Our Story

Welcome to our site! We are Joanne & Steve. After 20+ years working for a city school department and police department, we sold almost everything, bought an RV, and started living on the road with our three children. Joanne homeschools and works online.
What we have chosen is to live life as unencumbered as we possibly can and to spend time with our family, for our family, and as a family.
This website is a record of our travels. But, we also hope to educate, entertain, and inform others about RVing, roadschooling, and the great places we visit in this country.


Things to Do in Texas



SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2013


A SeaWall Walk From 25th to 53rd Streets

The other day, I enjoyed a 3 mile, solo walk along the Sea Wall the other day.  Steve dropped me off to snap some photos while he shopped with the kids, and picked me up when he was done.  

This area has gone through many transformations over the years, beginning with the 1900 hurricane that devastated the island, killing over 6000, people and causing the building of the seawall.  After Hurricane Ike in 2008, and more damage, the Seawall of Galveston has been rejuvenated and continues to be built up again.

Opened in Summer of 2012 on the site where the original Pleasure Pier stood, built in 1943
and destroyed during Hurricane Carla in 1961.



Pleasure Pier at 25th Street and Seawall.

New benches with a new Pleasure Pier.  Tiles designed by local school children.

Galveston history and biology combined with places to rest.





A walk out on the breakwater.


The Laughing Gull


Fort Crockett, just west of 45th Street

Dolphin Sculpture on Seawall
Where what was once a wide open space with a single palm tree, is now a grove of 28 palm trees and a grand fabric structure with tables and spectacular views. 
Fort Crockett
Fort Crockett




Fort Crockett, across the street and part of the seawall, was a military reservation built in 1897.  After the 1900 hurricane, the fort was not garrisoned again until 1922.  During 1941 - 1946, German prisoners-of-war were interned at the post.  After WWII, the post became a recreational facility fro active and reserve military and their families.
In 1955, the post was considered surplus and began to be dismantled.






1900 Storm Memorial
Erected in 2000, this bronze statue sculpted by David Moore is in memory of the over 6000 Galvestonians killed in the 1900 Hurricane.









Houston Museum of Natural Science

Houston has many museums, most of which are within walking distance from one another.  
Parking is free right next to the Hermann Park Gardens.

Adult Ticket: $15
Child Ticket: $10
College Students with ID: $10
Seniors (62+): $10
Military (with ID): $10
Groups (20+): $7
School Groups: $3.50

Thursdays the museum offers free admission from 2 - 5pm (winter) and 3 - 6pm (summer).



















Children's Museum of Houston...DON'T Miss It!

If you are anywhere near the Children's Museum of Houston, and have children, you have to take a day to visit.  We spent 4 1/2 hours there Saturday, and could have spent 4 1/2 more.  

The museum is clean, bright, well-planned, and full of wonderful, age-appropriate, educational and fun activities.  In the warmer weather there is a outdoor water park.  

Here kids learn about animals, matter, motion, gravity, ecology, recycling, and the human body, 
for starters.


outdoor puppet theater
tracks and balls
Kids' Hall
 When you enter the museum you walk through Kids' Hall, a spectacular, visually inviting area that, on the day we visited, had many activities to celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday.  Here you also find the Parent Resource Library and Fresh Cafe.




How many different phones can you see?




Our favorite part of the museum is Kidtropolis, USA.  Kidtropolis is a Main Street where you find a bank, TV station, police and rescue, city hall, atm machines, restaurant, grocery market, vet, art studio and post office. Here, children run the town.  Pick a job, dress up, get paid, go to the ATM, or the bank.  Enjoy a meal or shop for food.  Bring your pet to the doc, or send a package in the mail.  Everything is made for the kids.  (If only schools had this city.)






Chef Brendan was in his glory.
Do you want to anchor, or produce?  Or maybe, be the camera person?


Down another level is Invention Convention and Cyberchase.  In invention convention, kids, and parents, use cups, straws, pipe cleaners, tape, scissors, paper, legos, and various other items to construct flying, rolling, spinning, and balancing objects, and then, test them out in various wind tunnels, ramps, and moving gadgets.


Cyberchase has all the familiar characters of the favorite math-themed show from PBS.  Just outside that room is the 35 foot tall, 3-story high, Power Tower, and the rock wall, all part of the section called PowerPlay!


Save this area for last.  They'll be wiped.


And here's the great part...
The fee for admission is $9.00 per person.  
OR
Free visits for all on Thursdays from 5pm - 8pm.
OR
FREE entrance for Bank of America card holders on the first weekend of each month.

Worth. Every. Penny.



THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2013


Spend Some Time on an Oil Rig

If you travel to Galveston, Texas, and look out onto the Gulf, you will see itty-bitty oil rigs far, far away. If you don't plan to get a job on one of those rigs, you should head over to The Offshore Energy Center: Ocean Star, on Galveston Island.  

