June 29, 2016 Visit to OKC and off to Kansas

Today we are headed into Oklahoma to see the memorial for the bombing of the Federal Building.

We got going about 9am.  The drive should be a couple of hours and we are hoping to find some decent parking when we arrive.  Yesterday in Dallas wasn’t our favorite when it come to getting around a big city.  The amount of highway construction is really amazing!  I expect that we will see a lot of it but I think we have seen the biggest projects in Texas and Oklahoma.  They have so much road torn up for miles and miles!  The traffic wasn’t too bad which was a blessing.

 

We arrived in Oklahoma City around 11am.  We came in by the Chesapeake Energy Arena.  This is home to their basketball team, the Thunder.  Scott really wanted to go take a picture by the stadium to show his distaste in our Sonics being sent here now 8 years ago…that guy can hold a grudge 🙂  No, we are glad that the city got a great team to cheer on but we sure miss them!  Thanks a lot Howard Schultz.

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There were a bunch of RV’s parked in a lot near the arena so we were excited to see that there may be a place to park…we asked a lady at the entrance to the lot.  Apparently there was a dog show so unless you had a pass to park there you had to find other parking.  What do you think Gizmo?  Deciding that the memorial was more important than Gizmos 15 seconds of fame we ended up finding some street parking.  Wow, that was a great deal!  It is two hour parking so we took it and then took Gizmo with us because it was already 85 degrees but felt hotter out.  We had about a mile to walk to the memorial.

We walked by the Botanical Garden and later found out it is free to enjoy with the exception of the conservatory.  They have a off leash dog area, a little kids splash park and really lovely grounds.  There was even a line of food trucks right there for the families to have a snack or treat.  Really, really neat…and right in town.  If we had time that would have been a neat place to stop.

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A fence that holds mementos in remembrance for the victims  

 

The walk took us awhile and it was hot.  Sticking to the shady side of the street helped.  The memorial takes up a whole block.

It is framed by The Gates of Time.  The east gate represents 9:01am on April 19, 1995 and the innocence of the city before the attack.  The west gate represents 9:03am and the moment the city was changed forever and the hope that came from the horror in the moments and days following the bombing. There is a large reflecting pool that provides soothing sounds and a field of chairs that represent all the lives lost.  There were 168 chairs…19 small ones that represent the children who died. It was very somber moment as we looked at the chairs with the names engraved.  What a terrible act of terror and what a beautiful way to remember all the loved ones who were lost.  The grounds were very pretty and there was a tree there that withstood the whole thing, now titled The Survivor Tree.  There is a children’s area where hand painted tiles were sent to Oklahoma City by children and a little orchard of flower and nut bearing trees titled the Rescuers Orchard.  There is small section of the wall that is original and stands as a reminder of the violence.  Pieces of granite from the lobby now have names of the survivors of the attack inscribed on them.  There are over 600 names. Outside of the West Gate there are still sections of the original fence that was put up right after the attack where people have left over 80,000 tokens of love, hope and remembrance.

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A quick water spray was a welcome cool down

 

This Oklahoma City tragedy was the worst attack on US soil until 9/11.  We all enjoyed seeing this memorial and its a great reminder of our freedoms and how we take them for granted.

We were an hour into our 2hour window of parking time and decided to see if we could find somewhere to get lunch that would allow dogs.  This is tricky.  I had remembered that they do have much smaller version of a river walk so we headed toward the Bricktown District of the city.  They have their city all titled with about 10 different districts. It was a really nice city to walk around.  Bricktown was super cute.  Such great architecture and buildings.  I think spending some time in OKC would be really fun.  From our quick walking tour it sure seems like a great place.  The river walk wasn’t very big or happening (although it is 1pm on a Wednesday….not really party time for most) and we finally found a place that would let us have our dog on the patio.  We were so parched that the guy had to refill our waters about 30 seconds after giving them to us 🙂

The food was okay but the location was lovely.  The shade a the breeze helped to cool us all down pretty well.  By the time we were leaving we were over our 2 hour window and hoping that the RV was still there and that we didn’t have a big ticket on our windshield.  Happy to see the RV ticket free we all climbed in took off to the next destination…Wellington, Kansas.  What’s in Wellington you may ask…nothing but a KOA for us.

Our KOA is quite clean and nice.  The girls found the smallest little frog in the grass.  Great little pool to cool off in.  We met a boy named Tyler who was very forward.  Funny all the different types you run into while on the road.  Lets just say Tyler made us not swim after dinner 🙂 Dinner was enjoyed outside and tasted great. Ben helped get it all ready, trying to pass on the grill skills.

