Friday, January 29, 2016

Galveston Island Ferry - Galveston, Texas


Description: The channel between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula is too large to build a bridge across.  The Texas Department of Transportation uses ferries as a cost effective way to connect State Highway 87 across the channel. These ferry rides are free and can hold up to 20 cars.  The ride across the channel takes about 20 minutes which allows you enough time to get out of your car and take a stroll around the ferry.  Chances are you'll even see dolphins while you are crossing the channel.

Location: On Galveston Island the ferry landing is on the north side of the island at the end of Ferry Road (State Highway 87.)  On the Bolivar Pennensula the ferry landing is on the southern tip of land.

Cost: Free - though there might be a bit of a wait.

Operating Seasons and Hours: There is one ferry in operation 24 hours a day.  During peek times like the summer and holidays there can be up to 5 vessels operating at a time.

Official Website: http://www.txdot.gov/driver/travel/ferry-schedules.html

Date of Visit: Thursday, November 6, 2014

This was the third stop of the sixth day of the Texas Coastline Road Trip that my husband and I took our kids on in November of 2014. We finished up with our  Harbor Tour at the Texas Seaport Museum.  But, we weren't done with the water yet because our next stop was to take the Galveston Ferry across the channel.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Harbor Tours at the Texas Seaport Museum - Galveston, Texas

Description: The Texas Seaport Museum provides tours of Galveston Harbor aboard the Seagull II.  These hour long tours are an excellent way to see dolphins swimming in the water as well as learn more about the Galveston Harbor.

Location: Tickets are sold in the Texas Seaport Museum located at 2100 Harborside Drive, Galveston, Texas. This on the north side of the island in the downtown area of Galveston. The tours depart from a pier behind the museum.

Cost: A Harbor Tour costs $10 for adults and $8 for children age 6-18.  Children under 6 ride for free.  If you wish, you can add a tour of the Texas Seaport Museum, including a tour of the Tall Ship Elissa, for only $10 more for adults and $7 more for children.  (A ticket to the museum by itself costs $12 for adults and $9 for children so this deal will save you $2 per ticket.)

Operating Seasons and Hours: The ticket office is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The last tickets are sold at 4:00 pm.  Tours depart at 10 am, 11:30 am, 1 pm, 2:30 pm, 4 pm, and 5:15 pm. Reservations are not required for groups smaller than 20, but you might want to call ahead on the day of your tour to make sure there will be space for you.

Helpful Website: http://www.galveston.com/harbortours/

Date of Visit: Thursday, November 6, 2014

This was the second stop of the sixth day of the Texas Coastline Road Trip that my husband and I took our kids on in November of 2014. We'd purchased tickets for the Texas Seaport Museum and had decided to add a harbor tour to our tickets.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Our Trip to Montgomery for Martin Luther King Day

I spent some time back home in Utah over the summer.  While I was there I overheard someone say, "I don't know who Martin Luther King was, but I love his day because I get the day off of work."  And someone else replied with, "All Martin Luther King did was give a speech."

This conversation really got my blood boiling.  In my opinion no one should be unaware of who Dr Martin Luther King was and what he did.  He, and the many people who worked with him, changed our country.  This country would be a very different place if it wasn't for all the civil rights work that his followers accomplished through non-violent protesting.  

It's important to me that my children understand the importance of Dr King and the Civil Rights Movement.  We've lived in Alabama for about 9 months and already we've visited a lot of landmarks associated with struggle for Civil Rights.  I decided that the perfect way to spend Martin Luther King Day would be to visit several of the places in Montgomery where he participated in important civil rights events.  

Last week I wrote a post describing the 5 places I wanted to visit in Montgomery on Martin Luther King Day.  This week I'm going to tell you how our trip went. 


First off, I have to show you a picture from Saturday.  We decided to go miniature golfing at the Adventureland Theme Park in Dothan, Alabama.  The day had started out a little chilly, but by the afternoon it had warmed up.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  We had a wonderful time golfing.  It was one of those perfect family outings. 
So what does that have to do with Martin Luther King Day?  Well nothing really.  I just wanted to show you that the weather can be pretty nice this time of year, and that my family can have an enjoyable time together - because that wasn't really the case on Martin Luther King Day.

The day started out with the kids waking up way too early for a holiday, and everyone started off on a grumpy foot.  My husband and I kept going back and forth on whether or not we even wanted to go up to Montgomery that day.  Taking grumpy kids out in public isn't exactly our favorite thing to do, and we've had some bad experiences in the past.  If we weren't feeling up to it then we knew we shouldn't attempt it.

But as the day went on everyone seemed to be in better moods (parents included.)  So a little before lunch time we decided that we should go.  We hurried to pack some food and then we were on our way.

