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Glass Bottom Boats in San Marcos

Kimberly 1 Comments

Hungry for an economical and educational field trip, Renee and I packed up the kiddos and headed to the aquarena at Texas state in San Marcos.

There, we boarded one of the original boats from 1945 and left the dock to explore the natural springs.

 

This was our first experience on a glass bottom boat and we all enjoyed it very much!

The water was crystal clear. We were even able to see the spring water bubbling up from the sand at the bottom.

Can you see the turtle?

We were able to watch the underwater wildlife in their natural surroundings and even got to check out some of the local aviary life.

 

The tour lasted a half hour and cost our family $27.00 (which left some $$ for some frozen yogurt!)

This unique aquafir used to be home to mermaids and a swimming pig… But we found no evidence of them.

 

 

Exploring Tinkertown Museum in Sandia Park, NM with Video

Kimberly No Comments

When you travel full time, you can’t see everything. This is one of the ironies of full time rving.

Don’t they all look thrilled!

Whether its due to finances, weather, crowds, time or just plain overlooking, families need to realize that some things will need to be left for the next trip around.

Count me as one of those friends

 

This was actually a hard lesson for me (the family itinerary maker) to learn.

The excitement is growing

 

When I sat in my house, making list upon list of all the places we’d visit, I thought I’d be disappointed if we had to forego some excursions. And truth be told, I was. In those early months, I was known to pout and carry on when we couldn’t do this, or wouldn’t be able to eat that, etc

Buttons along the front animate the scenes

But somewhere in the midst of year two, I matured (thankfully and possibly somewhat questionably) and realized we don’t have to take every opportunity set before us and chances are we will be here again, some time in the future, and won’t it be nice to have something to look forward to then. Ahhhhhhh!

So what does this all have to do with Tinkertown Museum?

Well, this is one of those places we missed due to overlooking and possibly your family would have no trouble overlooking such a place, but you might regret it!

This scene blew me away

It seems I have a certain gene that loves colorful collections of, what might be called by the untrained eye, JUNK.

Never a truer word!

My husband, bless his heart, lacks the gene and runs around with not one, but two, untrained eyes.

A one man band in a box!

But he’s always very accommodating so when I exclaimed one evening in Texas, “oh no! We’ve been to Albuquerque twice and we completely missed Tinkertown, we need to go back!”. He said, “ok”.

Kids have their own guest book

So back we went, to a city neither one of us are particularly fond of, to see the Tinkertown Museum.

Leave a message in a bottle

It took Ross Ward over 40 years to carve, collect, and lovingly construct the collection on display. His miniature wood-carved figures were first part of a traveling exhibit, driven to county fairs and carnivals in the 1960s and ’70s. Today over 50,000 glass bottles form rambling walls that surround a 22-room museum. Wagon wheels, old fashioned store fronts, and wacky western memorabilia make Tinkertown’s exterior as much as a museum as the wonders within.

Outside you’ll find a unique collection of items Ross and his wife have collected from ghost towns.

When you go to Tinkertown make sure you bring quarters and ask for a scavenger hunt handout, or download and print it from their website.

We all thoroughly enjoyed our time at Tinkertown and we know you will too!

For more of the sights and sounds of Tinkertown, check out our episode of One Epic Adventure.

 

 

I Left my floor in San Francisco

Kimberly 1 Comments

Mark Twain is falsely credited with the witticism, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”  Well, if he didn’t say it, he should have!

We visited the famed ‘City by the Bay’ in the middle of September, while it’s California sister cities were experiencing a brutal Indian Summer, San Fran was locked in a dense foggy 60 degrees.

The irony of this was the fact that our RV parked on a crumbling ledge (really, there were signs and caution tape and missing chunks of asphalt) overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Overlooking is quite an exaggeration as we never actually got to see the Pacific from our risky perch, but we did get to hear the crashing waves that threatened to deliver our wheeled home to Davy Jones himself when our parking spot gave way.

A brief moment of clarity

A brief moment of clarity

The first attraction we visited in Frisco was The Exploratorium, which still today, holds a special place in our hearts among Science Museums.  The Exploratorium is hands down THE BEST museum of its kind we have visited in all our travels.

