Wednesday, 30 June 2010

San Antonio

Downtown San Antonio is a very fun place to visit (though I hear that outside of the centre there is not much else to visit and sadly in fact we witnessed a lot of homelessness on our drive out of the city)

The riverwalk is quite unique and we walked the entire loop enjoying the sights. The walk is well landscaped so there is quite a bit of shade to keep out the heat. There are also plenty of geocaches around the place. Our hotel's breakfast area looked straight onto a stretch of river which was quite relaxing even if your one year old boy is throwing cheerios everywhere and smearing vegemite in his hair.

Of course we visited The Alamo, the scene of a famous shoot out. It is revered as a defining moment in US history despite the carnage because it lead to later victories. For Australians it reminds me of Gallipoli because the men fought despite the high likelihood of death. Interestingly Davy Crockett was one of the fighters here and there is plenty of memorabilia.

We ate dinner at Fogo de Chao, an authentic Brazilian steakhouse. The gaucho chefs bring freshly cooked meats to the table (up to 15 types of meat). We enjoyed the extensive salad bar and then partook of the meat. Andrew finished his meal three separate times ie he was finished and then the lamb chef happened to show up twice more at our table.

We visited Hemisfair Park to eat at the 750 foot tall Tower of the Americas, a revolving restaurant build for the world fair of 1966. Although it was a fun place to eat there really wasn't much to see from up there, especially compared to Seattle, Berlin and Sydney!

Another highlight was the hotel's rooftop pool. You can see the Tower of the Americas in the background. Lucy and Henry had a great time up here despite the 100+ heat.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010


Before we departed for TX, we received no good reports of Houston. No-one who had been there had much to say for it. This kind of surprised me because it is a very large city and as Jenny said on Saturday 'if Fiona can construct an entire itinerary for New Bern, she can find things to do anywhere!'

Besides there are plenty of awesome places to eat, including an authentic Chinatown!
And Andrew got a quick visit to Fry's!
And our hotel was next to the Galleria shopping center so Fiona went shopping!

What's not to like about Houston (besides the horrendous traffic and the humidity)?

The sights:
  • Houston Zoo. Although it was very hot we still had a good time looking around at the animals. The highlights were the baby elephant, the giant anteater and the prairie dogs. Lucy enjoyed the carousel, the petting zoo and the play equipment as well as watching the otters undergoing some obedience training. We all enjoyed some ice cream except for poor Henry and we marginally enjoyed the expensive lunch looking out over the waterfowl pond.
  • George Ranch Historical Park. We ventured here because it was included on the City Pass. An obscure family's preserved houses and ranch. The oldest house was not really authentic as it had been rebuilt just 20 years ago. However the fun came from the cowboy lessons where we learned to lasso. Lucy wouldn't have a turn but afterward wanted to lasso everything. We also enjoyed the tractor ride around the property.
  • Space Center. The Johnston Space Center is awesome and one of the highlights of our time here! Upon arrival we watched a movie on the history of the center and then went into the museum part of the complex and got to touch moon rocks. We then boarded the train to tour the grounds. One of the stops was at the old mission control room and another at the giant space rocket. Back at the center the kids (including Andrew) played in the 3 storey play gym complete with rockets, balls and planets. No-one wanted to leave!
  • Houston Museum of Natural Sciences. This is an excellent museum but hideously expensive. Almost every exhibit is an extra cost on top of the $15 entry fee. We skipped the Faberge eggs (which we had seen for free in Edinburgh!) and headed to the dinosaur skeletons. The kids enjoyed the hands on power exhibit. We then coughed up for the butterfly pavilion. It is a purpose built 2 storey+ hot house for butterflies. Upon entering we met a staff member releasing newly hatched butterflies and got to see some beautiful specimens up close. We descended down past the waterfall and around the iguana. We ended up in the kids playroom themed around bees and butterflies.
  • Museum of Fine Arts. We had a quick stroll around. Plenty of Tintorettos and other renaissance art, one Chagall but kids bored. We did eat at the excellent Cafe Express and watched some of the French Open.
  • Children's Museum. Because the MFA was free we had a remaining voucher for the Children's museum down the street. With an hour remaining before we needed to leave for San Antonio we decided to give the kids a run around the museum. We could have stayed all day! This is the best children's museum we have ever seen. Three stories of wonderful activities. There are so many things that I cannot even begin to explain. In the end we spent a lot of time in the diner where Henry and Lucy served me up lots of yummy things to eat.

