Category Archives: travel/trips

Texas Bucket List – S: Sonora Caverns ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

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Caverns are always interesting to me and I find myself drawn to visit them. Of course, I don’t get to as often as I would like. We have lived not too far from several well-known caverns for a while now and I still have not visited them.

Sonora Caverns is some of those sites I would love to visit. Technically called the Caverns of Sonora, they are supposed to be lovely. The formations are found all over the caverns and some are even overhanging the trails. There are several options for tours into the caverns.

Found outside of Sonora, TX, the caverns are on land that is rich in limestone. The caverns were found on land owned by a ranching family, the Mayfields. A small opening was found first. As folks began exploring, bit by bit, they found larger and more beautiful areas of the caverns.

In 1957, one of the cavers noticed that humans were beginning to impact the cave. He pushed for preservation and protection of the cave. He was successful and after steps were taken to protect the cavern, it was opened to the public in 1960.

Blessings,
At Home.

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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

Indiana – By The Way ~ a Crew review

Indiana cover

By the Way is a fun and fact-filled series of books written by author Joy Budensiek. We have been enjoying one of the four newest books in the By the Way Book Series as we think about planning a trip before too long. Indiana ~ By The Way is the book we have been enjoying. The other new ones include New York City, Alaska, and Ireland. There are currently 10 books in this series.

Joy Budensiek began writing these books to help families have an interesting and fun way to discuss spiritual truths in everyday life. After hearing the startling fact that most Christian families do not intentionally discuss God’s hand in every day life, she created this series to lend a hand and lead the way for families. These geographically based books help parents teach a Christian worldview through a bright and exciting children’s book.

reading in the tent

Each of the books in the series is a hard-back book that is printed in full color. It contains pictures of the actual places and animals discussed, as well as drawings and other images to illustrate other ideas or things. The reading level is upper elementary and the book is about 50 page long. Each page is packed and we would read about 6 or 8 pages in a sitting. This allowed us to discuss ideas and talk about things that interested us. More than once, while I was reading aloud to Miss J (age 9), one or both of the older girls would come look at what we were reading about. Often, we ended up at the computer, looking at the places on a map or reading more about the place mentioned.

By the Way tells the stories of two children who explore the world around them, wherever they end up. Alex and Lexi find themselves immersed in the beauty of God’s creation and seeing God’s hand in the world around them. In the book about Indiana, they are visiting family at Thanksgiving. Their family explores the state and finds a lot of interesting places to visit, things to learn, and animals to see.

reading with kitty

Some of the fun facts that we learned while reading this book:

  • There are quite a few covered bridges in Indiana. And, we hope to see some when we end up visiting that state.
  • There is a lot of wildlife, including Monarch butterflies (Miss L’s favorite), cardinals (Miss J’s favorite), bats (reminding Miss E of a visit to a cave a year or so ago), deer, lots of other birds (more of Miss J’s favorites), bears, rabbits, and many, many more.
  • There are sand dunes! We know sand dunes from White Sands so it was interesting to learn more.
  • This state borders Lake Michigan and is MUCH smaller than Texas.
  • There are large Amish communities in the state. This was really appealing to Miss E and Miss J since it relates so well to another book series they are reading about a young Amish girl.

These are just the tip of the iceberg with what you will learn about Indiana in this book. It is so easy to extend this type of learning. Marking a map, adding additional animal research or sketching, creating artwork related to themes and ideas, looking up more on the plants mentioned (orchids!) and trying to grow them – the possibilities are as varied as your own imagination.

holding book

As wonderful as all of this learning about Indiana is, there is something much better woven throughout the story and the pages of this book – God’s hand in nature and life. Intentionally looking for ways to help the reader see God’s hand, Bible verses are woven into the story and into the lives of the characters. One of these places is when talking about the beauty of the changing leaves in fall and Psalm 90:2 is quoted. Another example is when they are talking about caves and bats. I John 1:5 is brought up. In the discussion about Thanksgiving and its history, James 1:17 is quoted to remind us that God gives so many good gifts.

By The Way pictures of book

In addition to this, the discussion between the adults and the children in the story models well how to intentionally bring up God’s plan, His hand, and His wonderful creation in every day discussions. Finding life lessons from God is modeled well in this series of books. In Indiana, we see this when having a thankful heart is taught. We see it when they are teaching about the Amish and they mention “Family and faith are most important to them. Anything which threatens these is rejected.” (p. 35) Billy Sunday is discussed and the adults teach the children about the worth of salvation in contrast to the salary he gave up. They also model this idea with nature – the animals are so perfectly created that the butterflies know exactly when to migrate, the bats know how to hunt, the farms are blessed by the rain and sunshine, and the variety of trees that exist.

By The Way books

This modeling is wonderful and reminds us of the important things in life. The By the Way series is fantastic at not only teaching about interesting places but in teaching about God’s perfect creation and our lives in it. Indiana is another fun book in this series. Want to know about more? We reviewed Colorado previously on the blog and have read the Washington book, also.

Blessings,
At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the other books in the series that are being reviewed this time around: Alaska, Ireland, and New York City.

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Texas Bucket List – R: Rangers ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

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So today, I have two for you. Rangers. Texas Rangers. Truly – that is what both of my groups are called.