You'll learn about the history of oil rigs and the industry for which they are built.  

Here are some of the things you may use that are made from petroleum.

Visitors board the retired jackup drilling rig and view a video about the offshore industry.  The museum features three floors of models and interactive displays illustrating the story of offshore oil and gas from seismic technology, to exploration and discovery.

The second Saturday of every month is Family Day where children get free admission (normally $5) and adults pay $8.     A different activity is planned each Family Day.  The day we went, the kids made Valentine's Cards using shaving cream...a petroleum product.
The museum

Escape Pod

Jack-up drilling rigs


I...don't know what this is.

Deep Sea Diving Suit
Models are amazing.


Amazing model.

Two hard-working crew members.
Some really cool oil rig part.



I think these guys have been working too hard.

Link of a chain used on the rigs.
The docks
Bird Greeter


Texas Seaport Museum

Texas City...where the oil gets processed.
These refineries are like cities within themselves.  Especially cool at night.

Parking is free right there at the museum, (well, there's an honor box of a dollar fee that Steve paid but, apparently, no one else does.)  Leave the car there when you are done and walk Pier 21; check out the cruise ships or million-dollar yachts; head to the restaurants and pubs; walk a couple blocks to The Historic Strand for food, drinks, and shoppes.

Fort Travis, Bolivar Peninsula, and a Free Ride




At the end of Galveston Island is the Port Bolivar/Galveston Ferry.  


The ferry is free, and a nice little ride.  Something to do if you want to just take a little water trip.  The ride, about 20 minutes, takes you across the Bay to the Bolivar Peninsula. 

The ferry is nothing fancy, but you can get out and wander up to the top floor to get a nice view of the port and coast.  It was a bit foggy the day we went, but on a clear day there is lots to see.


Even the birds use it to cross the bay.

SeaWolf Park: More on that later.

Ferry Ride

Not a cruise ship, although there was a  big one in port.

Now, Bolivar is not Galveston.  It's narrow, and surrounded by Gulf and Bay, has houses on stilts; but, that's where the similarities end.

There are a few campgrounds, but the beach is not clean, packed sand like on the island...lots of sea (and people) trash.  No cute shops or fun cafés.  

But, right after the ferry, near the lighthouse, is Fort Travis Seashore Park.
Here holds a history of fortifications dating as far back as 1816.  

The current forts that remain were begun in 1898.  In 1900, a storm damaged much of the fort, and a 15-foot seawall was constructed.  During World War I, the fort garrisoned troops defending the Port of Galveston.

In 1942, after enlarging the fort, 2,500 troops were stationed here during World War II.  After the war, it was sold and in 1976 acquired through a Moody Foundation grant (Moody is a prominent name in Galveston history).  




 



Now, the park invites picnickers and children.  Hurricane Ike damaged the seawall extensively, as well as some of the forts, and FEMA restoration is underway.



 (Incidentally, if you are traveling to Galveston, or Corpus Christi, coming from Louisiana or North Western Texas, and the GPS tells you to take route 124, to route 87, and then take the ferry...DO IT!  Even with an RV.  18-wheelers use the ferry.  
We didn't know this and traveled quite out of our way to Galveston.)


NASA: Space Center Houston

We paid a visit to NASA at Space Center Houston.  We purchased our tickets online thus obtaining the $5.00 discount per ticket.  (With, of course a $1.50 fee for the convenience of buying online).  Our total for five was $79.25.

The center opens at 10:00am.  Get there when it opens.  Right behind us were three school buses.

The Space Center's newest attraction is Angry Birds Space.  This of course is the first thing the kids will want to do.  It's basically a McDonald's Play-place-ish type of attraction.  There is a younger area for children under 4 and a more elaborate side for children over age 4 but under 58".  Enjoyable for the kids and a good place to let them shake off some sillies.


The very NEXT thing you need to do is hop onto the Tram tour.  Save a good 2 hours for this ride.


The tram takes you throughout the NASA Johnson Space Center complex to three main buildings, which can change depending on the day.  We visited Mission Control where the Apollo missions were conducted.

Apollo Era Mission Control.  Notice the Red Rotary Phone.  This wasn't a direct line to Batman.
 It was however a direct line to the Department of Defense.

Apollo Era Mission Control: the mission patches are displayed on the right side of the room.

The Mission Patches for Apollo 1 and the Challenger Space Shuttle mission (which were both controlled from this room) will forever  remain on the left side of the room.  These missions are still active in the eyes of NASA.  

The next building was the Space Station Mockup and Training Facility, or building 9, a training center for astronauts.  Here we saw the Robonauts, the ISS (International Space Station) training pods, and the Orion mockup.
  




The Orion Space Capsule was created to allow humans to travel  farther into the solar system than they've ever been before.  Orion will take its passengers to the moon, asteroids, and Mars.  Orion's test launch will be in 2014.
Save up to buy your tickets!