We are now on the “go, go , go” portion of the drive.  Ultimately we are going to end up at Badlands National Park in South Dakota.  Kansas and Nebraska are just the states we are going to bust thru to get there.  I am sure that there are things to see but we only have 10 days left and want to spend a day exploring the Badlands, go and hang out on Flathead Lake in Montana and then visit my aunt and uncle in Kettle Falls before we make it back to Bellingham.  Our kids are having a great time but they are really missing their friends and our kitty (who is getting so big). Our friend who is housesitting for us has sent us a picture here and there and its fun to see Oskar.  It is always good to come home but we are trying to make the most of our time away as well.

This has been a blessing to be able to be gone and seeing so much.  Spending time traveling and hanging out as a family is something I do not take for granted.  What a gift.

Tomorrow is a driving day for Scott.  We are trying to get midway up into Nebraska.  The humidity is lessening which makes all the difference! Thanks for reading and for the prayers for safe travels!

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June 28, 2016 JFK and “DUBYA”

Well, the rain stopped at some point and now the sun was shining and the temperature was a humid 78 degrees at 7am. It is so nice to wake up to sunshine even if its hotter than I like (I sure sound like a repetitive whiner…sorry!) We pulled out to head to Dallas just after 9am. The parking and driving in a city is always stressful, Scott does a great job handling it! One parking lot proved too small and he basically had to back up the way he came in. I have no idea how we does it. We actually figured out that since we purchased this house on wheels he has put down over 27, 000 miles behind the wheel! I have driven, well zero. Really none at all…not even a pull it forward or back it up or even a “could you hold the wheel for a second”… Scott is officially the Road Warrior in our home 🙂 I am the snack getter.

The downtown area proved to have NO RV parking anywhere. We drove around until we found one lot with two spaces that would work and allow us to get out if people parked around us (this is also a big consideration since when we turn our back swings out pretty far) The pay meter said one space for $5 or oversized for $50…yikes!  I was going to pay for the two spaces at $5 each…what is with this oversized thing?  We are at the end and we do hang over the line…ohhh, what to do.  I went with the two at $5.  We shut the whole thing up and attempted to trap Gizmo in the back portion. We didn’t want him sneaking up front and sitting in the drivers seat (his favorite place).  It was warm out but with all the blinds down it does stay okay in there.  No judging us, we are checking him each hour to be sure all is good.  We headed to The Sixth Floor Museum to get a history lesson about JFK and his time as President as well as his assassination while in Dallas and his legacy after his death.  The tour was set up as an audio tour so we each had a headset along with the controller that you used to move from exhibit to exhibit.  Really well done museum. No photos allowed so I have nothing to show you. All three of the kids enjoyed it.  The events of the day of his assassination were all layed out for you.  The reason this museum was on the sixth floor of this particular building was because this is the building that the sniper shot from.  The window was in the corner and they had it all recreated as how it was found.  There was a box set up as a rifle perch, the window partially opened and a half eaten sack lunch on the floor.  What a horrible day.  They showed footage of the assassination and a recreation of the path of the car and where all three shots would have occurred.  You could see where everything happened right out of the windows.  Really surreal and so heartbreaking.  I can’t imagine how that day must have been for his family and the American public.

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This is the road that JFK was killed on…see the guy standing in the middle of the road?  That is where on of the bullets struck him.  There is an X on the road.  Lots of people running out there to take pictures.  Not too smart, this is still a major road! 

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The building that the shots came from is just behind Scott.  The window is hidden by the tree.

 

 

The whole tour took about two hours but was well worth it.  We did hustle out to check on the dog.  He was totally fine and the RV was still about the same temperature as when we left.  The big deal was that the RV was still there when we returned.  PHEW!  So glad.  We made lunch in the RV and then headed to find the transit station that was near the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.  On the way to the transit station the thunder clapped and the heavens opened.

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The rain was coming down so hard it was reminiscent of the many times on the east coast where we had to pull off the road and wait before we continued on. The streets quickly became rivers and cars were creating huge sprays of water as they drove through the intersections.  We passed the transit station because the turn in looked tight and frankly it was really hard to see anything.  Just a couple of blocks up and there was a big Kroger store, Scott pulled in there and we sat and waited.  I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of leaving our RV here in the parking lot and walking to the train station but it looked like that was the plan.  At least the downpour of rain also brings a decrease in temperature.  We left the RV and Gizmo all locked in and vents open and fans on.  The transit station wasn’t too far away and once we figured out where to go and how we waited about 10 minutes and caught the free bus to the library.

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Standing in front of the entrance to the Presidential Library and Museum

 

The library and museum was a really cool experience!  They had things for everyone to be involved and interested.  it isn’t really what we think of a library to be, its actually an archive preserving the written record and physical history of the president.  It is full of exhibits and programs that serve the community.