In the 7+ hours we spent their, every single one of our senses were tantalized and challenged.  The kids took part in a Cow’s Eyeball Dissection, Chris was ensconced in a great ball of energy and color, baby DJ explored his magnetic personality and Dominick drank out of a toilet.

eyeball anyone dj magnetic dominicksthirsty

On Day 2, we walked the length of the Golden Gate bridge and then toured Chinatown.

goldengate

From a quick FourSquare search we were able to find a Chinese Fortune Factory.  Having been on my fair share of factory tours, I expected more than the hallway that serves as the main production floor, but that’s really all there was.  A hallway, a couple of Chinese people, some lazy susans and a thousands of round flexible discs being turned into the fortune telling wonders we all know and love.

fortunecookieOn the 3rd day, we all went  to prison.  Of course, I’m talking about Alcatraz which was an awesome tour!  If you’re considering it, I strongly urge you to reserve your Alcatraz ferry tickets in advance.  As a National Park, Alcatraz is free, but there’s only one way to get there, and the ferry is known to sell out on a daily basis.

alcatraz

We loved our time in San Fransisco, but as the title of this post implies, our trip there did cost us our floor.  Several months prior, we had installed a wood floor  (click the link to see the video of that installation), but the humidity of San Fran, wrecked havoc with it and when we pulled out of Pacifica 6 days later, it had buckled and swelled in several places.   Months later, we ripped it out and used it as firewood.

I should also tell you, one of the most awesome places we have found in this country, we found while parked in Pacifica.  Across the other bridge, in Berkley is Adventure Playground.  That place was so awesome it deserves its very own blog post!  So click here to learn why no matter what age your kids are, you should NOT MISS Adventure Playground!

 

Tubing the San Marcos River at Rio Vista Park

Kimberly No Comments

Water! That’s all it takes to make our family content… Well, we like rice cakes and beef jerky too… So any day on the water with a cooler full of rice cakes and beef jerky is a seriously good day! Add ice cream and we’re talkin’ Epic!

So when life presented us with a particularly trying day, we packed up the cooler, pumped up the floats and headed to Rio Vista Park in San Marcos!

What a gem! Like seriously some top 10 USA awesomeness!

Picture a really wide pool with some pretty calm water and then a 6 ft wide spillway… Imagine tubing that!

But wait… There’s more. Two more pools with spillways, each with their own torrential character.

Do it with a float, or don’t. The choice is yours and the experiences are completely different but equally thrilling. Check out it for yourself here:

Oh… Did I mention about the twin rope swings???

Where to go: San Marcos, TX 78666 @29.878367,-97.9345

What to bring:

Floats (local Walmart has the best prices)

Water shoes

Life vests for little kids

Towels

Cooler

Some cash for the ice cream truck (the park is free) here’s where it gets Epic!

Don’t forget the rice cakes and beef jerky!

 

 

Chasing Down Wild Horses and Rainbows with Video

Kimberly No Comments

“I think I just saw a wild horse”.  That’s how it all started, my obsession with finding wild animals while on our journey.
Having grown up on the east coast, my wild animal spotting was relegated to nuisance deer who posed as lawn ornaments while eating hundreds of dollars of well thought out landscaping and gardens, and road kill.

When I moved to Florida, I became proficient at spotting alligators, armadillos and road kill.

As we headed west that first year out, I scanned the horizon for wild horses, the epitome and symbol of freedom and adventure.

It became a joke in the truck, “look honey, wild cows” and “look mom, wild chickens”.
I got my revenge by dragging my family to old mining towns to pet “wild burros” and making them suffer through bison jams and elk jams in Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Parks..

Look Kids! Wild Burros!

Look Kids! Wild Burros!

 

But still the wild horses eluded me.

My friend Clementine told me all she knew about wild horses, including some BLM locations that had been set aside as sanctuaries, the round up and mustang auctions, and she even clued me into an enthralling PBS documentary about Cloud, the Wild Mustang of the Pryor Mountains, a small part of the rockies perched on the Montana, Wyoming border.

