Field Trip Fun : Moody Gardens and Stewart Beach

#MoodyGardens #Galveston #igtexas #THSC #excursion #fun #fieldtrips

Each year before the Texas Homeschool Coalition’s conference in the Woodlands, TX (near Houston), they schedule a fun excursion field trip for families. This year the field trip was quite a ways away in Galveston, Texas at Moody Gardens®.

Moody Gardens is a unique place with all sorts of educational promise:

* over 5,500 animals representing 650 different species currently reside at Moody Gardens!
* a tiny rainforest in the Rainforest Pyramid
* a walk-in butterfly exhibit
* penguins, seals, sharks and tropical fish (over 10,000 marine animals and 1.5 million gallons of water) in a glass Aquarium Pyramid – including “touch tanks”
* a Discovery Museum
* white sand beaches and a lazy river
* a paddlewheel boat to cruise on
* an IMAX theater
* beautiful gardens
* close proximity to the Galveston Island beaches and other attractions

It really is enough of an adventure for a full weekend… but we only had a few short hours. We had to pick and choose from the long list of interesting exhibits and skip a lot of the outdoor items altogether. Sad, since the last time we made it down to Moody Gardens, my teens were barely much more than tots. They made me promise to bring them back again after our whirlwind THSC trip earlier this month. I’m so glad we went, though. It was fun.

#galveston #aquarium #moodygardens #thsc #fieldtrip #latergram

One of my favorite things at Moody Gardens is the aquarium. I am a sucker for a soothing stroll through dark hallways with glimmering blue water, filled with graceful sea creatures. We loved watching the Cownose Rays. Rays are so beautiful.

#latergram #cousins #fieldtrip #moodygardens

I was about to be taking photos all weekend for the THSC homeschool conference, so I didn’t bring my BIG, heavy DSLR in to the aquarium. It would have come in handy in the aquarium tunnel (most aquariums have one of these – and they always impress). Here are my two teens, sandwiching their cousin (who we brought along just for fun, even though he isn’t a homeschooler). He might have thought we were crazy before that weekend… but now he knows for sure.

IMAX punks #thsc #teenstaff #moodygardens #galveston

The other highlight of our Moody Gardens field trip was the IMAX. The show we were fortunate enough to see was the 3D version of “Flight of the Butterflies”. I’m about to totally give myself away here: #homeschoolmom #bugfreak – but I kid you not, I CRIED during the film when they discovered the roosting place for the Monarchs in Mexico.

YES, I already knew that the Monarchs migrate every year across the United States to the mountains in Mexico. Consequently, Texas is a major part of the “flyway” and we see the Monarchs every year traveling South on their awe-inspiring journey.

YES, my kids have already learned about these fabulous bugs and even participated in Journey North‘s citizen science team, have tracked their migration and sent a “symbolic” butterfly to a classroom student in Mexico and received one back.

But I still cried.

And you want to know what? I got chills when I went to grab the code for this little trailer so you could see it. Don’t blame me if you aren’t wonderstruck like I am. I’m a total bug-loving, biology-enamored homeschool mom geek. God’s creation is breathtaking.

Early morning near Houston ... #latergram #igtexas

But Moody Gardens wasn’t the only fun we had on this little adventure. We traveled down Wednesday night prior to the field trip (because Moody is well over 4 hours away, so we stayed at a cousin’s house North of Houston the night before). Uncle Steve got me hooked on Duck Dynasty (Morgan and I watched a marathon of it with him while the boys played video games). We love visiting family in a more casual setting – family reunions and Christmas parties are great, but you really get to “hang” with each other when you sleep over at someone’s house.

Thursday morning we awoke to the sunrise through the mist and headed out on our long drive to the ocean.

Where I45 ends... The edge of Texas. #Galveston #THSC

We drove all the way down I45 and parked in the sand. I walked the other 100 feet to where Texas ends and the Gulf of Mexico begins… and then I stopped to take a picture (of course). I knew we would only have a few minutes to enjoy the sand and salty air.

And contrary to what you might imagine, my feet were comfy in those boots… and it was easy as pie to brush them off. My floor mat in the SUV is another matter entirely.

OH, and see that little hole there on the left of my left foot? The one bubbling up because of some little creature hiding in the sand? Well, we dug a 14 inch hole and NEVER CAUGHT THE BUGGER. Who knows what it was. I’m assuming it was some sort of clam, but the jury is out.

Galveston Seashore #beach #igtexas #sand #summer #thsc #fieldtrip #ocean #blue #sky

Galveston beaches really aren’t that bad. It isn’t paradise, but you could find a worse place to hang out, I’m sure. I have actually spent the night on a Galveston beach one night. Right out under the stars … the sound of the crashing waves … and sand in my hair.

Texas is a big place, and when the beach is over four hours away, you try and be thankful for the brief moments you get to spend there. I nearly couldn’t get my 14 year old daughter (who’s name means “by the sea”) back in to the car. Go figure.

Momo's She-shells #galveston #igtexas #thsc

Here she and her red toes are, collecting pretty little seashells in an awestruck swoon. Never fear, I picked the “pretty clear one” out of her hand and explained to her that it was a bottle cap, rolled in on itself from the motion of the tide. She can’t help it. In her defense, she’s only spent about 12 hours of her life on a beach… even though that’s probably the only place she would ever be if we were close enough to one for her to get away with it.

...by the sea. #galveston #beach #igtexas #sea #thsc

And so we let my mermaid have her ocean moment… and then I rounded up the teenage beachcombers and we hurried to Moody Gardens for our field trip. 35 minutes on Stewart Beach wasn’t nearly enough, but I’m so glad we took the time to fit it in to our crazy day.

THSC2013-s-179

After our short beach walk and seashell hunt, our hurried excursion to Moody Gardens, and our extended drive back to the Woodlands, TX… we started our homeschool conference weekend with the THSC crew. Peaceful seaside scenes and serene aquarium tanks became the swirling mass of over 6,400 bustling home educators and their bright-eyed progeny.

#seagull #galveston #thsc #fieldtrip #sky #bird #fly #clouds #soar #high #flight

We may have gone home, but the beach lingers on – in our memories – and on the floorboard of my Ford. Morgan made me promise to take her back as soon as the weather cools and the kiddies have all gone back to school. We homeschool-types love to make the most of off-season field trips.

{ Galveston, we miss you, but we’ll be back! }

In Him,

Heather

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Comments

  1. says

    Heather, my beautiful friend, I don’t click on over to comment on your posts very often, but I read and delight in every one of them’ and when you mentioned your love of bugs in this one, I knew I had to come give you hugs and kisses. Sometimes I venture outside with my camera just to look for bugs. I’ve got a gazillion bug photos that I don’t know what to do with. Think I’ll plan a bug post with photos next week in honor of our mutual delight in God’s amazing creation.

    Lots of XOXOXOX’s!

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  1. […] attractions they had to offer. It was going to be a really fun adventure (we knew this because of our visit to Moody Gardens over the summer – and previous visits in prior years). Plus, we all had cabin fever because mama had been […]

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