After our tickets were purchased we walked into the Freedom Plaza which has an amazing LED screen that wraps around the top of the entire room. Different scenes or landscapes play on this massive screen….it looked like the pictures were actually popping out from the walls.  We then went into the museum exhibit gallery.  We started by watching a video about President Bush and his guiding principles that are important to him and that formed the basis for his major decisions during his years in the White House.  These were:  Opportunity (Every child can learn, free enterprise is the engine of prosperity, you can spend your money better than the Government can). Freedom (Freedom is universal, free people will set the course of history, the best hope for peace is the expansion of freedom). Responsibility (to whom much is given, much is required. Results matter, serve a purpose larger than yourself). and Compassion (we have a moral obligation to relieve suffering, fighting disease abroad makes us safer at home, life is precious).  Such a well done video, we loved it.  Moving onto the displays and exhibits that showed family pictures, and memorabilia. then we wrapped around into the area that focused on creating opportunity and about the programs that were introduced during his presidency.  The No Child Left Behind, the focus on reading and math, there were numerous programs that were faith based and had personal testimonies that you could watch.  The girls spent a long time watching these and learning how many had overcome some very difficult situations in their lives.  I loved watching them learn and be truly interested in what they were hearing.

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I kept waiting for these people to move but they didn’t so I just took the picture. I loved this display that was created with words from President Bushes inauguration speech in 2001.

There was a whole reading area set up that kids could sit and read for a bit so when they did that Scott and I went into the area that focused on the events of September 11th.  It was such a moving exhibit.  You watched video clips on monitors that went around in a circle and in the middle of the circle stood two giant pieces of twisted metal beams from the twin towers.  It was so emotional.  What a horrible day in history. Then we moved through the section on defending freedom, they had a whole set up of the Oval Office that made it feel like you were right there in it.  They had a section devoted to life in the White House which was fun to see.  Then on to acting with compassion and the work that they did with AIDS in Africa.  They had a really neat theater that was called “Decision Points” and it was so cool.  It was interactive and you would sit at your “desk” with a monitor and you had to pick one of the decisions that President Bush had to make in office.  Majority ruled so it depended on how many desks in the theater were filled.  Then you were presented the problem and you could listen to advisers you were able to select.  You would hear both sides and then agree or disagree.  There were breaking news stories that would interrupt you, there was a clock ticking away, then you would have to decide what to do about the crisis.  The majority rule came into effect again and it would tell you what the theater chose and then what President Bush chose.  Then President Bush would explain his decision to you.  It was so cool!  Ben loved it and we could have stayed for so much longer.  At this point we had been there for over two hours and there was still another video and whole other temporary exhibit that we wanted to see on the Path to the Presidency and the whole election process.

The final video  in the exhibit was really well done and urged us to serve our fellow man. To show compassion to our neighbors near and far.  All of us really, really loved the museum. The temporary exhibit was also so well done.  Posing for political posters, choosing a card to see who you were (i.e.: wealthy man in 1800’s) and when you could vote.  A rug that ran the length of the room with everyone that ran in the elections and which one won.

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Benjamin delivering his speech..no flashes allowed in the museum so graining pictures.

 

A podium with a teleprompter that allowed you to “deliver a speech” to the screaming crowds on the screen ahead of you.  Voting booths for you to write what make a good president and on and on.  Really well done.  I would definitely recommend that people come here if they find themselves in Dallas, Texas.

Scott and I were discussing how we had forgotten all the terrible things that had happened during President Bush’s time in office.  The awful day of 9/11 and the hard decisions that followed, the economic market tanking, hurricane Katrina and Saddam Hussein/ Iraq.  I know that I left the museum with a greater understanding of who President Bush is and with a greater appreciation for what he did as President.

The whole deal took us nearly three hours and we rushed it…if you go allow four and don’t worry, it will go fast 🙂  The bus picked us up within 5 minutes and we were back with Gizmo by 4pm.  He was fine our RV was still there and we grabbed some groceries at Kroger and hit the road.  Off to Oklahoma tonight.

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Oklahoma here we come!

 

Terrible traffic due to MAJOR highway renovations going on.  The average speed was 35 mph.  We found our RV park at 7:30pm and got to the pool just in time for our kids to be the only ones there.

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Nice little lake behind the pool that had catch a release fishing.

 

They played in the coolish water for over an hour, I did a load of laundry and then we went back to the RV.  We rented Zootopia and the kids really wanted to watch it.  By the time the movie was done we all got into bed near 11pm.  We are headed to Oklahoma City tomorrow to see the memorial and the place that stole our Sonics away 🙂 Hoping that parking is way less stressful…we will see.  Only supposed to be 91 degrees so that is better than the 98 we have been getting.  See…more optimism on my part, can’t say I’m not trying 🙂

June 27, 2016 HGTV store, Soda Pop and a Catttle Drive

One of the reasons we chose this RV Park is the advertised free breakfast they serve.  The ladies come in to cook and you can tip them if you like your meal.  They make eggs, biscuits, sausage, bacon, toast, pancakes and French toast.  You even can have apple and orange juice with your meal…good deal to me 🙂  The breakfast was really great and nice to have something that isn’t cereal since we are usually getting going as soon as we can.  We all left full and ready for the days adventure!

