Atlanta! Love, Fish & Gardens

We are thrilled to announce the birth of our daughter, Kaya.  She was born 11/29/13 at 10:41am.  We'll post the birth story soon but we had this one almost ready to go when she came.  Enjoy!

     Jenelle and I recently had the opportunity to visit Atlanta, Georgia for one of my best friends weddings.  The wedding was a fantastic two day celebration at Indian Springs state park with the bride and grooms close family and friends.  We had several cabins right on a lake and the weather was amazing. It was beautiful, peaceful and in the evenings it was a joyous celebration.

           

     Since it was the furthest south and east I have been in the US I wanted to take a couple extra days to see Atlanta so we came in a day early and stayed a day late.  The first night we stayed in downtown Atlanta at a nice hotel, had a light dinner at the hotel bar and went out to see what the nightlife was like.  Per recommendation of the hotel staff we ended up going to a club called Lava which was connected to another club called Cosmo.  It was actually two, 3 level houses converted into two clubs with multiple bars and dance areas. They had well staffed bars, multiple DJ's incase one was playing something particularly bad and a very nice outdoor patio area with 2 bars.   Everyone we met was very nice, despite the enormous police presence in downtown Atlanta I caught no bad vibes anytime while in Georgia.

      The next morning we woke and went to CB2 because Jenelle had seen it while we where out the night before.  She had a blast.  After that we still had a few hours to kill before picking up another friend at the airport and heading to the campground.  We decided to check out Atlanta Botanical Gardens.  I have been hearing about it since I started keeping dart frogs and I figured it was the perfect opportunity to check it out.

     Lucky for us there was a touring exhibition taking place when we got there called Imaginary Worlds.  It was the first time it came to America.  It consisted of 19 huge sculptures all cover in live plants.  Picture the nicest living walls you have ever scene in the shape of a giant cobra, or a unicorn, or a troll.  It was spectacular.

     Despite the amazing exhibition on display throughout the grounds my favorite part of the gardens was the conservatory.  They had a modest display of frog tanks, well planted with healthy looking animals and as well as information on there larger frog projects that take place behind the scenes in the "Frog Pod."  By far the most impressive thing to me was the amazing orchid and carnivorous plant specimens they kept.  Too many spectacular orchids to mention of all sizes, shapes and scents and the most nepenthes specimens I have ever seen in one collection.  They also had a little field covered in brocchinia (a carnivorous bromeliad) and tons of HUGE heliamphora (a primitive carnivorous pitcher plant from South America.) The conservatory had a beautiful layout divided into a lowlands section, a highland section which was kept cooler and another area that was dry and warm with some really nice dry loving specimens from Madagascar.  It also had multiple side rooms not open to the public where they where cultivating more orchids and a ton of sarracenia.

     On the last day of our trip, before our flight home, we decided to check out the Atlanta Aquarium.  It is apparently the largest aquarium in the US and what sparked my interest in going was the ads and pamphlets all over town showing whale sharks.  We were not disappointed.  They had sections dedicated to native specimens, cold water animals, tropical animals, an aquatic show area, a theatre  and a 'Body Worlds' type exhibit made up of entirely of real ocean dwelling or dependent animals that have been plasticized, everything from octopi to a penguin to a whale shark.            

     We even went to a dolphin show (like at Sea World not Tijuana) since it was included with the ticket.  It was actually quite impressive but all I could think about was the documentary "The Cove" so I felt conflicted, angry and sad the whole show.  I asked one of the people at an information booth if they sourced their dolphins from Japan and she told me that 11 of the 12 dolphins they had where captive bred at other aquariums and the one that wasn't had been rescued from nets and was unable to be returned to the wild.   The most awe inspiring part of the aquarium where the specimens that are rarely kept in captivity.  Beluga whales, whale sharks, tiny asian otters and multiple huge manta ray to name a few.  If your ever in Atlanta it's well worth the thirty something dollar ticket.

     

     It was a wonderful trip that warmed our hearts with old friends and love and further fueled our interest and curiosity for the unique plants and animal that share our world.

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