We are winding up the last day of our vacation in Austin, Texas. The entire family came from the East Coast to see if Lyle Lovett was right and that “Texas wants us anyway.” What a wonderful stay we have had!
I came early and took four kids to a true slice of Americana – Schlitterbahn Water Park! This is less than an hour south of Austin in the direction of San Antonio. Not an inexpensive ticket but if you do it right, the day can be pretty cheap. The wonderful thing about the Shlitterbahn parks is they encourage you to bring your own food and drinks. There are numerous picnic tables set up all over the park and if you show up early enough you can find one in the shade or under an umbrella. There is a great honor system – just leave your food and go enjoy. Anything valuable can go in a locker for rent. Pack LOTS of water and gatorade and snacks and fruit and sunscreen. Wear water shoes and the most comfortable bathing suit you own. Show up when the park opens and ride the biggest ride either at the beginning of the day or very close to the end. Enjoy!!
The rest of the family arrived and we moved into a large house on Lake Austin. An absolutely amazing place with an infinity pool that seemed to drop off the edge of the world. We spent the entire next day on Lake Austin on my brothers’ boat, tubing and knee boarding and enjoying the weather that was actually cooler than Asheville!
Back on the road again the next day to Natural Bridge Caverns. A fascinating tour down over 180 feet under ground. On busy days there are guides at each important interval of the trail. I loved the fact that there were artifacts found from 5,000 BC. Right inside the entrance, there is a piece of bear jawbone that belonged to a bear species extinct over 8,000 years ago. We walked down to see stalactites, stalagmites, and the ones that meet called columns. My favorite statistic of the day was that every formation created took 100 years for each cubic inch of material. That is about an ice cube size for every century. The formations are still changing and growing and the guides are vigilant about keeping human contamination from changing the environment.
Our family clan is fairly amorphous. We have a core group but at almost every vacation we add people. Aunts, Uncles, family friends, babysitters have all accompanied us to different places. We realized that every group photo we have taken in the last 15 years has included at least one extra person – we like this! This year we added a German exchange student, a family friend, my Aunt and Uncle from Washington State, and one of my best friends from college and her beautiful family.
To feed them all takes effort and a little planning. One night we had 21 people for dinner! Of course we used some Mildly Manic Mom recipes! For the 21 people we made grilled zucchini and onions with Hari Krishna Chicken, brown rice, and watermelon. For dessert we bought a big carrot cake to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary.
Congratulations Don and Donna Hallman!
We spent another day on the boat and then a day touring the University of Texas where my brother teaches. The days have been filled with excellent food and company. We are headed back to Asheville tomorrow and then turning around and going to Hilton Head for a week. Then a little rest. Hope you are all having a wonderful summer and getting time to spend with family!
~ The Mildly Manic Mom