Swimming with Dolphins on Sanibel Island

Just back from Spring Break in south Ft. Myers, where we spent a day out on Sanibel Island. Around dusk, several pods of dolphin showed up for dinner, chasing fish around and generally making a spectacle of themselves.

They spent quite a bit of time around us, so we were able to get a few decent photos and some interesting video including the item below, where one of them chased a couple of fish directly into the shore about five feet from where Jack was standing. It was pretty cool!

Swimming with Dolphins from Jim Cota on Vimeo.

Lily’s Creek


After hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Thursday, we stopped on the way back out of the park and walked down to a clear (and very cold) mountain stream. The kids had changed out of their boots and into their Crocs and were walking around on the rocks in the creek. Fearful that they might slip and fall in, I told them all to take off their shoes and walk around barefoot. I have some priceless video of this… the water was probably 50 degrees.

Well, it was only a matter of time before it happened: Lily, while standing fairly close to me, slipped and fell. She got up, slipped again, and I grabbed her on the way down. She slipped again while we were trying to get/keep our footing but I still had ahold of her, so she was okay at this point. (I should also note that the water was moving pretty fast and was probably 3 feet deep right next to where she slipped. Oh, I was also holding the video camera through all of this… tense moments!)

She was crying, not because she was hurt, but because she was terrified. After a few minutes, she got herself under control and we walked up to the car to change out of her wet clothes. I mentioned while we were walking how proud I was of her because she dealt with it and got over it very quickly. It was impressive.

Later that night, we were sitting in a restaurant and Char asked the kids to turn over their placemats and draw a picture of their favorite thing from the day. Of course, Jack drew picture of Lily falling in the creek and crying. (He’s such a putz!)

When we asked them to share their pictures, Lily got pretty bashful and started crossing things off and hiding it. It was clear she didn’t want us to see it, so (of course!) we forced it out of her. To my surprise, she had also drawn a picture of her falling into the creek. Except in her picture, though she was dripping wet, she was smiling. She had also included me in her picture holding on to her. She wrote, “The best part of my day was falling into the creek because Dad was there to catch me.”

Here’s a picture of what will always be known as “Lily’s Creek.”

"I can’t hear you!"

Char went down to Florida last week to help her mom get back on her feet after emergency appendectomy surgery. She flew down there with the twins and left Lily and Jack home with me. (Much to their chagrin, I can tell you. The week started with Abby bragging about getting to fly on an airplane before either of them.)

Apparently, Abby packed her attitude for the trip. While swimming, she hit Grace in the face with one of those foam noodles. Grace yelled, “Mom! Abby hit me with her noodle!”

Char turned and began to correct her. “Abby,” she started, “please don’t hit…”

At that moment, Abby put her head back to move her ears under the water and said, “I can’t hear you!”

[View more photos from their trip]

Sometimes "Best in the World" Means Just That

Voyage, Holiday World’s mammoth wooden roller coaster, has just earned praise from Amusement Today magazine as “Best Wooden Coaster on The Planet.” After so much exposure to all the bunk about other claims (“Best [fill in any seemingly unimpressive item here] in The World!!”), it’s truly refreshing when something gets recognized for actually having achieved the designation.

Of course, we could debate on the authority of the organization bestowing such award, but for this category, for this particular award, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Holiday World won four Golden Ticket Awards, which are considered the Academy Awards for the amusement park industry. Aside from Voyage, Holiday World was recognized as the Friendliest Park, Cleanest Park, and for having the Best New Water Slide.

[See video of Voyage’s wild ride]

NC Beach Photos

Just another reason to love Apple: newly released iPhoto ’08 makes publishing web galleries simple and the result… well, let’s just say it’s amazing. You can view the photos in a variety of ways (just choose your favorite), you can download hi-res photos for printing, and with some galleries, you can even upload your pictures to add to the mix.

Very, very cool.

[See the gallery]