Monday, June 22, 2015
It's been awhile since I've posted, because we've been on a road trip to Texas! It took us two overnight stays in hotels each way, but we managed to make the roughly 1400 mile trip without too much complaining or whining...at least from the kids, LOL! The mini van's DVD really helped keep them occupied, I have no idea how my parents managed to drive me and my brother out west to Yellowstone before the days of iPods, Nitendo DS, etc.
One way we break up the driving is by planning fun stops along the way. One of the things on my daughter's bucket list is to see a real live giant panda in person. It's her favorite animal. She's been talking about it for awhile, and I've been trying to explain to her that it would be hard to do since they aren't in very many zoos. The only time I've seen one before was at the San Diego Zoo.
As I was doing research on what on what to do, I learned that the Memphis Zoo is one of only four US zoos to have one! Memphis just happened to be on our route,so stopping was a definite must do!
We had an unexpected pit stop when we started spying the In-N-Out Burger signs around Dallas. That's one of our favorite places, and I hadn't been to one since we moved out of the San Francisco Bay area...over ten years ago! I think we were both excited to introduce this place to the kids. My little guy won't eat burgers but he devoured a strawberry shake and the fries! Our daughter loved the burger - no cheese or onions and was eager to stop for another round on the way back home.
We were lucky enough to stay with friends in Austin, but made some day trips to nearby things. I felt like we were so close to the The Alamo that we just had to go see it. I'm glad we did, I just think it's one of those historical places it's nice to say you've been too. It was surprisingly small, so plan to do more things while in San Antonio as it will only take a couple hours at most. There are a surprisingly high number of touristy things around it, like wax museums, mirror mazes, etc.that I wasn't expecting.
We also went to the San Antonio River Walk, which is just lovely! It's full of cute little stores and lots of great looking restaurants. It really is much cooler down there too. We thought it looked like a really neat place to come for date night.
However, we had seven kids in our groups so we didn't do much shopping, but we did take all the kids to The Rainforest Cafe. Our friend's children had never been to one before and it was a big hit, air conditioned, with a build in show and lots of things to look at. Plus no one cares if the kids get a little boisterous.
My husband is a physical chemist so he really enjoys science museums and the Hill County Science Mill is a real gem. We were there on a quiet weekday and it wasn't very crowded. The kids could all really enjoy all the hands exhibits and use them to their hearts content. There were lots of interactive displays too. The Lady Bird Lane Cafe is attached and this small farm to table restaurant delivers some surprisingly sophisticated eats, not your normal kids museum fare at all.
Speaking of food, my husband really wanted to try BBQ while in TX. Our hosts were kind enough to watch the kids so we could escape for dinner at The Salt Lick. I'm so glad we went, it was really cool to try Texas BBQ as I'm more used to pulled pork and Georgia style BBQ. The sausage was soooo good and I really loved the sides, which are more vinegar based that cream.
I also went for a yummy Mexican lunch with my friend on our last afternoon there. Brad stayed with all seven of the kids back at their house while we got away for four hours!
Another cool day trip we took that was a hit with all the kids was going to the Austin Zoo. This one is a little different from your typical zoo because it's has a lot of rescue animals, including a surprising number of exotic ones. We saw tigers, lions, and bears. All of which, made we wonder about just who would ever think these would make good pets! This deer was a lot tamer, but it represents a big moment for my daughter as she normally is too timid to feed animals from the hand. Her normal thing is to throw the feed in their general direction. This time she was brave enough to feed this sweet one and I loved seeing the interaction.
All too soon our week in Austin flew by and we were back on the road home. But not without a stop in Dallas for...The American Girl Store! My daughter really wants a Samantha doll for her birthday so we agreed to get her one if she'd forgo a big friend birthday party. She's still going to have a couple friends sleepover, so she's not too deprived.
Our big stop on the way home was to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home in Missouri. There's a bit of a running joke about this place. We've driven near it a few times, since my husband used to have Grandparents in MO, and I asked to stop. He kind of zoomed by the exit playfully. A few miles down the road I was like, "I was serious!" He thought I was joking, since he didn't really even know who Laura Ingalls Wilder was! I know, can you imagine not knowing about the author of the Little House books?!
This time he very nicely planned a detour so we could head over and tour the houses. We had good timing to as we arrived shortly before a tour. My daughter enjoyed as much as I did because she enjoys historical places. The three year old, liked it about as much as any three year old would.
We've been back for a little over a week and have been enjoying days of laying around with nothing to do. We like to start off the summer with a week of doing very little, so heading off to TX the very day school ended was a big departure from the norm for us.
That's our summer so far, is yours off to a good start?