June 27, 2013

San Antonio Fun: SeaWorld & The Alamo

We're home from a long weekend/mini-vaca to San Antonio. It was a really good time but it's been a bit chaotic to get back into the swing of things.

Originally, we decided to go because SeaWorld is offering their one day free military passes-which we had used at the Orlando SeaWorld two years ago while we were at Disney. As summer got closer, it became more clear that we were going to run out of weekends so we had to start combining a couple things. Our boy turned FIVE last Sunday and he loved when we went to the Orlando SeaWorld so it was an obvious mash-up. 

We were SO thrilled that some of our son's favorite friends managed to make the trip with us. First, the L family...mom, dad (Air National Guard) and their three boys carpooled with us from Oklahoma. And then, just before the trip, my oldest friend and her family (her hubby and 2 yr old daughter) decided to drive up from Houston. 

We all had a blast at the hotel...swimming, pizza, cake...what could be better?!
(we hadn't even unpacked before they wanted to head to the pool)

The next morning we were up and ready to hit SeaWorld with the L family. We had a great time but if I were entirely honest, I would say we enjoyed SeaWorld in Orlando more. The Orlando park seemed cleaner more themed-but I'm sure having to compete with Universal and Disney have some influence on that.

We saw some shows...

Rode some rides...

Had a dolphin experience...

And got really wet!

(not all of us were thrilled about the getting wet part...this was our princess just after the Shamu show soaked her)

By the end of the day, we were all wiped out! Getting to the hotel, taking showers and getting to bed seemed at the time to be monumental tasks but we did it and we all slept really well that night.

The next morning, the boys went swimming again (our princess isn't much of a fan of the water) while I packed us up. We checked out and headed to our (sort of) last stop...The Alamo.

(on the door to the Shrine)

(a plaque on the ground in front of The Alamo Shrine)

Joshua and I are history nerds and had a great time. For the record, we absolutely recommend stopping by if you get the chance...The Alamo itself is free. You pay for parking and there are paid tour guides or audio tours available but we feel that we got just as much out of just talking to one of the employees (Amelia) than we could have with a tour...plus we had the freedom to move at our own pace...or rather our children's pace.

As I said, The Alamo was supposed to be our last stop but as we headed out of town back toward Oklahoma, we stumbled upon a Tanger Outlet Mall...two hours and more money than I should have spent later, we were officially on the road again. It was a great weekend, a memorable birthday and a fantastic time with good friends.

June 17, 2013

Our Minivan Weekend

Father's Day weekend brought an unexpected adventure. We had a minivan...more accurately we "tested out" a minivan. For a couple of months now, we've been discussing the possibility of selling my Suburban. For the record, I love my Suburban but it's big-possibly unnecessarily big. And more importantly, let's face it, minivans get better fuel economy than SUVs and saving money would be nice. So, with a little humility, we borrowed a minivan from the dealership in town and went about our regularly scheduled weekend.

The minivan itself was a Dodge Caravan...we have friends who own a Honda Odyssey and other friends who own a Nissan Quest. I'm a little crazy when it comes to researching things so it was kind of nice to get the various perspectives. Overall, our friends seem to get about 22 mpg (on average) and that was almost exactly what we were able to get with the Caravan (I think it ended up closer to 23 by the end of the weekend but still in the same range). 

To be honest, I wasn't impressed. The captains chairs in the middle row were nice-no bench to climb over, but I have the quad captains chairs in my Suburban too so that one's kind of a wash. The doors opening with the click of a button pretty much define awesome but that's sort of where the awesome ended for me. I usually average 18 mpg with my Suburan-which, I have learned, is a little high for a Suburban but my husband is always on top of it...fuel additives and oil changes and blah, blah, blah...I usually tune out after he says something mechanical and just wait to hear when he's taking it and I have to use his car. Also, my Suburban has TONS more storage room. I can tow more than just an itty bitty trailer with it. And, I can drive it in more difficult situations than a minivan could attempt (ie-out at the farm when we want to go fishing or shooting).

Although it would end up saving us some money in fuel costs, it's just not worth it to give up the space, towing and off-road capability (and general awesomeness) of my Suburban. By the end of the weekend...actually by Saturday night, Joshua had announced he was vetoing any further discussion of buying the "bloated car."

Disclaimer: Please don't take this post as an attack on minivans or anyone who drives them...they're just not for us but we know, love and respect many friends who love their minivans.