June 11, 2011

6 days to go!

Will you hurry up and get here already! :) 6 days to go until everyone arrives! We can't wait, Madeline and James keep asking if their cousins are coming tomorrow. So today we checked out another swimming hole to see if it would be a good spot to take y'all. Uncle Steve said he went there years ago and loved it. Well it's a beautiful spot! We should definitely head over here. This location has been under construction for several months, they installed stone paved walkways, wood decks for the rope swings and ladders to get in and out of the water. It's really nice. They also have a big shady grass area with stone picnic tables. Great spot to throw around a football or Frisbee around. There is also a shallow end (about knee high) at one end of the swimming hole for the little ones to swim and play. It costs $7 for adults and juniors (13-17) and $3 for youth (4-12) and seniors (60+). But the lady at the ticket desk told me we could purchase a 10-punch pass which would bring down the rates for all of us to $5.60 per adult/junior and $2.40 per youth/senior. You know me, I'm always up for coupons and saving money! :) We'll definitely have to go here for one of our day excursions. See y'all soon, and don't hesitate to call or email if you have any questions or concerns.

June 6, 2011

11 Days & counting...

Howdy family! Can you believe we are getting down to single digit days until this round up starts! Hope y'all are getting your packing lists together and travel itineraries. We're working hard at getting our home spiffy for y'all. :) So I just spoke to the event coordinator at the famous Salt Lick Bar-B-Que in Driftwood to make a reservation for our group of 26 on Sunday, June 19th - Father's Day! I was able to get us a reservation (they are not booked up yet on reservations, but I imagine they will be for Father's Day) at 7:15pm. I figured we'll probably do a day excursion to a swimming hole so this will give us enough time to come home, shower and get ready before heading out there. It's about 20-25 minutes from our home. The coordinator did inform me that all group reservations must order the all-you-can-eat Family Style meal. It's a bit pricey for adults, $19.95 but it is all-you-can-eat and their brisket, sausage and ribs are yummy! So I need a response from all of you (please email me YAY or NAY). She said if we rather just order off of the regular menu, meat by the pound and whatever sides then we cannot keep the reservation and would have to put our names on the waiting list once we arrived. So what should be do?! It is a special occasion, Father's Day, should we splurge and just do the Family Style? Click on the image above to enlarge so you can read what you get for the family style price and to see the children's pricing ($6.95 11 and under, 3 and under free). Please let me know your answer asap.

I also got in touch with the group coordinator at the Magik Theater in San Antonio - unfortunately they are sold out of tickets for the play we want to see. Bummer too cause we could've gotten them at group rate $4.25 per person. They have it booked for 547 persons already. But she did tell me to call back as the date gets closer. Maybe it is schools that have these tickets booked but not all they reserved will attend. So I will call back again. Either way we can still see the Alamo and the Riverwalk in San Antonio.

Lastly the SUP (Stand Up Paddle) board guys finally contacted me back. He said the free lessons they offer at their meetup group are only 10-15 minutes lessons but they can't accomodate a group our size. He did offer our large group private lessons with 2 instructors and board rentals for $25 per person. I thought that was kind of steep. I asked a friend on Facebook who does SUP if it was easy to learn and do. This was his response:

"Melissa, super easy. If you have an ounce of balance, have ever skated or snowboarded, you can SUP. I'd say do it!"

So if y'all want to try this we could just do the rentals and try it on our own. I bet all the nephews would easily pick it up - and us adults could probably "get it" too. :) Here is the pricing on just renting the boards:

You can get a 2 hour rental for:
1 rental for $10, or 5 rentals for $45, or 10 rentals for $80.

Remember don't forget EMAIL me back with your answers and feedback. Thanks!

May 29, 2011

19 days and counting!

Can you believe it, it will be here before you know it! Thanks for the responses back on the master reunion calendar I made. I just emailed a contact at SUP ATX (Stand Up Paddle Austin Texas) to inquire about their free lessons they offer on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. I will let you know once I hear back from them if they can accommodate a group our size. Would be nice to get FREE lessons! So hopefully we'll either be doing this Father's Day Sunday morning, or the evening of Wednesday, June 22nd.

