Sleeping at Sea World

Nov 17, 2009

I started writing this blog back in May and I have to say, though I have thoroughly enjoyed the writing component, the whole blogging process has been a great deal of trial and error. Before I started writing this website, I knew no one who blogged. Not one single person.

I didn’t even know where to begin when it came to blogging. So, when my best friend, Shanika, gave me a gift card to Barnes and Noble last spring (It was an early birthday present. Or maybe, knowing her, it could have been a late Christmas gift. I can’t remember.) Regardless, I took that gift card down to the store one evening after the kids were in bed and bought a Blogging for Dummies book. And that’s how I began to learn my way around the blogasphere.

Now, books are nice. They’re great. I have gotten a lot of information from them and also from websites. But, personally, I feel like there is nothing like another human being who knows what they are doing. In the last 6 months I’ve made quite a few “blogging friends” online, but I didn’t actually know anyone who blogged. I spent a lot of time wishing I had someone – anyone – whom I could call or have coffee with where I could say, “Hey, what advertising companies do you use?” or “How do I put a video link on my side bar?”

I feel like I’ve been doing fairly well on my own, but I was longing for a blogger friend – and I honestly didn’t know where I was going to get one.

And then, two weeks ago, I received an email. It was from a woman I didn’t know – had never even heard of her, or her website, to be quite honest. But, she had found me, and my blog, and wanted to invite me to an event for Mom Bloggers – at Sea World San Antonio. She told me it would be a sleepover. They were just inviting a small number of bloggers and would I be interested in attending?

You know how some things sound too good to be true? Well, this was one of them. I mean, first of all, hadn’t I just been thinking that I had NO blogger friends – let alone MOM blogger friends – and suddenly, this woman is giving me the opportunity to make some – in person?

And then there was the Sea World factor. That sounds expensive, I thought . . . and immediately emailed her the question. She wrote back right away. No cost. It was an event hosted by her Mom blogger networking site, The Motherhood, along with a Mom Blogging site I belong to, The Mom Bloggers Club. And, of course, Sea World had invited us.

Hmmm . . . no cost . . . a chance to meet other bloggers . . . AND a sleepover at Sea World? Did it get much better than that?

Now that I have returned from the adventure, I’d have to say the answer is, “No. It does not get much better than that.” I had an incredible experience – one I will never, ever forget.

We arrived at Sea World on Saturday evening at 5 PM. I must admit, the two hour drive down there, all alone in my car was, in and of itself, exciting to me. I was able to listen to my own music, on my own radio stations. I even stopped to get myself a drink at a restaurant on the way and I didn’t have to share it with one single little person.

There were 15 of us. All Moms. All bloggers. It was kind of like going to camp. I knew not a soul. Perhaps I was a little nervous, but not much. I couldn’t wait for the excitement to begin.
They introduced us to our tour guide whose name was Chance. He quickly informed us that when he takes kids on these adventures, he gets their attention by calling out, “Hey, Campers.” To which they reply with, “Hey, what?” He said that he didn’t feel that would work with us, so instead, how about he call out, “Hey, Moms” when he needed us.

All the happy chatter stopped suddenly at that suggestion. We just stared at him. “Hey, Moms?” Could we possibly feel any dowdier? He immediately sensed our alarm.

“Okay, how about, instead of that, I called out, ‘Hey, Hotties?’”
Phew. That was much better. We could all live with that. So, “Hey, Hotties” it was for the rest of the weekend.

That evening, and the next morning, we experienced Sea World in a way I never even imagined possible. There was no one else in the park except for us – or if there was, we didn’t see them. We received a private tour of the aquarium, highlighted by the shark exhibit. We went behind the scenes of their shows to see, up close, the Beluga whales, the sea lions, the seals, and, of course, Shamu! (Did you know that if you put your hand up to the glass, next to her face, she sticks her tongue out at you?) In the morning, we were the only ones at the dolphin pool. We all got to feed them and watch them “show off” for us with their jumps. A few of them particularly liked having their bellies rubbed and we were all more than happy to oblige!

