Friday, June 30, 2006


My 4 year old daughter makes the best train sound effects that I ever heard. Then she cracks-up laughing with this intoxicating laugh, that seems to be contagious and gets everyone else laughing. I like to laugh, so I thought why not take the kids out for a train ride at San Antonio's Brackenridge Park. The train ride features a tour of the park via the miniature railway, that goes for about two and a half miles. The trains are replicas of the 1863 Central Pacific Huntington Steam Locomotive, and are really cool.

I decided to grab the sunscreen and some snacks and head out for Brackenridge park early, just in case I got lost on the winding expressways. I mapquested the location and we were off. The park is located north of downtown San Antonio and adjacent to the zoo. We had a little trouble trying to find parking for the train ride in oppose to the zoo, so we parked in the zoo's parking lot. The zoo parking is free so if you decide to check it out, its probably best that you park in the zoo's parking lot.

Finding the ticket booth for the train was hit and miss, there's a lot happening on that street, thus it is difficult to distinguish what is where. There is a cafe right off of the zoo's parking lot, and the ticket booth for the train is towards the back of the cafe. Trust me when I say trying to locate signs to guide you toward the train's ticket booth are easy to miss. The kids and I walked around for at least 5 minutes trying to locate it, and believe me 5 minutes in San Antonio's heat can seem like forever.

The tickets for the train ride are $2.75 for adults and $2.25 for children over 2 years of age and under 2 are free. This is a great bargain for an "on a budget" adventure. After we paid for our tickets we went outside to watch for the approaching train. All of the kids waiting with their parents began to scream with joy when they saw the little blue train getting closer to the station. They began to wave at the passengers and gravitated towards the entrance gate all at once. It's amazing watching little kids trample each other in excitement, they never seem to cry and whine even though their toes are being stepped on. Anyway, the train conductor punched our tickets, we boarded the train and I received my parental reward of hearing my daughter imitate the sounds of the steam engine trains.

The train takes you around the park as the conductor gives you a bit of history about Brackenridge and other attractions in the surrounding area. Be prepared to see some of the park's animal life wandering the trees and ground coverings. The train goes over a little bridge straddling the San Antonio river which is really exciting for the little ones. In the river you can see little lilly pads and maybe a frog or two, I saw a fish instead. The train makes a couple of stops along the way so that passengers can get off and visit some of the other attractions. Those attractions include the Witte Museum and a Japanese Tea Garden. If a passenger does decide to visit the other attractions, they can reboard the train using there punched ticket, anytime during operating hours.

The train ride lasted for about 20 minutes and it was a lot of fun for me and the kids. Brackenridge park has many other attractions such as a children's park and golf course. This is an awesome mini getaway for budget friendly fun.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

So How's The Weather

Every time I speak to family and friends from Michigan, they ask about the weather here in San Antonio. I always reply, "Hot as HELL" in a very serious and exhausted voice. Every one in Michigan knows that it is an unnatural phenomenon to endure temperatures above 85 degrees. Yet here I am melting in triple digit heat.

My solution to surviving the crazy heat of San Antonio is simple, I take heed to the old cliche "while in Rome do as the Romans do". So here's Claudea's guide to surviving the heat.

Survival Tip #1:

I noticed the moment that I arrived in San Antonio that all of the people here have very dark tinted windows. I was surprised to see this because in Michigan it is illegal to have tint, whereas you can not see into the car on all surrounding windows. However, I quickly learned that this is a survival technique that is definitely necessary. Not to mention it looks cool if your going for that Mafia gangsta look.

Survival Tip #2:

When I was a young girl I use to watch old movies with my mother, such as "Gone With The Wind" and think something like "ooh look at those pretty umbrella's that the girls are holding...where can I get one". Little did I know that this was a survival technique cleverly disguised as the modern day fashion. Well I have one word for you... PARASOL! What? You don't have one of those fancy 19th century parasols? Well, don't worry cause the regular old average joe umbrella will work. One word of advice...Grab a big one!

Survival Tip #3:

Don't you just love it when your skin has that smooth, baby's bottom feel to it. The kind of feel that makes you just want to rub on your own self. Well, Maybe not on yourself. San Antonians seem to have some of the smoothest skin I have ever seen. I've been wondering where I could get some of that smooth skin for myself. Then it came to me as I was turning in to a crispy chip frying under the sun. "I Need Some Sunscreen!" an epiphany had taken me in its arms and said to me "child this is why the San Antonio people have not burned into ashes" They must slather the stuff on by the bottle to maintain the beautiful, smooth glow that they all seem to have. So now I'm buying it by the crate.

Survival Tip #4

Can you say "AQUA" that's right folks, water is your best friend in this kind of heat. Drink it, splash it, submerge yourself in it, what ever it takes but as sure as you need air to breathe you're going to need a close relationship with water.