I have to admit that I am so excited to go to Chip and Joanna Gaines store in Waco, Texas.  I know it will be full of overpriced items but I just want to see it.  They have created a kind of “experience” at their property.  There is the retail store, a large grass lawn for games, picnic tables, food trucks, a stage that sits in front of the giant silos and a new bakery that will open in the next couple of weeks.

We pulled into the parking lot 20 minutes before the store was set to open. We could already see a line forming outside and decided to go and get a spot so we would not have to wait too long. Reading up on this store it sounds like it can get crazy busy and the line can wrap all around the block. Looking around from our spot in line the area was set up really nicely. Really beautiful surroundings…they did a great job making it fresh and lovely. At 9am the doors opened and we were able to go in. The ac was a welcome thing since it was already 90 degrees and HUMID. Gorgeous store, full of cute farm house style things, lots of wooden plaques with bible verses or sayings, blankets, t-shirts, mugs and lots of other things for the home. We were all having fun hunting around the store. Its one of those moments when you like a lot of things but to really do it right you need a lot of it..which is expensive! Its the feeling that I get when I go into Grandiflora in Lynden and leave with nothing because it doesn’t seem possible to make it all look that cute at home without all the stuff they have in their little displays.

Well, I was determined to not leave empty handed. I did end up getting a tank top and some cute note cards with beautiful scriptures printed on them. Nothing for the house…that’s okay though it was just such a fun experience to see the store. We then headed out to see the garden area and the other little seed and supply store.

Cute garden beds full of veggies and flowers, fairy gardens and quaint little benches to rest on. The lawn area was surrounded by picnic tables, bean bag chairs and the stage in front of the silos. There were hula hoops, corn hole and soccer balls that you could use to play games. There were big swings attached to the overhead metal structures and a few porch swings to relax on. The food trucks lined the outskirts of the play area. Really a fun place to hang out and enjoy…if it wasn’t so warm.

We were all done and decided to leave. Next stop was just a couple of blocks away at the Dr. Pepper Museum. The three story building was full of the history and memorabilia. There were lots of videos and interviews to watch. There was one where it was one of those talking mannequins that looked extremely life like. I mean super creepy…his hands looked so real…I couldn’t stop staring at his hands.   They guy that I couldn’t stop staring at was the pharmacist who actually invented the Dr. Pepper flavor. Originally pitched as a health drink. So funny that now we are trying to make people stop drinking soda because of the unhealthy amount of sugar.

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We watched countless commercials that they ran over the years…some were really strange. There was a ton of memorabilia pertaining to Dr .Pepper and all the other flavors including RC Cola (my uncle Georges favorite when I was a kid). We even learned how Soda Pop got its name. In the early days of the soda industry they created carbon dioxide gas by pouring acid over marble dust (SODA) then the sound it would make when the gas escaped a newly opened bottle was a popping sound (POP)= Soda Pop 🙂 Now you know too.

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After our heads were full of Dr. Pepper knowledge we wanted to enjoy one from an actual fountain next door. They had another whole exhibit in the building along with the gift shop and soda fountain where they sold ice cream, soda and hot dogs. We sat thru a cute scientific production about our five senses and the girl did a couple of simple experiments. It was done well and the kids had fun. Katherine even was able to be a volunteer for one example. We then ordered a couple of sodas and ice cream and one soda float. It was a sweet treat!

 

We were then on a mission to see Fort Worth, Texas. We were going to visit the historic street and see a “cattle drive” that they bring down main street each day at 11am and 4pm. We were told it was a neat place to see by one of the families we met around the pool in San Antonio. When we arrived it was just about 3pm and it was so sinking hot!!! I really have no idea why people live here. No breeze and 97 degrees with a high degree of humidity and a dog that makes us unable to go into all these little air conditioned tourist traps. I guess we save money that way 🙂

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Waiting to see the Longhorns come down the street

 

We walked down the main street which is really cute, lots of western flair. We ducked into the rodeo arena area. It would have been so fun to see an actual rodeo but they only do those on the weekends here. This area of Fort Worth is called Stockyard Station. The station was a major shipping point for cattle once the railroads came thru there in 1876.   The railroads made it the hub of an entire industry and a way of life. More than 160,000,000 head of livestock have since been sold in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Now it is where visitors can come and experience the history and western feel of the area.

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Fun thing to watch parade by

 

By the time 4pm came around we were all SUPER sweaty and hot. The cowboys and a couple of cowgirls came walking slowly down main street steering the 15 longhorns down the road. The longhorns were really grand animals to see. Each one represented a decade of Texas’ 150 year statehood.

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Sooooo HOT!!!!

