December 15-29, 2018. Galveston, TX. A two week stay because it’s a holiday. We love having two weeks in one place.
We were going to visit Houston a year ago but because of Hurricane Harvey we had to reroute our trip and planned to hit it on the way back East, so here we are.
We stayed at Jamaica Beach RV Park right on Galveston Island. For most of the week we could look out and see the Gulf but because we were on a second row, an RV arrived after Christmas and narrowed our view. Since we are on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico than we are used to (from Panama City) we saw sunrises instead of sunsets here in Galveston.
The park staff here is great. This park would be awesome in the summer because they have a lazy river, splash pad and 2 pools. There are two hot tubs and miniature golf as well. The girls actually got in the pool for about 30 seconds one day. It was just too cold.
We played putt putt a few times at our RV park. It was actually a challenging course.
Beach, Beach, let’s get away…vaca….
Even though it’s winter and cold, we still put our feet in the water. We were able to walk across the street to the public beach access. We found a jellyfish and a stingray washed ashore. The majority the shells that washed ashore here are extremely thin and break very easily.
Space Center Houston AKA Johnson Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center in Florida was named after JFK. After he was assassinated LBJ continued the exploration of space so the Space Center in Houston was named after him. It has served as mission control for the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Apollo–Soyuz, and Space Shuttle missions, and also handles ground control for the American portion of the International Space Station. NASA’s Payload Operations and Integration Center at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, coordinates payload operations. Next month we will visit the US Space and Rocket center in Huntsville, AL to top off our NASA education.
We arrived before they opened hoping to have the place to ourselves but to our surprise, 5 school busses pulled up at the same time. It was a little crowded until 1:00pm but then it was empty. We just went in the opposite direction of the school groups to have a little more space (he he- pun intended).
The modified 747 plane that flew the space shuttle is on exhibit here as well as a replica of the shuttle. We were able to walk through both of these and learn through interactive exhibits. It was really neat to be able to stand under the space shuttle and to stand inside payload bay doors to get a feel for the size and imagine them opening up into space.
In order to see the astronaut training center you have to take the guided tram tour so we started with that. This is included in your ticket price and last 1 hour. When Mackenzie grows up she wants to be an astronaut and do a 6 month assignment on the ISS and then go to Mars, so she was excited to see the training facilities where she’ll train.
We saw space craft, modules, and robots on our tour. I was disappointed that we couldn’t tour the Neutral Buoyancy Lab.
The tram makes a stop at the Rocket park on the return trip to the center where we were able to see one of three Saturn V rockets on display (one is at KSC and the third is at US Space and Rocket center) that was used for training and testing. We watched Apollo 13 this week to enhance our experience.
Inside the center they have a great interactive Mars exhibit, an ISS exhibit, one of only 3 public moon rocks in the US (only 8 in the world) that we could touch and a cafe. Because we dropped Chris off at the airport early I didn’t have time to pack lunches so we ate in the cafe. We had a fun time just laughing and being silly at lunch. I’m so happy I get to do life with these awesome kiddos.
Here’s a picture of Mackenzie saying “See I told you I’d get here.”
Touching the third Moon Rock
We touched the other two public lunar samples at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and at Kennedy Space Center.
We headed to the library on the first day we were there because we had mail so we could get a library card. There were a few books the girls were hoping to check out but the this library didn’t have a very good young adult section. We stayed and did our school work in a nice quiet room. We had a picnic lunch on the lawn in front of the library and next to the visitor center. It was at the other end of the island which took us 25 minutes to drive to so we decided to do our school work at our RV site the rest of the time.
Downtown Aquarium in Houston
Chris’s flight back into Houston wasn’t until 11pm on Friday night so we hung out at the Downtown Aquarium before going to pick him up. We planned for 4 hours but we were done in 2 1/2 and that even included the amusement park rides outside the aquarium. We did enjoy the eel and fish feeding, got a kick out of the train ride and watching the tigers. But our favorite thing was feeding the sting rays.
Feed Stingrays for the first time. They suck the fish out of your hand like a vacuum.
Galveston Pleasure Pier
On Saturday we spent the day at the Galveston Pleasure pier. It reminded us of the Santa Monica Pier but less crowded and had more rides. We swung over the water, visited Santa, ate funnel cake, won carnival games and watched the sunset from the Ferris wheel.
After the sunset we headed to dinner at Tortugas Mexican kitchen that Chris found on the TV food app. Chris had the famous 3 pound Big Juan Burrito! We are in Texas, where everything is bigger.