I also just left a message with the Magik Theater in San Antonio for our San Antonio Day on June 23rd. Madeline had a school fieldtrip here and I chaperoened her class. The play they put on was so entertaining (for kids and adults) and great for the kids! The actors will be performing a play on the children's book "Pinkalicious" (click on the title to read more) while y'all are visiting. So I inquired about a group rate. Hopefully we can get tickets for around $4 each. I will let you know once I hear back from them. This theater is only a few blocks away from the Alamo and the famous Riverwalk which we have planned to visit. The play usually lasts under an hour.

Yesterday we took the kids to check out the Barton Springs pool/swimming hole near downtown Austin. It's been a few years since we've been and wanted to see if the water levels were still good and if it would be a good spot to go while y'all were out here. It only costs $3 per adult, $2 per senior or kids 12-17, and only $1 per kid 12 and under. 

The water was great and refreshing. So this could be a spot we visit if you're all interested. Check my blog posts out on our trips to this location here on our family blog.

Again, please let me know if any of your are opposed to anything on the calendar or have any other suggestions!

May 21, 2011

Less than 4 weeks to go!

Can you believe it, less than 4 weeks to go and y'all will be here in Texas. :) Check out the count down ticker below the blog header. So today we decided to check out another stretch of river on the San Marcos and a new toobing rental place. We went to Pecan Park which is only about 10 minutes from our home on the San Marcos river. They have a tube shack rental inside their campground. Click here to see their rates. Funny thing is the couple that was running it was from Newport Beach, CA! They were super nice and helpful so we told them we would be back in a few week with y'all.

Here is a quick video of us on the river, normally it's quiet but the group of toobers in front of us had their cooler/radio playing music. :) But for the most part it was a mellow stretch of river and we really enjoyed the ride with the kids. We did the short trip which was about 1.5 hours float time. There were only a few small rapids, the little ones could totally handle.

Towards the end of our ride we passed by this rapid river beach area where lots of kids were playing so we let Madeline and James play. It was a fun afternoon!

So I hope y'all have reserved your bat watching river cruise tickets - this way it will guarantee we all will be on the same pontoon boat. I'll be making the car reservations this week and emailing those of you that requested one your confirmation numbers. Also I think I've mentioned to some of you on Facebook but can you make sure you put on your packing list that you bring a beach towel for each person - I only have so many beach towels and since we'll be doing a lot of outdoor playing in the water stuff it would be great if you just brought your own. I'll have to put up a clothing line in my backyard so we can dry them everyday. Also may I suggest in investing in river sandals w/ straps or water socks for everyone - it's a must for these rivers and lakes. You can usually find them at Walmart or Target for $5-8. Lastly as you will see in these pics Madeline and James are wearing life jackets...for the little ones that may not know how to swim well yet (I'm thinking Ethan, Ella, Eden and Chloe) if you want to bring them vests that would be good. You can always rent life vests at the tube rental places and Schliterbahn but most of the time they are those orange safety boat type. So it's up to you. I think I got James blue one for around $10 and Madeline's red one for around $20. If we go toobing, Stand Up Paddle board, swimming at a swimming hole or lake - by the time you rent those 3 times it might be worth just buying one instead.

Okay I'll look again at our itinerary for the week and email out an update soon!

May 4, 2011

6 weeks Y'ALL!!!

Can you believe it, our family reunion is just around the corner! I'm working on our itinerary and thought I better make some reservations for some outings. First on the list, the Congress Bridge Bats bat watching cruise. I called and as of right now the week nights are still open the days y'all will be here. So I chose for us to go on Monday, June 20th. The Capital Cruise rep told me they seat up to 36 people on each of their 2 pontoon boats. So our group of 25 would take up almost one boat. So it's important we all book our reservation now. So I urge all of you to go to the Capital Cruise website at within the next week: http://www.capitalcruises.com/bat-watching/rates-and-times/ and click "to book a bat cruise". The first window you will come to will look like above. Make sure you fill yours out like ours with the correct Preference "Bat Tour", Date "2011-06-20", and Time "8pm Bat Watching Excursion". Please let me know if you have any questions. It's going to be so much fun!