 

We all made it back to our RV and headed out of Fort Worth and onto Grand Prairie, Texas (a middle ground between Forth Worth and Dallas. The park was pretty nice, the pool was far too warm but what do you expect when the temperature never gets lower than 77 degrees. Bath water. Still, with the wind it was a little chilly when you got out. We had seen that we were supposed to have a thunder storm come thru the area so when the clouds were very dark all of a sudden we prepared ourselves for the sound of thunder….sure enough it clapped over head and we got out of the pool as quickly as we could.

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Notice the gutter over Katherine’s shoulder!

 

The girls and I ran to the restroom to rinse off and when we came out it was an absolute down pour. I have no idea why we get such a bad rap in Washington…at least when it rains at our house we can make it from the car to the house without looking like we were hit with a fire hose. It was coming down so hard and lighting and thunder were continuing to boom and send moments of bright light. We ran for it and even though we had our suits on and had just rinsed off we were soaked and dripping after the 50 foot run to our RV. It continued to storm outside for the rest of the evening. The kids wanted to bundle up and drink hot cocoa and have soup for dinner…I had to remind them that it was still 86 degrees outside 🙂

We all watched a movie again, this time Mall Cop. It was nice to sit and relax after seeing so much today. It was a really fun day. I loved seeing Magnolia Silos, Dr. Pepper and the longhorns at Stockyard Station. The kids are having such fun and are having really great attitudes despite the heat.

Tomorrow we are headed into downtown Dallas and we are going to see The Sixth Floor Museum ( a museum about the life, death and legacy of President John F. Kennedy) and also try to visit the Presidential library of George W. Bush. It should be fun but there is another thunder storm predicted and we are going to have to park downtown…dicey with a 29 foot motor home and a dog to consider….hmmmm. We will see 🙂

June 26, 2016 Capital of Texas, Frappuccinos and Pet Wash

We said goodbye to San Antonio and we were on our way thru Austin to stay in Waco, Texas.  All our suits and towels that hung outside overnight were still really damp (shocking when the humidity level is thru the roof :)) so I put those in the shower, we packed up our things and drove away about 9:30am.  Costco was our first stop on the list.  Easily found one just 30 minutes away and filled up with gas ($1.94/gallon!) and then filled up our fridge.  The tricky part to getting supplied thru Costco is just absorbing the goods into the RV.  After about 15 minutes of working and reworking I had it all packed in.  Next stop Camping World for a windshield cover that would increase our interior space and help keep up cooler when we are parked at an RV Park.  It seems the shade around these parts is hard to come by and we end up with these spots that get all the evening sun.  At home this would be glorious, here…not so much.  Our AC unit is working overtime.  Now we are off to see the Capital Building in Austin.  Being that it is Sunday the parking on the street was free and we found a great shady spot right by the Capital.  We took Gizmo with us considering the heat of the day and walked into the lovely grounds surrounding the building.  Numerous statues and a cannon and even the neatest drinking fountain were all fun to see and read about.  We saw the tribute to the Alamo and snapped a few pictures in front of the building.  Unfortunately this weekend was one of two that the building was closed for renovation so we were not able to go in and see the dome.  This is such a lovely building so that was a bummer but at least we could take I the outside and the park area.  We looked thru the visitors center and then went in search of a cool treat.  Not far away was a Starbucks and we all decided to do that even though our first thought was ice cream but it was just so hot that the idea of hunting around did not appeal to any of us.  It has been years since I have had a Frappuccino and it seemed especially delicious today 🙂

We did not explore any more of Austin even though there was a lot the city had to offer.  We needed to get to Waco before it was too late.  It is a good thing we left when we did , there was terrible traffic and tons of road work.

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Beautiful church on a corner…

 

The drive took us far longer than we had expected and we did not settle into our new digs until 7pm.  The highlight of the park is the dog wash…yes, a dog wash.  Let me clarify that this was a highlight for Katherine and Ellie mainly…Gizmo didn’t find it so thrilling 🙂  It was super cute watching them wash him all up.  He was really pretty dirty since we camped in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Our campground there was all dirt which he chose to lay in instead of on our RV matt that we put out.  They cleaned him all up and then we went to check out the pool.  Really nice pool…much nicer than you would expect from this particular park.  The park is okay..RIGHT off the freeway…I mean right off the freeway.  The AC drowns out the semi truck sounds most of the time.

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Happy to play dog groomer

 

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Gizmo was trying as hard as possible to squeeze his head through the fence pickets 🙂

 

The spots are pretty run down but the pool is one of the nicest we have seen.  We all enjoyed swimming around and we were about done  when a group came in with their cooler full of Keystone and cigarettes hanging out of their mouth.  I tried to be okay with it…but once they were swimming with the cigarettes still in their mouths and their foam covered cans held above the water I was done.  We still hadn’t eaten dinner so we should get going anyways….