Sunday we headed over San Jacinto Battleground, monument and museum. We’ve had so much fun this week with amusement parks. And of course science enhancement activities at the aquarium and the space center, now it was time for our history connections.
When we visited the Alamo in San Antonio, TX we learned about the battle that took place right afterward- the Battle of San Jacinto.This was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Led by General Sam Houston, the Texian Army engaged and defeated the Mexican army in a fight that lasted just 18 minutes. We walked the grounds of the battlefield and walked through the museum. We also bought tickets to go up to the top of the monument. The monument is 570 feet tall (about 15 inches taller than the Washington Monument) and is the world’s tallest masonry column. At the top you can see the city of Houston and the USS Texas.
After lunch we went to Johnson Space Center again so Chris could see it because he didn’t go with us the first time. We showed him the highlights and then headed to another amusement park on a pier in Kemah.
JSC Part 2
After the quick run through the Johnson space center we drove to Kemah Boardwalk which was a lot like the Pleasure Pier but not as cool in our opinion. They had a wooden roller coaster that was really jerky. The girls played some carnival games and got dip and dots.
After the Kemah pier we ate at T-Bone Tom’s Steakhouse, a restaurant we found on the TV Food Maps app that Guy Fieri featured on his show. We had “Tom’s Choice” rib-eye steak, oozing with flavor. We loved the signature deep-fried jalapeno poppers called Armadillo Eggs. They are stuffed with BBQ pulled pork- I highly recommend. The girls had the best and biggest mozzarella sticks ever!
Moody Gardens is an educational tourist destination, with a golf course and hotel in Galveston, Texas which opened in 1986. It features three pyramids where one is a Rainforest, one is an aquarium and one is a Discovery center. We bought tickets to their special Holiday attractions: Festival of Lights and the Iceland ice sculpture exhibit. Included in that ticket was access to one of the pyramids so we chose the rainforest.
Chris played golf one day at Moody Gardens. He didn’t think highly of this course thus the only picture he took was of this beaver in the water.
Festival of Lights
They did a great nativity scene story light show.
Iceland: Pole to Pole
We were provided complimentary blue parka but had to bring our own gloves and hats upon entering the tent that they keep at 9 degrees. We saw penguins, polar bears, seals, reindeer, Santa Claus and an Ice bar. Abby was so giddy sliding down the 30-foot tall Glacier Ice Slide that is completely carved from ice. Everything is sculpted from two million pounds of ice by members of the internationally-acclaimed CAA Ruijing Ice Carving Team from Harbin, China using just chainsaws and ice picks.
Walking through the rainforest exhibit at night has it limitations because they don’t turn on any lights. The pyramid is all glass incased so animals stay on their natural circadian rhythms. For us this meant walking around in the dark but it was nice to hear the crickets and take a family night hike.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Baking Cookies in a tiny kitchen isn’t the easiest thing but last year we didn’t do it so the girls really wanted to this time. It was fun. We used our new cookie cutter I bought at the 6th floor museum in Dallas, it was of the United States.
We made reindeer ornaments, Gingerbread houses, munch munch, lemon peppermint snacks and had visits from elves.
We made Munch Munch (AKA Christmas Crack) for our neighbors and the front office. The folks at this RV park are so friendly!
We did our traditional car ride, in our pjs with hot chocolate, to look at Christmas lights. There were’t many houses on the island decorated.
The full moon was incredible!
The girls did their one sibling gift exchange (legos and pocket knife) and then we watched It’s a Wonderful Life.
We opened gifts, ate Monkey bread, walked on the beach, played putt putt, ate Christmas ham dinner and played video games when the sunset. It was a very relaxing day.
We received wonderful gifts from our family and friends. The scored big time with cards full of cash and gift cards! The Gepfert family blessed us with the sweetest homemade gifts ever: especially the United States pillow and window cling. The Hutto family sent us the coolest magnetic United States that as you can see Abby has marked her favorite place. The Flynn family sent us yummy treats, camping lights and sweet letters. The Davis family added Christmas cheer to our tiny tree and RV. And we received a family camper ornament and charm from the Dupree family. Thank you so much. We feel so loved.
On my side of the family, this year we decided to donate to the Hurricane Micheal relief efforts in Panama City, FL in lieu of exchanging gifts.
Check out our tiny tree and I’d like to point out the cute camper wrapping paper from Target!
We drove up to Houston again on Thursday the 29th for the Texas Bowl game at the NRG stadium; Vanderbilt vs Baylor. Baylor won.
We had fun with our Christmas Vacation Cousin Eddie photo shoot.
One of our bathroom fan motors stopped working so Chris ordered a new one and installed it.