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.

Kickstarter: For God Took Him

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Back in 2004, I had the privilege of working for The Walt Disney Travel Company. During our 5 weeks of training, I quickly became good friends with my one of my co-workers, a guy named Steve. Fast forward to 2012, Steve and I have managed to keep up through the glorious power of the Internets.

Now, a few years back, I remember him mentioning to me that he wanted to write a book. Recently, Steve told me that he was opening a Kickstarter page to help with funding for completing said book (he has finished 11 chapters so far).

I have to admit that at first I wasn’t sold on it after looking at some of the concept art on his Kickstarter page (not saying that the art is bad by any means). Just didn’t look like something I’d be into. Today, he sent me a link to an actual excerpt from the book. I have to say I am impressed! Reminds me a bit of David Gemmell. So, if you want to help out a friend of mine, I highly suggest checking out his written work here and visiting his Kickstarter page to help him reach his goal of $3,500.

Biological Warfare

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As I walked into the house this afternoon, I quickly noticed black ants crawling on the wall in the laundry room. Closer inspection revealed that they were streaming out from a crack underneath one of the cabinets. Odd, I thought, they shouldn’t be there. Last week, I had had an exterminator come out and hose the house down in glorious chemicals. The exterminator also strategically placed “ant bait” (clear goop that ants apparently love) around just in case any of the  tiny invaders decided to return. Today they launched their D-Day, their day of death.

Springing into action, I immediately grabbed some of the gooey ant bait and placed it directly in the ants path. They flocked to it! Soon, the small dab of clear goop was covered in ants. Little did they know that their demise, and the demise of their queen, was but a meal away. All it will take is one ant, carrying the goop back to the queen, to destroy the entire colony. Biological warfare on the insect scale.

For some reason, this scenario of unknowing death got me thinking about bigger life issues. What things am I consuming that could be unknowingly poisoning me? A question I am certainly going to have to spend some time thinking about. What about you?

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.”