After lunch and on our own, I realized, I could take bunny_hugger to the Woodbridge Center Mall. This is mostly of personal interest: it's the first place I can remember my father working (at the Stern's department store), and the two-level mall always seemed to me in childhood as this remarkable, special place we only saw occasionally, like during Fourth of July fireworks shows. Also, it had a carousel, which naturally was on the far end of the mall from where we parked. It's a tiny carousel, barely two seats across, and was running without music, so it wouldn't compare even to the Freehold Raceway Mall one, but still, it was a new carousel to ride together and we enjoyed some of the mystery of figuring out where it came from, since it seemed distinctly German somehow. (It was.)
For the evening we went to Jenkinson's Boardwalk, where the aquarium had set up a ``Sea Of Lights'' exhibit, stringing Christmas lights around the tanks and exhibits and props and opening for a few hours in the evening. It also brought in an incredible number of people; we saw a line maybe bigger than any we waited through in the Summer of Walk-On Rides at every amusement park. The Sea of Lights is just a couple weekends, and a couple hours each day, so maybe that's why everyone in New Jersey was in line ahead of us.
We hadn't been to the aquarium before, but bunny_hugger was already favorably inclined toward it because of the attendants sticking tight to their posts through Superstorm Sandy rather than let the animals face even greater risks. (The aquarium and boardwalk are just a few miles north of Seaside Heights, so badly smashed by the storm.) And I thought what a wild but not impossible stroke of luck it'd be to run into rapidtrabbit there, but of course, we didn't.
It was beautiful, though, to see all these fish, and a couple seals, and for some reason some parrots and a couple rain forest monkeys, in their splendor, in subdued lighting with Christmas lights above. The only disappointment was that to make better darkness, I suppose, the informational panel lights saying just what we were looking at were mostly curtained over. Our top delight of the night was discovering some fish that just looked like a bundle of pencils, hovering near vertically, near one another. I forget what kind they were, but wow: thin yellow streaks of fish hovering around the aquarium tank and looking like tall grass Charles Schulz sketched in. Who knew there were such things?
The aquarium also has a trio of seals, including one, Luseal, who came to them many years before Arrested Development even entered production. Two of them were swimming around in the taller part of the tank while one rested on the pool side and drew plenty of attention, including from us. bunny_hugger overheard one person worried about her holding her camera out over the railing, but that's why she uses her camera strap. We got through this without losing any cameras or limbs or anything at all, and feeling just how lovely it is to see an animal this well.
Other featured animals included a number of sharks, from modest-sized up to frighteningly big, some tuna, and a diver dressed as Santa Claus whom we failed to get any decent photographs of. Too bad. We stuck with the aquarium until its closing, and looked very hard at the stuff in the gift shop, but didn't find that perfect aquarium souvenir after all.
Trivia: The Louisiana Purchase was approved in the Senate by a vote of 26 to 5. Source: Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought The Second War of Independence, A J Langguth.
Currently Reading: Omega, Editor Roger Elwood.
PS: What's The Worst Way To Pack? --- a sphere-packing question that's not the usual one.