Thursday, May 5, 2011

Roadtrip: Meridian State Park

On our way back from Dublin we stopped by Meridian State Park to take a look around and let the boys stretch their legs. 

There wasn't a playground so we took a driving tour of the park looking for a good place to get out and explore.

By one of the campgrounds we spied a dried up river bed and decided to take a look.

The boys had a great time running around in the thankfully dry bed.  Though at one point the little evil canivals took the high road up on the bank while I walked along side in the riverbed.  Before too long their narrow track was almost my head height meaning any spills would result in quite a drop.  But they continued to run along blissfully unaware while I silently panicked a little and not so silently urged them to stop running - "WALKING FEET!!"

After 1/2 a mile or so we could see some stagnant puddles ahead so we turned around and made our way back to the car before there were any wet and frozen (thanks to the crazy cold front) children.

We resumed our tour of the park after a quick stop at the pavilion where the boys ran around chasing the blue jays who had made nests in the rafters.

I particularly enjoyed the stonework throughout the park.  It would be a beautiful place to take pictures with cooperative subjects under better conditions.

Unfortunately after more than an hour's detour it was time to get back on the road, find something to eat for dinner, and finish our journey home.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Roadtrip: Dublin Dr. Pepper Bottling Plant & Museum

Sunday morning, after an unexpected change of clothes thanks to a cold front (where did that come from??) we headed over to the Dublin Dr. Pepper Bottling Plant. 

It is one of the oldest Dr. Pepper bottling plants in the country (established in 1891), and the only one to this day to still use real Imperial Cane Sugar.  Though it's distribution area is limited to about a 40 mile radius of Dublin,Texas, it's Dublin Dr. Pepper's are known far and wide.

After taking some pictures in the alley and outside of the building we made our way into Docs old fashioned soda shop and got tickets for the next tour.

Though I am actually a Coke fan (my mother and Kevin both prefer Dr. Pepper) this was my kind of tour.  They start you off with a ice cold glass bottle of Dr. Pepper for you to drink as you tour the plant.  Despite the fact that it had gone from a 100 degrees to somewhere in the 40's overnight there is little that tastes better than an ice cold soda in a glass bottle.

Unfortunately the boys were NOT interested in any shape or fashion in the Dr. Pepper tour, so I ended up missing most of it trying to get them to be quiet, and behave before giving up and going to get the stroller for containment purposes.

So the only part of the bottling tour of which I heard in it's entirety was the end of the bottling process - specifically that they still make the flavors shown here daily.  They still fill glass bottles, and even have a refill program.

It was actually very neat to see the actual equipment used in the bottling even if they weren't actively making anything at the moment.

After the bottling floor tour we were taken into the on site Dr. Pepper museum which housed a variety of Dr. Pepper branded items dating back over then span of the 20th century.  We were regaled with interesting stories about the various pieces, but photos were strictly forbidden.

Before leaving we picked up a case of cans as well as glass bottles of Dublin Dr. Peppers to take home with us.  We debated having lunch in Doc's Soda Shop as the idea of a float sounded really good, but I just couldn't pass up another opportunity to have some more of the Buckboard's sweet potatoe fries before we had to say goodbye and head back home.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Roadtrip: Dinosaur Valley State Park

After enjoying lunch, live music and dancing in the town square we headed out.  We didn't have any particular destination in mind, but decided to see if there were any parks in the area.  A quick check of the GPS showed we were about 20 minutes away from Dinosaur Valley State Park so we headed that way.

Without a doubt in the last year we have put our Texas State Parks pass to good use. We have stopped in at State Parks throughout the State as we have been passing through, or made them destinations of their own

We weren't really sure what to expect of Dinosaur Valley State Park, but after a quick potty break, we grabbed a map and headed over to the giant Dinosaur statues just inside the park entrance. 

The dinosaur statues at the entry reminded us of our trip to the Dinosaur Exhibit at the Houston Zoo.

After admiring the dinosaur statues, and taking the requisite pictures we headed off to explore Dig Site 2 as recommended by the gate attendant.

The dig site promised impossible to miss tracks of two different varieties at a shallow point in the river - perfect for a little splashing. 

We made our way down the stairs, took off our shoes, and joined a host of other people enjoying exploring the tracks and the relatively shallow riverbed.

