The weather in Central Texas has been crazy nice this January (mid 60's to high 70's) so this past weekend we felt we needed to get outside and do something fun! The kids were more than ready to hit the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas. Boy 1 DROVE US to Waco, 1 hour away and I only freaked out one time. Really! Just one time. He is becoming quite the good driver and even though I love to drive (I'm a bit of a control freak...) it was nice to sit back and play 'Words With Friends' while he did all the driving!
Boy 1 hates it that I still make him pose with his siblings for pictures, but what is a mom to do? It would be wrong to have pictures without him!
The Cameron Park Zoo
is a quick trip from Fort Hood and a perfect day trip for moms with little ones. It only took us 3 hours to go through the zoo, but they have some pretty fun things for little people to do! The zoo has two playgrounds, and all the usual; lions and tigers and bears OH MY! Although we did not see the bears this time - they must have been snoozing out of sight! OH and another cool thing they have is a tube slide in the otter tank! The kids slide right through where the otters are playing!
The kids and I were trying to figure out how many zoos we have visited over the years and the number is pretty high, we have visited way over 20 zoo, drive thru safaris and wild animal parks (don't even get us started on Aquariums)! We tried to rank them in order of how we liked them, but had a very hard time doing so - each zoo has its own special qualities. We LOVED the bird exhibit at the San Antonio Zoo and the San Antonio Zoo is where Girl fell in love with spiders! Drive-thru zoos are always freakishly fun, we loved the Panda's at the San Diego Zoo and Seoul Grand Park had large exhibits for their animals and a stream that ran through the playground, it was a great place to cool off! In Chiang Mai we got to hold baby monkeys! We have ridden on elephants, camels & water buffalo, held snakes, have been too close to Komodo dragons & COULD have gone in a cage with tigers, but decline, thank you very much - we like being among the living.
Back to the Waco Zoo, it might not be the biggest but it is worth a trip!
Yes, I am beautiful, thank you.
What is not to love about the lion fish?
The lions were very spirited on this day; the big guy in this picture was roaring something fierce!
And speaking of lions..... I'm so bored..... Another zoo, another lion...
I'm pretty sure he was looking for a nice appetizer!
OK, this isn't so bad. He is kind of playful!
There were three lions and they were all being very playful!
Isn't he cute?
3 of my monkeys!
I realize my promises mean NOTHING. I realize I posted on Tuesday promising to update you on Wednesday about my weekend. I got busy - writing here was in the front of my mind, but I just couldn't make time for it. I had a million things going on including 4 doctor appointments, drivers ed, driving teens all over town, catching up on e-mail, returning phone calls, unpacking, mailing packages to Afghanistan, putting together the newsletter for the battalion, which is still not out because I SUCK at putting them together - I spent 10 hours on Wednesday TRYING to get it out and I only got about one quarter of it done. My friend is helping me tomorrow. I hope to have it out on Monday. I hate being late and I hate breaking promises, but here I am late and broken promises, for that I am sorry. AND, I promise not to make promises to you guys anymore!! ;o) Really, that was the last one!!
OK, so back to last week. On Friday a dear friend I have known for years was on a mini vacation with her son in Austin and the surrounding area so we set up a date to hit up Inner Space Caverns in Georgetown. Georgetown TEXAS that is. Now, if you have never been to a cave before I say GO! If you don't have high expectations, GO! I've been to Inner Space Caverns, I mean this IS
our 3rd time to be stationed at Fort Hood, and this is a 'must do' for folks that haven't spent much time in a cave. The first time I went I thought it was AWESOME! Now that I have traveled and been to many different caves.....well I would have rather just sat and had a nice margarita with my friend. However the little kids enjoyed it very much! But Boy 1 nailed it on the head when he ask....."what am I going to see in this cave when I have been to the biggest cave in the world?" He was talking about this cave
...although it is not the biggest cave in the world, it was HUGE and super fun!!
Boy's 2 & 3 with our friend.
Our guide in the purple...he had to have been all of 16. Very nice, funny and put up with the little boys heckling him the entire time! (I have no idea where they get that from!)
One of the mini bats living in the cave. He is about the size of a chicken nugget.
All in all we had a pretty good time. The kids had fun which is really all that matters. My girlfriend and I chatted the entire way through the cave which was fun and we kept it quiet as not to disturb the people that were actually there to learn and enjoy. I thought it was a bit pricy for what you got - the military rate was $15.95 for adults and $ 8.95 for children and the tour lasted about 1 hour. Our guide was very entertaining and made it worth the money. (Well, kind of.)
Boy 3's parting remarks about the cave.... "I love the cave and I want to go back to it one more time!"