Over 90 minutes and two bathroom breaks later we arrived in downtown Montgomery.  We were hoping to visit the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church first, but there was some sort of commemoration going on at the Capitol Building, and so there wasn't any parking available.  We ended up around the corner near the Civil Rights Memorial.  We kind of wanted to go check out the commemoration.  However, the commemoration involved someone speaking into a microphone and my son is very sensitive to loud speakers.  The last thing I wanted to do was start out our day with a sensory meltdown from my son.  So we decided to go to the Civil Rights Memorial and Center first.

The Civil Rights Memorial is located at 400 Washington Ave.  The Civil Rights Memorial Center is a small building behind the memorial.
The memorial has the names of people who died during the Civil Rights Movement engraved on black stone.  Water constantly runs over the memorial.  Behind the memorial is a black wall with this quote from Dr King. " . . . Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."
We probably would have spent some more time admiring the monument, but we were freezing.  So we hurried to go into the Memorial Center.  I'd been hoping to talk to my kids about what they'd see inside the building, but we hadn't really had a chance to do that.  So instead they were thrust right into Civil Rights history.  The building is kind of a grim reminder of the struggles people have gone through to receive civil rights.  The lighting was dim and there were black and white photographs everywhere.  If it had been just my husband and I we could have spent a long time reading all the different signs.  However, the kids were bored and a little scared. 
 We went through the building as quick as possible, which was fine because the normal $2 admission fee had been waved for the holiday.  As we were leaving the museum the workers gave my kids stickers.  All the kids were happy about their stickers.

My Recommendation for the Civil Rights Memorial and Center:  The Memorial can be enjoyed by everyone.  However, the Center is probably best for adults and older children. A lot of the images will be confusing to young children. Children under 18 get in for free though so it's not like you'll be wasting your money if you visit this place with children.

We left the building, and were back in the cold.  We hurried down to the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church at 454 Dexter Avenue.  Dr King was the pastor of this church from 1954-1960. From here he helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycotts in 1955.

This was the main place I wanted to visit so imagine my disappointment when we discovered that the building had closed for the day.  This is the second time I've missed out on a tour of this building.  I guess that's what I get for being wishy-washy about my plans that morning.
One of the church workers came out of the building on her way to her car.  I asked her if the Parsonage where Dr King lived was open for tours.  She said it had been closed all day.

My Recommendation for the Dexter King Memorial Baptist Church: I still haven't had a chance to take a tour of this building so I can't say whether or not that is worth the money.  But I have enjoyed seeing the outside.  This is an important place in the history of Alabama and the history of the United States.

We were freezing, but the kids wanted to walk up to the Alabama State Capitol.  The commemoration that had been going on earlier was over, and so there were hardly any people around.  As we walked we passed the crosswalk that has been painted to look like footprints.  This is one of the subtle reminders that this is the route that the Selma to Montgomery March took as the participants approached the capitol in March of 1965.
We visited the capitol at the end of May last year.  On that visit the weather had been very hot and humid.  Our walk up to the capitol had seemed to take forever.  This time the weather was very cold and we hurried up to the building to stay warm.
I told everyone that the capitol was closed for the holiday, but they all wanted to climb the steps anyway. 
I was impressed by the size of this Live Oak.  Live Oaks are considered evergreens.  Even in the winter they are covered with leaves.
This is the view of Dexter Avenue from the steps of the capitol.  You can see the Baptist church on the left side of the street. At the end of the Selma to Montgomery March, Dr King gave a rousing speech from this location.  I like to imagine what it would have been like to look out over all his supporters.

My Recommendation for the Alabama State Capitol: Capitol Buildings are always fun to visit.  This one has a lot of history.  In addition to the Civil Rights Movement History it was also the Capitol of the Confederacy during the Civil War. On regular weekdays and Saturdays there are free tours available that are very informative.

When we were done at the capitol we hurried back to the car to get warm. So far I wasn't too happy with our experiences.  It was just too cold to really appreciate anything we'd seen.  I told myself that at least I was trying to visit these important places.  I was hoping that one of the other places on my list would help redeem the day.

I wanted to go to the Rosa Parks Museum, but I wasn't sure how to find it because I'd left all my notes and my good map of Montgomery home.  (Yes, sometimes even the best of us are unprepared.)  Thankfully the city has pretty good signs that lead to the important landmarks.  Even with the signs we still took a wrong turn, and ended up at another place on my list - The Freedom Riders Museum.

This museum is located in the old Greyhound Station where 21 Freedom Riders were met with a violent mob of 200 people in 1961.  The mob beat the Freedom Riders with baseball bats and metal pipes.  It's one of those dark moments in Montgomery history, and I'm actually kind of surprised that they have turned the Greyhound station into a museum dedicated to the event.