I have managed to stay alive in this heat by observing and using common sense. If you decide to check out San Antonio, Don't bother to ask "how's the weather?" cause it's "Hot as HELL", just do as the San Antonians do!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Family Trip

It is scary trying to drive around a new city with your children depending on you for lunch and you have no idea if you will be able to find a familiar stop before they pass out. However, I have decided to take on this challenge twice per week in order to find new and exciting places to explore. Summer time fun has beckoned me and I'm going to heed the call. So the other day I got smart and packed some emergency lunches for my two kids and headed off on the 30 minute journey towards downtown.

The expressways here in San Antonio reminds me of a high impact rollercoaster, curving around in loops and coming to unexpected slows after speeds of 65 miles per hour. A person can easily be distracted when soaring high into the sky on the bridges of the expressway when the skyline of the city is visible. This is apparent by the huge mass of car paint scraped across the bridges' safety barriers.

I decided to take the children downtown for a stroll through the Riverwalk, this is apparently San Antonio's signature attraction. I've waited four months to gather the courage to drive downtown for this exciting moment. Trying to find parking downtown is crazy. We went on Tuesday at about 11:00 am and trying to find a parking space was still a chore. However, it is well worth this small headache to just be in the hypnotic atmosphere of the downtown area. There are trolley's that adorn the streets, horse drawn carriages, and even a floater cruiser. I won't speak much on these attractions today because I haven't had the pleasure of actually experiencing them, but I will say that they bring a certain beauty to the downtown area that is simply classic.

After the children and I finally found a place to park we began our short walk through the streets of downtown. The city was bustling with activity, there were a group of ladies in colorful square dancing dresses (my apologies for not knowing the formal name for them, but I'm a city girl), families out enjoying lunch on a terrace or sitting outside of cafe's, people arriving at hotels, visiting the many shops and boutiques, and just enjoying the view. The children spotted the Children's Museum and wanted to check it out, so I obliged.

When you walk into the museum the first thing that you see is a red antique looking trolley, and there are children jumping all over it. You can also see what looks like a giant tree house filled with wonderful secret caverns to entice children to want find out what is inside. My four year old daughter couldn't wait to get pass the entry gate to get started playing. At first I felt bad for my son because he is fourteen and I didn't think that he would be happy about having to hang around and watch my daughter having fun while he wasn't. But after we got in past the giant tree house (which is designated for toddlers), there were lots of interesting things for both of us to enjoy. As a matter of fact, I think that my son had a better time than my daughter did. The museum has everything you can concieve a child would want to use there imagination to do. From computers to an archeological dig to being a chef. I enjoyed watching my children pretend to harvest food from a garden and then cook it up for me. My little girl came over to take my order while my son played chef and cooked it up for me. When he was done cooking he brought it over to me and said "BAM!" as though he was Emeril from the Food Network (if anyone is familiar with that). Anyway, as a mom I enjoy little stuff like that. I couldn't believe that I found all of this family fun for just $6.95 per person. I finally looked at the clock, because my stomach was telling me it was time to eat, and noticed that we had been there for hours. So I gathered up my clan and we said so long to the San Antonio Children's Museum (located at 305 E. Houston St. 210-212-4453).

That trip was such a success that I can't wait to get started planning our next adventure. I'm can't wait until I learn enough about this blogging thing to be able to add web links. I welcome tips and suggestions.

Friday, June 23, 2006

New Adventure

Shoveling never ending inches of snow and trying to tread sheets of crystal like ice in my little SUV became intolerable this past winter. Finally, I found the courage to consider the thought of moving from my home state of Michigan. I called a conference with my husband, and told him that it is time to look for sunnier pastures to call home. One week later I found myself making 30 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to send my husband on his way to beautiful San Antonio Texas to scout around.

I have lived in Michigan all of my life. I've always had a desire to leave and find somewhere exciting to live and make my mark in the world. However, I found myself at age 33 still living in Michigan and becoming somewhat attached to the idea of never leaving. I began to become complacent living in the confines of the little world that I had created for myself. I thought that I could continue to work as a social worker and find a nice community in the suburbs of Detroit to purchase a home. Like most people, I decided to make the best of what I had going on for myself. But fate had a different plan laid out for me. In Feburary of this year my husband was laid off from his job where he'd been employed for over 10 years. One week later the mental health program that I was working for decided to make some cut backs and I was one of them. My husband and I had to make some decisions and fast. We talked about how we always wanted to move to a warmer state where snow is just something they see on tv. We wanted to move to a place where we could build a new life for our two children (ages 4 and 14), and most importantly where we could find viable and permanent employment.
We came up with three options: Arizona, Texas, or Tennesee. We researched all three states weighing the pros and cons of what we could based on the amount of information that we could gather in just a weeks time and decided on San Antonio Texas.

We have been here now for about 4 months and it has definitely been an adventure From the long 2 day drive to reach SA from Detroit, to the scorching heat that seems to never end. The one thing that I have found out since I've been here is that San Antonio is full of culture and life, there is plenty of excitement and attractions to keep a person busy for years. There's plenty of picturesque views and festive entertainment to enjoy for a very long time.