Tag Archives: Texas

Inner Space Cavern

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To start off our “new year”, we did many of our norms – took the day off, made grade level signs and took pictures, had a fun breakfast (see this on our Instagram account), and enjoyed the leisurely day. But we also took a field trip on day two. We went to Austin for some items we had to pick up and on the way back, we made a stop at Inner Space Cavern.

This cavern is found right alongside I-35. In fact, it was discovered because of the construction of the interstate. When they were drilling as part of building the road, they punctured the cavern and lost the drill bit. They actually punctured it 8 time, I think they said. One of the men decided he had to get the drill bit back and a geologist rode the giant drill down into the cavern with a tiny little light to find the bit. He also found some amazing formations. Of course, they looked completely different to him, probably, with only a small light and not the beautiful lighting they have in there now. But still, it was probably stunning to him to see the giant cavern.

It is interesting to stand in the quiet and hear the rumbling of the vehicles overhead on the interstate. At one point, the guide turns all the lights off and you get to absorb the absolute darkness. It is so interesting. The tour we took was about an hour and we had a fabulous tour guide. He knew the history of the cave and a large amount of the scientific information to go along with it. He added his own humor and entertained questions of all sorts from my chatty youngest. She kept up to the front of the tour group and chatted with him for a large part of the time. She asked all sorts of questions and he did a good job answering them (at least from my perspective at the back with my oldest).

All three girls seemed to really enjoy the outing but I know from hanging out with the oldest at the back that she was thoroughly pleased that we had stopped and taken the tour. In fact, she is begging to come back and do the hardest tour, where they strap a light on you and you go spelunking in tiny crevices and your light is the only source. It is definitely off the main path and is not a very big group, thus the much higher price point than the tour we took yesterday.

The formations we got to see were just beautiful. They were interesting and hearing about how they form and grow was just as enjoyable as it has been since I was a child. Learning about the number of animals whose bones were found in the cavern was interesting and it was neat to see the drawings that had been created on a retaining wall. There was a giant sinkhole that had formed and that was interesting to see the evidence of, also. Some of the bones had been taken up to the visitor’s center and were on display there. Most, though, as still down in the cavern, as exposure to air and moisture disintegrates them very quickly since they have not had the compression necessary to fossilize them.

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Another really interesting part was the room where we were shown flint forming on the ceiling. The flint looked totally different on the outside but when it was cut open, there was the tell-tale color of black. That was really interesting to see in a natural setting.

The rough patches on the smooth rock are the flint beginning to form. To the left of that, there are some large, almost tooth-shaped rocks with a lot of rough rock below it. That is the exposed fault line.

The rough patches on the smooth rock are the flint beginning to form. To the left of that, there are some large, almost tooth-shaped rocks with a lot of rough rock below it. That is the exposed fault line.

In that same room, he showed us the evidence of the Balcones Fault line. It is the only fault running through Texas and has had its top layers of rock interlock like strong legos. It is so strong, the guide said, that we would be safer under the fault line in the cavern than above it were an earthquake to hit. The interlocked rocks would hardly move! And we were able to see that fault line and broken rock from when it shook many, many, many years ago. Really fascinating.

Inner Space Cavern is not quite as large as Carlsbad, which I have posted about on from 2017 and 2013, but it is just a beautiful cave and is privately operated. I am so glad we stopped to check it out.

Edit to add: A blogger contacted me to let me know she had a fairly thorough unit study to go along specifically with Inner Space but really, guys, it looks like it would work great for all caves. You can find it on her blog Waco Mom.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

More Murals

Last week, At Home Dad and I took a short trip to Jefferson, TX. Jefferson is close to the Louisiana border and has a beautiful bayou. It is close to Caddo Lake, if you know where that is.

While we were walking around Jefferson the first night, looking for a place to eat, we saw a beautiful mural on the side of a building. It was really beautiful. So I took a picture.

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The next day, while we were walking around the downtown area, we started noticing how many murals there were. I didn’t take pictures of all of them because some of them were harder to get pictures of, what with cars parked in front of them and whatnot. But these murals are often used a signs for the businesses, which is really neat.

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Some of them are huge and take up the whole side of a building. Some are small and compact. Some are clearly older while some seem to be very new. They are all unique and individual.

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Oh, and I can’t forget to share the neat VB bus sitting on an empty lot. Just another example of art to be found.

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Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Doris Miller Memorial Park – remembering a WWII hero

Doris Miller Memorial

Our hometown has a WWII hero – Doris Miller. There is a beautiful Memorial to him and his valor in the downtown area. We have stopped a couple of time – once when it first opened several months ago and then again a couple of days ago when we noticed they had the water added to the memorial.

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Who was Doris Miller?