As we crossed the large rocks leading the other side I went first and held on to the boys with a death grip to keep them from falling into the water.  Ironically enough while trying to keep them from falling in I slipped on a wet rock and landed butt first on the part of a rock submerged in the water.  Fully dressed.  Without a change of clothes... Luckily my camera in my pocket escaped the drenching.

Once we made it to the other side we were immediately able to spot the tracks.

We had no trouble at all locating them, though if they hadn't of been in a marked off area we might have walked right by them and dismissed them as odd, but recent tracks in the mud along the riverbed.  Or in the case of the larger rounded tracks simply dismissed them as patterns left by the water as it coursed over and occasionally pooled in the riverbed.

It was hard to believe just how old they were and that we were walking in the same path a dinosaur had taken before us.

The boys were far more interested in the opportunity to get into the water and splash around than to look at the tracks, so we decided to let them in clothes and all.

As usual where water is concerned they had a blast splashing, kicking and running around in the riverbed.

Though it was amazing that they managed to leave in one piece as they took several tumbles on the slippery and pointy rocks as they failed to heed our warnings about not running.  Narrowly missing hitting their heads or other body parts on the uneven rocks.  After letting them chase minnows and play for a while we decided we had better head out while their luck was still holding as the sun was beginning to set, bedtime was rapidly approaching, and we still hadn't had dinner.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Roadtrip: Along the Way

Other than visiting the cheese shop we didn't really have any plans for the rest of the afternoon. So, we drove back into Dublin and took a driving tour of town as the boys napped in the car.  Having toured all the main roads and sights including the city park in about 30 minutes we headed back north as the boys continued to nap.

One of the owners of the cheese shop had mentioned a Wine Festival being held not too far away in a small town square.  As the boys would sleep for at least another 30 minutes we headed that way.  With just a few miles to go as we passed through a small almost ghost town I spotted signs along the side of the road for home made ice cream.

With the temperatures near the 100 degree mark the temptation was just too much to resist.  We tried a variety of flavors including Peach, Banana, and Vanilla.  They were all delicious.  Though oddly enough Ryan, an absolute banana lover preferred my mom's peach to his own banana.

Luckily she was nice enough to share.  :) 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Roadtrip: Veldhuizen Cheese

Speaking of adventures....

Sometime back in April I stumbled across information about a cheese shop in Texas and had a harebrained idea to visit, take a tour, and sample lots and lots of cheeses.  Yummy!  In need of a co-conspirator I called my mom and talked her into meeting me there.  So in late April we headed to Dublin, Texas to visit the cheese shop, and see all that the town of Dublin had to offer.

Clearly the two of us shouldn't be allowed to go off on our own so we brought along some chaperones (Ryan & Connor) to keep us out of too much trouble.

The cheese shop has guided tours every Saturday morning so we drove in Friday evening, found our hotel, and had an amazing dinner at the Buckboard restaurant.  Just three words - sweet potatoe fries.  Absolutely to die for.  And this coming from someone who doesn't like sweet potatoes.  I ordered them for the boys.  And after tasting them had to order more.  Of which I had no intention of sharing...

So after a surprisingly uneventful, if late night at our hotel, we all got up early Saturday morning and made the trek to check out the Buckboards breakfast offerings before heading off to the Veldhuizen cheese farm.

We arrived a little early and spent some time wandering around on our own before the tour began.

We made a quick stop by the cheese shop before heading off to see the cows.

The boys were particularly excited about some calves we had spied on our way in. 

Without a doubt it was the highlight of their visit.

Before long a tour group formed up and after a quick peek through the viewing window (where people were re-grouting the floor instead of making cheese) we headed off to see the aging cave.

There were rows after rows of cheese rounds.

Each row, and shelf containing different varieties in various stages of aging.

Our tour guide briefly told us how the cheese was cared for, how long it was aged, etc.

We snapped a few pictures and then headed off to see another aging area intended for cheeses like blue cheese.

Connor who had wrinkled his nose up at the first aging area, positively protested the smell here.

After our tour we sampled a variety of cheeses making notes on their various flavors and picking a few to take home with us.

Before heading out, we sat down at a table in the cheese shop and enjoyed a nice snack of our cheeses before heading out.  Ryan and Connor particularly enjoyed the string cheese.

And when I wasn't looking the little rats helped themselves to some of my Redneck Cheddar as well.


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