Robonaut, a dexterous humanoid robot, created to assist astronauts and go where it is too dangerous for the astronauts to venture.  There are currently 4 Robonauts, with more in the works.




We also visited the home of the Saturn V rocket at Rocket Park. 

The Saturn V rocket, 363 feet tall,  was a Heavy Lift vehicle...very powerful, and used in the Apollo program in the 1960's and 1970's,  and used to launch the Skylab space station.



Third Stage 
The Apollo Command Module, LES (Launch Escape System), and Tower Jettison Motor

First, Second, and Third Stages

F-1 Engines

The Starship Gallery is a large part of the Space Center.  

Lunar Rover
Command Module
Space Shuttle
Touching the Moon Rock

Not having been to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, we cannot compare the two.  But, we enjoyed the visit to Johnson Space Center.  We went on a Tuesday when school was in session, so, other than the field trip buses, which didn't interfere with our visit at all, we encountered few children, and only a small percentage of adults.  We had no wait for shows.  We highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.  If you plan to go more than once, the year-long pass is only sightly more than the day pass.



What to Do for Free or on the Cheap in the Houston Area

When you travel full-time, and homeschool three children, you spend a great deal of bandwidth researching free, cheap, and interesting, educational, memorable places to visit. I hope to provide a resource of these places so you can spend your time on better things.  If I get to them, I'll tell you about them.

We are spending some time outside of Houston in the Galveston, TX area.  It's gorgeous and, so far, chock full of lots of great things to do for the kids.

Being the frugal family that we are, we try to find educational opportunities that won't warp the wallet.  We've located a few freebies or reduced-fee choices for family and educational fun. 

Visit the...

Houston Zoo
Free on the First Tuesday of every month: 2pm - close
or
if you possess a Bank of America account
Sat 10am - 7pm or Sun 10am - 7pm

Houston Children's Museum
Free Thursdays 5pm - 8pm
or
if you possess a Bank of America account
Sar 10 - 6pm or Sun 12 - 6pm (FIRST weekend of the month only; account holder gets in free)

The Museum of Fine Arts; Houston
Free Thursdays 10am - 9pm
or
if you possess a Bank of America account
Sat 10 - 7pm or Sun 12:15 - 7pm

Houston Museum of Natural History
Free Thursdays 2pm - 5pm

Houston Health Museum
Free Thursdays 2pm - 5pm 
or 
with Ecotarium Card, Free entry anytime.

Weather Museum
Free Thursdays 12pm - 4pm

Buffalo Soldiers Museum
Free Mondays 10am - 5pm


Free Tours:
Mrs. Baird's Bakery
St. Arnold Brewing Company


All the beaches in Galveston have free parking and access to the beaches.  Visit the beach right across from Fort Crockett Seawall Park to see the rock sculptures created by visitors...and create your own.

If books are your thing, get a temporary library card at Rosenberg Library in Galveston and check out their free programs while checking-out a great book.

Take a free ferry ride from Galveston Island to Port Bolivar!  It is a 2.7 mile, 18 minute trip to miles of beaches and small shops.

Visit The Strand in Galveston for shoppes and people watching.   The port of Galveston is there and you may see a cruise ship or two.  Check out La King's Confectionary, Taffy and Fudge Making shop...stand outside the shoppe to watch confections being made from scratch.  You may even get a sample or two!  

Are you a chess fan?  Grab a coffee or daiquiri and play life-size chess in Saengerfest Park, right on The Strand.  

If you are a Bank of America customer, you can gain free access to many museums across the country on the weekends....Museum Visits.

Stay tuned for more things to do in the Houston/Galveston area, as we have only been here a week and a half.


I will be checking in to see if you can get free passes from the library.



Galveston Sculptures in Rock


Today we ventured along Seawall Boulevard in Galveston, TX.  We stopped as we passed what seemed to be a mini beach-front Stonehenge.  There is free parking along the street and we stopped across from Fort Crockett Seawall Park where there is a ramp to walk down to the rocky shore.  There we saw what appears to be the latest fad...rock sculptures.  

Visitors to the beach collect the small broken fragments of rock and balance them creatively into fantastic towers and rock formations.  People leave messages scratched into the rocks and drawn on the sand.  Even several roses were left with personal messages.  We had fun traversing the piles of huge boulders and climbing amid the exhibits left by unknown artisans.


Sky-view of the area.


















2 comments:

  1. I love your blog! I've lived in the Houston/Galveston area my whole life and our family recently relocated to the East Coast and miss our home on the Gulf Coast terribly. I found your blog while reading your review on Jamaica Beach RV park. We recently purchased an RV and our maiden voyage is back home to Texas. It's great to see a true tourist's recap of our hometown. You reminded me of just why we love it and gave me some great tips on how to enjoy it more.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jennifer, did you ever make it back to Texas?

    ReplyDelete

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