We only had a weekend, but to a nine-year-old, packing a suitcase and staying in a couple of hotels means "road trip."
I sent Clara an invitation about a month ago, and she had been looking forward to our weekend together ever since then. (So had I!) Clara got out of school early on Friday, as it was an inservice day, so Kelsey had her bag all packed and met me at the school, where Clara and I began our big adventure.
We stopped at a fast-food place on our way out of town, and had lunch together, then made the drive from Houston to Waco. It took a little under three hours for this leg of the trip, which ended at our hotel.
After taking a few minutes to settle in, we hopped back into the car and drove to the Dr. Pepper Museum. The museum is housed in what used to be the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company, the first building dedicated to the manufacturing of Dr. Pepper. The museum encourages people to use their imaginations and follow their dreams. I didn't realize, before our visit, that Dr. Pepper is the oldest major soft drink in America, created in Waco in 1885, one year before Coca-Cola.
|This is the original artesian well from which they drew their spring water for making Dr. Pepper.|
|At the end of the museum tour (three floors of displays) we stopped in the old soda fountain and had a Dr. Pepper float. Clara was impressed at how they made it, using the flavored syrup and soda water, and more impressed by the taste! Yum!|
I let Clara choose what we ate for the main meal each day. On Friday evening she asked to go to a barbecue restaurant. That kind of surprised me until she explained further: "Barbecue restaurants always have mac and cheese!" So we asked a young man at the Dr. Pepper Museum if he knew of a good barbecue place, and he recommended Vitek's BBQ. It's a locally owned spot and really did have great food -- including four-cheese mac and cheese. We both left happy.
We still had a little daylight left, so we drove downtown to see the old historic suspension bridge, which crosses the Brazos River. This bridge opened in 1869, and was the first major suspension bridge in Texas. At that time, Waco was located in a very remote area, so getting building supplies and manufactured parts to the site was extremely difficult. The twin double towers at either end of the bridge were, at the time, considered a marvel of engineering, and contained nearly 3 million bricks, which were produced locally. It was designed for stagecoaches, pedestrians and cattle, and tolls were collected on each one that crossed. (The toll for cattle was five cents/head.) Now the bridge is only for pedestrians, and has a park at each end. It seemed to be a hot spot for families and picnics. Folks were even spreading their picnic blankets on the floor of the bridge, where they could watch the sun set on the Brazos River.
|This is a bridge that spans the river a little way down from the suspension bridge. The sun was setting behind it, which made for a pretty picture|
After a good night's sleep, we arose on Saturday and ate the complimentary breakfast at the hotel. Clara thought she'd like one of their fresh-made waffles - which was in the shape of the state of Texas - but only ate a little bit of it, saying that it wasn't really as good as it looked.
We packed up our car and spent the morning at the Cameron Park Zoo, also situated beside the Brazos River. Zoos are always a hit with kids, and this was no exception.
After lunch we went to Homestead Heritage Village, where Clara enjoyed watching a blacksmith form some decorative iron pieces, watching the potters create pottery out of clay, learning about how flour was made at the gristmill, sitting in some beautiful rocking chairs made at the woodworking shop, and trying her had at weaving at the fiber crafts house. She also LOVED the store, where all of these handmade goods were available for sale. She had a little bit of sticker-shock, though. She fell in love with one of the quilts that was hanging on the wall, until she saw the price tag - $4200.00! Later she said she was going back to get a picture of it. I thought she meant the quilt, but she actually went back to get a picture of the price tag - ha ha!
|This was the quilt with the shocking price tag.|
We left Homestead Heritage around 3:00 p.m., and drove to Hutto, TX, about two hours away, where we checked into our second hotel. Clara had brought homework with her, and this seemed like a good time to get it done. Afterward she thought that Mexican food sounded good for dinner, and since there was a recommended Mexican restaurant just across the road from our hotel, that made it an easy request to fulfill.
The next day was Sunday. I had promised Clara that we'd go to Shipley's Donuts for breakfast before church, but I encouraged her to eat a little bit of "healthy" food before the donuts, so we spent a few minutes at the hotel breakfast bar where she ate some yogurt and some Canadian bacon. As we got out of the car in the Shipley's parking lot, Clara was surprised to see Grandpa there! He drove down, from Temple, to meet us for breakfast and church. The donuts were great, and we enjoyed class and worship at the Westside Church of Christ, where our friends Robert & Susan, and Jack & Lisa are members. It was good to see them again.
Clara's choice for Sunday lunch was pizza, so we found a Double Dave's pizza parlor and filled up before heading back to Clara's home, in Houston. This leg of the trip was about three hours, and seemed longer. It always seems to take longer going home than it does heading out on an adventure.
I spent the night with Chris, Kelsey, Robert and Clara, and got to see the kids off on the school bus the next morning before driving home, where Grandpa was awaiting my return.
|Waiting for the school bus this morning|
|Clara is getting on as Robert heads toward the bus|