________ September 20, 2016 _________

Michigan SeaLife Aquarium

sea-life-michigan-e1418830939434Two weeks ago, someone got on a West Michigan FB board and announced that last week would be ‘Homeschool Week’ at Michigan SeaLife.  This meant that for five days, the $26.50 admission fee would be slashed (during the day, for homeschoolers, only) to $10/person.  I gasped.  Out loud, even.  That’s… a savings I really couldn’t pass up.  And I wanted to go!  (So did the kids.)

The problem was… Brian would be in Chicago for half the week.  So not only could I not get him to play hookie and go with us, I wouldn’t even have my partner in-state in case I had an accident or car trouble.  I was terrified – I’ve never driven that far by myself (let alone with five children!).  Should I do it?  Should I pass?  COULD I do it?  Could I talk myself into trying?!?  I hemmed and hawed a lot.  As it was, it was Sukkot.  We were busy.  I had a feast to do – alone.  I was parenting – alone.  My kids’ grooves were off from a) being out of school, b) sleeping in a sukkot, c) Dad being gone, and all not being right in our world.  I was worried.  And in a serious funk, being pissed about the fact that he elected to leave the state over keeping the feast.  Just sayin’… again.

But then I remembered that I grew up in the Air Force, watching my mom do it alone.  When Pop was TDY or on a remote, or in the Persian Gulf?  She did it alone – hundreds of miles from anyone.  She had to have been as nervous… and she made it.  If she could do that for years, surely I could take a trip to (((gulp!))) D-D-Detroit [[[!!!!!!!]]] with five children, by myself.  Right?  Of course right.  I’m the toughest sonuvagun I know.  If she can do it, I can do it.  It’d be cake.  *Pshaw!* 

So I headed out… directly to the nearest Valvoline oil change to have them make sure my car was up to a cross-state trip (mostly because my oil change sticker had a typo to the tune of 200,000-ish miles.  It said my next oil change was at 10,540 miles.  Not. Even.  So I had to be sure, you understand.  I’m kind of anal, you know this).

We got lost.  My 16yo never had to navigate, before, and was equally nervous.  We’d just done our mapwork badge, a few weeks ago (blog pending, don’t rush me!), so she knew how to read a map, and had the atlas – we don’t have GPS or navigational doo-dads.  But she somehow missed the I-75N exit.  (To be fair, I’m not sure there was a I-75N exit.  Michigan does some stupid things, and it wouldn’t surprise me.)  After all, there was no I-75S exit from US-23: we had to turn around and hit it from the other direction.  So there ya go.  But otherwise, getting there wasn’t difficult at all.

And here we begin the pictures.  Please brace yourselves…
this is a LOT of pictures (for me):

img_7327-444x267There is no I-75S from northbound US-23.  In case you wondered.

img_7328-333x167Michigan SeaLife is in Michigan’s largest outlet mall.  Erm!?!

img_7331-555x341About this point, we started really getting excited.

img_7336-555x494It’s $16 for a souvenir photo that they take.  I take my own, thanks!

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First you go in a round ‘decompression’ chamber to be ‘prepped’
for your underwater adventure.

When we got there, it was right at the time of the shark show.  So we sort of raced thru the whole place to the shark emporium to see the show… which is mostly just a woman standing there, telling you facts about sharks.  It was interesting, but the sea life…!!!

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We were greeted by this guy, first.  He’s happy to see us.

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Black-tipped shark – one of a pair.  They hope for babies.

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The shark show was informative… and probably would be much better
if we hadn’t spent two weeks watching ‘The Blue Planet’, first.  ((blush!))

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Benson, their rescue sea turtle.  He’s pretty kewl.

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Whoa!  They got up close and personal with us!

img_7405-444x222The rounded nose indicates that this is not a hammerhead – it’s a bonnet shark.  They only get to be 3ft, and that’s why SeaLife keeps them instead of hammerheads.  They can’t keep animals of any length – there’s not room.

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Lots of climb-thrus for kids – it was a very nice place.

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Ever have a shark or ray swim over your head?!

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Homeschoolers are a different breed.  And it’s obvious.

