October 5 - The trip didn't start off on a great note. The day we were scheduled to leave, we had a really foggy morning. Our flight wasn't set to take off until 8:45 PM, so when the fog burned off in the late morning we figured we'd have no problem. We got to the airport about an hour earlier than we needed to, checked our bags, and then were immediately told that our flight was going to be delayed by at least 2-3 hours because of fog. ??? What fog??? Apparently it just rolled in again from nowhere...
Well, the 2-3 hour delay would really mess us up in Austin (no rental car counter would be open at 3AM, so how would we get to our hotel, an hour away in San Antonio???) so we ended up changing our flight to the next morning instead. This cut a half a day or so off of our available time to actually "do stuff" in Texas, but what can you do? Arriving in Austin at 3AM with 3 tired grouchy kids and no place to go didn't sound like fun, so changing the flight was really the only option.
October 6 - Once we finally got there, we hit the ground running. As Ryan said, "We don't do RELAXATION vacations - we do EXPLORATION vacations!!" We had a lot of things planned to see and do, so we didn't waste any time getting started. We got our luggage (which had actually arrived ahead of us because it was already checked onto our original flight and we couldn't get it back), rented our car, and drove straight to Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
October 7 - This was Sea World day. I think we liked the San Antonio Sea World better than the San Diego one. Ryan loved the rides, and Amanda and I loved the shows. Brendan, surprisingly, was very grumpy all day. I thought he would love Sea World - but he told us that decided that he's had enough rides for this year, and didn't want anything to do with them there. Whatever, B. The rest of us had a good time.
October 8 - We visited the Natural Bridge Caverns, a few miles outside of San Antonio. The kids were totally fascinated by all the different rock formations down there. Awesome. Later that day, we took a boat tour on the River, and saw a movie at the old Aztec theatre (very cool). Then we had dinner on the Riverwalk again.
October 9 - Zoo day. No Harrigan Family vacation is complete without a day at the zoo. This particular zoo seemed to have a very large collection of different bird species - far more than any other type of animal. There was a lot of construction going on at the zoo, so some areas were closed, but we still enjoyed our time there. Next we got some lunch, took a little train ride around Brackenridge Park (where the zoo was located), and then went to the Witte Museum (also located within the park). Brendan didn't want to go there. His most famous quote on this trip, whenever we told him where we were going next - "What the heck is a Witte Museum?? I don't know what that is, but I know I'm not gonna like it". This museum was pretty cool - it had an animatronic dinosaur exhibit, a lot of natural history exhibits specifically related to Texas, and a "science treehouse" section which the kids thought was really cool. Even Brendan.
October 10 - Last day in San Antonio. We started out by visiting the Institute of Texan Cultures, a museum within the grounds of HemisFair park. We were amazed at how much there was to see in this museum - we spent a good half a day there. The volunteer docents there are SOOOO friendly and SOOOOO eager to share their knowledge of Texas history and culture. We learned a lot. The kids each tried to rope a "calf" - and Ryan actually did it on
his first try. Not bad for a city boy.
chance, we got seated at the "Panda" table (with 2 animatronic pandas "talking" to us throughout our meal.) The waitress informed us that the San Antonio Rainforest Cafe is the ONLY one in the country that has pandas. Did I mention that Amanda was thrilled??? (she's so funny - ANYTHING panda-related can make her day)
October 11 - time to move on to Houston. It was a good 3-hour drive from San Antonio to Houston. We planned to spend the afternoon in the Museum District. It was Thursday, and a lot of the museums are free on Thursdays, so that worked out well. We got into town around 11AM or so, parked the car, and started walking around to some of the museums. The Weather Museum was very small, fairly new - just opened in April of last year. It was pretty interesting though - and the kids had fun doing a scavenger hunt and seeing themselves on TV as "meteorologists". We also visited the Health Museum - very cool. The main attraction is the "Amazing Body Pavilion", which consists of many larger-than-life models of various organs and systems of the human body, with all kinds of interactive kiosks and hands-on activities. Very informative and fun for the kids. The last museum of the day was the Children's Museum - also a very fun place. Then we headed out to find our new hotel - not as conveniently located as the one we had in San Antonio, but what can you do? Houston is VERY big and spread out. They say it's the car capital of the world - well I can see why. You can't get ANYWHERE without a car there.
October 12 - Space Center day!! The Johnson Space Center was another place that totally surprised me with HOW MUCH there was to see and do. We had thought it was going to be a half-day thing, and we were going to have to find something else to occupy the kids in the afternoon, but as it turned out, we were there when it opened at 10AM, and we left at 4:30 and still hadn't seen everything!! What a huge place!! The kids loved it. Even though we've already taken them to the Air & Space museum in Washington DC, they were still fascinated with everything at the Space Center. Ryan became obsessed with trying to "land the shuttle" (he never did get it right, but he persevered for quite some time). Amanda got the cutest souvenir T-shirt with the NASA logo on it that reads "It's not Rocket Science...Oh wait...Yes it is !!"
October 13 - This started out to be a "history" day, then turned into "Houston is weird" day, then ended up as more of a "history" day again. We checked out of our hotel in the morning, and went to visit the Battleship Texas. Ryan and Amanda (mostly Ryan) got a HUGE kick out of exploring every single nook and cranny of the ship. Brendan was grumpy again. After the battleship, we went over to the nearby San Jacinto monument for a bit. Then we drove to the Orange Show - possibly one of the weirdest places I have ever seen - kind of a weird combination folk art/obsession thing. I can't really do it justice - check out the website if you want to know what it's all about http://www.orangeshow.org/indexx.html But anyway, while we were there we got a flyer listing other weird "folk art" type places in Houston, and said "why not??" so we ended up also visiting the Art Car museum (talk about weird) and the Beer Can House. Then it was time to drive to Austin, as we were flying home the next day out of Austin airport. We drove the 3 hours or so, checked into a hotel that was a mile from the airport, then visited the Texas State Capitol building for an hour. I must say I am glad we made time for that impromptu visit. It was such a beautiful building. The kids enjoyed touring it too - well, all except grumpy Brendan.
P.S. We did so many different things - I need 2 slide shows to show them all !! (Never mind the almost 900 pics I have to sort through to decide which ones to print and scrap!!)