Category Archives: Family Fun

Adventures in Traveling with kids

With eight hours worth of driving between NOLA and Houston, we decided to turn it into two shorter days of driving.  The kids and I had gone to Avery Island (Tabasco factory and Jungle Gardens) a few years back, and I had been wanting to take Gabe since then.  Ironically, even though we pass within ten minutes of it every 4 weeks, we just never made it there with him.  Since we decided to take two shorter days, we figured it’d be perfect timing to stop by when we had half a day without much else to do.

It rained off and on, which is par for the course in the south in summer.  But the Jungle gardens were swarming with mosquitos and we ended up with several very large welts.  So instead of a leisurely few hours spent walking under the huge oaks, we drove through at a fast pace, getting out only twice to look at things, before finally giving up and staying in the car for the rest of the tour.

By the time we left we were starving and decided to stop and get some diner food at Mel’s diner on HWY 90 between New iberia and Lafayette.  Actually really big portions for cheap prices.  My type of place when the kids are going through their growth spurts!

While we were inside, though, it rained.  Hard.  We brought the most expensive things into the cab of the truck, but most had to stay in the back.  We hoped all would be well.

Fast forward to bringing things into our hotel room. I opened the homeschooling suitcase to find half of the books with some sort of water damage.  SIGH.  They are now draped over the various tables in our hotel room, with me not holding my breath that they’ll dry by morning.

My daughter has very long, thick, curly hair.  We’ve been swimming all week.  And yes, it was tonight that the rat’s nest was brought to my attention.  The good thing was that I watched a semi-horror flick (October is the month for “scary” movies with us) that was entertaining while I brushed through her hair, taking breaks frequently because she got her mama’s tender head.

As a cap to a perfect day, I asked a certain son of mine to put the bag of left over Italian sausage and marinara in the mini fridge (I’d left the cooler in the truck because we are only here for one night and just brought in dinner).  He managed to not understand how gravity works and that the bag is called a ZIPLOC because you’re supposed to ZIP it shut.  Needless to say, I ended up scrubbing marinara off the room floor, under the mini fridge while my husband tilted it back.  SIGH. At least the carpet is already sort of brownish reddish.

On a good note, Cutthroat Kitchen is hysterical!  Love it.


Ripley’s San Antonio

301 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio

Price for all six attractions for 3 adults and 3 children was $285.  It took us the better part of 6 hours to do everything.  Seeing as how it came out to just under $8/an attraction/person/average, I think it’s a fair enough price.  Doing it again, I wouldn’t want to do everything, though.

1.  Waxworks.   This is a typical wax museum.  There are some pop culture, influential persons, and even some fictional characters such as snow white.  I thought some of them were better than others.  Some of them were off just a bit and it ruined the effect.  There was also a scary section in the wax museum where they had ones like Freddie and a few no name monsters just for fun.  All in all, entertaining.  Although I don’t know that I’d go through it again, personally.  But it makes me want to go to other more famous wax museums and check them out.

2. 4D Ride.  This was SOOOO much fun!  We were all laughing the whole time! It’s two short “films” that are more like a video game race/level in nature.  The seats move, the seat in front of you blows air on your face occasionally, there’s a little tail like whip that brushes against the back of your legs, and fake, but cold, snow is blasted at you.  Lots of fun!  This I would do again.

3.  Oddatorium.  This really was a weird place.  Lots of fascinating things to look at and learn about.  There was everything from head shrinking to egg shell paintings.  A man who’d grown a mustache every year and then cut it off annually and kept the hair together so you could see the progression of his mustaches.  Chinese foot binding and the shoes they wore.  A man from Mexico who painted Mexico’s history on butterflies.  A 15′ tall replica of the Eiffel Tower made with toothpicks and only weighs 5 pounds.  I’d like to visit again and only do this as doing everything else that day, I felt a bit tired and rushed.

4.  Guiness records.  This was sort of interesting, but a bit of a bore for me personally.  The kids seemed to enjoy this a lot.  I guess some people are really into records.  But to be honest, I could care less how many hula hoops one woman was able to hula hoop at one time.  I don’t know that I’d go again.

5.  Haunted House.  So you get into an elevator and go up this very rickety and very loud ascension to the second floor.  Once there, there’s a 3 minute intro with your “guide”, who then leaves you to fend for yourself.  The rules.  You can’t go back, you must go forward.  There’s no backing out.  Do not touch any of the actors, they are not allowed to touch you.

It lasts about 15 minutes.  You walk through alternating rooms and hallways of strobe lights to total blackness.  Actors pound on walls, open doors and scream at you, and run down the hallway looking like an escapee from the local mental ward.  The props were good, with some body bags that moved on their own, various torture chambers, etc.  Corbin and Tristan had a HUGE problem and Gabe had to at times literally push them through it.  Caelan and Gavin seemed to enjoy it.  This surprised both Gabe and I because we would’ve guessed the opposite of all our kids.  Gabe didn’t get to enjoy it as much because he was busy with two who weren’t enjoying it.  I liked it just fine, although the strobe lights bothered me so two whole rooms I saw nothing and just went through them with my eyes closed.  As far as cheap scares……I think they did a good job.  But I think that I’ve had to have very good hearing for far too long as a mother and I was always able to guess where the actor would come out of a second before he did due to little noises and movements on the other side of the wall.  The people ahead of us seemed quite surprised, so I’m guessing the non-surprise for me was just because I’m so used to hearing when a child is coming up to my room, or about to open the door.  I’d do this again, and I’d prefer to do it only with Gabe so that we can enjoy it the way it should be enjoyed, without kids who are laughing loudly or kids that are crying loudly.  lol

6.  Tomb Rider.  Short theme park type ride.  You car seats two, it takes you through on a track.  You each have a toy gun and are supposed to shoot the blue lights.  It lasted all of 3 minutes and was pretty lame.  I would not do this again.