OK, the title makes me chuckle to myself just a little. I guess in Central Texas they can call it that, but really - in my opinion it is not an "exotic" ranch. Whatever - to each their own. :-)
We bought our tickets at ITR, if you are military and you want to go I would suggest doing the same. The ticket prices at ITR are $2 less per ticket making it $8 for adults and $6.50 for kids. Once you get there at the gate you can buy generous brown paper bags of food to feed the animals for $1. We bought 4 bags, one for each young person that was in the car. This was perfect and I would suggest one per person. As we drove over the cattle guard we were surrounded by reindeer and zebras. They were all very gentle and came right up to our car poking their heads in looking for food. Look at the top left side of the picture, you can barely see Boy 3's head. He was beyond freaked out that a zebra was sticking his head in our car. (He was in Boy 1's lap just a few seconds before this picture was taken!)
Hello little reindeer!
You lookin' at me?
It's not everyday that you see this in your rearview mirror!!
I'm laughing. Really. I know it looks like I'm freaking out, but that is a laugh. These guys were funny and soft and kind of cuddly. I'm considering opening a llama farm. ;o)
The ponies were so cute, but as they came up to us, they were kind of mean. OK, not all of them were but there was one psycho pony that bit Boy 2 (not bad) and then chased our car for at least a mile and he would not let the other animals close to us!! I guess I would be a little ticked off too if I had hair like that and lived in Central Texas – it was about 103 degrees outside...
Oh no, the birds are coming....
OK, the ostriches FREAK ME OUT!! They all have crazy looks in their eyes, and they are just mean. This one stood in front of my car not allowing me to move while he eyeballing me......then he started pecking at the hood of my car!!!
He pecked while his buddy was hanging out trying to get Boy one to roll his window down!
Check out his crazy eyes....
I told you I want some food....
We finally shoved our way past crazy bird land only to find this waiting around the next turn......
Love it...another Cav family!
Now, they had warned us at the entrance to either roll our windows all the way up, or all the way down. The lady told us if we didn't the camel might break our window. We rolled one middle aisle window down; all people were in the 1st or 3rd row. Things started off fine...
I mean check out that cute little face...
He even kissed our car...
Boy 1 even fed him from his hand, but then Mike (that's his name) got a little greedy and decided to see what else we had in the car....
OH, and he didn't stop there. We thought for a minute he was going to take our cooler, but then he spotted something else...a shoe. Crud, we thought the shoe was a goner, but no, he reached over it and grabbed a bag of food we had bought to feed to the animals. Check it out....look in his mouth, he took the ENTIRE bag and then he left. I'm not sure my children will ever be the same. You should have heard all the screaming coming from my car!! You would have thought I had a car full of cheerleaders!
We were beyond excited to leave the camel and his freaky birds friends behind us.....
We were thrilled to happen back upon our sweet zebra friends.
Ahh life is good again....that is what I thought - until I realized Boy 3 was no where to be seen...when I said his name and ask where he was he was behind the 3rd row and said "You know guys, I'm still a little freaked out back here'. You gotta love that kid! ;o)
All in all the drive though was really fun, we laughed so hard throughout the entire thing! We spent about an hour and fifteen minutes driving through the safari and we went pretty slowly.
The little 'petting zoo' was not as good...maybe it was because it was so hot or maybe it was because it was kind of run down...I'm not sure the animals were in the best health, but again I am not a vet. I would suggest skipping the petting zoo though.
Boy 1 and I got a good laugh from this sign.
I'm going out of order here. You regulars know how that freaks me out a bit, but it's OK, I'm going with it, living on the edge.
On 10 October Hubby and I took the kids to Sweet Berry Farm. Since this is our THRID time back in the Hood, we know a few hidden gems; Sweet Berry Farm is one of them, nestled in the heart of the sweet little town of Marble Falls.
For those of you planning visit to Sweet Berry Farm, take plenty of cash with you, as that is the only way you can pay (They do have a cash machine on site). You could spend all day at SBF and parking and entry into SBF is free, but you pay for each thing you choose to do.
We bought pumpkins, pumpkins and more pumpkins! At SBF you have a HUGE selection of pumpkins to choose from. I love getting the funky/ugly pumpkins for our front porch!
They have big pumpkins, little pumpkins and every size in between, and don't forget your gourds!
AT SBF you can build your very own scarecrow and take him home with you! They provide everything (for the price of $14.50), shirt, pants, hay, sack head, staples, twine to tie off the legs and hands!
Sweet Berry Farm has two different corn mazes. One is in the shape of Texas and it takes at least an hour to go through (and $7 per person). You have to find different cities in the state of Texas and mark them off on your maze sheet. Then there is a smaller corn maze just for the little ones. The cost for this maze is $2.50 per child. Here are two of our little clowns in the maze....
SBF has a free petting zoo, ok; there are only goats, but whatever. You can buy food to feed the goats (50 cents) if you would like, or you can just pet them....
SBF has hay rides ($3.50 pp), pony rides (4.75 pp), sand art ($3 pp), barrel train rides(4.75pp), face painting ($1-5 pp) and flower picking ($2 per cup)....
If you plan to spend the day at SBF, there are a few other things I would like to suggest....1) Try the pumpkin ice cream, it is great! 2) Have a cup of their strawberry lemonade, simply divine! And 3) Bring a picnic with you....there are many places to throw a blanket! They also have picnic tables if you don't like hanging out on the ground with the bugs.