Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Education Vacation

This vacation included some Texas History, Political Science, American History, Biology, and Astronomy (well sort of...).

We took a long weekend in February and got away for a few days. We headed first to San Antonio for a trip to the Alamo. We had been once before, but were surprised at how hard it was to visualize the battlefield. So, this time, we did a little reading and printed out a map or two before going to the site. So... here is the Alamo we all think of:

but we learned that the cute little curvy top that is the iconic Alamo shape didn't even exist at the time of the battle. It was added years later to make it more attractive as a historical site. This building was actually a safe place during the battle and the few survivors, women and children, were found in one of it's rooms.

Next we headed to Houston for a little American History. We visited the Battleship Texas which was commissioned in 1912 and served in both World Wars. We climbed all over the ship and went as high as we could go and as deep inside as we could go. This is such a fun place to visit - I am always amazed at how much of the ship you can access.
(This picture is so funny! from l to r is FRitW, Maggie, and MT. FRitW kept complaining that the sun was in his eyes, so Kirk who is holding him up put his arm out to shade his eyes and we love that it looks like a huge salute!)

The Battleship Texas faces the San Jacinto Monument, so we headed back into Texas History with a ride to the top of the monument. San Jacinto was the battle that turned the war for Texas Independence in Texas' favor. Here is where the battle cry, "Remember the Alamo!" began. This monument is unbelievably huge. The star on top is 34 feet tall and sits atop a 570 foot tall monument. The elevator takes you to a viewing area just below the star and the view is amazing!

The limestone steps
have shells embedded in them

From the top we noticed a path that wandered into a wetland marsh and decided to follow the path. The boardwalk lead to viewing stations and we saw several birds and frogs. MT also saw an airplane!

The next day we attended a political rally. This was a first for us but a great experience. We spent a lot of time waiting in line to get into the building, more time trying to get a good view, then some time catching confetti and waiting in line to get out of the parking lot.

We spent our final day at NASA. This was a fabulous place! Dad and I remembered visits from childhood, but things have changed! We started with a tram ride. The little guys loved this - they were convinced we were riding a train. The ride lasted an hour and a half and we saw everything from mission control to mockups of the space station and shuttle (with actual astronauts practicing for a mission!) to an immense rocket.

After the tram ride we played in the museum part of NASA. Dad, Maggie, and FRitW piloted an Apollo capsule,

Dad was a somber astronaut, 

Maggie was a grinning astronaut,

All four kids tried on the space helmets and explored yet another space shuttle mockup.

Finally, we learned that the squirrels we like to feed in Austin, don't like cold weather. We walked all over the grounds of the capital looking for those elusive creatures!


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