I also just found out from the Austin Stand Up Paddle meetup group that they offer free lessons every Sunday. So I thought this may be something we could do Sunday, June 19th. I contacted the group organizer to see if they could accommodate a group our size.

I have us down for tubing San Marcos river (day excursion) and Thunderhill Raceway (night excursion) for Saturday, June 18th. No reservations necessary. But I've set aside coupons for raceway tickets.

I'm thinking if there is a majority that wants to go, a day excursion to Schlitterbahn can be that Tuesday or Wednesday. I've found a coupon for $2 off. Now I got to thinking maybe this should be an excursion for any adults that want to go and the older kids, since it is quite pricey. I mean don't get me wrong Madeline and James enjoyed their lazy river and kiddie pools when we went a few years ago but for $33 per kid - they'd have just as much fun at our neighborhood pool which has a beach walk-in kiddie pool. I was thinking I and any other ladies that want to stay with me could stay back with Madeline, Ella, James, Eden and Chloe - and let the guys wrangle all the big kid boys on all the waterslides at Schlitterbahn. We could even take the young kiddos to the Children's Museum near the Waterpark as an alternative for the young ones and then take them to our neighborhood pool after. What do y'all think? I need your feedback, so leave a comment.

And I'll keep working away at our itinerary. :)
While I'm thinking about it now, may be best for everyone to pack a pool towel because I won't have enough for everyone!

March 29, 2011

Getting closer to June!

Hi y'all! Can't believe it's April the end of this week! Time is going by fast! And our reunion will be here before you know it! Getting flight itineraries, so excited for y'all to arrive.

Thought I'd start coming up with a tentative itinerary.

Friday June 17th
Reunion STARTS! Mom and Dad (Evey and Mick) will arrive earlier this week. Mike's crew touches down in Austin @ 1:48pm in the afternoon. Bryce's crew arrives late this evening after midnight (BD email me your flight itinerary). Mark & Laura, when do you road trippers plan on arriving? Anyone else arriving today? Since this will be a travel day for most, I think it would probably be best if we just let everyone get situated, bbq at home and maybe take the kids for a nice relaxing dip in our neighborhood pool.

Saturday June 18th
This is the only day that the Thunderhill Raceway has an event. Grandstand gates open at 4pm but the main events don't start until 6pm usually. So we can attend this that evening but still have time to go on an outing that day.
The Raceway is super close to our house, so I thought maybe we should keep the day outing close too. I was thinking either tubing on the San Marcos river or swimming at the Blue Hole in Wimberley. Either way we'll have to do something near water because all you non-Texans will be a little shocked by our lovely summer heat and humidity (insert Dracula laugh LOL). So maybe we'll take a vote?

That's all I've thought of so far for a tentative itinerary. I thought doing some of the real touristy stuff like visiting the Alamo and San Antonio Riverwalk or going to Schliterbahn we would do during the week days when it's less busier. I'll also call the Bat Watching Boat tours and see which evening our large group can get a reservation. I've also thought of a few more outings, I'll be posting about those soon so check back on this blog soon!

March 2, 2011

Is it summer yet?

Is it summertime-flip-flop time yet? Reunion gathering in a little over 3 months! :)
June 17th-24th! Have you requested time off from work? Have you made travel arrangements or mapped out a road trip?

Is it time to visit a Texas hill country swimming hole yet? I think James will be joining his older cousins this summer and swinging from ropes. He had some practice at a gymnastic birthday party last weekend, and loved swinging on a rope.

Is it river tubing time yet!? Not quite yet but soon. We'll be testing out some of the excursions listed on this blog come May. We can't wait for y'all to get here!!! Please leave a comment if you plan on coming!

December 28, 2010

Y'all are invited!

So some of you may have looked into the Facebook Group we created with the idea of possibly houseboating at Lake Powell in Utah this coming summer in efforts to get a big gathering of the Spence clan together for a reunion vacation. Thanks to those of you that responded and were interested. But after more thoughts and consideration we realized although the location was centralized to where most of us live from one another there were no major airports near that lake, meaning those that weren't driving in but flying in would also have to rent a car to get there and then also pay to vacation on a houseboat. We thought it got to be too expensive of a trip idea - although we love houseboating!

