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Dozens of Argentinean and Chilean Penguins. Eight Stamps. One Nerd. And One Bike.

19 Jul

Today brought together a motley crew of highlights that seemed to blend together at the end of the day and make me smile. It was a fun-filled day, officially my son’s fourth birthday, and an awesome adventure for the nerd in me at The Aquarium of The Pacific.

The Aquarium

I mean really Argentinean and Chilean Penguins? I had no idea that penguins existed outside of arctic, glacier-filled environments, and said stuff like “Oye, todo bien, Che?”

I mean who knew? The Aquarium people knew. They got skills. Mad penguin and ocean animal skills.

Stuff like that seemed to fascinate me, it’s the nerd in me. Apparently there are seventeen kinds of penguins on Earth and most of them live in temperate regions. The ones I got to hang out with today were the Magellanic Penguins, which sadly happen to be an endangered species. I’m glad I got a chance to hang out with the Oye Che penguins.

The Penguins

But this little fact wasn’t the top contributor to my escalating nerd factor of the day. It was the stamps. The eight stamps. White Sea Bass, Pacific Seahorse, Collard Aracari, Whitetip Reef Shark, Magellanic Penguins, Anchovy, Dragon Sea Moth, and the Bonnethead Shark. I mean even before I put my hands on the Map & Visitor Guide I was vaguely familiar with half of these creatures, but by the end of the day I happen to know certain Trivial Pursuit-Jeopardy! type of information. It happens when the nerd comes out. It happens when you get stamp crazy.

As soon as I got that Map & Visitor Guide it was on. I saw the empty circles hanging out on the top-right corner of the pages. I mean I wasn’t a middle-school student trying to finish an Earth Science assignment for my third period teacher. I wasn’t going to get a prize from the aquarium volunteers for getting all eight stamps. But I was still on a mission to get all of the embossing stamps on my map and visitor guide. My son found this scavenger hunt pretty enjoyable, but in truth it was the nerd in me that enjoyed it too. Maybe more than my son.

At the end of the day I was missing just one: The Pacific Seahorse. It was past lunch time. Past nap time. But the nerd in me overpowered the mom in me and I took an extra five minutes to return to the Southern California Baja Gallery to look for the embossing station. And there it was hanging out by the exhibit, being used by elementary and middle school students. I was last in a line of three.

The Guide

As I finished getting the last stamp in my book, I felt a woo-hoo! resonate in my Pointdexter soul. I smiled, excited to tell my son who was hanging out by the Nemo tropical fish tank. As I turned to see other kids waiting to use the station I felt a little out-of-place. But then I noticed two adults holding onto their visitor guides. Page 11 sticking out, ready to get the stamp and then it was all good, because the visitor guide brought out the nerd in everybody.

And yes he was as excited. My son was as excited as I’d hoped he’d be. Maybe not as excited as when he got his miniature scuba diving guy for the bathtub, but nevertheless excited. Mission complete.

But his birthday wasn’t quite over yet we stopped by Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., which is awesome by the way. So awesome that I might have to write a separate post on this restaurant tomorrow. They sang him happy birthday and he dove into a hot fudge sundae.

But that wasn’t even the best part …

The Red Racer

We made our way through traffic, which sort of dazed the excitement factor, and finally made it home. And there it was sitting in the patio waiting for him.

A red Specialized super awesome bike, to replace the one they stole. No SpiderMan decals this time, just a clean read bike. And an ecstatic four-year old with his Lightning McQueen helmet.

Dozens of Argentinean and Chilean Penguins. Eight stamps. One nerd. And one bike. This is what my son got for his fourth birthday.