Friday, September 26, 2014

Clearwater Aquarium, Dolphin Tale 1 and 2~ Our Adventure Meeting Winter and Hope

 Dolphin Tail 2 opened last weekend and I couldn’t wait to revisit the wonderful world of
Winter and her friends at the Clearwater Aquarium,  where their mission is to Rescue, Rehab and Release.
 
I can’t believe it was over two years ago that my sissy Debbie, niece Molly and I loaded up the Mini Cooper and motored down to Clearwater, FL to meet Winter and friends.
 
Molly and I had been making plans for months, monitoring Winter on the Winter Cam, plotting and planning our great adventure.


Finally the day was here, early Monday morning in May 2012 we departed from my home in Charlotte NC, about a 400 mile journey, our first stop on our motoring adventure was St Augustine, FL where we spent several days at the beach home of our great friends Lynn and Paul.

We arrived just in time for an early dinner at the Beachcomber, which is one of our favorite local places to enjoy fresh seafood. Providing a casual atmosphere, nestled behind the beach dunes where you can relax on the deck, feel the ocean breeze on your face and the Atlantic Ocean is your backdrop.
Kary and Molly 2012
“St. Augustine is the oldest continually occupied city in the United States and if you would to read about this delightful city I recommend that you visit Simply St. Augustine, a blog written by a local. Today I would like to focus on Winter and will write more about St. Augustine in another blog post.


 Next stop, a 250 mile drive from St. Augustine to Clearwater Florida, through a torrential rain storm,  fortunately  we arrived safely at the  Marriott Residences Inn, a two bedroom suite awaited us, which the girls loved and the location was convenient to all the attractions in Clearwater.

The next morning we were up early, really excited and ready to meet Winter!
Molly and the Boathouse 2012
The Clearwater Aquarium looks exactly as it does in the movies Dolphin Tale 1 and 2.  down to the houseboat docked right next to the Aquarium, Molly waiting for Rufus to drop in for a visit. This is truly an aquarium completely focused on Rescue, Rehabilitate and Release.

We finally arrived at Winters home (several U-Turns were involved) where Sissy Debbie and I surprised Molly girl with the Sea Life Safari where we encountered dolphins in the wild, seabirds and had a hands-on-experience on the gorgeous intra-coastal waters.  

One more surprise for Molly was the Encounter Behind The Scenes where we were able to see the tanks where the “patients” are rehabilitated, the hospital and our guide was really knowledgeable and explained how the program works.

Next stop was the Daily Presentations, and the Brighthouse Theater. Also available is the Boat and Kayak Tours and be sure to check out all Activities prior to your trip and reserve your tickets, we did and we were able to plan our day. Snacks, ice cream and beverages are available on-site or pack a cooler with Broccoli Slaw Salad with Chicken, fresh fruit and water, Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches always a good choice and easy!
Winter playing 2012


Winter 2012
The absolute highlight of the day was meeting Winter, Molly had written a note for Winter and after the Animal Encounter Molly spoke with one of the trainers and showed her the note that she wrote to Winter. (We did not get the name of the trainer but I think I spotted her in the Dolphin Tale 2).

Molly showing her note to Winter
The trainer whispered to Molly for us follow her downstairs to the underwater viewing room, as Molly held her note up to the glass the trainer called Winter and Winter swam up to the glass, I swear she looked right at Molly and the note.
It was such a magical moment and there was a couple with their two children watching the entire encounter and the Father turned to us with tears in his eyes and said “this was the most amazing part of the day, Thank you for this”.


It was an incredible adventure for Molly, Debbie and I, also very educational. So make plans soon to  enjoy a day of Adventure that will warm your heart and touch your soul!

Have you met Winter or Hope yet? Have you seen Dolphin Tale 1 and 2?
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 Cheers!  Kary~

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