Some interest sparked for some of our siblings and cousins wanting to come visit Texas next year. So after talking with them and Uncle Steve who also lives here in the Austin area we thought, "Well lets just try to have our family reunion gathering vacation here...in TEXAS!". We've already had many family and friends come to visit in this area, and we believe all had a great time, some of them coming back for a 2nd and 3rd visit! There are many things to do here (well of course there are, Texas is gigantic!). And we've even done a family reunion (my side with my brothers and cousins) here and we had a blast swimming at local swimming holes, tubing on the rivers, eating BBQ and riding a steam locomotive.

So the tentative date to do the reunion right now is June 17, 2011! We thought mid June would work best for most everyone as those that are in school should be on summer break. And it's also 6 months away which gives all of us enough time to put in for vacation requests at work and book travel arrangements. I will post Bryce's comment he emailed us on this post. He suggested if we get enough families going we can try to get a block of rooms at discount at one of the local hotels, which is a great idea if we have many coming! But we want y'all to know (and I believe I can say the same goes for Uncle Steve and his home), any or all of you are welcome to stay at our home - we have plenty of space whether it be beds, air mattresses, couches, floors, trampoline :) that you can sleep on. So that is an offer and an option. Also remember if you need a car rental Stephen can get any of you one with a 40% family discount!

So I thought by creating this blog I could post day trip and excursion ideas and y'all could give your input by leaving comments. You will see many or most of my ideas consist of going to or being around water. Honestly it gets HOT here in Texas during the summer. In mid-June we should be in the 90's. But don't get me wrong, I didn't post about the many fabulous museums, zoos, music venues, etc. that we can also do. I just thought with all the kids it would be most fun to get out and do some more adventurous stuff.

We hope Y'all can come!

Please let us know and leave a comment!

Texas Ski Ranch

Uncle Steve suggested this excursion, and I think he's right a lot of the kids and some grown ups may like this one! Texas Ski Ranch is about a half hour south from us. And we've seen the lake many times driving to San Antonio but I had no idea it had these cables pulling the riders - how cool!

From Open till Noon
Cable Pass & Basic Rental JUST $20.00
Otherwise $25 for 2 hours or $29 for 4 hours 
2 Hour:

4 Hour:

All Day:
$36.00(does not include night session)

Leave a comment if this excursion interests you!

Texas Sphere Rides

Personally I get motion sickness, so I would never do this. But I thought some of you may. Located in New Braunfels about 20 minutes south is the Texas Sphere Rides. I found out about this place when they had a daily groupon earlier this year. Here is a description from their site:

"We'll bring you to the top of the track where you'll take off your shoes and everything out of your pockets, then you'll get into the ball and strap in. We do have air conditioning hoses that we use to keep you cool while you're strapping in. We'll make sure you want to roll and then turn you loose! After your roll they will drop you out at the bottom where you'll ride back up to the top to put on your shoes and go back to the ski ranch or roll again! They say laughter is good medicine, come roll with us and feel better!"

$29.95: 1 person, 1 Sphere Ride

Looks like fun right? How many of you are ready to let the good times roll? Leave a comment.

Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle Texas

We just learned this Fall that this race track is only a couple of miles from our home. Stephen and James went with our neighbor and his son. They had a lot of fun and Stephen thought it would be a fun thing to do when everyone comes out. It's inexpensive to get in and you can bring your own coolers with snacks and drinks. They do have a race on June 18th that we all could go to. Grandstand general admission is $12 and better yet children 12 and under are FREE! There is also a $2 discount for seniors, students and military.

Leave a comment if you'd be interested in going to see this!

Hamilton Preserve Swimming Hole

This is one swimming hole we have been to here in the Austin area, and we loved it! It's so cool and beautiful! The parking lot isn't close to the swimming hole, you do have to hike a 10-15 minute nature trail, but it's worth the hike!
"The preserve's pool and grotto were formed when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to massive erosion thousands of years ago. There is a 45 foot water fall creating a great swimming hole."
We came here when my cousins from my mom's side came for a reunion trip.The kids had so much fun! The swimming hole has a beach like area that you can set up and picnic.

We spent hours there floating, spraying our water gun toys and just having fun. I would suggest it a place to go definitely! It's a $5 per vehicle fee. If you seem interested in this idea, please leave a comment!