We ate dinner in one of the dining rooms (prepared by Sea World’s Executive Chef) with the park’s General Manager, Dan Decker – who informed us that he follows all of our blogs on Twitter. (Hi, Dan!) It was fascinating to hear from him all that Sea World is doing in the conservation department. As you all probably know by now, our family is passionate about recycling and composting and using solar energy. Sea World is, too. They recently converted 20 of their vehicles to solar electric power, recycle all of the condensation from their air conditioning units and soon, will begin composting their excess food.

We also learned that Anheuser-Busch recently sold Sea World and so, if you enjoy seeing those Clydesdales at the park, you better get there in the next two weeks before they’re gone!

And where did we sleep, you ask?

You’re not going to believe it.

With the penguins!

Okay, let’s say right up front, they are a little bit stinky. I was slightly concerned about this and brought my allergy meds. But, within a minute of walking in, you quickly adjust to the smell. We all slept on air mattresses, facing the “puffin” exhibit (in case you’re not sure, they’re a type of sea bird). There was an enormous glass wall that allowed us to watch the birds swimming right in front of us. Can you even try to think of a more calming way to fall asleep?

I cannot, of course, leave out the other women. Meeting them was all that I hoped it would be. As we hung out before bedtime, sitting in a circle, I asked them question after question about blogging. I was sorry I didn’t bring a notebook – but fortunately, someone lent me a pen and paper to jot down all their great ideas. I am incredibly excited about the knowledge I gathered from them and hopefully, in the near future, you’ll be seeing some of their ideas implemented on my blog.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that I’d have an experience like the one I had this past weekend. The weather was perfect and you couldn’t help but be filled with such a sense of peace as you sat, in the moonlight, next to the whale pool as they blew water your way. I made friends that I am already certain I will have for a lifetime. And, I was able to learn so much about a topic that I have come to love so dearly in the past six months – blogging!

Thank you to Sea World for making this possible. Thank you to the Motherhood for doing such a great job hosting us! And thank you to all my fellow “Hotties” for making the night so incredibly special!

For years to come, I’m going to look back on this weekend and smile.


Rachel said...

perfect. It was such a joy meeting you. I'm thrilled you're out there in this crazy bloggy world with us :-)

kimberly w. said...

Can other people sleep with the penguins too, or only specially invited hotties??

Kelly Seiler said...

Just specially invited hotties! :-) And, groups like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.

Anonymous said...

Kelly, Great post...I am glad you had a great time and I enjoyed meeting all of you. One thing I didn't tell all of you is what we use as our core purpose of SeaWorld; "To inspire people, through the power of entertainment, to celebrete, connect and care for the natural world we share". It is something we use internally, however I wanted to share it with you as it seems by your blog post that this is exactly what happened for you this past weekend. I look forward to following you on your blog and on twitter. Take care, Dan

Kelly Seiler said...

Thanks, Dan! Again, I had an incredible time! I have a whole new view of SeaWorld! I'm looking forward to coming back with my family very soon! It was great to meet you and am happy you'll be following my blog!

Steph said...

Kelly, that sounds like an amazing weekend! Not just the SeaWorld, (though I must admit I love me some San Antonio SeaWorld) but the time spent with fellow bloggers. I too have often wished I was able to have bloggers friends in real life. I'm glad you were able to be a part of such a great event.

Anonymous said...

Love your post! That is truly how we felt about our experience at Sea World this summer...your "neighborhood" Sea World definitely was our favorite adventure this year. Brian already has his mind made up that he wants to do summer camp there! You are very lucky to have had this experience and I am so glad you enjoyed it =)

lettergirl said...

Kelly, it was so good to meet you! You really are WAY beyond "Blogging for Dummies," lol. Love all your details of the event.

Colleen Pence said...

What a great recap of our sleepover experience. I really enjoyed meeting you and hope we can stay in touch, Kelly!

sabusykids said...

I am so glad I'm not the only one who takes months and months to finish writing a blog! I'm kind of with you. Except for Dawn and Colleen...I really haven't met very many other mommy bloggers and this is a new world for this old lady. It was wonderful getting to know you. You kept me laughing all night long with your stories!

Kami Huyse said...

Kelly, Loved getting to know you better at the event. Thanks for the great conversation you spurred off about blogging best practices.

Someone also asked about SeaWorld sleepovers, we have lots of them. Check out the website for more info.

Let's keep in touch!

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