Dr. King no longer lived in Montgomery when this happened, but he arrived few days later to give a speech in support of the Freedom Riders. There were more threats of mob violence during the speech, and the Federal Marshals were called in to keep Dr. King and other safe.

If my kids were older I would have taken them inside this museum, but I wasn't sure if they were ready for the images they would see in there.  So instead I just hopped out of the car to take a picture of the exterior.  Before I took the picture a lady told me that there was a movie being filmed in front of the museum.  They were between takes at the moment so I was welcome to take pictures.  She said the movie was about Rosa Parks.
My Recommendation for the Freedom Riders Museum: This museum is dedicated to reminding people about an unfortunate event that illustrated the cruelty of one group of people and the bravery of another.  I didn't go inside the museum so I don't know if it's worth the price of admission.  Just seeing this location made me think about how different the past was from today.  

I got back into the car. We back tracked to find the Rosa Parks Museum.  This is located at the spot where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man and was arrested in December of 1955.  After she was found guilty of disorderly conduct the Montgomery Bus Boycott was started.  It was led by Dr. King and lasted almost a year.  The boycott ended when the Supreme Court ruled that segregation of the buses was unconstitutional.

I figured of all the Civil Rights events this is the most "child-friendly" story.  (There isn't any death involved.)  The museum even has a "Children's Wing."  I hoped that my kids would really get an idea for what the Civil Rights Movement was able.
 We could have bought tickets for both the Children's Wing and the main part of the museum, but I figured our kids would be bored at the main part so we just got tickets for the children's wing.  The tickets were $7.50 for adults and $5.50 for our kids over age 4. We were directed through some doors and told to sit on a large bus.  This bus was a "time travelling bus" that would help us view different events in history.  
Overall I was impressed with the presentation.  The bus shook every time we jumped through time and the kids thought it was really fun. We started out all the way back in 1833 and visit important events like the Dred Scott court case and the Civil War. I even learned a few things.  (Somehow I've never really known that the Supreme Court ruling in Plessy vs Ferguson in 1892 actually came out in favor of Segregation even though the 14th Amendment prohibited it.)
But I was very disappointed by the end of the presentation.  I thought we'd at least get to see Rosa Parks refuse to give up her seat on the bus.  But instead the movie stopped just short of that and directed us to go to the other wing of the museum to learn the rest of the story.  At $7.50 a ticket I felt very cheated.  So instead I just told my kids what happened next, and we went back to the car.

My Recommendation for the Rosa Parks Museum (Children's Wing):  I found the museum to be educational, but I also felt it was over-priced.  More could be done to make the Children's Wing it's own complete museum.  It also could do a better job of appealing to young children. A lot of the things in the presentation went over my children's heads.  

That was the end of my list of things to see for the day.  Part of me worried that we'd wasted our time, but everyone seemed to have had a good day.  I'm pretty certain we would have just stayed home and watched movies all afternoon if we hadn't gone on this trip, so at least we'd done something educational.

We went to the Montgomery Visitor Center parking complex near the Alabama River.  Train tracks go right by the building.  My son loves trains so we were hoping to see a train while we ate the little dinner I'd packed earlier. We ate in the car because it was just so cold outside. I'd brought some gummy worms and the kids had fun eating those.  Honestly, I think this was everyone's favorite part of the trip.  
 
There is a bridge that crosses over the rail road tracks and over looks the Alabama River.  We took the kids up there to get their wiggles out before the drive home.  Last year we walked along this river and looked at the Riverboat, restaurants, and amphitheater.  That hot day seemed like a very long time ago. Then we got back in the car, cranked up the heat, and drove home.
So was it worth it?

I'm not sure if the kids really learned anything about the Civil Rights Movement.  I know I learned a few things and so did my husband.  One day my kids will be old enough to learn more about Martin Luther King and the work he did in the Civil Rights Movement.  I'm glad that I have pictures to show them of our visits to Montgomery.  And I'm sure that knowing they have stood in those historic locations will help my children appreciate the things they'll learn.

One thing is for certain.  My children will never have a reason to say that they have no idea who Dr King was or that all he did was give a speech.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Texas Seaport Museum - Galveston, Texas


Description: Located near the Galveston Cruise Terminal, the Texas Seaport Museum preserves a time when people sailed out of Galveston Harbor on much smaller ships. Inside the museum you can view displays of items that were used 100 years ago when Galveston was a bustling port for shipping cotton.  Outside the museum you can take a self guided tour of the Tall Ship Elissa - one of the oldest sailing vessels left in the world.  As you walk the decks of the ship  you can imagine what life would have been like for the sailors who called the ship home.

Location: 2100 Harborside Drive, Galveston, Texas.  This on the north side of the island in the downtown area of Galveston.  The museum is right next to the bay.