Stand Up Paddle Board on Town Lake Austin

I have always wanted to try this - and maybe some of you do too and we can try it together! Stand Up Paddle Board or SUP seems to be the new craze across the nation wherever there is water. And the young and the old are even doing it! Below are pics of people all ages on paddle boards here at Town Lake Austin. You can get a 2 hour rental for:
1 rental for $10, or 5 rentals for $45, or 10 rentals for $80.
They give free lessons too, but I will have to find out when.

If you are interested in this excursion leave a comment!

Leisure Resort River Park

Our next door neighbors suggested this location for a river day trip. They have a toddler and said it's a calm, clean, family-friendly spot to go. Here is a description of the place:

"Sitting on the banks of the San Marcos River, Leisure Resort is the ideal place to vacation with family and friends while in Central Texas. Relax in the shade of a pecan tree, float down the river in a tube, or simply enjoy the picturesque views of our countryside.  You'll find our clean and quiet environment a welcome change from your hectic life. Nestled among a hundred-year-old pecan orchard. Looking to host your next family reunion, party or event someplace new?  Our spacious clubhouse and outdoor pavilion offer the perfect setting to bring everyone together.  The air-conditioned clubhouse features banquet tables and chairs, full kitchen, covered porch and large BBQ grill/smoker.  The pavilion features picnic tables, evening lighting, and a large BBQ grill/smoker. Leisure Resort is a perfect relaxing escape to reconnect with family and friends in a clean, natural environment." 

This may be a fun spot just to do a day excursion and play in the river, maybe rent out the clubhouse ($55 per day) or Pavillion ($40 per day) and bbq. Or we could all even stay one night. They have these cabins ($95-110-135 per night) and treehouse cabins ($70 per night), or you can camp in a tent of rv.

River tube rentals cost $10 or $12 for a tube with a bottom. If you are interested in this day excursion or staying the night here, please leave a comment.

Riverwalk & Alamo in San Antonio

San Antonio is about an hour south of Austin (approx 45 minutes from our home) and most times when we have visitors we will take them down to see the famous Riverwalk and of course the Alamo. You can take a boat ride or walk along side the Riverwalk to see all the shops, restaurants, hotels and famous spots. The 30-40 minute boat ride covers 2.5 miles of the Riverwalk and cost $8.25 for general admission, $2 kids 1-5 and $6 for seniors 60 and older. They give discounts for large groups.

We usually take our guest and walk part of the Riverwalk and then dine at a restaurant sitting alongside the river.
In the evening time they have the river lit up with lights. It's a fun place to shop, dine and people watch.

During the day the kids love to see the ducks and boats passing by in the water.

And the historical Alamo is just a short walk up from the Riverwalk. It's really smaller than you think, at least that's what we thought when we first saw it. But it has pretty grounds with lots of history and info about what took place there. If you are interested in seeing these places, leave a comment!

Texas BBQ

If Y'all make it out here to Texas we HAVE to take you to eat some of the best BBQ EVER! Most places you can order plates or family style. It's pretty inexpensive and lots of places are BYOB!

Here we are at the Salt Lick with my parents, we've also taken Stephen's parents here. There is one location in the hill country in the town of Driftwood and another location near Uncle Steve north of Austin in Round Rock. Comment if you'd like to eat some mean BBQ!

Tube San Marcos

This has been a family tradition every summer, tubing on the San Marcos river. It's only about 15 minutes south from our home. It's a calm river, there are a few small rapids at the end of the river that the guys go down but you can exit the river before them. Here is Braden when we went with him and Uncle Steve on 4th of July.

The river is lined with beautiful trees and elephant leaf-shaped plants. It's easily accessible and you can stop along the way to swing on the tree rope swings.

The kids love it! We have a boat we blow up that they can sit in, otherwise you can rent tubes with net bottoms.Madeline gets in the water with her life vest and swims along side our tubes.

Oh and can't forget the floating cooler! Here are my brother David and Stephen in the summer of 2009. You can bring drinks and snacks on your float to keep you content! Leave a comment if you are interested!
 $7.00/single tube
$9.00/single tube with bottom