Sea Life Park #1: pictures featuring the three members of my family that weren’t taken by my extended left arm.

Mad was itching to go as soon as she got out of the car. Maybe the car ride was just too long for her. Whatever the reason, she was a ball of energy as we entered the shark tank walkway down to the main park. The last time we went to Sea Life Park, I think Madison was too young to really appreciate most of the features. Today, she was impressed as soon as we started descending. She called out the hammerhead sharks Finding Nemo, and then to her glee, she spotted this baby sea turtle in a in-wall display. “It’s Dude (a larger turtle in a display adjacent to this one) and his baby!” she screamed, again citing Finding Nemo. So far, we’ve been able to avoid paying $50 to watch the movie in 3D in the theaters. I don’t know how long that will last. I suppose we might make it through next weekend since Madison was reminded about the existence of the water park this weekend as we drove to Target (to return one of her Tinkbell costumes). “Hey, there’s the water park” she said nonchalantly. “We never go there in a long time,” she added. I’m down, my watch tan is disappearing quickly.

My mom loves Madison with the kind of intensity that makes me wonder if she was rationing her love for me for the first 28 years of my life so that she’d have a bunch left over for her hypothetical grand-daughter. Since we got to the park near opening, the area was virtually empty. This delighted Madison who found the playground in the middle of the park. It didn’t matter to Madison if the play area was wet or not. In my opinion, I think she was simply shocked to find a pre-fab playground that wasn’t exactly like the ones at CORP and 17 other parks around the island. Anyway, here’s a huge pirate ship-shaped playground that’s got three levels. The slide is one of those enclosed, spirally ones, and its entrance is on the third level. The problem was that the only way to reach the third level was through this tube with a curved ladder (left) that Madison couldn’t navigate herself. Enter grandma. My mom popped into the play area and entered the tube so she could get Mad up to that top level. In 1984, when I needed help on the monkey bars, I think my mom told me something along the lines of “Do it your damn self, Phil!”

Madison and Lynnette bought a ticket to feed the sea lions. It went down exactly like I thought it would. Madison was hesitant to even touch the smelt that the staff uses to feed the sea lions – and apparently everything else in the park. I am pretty confident in saying that Sea Life Park is responsible for 93% of the smelt consumption on the island. The balance is likely consumed by the Honolulu Zoo. Well, anyway, once Madison accepted that she would have to get her hands dirty to feed those bad boys, she was still reluctant to hold her hand out through the gate and feed the sea lion. I saw Lynette hold Mad’s hand at the wrist. I saw both their arms extend out and down through the hole in the gate. I saw the sea lion’s head jerk upwards. Then I heard Madison shriek. I don’t think Madison touched another fish. I guess Madison just decided that feeding the sea lions was like walking on hot coals or YouTube Fail videos: it’s all cool unless it’s you.

Elbow above the shoulder. Good girl. The Goob didn’t have a problem feeding the sea turtles, though, since there was no chance they would make any physical contact with her. She was delighted to launch pieces of lettuce and broccoli into the shallow water where there sea turtles spent their morning. The sea turtles, for their part, were more than happy to greedily scoop up whatever greenery Madison hurled their way. Madison checked off a box on the “Proud Daddy List” today with her throwing. As she continued to throw veggies at the turtles, she grunted for emphasis. It was only slightly less intense than a Maria Sharapova/Monica Seles dream match-up. Another father nearby looked at Mad, watched (and listened) her throw, then chuckled. He looked at me with one of those half-joking impressed expressions, then nodded. I patted Madison on the head. If she were my son, I would have said “Attakidnowbabyboy,” then patted him on the butt.

Since I had seen the Dolphin Cove show before, I was able to snap a bunch of decent pictures of Dolphins flying out of the water. This is one of them. There are more, and I like that I even got the Makapuu Lighthouse in the background, but I’m still disappointed. I don’t know how this could have happened, but I totally spaced out on the fact that the climax of the show *SPOILER ALERT* is when one of the dolphins pushes a trainer through the water, then pushes the trainer into the air and follows close behind. It’s like a twenty-foot fall for both the trainer and dolphin and it is awesome. I think I was ooh-ing and ahh-ing when I should have been taking the picture. Damn it.

I figure I owe my mom a picture in this entry that isn’t of her trying to figure out the dynamics of a playground. Aside from accompanying us and taking a whole bunch of pictures (which is quite surprising because my mom might be the worst photographer since we started keeping track of the title), my mom also treated us to the park and dessert at Uncle Clay’s. Madison loves my mom because my mother buys her snacks and also has a nice warm bowl of miso soup waiting for her. My mom (and dad) have been extremely supportive of Lynnette and I, especially since we had Madison. They often treat us to meals and excursions like this. Thanks, mom and dad. We appreciate everything, but especially the time we get to spend with you.

So long, Sea Life Park. See you in a couple of years. I hope you install AC by then.



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