Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ahhh ... a much-needed vacation!

We had been looking forward to this vacation for weeks! We had started planning at the beginning of the summer but knew that we couldn't take it until August because of things going on with Steve's work. We had gone through several ideas before settling on the final one - a trip to the beach in Corpus Christi with a one-night stop in San Antonio. Beach trips are really not my favorites, but the boys love the beach. They have been to beaches in Virginia, Maryland, and Mississippi, but not in their homestate of Texas. I thought Corpus was much further away than it is, so when I discovered the truth it made the trip a good idea. Although beaches are not my favorite places to visit, we wanted a trip that was relaxing and not filled with places to see and things to do. This trip really fit that bill for us. And it was a total of 5 days which was a nice length for us. The boys were not too tired of the beach by the time we left, but they were also glad to be home. Seemed like we timed it pretty well. Here is a little recap of our vacation.

Day 1 - Drive to San Antonio
We left in the morning and headed out for San Antonio. We stopped for lunch in Austin and the boys got to fully experience Freebird's for the first time. They have been to Freebird's before, but they were much younger. They got burritos this time, and they picked all of the stuff for them. Evan even ate almost all of his! I was very proud of him, of course.

After we lunch we drove the rest of the way to our hotel in San Antonio. After checking in and settling our stuff into the room, we walked to The Alamo. This part of the trip was for me. I had been to the outside of the Alamo before, but had never been through it. I enjoyed it, but it was really hot and the boys were tired by this time so it wasn't the family highlight of the trip. We had been reading books and even watch the old John Wayne movie before the trip to help the boys understand the significance of the Alamo. Apparently that part stuck because since we have been home they have been playing the Alamo. They build barricades at the entrances to the living room, which they stay inside. They are the "good guys" (aka Texans) in the Alamo. Their dad (or me, if he is at work - like today) stay on the outside and attack. They call us the "bad Mexicans". I understand where this is coming from, but given where we live and the school Evan attends I am a little concerned about this. I think I need to have a talk with him about when it is appropriate to say things like that.

We went back to the hotel and cooled off a little and looked for a fun place to eat. Steve found a place in the visitors' guidebook called Lulu's Jailhouse Cafe. It sounded good so we plugged the address into the gps and took off. And we traveled for a while ... and into some of the scarier parts of San Antonio. As a matter of fact, it seemed to be located in an area that had a jail on one side of the highway and lots of bail-bondsmen on both sides. We couldn't find the restaurant and all we could see where it seemed it was supposed to be was bail-bondsmen. With all of the one-way streets we couldn't find a way to get in front of those buildings either. We tried several times, and finally went back to the hotel, got their telephone number and called to get their address. Turns out they had moved and were now called Lulu's Cafe & Bakery. (This restaurant had been showing up in the gps under "restaurants" but since it was missing Jailhouse in the title we didn't think it was the same.) It may have taken us a while to get there, but we laughed through the trip, and the food and experience were worth it. We ordered one entree for all 4 of us to share and one dessert to share. We still didn't finish the dessert and the 3 guys finished it off another night. How is that possible with 4 hungry travelers? Look at the sizes below! (By the way, this restaurant and these dishes were featured on a show called Man vs. Food. One guy ate all of this at one sitting.)

chicken-fried steak the size of a platter

a three pound cinnamon roll

Day 2 - Play in San Antonio and drive to Corpus Christi
We were ready to leave the hotel before our San Antonio attraction opened, so we found another place in the visitors' guidebook to try - a Japanese Tea Garden. We plugged the address into the gps and started driving. This time we ended up in a residential section (not historic San Antonio as the guide stated). We had learned a little from our first outing so we had the number this time and called it. The number was not a working number. So, we pick two things from this guidebook to visit and they are both wrong! What are the odds?!? We decided to head to the attraction we had found online and stop at a park along the way to kill the few minutes until the place opened. We found a park with equipment (as opposed to the empty lot "parks" that we kept passing) a block or two away from our destination. The guys had fun, but it was so hot and it wasn't even 10am. It didn't help that there was no shade on the playground and that the surface was black.

Anyway, we went to Kiddie Park (a kids' amusement park) and the boys had a blast! They played and rode rides for 2 hours. If we lived in San Antonio we would probably go there frequently. The rides were pretty small, but since our boys had never really ridden anything like this before they loved it. They rode all of the rides at least twice (I think), but they each had a different favorite.

