Though I haven’t been able to volunteer in about a year, Seattle Aquarium still feels like home, and I was happy to walk in at 9:30 this morning and wave to Madison diving in the Window On Washington tank in the great hall. As I scrambling to remember a few facts about the tank for my parents I heard a call from behind “Hey, Bryan!” It was Jeff Christensen, Dive Safety Officer for the Seattle Aquarium and all-round dive guru, handling the dry-side interpretation for Madison. While he initially intimidated the living bajeezus out of me when I was going through our dive-skills class, Jeff is really a very nice guy and incredibly knowledgeable about every aspect of diving you’d care to pick his brain on. We chatted for a bit and he threw me the mic “Here, talk to Madison!”
“Hey Madison! How’s it going?” I spoke into the headpiece. Madison waved to Mom and Dad as Jeff kindly offered to let me go live (full broadcast over the speakers), which I declined in a panic. We said goodbye to Jeff and Madison and let them get ready for the show and then headed up to the cafe where I knew Alan, Steve, and Brad–and the rest of my old warmwater team–would be having morning coffee after having prepped the tanks.
I happily caught up with Alan and introduced my parents to Brad, who immediately lied to them about what a responsible volunteer I’d been, and went about telling stories of some of our more recent diving adventures.
Once coffee was finished we made our way around the usual tour spots with Brad, who had cleared our access with Alan (I no longer had a working pass, either). Mom and Dad got a view of coldwater holding, quarantine, and food prep areas, as well as the top-down view of the Wow tank we’d just been peering into, while Brad aided my rusty brain with the correct facts about what they were looking at.
Warmwater holding and behind-the-scenes was the next stop, including my personal favorite–the enormous hard coral and giant clam tank. I’ve always loved the views from the top, with the edges of stony corals nearly peaking out of the water. Despite their relatively slow growth rate, the corals had gotten markedly larger since my last visit, and I think Mom and Dad had an appreciation of the colors and the complex setup of the tank given some of the smaller systems I’d kept when I was back east.
After a brief detour into and above the Dome tank, we headed down into coldwater invertebrate holding, home of the moon jelly breeding program, smaller octopods, and any other project that there’s room for at the time. I’ve always liked this section of the aquarium; a little more out of the way, it houses some of the more interesting animals.
We wrapped up behind the scenes and made our way through the rest of the aquarium, saying our final goodbyes to the otters, both river and sea, and crossed the street to Pike Place Market. Mom was adamant about seeing a fish thrown from the famous Pike Place Fish Market, and after several false alarms someone bought a fish and the airborn ichthyoid was captured on camera.
Back at Kevin’s place we geared up for Mom and Dad’s evening adventure: giving their Full 90 at a Seattle Sounders game in the rowdy section. Once geared up with their scarves, Mom and Dad were naturals, though Mom was way more into the scarf twirling than Pops.
After watching the Sounders crush the Galaxy we stopped my Tutta Bella for a light dinner before heading home for the evening. My friend Brian is the company chef and I was glad to have a reason to take the family there; it sounds like a plug, but the place is always such a nice dining experience and I always leave feeling satisfied without feeling overly full. Mom and Dad liked it, and as had become custom at this point, we made our way back to Kevin’s apartment to wrap up the night watching the Olympics.