Saturday, April 16, 2011

Heading West

Sometimes I am meticulous about our trip planning. I like to know exactly when and where we will be and have a plan for every contingency. Sometimes there isn't time to plan. Let me share an example:

It is Friday afternoon and Dad is home. He has been gone a lot and currently there are no problem jobs looming over the weekend. But sometimes, being only a phone call away is just too close, so Dad proposes a quick weekend trip. I am out of my favorite brand of sugar (yes, I am a sugar snob… but that’s another story) and he half-jokingly proposes a trip to Abilene to buy sugar. I say half jokingly because he truly wanted to take a trip far enough out of town to be unavailable for a job call, and Abilene really does have my sugar, but seriously, a 600 mile round trip drive to buy sugar?

By evening we were on the road. We stopped near near Arlington and were headed west again early Saturday morning, really early actually, as we arrived in Abilene by 9:30 am. We started with a tour of the Buffalo Gap Historic Village. This little gathering of historical buildings chronicles the settlement of the Abilene area from 1875 to 1925. We explored barns, gardens, the train depot, and a blacksmith. The old playground outside the schoolhouse was enticing and the cannon ball damage on the front of the courthouse intriguing. We were ushered through the entire experience by recorded narrations, some especially prepared for children. MT and FRitW loved finding the correct number and typing it in their ‘phones’.


Maggie snapped this photo of the rest of us on the porch of the post office.

No one can resist a playground!


The school is in the background



MT loved listening to the recordings!


A little lesson from Dad about Sundials which by the way was not on Daylight Savings Time, hmmm...


Walking on the train tracks

Visiting the Blacksmith - notice that MT still has his 'phone' to his ear.


MT pointing to the numbers to type in the 'phone'
 
After lunch, we headed to Frontier Texas! an incredible interactive museum/experience. The lady at the desk asked if we were a homeschool family (it was a Saturday, so I’m not sure how she knew) and gave us some great discounts: teacher and student in addition to our coupon – yay! Then we entered this absolutely amazing gem of a museum. Wow!! I wish the photos could tell you what it was like to actually be there. Again, this museum focused on Texas history – specifically settlements in the Abilene area, cattle trails, and relationships with Native Texans.
This painted screen would suddenly dim and the 3D image below would appear...


...complete with war whoops and thundering pony hooves!

While walking through this darkened area...


lightning would flash and you would realize you were in the middle of a longhorn cattle stampede!


Exploring modes of travel


This was actually the beginning. In this room you were introduced to important characters in Texas history and the panels behind lit up with the character discussed

Here the panel for Pedro Vial is lit.

 
Later in the museum you encountered each character in holographic form telling his or her story. Comanche leader Eshihabitu is pictured here. 

 Next we headed to the ruins at Fort Phantom Hill. This is a self-guided kind of site, out in the middle of nowhere, with simply an open gate to suggest it is available to tour. But it was fascinating! It amazes me to see these stone chimneys, basements, and storage buildings still intact. We brought with us a brochure explaining the history of Fort Phantom Hill. It included letters from soldiers stationed there, and descriptions of the buildings and their functions. It was especially neat to be able to explore it on our own and being able to touch and enter the ruins.
The storehouse was very low to the ground, so Dad & MT just looked right over the top of the wall.

FRitW & MT inside the storage building


Exploring the cannon. Chimneys in the background were from officers quarters. The buildings were made of wood, so the only remaining parts are the stone chimneys and foundations.

The only standing building on the grounds


We went out on a limb and stayed in a local hotel instead of a national chain and were pleasantly surprised. The kids made friends with other children and a puppy and had a grassy courtyard to play in.



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1 comment:

Lisa said...

How fun to just pick up and go like that! Great pictures!