Friday, June 17, 2016

Texas Adventures Pt III: San Antonio


Continuing our Texas Adventure...

ready to dance

Sunday morning came early, after a fun pool party with the other kids! 

She had some pain from an injury she got at the pool, but she pulled it together and once again showed me how much of a trooper she really is!

And yes, she started smiling AFTER I took the pix, naturally....

miss grace and medals

Two places out of five, including another 2nd in her hard shoe dance! Harder judges, but she was uber proud of herself!

We took the opportunity being so far west to head down to San Antonio, for a quick trip to....

miss grace and buccee

She even found Buc-ee at our pit stop for gas!

hotel orca statues

yup- Sea World! She was THRILLED that the hotel had Shamu sculptures in its front garden! 
Mom was just thrilled they had a shuttle, and I didn't have to drive and deal with parking! LOL

sea world beluga whale

We got lucky and got to Sea World 20 minutes before the first run of their Azul show!
It was the first time Miss Grace was that close to a beluga whale and she was thrilled! Plus having had her session with dolphin training last Summer, she recognized some of the animal commands the trainers were giving!

sea world dolphin

The dolphins put on a real acrobatic show and there was plenty of oohs and aahs!
But the real reason came was yet to come!
sea world orcas

With the changes coming in the Sea World orca program, I wanted Miss Grace to experience the show, as I had known it, at least one time. She was awed at the size and massiveness of these amazing animals!

pre orca splash

I didn't grab a pix of the actual splashing, but the lead in, before she threw the towel over our heads. You can see JUST how much splash came up, from looking at the other side of the pool. These whales are SOOOO powerful.

And yes, maybe I put her on row 5 on purpose....hmmm maybe a little payback for those 5am toddler wakeups? LOL

miss grace and sea world statue

As you can see, it didn't killer her, just got her soaking wet. But with the heat SO high, it was very welcome! LOL Course she wouldn't kiss the statue either....bit of a grudge?

vultures at sea world

Miss Grace had to snap a pix of these teen vultures! 

She had just watched a show on the Animal Channel featuring them before we left home, so she spent 5 minutes telling me all about them, and why they still had baby feathers on their heads! You have to love it when the scientist comes out! 

aquatica roller coaster splash collage

I had to include this snap! One of the Aquatica roller coasters comes down behind the kids area, and everyone was taking advantage of the cool water to cool down! It was almost as much water as the Shamu dunking! But she loved it, as you can see by the smile on her face!

There was a lot that I was disappointed with at Sea World (prices, food especially (a $1 for a fortune cookie that costs them 15 cents?), amount of exhibits), and I really feel like Aquatica has taken over being their primary interest. I wish there had been more to engage the 7 to 12 yr old crowd at the original park, that dealt with the animals, and didn't require you walking 2 miles to get to them (which wasn't happening with her sore leg).

dolphins 2

The one thing they have gotten right (recently, as it was just opened) is their Discovery Point center for dolphin interactions. While they are VERY pricey, compared to other parks, the outside exhibit area feels more like the Sea World I loved growing up. 

dolphins 3

As you can see, you are VERY close to the dolphins! 

You can literally lean over the pool edge and get THIS pix, if the dolphins come close enough! There was NO zoom involved in this pix! You can't touch the dolphins obviously, but what we found was when they saw a lot of people along the edge, they would come over and 'tease' photographers with doing their tricks and then diving quickly!

As a final point before we left the park, Discovery Point was worth it for Miss Grace.
Overall, we've checked Sea World off Miss Grace's to do list and probably will not go to the  Orlando location, as we can save the extreme ticket cost for a different park. 

san antonio iron work

Miss Grace was amazed at all the iron work around San Antonio and took this shot! 

mission san jose entrance

I wanted Miss Grace to see some of the local history before we left, so went to Mission San Jose!

mission san jose 1

Miss Grace LOVED the amazing sense of how life was in the old days at the Mission. While the outer buildings have been rebuilt, it was still great to see a great reproduction, that allows you to walk back in time!

mission san jose 2

But the real jewel of the Mission is the church itself!

mission san jose 3

You can see why this church is seen as the 'jewel of the missions'. It is STILL in use too! the benedictine Monks now run the church and even have a Taco Dinner on the grounds after service n Sunday, how cool is that? Miss Grace got to meet one of them and spend a few minutes talking with him about the church! It was a wonderful moment to add to the trip's memories!

mission san jose 4

More walking back in time....

view from shop at mission san jose

The scene from the church gift shop! While the National parks runs the site, the church runs their own gift shop on site as well (FYI, the church shop can sell bottled water, if you forgot yours, or run out like we did!). they have some really lovely religious pieces, if those are the mementos you are looking for!

mission san jose panel

A point of contention before Miss Grace got her Junior Ranger badge (such a great program at all of the national Parks!). One of the panels showed the walkway pictured above with a roof, but this exhibit showed it without one. Miss Grace had to find a ranger to sort out the reason (it did at one time, and then wasn't rebuilt when it fell). They were amused that a 9 yr old had paid that much attention to the panels!

All in all it was a LONG trek (9 and a half hours due to multiple stops, both ways),but the experience was SO worth it for Miss Grace, and we both had a lot of fun, and we're both looking forward to returning ti Texas in the fall for more competitions!

I hope these pix might help you decide if you want to add Texas to your vacation list too!



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