Summer Vacation Part II

It turns out I didn't take as many photographs of our summer activities as I thought, and the ones I did are not that blog-worthy, but I'll share a few just to make the narrative a little less boring.

We started our Texas tour with a stop at the home of Blue Bell Ice Cream in Brenham. The company was nice enough to send a truck to escort us all the way in to the factory.

After a brief and educational tour of the packaging process we enjoyed a free scoop of Blue Bell's finest flavors. I never depart from my trusty Dutch Chocolate, the girls enjoyed Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Dessert Trio, and Tye discovered a new favorite, Southern Blackberry Cobbler.

This, people, is a car packing genius. Tye has honed the car-loading process to a fine art. We bring our suitcases, bags, hanging clothes, etc., park them at the back of the car and stand back to watch the magic happen. We're not allowed to touch the bags once they are placed into the vehicle because of the precision involved in the stacking, wedging and balancing of the items, but you can't fit a quarter between them because of the efficiency with which he packs. Okay, moving on to Houston.
We spent many hours at the Johnson Space Center learning all about the NASA Space program. It was a little deflating because of the recent closing of the shuttle program but we were emcouraged to hear about the future plans for deep space exploration and opportunities for commercial space travel.
It was reassuring to confirm that I didn't miss my life's calling as an astronaut. Those poor souls have to cram themselves into claustrophobia-inducing spaces for hours at a time and subject their bodies to brutal conditions, with no guarantees that they will ever breathe the fresh air of earth again. It almost made me hyperventilate just thinking about it. Of course, some of them did make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of space travel advancement, God bless them.
Touching a moon rock (trying not to think of all the grubby little hands that have touched it before my precious children's).
We eventually made it to our final destination of San Antonio. We stayed here as our home base while sight seeing in San Antonio,  but honestly, I could have stayed at the resort and never left. If you're ever looking for a fun, family-friendly, all-inclusive summer getaway location, this is it. Tye and I took an anniversary trip here back in May for a grown-up weekend with golfing and spa treatments, and knew that our kids would love the kid-friendly environment too. Every evening you can make S'mores at the beach area and float the lazy river until midnight. The girls' marshmallow cooking preferences ranged from barely warm to burned to a blackened crisp. Blech.
Of course, what's a trip to SA without a stop at the Alamo? I had never been before and, as a proud born-and-bred Texan, it's always been a source of guilt for me. It was...different than I expected. I appreciated the reverent atmosphere inside (men must remove hats, no photos, no touching the walls) but that was cheapened a little by the gift shop immediately outside where you are encouraged to buy everything from a fake coonskin cap to a stuffed teddy bear donning a shirt that reads "Remember the Alamo!". I was disappointed in the commercialism, I guess. My little history buffs still enjoyed it.
Then we made our way to the Riverwalk to enjoy a meandering riverboat ride and hear some San Antonio fun facts. Did you know the historic Fairmount Hotel set a Guinness world record when it was moved by crane six blocks from its original location in 1985 and reopened in its current location? Me neither.
See, I was there too. When this picture was taken, it was a balmy 104 degrees and the water was blindingly bright. We scrounged and found a couple of extra sunglasses in my bag, much to Ava and Gentry's relief. Poor Tatum had to squint for 45 minutes. We waited a tad too long to eat lunch and it really was just HOT, so our fun meter dipped significantly at this point, but it rallied again after some authentic Mexican food and a respite in good old A/C.
Awkward photo transition:

The resort offered fun kids activities each evening on the main lawn, and this night it was "Zoomagination". An animal rescue organization presented several unusual and exotic animals for the kids to see up close. They brought out this cuddly arachnid, a sloth, talking parrot, porcupine, hedgehog, Bearded Dragon lizard, Blue-tongued Skink and a couple of nasty giant cockroaches. Each of these animals had been someone's pet at some point and had lost favor with their owner for whatever reason. Really?! Who thinks a nocturnal hedgehog will make a good furry pet for their kid?

Our last full day was spent at SeaWorld and I didn't take my big camera because you get DRENCHED at SeaWorld. Highlights of our day were seeing the Shamu show (and getting drenched), Ava and me riding The Great White roller coaster together (our new favorite) and feeding the dolphins. Gentry loves dolphins, so this was pretty much the highlight of her little life so far. I took a video with my phone and I've watched it over and over just to see the sheer delight on her face. If my phone weren't smarter than me I might be able to post it here too. 

And, before the final trek home, we stopped at Lulu's for one of their famous giant cinnamon rolls. It's 3 lbs of goodness on a plate. Now we're all fasting for a week to make up for it. I apologize for the armpit hair in the background. I had to eat breakfast while looking at it too.

That's a brief look at our Texas Tour 2011. Now it's back to work in my newly organized sewing room with a recently serviced machine and a fresh perspective!

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