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Our main reason for visiting Waco…Chip and Joanna Gaines

 

We finished up all our left overs (the extra fajita mix made three more fajitas!) and watched Groundhog Day with Bill Murray.  Funny ending to our day.  Tomorrow we are headed to Magnolia Silos shop to see what fun things we can find.  It sounds like a neat place to visit with a grassy lawn area with games, a garden, food trucks and of course the store full of neat home décor items.  I have been really looking forward to this!

June 25, 2016 Mission exploration, thunderstorms and fajitas for 10

Once again the temperature outside was warmer than a warm day in Bellingham in August.  The humidity is too much for this Washington native.  I feel like a big whiner when I am outside and I just feel like I can’t breathe, its sweaty and the only relief is to be inside an air conditioned  RV.  Boo hoo right?  🙂  I am really thankful for this time and for all we have been able to see.  I do cherish the memories that we are making and the benefit for the kids is LOTS of time in the pool…honestly, I am surprised they haven’t grown some gills yet!

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We wanted to go and visit the San Jose Mission which is just over a mile down the river walk trail that runs by the campground.  All set to go by 10 we headed out on our bikes.  The river walk runs for 15 miles.  This includes the horse shoe portion that the restaurants and shops are located on in the down town area.  The walk is so nice!  A very wide, paved trail that takes you all over.  The mission was a little tricky for us to find just because we misunderstood the office lady’s directions.  We did make it there (a bit longer of a route with some riding on main roads) and locked up our bikes and headed into the theater for the video.  We had arrived just as the video was going to start so we rushed in.  The information you receive is usually very helpful in understanding what you are going to see.  This video wasn’t that helpful.  It was more about the native American tribes that helped build the mission and how they almost died off due to the diseases that came from Europe. Interesting but not too much information about the actual mission itself.

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The church on this historic site is still in use today.  We were able to walk in a see the ornate details inside…no pictures allowed though. The whole area was built like a fortress.  A wall encompassed the wide open grass space.  the rooms were built into this wall where the people would sleep.  There was an enormous grainery building with ceilings probably 30 feet tall where they would store a years worth of maize for the residents of the mission.  The architecture was really beautiful.  There were some lovely arches and stone work all around. We explored for awhile and then found the correct path back to the bike trail.

There was a park along the way that we stopped at for a quick play time and then jumped back onto the river walk trail.  If the weather would have been less suffocating and realistic for people to enjoy time outside we would have kept on riding.  I am sounding really pathetic but I am not the only one begging for AC 🙂  Scott was the only one wanting to keep going…well, maybe Ben too 🙂

Obviously the next stop was the pool.  Scott went to work out in the gym (wish I could say I did too….but I don’t wish enough to have actually done it) and I watched the kids swim and swam some myself.  We were there for over an hour before I had them wrap it up.  Just as we got back to the RV there were huge claps of thunder and then it POURED rain.  This was very reminiscent of our cross country trip four years ago when we experienced more rain than I thought possible.  I have no idea why Washington gets such a bad rap….the rain we get is not like this crazy downpour rain.

After some time inside watching HGTV and enjoying the cool environment we decided to  head across the street to a little Mexican restaurant.  This is one of those places that looks very local.  We walked in and it seemed everyone looked at us.  It wasn’t uncomfortable at all just humorous.  We are not used to feeling like a minority.  The communication was tricky since non of us are Spanish speaking but we communicated good enough, she at least spoke two languages and put up with our questions 🙂

After ordering she made it sound like we ordered a lot of food.  Hmmm…just normal for us.  Scott ordered a plate with three crispy tacos, Ellie a cheeseburger (so funny), Katherine a soft fajita taco, Ben and I spitting fajitas.  Really didn’t seem crazy big…until it arrived.  The three plates that Scott, Katherine and Ellie ordered were good size but not over the top….Ben and my fajitas though…YOWZA…A…LOT …OF ….FOOD!  I couldn’t get over the enormous pile of chicken fajitas.  Seriously!  I order fajitas pretty much every time and never have I seen this much food.  Ben then tells me that the family behind us that just left (probably 8 or 10 people) had ordered two of these for the whole table and that’s its.  Well, that would definitely work….we have a lot of food to put down 🙂

Good thing Ben was so hungry.  I had two fajitas and he had 7…yes 7!  We took the rest to go which I think could make at least 4-5 more.  When they brought it out to us the tortilla holder had 13 tortillas in it!  This is a big plate of food 🙂

We left over stuffed and of course…headed to the pool.  They swam from 7-9pm.  The pool has a really fun blue light that comes on at night and has that black light effect on all the colors of the swim suits, really fun for the kids.  Scott and I talked with one family form Texas and another from Georgia.  We have met some really nice people here.  Their kids were very nice as well and they all had a blast playing in the pool.  Between our three families there were 10 kids all playing together.

