I'm beginning to recall how we managed to live in the Dallas area in the summer months 36 years ago. We went from our air conditioned house to our air conditioned car to the air conditioned stores and back again. We ventured out of doors in the early morning or to our back yard pool in the evenings.
It has been very hot and humid here this week, but the thermometer tells us that it is still much cooler than it is going to be.
So .... What to do in such muggy weather? Find a cool venue other than a shopping mall.
Both Craig and I enjoy visiting aquaria. When we lived here in Texas, he kept a large tank of beautiful marine fish. When we moved to California we donated the very healthy fish to the Dallas and Ft. Worth Aquaria. We never got around to having an aquarium in California. Perhaps it was because I was afraid of it breaking in an earthquake!
On Friday we were greeted by this unlikely fellow at the Dallas World Aquarium. He's called a shoebill stork.
The layout and exhibits are some of the best I have seen. I say "some of" because it was hard to compare this River Rainforest with the Open Ocean, Kelp Forest, or the Jellies at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.
The design and traffic flow is interesting. We started at the canopy level of a very large open aviary. Most of the birds are free to fly as they please within the structure. Some have netted enclosures, but we hardly noticed their confinement. There are monkeys, sloths, and marmosets living high and low with colorful jungle birds of many kinds.
As we wound down along faux stone passages we stopped and peered into glass enclosures built into the walls housing frogs, toads, tarantulas, and snakes.
Looking down, we saw several large pond areas with water birds. As we passed over one of them, we noticed a pair of enormous prehistoric-looking white reptile tails in the water below the bridge we were crossing.
When we got lower we could see the front ends. This pair of Orinoco Crocodiles are the first breeding pair in North America.
The integration of the habitats and animals was well done.
The Jaguar had a nice sized space with a small clear pond. He is fed in part by putting fish into the pond and letting him catch them. He had just finished eating one when we arrived and was quite active going back into the water to look for another. He ignored all the people who were just on the other side of his glass wall. Big kitty.
About the time we were wondering whether this aquarium included any fish, we found them, both fresh water and marine. In one large tank exhibit there were very large river fish and a Manatee. We only go to see the manatee for a few minutes before he went "back stage." There is a passage on the side of the tank, which leads to a holding tank. One of the docents explained that often when people were doing things back there he went to check them out. Maybe he was looking for a treat.
One of our favorite tanks was the tunnel. This is a glass passage through the tank holding the sharks, rays, sawfish, and other large guys. We later were able to view them from above water as well.
We were surprised by the fact that the penguin exhibit was outside. Who would think penguins would be happy outdoors in Dallas, but they seemed to be!
I have seen many flamingo colonies at zoos. These were the healthiest I can remember. Flamingos get their color from their food. These were beautiful and vibrant.
No aquarium seems complete without a few tanks of Jellies. Here they had their own small corridor with black light that made a colorful glow.
Overall, I give the Dallas World Aquarium a big thumbs up as a COOL thing to do on a hot day. The only improvement I could make, would be to wear personal headphones that blocked out the people sounds around me as I enjoyed the exhibits. Perhaps with a soothing music soundtrack. I don't mind the bodies, but it seems the sounds of people and children chattering away is magnified by the walls and water. But we are people too, and added our comments to the sounds around us.
After our aquarium visit, we went over to the Dallas Farmer's Market. It is currently being renovated, so only a small area was open. We bought some pretty good produce for slightly less than at the local large grocery.
We ended our day out with a stop at Trader Joe's for fresh basil. There was none at the Farmer's Market, and the tiny packages available at the local grocery were past their prime. Trader Joe's sells really healthy living basil plants for $3.99 each. I never bought them when we lived in California because we could buy large fresh bunches of basil in most grocery stores for less almost year round, but this may be the way to have this essential fresh herb on hand in the RV.
We also needed to restock some of our favorite items for next week. We will be going to Shreveport, LA on Monday, and there is no TJ's there. One thing that has not changed in our lifestyle is our love of good homemade food. A well stocked larder is very important to us.