April 16, 2008 EditionAlso in this issue...
TCR enjoys Texas experienceSusie Jones
On March 24, in the wee hours of the morning after Easter, the Traveling Classroom boarded a charter bus, ready for immersion in the Texas experience. After just over 12 long hours on the bus, 17 students and seven adults filed off the bus, unloaded luggage and prepared for five days in the wonderful city of San Antonio.
The group stayed in the beautifully restored Petroleum Commerce Building that is listed as an historical landmark. This hotel features 12-foot ceilings and is not a typical hotel. In fact, guests can walk out of the bottom floor of the hotel and be on the world famous Paseo Del Rio, The Riverwalk. This area is created along the San Antonio River that flows through the city.
After checking into their rooms and freshening up a bit, the travelers strolled down the Riverwalk on their way to see the Alamo. After a wrong turn or two, the group emerged on the street level, got their bearings, and quickly made their way to the Alamo ... right at closing time. After photo opportunities and time to explore the grounds, the group crossed the street for the typical tourist experience which included shopping in souvenir shops and some time at the Alamo Plaza Attractions.
While there, the students experienced Ripley's Haunted Adventure and the Tomb Raider 3D interactive adventure ride. After this experience, the slightly shaky students and the adults took some time to seek nourishment at the Hard Rock Caf? located on the Riverwalk. Of course, a stop at the gift shop was high on everyone's priority list.
Once back at the hotel, a few brave souls chose to jump in the swimming pool located on the roof of the seven-story building. Temperatures were around a moderate 70 degrees. Most bathers chose to warm up in the hot tub after a few minutes in the pool. The wind was quite brisk at that level, and it didn't take long to get a chill.
Tuesday morning saw the travelers back on the bus after breakfast at the hotel. The itinerary for the morning included touring several of the San Antonio missions. The first stop was the visitor center located at the Mission San Jose. After brief instructions from a park ranger, the group toured the museum depicting the history of the missions and viewed a short film about the history of the San Antonio area.
Other missions toured that morning were Mission Espada, Mission San Juan and Mission Concepci?n. One interesting fact is that the church at Mission Concepci?n celebrated the 250th anniversary of its dedication in 2005. It is the only mission church in San Antonio that never lost its roof or walls to age or neglect. As a result, remnants of color frescos created at the time of construction still remain today.
Several members of the group came away with memorable photos of the missions, including the frescos. Another interesting fact is that several of the missions on the tour are still practicing churches. Flowers and decorations from Easter celebrations two days before were still present.
After leaving the mission tour, a trip to the historic Market Square granted time for lunch and some shopping in the unique area that is bright, bold and has an authentic Mexican flair. Students and adults alike enjoyed the time spent browsing and purchasing treasures such as jewelry, Mexican style apparel and handcrafted items.
Next on the agenda was a late afternoon visit to San Antonio Museum of Art. The bus ride to the museum became something of an adventure in itself due to the inaccuracy of the map the sponsors had ordered off the Internet. The bus driver was awesome and kept his cool, and after getting the actual directions, the bus pulled up to the castle-like front entrance to the museum.
The museum's collection of art kept the visitors enthralled with exhibits such an Egyptian collection with an actual mummy and an extensive collection of sculpture from the Roman Empire.
Upon leaving the museum a few hours later, the bus dropped everyone off at the River Center Mall, located at the man-made lagoon created from a diverted portion of the San Antonio River. The evening meal was at the mall's extensive food court. A time for shopping was provided followed by the walk back to the hotel. Again, swimming and time in the hot tub were enjoyed before retiring for the night.
The San Antonio Zoo was the first activity on Wednesday morning after breakfast at the hotel. Set in an old rock quarry, the zoo is in the city's Brackenridge Park. Several hours were spent enjoying the animals and even a ride on the zoo's San Antonio Eagle. This train ride has been winding through Brackenridge Park since 1956 allowing riders to see the area that was donated to the city by George W. Brackenridge in 1899.
The Tower of the Americas in Hemisphere Park was the next stop on the travel itinerary. Once again, it was time for a photo opportunity, this time in front of the fountains at the Tower, and of course, the Tower itself. A few members of the group chose to ride to the top of the Tower for more photo opportunities and a really unique 4D thrill ride in the theater at the top of the 750-foot tower.
Next it was back to the River Center Mall for the evening meal and more shopping time. Students used the late evening hours to swim again, this time, in the much warmer water.
Thursday morning found TCR members, sponsors and chaperones at the Witte Museum, back near Brackenridge Park. While at the museum, the group had the opportunity to tour the "Our Bodies, the Universe Within" exhibit that is currently touring the United States. This exhibit was thrilling, informative and sometimes gruesome, with uniquely preserved actual human bodies and internal organs.
After spending numerous hours at the Witte Museum, the group traveled back to the Hemisphere Park area to pay a visit to the Institute of Texan Culture. While there, museum docents gave the group a history of the settling of San Antonio and the area. Fascinating exhibits on the different cultures who settled in the area were on display and were very enlightening.
After leaving the Institute, the group walked the short distance back to the Alamo for more time to visit the grounds. Following that, everyone returned to the hotel to rest and get ready to visit the Rainforest Caf? for dinner.
The Rainforest Cafe, also on the Riverwalk, was just a block and a half from the hotel. The last event on the agenda was a nighttime cruise on the San Antonio River. This proved to be a tranquil conclusion to a long day of sightseeing. At end of the cruise, the weary travelers strolled along the Riverwalk to their hotel for a quick swim and a soak in the hot tub, followed by time to pack and get ready to load their belongings on the bus the next morning.
The last day in San Antonio proved to be an exciting time for TCR members, sponsors and chaperones. A trip to Sea World San Antonio was the perfect ending to a perfect spring break experience. While there, most members of the group caught the exciting Shamu performance. The penguin exhibit was extremely popular and could have been the setting for a scene in the movie Happy Feet.
Other popular stops were the Pirate 4D theater, dolphin petting area, the dolphin acrobatic show and of course, the roller coasters! Bus loading time came way too quickly and exhausted travelers climbed aboard the bus for the long journey home.
The bus pulled into the parking lot in front of the Hoxie School Gym around 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 29. The sleepy students and adults greeted family members and jumped into their vehicles.
Students who made the trip were Destiny Anderson, Lindsay Baltz, Jessica Barber, Brandon Barnhill, Randy Coggins, Tarry Crafton, Cole Crosno, Alex Ditto, Katelyn Ellis, Janna Henderson, Blaine Liscomb, Katie Owens, Nik Ryan, Summer Taylor, Chris VanBrook, Brittney Webb and Bradley Williams. Adults were sponsors Carrie Mae Snapp, Amanda Herring and Susie Jones, along with chaperones Janet Atkinson, Jane Barnhill, Tim Ryan and Tami Watson.
Traveling Classroom sponsors would like to thank all the students and adults who made the trip. It was a really positive experience and the sponsors would like to leave the students with one thought ~ Remember the Alamo! And the zoo, and Sea World ... you get the picture.
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