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Looking up over my head!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Lionfish… for future reference.

img_7468-555x416Giant angelfish… and you can see a peekhole to the left.
Littles can get right ‘inside’ the tanks.  It was definitely kid-friendly.

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Jeff, the 6ft Moray eel.  He’ll grow to be 8ft, eventually.  Do you see his friend?
He apparently likes to cuddle the dogfish sand shark.
I shall call him ‘Squishy,’ and he shall be mine, and he shall be my Squishy.
(And yes, Dory and her friends are all here, too!)

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This is Ursula, the Japanese spider crab.  She’s taller than my 8yo, stretched out.

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The kids love the peek holes, but beware… we got horrible head colds
from touching things, here.  Bring sanitizer, and USE it in copious amounts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese little fellas swim vertically!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOf course you know what this is…

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The round room… where the tank is the whole circumference of the room!

img_7532-444x333The touch pool.  These shrimp were too shy to clean my finger.  (Maybe if they had, I wouldn’t be congested about now?)  OTOH, if they had, they might have snotty noses, today…. so maybe they’re just really smart shrimp.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis little fish was hilarious.  The attendant said if you put a shell in front of this particular crevice, it would immediately move the shell out of the way and ‘rearrange’ the front of its house.  It’s very persnickety about it’s decor!

img_7518-444x227Put your finger between the tentacles, and it’ll hold your hand.  🙂

To be honest with you?  It’s not worth the $26.50 admission, so I’m very glad we got the deal.  If you have a big family, I might even consider passing, as it’s only about eight rooms long, and is finished in about an hour.  If you were to pay admission to a zoo, you get five times as much to see/do… so it seemed a little over-priced, to me.

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Across the ‘mall aisle’ from SeaLife is Rainforest Cafe, which I didn’t realize is a whole attraction of it’s own.  We had to go and check it out… and while I got the kids 3/$1.50 little stingrays (and a small plush for us to share) at the SeaLife gift store, there’s tons more at the Rainforest Cafe.  They had postcards, which is what we collect.  And that day, they said any plush that was on the counter was 50% off… and they had a LIONFISH!!!  He was absolutely adorable, so I did cave and get him.  Owen has hardly put it down, since.  I kind of have a ‘strange creatures’ stuffed animal collection that they kids adore (not limited to an emperor penguin, bat, rainbow trout, racoon, stingray, river otter, and more.  Now including a Lionfish!).

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At the entrance of Rainforest Cafe.  The whole place has animatron robots.
They swing their tales, chomp, flap ears, swing from trees… it’s fun.

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Going into the restaurant.  It’s a cafe, after all.

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They don’t call it RAINforest Cafe for no reason.  It rained inside the cafe.

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In case you wondered what it’d be like to pull up a seat at the bar!

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I told the kids to pretend they were being stampeded, and amusingly enough, just as they started to pose, the elephant exhibit went live, and the ears flapped, the heads moved, the feet stomped, and the thunder shook around us.  Took the boys by surprise!  It was funny.

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We walked all around, watching the animals come to life.

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I didn’t know what to do – we weren’t hungry, so I got us each a funky fruit drink – six to the tune of $5/ea.  It was only later that I saw these.  If I had to do over, I would’ve gotten two or three, and we would’ve split ’em.  Just… sharing options.

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Come to find out, Detroit LegoLand is in the same mall (I’m not sure where, but it can’t be far).  We were given these ‘bookmark’ passes as we paid our SeaLife admission – turns out there’s yet another homeschool day this year, and on one side is the SeaLife deal, while the other side has the same deal for LegoLand.  I don’t know that we’ll go, but it’s definitely a better deal, and if you’re interested, you know now that there’s another opportunity coming up.

It was fun.  We had a really good time, and it was a nice ‘adventure’ while my guy was off galavanting around Chi-Town.  It was a little more expensive than I like, but sometimes that’s just the way it goes, and the deal really did help a lot (I wouldn’t have even considered it, otherwise.).  Plus we got to see amazing animals and learn a few new things.  So overall?  I’d say it was well worth going once!

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