The (notable) food:

There are lots of 5 star dining experiences in Houston. With 2 tired hungry children we unfortunately could not visit them. However we did have some excellent family dining including:
  • Beavers. A local upscale pub/eating establishment. I wish we could pick this up and relocate it to Wilmington. We would eat there once a week. Daiquiri for Fiona, Cranberry Kit tail for Lucy, local brew for Andrew and a plastic blue truck for Henry. Fiona sampled Beavers famous nut burger (which was excellent) and I frankly can't remember what anyone else ate. All I know is that everyone was happy.
  • Banana Leaf. This restaurant is in the heart of Chinatown. When driving we started seeing lots of signs in Chinese characters and Andrew started drooling. It's been a long time since we had good Asian food and we weren't disappointed. We even had a mix up with the wonton soup having shrimp in it. Young coconut milk completed the scene. We left very full and very happy. And very much missing Lots!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Visiting the Aunt Susans

The main purpose of our trip was to visit Great Aunt Susan, so we traveled to Houston TX to see her. As an exciting bonus Aunt Susan from Scotland was also in town! It was so fantastic to see them both. We also caught up with Jennifer (my Dad's cousin) and her son Ian for dinner at the excellent Raven Grill. Lucy was thrilled with the special drawings that Ian did for her.

At the nursing home Lucy was very gentle and sweet with her great great aunt Susan. [She did call her great great great great great great great great great great aunt Susan] Lucy made up stories for her, picked some 'flowers' for her and gave her kisses. Henry was a real ham, running around the room as well as other people's rooms and smiling at all the residents and nurses. He jumped on the bed and gave cuddles and scratches.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Jiggity Jig

We're home again albeit with sickness. Henry has a gastro virus so he has been vomiting non-stop for 3 days now. It seems that the last few vacations we have come home with illnesses!

There's plenty to tell you about our trip. And even more photos and videos - we almost filled the memory card, only space for 39 more photos.

So stay tuned. Once the epidemic leaves our house I'll get to blogging.

In the meantime, if you missed the tweets here is the story so far (in reverse order so start at the bottom):

Lucys fave bear Bill liked ABQ so much he decided to stay. hotel tracked down the scalliwag and fedexing him home. 11:18 PM Jun 20th

For fathers day henry vomited once on each plane ride. 6:16 PM Jun 20th

Farewell land of enchantment. We are back to the humidity of north carolina. And goodbye twitter you are so 2009 6:15 PM Jun 20th

Sandia peak tramway at sunset is a good way to end our vacation 10:25 PM Jun 19th

Traditional mexican musicians just broke out into an abba song in old town abq.?!? 4:20 PM Jun 19th

On route 66 6:55 PM Jun 18th

Goodbye santa fe. Loved the cool nights. We are heading south on the turquoise trail to albuquerque. 3:00 PM Jun 18th

There must be something artistic in the santa fean air. I have so many project ideas. Andrew is already groaning 3:56 PM Jun 17th

SURPRISE! State 23. riding a steam train thru rolling green hills of colorado. listening to atlas shrugged, appropriately. 6:02 PM Jun 16th via

Lucy has been in the gluing workshop at the childrens museum for over an hour. If we arent back next week youll know where we are 6:02 PM Jun 15th

Santa fe is awesome. Trader joes, french cafes and the georgia okeeffe museum. All before 1pm 3:10 PM Jun 15th

Everyone in santa fe drives a subaru. Miss the tribeca. Jeep laredo doesnt cut it. 9:45 PM Jun 14th

I25 NORTH is beautifully scenic 6:09 PM Jun 14th

Sitting in a hot spring in Truth or Consequences. goodbye Las Cruces we are heading to Santa Fe 1:28 PM Jun 14th

3 words - fajitas, margaritas, empanadas. The only things we have done today are sleep and eat 7:59 PM Jun 13th

