Monday, April 18, 2016

Texas Bucket List -- Check!

Texas is HUGE and one thing we haven't loved about living here is that you almost have to take a major vacation in order to visit the major cities.  Houston is 5-6 hours away, San Antonio a good 6, Austin 4 and Corpus Christi is 8-10!!!  I have no desire to visit El Paso or Amarillo.  Anyway, we visited Houston last spring and we've been to San Antonio as well, so last weekend we decided that we needed to cross that LAST city off our list and took a day trip to Austin!

Austin is the state capitol and it's in what's called "hill country."  Driving through Austin was beautiful -- rolling hills and lots of green!  Much prettier than Dallas!  We left on Friday night and drove down and stayed in a hotel that night.  Saturday was a perfect, but packed, day, and we came home that night to be home for Sunday.  There is so much more that we could see but I think we got a great cross-section of what's available and important to us as a family and to represent Austin!

Hold on, so it's often a pain to rearrange pictures and I'm in a hurry so these uploaded first and I'll explain!  William has started an Introduction to sports class at the recreation center and is having so much fun!  Its for 3-6 year olds and covers soccer, baseball, basketball, and football (kind've).  They've been small classes (last week only 3 boys -- so nice!) and they're not even really learning the rules, just how to handle the ball in each sport.  He really really loves it although it frustrates him when he can't get certain things right of course.  It's also good for him to take turns and have patience and listen to his coaches!!!  He needs that.  He's spoiled at home.

Two weekends ago our town had an Expo with tables set up for all the different services and also a fun even for kids called Touch A Truck.  There were a ton of emergency and construction vehicles that the kids could get inside (lots of horns and sirens going!) and bounce houses, face painting, etc.  It was a lot of fun.  I put my name in for a drawing for the last traffic cone for Eldorado Parkway (which has been under construction pretty much since we moved here 6 years ago) and I won!!  This is pretty much the funniest thing that has happened to me in a long while and it will probably make a great white elephant gift!!!

Ok so our first stop in Austin was the Capitol Building!  Not because I thought the kids would be interested, but because I heard great things about how pretty it was.  It was pretty!!  And impressive!!  And we declined to take a tour so the kids were pretty happy running up and down stairs and looking out over the rotunda from the 3rd floor up!  The grounds are beautiful as well and they have an adjoining building that had a small, kid friendly museum with some fun activities and quite a few monuments on the grounds outside. 
Not the capitol -- that other building, whatever it was!

That's the capitol!

They had some stationary sextants (I think?) set up to get a really good view of the woman on the top of the capitol building.  I would give a little history lesson about that right now except that I don't remember the details already!  But that's an old picture of her statue that everyone's got their heads in above.
I love these star windows!!

Megan is still in her anti-picture phase so I have to take them when I can!
See?  She turns her back on me!!  It was a beautiful day -- overcast so not too hot and we got sprinkled on a little bit.  It definitely got busier as the day went on but the morning was fabulous.

This is looking up in to the rotunda -- the kids wanted to go on the twisty stairs that are way up there.   
Looking down from the 3rd floor.

Texas lollipops!

This is part of their monument to fallen officers.  

Sweet girl!!

This comes from the WWII monument in Washington D.C.  Apparently, each state has a replica of their wreathed pillar.

Monument to Texas pioneer woman.  I will say this -- a pioneer woman in Texas deserves a lot more than a monument!!  I cannot IMAGINE living here without modern life stuff!!!!

Monument to Texas school children.

We didn't get into the hotel until 9 and asleep until 10 and then this boy was up at 6:30 (darn that internal clock) so just by the end of this he was tired.  He actually fell asleep en route to destination number 2 and we ate lunch in the car so that he would get a nap in.  And that was at 11 am!!!

Destination #2 was the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Reserve and it was the best time of year because it's bluebonnet season!!  It is a Texas required tradition to take cute pictures of your kids with the bluebonnets.  I have tried and tried over the years (without paying for a photographer though) and have not had a lot of success so this was my chance!!! 

The really are a beautiful flower.

It's a little hard to read but I enjoyed the quotes they had from Lady Bird Johnson throughout the reserve.  Natural beauty seems to have been very dear to her heart.

That's Chopper at the very top! 

This is Abby's cheetah face and pose.

These are probably the 2 most common wildflowers in Texas -- the bluebonnet and the Indian Paintbrush.  Both very pretty!!

They had some fun children's areas to play in too.

Abby wanted to take pictures on my phone.  She discovered the burst function and I ended up with 1200 pictures of 16 different things!!!

Best she would give me!

Last stop -- Inner Space Caverns in Georgetown just outside of Austin.  The kids have been in caves before, but they've all been open air, hilly hiking caves.  So when we went DOWN and they realized we were going underground, they were beyond thrilled.  Megan wants to go back when she's old enough to take the spelunking tours where you put on all the equipment and crawl around through the cave system.  I didn't take many pictures here because of the lighting but it was a good tour and well worth it with their reactions.

This was one of 2 formations they were allowed to touch!  They did pretty good keeping their hands to themselves.