Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 27: The Lives Aquatic

giant narrow fish.

This fellow refused to move, as if he was too busy waiting in vain for a callback from Pixar casting.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

What’s not to love about an aquarium? It’s a wonderland teeming with life in myriad forms and mesmerizing colors, many of which you’ve never seen before. Mood lighting and soothing blue waters surround you, and help to offset the noisy kids running around all over the place and shouting, “LOOK AT THAT ONE! NO, LOOK AT THAT ONE! COOOOOOL!” If you enter without children as we did, then you’re not beholden to their curious questioning, their short attention spans, or their zigzag walking styles as they bounce from one captivating tank to the next. You can lollygag around at your own pace and decide for yourself which fish you’d rather skip, which fish you’d like to stare at for a few minutes while contemplating the intricacies of Creation, and which lifeforms you’d like to spend ten minutes trying to get a single decent picture of for posterity.

Unfortunately for our more modest cameras, colorful settings don’t compensate for dim lights. Many of our pics at the National Aquarium came out blurry. This gallery, then, represents the best of what we tried to do. When you’ve had no formal training or thousand-dollar devices, sometimes patience and hope are the best tools you have. We only had a couple of hours till closing time, but it proved just enough time to see the main exhibits and enjoy the air conditioning.

Aquarium 101!

Your basic ornate aquarium setting and smaller specimens.

Yellow Tangs!

Yellow Tangs don’t form the kind of school that organizes into neat patterns like a high school marching band.

not Nemo!

We have names for a few, but not all of them. My note for this one simply says “not Nemo”.

Puffy lizard!

When we first entered the aquarium, the first few sections were filled with landlubber animals, including select lizards.

Black-Headed Python!

A Black-Headed Python gazes also into you.

birds grooming!

Birds pass the time grooming while trying to discern which neighbors are most likely to eat them.

turtle with lettuce!

At the foot of the waterfall, a stubborn turtle held a firm grip on its prized lettuce leaf.

turtles and peeking frog!

Another pair of smaller turtles and a lurking frog that thinks it’s stealthy.

big turtle!

One of the largest animals we saw was either a Green Sea Turtle or a Giant South American River Turtle, assuming they’re not interchangeable.

Reticulated Whiptail Ray!

Sharing a large tank with the giant turtle was a Reticulated Whiptail Ray.

blue fish!

Not sure if the fish are blue or if they’re using that color of light bulb.

horseshoe crab conga!

In the shallow petting area, horseshoe crabs form a conga line.


Sometimes we have to remind ourselves aea anemones are living creatures, not fish tank decorations.

Pee-Wee's fish!

Possibly one of the fish from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, or not.


Our least worst shark photo. Dimmed lights plus continuous swimming equals impossible target.

dolphin tank!

The penultimate stop on the aquarium fixed route is the dolphin tank. We arrived too late for any shows, but weren’t disappointed. Our hometown Indianapolis Zoo has dolphin shows, so they’re not a rarity to us.


While this dolphin swam its laps, Anne insisted on catching it in the act. I lost count of how many tries this took.

…and all of these weren’t even my favorite exhibit. To be continued!

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email signup for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

One response

  1. Very nice photos! I love to travel in my country too, I visited most of it with my parents. And we have near seaside, an aquarium like this and a big marine museum, it is very beautiful.


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