We woke up early and buckled sleeping kids into their carseats and attempted to get out the door before rush hour. We failed, because apparently Dallas rush hour starts at 6:30am and goes through at least 8:30am which I think is how long we were on the road. I was not a happy camper, but interesting that the timing worked out to land us on the door step of the Russell Stover’s Factory exactly 3 minutes after they opened! We were sad to realize they didn’t allow tours but the kids could watch a video tour and check out their factory rejects section – which was very cool. There were also samples everywhere and what a great idea, chocolate up the kids at 9am!
Then back into the car and we headed the next few hours south to the coast. We had packed a lunch but stopped for salads (honey mustard kept the three year old happy) because I miss produce when we travel. The kids were needing a bathroom break just as we came up to the NASA road exit and I suggested we see if our hotel would maybe let us do early check in (this was 2 hours early.) Our rooms had JUST been cleaned and they gave us our keys, we unloaded and used the bathrooms and headed to the beach!
We were slightly nervous about the hotel having seen mixed reviews online and not knowing the area but it was lovely. When we opened our windows you could see Rocket Park and we were literally across the street from NASA right next to several restaurants and a pharmacy (which would have been good to replace the toothbrushes half the kids forgot but the hotel had those.) We had two queen suites next to each other on the top floor at the end away from others and they were great. Having the mini-kitchen (fridge, sink, microwave) was enormously handy. The kids said while the hotel itself wasn’t as nice as the one in Florida (seeing as that was the Universal Royal Pacific Resort I agree!) they all said the rooms themselves were nicer than the Orlando one (I also agree.) They loved that we made popcorn and hot chocolate and had the fridge for cold snacks.
So down to the beach – Ben had his telescope out and was loving how much he could see every which way as we got closer and closer. I could hear their gasps when they saw the water, and we drove through Galveston heading towards the ferry for our first stop. We got distracted when the kids saw the cruise ship at the dock so we drove by there, laughed at the mardi gras beads dangling still from all the street signs, saw the huge old historic homes, and then finally got to the ferry. They waved us through security (there seemed to be a long line going towards Bolivar but not on the way back.) Onto the ferry and once we left the dock we headed up to feed the gulls the crackers we were told to bring. Those are some brave birds! It was maybe 12 minutes across then we turned right back around to take the ferry home and from there headed to the beach.
We have a state park pass and heard that was the best beach to hit but it was the other side of the island and it was already late afternoon, so we decided the empty public beach was worth the $8 parking. Except the gate was open, with no one around and so it was free that day! The kids collected sea shells and listened to the surf and the brave ones danced in the water and we took pictures and Ben said, “This is amazing.” We stayed until little ones started to get cold, promised them we would absolutely come back, and then headed back to get some dinner. I read that the place the locals liked was a few blocks off the main area but we called ahead and they had it ready for us – and it was delicious! We ordered a couple dinner platters and it was plenty for the kids to all try some popcorn and coconut shrimp and hush puppies and coleslaw. We headed back to the hotel, decided we really needed more produce and ran to a market a couple miles down the road to stock up on grapes, clementines, apples, bananas, etc. Then off to bed for our early morning meet up, as Chad was coming to get us from the hotel at 8am!
Oh, and we didn’t end up visiting them but Chad shared with us that there are several museums that are free on Thursday afternoons. If you have a Perot membership you also receive free admission to some of these museums at any time but the Children’s Museum only allows in six people per pass. (That’s probably only relevant for families as big as ours or those traveling with grandparents.) More on that tomorrow.