Tag Archives: field trips

Texas Bucket List – Independence ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

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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

 

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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 – Flowers ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

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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

 

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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 – 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

Bandelier National Monument ~ field trip

Bandelier giant pottery

When the girls and I went on our New Mexico trip a couple of months ago, one of the places we really wanted to visit was Bandelier National Monument. At Home Dad and I went a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Since Miss E has been interested in the National Park and National Monuments for a while, this was a good one to put on the “must visit” list. Miss L had asked to study ancient civilizations this year so we were able to add this to her hands-on experiences in learning about them. (It also gave us a chance to visit my brother in Santa Fe!)

Bandelier is where an ancient puebloan civilization lived about 1150. While living here, they built homes that they carved out of the volcanic tuff walls, creating caves or cliff dwellings. They did not plant within the steep walls of the canyons, instead planting on the flat top of the mesa. They cultivated corn, beans, and squash, supplemented with plants that grew naturally here. They hunted for meat, eating deer, rabbit, and even squirrel. There was a fresh water stream that flowed through the canyon.

circular village

After about 400 years, the land was beginning to fail and was no longer able to fully support this civilization. Once a drought appeared, the people could no longer stay. By about 1500, they had abandoned this canyon almost completely and were living along the Rio Grande River.

Bandelier is a unique place. The people who lived here built their homes along the canyon walls and in the canyon walls to take advantage of the heat and protection they offered. Using the volcanic tuff, they also built a large circular village on the canyon floor. It is estimated that the village held around 400 rooms, all stacked and layered, made from volcanic tuff blocks. They used mud to mortar the blocks.

But what makes this place really unique is that the visitors are able to walk among the ruins, the homes, the kivas, even going into some of them. The hiking path takes you along the canyon floor and then to the canyon walls, highlighting many of the important places. Some of the caves have ladders placed so you can climb up and enter. Some of the caves are so small you can barely move around and probably served as storage. Others are multi-roomed caverns that you can stand up in and walk around. We climbed into several and got a neat view of the canyon.

Alcove House

The hardest climb, though, comes at the end of the canyon. It is up to Alcove House. Alcove House is carved out of the canyon walls approximately 140 feet up. It is reached by several ladders and sets of stone steps. It is believed that people did indeed live here but it was probably ceremonial. There is a large kiva, many viga holes in the walls (the supporting beams for roofs or second stories), and remains of walls and caves in the walls. It is a hard climb but if you are in shape for it, definitely worth it!

Bandelier is a wonderful place to visit and one that our family really enjoyed. Even if you choose not to visit Alcove House, getting to set foot inside caves that once house ancestral peoples is pretty neat. If you are planning a trip to NM, add this one to your list.

At Home.

Antique Rose Emporium, Independence, TX – field trip

The Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, TX, is a fantastic garden center to visit. There are tons of unique and interesting plants for sale but also the arrangement of the area is just beautiful.

waterfall and butterflies

We enjoyed walking around the butterfly garden and asking about the various plants that were drawing the butterflies this time of year. We saw some lovely blossoms and enjoyed many fragrances.

butterflies and blossoms

The shade gardens were beautiful and we enjoyed the various greens we saw.

The gravesite for the broken pottery is a fun little side plot that Miss E absolutely adored. She had been wanting to visit since she saw the pictures from this summer.

broken pot graveyard

The maze! What can I say? This was just fun. We chased each other around and around on the little brick paths and laughed and giggled and just enjoyed it. I would love one of these strange shade “trees”.

fun and mazes

The ladies who work here are more than happy to answer questions and to point out interesting plants. They enjoyed talking to the girls and even called them over to show them a plant that eats bugs. What a joy to meet people who truly love what they do.

The blossoms during our visit in October were definitely different than those that we saw back in June. What an interesting comparison to make. And what a fun place to visit.

At Home.

Independence, Texas – field trip

Independence, Texas, is a place all its own. It has a pretty good claim to fame here in Texas – Sam Houston lived here. But also, two universities got their starts here – Baylor University and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (originally the Baylor Women’s College). Independence was once an important educational and religious site.

Baylor University beginnings

There are several historic structures in the town and the cemetery is really quite interesting. There is a neat visitor’s center with very helpful, friendly staff. The walking/driving tour is well marked and interesting. At Home Dad and I visited this summer while the girls were at camp. It was so interesting for us that we went again not long ago and took the girls.

Baylor Hill

We visited the historic sites by driving. Even though it was October, it was a very hot day, so we drove. (And got some ice cream at the lone spot in town where you can buy anything!) We visited the Baylor sites and the rose garden. I’ll share that in another post just because we took so many pictures there.

historic buildings

During our summertime visit, At Home Dad and I also went out to the cemetery. Fascinating place!!! There are plenty of historic headstones, many of which have fallen into disrepair. While we were visiting, a man was working on restoring these important stones. Many are from founding families of the state, including Sam Houston’s family and some soldiers from various battles. It was a really neat cemetery to visit and talking with this historian made is even more interesting.

Independence, Texas, is a neat little place to visit. You can see it all easily in just an hour or two. We definitely recommend a visit here if you have the time.

At Home.

Hiking in New Mexico

Hiking In NM

During our trip to New Mexico, we spent some time hiking in one of the canyons above Bonito Lake. Just a few miles from where I grew up, this is something I enjoyed doing growing up and still enjoy now. The mountains are so peaceful (in spite of all the RVs leaving the forest on the day we were there). Listening to the wind blow through the pines. The cold water flowing through the creek. The grass whispering as it waves. Such a relaxing, joyful time.

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There is so much to be gained from experiences like this for our city-girls. The experience of just being able to run and play and explore without thinking of traffic or neighbors is so relaxing. Trying out new things like gold panning is fun. Seeing the variety of flowers that bloom in the mountains, some of which are the same ones we see and others which are different. Finding an elk hoof and talking about why it is there on the side of the mountain. Seeing the damage of the forest fires and the regrowth that happens with time. Fungi, new trees, weeds, seeds – so much variety of plants to look at. Learning the basics of traversing a mountain, even. Wonderful growth experiences you just can’t have in a city.

It was pleasant to just sit and watch the girls romp in the river and to explore as far as they felt bold enough to go. Panning for gold was a fun experience for them, though not productive this time around. I enjoyed the time and the hike up the canyon. We ended our day perfectly with a campfire and smores.

At Home.

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