The advantage of staying just steps from the beach was pretty obvious. We were able to sneak out of the condo while everyone was sleeping and get some amazing sunrise pictures. Our timing was perfect, we had the beach pretty much to ourselves while we walked to the pier on Sandbridge just in time to set up and wait for the sun.
I have never seen the sun come up over the ocean. I felt like a little kid, this view was amazing and awe inspiring. I think we were able to capture the sunrise, we have some beautiful pictures. There is no way to capture the feeling of excitement that this experience gave me. I can look at the photos now and they take me back to those moments. One reason to love photography.
A view that I found especially mesmerizing is when the bottom of the sun is just clearing the horizon and the effect looks almost like a mushroom.
I really think this picture should have a soundtrack!
We returned to the condo for a quick breakfast and joined the rest of our group when they headed back to the beach.
We had about an hour to play, ”run from the waves” before we were due to meet the other half of the family at The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.
The Aquarium is so much more than just looking at their large collection of sea animals. They are very active in both conservation and education, clearly loving the animals that they house and rescue. They have a program to respond quickly to marine mammals and sea turtles that become stranded on Virginia’s beaches. They also promote Sensible Seafood by partnering with local restaurants, caterers, wineries and breweries that offer sustainable seafood menu options.
The education aspect comes from programs they have for youth, schools, and scouts. It doesn’t end there however, the Aquarium has volunteers to answer any questions you may have as you tour the facility. This is a nonprofit organization that earns money to support the amazing work that they do by admission to the Aquarium, memberships, and several outside activities including an activity park for ages 6 and up and boat tours, including whale watching tours.
Today we’re here for a whale watching tour. The Humpback Whale migrates past Virginia’s Beaches in the winter months so we were prepared to freeze for this great opportunity to see these magnificent animals in the wild. We weren’t disappointed, we froze and got to see whales!
We were a large group all together and probably comprised half of the guests on the boat that day. We prepared as much as you can for that kind of cold but the little guys can only spend so much time exposed to the elements on the water in January in Virginia. We took turns warming up the kids inside the boat. They enjoyed a private lesson on whales from volunteers while they ate their lunch.
As for the rest of us, we braved the wind and cold to see and photograph a humpback whale. He seemed to be showing off for us as we followed him around. When a whale gets ready to surface they spray out water. The sound of their spray lets you know where to point your camera. If you happen to be in the right direction you may get a whiff of whale breath. This is unmistakable and not the most pleasant smell I’ve experienced, all part of the whole encounter.
All of the freezing and whale breath smelling paid off by this big guy flashing his tail for us. Fortunately we were ready and got a few great shots.
What an exciting day and we still had dinner reservations for a great seafood restaurant on the waterfront. Waterman’s Surfside Grill had a huge round table waiting for us. I had looked this up before leaving Colorado because I was really looking forward to fresh lobster. I confirmed that it was a good choice with our local experts and got my tastebuds ready for my favorite food in the world. I can’t speak for everybody, although they seemed to enjoy their meals as well, I had the best lobster tail I have ever had and there were two of them!
Waterman’s also gets credit for inventing a local favorite called Orange Crush. Comprised of orange vodka, triple sec, and a splash of sprite. Introduced a decade ago Waterman’s has served nearly a half million of this wonderfully refreshing cocktail.
All in all a pretty wonderful day in Virginia Beach. Also a really full day, time to head to the condo and our beds. Much more to do tomorrow.