Category Archives: travel/trips

Texas Bucket List: J – Japanese Tea Garden ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

J

A couple of years ago, At Home Dad and I spent about a week in San Francisco for our 20th anniversary. One of my favorite parts was wandering through so many of the gardens. One we went through was the Japanese Tea Garden. It was beautiful and interesting. (These pictures are from the San Francisco garden.)

Japanese Tea Garden San Francisco

I recently found out that there is a Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio. That means just a couple of hours away! And I had no idea. It looks absolutely beautiful. I am hoping that before too long we can take a trip down there and visit the garden. It probably will have to be an overnight trip; we have done a day trip to go to Sea World before and it was a HARD day!

The land was originally donated for a public part back in the early 1900s. It was originally designed with a lily pond, walkways, and a Japanese pagoda. During WWII, due to anti-Japanese sentiment, the garden was recognized as a Chinese sunken garden. It was operated by a Chinese family until the 1960s. In 1984, it was rededicated as the Japanese Tea Garden and has since undergone a massive refurbishing and restoration.

This long history is surprising to me as we have spent quite a bit of time in San Antonio – the annual music educators convention which we have gone to a number of times and we went there for our honeymoon. I have not heard of these gardens until now.

Definitely – this one is on the bucket list!

Blessings,
At Home.

Previous Letters in the series:
A – Abilene’s Storybook Sculpture Project 
B – Big Bend
C – Congress Avenue Bridge and the Bat Colony
D – Dr Pepper Museum
E – Enchanted Rock
F – Flowers
G – Gulf Coast
H – Hot Air Balloons
I – Independence, TX

 

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This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

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Texas Bucket List – Independence ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

I

Maybe it was intended that I should write about Independence, TX, on the week of our country’s independence. Works out nice, don’tcha think?

We visited Independence, TX, last year. Twice actually. The first time was just At Home Dad and I. The second time we took the girls. We did that because we had really enjoyed our time in that area and wanted to share it with the girls.

historic buildings

Independence is a place where education, government, and history all come together. From historic buildings to the birthplace of universities to the home of a Texas president (Sam Houston), this small Texas town is an interesting place to visit. The cemetery, just outside of the town, has lots of unique markers and a large number of important grave sites.

Read more about Independence, TX, from a previous post about it and the Antique Rose Emporium there. It is definitely a neat field trip option for those that are just a couple of hours away. And if you are farther, there are some neat vacation rentals and you could make an overnight or more of it. There is plenty more to do in the area, including Washington-on-the-Brazos (which I just realized I must not have shared about yet – upcoming post!) and the small town of Chapell Hill (another I must not have shared yet).

waterfall and butterflies

This is definitely a neat place to visit and I am glad we stumbled upon it when we did. Texas history really comes alive when you can visit some of the places where history happens.

Blessings,
At Home.

Previous Letters in the series:
A – Abilene’s Storybook Sculpture Project 
B – Big Bend
C – Congress Avenue Bridge and the Bat Colony
D – Dr Pepper Museum
E – Enchanted Rock
F – Flowers
G – Gulf Coast
H – Hot Air Balloons

 

abcblogging2-425x408

This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Texas Bucket List – Gulf Coast ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

G

Honestly, I am not a water person. I don’t enjoy swimming. I don’t desire to sit by the water and “just enjoy” it. I would rather be in the shade with a book. But, with a family that loves to ocean and swimming and all that comes with it, I am learning to appreciate the joy and the beauty of the coast. The Texas Gulf Coast has tons of lovely beaches and we have been able to experience several of them.

Each spring the question begins getting asked “when are we going to the beach this year?”

Gulf Coast 2

Some years we make it a spur of the moment trip. Other times, we plan well ahead for it. Either way, we always rent a small house so that the girls can run and play and we don’t have to worry about disturbing those above or below us in a hotel or condo. It has always worked well (except for the time we found out after we got there that the water was unsuitable for drinking or cooking and we had to go find a store to buy water).

Playing in the surf is always a joy for the girls. Now that they are getting older, I imagine I will enjoy it more since I won’t worry quite so much about them in the water.

My favorite part is always the lovely sounds and the animals we get to find and observe. There is so much life on the coast and we always see something new.

Gulf Coast

A trip to the coast is always worth it.

Blessings,
At Home.

Previous Letters in the series:
A – Abilene’s Storybook Sculpture Project 
B – Big Bend
C – Congress Avenue Bridge and the Bat Colony
D – Dr Pepper Museum
E – Enchanted Rock
F – Flowers

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This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Texas Bucket List – Flowers ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

F

Texas is beautiful in the spring and summer. There are flowers everywhere. Well, until the heat hits. Then there are still plenty of flowers, just not quite the same covering of them as springtime.

Bluebonnets
Indian Paintbrushes
Primroses
Indian Blankets
Mexican Hats
. . . and the list goes on.

Here is a list of many of the wildflowers found in Texas.

The Texas landscape is well know for the carpeting of bluebonnets that happens every spring. Some years, they are thicker and brighter than others but they appear each year. Their bright blue and white brings smiles to everyone and bring out the inner photographer of parents. I doubt there are many children growing up in Texas that don’t have their pictures taken each spring in a patch of bluebonnets. In fact, my children actually insist even before I do that we have to take an annual bluebonnet picture.

F flowers

Mixed within those bluebonnets, you almost always find Indian Paintbrushes. I grew up with Indian Paintbrushes in New Mexico so it was surprising to me to find that they are almost in a symbiotic relationship with bluebonnets. I don’t know what it is but they are always found together. Even in places I know have been seeded with bluebonnets, you find an Indian Paintbrush or two.

