Weekend Trip: Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park

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This past Saturday (6/30), one of my good friends was visiting his inlaws in Dallas. So, I loaded up the family and met up with him for lunch at the Twisted Root Burger Company (hadn’t seen him in 5 years!). Lunch was fantastic! The food was great and I really enjoyed getting to visit with Andy and having the opportunity to meet his wife for the second time.

After lunch, we said goodbye to Andy and his wife and headed on over to Fair Park. After an almost 2 and a half hour drive from Longview, I figured we’d stretch our legs a bit and visit the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park.

Who knew there was a Hall street in Dallas? I didn’t.

The Texas Star Ferris wheel. The largest Ferris wheel in North America, of course.

A fountain in Fair Park was apparently calling my son’s name. Thankfully, he did not heed that call. Not that I would have blamed him with the 100 degree heat.

All of the aquarium’s displays were at toddler level. This meant my son could engage the aquatic life on his own terms.

This guy was pretty cool looking!

Whenever we’d go to any lake in Arizona or Nevada as a kid, my Dad would always joke about snapping turtles. Guess what, they do exist in Texas!

Behold!

This Alligator Snapping Turtle had his own ecosystem on his back.

Hello.

As you can tell, I loved this guy. Just check out those claws!

I end with a symbiotic relationship that certainly must “suck”. Get it?

Overall, the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park is a fun way to spend an hour or two. They also have an excellent sting ray pool where you can feed and pet the wondrous monsters as they glide by. I enjoyed putting my hands in the tank, barely moving them, and being swarmed by sting rays! I don’t remember the sting ray exhibit at Sea World ever being this good.

Travel Journal: Indiana or Bust!

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“Beep, beep, beep!”

The alarm read 3am. I felt like I had awoken from a nightmare. I had just fallen asleep 4 hours earlier. Even in my groggy state, I knew that a few hours of darkness laid between me and sleep once more. 96.4 miles to be exact between South Bend, Indiana and the Chicago O’Hare Airport in Illinois. I had a 7am flight to catch and it was time to get up.

Rewind: Friday, March 9, 2012

My friend Jon and I had flown into Chicago, Friday morning, for our friend Jeremy’s wedding. Jon was the best man and I was “also” the best man. Seriously, that was how the wedding program read. The last of the three amigos from LeTourneau University was about to get married.

Jon and I spent a chunk of Friday traveling, picking up/ trying on tuxes (my pants were M.C. Hammer-ish, thankfully I got this fixed) and attending the wedding rehearsal/ rehearsal dinner. The wedding rehearsal was uneventful. Well, besides the two nephews that were having fun running around. Family and friends looked on as we practiced walking, standing and trying to be quiet. The wedding coordinator, Lynn, even placed tape on the carpet so that we would know exactly where to stand–she did an amazing job!–. The rehearsal dinner afterwards was held at Tippecanoe Place in historic South Bend. I have to say that it was quite impressive! Being from Southern California, I was most impressed that the restuarant featured a place where one could check-in their coats. I’ve seen stuff like that in the movies! Guess movies don’t lie.

After dinner, we took the groom out for a night of wild debauchery. By which I mean go-karts, miniature golf, bowling and a nightcap at Steak and Shake. Good times were had and wisdom was bestowed.

Just don't ask...

Saturday, March 10, 2012: D-Day

Jon and I got up Saturday morning and went out hunting for car “decorating” supplies. We weren’t too successful. Luckily, the bride’s parents were awesome enough to have bought a few choice “supplies” (Alissa, it was your parents fault!). After that, we went and picked up some re-fitted tuxes and headed to the church.

Stained glass, wooden pews and candlelit lanterns. Beautiful.

From 12pm till about 4pm, we took wedding pictures. If I learned anything from my own wedding it is that it is of utmost importance to do this beforehand. The bride and groom were very wise to do this. Kudos!

The wedding started at 4:30pm and was absolutely beautiful. I loved the hymns that were sung, the father of the groom officiating the ceremony, and the bride and groom wiping away each-other’s tears. It was a sweet time of praising God for His faithfulness and for bringing Jeremy and Alissa together.

After watching my traveling companion, Jon, get married a little over a year earlier, I felt that this was somehow the end of an era. All three of us, Jon, Jeremy, and I were now married. Each of us have found a companion to walk through life with.

Evening Blur

The wedding reception was elegant and filled with filet mignon. I was a happy man. Speeches were given, dances were danced and I almost caught my shirt on fire. Never stand too close to a candle!

The sanctioned rain of birdseed greeted the newlyweds as they dashed for their car. Humorously, someone had forgotten to unlock the car… which gave the groom’s nephew enough time to pelt his new bride square in the back with a small bag of birdseed.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

“Beep, beep, beep!”

And like that, the weekend was over. It was time for Jon and I to travel in reverse.

The memories I have of my weekend in Indiana are ones that I won’t soon forget. God used this weekend to remind me that I am not alone. That I do indeed have life friends who are just scattered across the country. I am resolved not to let these friends slip away but to actively pursue them. Even if that means only meeting up once a year.

Indiana, thank you for a good time. As a somewhat wise man once said, “Good morning, good evening, and good night.”

Chump Change

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On June 24th, Disney-Pixar’s Cars 2 skids into theaters. This time, Lightening and Mater have accelerated past Radiator Springs on their way to a road trip around the globe. The movie’s trailer (found here) exhibits racing, travel jokes, and a spy-theme overlay. Will Cars 2 signal the end of the Pixar-touch?

Take a look at Pixar’s current release schedule:

  • Cars 2 – June 24, 2011
  • Brave – June 22, 2012
  • Newt – 2012 – Cancelled
  • Monsters University – June 21, 2013
Notice that there is only one new storyline/ concept being offered. The other two films are sequels. For awhile now, Pixar has seemed to be interested in delving deeper into the sequel goldmine. Perhaps they have found a rich vein of creativity they think they can tap into? More power to them. However, who made the decision to make a sequel to Cars? Cars, which is an average Pixar film in my opinion, was not deserving of a sequel. Especially when the previous film released by Pixar, The Incredibles, almost screamed for one. I personally think that Pixar is not being driven by creativity and imagination anymore; No, I think that Pixar is being driven by the almighty dollar. Do you disagree? Check this out:
Estimates from the New York Daily News indicate that sales of Cars merchandise two weeks out from the release of the film amounted to US$600 million. Estimates put out in November by the Walt Disney Company peg total sales for the brand at around $1 billion.[27] 
Cars merchandising is huge! Who wouldn’t want to capitalize on such a thing? In the midst of all this branding and merchandising business, who is profiting? Disney. So, is Pixar really the driving force behind the sequel-itis it seems to suffer from or is it Disney? Either way, on life’s highway, I can only hope that Pixar doesn’t lose it’s soul.