Doris Miller was a young man whose family were sharecroppers or subsistence farmers in the Waco, TX, area in the 1930s. Doris helped as much as he could, including working as a cook, but he desired to enroll in military service when war was on the horizon. The military was segregated at this time and he was only allowed to enlist in the Navy in a limited capacity. Following bootcamp, he was assigned as a messman to the USS West Virginia, stationed in Pearl Harbor.

He was doing his normal work when the first bombs began to fall on December 7. He went on deck and found many already wounded. He helped move the captain, who had been mortally wounded. He then went to an unmanned antiaircraft gun and began firing at incoming aircraft, though he had no training for it, as African Americans serving where in the stewards’ branch were given no gunnery training. The reports as to how many aircraft he hit are unsubstantiated, including Miller himself not being sure. He manned that station until he was out of ammunition and required to abandon ship, as the USS West Virginia was sinking.

Miller’s quick actions and level-headed thinking were rewarded with the conferring of the Navy Cross on May 27, 1942, at a ceremony in Pearl Harbor. He spent some time as a recruiter and then was assigned to the USS Liscome Bay. He was aboard ship when it was torpedoed during the Battle of Makin, off the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific. Miller did not survive this attack.

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The Doris Miller Memorial Park is a beautiful site. The statue of Miller is bigger than life, as it seems his personality was. Miller is saluting an American flag, flying in the breeze. The ship hull that is behind Miller is made of many bright silver pieces of metal all joined together and meant to remind us that “many sailors make a ship.” It is surrounded by a shallow flow of water.

This is a peaceful, beautiful place on the edge of the river and along the walking trail that goes along the river. It is worth a short stop if you make your way to Waco. Doris Miller is an American hero. You can read about him in several places:

There are many other places you can read about Doris Miller. These are just the ones that I chose.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Storm of the Century ~ Book Club

This will be the last book club of 2018. Hard to imagine things have gone so fast, isn’t it? With the types of weather that has been experienced by the country this year, this book choice just kind of fits in. Part of our Mega Field Trip was to New Bern, NC. If you will remember, it was hit hard by Hurricane Florence this year. And we skeedaddled out of the way of Hurricane Michael while we were on the homeward stretch of the trip. So, The Storm of the Century kind of fits. 

Written by Al Roker (yes, the weather man), this book is subtitled “tragedy, heroism, survival and the epic true story of America’s deadliest natural disaster: The Great Gulf Hurricane of 1900.” This book definitely lives up to its name. It is an engaging, thrilling, heart-wrenching book on everything related to that unparalleled disaster. From the stories of the people, to what causes these storms, to the influence of politics on the outcome of storms like this, it is an understatement to say I learned a lot. 

While I really enjoy the human stories of triumph amid tragedy that are shared so detailed here, I find they are enriched by the backstories of the history and science that Mr. Roker so clearly and openly shares here. The stories of the people are interwoven throughout the book so that you are easily able to follow that thread and see how it connects to things like the creation of the Weather Service and the political situation in Cuba and to the formation of the rain clouds that eventually grew to a storm of montrous proportions. 

Mr. Roker does a wonderful job of using language and expressions in a way that you can easily place yourself in the story that he is telling. When he is describing the horror that Isaac Cline felt when he realized that Galveston was, indeed, going to experience a disaster, you feel it yourself. When the little girl is picked off a floating piece of debris and brought to huddle with other survivors you feel relief and hope for her. When you read about Cassie heart-wrenchingly wishing she had died in the storm, you feel the great fear and despair she must have felt. The people are brought to life and you can’t help but feel a little bit of what they must have felt. 

One unexpected thing you will experience in reading this particular book is a growth of knowledge. I had no idea that almost all Atlantic hurricanes begin in the same place over Africa and the many forces that must act on those rain clouds to become a major storm. I had no idea that the political tensions in Cuba would have had a devastating effect on the loss of life in Galveston (a ban on communications stopped men who felt they truly understood the storm from being able to communicate with anyone who would listen to them in America). Honestly, I had no idea that the Cuban monks had such extensive knowledge of weather and were considered some of the best in the world. Yet, since it was believed at the time that weather could not be predicted very well and especially not storms, they were not allowed to share their information and understanding. What a shame! 

This is a fascinating book that I would highly recommend. I am thrilled to find that Mr. Roker is a talented writer that I enjoyed reading. 

As I close, I just want to share that I am reimagining what is going to happen with the Book Club for 2019. I haven’t finalized that but be looking for something a bit different in January. 

Blessings,
At Home.

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

Texas Bucket List – Z: zoos ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

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Z can be an interesting letter to try to find something for and there were some options but nothing that I really thought “ooh, I’d like to do that” except for zoological parks. I enjoy visiting zoos and animal habitat places. So, I thought I would just quickly mention a few that are found here in Texas. Some I have been to, though it has been a few years for a couple of them; some I have never visited but dream of visiting. Kind of all over the place, you know?