Eventually we were all tucked into bed and ready for some sleep.  Our time in San Antonio will be ending tomorrow and we are going to be heading thru Austin and staying in Waco tomorrow evening.

June 24, 2016 The Alamo, a ride on the river and attack of the birds

We woke up around 6:30 am to the temperature outside of 77 degrees.  Thanking the Lord once again for the luxury of air conditioning!  We were planning on getting ready to go by 9ish and heading into San Antonio to see the Alamo and few other things.

The bus stop is right across the street from our RV park so it was very simple to get  there and wait for our ride.  It took about 15 minutes to get downtown. When we hopped off the bus we headed for the Alamo and to learn a little bit more about the history of this historic site.

The grounds were lovely!  A beautiful courtyard with a large tree that is a tribute to the woman and children that died at the Alamo, the iconic church building that you see in all the pictures and then the long barrack.  A lot of the original footprint of the Alamo has been destroyed but church and the long barrack still stand.  The have added such things as a gift shop, research center, hall and arbor which all blend in and you wouldn’t know they were not there since the 1700’s.

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The church behind us…we never went in because there was a tremendously long line!

 

The story of the Alamo was played in a little theater in the long barrack.  We love to watch the videos because it feels like you remember it better and its much more fun for Ellie to watch about it than read about it.  This one was by the History Channel.  Really well done!  It had all of us really involved and the girls and I felt as if we wanted to cry at parts…such dedication these men, woman and children had to Texas and what they were fighting for.

The Alamo was first built as a mission by a Spanish missionary and operated that way for over 70 years.  It was then abandoned and eventually was used by the Spanish military as a cavalry unit.  It then got the name Alamo (the Spanish word for “cottonwood” in honor of their hometown) It was home to both the Revolutionaries and the Royalists during Mexico’s 10 year struggle for independence.  The military-Spanish, Rebel, and then Mexican-continued to occupy the Alamo until the Texas revolution.

In December 1835 The Texians and Tejano volunteers battled the Mexican troops in the city forcing the General to surrender.  The victory of the volunteers was huge and they occupied the Alamo and strengthened their defenses.

Nearly a year later General Santa Anna nearly caught them off guard  and the Texians and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo.  A 26 year old, William B. Travis,  was in charge of the command.  He sent out couriers to ask for help.  On the eighth day 32 volunteers for Gonzales arrived which brought their numbers up to two hundred…they were outnumbered 10 to 1.  Travis’ men believed that the Alamo was the key to defense of Texas and they were willing to die defending it.  Two of the men defending the Alamo were James Bowie (renowned knife fighter) and David Crockett (famed frontiersman and former Tennessee congressman).  The final assault came before daybreak and the battle lasted only about 90 minutes.  The desperate struggle continued until all the defenders were overwhelmed. by sunrise the battle had ended and the garrison was slain.  They say that General Santa Anna let the women and children go and aid of William B. Travis so he could tell others what happened there.

While these men were fighting at the Alamo they had no idea that their republic of Texas was officially declaring their independence from Mexico. The battle at the Alamo has come to symbolize a heroic struggle against overwhelming odds- a place where men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

I had never really understood what the importance of the Alamo was…well there you go 🙂  A brief history lesson for you if you were ever wondering and if you weren’t then maybe some info that you can store away.

The temperature was climbing and we wanted to see what else there was in San Antonio.  We headed to the info center and received some advice on the river boat cruise.  The river walk is set about 20 feet below street level and is just genius!  The river goes in a horse shoe shape then one side is long.  You can either do the narrated loop or you can pay to use the long section as a taxi to get up and down town.  We went for the narrated tour to learn more about this intriguing feature of the city and to try to get into some shade and stay cool!  I would say staying cool is impossible unless you are actually inside an air conditioned building…so lets say becoming a little less sweaty 🙂

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Ready to catch our boat!

 

With tickets in hand we waited in the line for the boat.  We were first in line so we were able to get the front seats on the tour.  Our guide was a cute older guy from upstate New York with a heavy accent and a big bushy handle bar shaped mustache.  He did a great job telling us about the area.  Back in the 1921 the river flooded 9 feet above street level causing terrible damage to businesses and killing 50 people. The city so they decided that they would just cover up the river and not have to worry about the flooding any longer.  The Conservation Society wanted to keep the river and devised a plan to convince city leaders of its value.

Their vision caught on and the city hired an architect to  build what we now enjoy.  He made the river safe by putting in a bypass channel so that they can shut off the business loop with huge doors that come down and protect the businesses along the river walk if there are flood waters.  This happened in the 40’s after construction of this system and they had very minimal damage due to the rising waters.  The Conservation Society has a big say in what happens in San Antonio and for that reason all the buildings are not allowed to be torn down, only repurposed.  We heard about all their former uses and how they are used today.  Very interesting and worth the ride.  It was $10 each and lasted nearly 40minutes.  I really liked that he did not have a bunch of cheesy jokes mixed in with all the interesting history 🙂

After cruising along and smelling all the restaurants we were definitely hungry.  We figured we would eat out and enjoy this time on the river walk before having to head back to camp to let Gizmo out.

