This summer our options were limited for vacation. Chopper didn't have much leave (he's still building it up after Aaron) and my parents are getting ready to move and so I didn't want to throw 3 kids into their house to make them crazy in the middle of it. But we wanted to do something as a family so after debating our options we decided on a short trip to Houston over the 4th of July weekend to maximize our time and minimize our distance.
From Dallas it's only about 5 hours to Houston which ended up being a nice drive. We broke it up on the way there with a stop in Huntsville to see the giant statue of Sam Houston that stands along the highway. It had a small visitors center and a short hike to the statue, perfect for stretching our legs. Along the way there's an extra head to give you a sense of the size and proportion of the whole thing and who could resist a little fun?
Fun being Chopper's idea of getting everyone to pick his nose.
And then there's Sam Houston himself.
Once down in Houston we went to see the Battleship Texas at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site.
This is the last surviving Dreadnought-type battleship (whatever that means) and served in both World War I and World War II and survived both -- very impressive I think.
We spent more time on the ship than you would think but I took very few pictures for a couple of reasons -- 1. it was so hot and humid! Only 5 hours difference but Houston is more like being on the east coast than Dallas is and we definitely felt it. 2. William! I underestimated how exhausting it would be to chase William around an old battleship with very few safety features. Strollers were impossible and the stairs were narrow and steep -- almost more like ladders. We had to carry Megan and Abby up and down several sets as well. Then the higher we got my fear of heights started kicking in. I think I would have been ok on my own but I was freaked out that one of the kids would fall over. In other words, we could have spent more time and didn't but I suppose that's a lesson learned.
The San Jacinto memorial
Then it was on to the hotel, dinner, and swimming in the hotel pool.
Day 2 we drove about another hour south to Galveston island in the Gulf of Mexico and spent the morning at the beach.
So don't get me wrong, we had a good time. But if you're used to East Coast beaches, well we decided that Galveston is not the location where we would spend a week renting a beach house. The sand is more like packed dirt (although great for making sandcastles) and there's a TON of seaweed along the waterline which means the kids had a hard time playing in the surf because they hated the seaweed around their feet.
But I don't want it to sound like it wasn't fun because it was! They dug and built castles which William promptly destroyed. The water was shallow pretty far out with perfect waves for the kids and Megan, MEGAN spent a ton of time in the water getting pushed around and jumping waves. It was so funny to see Megan and Abby practically reversed. Megan was thrilled to be there, wanted to be in the water playing, and has declared that she wants to live in a house by the beach so we can go every day. Abby on the other hand hated the sun, the sand, the seaweed, the water, etc. etc. She had a good time too but was very vocal about what she didn't like and refused to go in the water unless she was being held or holding hands. William spent the bulk of his time eating snacks and destroying sandcastles.
Afterwards we rode the ferry between Galveston and Pelican Island
You can feed the seagulls off the back of the boat (although why would you -- they congregate and poop on everything) and see dolphins, which we did, but they were too far away to get a really good look.
So back to the hotel, then dinner, then another round of pool time.
This is where our hotel was -- in the middle of oil and chemical refinery country. Deer Park, Texas -- I hope it's not also home to the water bottling company or I'll never drink it again. It wasn't a problem but kind've a funny place to stay.
Last day we started with a trip to the Johnson Space Center NASA museum. Their exhibits were pretty good -- many of them focusing on going to Mars.
Megan is testing how heavy things are on different planets.
Flight simulator thing -- trying to dock with the International Space Station.
I think the best part was that they have a tram that takes you onto the "campus" for the space center. Since we were there on the 4th of July there wasn't anyone around but it was cool to see it all.
In particular we enjoyed the training center. They have replicas? duplicates? Of all the modules of the International Space Station built for the astronauts to train on. Again, it would have been awesome to see them at work but even the stuff if incredible.
Then the tram takes you to the rocket park to see some rockets including Saturn V which is huge!
Pretending they love each other.
Then a short film about space exploration and a last exhibit to go with it that was really good.
But at this point William is melting down big time so it was time to go.
Into the car and home.
Three days that were really good actually. But we didn't keep the kids up for fireworks. Chopper and I sat on the front porch and watched them and talked about life. And that was it!