Cameron Park Zoo – I have to start with local, you know! The Cameron Park Zoo is quite fun and they have done a great job with the animal enclosures there. It is not a huge zoo and the price is not huge, either. We can go and spend a couple of hours and see just about everything. We really enjoy the orangutans and the giraffes, the aquariums (especially the Brazos River exhibit) and the birds. It is a paved walk throughout and we always enjoy our visit to the buffalo or the bears, the otters and the rhinos. The otter slide is lots of fun, though the girls are just about all too big for it. The otter slide is a clear slide the kids can slide down that goes through the water of the otter exhibit, so they feel a bit like they are playing with the otters. There are so many neat animals at the Cameron Park Zoo that we always enjoy our visits.

Fort Worth Zoo – I have not been to this one in quite a while but loved it the last time we went. Their animal habitats were very well done and the way the exhibits were was quite different. I do remember this zoo being a bit more pricey but it was a fun visit when we went.

Dallas Zoo – Again, I haven’t been in a while but it was quite the experience. The habitat areas are extremely well done and the animals are grouped somewhat by the part of the world and the habitats they live in. It was a very expensive zoo and several of the areas had additional expenses if you wanted the full experience. Still, we enjoy the zoo very much when we last went.

Houston Zoo – I have not been to this zoo and I don’t know anything about it, except what I could find on the website. So, maybe this one needs to be on my personal bucket list, right? I mean, the whole point of this ABC listing was to find new places to visit, so I’ll add this zoo.

Texas State Aquarium – This was a marvelous place to visit when we went about 3 years ago. The dolphin exhibit alone was amazing, with its underwater viewing area and up close seats for the dolphin show. There was a shark petting area for small sand sharks and you could also touch some rays. The sea turtles were amazing and there were plenty of additional animals to visit. This one is a place I want to go back to.

Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park – When we visited this aquarium with the girls years ago, it was inexpensive and just right for smaller children. The small aquariums had fish and other animals that they could easily see. For the tanks that were high for the kids, there were step stools. They had touch tanks set up for them, as well. It was a fun aquarium to visit with younger children.

Sea World San Antonio – It has been a while since we last visited Sea World and when we did, it was on homeschool day. Y’all know about this right? Our tickets were just a few dollars each and we had access to the park for about 6 hours. The rides were not open and they did not do the orca show, but I think everything else was open for viewing. The dolphins were the girls favorites. Well, maybe – the penguins were well loved, too. It was worth the long drive to visit and not have to pay hundreds of dollars. I would enjoy going back sometime. Maybe . . .

There are plenty of other zoos, aquariums, and wildlife parks in the state. These were just a few that I knew about. Abilene and Tyler both have zoos. There is a wildlife park of some sort up by McKinney. There are a couple of different wildlife safari parks. There are lots of options if you are looking for animal places to visit in Texas.

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 – Y: Yellow Rose ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

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Y is a hard letter for Texas. I found a couple of places but they were strange or didn’t really seem to fit the sort of thing I was going for. So, I went for a good old Texas folk song.

I am just going to share a couple of recordings of the song with you. I’ll let you sort our the folk tale from the truth because honestly, I don’t think anyone can sort it out. So, I just teach and enjoy the song as folk music.

Here’s the Yellow Rose of Texas –

The one that made the song famous:

 

Who doesn’t enjoy an Elvis Presley version of a song?

 

And a Civil War version (from what I can determine). . .

 

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 – X: eXtra place to visit for W ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

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I couldn’t think of an X and I had too many W places I wanted to share so I decided to share another W place with you, since I had eXtras. 🙂 I know – it is pushing it. I’m okay with that today.

Sweetwater, TX, was one of the sites for the training of female pilots during WWII. The female pilots played important roles in the defense of America and freedom around the world during that time. They may not have been in direct front-line combat but they experienced many losses and contributed much needed help and experience.

In Sweetwater, there is a museum dedicated to these female pilots from WWII. They were called WASP. Women Airforce Service Pilots lived and trained in the barren area of west Texas at Avenger Field. This site how houses the National WASP Museum in one of the old hangars.

A visit to the WASP Museum does not take too long but it is very interesting. You can see more of our visit in this post I shared with you a couple of years ago. I also shared a couple of books with you about it – one is Flying Higher and is biographical in nature and another was fiction but interesting titled The All-Girl Filling Station. The WASP program figures in Secrets in the Sky by Melinda Rice, a juvenile fiction story about a young girl in Sweetwater who befriends some of the lady pilots. We used it as a read aloud several years ago and really enjoyed it.

Blessings,
At Home.

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