We decided on the oldest Mexican restaurant on the River Walk.  There was a mariachi band playing as we walked to get out table.  As you can guess the birds are quite…well, pushy here.  They are not used to trying to be real ducks or birds and eat worms or bugs, they like chips and salsa 🙂  Ellie was seriously scared.  It was funny in a bad parent kind of way.  She was sitting on her legs so that they wouldn’t get her (really they were not that aggressive but she was convinced they would eat her alive) Scott switched places with her so that she wasn’t as close to the flesh eating duck that was eyeing her pink toes 🙂

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This is a real expression…not done for the camera.  She was freaked out!

 

Lunch was okay…not super yummy but that sometimes is what you get when you choose somewhere that is famous for being there the longest….not famous for the best fajitas on the river 🙂  We drank a lot of ice water when we were there to try to cool down and hydrate.

The killer duck and the bird sitting on top of our umbrella had Ellie on high alert!

We walked to see an old cathedral and then decided we were all too hot and tired of walking around so we caught the bus back to the RV park.  The game room at the park is really nice and cool with some fun games.  We spent a long time enjoying ping pong, pool, shuffle board, air hokey and checkers.

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Playing ping pong with Ellie 🙂

 

Then off to swim.  I watched the kids and didn’t put on my suit. Not a good idea.  There are about two little blobs of shade around the pool and I kept on chasing one with my chair.  After an hour I literally thought I might die of heat.  So stinking hot!!!!  91 degrees with 55% humidity feels like you are stuck in a sweaty zip lock bag and the oxygen is being depleted a little more each minute.  Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and we left the pool.  I sat in our dark RV in 65 degree AC wondering why any human in their right mind would live here.  Seriously! Once my body temperature and attitude chilled out the kids went back to the pool with Scott while I got dinner ready.  We ate and then took Gizmo to the dog park (he had escaped earlier in the day and had made me so mad that we hadn’t let him go back until 6pm) and then as we were walking by the pool there was only one kid so we decided why not?  What else is there to do when its this unbearable outside?  They basically swam for the next 90 minutes.  Nice bunch of kids played with them and they had a blast.

Headed back to the RV after 8:30pm and we watched some HGTV and headed to bed.  Full day and the sun and heat does take it out of you.  Tomorrow we are here again so we are planning on going to visit a mission that is down the road about a mile.  We have our bikes so we plan on getting going fairly early.  There is thunder storms predicted for tomorrow afternoon so I don’t know what we will do without the swimming pool option.  We will just have to wait and see 🙂

June 23, 2016 On to San Antonio

Today we left camp after a hearty breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs and toast.  We have about 5-6 hours of driving ahead of us.

The temperature was already reaching into the 80’s by the time we pulled out at 9:30am. We are now on our way to San Antonio, Texas.  We are looking forward to visiting various missions around the area as well as the Alamo.  The River Walk also sounds like a fun place to check out.  The RV park we are going to stay is right across from one of the bus stops so we will be taking the bus downtown and go from there.  Gizmo will have to hold down the fort for us while we are away.  Thank goodness we have AC that will be cranking the whole time we are gone!  Gizmo has really been a great travel companion so far.  He hasn’t gotten as much exercise as he is used to but has handled it fine.  We try and really run him in the parks that have fenced in areas for dogs.

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Apparently the highway we took into Texas yesterday wasn’t important enough to have a welcome to Texas sign so I took a picture of the one at our RV park 🙂

The drive was LOOOOONNNNGGG again.  Heading pretty far east and south in Texas.  Wow, this state is huge…I mean I always knew Texas was big but after really checking out the map and driving for hours through it I am a believer 🙂

 

The western part of Texas is very hilly with many land plateaus, green trees dot the landscape along with some cactus with little pink tops on them.  The road kept going and the towns were few and far between.  Not much else out there really.  A few stops here and there to stretch and we made it to the RV park around 4:30pm.  We plan on calling this home for the next three nights.  Our spot is okay…not much shade but I don’t know if you can get enough shade in this crazy hot and humid heat.  I feel like such a northwesterner 🙂

Of course the pool was the first to do on the list.  It was not nearly as refreshing as it should have been.  Nice to at least get wet and hope the wind would give you a chill.  The kids swam for about an hour then we had dinner, the kids biked and swam again. There was even a lighting bug capture!  How fun 🙂

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Beautiful clouds at sunset

 

Tomorrow we will be taking the bus into town and seeing what we can see.  Thanks so much for reading!