As we planned our trip east, I found that those same Pryor Mountains were just a short detour on our route and so we drove 8 hours to drop our trailers at the Pryor Mustang Visitor Center and take the trucks into the Big Horn Mountain Range to spot the wild horses once and for all.

IMG_2760

We arrived at the Visitors Center after it had closed, but while en route, I had called their knowledgeable staff and asked for the best “band” spotting locations.  I also asked if they would allow us and our travel companions, the Felty Four, to park overnight in their parking lot.  They agreed and gave me mile markers in the range to hone in on.

IMG_2759

A band is a group of wild mustangs, comprised of a band stallion, some mares, and possibly some foals and younger colts.  Older colts are kicked out of the band and live in bachelor groups until they become band stallions.  Watch the documentary for more information on the fascinating  social structure of Mustang bands.

pryorsign

As we drove to the reserve, my optimism surged.  I couldn’t believe I was finally going to realize one of my big bucket list items.  I envisioned foals prancing on unsteady spindly legs, while colts raced and wrestled.  Maybe I would even see Cloud!

Can you find the horse?

Can you find the horse?

 

As soon as the range unfolded before me, my hopes were completely dashed. The landscape was massive.  Hills, valleys, peaks, and sage fields went on for miles.  How in the world was my untrained eye going to spot small bands of mustangs that could literally be hiding right under my nose.

Nature knows best and the coats on these magnificent beasts camouflage into the environment so perfectly blended with the rocks and sage brush, that only their movements reveal their presence.  A still mustang could literally become invisible against a sage covered sand stone ridge.

I felt foolish for thinking I could just drive in to a mountain range and “find” wild horses.  I felt sick to my stomach that I had talked our travel companions into this frivolous quest and after 8 plus hours in the car, my merry band of 4 rambunctious children were engaging in some ‘horse play” of their own, much to my road weary husband’s chagrin.

I recognized, I had moved my emotions into scarcity and feeling that old familiar trigger, made the conscious decision to take a deep breath and live in abundance.  I said a quick prayer to St. Anthony (patron saint of lost things) and we continued down the road.

I remember thinking, wouldn’t it be great if they were just right on the road, and then thinking, with all this land out here, that would be utterly ridiculous.  That didn’t stop me from scanning the road for horse manure, and as I did, some movement in the canyon to my right caught my eye and I spotted the first wild horse!

IMG_2753

When we pulled over, we saw, this mare was not alone but with two others.  Diane, in the truck behind me, pointed forward and sure enough, trotting hesitantly but still quite fiercely down the road was a dark chocolate stallion with a blaze on his muzzle.

He posed on a rock, promptly pooped in front of us, and then headed straight for our trucks.

IMG_2745

I held my breath as I hoped that our once in a lifetime encounter wouldn’t turn into a prompt hospital visit as he took us in fully, deciding if we posed a threat to his band.

When he felt confident that we would not hurt him or his ladies, he joined them in the valley to graze and we were able to watch them, in their native state, completely wild.

As I breathed in the glory of the moment and reveled in the splendor,  to my left a rainbow appeared over the canyon.  I knew that the pot of gold at the end of every rainbow is actually in you, you just need to live in abundance to realize it.
Some additional facts:

  • The wonderful ladies at the Pryor Mustang Visitors Center identified the horses we had seen as band stallion Fiero, with his mares, Strawberry, Sacajawea, and Oregon.
  • We found out that Cloud recently celebrated his 20th birthday.  He’s sired 16 foals, was a successful band stallion and is now spending his days resting on the mountain top.
  • There are two former wild mustangs living right at the center.
  • Once a mustang is rounded up by the BLM and auctioned off, it can never be reintroduced to the wild.
  • The first person to spot a foal, gets the honor of naming it. Each years’ foals are named with the same letter and names try to refer to the foal’s parents.  This year’s foals all have “P” names.

 

Interesting Events- Bonnie and Clyde festival

Kimberly No Comments

You may be interested to know that each year, Gibsland, Lousiana, the town where Bonnie and Clyde took their last breathes, hosts a Bonnie and Clyde Festival.