Peanut Lindholm

For those of you on the West Coast……I got to see baby Lindholm!  (Holds hands to head and sticks out tongue in a mocking gesture.)

She’s SOOOOOO cute and alert!  Mama looks amazing as well!  So cool to get to watch the motherly grace that comes with having a baby.  And I suppose Mark was pretty good too.  🙂

On a completely unrelated topic……PLEASEEEEEE don’t move away!!!!!!!  (end grovel).  Love you guys!


Dauphin Island

Dauphin Island, in the Mobile Bay.

On our way out of Alabama, we stopped at one last place in the Bay, Dauphin Island.  This island is on the west side of the bay, with a three mile long bridge that connects it to the main land.  It was $2 per car to park, plus $3 per adult.  On the south side of the island were two lifeguard towers, and many different vendors, a few musicians playing music, and the vast majority of the people.  That side also had very large waves and a strong current.  We spent our time on that side because the kids wanted to be around all the other kids.  It was great watching Gabe throw Corbin into the waves and have him pop up laughing a few seconds later!  We all went into the water and had a blast.  I originally put my hair up, wanting to keep it dry so it would still be pretty later on.  Unfortunately, the waves went over my head and I soon gave up any hope of having luxurious hair.

We were there about three hours.  By the end, Gavin was sick, probably from the sun and the salt water that he swore he was spitting out, but he probably still swallowed a certain amount of it anyways.  And even though I had been putting on sunscreen every hour, I still got a bit of a tan.  The sun was like it always is in the south….hot and very close!  The beach was white sand, and the waves brought some nice hues of pale blue and white to mix with the dark water.  Hardly any seashells or rocks or trash on a beach that was actually pretty crowded.

The north side of the beach is protected by the island itself and the mainland.  So the waves there are almost non existent.  I had originally voted for that side.  It was less occupied, with smaller waves so we could actually swim a bit.  but the kids wanted friends to play with and Gabe wanted the other side because there was a dead sting ray on the north side, and it was more rocky with small pebbles throughout the sand.  Either way, we had a blast.

The island itself was nice.  There’s a few historic and scientific things to do there.  But by Saturday, we were all sort of ready to get home, so we didn’t see anything but the beach.  The island was like many small towns, with a few parks and some trails that wandered in between everything else.  The trails were made of boardwalk material, and they wound their way through loblolly pines and palm trees in a nice mixture of southern tropics.


Sugar Beach

Sugar Beach, AL (just inside the Alabama border from Perdido Key in Pensacola, FL).

On the way back from the Aviation Museum, we took the scenic route and stopped at Sugar beach.  We didn’t bring any bathing suits, so we did what every parent does at the beach without suits.  We told them to only put in their feet, and then we stopped by Walmart on the way home for new clothes.  They were completely soaked within fifteen minutes flat!  The sand was the consistency and color of sugar.  It was really beautiful.  And the water was this deep blue that growing up in southern california I never saw.  The water was warm enough to actualy get into the water and splash around!  If we’re ever in the area again, we’ll probably stop for a few days because it was a very good beach.  There’s a state park across the street with RV parking that would be perfect!  And because it’s a key, there’s water on both sides, so there’s water in the state park, even though it’s across the street from the main beach.


Aviation Museum

Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL.

This is located on the Naval Base just south of Pensacola.  The first three pictures are of an engine that they’d cut in half.  Because of how it was done, we were able to see how everything in it worked together.  I took three shots, one of the front/cut part, one of the back side which shows what it looks like on the outside, and one of the side view where you can see where it was cut in half.

This museum had SOOOOO much cool stuff to see!  We spent four hours there, and could probably come back every week for a year and still see new things and learn something new.  It was very hands on, and I must admit, even I was playing around with things, moving the flaps on the wings of planes to see what would happen, getting into the cockpit and flipping switches randomly.  They have just about the entire history of American aviation in the museum.  Everything from the first planes and the first men to cross the Atlantic to the latest in stealth aviation.  It was really cool!

Gulf Coast Exploreum

While we were in Mobile, we went to the Exploreum.  It cost us over $70 to get in, not including IMAX or any of the other things that cost additional money.  It took us an hour to see everything.  Half of the exhibits weren’t working.  Most of them were OK, but nothing really awesome.  Honestly, we should’ve just gone and went to see the Avengers instead.  It would’ve been cheaper and lasted longer and been more fun.  Pass on this one if you’re in the area.  There’s plenty of other things to see.