Primroses are so pretty. They come up behind our house in our little ditch. We also used to have a gorgeous thick area of Indian Blankets but they were mowed down by the HOA before the seeded one year and so they no longer grow there. I have tried to seed them but without luck so far.

Do you know who Lady Bird Johnson is? She was the First Lady and one of her passions was wildflowers and beautification. She worked hard to make the nation beautiful and it has become her legacy. Check out some of the resources regarding Lady Bird Johnson.

Biography Channel video and article about Lady Bird
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
First Lady Biography on Lady Bird Johnson
PBS article on the beautification campaign

A couple of years ago, we visited a wildflower farm down in the Texas Hill Country area. Even though it was mid-June and the heat was hitting, there were still plenty of lovely flowers to enjoy. It was interesting to see acres and acres of flowers and know that they were making it possible for the flowers to continue across the years. We picked up some seeds at their store, too.

Wildflowers make people smile and it always makes me sad when they get cut down before they have a chance to seed. Yes, the plant gets kind of ugly in the seeding process but the seeds will allow the beauty to continue in the coming years. So, please, don’t cut them down before they have seeded! And we will all enjoy the beautification that Lady Bird worked so hard towards for many years to come.

Blessings,
At Home.

Previous articles in the series:
A – Abilene’s Storybook Sculpture Project 
B – Big Bend
C – Congress Avenue Bridge and the Bat Colony
D – Dr Pepper Museum
E – Enchanted Rock

 

abcblogging2-425x408

This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Texas Bucket List – Enchanted Rock ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

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One summer, At Home Dad, Miss J, and I headed to Fredericksburg while the other two attended church camp. We stumbled upon this gigantic pink rock that tons of folks know about but we didn’t. It is called Enchanted Rock and is a favorite hiking destination for many people.

Enchanted Rock is a huge granite dome that rises above the surrounding areas, providing a fantastic lookout point. The dome rises well over 400 feet above the base. The peak is at 1,825 feet above sea level. It covers about 640 acres. The hike is the equivalent of hiking about 30-40 stories of stairs, depending on how directly you attack the summit.

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The history surrounding this huge pink rock goes back quite a while. Ancient people have left their mark here. With over 400 archeological sites within the park, there is much evidence of the history of this place. Native groups have used this area. Explorers coming into the area spent time here. Settlers used it as a safe place.

There are also many legends surrounding the rock, including maidens who threw themselves off the rock and people holing up to fight off attackers. As with many historical sites, there is a lot of interesting background and story surrounding this site.

Because it was June and summer, the hike was HOT. I mean, it was hot to begin with but we were hiking up a bare rock face. Hot and hard for a young hiker but it was so very worth it when we got to the top. This is a definite bucket list activity that was worth the time and the hike.

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Blessings,
At Home.

Previous Letters in the series:
A – Abilene’s Storybook Sculpture Project 
B – Big Bend
C – Congress Avenue Bridge and the Bat Colony
D – Dr Pepper Museum

 

abcblogging2-425x408

This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Texas Bucket List – D – Dr Pepper Museum ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

D Dr Pepper Museum

I imagine everyone knows about Dr Pepper. But did you know there is a museum that celebrates the drink, its originator, and free enterprise? Located in Waco, TX, the Dr Pepper Museum is a fun stop in touring museums. It is different than most museums you might visit.

Dr Pepper was created by Dr. Charles Alderton, a pharmacist working at Morrisons’ Old Corner Drug Store. While he spent the majority of his time mixing medications up for folks, he enjoyed mixing up new flavors to serve at the soda fountain. One of these mixtures stuck and was eventually named Dr Pepper.

The Dr Pepper that is still known today was invented in 1885. This makes it the longest running soft drink company. At the museum, you can see the artesian well that the water originally was gathered from. You can learn about the bottling process. There is an automaton of Dr. Alderton and a replication of the drug store and soda fountain.

There is also a second building that houses a gift shop, soda fountain, and additional exhibits.

When you approach the museum building from the downtown area, be sure to notice the brick color change on the side of the building. This is where you can see the part of the building that survived the deadly tornado that hit the city in May 1953. That is another interesting part of Waco’s history but not for today. Feel free to read about it, though.

Blessings,
At Home.

Previous Letters in the series:
A – Abilene’s Storybook Sculpture Project 
B – Big Bend
C – Congress Avenue Bridge and the Bat Colony

 

abcblogging2-425x408

This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Texas Bucket List – C ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

Texas Bucket List - C

The Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin is home to bat – 1.5 million is the estimate. Each summer evening, these bats emerge and fly over the city devouring all sorts of insects and pests. This is considered the largest urban bat population known.

We have visited Carlsbad Caverns to see the bats and it was a fascinating and interesting experience. (Read about our visits in 2017 and 2013.) We live just a couple of hours (depending on Austin traffic) from this particular bridge and have yet to go see these bats emerge. It is definitely on my bucket list.

Are you wondering why there is such a large population of bats in a downtown urban area? They have found a perfect nesting place. When the bridge was redesigned in 1980, the redesign created nooks and crannies that were perfect for the bats. So, they have started returning to this area year after year and raising their young here.

The bats are Mexican free-tailed bats. It is estimated that there are 1.5 million of them living under this bridge in Austin. I hope to take the girls down there sometime in August or September, after the babies born this summer are old enough to fly themselves, creating an even larger exodus each evening.

Want to learn more?

Blessings,
At Home.

Previous Letters in the series:
A – Abilene’s Storybook Sculpture Project
B – Big Bend

 

abcblogging2-425x408

This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

 

 

 

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