Champagne brunch and farmers market in old mesilla. 3:15 PM Jun 13th

In the middle of nowhere arises the city of rocks state park. We had fun climbing and watching jack rabbits. Miranda? 6:43 PM Jun 12th

And just to add we are still in the US... ie new mexico 11:28 AM Jun 12th

Just went through border patrol west of las cruces. Based on our skin we were waved through. I dont know what to say 11:26 AM Jun 12th

17 types of margarita, 28 day aged steak and cloudcroft lemon ice box pie. We are at double eagle in old mesilla 9:13 PM Jun 11th

Love las cruces. Lamb couscous, baklava and olives for lunch. Turkish delight and tandoori paste to take home 3:07 PM Jun 11th

in las cruces watching the opening of the world cup 9:59 AM Jun 11th

white sands national monument is amazing. hired a sled to slide the dunes. H of course sampled some gypsum. 3:53 PM Jun 10th

Post texas lucy is more cowgirl than ever. Now shes into lassoing 11:37 AM Jun 10th

Spent the day in Alamogordo. thats as positive as i can get. except for green chile pistachios from nearby farm 11:35 PM Jun 9th

Why do so many americans think new mexico is a foreign country? 10:47 AM Jun 9th

Meal at flying j ranch $60, 11 month old son tapping in time to country music priceless! Ruidoso nm 11:40 PM Jun 8th

Loving the mountain view - ruidoso 10:58 AM Jun 8th

Goodbye aliens. Hello Billy the kid. we are in lincoln. 6:23 PM Jun 7th

Goodbye bats, hello ufos. We are in roswell nm 1:44 PM Jun 7th

Bats on strike. Waited 2 hrs and saw an awesome lightning show. Now 2 very tired smelly kids. 11:05 PM Jun 6th

Its 6pm and 107 degrees.We are off to see the 300,000 bats at carlsbad caverns.Spent $130 on sweaters for big room tour 8:01 PM Jun 6th

Picnic at texan road stop in 114 heat. Free wifi. Melting... 2:31 PM Jun 5th

Goodbye texas. Cmon stosur. We are on a 7 hour drive to new mexico. We are unarmed! 10:36 AM Jun 5th

In texas chicken fried means deep fried. A tshirt with a gun says we dont call 911. Saw Alamo. Its cowboy country! 1:30 PM Jun 4th

Fogo de chao for dinner. I already like SA 6:45 PM Jun 3rd

Houston weeps as we drive to san antonio. Visited awesome fine arts and childrens museums this am 3:19 PM Jun 3rd

Lucy met her great aunt susan and great great aunt susan. L was so sweet and gentle - priceless. Henry, a ham! 9:57 AM Jun 3rd

Everywhere we go we meet australians! I guess we are just adventurous. Go stosur! 9:51 AM Jun 3rd

Loving some authentic malaysian food for lunch.Visited butterfly pauilion in am then g.aunt susan in pm

Eating at the super cool Beavers. daiquiris and a local pale ale help us forget peak hour traffic on i45 8:04 PM Jun 1st

Lucys drink is too fuzzy aka too bubbly 8:00 PM Jun 1st

Nasa johnson space center rocks. Touched moon rocks and sat in mission control.houston all is good! 6:26 PM Jun 1st

My husband is a true cowboy - he can lasso cattle 12:51 PM Jun 1st

Taking my cowgirl to a texan ranch 10:59 AM Jun 1st

I miss big city living. There is an iceskating rink on the lower floor of the galleria + apple + haagen daaz etc etc 8:05 PM May 31st

Memorial day at houston zoo equals craziness 9:59 AM May 31st via

I really really hate thrifty. Texan heat, 2 small sleepless babes and no car. Waiting for 1Hr for them to fix their mistakes. Btw flight awesome... 2:46 PM May 30th via

I hate thrifty car rental. Sorry holly but your texan counterparts are rude and deceptive. People dont rent from them EVER 2:40 PM May 30th

frantic packing around here. how does one baby need so much stuff? 11.5 hours until takeoff. dreading 6am wake up call - for lucy that is 8:34 PM May 29th

heading to Texas in 3 days time. Glad I got Lucy pink cowgirl boots for her birthday, she'll blend in even if we don't understand a word. 12:59 PM May 27th