11 April 2007

What I did on my Spring Vacation, Chapter Two

We left our house at 8:22 on Friday morning. Saturday, Sunday, and the following Friday, and Saturday, we also left at 8:22. It seems that it takes us approximately 82 minutes to get ourselves going in the morning! Because we all wake up naturally around 7. The only reason we didn't leave at 8:22 the last morning, was we went to breakfast. But we actually left for breakfast at 8:23.

Riding in a van with 4 kids is quite an adventure! We have a portable DVD player and we strap it up on the ceiling of the van with velcro. It fits perfectly in the storage compartment with a flip-down lid that is there (where a factory-installed DVD player would be). We bought 8 new movies for the trip. I left the seat next to the baby's empty so I could climb back there to sit by her. (If you are a car-seat nazi, quit reading now.) I would take her out and nurse her and cuddle her and then put her back in while she kicked and screamed. (ok, you can start reading again. And don't judge me...it's actually legal to nurse a baby in a moving car in some states, and I don't do it in cities, or when there is traffic, only on the highway)

We drove about 600 miles each day. The first night we slept in Moab, Utah. The next night we slept in Vega, Texas, which is a little before Amarillo. Between the 90 minute stop in Albuquerque to see my sister and the time change into Central time, we just didn't feel like going all the way into Amarillo. Sunday night we arrived in the Houston area around 7:30pm.

Let's talk about climate. Here in Idaho, it's barely spring. This morning I had to remove ice from the chicken's water and I'm afraid we may have lost fruit blossoms. The peas in my garden are barely coming up. In Houston, we just about suffocated from the heavy humid air, and we didn't stop sweating. It was only in the 70s, but my parents keep their thermostat at 78 and we were still accustomed to our house at 67 degrees. Finally on the third day, my mom had the air conditioner people come and do their inspection so she could turn on the air for us. My aunt told me later that she and my uncle felt sorry for us because my parents always keep their house so warm! It was better with the air, but it was still humid.

Monday we took the kids to the park near my parents' house. Can you believe the size of this play structure? I have never seen one so huge. But then again, everything is bigger in Texas.
Everything's bigger in Texas
Four kids in a row
One of the things I like about Houston is it's always so GREEN! We live in a desert and are lucky to see 12 inches of precipitation in a year, so it's a stark contrast.

That afternoon we went to the arboretum. It's a garden-type place with lots of labelled plants and koi ponds and stuff. Cool place.
Kids at the Arboretum
A lizard I saw on the pathway
At the arboretum

Tuesday morning we drove downtown to go to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. We went to the Cockrell Butterfly Center and to the current Frog exhibit. It was really cool. Here's the pictures we took. If you want descriptions and stuff, go to flickr.
Fuzzy frog

On the way home from downtown we saw this car in front of us. Thought it was strange that they weren't using their own cars for the shuttle service.
What's wrong with this picture?

Wednesday morning we spent at this place called an antique mall. It's a big warehouse with booths where different dealers sell their stuff. Didn't find anything we couldn't live without. When I was a senior in high school, my mom and I found this set of antique china in a little shop is Groene, Texas. It was a huge set, 100 pieces, and was only $425. I didn't love the pattern, though. It was a pretty plain set, though the flowers were pink roses if I recall correctly. We didn't buy it since we didn't love it, and have regretted it ever since! So I am always on the lookout for a fantastic deal on antique china. I don't have any fancy dishes at all and someday would like some.

Then Wednesday afternoon, we got lucky enough to get a personal tour of a historic farm. The area my parents live in was originally settled by German immigrants and a lot of their land was donated/sold to the school district so lots the schools are named after Germans. My aunt is a docent at the farm and though she usually only gives tours to 4th graders learning Texas history and it's only open to the public one Saturday a month, we got to come and see.
Wunderlich farm
Wunderlich farm plaque

Thursday we drove to Galveston. It is almost a 2-hour drive from where my parents live. My kids had heard that "there is a BEACH by Grandma's house??" so this day was what they had been waiting for. We started the day at Moody Gardens in the Aquarium Pyramid. Now, you all know that I am a tightwad. I love a bargain. And tickets to Moody Gardens are not cheap. I had found coupons for $2 off the adult tickets and the two younger kids were free, but it still cost our family $47 to get in for the day. But it was worth every penny. We don't have anything like this anywhere near us in Idaho. It was such a cool place. We saw all sorts of tropical fish, seals, penguins, sharks, turtles, rays, and starfish, err, sea stars. It was interesting for all the kids, and for the grown-ups, too.

I am not even an amateur photographer and I don't have a steady hand for the no-flash shots, so this one is blurry, but there was a big seal swimming behind them.
Moody Gardens Aquarium


In this one, the kids are wet because they had just stuck their hands in the water to feel sea urchins and sea stars (which we were informed by this weird dude that worked there, they are NOT starfish like everyone incorrectly calls them)
Cool underwater tunnel

After the Aquarium we ate lunch at Benno's. The fish was great. Then we shopped a little on the Strand where we saw a cruise ship in the port. Then we went to the beach.
Kids on the beach
They aren't the cleanest beaches, but the kids didn't know the difference. They each filled up a plastic cup with shells and played in the surf a little.
Running fingers through the sand
Frugalbaby made it a full-body experience.
Total body experience

Right before we were about to go, a big wave knocked Frugalgirl1 down and soaked her to the bone. She didn't even complain!
Kids in the surf
They really had a good time. Everyone had a bath when we got home and we managed to not get too much sand in the van!

We left to go home the next day. I was so glad we were in Texas during the bluebonnet bloom.
Bluebonnets on the freeway

It had been flooding the night before in area of North and East Texas, but luckily we missed it. But boy, did it rain. I spent a lot of that afternoon scanning the horizon for tornadoes. Seriously. There were warnings and watches all through the counties were driving through.
Rain, all day long

One of the flooded areas we drove by.

And here's one of those you just can't resist.
Obligatory Oil Well Shot

We ended up driving 750 miles the first day, and about 600 the second, so we got back home in time to retrieve our dog from the boarding kennel, which closed at 6. We got there around 4, and everyone was glad to have the dog back!

All in all, we had a great trip. We put almost 4000 miles on the minivan but hopefully it will be a trip that the kids remember for a long time.


QueenMeadow said...

I'm tired just reading your post. Looks like a lot of fun though, except for the 4000 miles of driving ;)

Char @ Crap I've Made said...

Fun! Love your sling, btw.