  • Texas Rangers – the law enforcement group
  • Texas Rangers – the baseball team

Texas Rangers – Law Enforcement

There is an excellent museum in Waco about the Texas Rangers. It has informative and interesting displays about the men who have served in this difficult role from its inception in 1823. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum covers the history of this group and includes exhibits of artifacts and interesting cases. There are weaponry displays and information on some of the movies that have features Rangers. It is a museum that will take a couple of hours to go through, longer if you have an interest in law enforcement or weapons. Paying tribute to those who have lost their lives in the line of duty is one of the more poignant sections of this museum.

The museum hosts educational activities throughout the year and two of our girls were able to participate in a forensics class put on by the museum. We have visited the Ranger museum several times and enjoy it each time.

Texas Rangers – Major League Baseball

I did not know much about baseball when I met my husband. I came from an area that did not have baseball. Something I found out early on was that he and his grandad enjoyed baseball. A lot. That has petered out over the years, especially since his grandad passed away, but I still enjoy going to a baseball game every once in a while. One of the first times I visited my husband’s grandparents was when they bought us tickets to a Rangers game. It was so much fun! I have enjoyed baseball since then, though we seldom catch a game anymore. We have taken the girls to a baseball game but we could not afford the Rangers tickets so we went to the Rough Riders, which is a minor league team. They have gone up in price so much that it is definitely a major special occasion to go. Which is sad because it was such a lovely park and such fun to watch the players. Still, Texas Rangers baseball is a fun thing to do if you have the opportunity.

Blessings,
At Home.

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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 – Q: Quanah Parker Trail ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

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The Quanah Parker Trail is a 52-county driving adventure that is designed to share with the traveler stops that highlight Quanah Parker, the Comanche, and other Plains Indians. It is found is the western part of the state of Texas, mainly the Panhandle and the Plains of west Texas. However, the story of Quanah Parker starts much closer to our current home.

Just a county over is the original Fort Parker, where Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped from in 1836 as a nine-year-old girl. The Comanche raised her as one of their own. She grew up and became the wife of Peta Nocona, a Comanche leader. She had children with him and one of their sons is known as Quanah Parker, the last great Comanche leader.

The Quanah Parker Trail commemorates this great Comanche leader and other Plains Indian tribes and peoples. Each stop of the trail is marked with a giant arrow stuck in the ground. The stops are places with a real or legendary connection to Quanah Parker and his people or other Plains Indians. This leader had the difficult job of helping the Comanche people realize that the white settlers were taking over and that the native peoples had to adapt or die off. Quanah Parker led his people into the new culture that was surrounding them and this trail commemorates that difficult leadership role he had.

I know that I have seen these giant arrows while driving through west Texas before but I had no idea what they were representing. Now, I know to stop when I see one next on my way to New Mexico. I will find something interesting there. Maybe we could make it a driving tour sometime and spend several days visiting these sites. I would truly enjoy that!

Blessings,
At Home.

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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 – P: Padre Island National Seashore ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

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It seems that many field trip ideas for Texas run you back down to the Gulf Coast and the seashore. This is another one but I have a pretty good interest in this one. It includes sea turtles! Well, sort of.

Padre Island National Seashore is part of the National Park Service. This part protects a large stretch of undeveloped shore line.

Within the borders of this park, you find a wide diversity of treasure to discover. Literally. There is are Spanish shipwrecks from the 1550s. These three shipwrecks are documents to have lost many lives, much treasure, and damaged the Spanish fleet extensively.

You will also find a nesting ground for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. Other sea turtles have historically nested here and are found here relatively often, it seems. This is probably the biggest reason I would like to visit this national park. I find the plight of sea turtles interesting and would love to visit their areas.

Another treasure you will find is the number of bird species here. There are over 380 different species of birds and this is a fabulous bird watching area. Located on the Central Flyway, many migratory birds stop over at Padre Island. The undeveloped habitat here also makes it a secure location for many non-migratory species.

These are just a few of the reasons that Padre Island has a pull for me. One day, we’ll make this the place we stay for our trip to the coast. Hopefully, we can schedule it during nesting season for the turtles or during one of the major migrations of a beautiful bird species.

Blessings,
At Home.

 

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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 – O: Odessa College’s Globe Theater ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

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If you enjoy theater, plays, Shakespeare, and all things theatrical, this one is for you!

Odessa College has a reproduction, life-sized, of the Globe Theater. The original Globe Theater was the home of William Shakespeare’s acting company. It is a 450 seat venue used for classes, plays, and community events. It is considered the best replica of the original Globe Theater in Southwark, London. It contains an authentic Elizabethan stage and is octagonal in shape (as it should be to be a replica, right?).

This stage at Odessa College hosts both classical and modern plays, as well as a festival that pays tribute to William Shakespeare.

What a neat place this would be to visit! Maybe we can work it in sometime.

Blessings,
At Home.

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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 – N: Newman’s Castle ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

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Y’all! I found the website for Newman’s Castle a few months ago when I was looking for a day trip for our family. It looks incredibly fun and interesting. We haven’t gone yet but I am still hoping to!

Newman’s Castle is a custom build, medieval castle in central Texas. Truly! This castle has a moat, a working drawbridge, turrets, a central keep, and a surrounding wall for “safety”. It is open for tours but reservations are required. It is a privately owned castle.

Mr. Newman built the castle. He became interested in doing so after visiting Europe in his 20s. He also has a successful bakery.

A visit to the Bellville area for a tour of the castle and lunch at the bakery is definitely on my day trip list of “want to do soon!”

Blessings,
At Home.

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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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