I turned a zero year birthday this year.
I had a choice of going anywhere I chose.
Going to Belgium, to the land of my forebears was one option. But I thought long and hard about Europe in spring.
Simple equation, actually. Cold Europe in spring or cool Florida in Spring.
We flew down and set up in a nice hotel near a Fudpucker's restaurant. They have a gator pond where you can pet a baby gator of get your picture taken with one. It is the South, after all.
We met our first day with cool temps and winds that were annoying but not awful.
At 1000 am, the beach was fairly empty because it was COLD!
Maybe we made a mistake.
We left the beach and ate. More on food later, you all know we travel on our stomachs.
There is a great little aquarium, called The Gulfarium.
We might have mentioned it on the trip east. It is small, some sharks, seal lions, a seal, several dolphins, sharks, turtles, penguins... you get the idea.
Now when one turns a special age, you need to do more than the average birthday.
So I ponied up a few extra bucks and got to do a meet and greet with a beautiful bottlenosed dolphin named Princess.
There were these three little little girls and me at the rail. They stood on a tall box and I stood on a short step. It looked funny, three little girls and a big man wanting the fleetinf attention of a dolphin.
I got to take her through some behaviors, asked her to blow bubbles under water, raise up on her tail so I could shake her peck fins. The trainer asked Princess to roll over so we could rub her tummy and side, and later, her tail.
The trainer suggested that the best description of what she felt like under hand, she said a wet inner tube. Yes, but more than that.
I make a living because of muscles, their function and dysfunction. I got to feel her muscles under a slick taut skin that I know, have seen, create beautiful movement and amazing feats of physical prowess.
At the end of the session, the darling dolphin swam by us sideways. That tail can move a whole lot of water.
Day one of the birthday vacation had me realize a life long dream.
I touched a dolphin.