Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring Break 2013 was EPIC!!!

While our Spring Break was fun and great memories were made, when I say EPIC, I don't mean to brag. Because it was epic as in... Extra Long. Like reading Homer's Iliad and Odyssey from cover-to-cover long. Like 16 days of togetherness long.  Like trying to keep two boys busy so that they don't spend the entire time bickering and roughhousing, while playing video games and going comatose watching television long... That kind of EPIC. And yet there still was a lot of video game playing and television watching... hmmm. Epic!

Some day I will really appreciate the epic spring breaks, but right now I'm exhausted. Being a 24/7 referee, camp director, purveyor of snacks, navigator, tour guide and parent is kinda tiring! Whoda thunk??  I'm thankful though that the boys truly love and get each other. Even if that means getting under each others' skin. 

brothers hugging... leads to wrestling... leads to a big smooch... leads to more hugging & silly smiles. repeat.

You probably felt this coming, so here's the EPIC photo dump of our 2013 Spring Break....

Click "Read more" for the full post

We kicked off Spring Break with our first trip to Texas. We flew into San Antonio, then promptly drove to Austin. Don't ask... weird planning on our part. We're from Los Angeles and think nothing of an hour plus drive though... Sad to say, but that's pretty norm for us.

Traveling with Kids - Austin, TX

We spent three days in Austin and I think we covered most of the family friendly attractions-- 1) saw the Congress Street bats at dusk... up to 1.5 million bats live under the Congress Street Bridge. Quite a sight and only one of us (who ventured too close) was hit by guano. It was just a block away from the Embassy Suites where we stayed. The ES was perfect for our family. Nothing fancy, but clean and nicely located between the Congress Street bridge (bats) and SoCo (food and shops);  2) walked SoCo (South Congress Street district) and indulged in Amy's Ice Cream (yum!); We also ate at 3) South Congress Cafe; not exactly kid-friendly but great food and lively enough to mask two little boys munching on crab cakes; Also, Smarty Pants wants to go back to Austin just for their chocolate ganache brownie with english toffee. It was that good.  4) visited the Austin Children's Museum; the kids really enjoyed this museum, perfect for the 2-8 year old set with just enough science and creativity thrown in to impress the parents;  5) During our stay we also made stops at the University of Texas, 6th Street and drove out to Barton Creek (it was too cold to swim, but apparently the resort has an awesome pool). The kids aren't too interested in sightseeing and walking into shops, so we kept those activities to a minimum.  Austin is also home to a ton of food trucks, which is always good for a quick and not too spendy meal. 

While we enjoyed Austin, I'm not sure I get their motto "keep Austin weird". The city seemed very clean and new to me and the people were very... nice and normal.  Maybe we didn't venture into the right/wrong parts. The only thing we saw that was sorta "out of the norm" was one guy with a ton of tattoos with cameras following him capturing peoples' reactions. My kids didn't even flinch or look twice... I guess we won't be making an appearance in that indie. :) But, as someone explained to me, everyone on the West Coast is weird, so of course Austin seems normal to us.  Heh heh... I'll take that as a compliment!

Traveling with Kids - San Antonio, TX

Our next stop was San Antonio. Compared to Austin, it was like Disneyland... tourist central. But I enjoyed the architecture, the historic city-center and of course the 1) River Walk and 2) the Alamo. We were there for three days and it was the perfect amount of time for us. By the end, I was really getting tired of tourist fare... We could've ventured out, but with kids, it was just easier to stay within walking distance of the hotel. The hubs loves basketball, so we did drive out one evening to the 3) AT&T Center to catch the Spurs/Clippers game. It was fun to take it all in and watch the fans. We also made a stop at the San Antonio Children's Museum (two thumbs up from my kids) and we, of course, had to venture into taxidermy heaven ... AKA 4) The Buckhorn & Texas Ranger Museum which bills itself as a Saloon and Museum. I mean, seriously... how could we pass that up? After being stared down by all the former animals on the walls, we really didn't feel the need to visit the museum, but we did snack on some BBQ ribs... probably not the BBQ that San Antonio is known for, but the ribs weren't half bad.  5) Another place that we enjoyed was Schilo's Delicatessen. Apparently the oldest German deli in town, we listened to our waiter and had the pea soup, reuben and cheesecake. Yum.

The River Walk... What a great concept for a city park! I was imagining something the size of the Colorado River, so I was surprised when it was more like a stream.  If you are planning to go, definitely do the boat tour and, if you can, try to visit mid-week. Weekends are crazy busy and, if you don't like crowds, it best to avoid the area. On Saturday, we found it easier to walk on street level. It really is beautiful though and the portion outside our hotel (The Hotel Contessa... we scored an awesome deal through Expedia) was serene. If you like to bird watch, or just enjoy nature in a city setting, it really is a pretty place to visit.  Although most of the family friendly restaurants on the River Walk are meh (use Yelp as your guide), you almost have to stop for ice cream or gelato at Justin's Ice Cream. It's worth the line. Also, if you're sans kids, definitely try out some of the 4-star restaurants situated along the river.

The Alamo... The grounds surrounding the Alamo are beautiful. Entrance is free and the lines are long, but they move relatively quickly.  If you just want to enjoy the grounds, you can enter through the gates to the left of the building. It's a shrine so it is very somber and dark inside the main building. It is also rather small (before becoming a fortress, it was a mission), so it can get pretty crowded in there during peak hours. There are a lot of displays with artifacts (Davy Crockett's vest, Bowie knives, etc), which is interesting if you know some or part of the history of the Alamo. Our kids are too young to get the historical value, but they did hang in there for a bit. So we didn't stay long, but I'm glad we were able to get a glimpse of how things were; long before San Antonio became the tourist destination that it is today. 

If you're still with me and not snoozing in front of the monitor... Our Spring Break doesn't end here... Epic Spring Break Part II coming up next!

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