Joel loved the carousel horses

Evan loved the hand-cranked car

We ate lunch in the van on our way to Corpus Christi. After checking into our hotel and changing into our swim clothes, we went to Mustang Beach! This involved take a ferry to Port Aransas. Evan very concerned about the ferry and didn't not want to get out of the van during the ride there. By the time we came back on it he was more comfortable and asked to get out of the van. I have to say that it felt weirder to stay in the van during the ferry ride than to stand on the ferry. I have taken a ferry before, but never in a vehicle.

The beach was fun, of course, and the kids had fun playing. I got in the water some, but mostly took pictures and enjoyed the breeze and the sound of the waves.

Day 3 - Mustang Island again
On the ferry heading to Part Aransas it started to rain. We had thought about getting boogie boards, but they didn't have any at the local Wal-Mart. Since it was raining pretty hard by the time we got off the ferry we stopped at some of the beach shops and got some boogie boards. This was one of the best purchases of our trip! Playing on the boogie boards in the waves even moved beach trips up a few notches on my "fun vacations list".

We ate lunch on the beach and that reminded me of some of the things I don't enjoy about the beach - sand everywhere! I had a few sand crunches in my mouth by the end of lunch.

After the beach we kind of relaxed at the hotel. Actually, Steve and the boys relaxed in the hotel pool and I explored the area to look for a bikini. I am not a bikini wearer, and certainly not in public, but I wanted one to wear under my street clothes for a boat ride we were taking the next day. Unfortunately, all of the stores in the area were out of cheap and modest bikinis. It was fun to drive around and explore anyway.

Day 4 - Dolphin Cruise and Corpus Christi Beach
We got up early (without setting alarm clocks, even) and drove to Ingleside for a much-anticipated dolphin cruise. This was the boys' first ride in a motorboat and it was a choppy one. The wind was really strong that day (and stayed strong all day). Evan started feeling bad about halfway through the trip, but he never threw up. So, that was the downer, but the trip was so neat! We saw lots of dolphins swimming around. Some got close to us, but they were eating, so none of them really came over to play. I got to see one baby dolphin jump up completely out of the water and see its bright pink belly. We learned from our very knowledgeable captain (who has been doing cruises in this area for 30 years and knows all of these dolphins) that babies in captivity do not have bellies this color, but they all do in the wild. It was like a flamingo-pink color. Unfortunately it happened so fast that I didn't get a picture, and Steve and the boys didn't see it. I am so glad that we got to do this cruise and with this company!

We went back to the hotel and rested in the room for most of the afternoon. We headed out for an early dinner in Corpus Christi at Blackbeard's (which the boys didn't enjoy as much as I had hoped, based on the name), and then went to the beach in Corpus. The water was still very choppy and the winds very strong. We couldn't even use our umbrellas! Thankfully we went later in the evening so the sun wasn't as strong. The choppy waters made for some fun boogie-boarding!

This was our last trip to the beach, so we stayed until sunset (or close to it) to make the most if it.

Day 5 - driving back home
We had thought about stopping at an aquarium or museum in Corpus Christi, but the guys seemed a little tired, so we decided to forgo that and make a stop halfway through the trip. Steve had found out the Lego Games Tour was going to be making a stop in Austin that very day, so we thought the boys would really enjoy that. Unfortunately, we were wrong. As one other adult there said, "I am underwhelmed." Joel was tired and grumpy and only wanted to see knight legos. Of course, there weren't any there. Evan did have fun learning some of the games, but there were only 3 set up and one of those had a long line and was in the sun. So after our brief tour of the Lego Games Tour, we looked for a fun place to eat in Austin (after a brief stop at my favorite candy store - Lamme's Candies). We finally settled on E-Z's, which was a place Steve and I used to visit when he was co-oping there. Steve and I enjoyed it, but the boys complained. They complained about a cheeseburger (because it had lettuce and tomato), a sausage pizza (because it wasn't pepperoni), and a chocolate-oreo cookie milkshake (I don't know why for this one). They are on a reduced option diet for the foreseeable future to hopefully help them learn to appreciate the special treats when they get them. Will this work? We will see.

The rest of the trip home was pretty uneventful. We got home and unpacked and enjoyed some quiet time at home. Steve went back to work today, so the boys and I are at home (still in our jammies), relaxing, doing laundry (in a little while), and playing the Alamo game.

School starts in one week (from yesterday) for Evan, so we are trying to get back to a school sleep routine. I think it will be harder for me than the boys.

We hope that you are enjoying the last few days of your summer or the beginning of your school year!


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