 

 

Bring your family and friends and join the good folk of Gibsland, LA, each May, as they remember the historical ambush of the infamous outlaws Bonnie & Clyde, with fun festivities, great food, music and authentic re-enactments.

 

 

 

This annual festival is not meant to glorify the life and crimes of Bonnie & Clyde nor to celebrate their tragic death. It is an annual get together of family members, historians and authors so they can share their interest in the history and the mystery. The town welcomes anyone who wishes to attend and learn more about the history of Bonnie & Clyde.

 

 

If you’d like to take a detour to attend the Bonnie and Clyde Festival, click here for more info: http://www.findfestival.com/gibsland/2014/bonnie-and-clyde-festival/

 

 

Our Review of the Miami Mini Maker Faire

Kimberly No Comments

Is a mini maker event worth your time and effort? This past weekend, Blaise, my 9 year old son and I drove into downtown Miami to attend the Miami Mini Maker Faire.

I live with an inventor. Seldom a day goes by that a request isn’t made to create a device from the air. Like, “hey Mom, can we make a Slender Man Action Figure?”, or “hey Mom, I’m going to need a working Tron disc attached to my back.” Always up for a creative challenge, and because these projects allow me extra bonding time with my sensitive second son, we break out the craft box and get to work.

So when I saw a notice that Miami was hosting a Mini Maker Faire, I scheduled a date and downloaded the directions.

We googled several links and watched a few videos but couldn’t get a complete picture of what might be waiting for us at this “invention convention”.

The maker culture is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture. Typical interests enjoyed by the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, and the use ofCNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and traditional arts and crafts. The subculture stresses new and unique applications oftechnologies, and encourages invention and prototyping.[1] There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them creatively.

Didn’t get all that… Think a hobbyist married a beatnik poet and had a baby who was strongly influenced by her civil war reenacting Aunt. The Maker definitely marches to the beat of their own drum… Which sounds exactly like Blaise!

We bought our $6.75 tix online via an interface powered by Eventbrite.

When we arrived at LAB Miami, we were able to skip the line, which seemed 20+ people deep the entire time we were there (approx 2hrs) and our advance purchase was confirmed immediately. I was offered a band for my wrist if I planned on consuming alcohol, which I was not, since it was 10:30 in the morning and I was on a date with my 9 yo son.

Upon entering the convention space, we were able to count about 25 3d printers… The first one was interesting, the second one was bigger, the third one was smaller but faster… The other 22 were overkill.

We moved through the exhibitor space and the majority of the time, we needed to engage the exhibitors who seemed more interested in tweeting their virtual friends rather than showing off their inventions to the real live attendees.

Another disconcerting discovery were the hidden canisters of loud gas that went off several times. For my spectrum child (and it should be noted a fair amount of the attendees where on the spectrum) this was overwhelming.

In search of a quiet corner we found Dr. Jellyfishes lab which we both enjoyed the most. The good Dr. had a variety of experiments and learning tools set up and we learned how to make Shrinky Dinks with to go containers and were easily fascinated by the world’s most useless machine.

I left mini maker with the impression of a brilliant child, not living up to its potential. It could be great, really great, but the organizers need to do a much better job on the attendee experience.

Update: Since this post went live, the organizers of the event have contacted me seeking suggestions for improving future Maker Faires.  Based on their enthusiasm to produce a great event, I would definitely attend a future one.

 

 

 

A Birthday Party at Natural Bridges Wildlife Ranch

Kimberly No Comments

Today is Renee’s birthday! The birthday girl wanted a safari for her birthday experience, and luckily there’s one right in San Antonio!

 

During the drive thru safari at Natural Bridges Wildlife Ranch, you are encouraged to feed the animals (this could possibly be due to some downsizing;).

There are antelope, rhinos, deer, ostrich, kangaroos, monkeys, lemurs, and even twin baby giraffes!

After the field trip, we returned to our campground and pigged out on ice cream cake!

 

Wild animals and chocolate! That’s our kinda party!

Happy Birthday, Renee! We were all thrilled to be able to share your special day with you!

 

 

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