Cost:  The cost for the museum, including a tour of the Elissa, is $12 for adults and $9 for children age 6 to 18.  Children under 6 are free.  If you wish you can add a harbor tour onto your ticket for only $8 more for adults and $6 more for children.  (A harbor tour by itself costs $10 for adults and $8 for children so this deal will save you $2 per ticket.)

Operating Seasons and Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.  The last tickets are sold at 4:00 pm.

Official Website: http://www.galvestonhistory.org/attractions/maritime-heritage/texas-seaport-museum

Date of Visit: Thursday, November 6, 2014

This was the first stop of the sixth day of the Texas Coastline Road Trip that my husband and I took our kids on in November of 2014. We'd camped the night before at Galveston Island State Park.  It had rained most of the night, and so the morning had got off to a soggy start.  After a trip to a laundry mat we were ready to start exploring more of the island.

Monday, January 11, 2016

5 Places to visit on Martin Luther King Day in Montgomery, Alabama


I'm very excited for Martin Luther King Day this year.  My family currently lives an hour an a half away from Montgomery, Alabama, and so we are planning to go up there to visit places where Dr. King did important things with the Civil Rights Movement.

Dr. King lived in Montgomery from 1954 to 1960.  During that time his work with the Civil Rights Movement was influential in changing not only the city, but also the world.  Many of the places where civil rights events happened have been turned into monuments to the movement.

I started out just making a little list of the places I wanted to visit with my family.  I thought I'd do a post all about them after we got home from our visit.  But I realized that I should share what I learned now so that you can use it to plan a trip to visit these places on Martin Luther King Day too.  I've added a few pictures from a trip my family took to Montgomery in May of 2015.

So here are 5 places to visit on Martin Luther King Day in Montgomery, Alabama.

1. Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church
Located at 454 Dexter Avenue
What better place to observe Martin Luther King day than at a church where he was a pastor? Dr. King was the pastor of this church from 1954-1960.  From here he helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycotts in 1955.

The parsonage where Dr. King lived with his young family is located several blocks from the church.  Its has been redone to appear as it did back when Dr King lived here.  The address for the parsonage is 309 S Jackson Street.

During the week the church and the parsonage are open for tours. Tours are available on the hour from Tuesday through Saturday starting at 10:00 am.  Reservations are required for the tours.

The church is still an operating church and everyone is welcome to worship with the congregation on Sundays.

Even though Martin Luther King day is on a Monday the church will be open for tours.  Reservations will not be required on this day either.

The cost of a tour is $7.50 adults and $5.50 for children.

For more information visit http://www.dexterkingmemorial.org/ or call (334) 263-3970

2. Alabama State Capitol Grounds - Ending place of the Selma to Montgomery March
600 Dexter Avenue
The State Capitol is located across the street from the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church.  As you walk up Dexter Avenue from the church you will be walking on the same path that the members of the Selma to Montgomery March traveled.  On the grounds there are several information plaques detailing events from the Selma to Montgomery marches.

These marches were held in 1965 to protest the systematic exclusion of African Americans from registering to vote. Dr. King was involved in organizing the marches and gave his "How Long, Not Long speech in front of the capitol at the conclusion of the main march.

The capitol will be closed for the holiday, but on normal weekdays you can take a free tour of the state capitol. The visitor entrance to the capitol is located at the back of the building.  Self guided tours are available from Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 4:00.  Self guided tours are not available on Saturdays but you can join a guided tour at 11:00, 1:00, or 3:00.

For more information visit http://www.preserveala.org/capitoltour.htm or call (334) 242-0347.

3. Civil Rights Memorial and Center
400 Washington Ave

The Civil Rights Memorial is a black granite slab with water flowing across it.  The names of people who were killed during the Civil Rights Movement are listed on the monument along with a chronology of important events.

The monument is located in a open plaza across the street from the Southern Poverty Law Center. It is free to visit and always accessible.

The Civil Rights Memorial Center is located next to the memorial.  It features exhibits about the people who died during the civil rights movement.

The center is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 4:30, and from 10:00 to 4:00 on Saturdays

Admission is $2 per adult, and children under the age of 18 are free.

The center will wave the fee on Martin Luther King Day.

For more information about the Memorial and the Memorial Center visit https://www.splcenter.org/civil-rights-memorial or call 334-956-8439.

4. Rosa Parks Library and Museum
252 Montgomery Street (The children's wing of the museum is located at 220 Montgomery Street.)

This museum is located on the spot where Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her bus seat to a white man on December 1, 1955.  She was arrested and four days later she was found guilty of disorderly conduct. The afternoon of the trail The Montgomery Improvement Association was formed and Dr. Martin Luther King was selected as president.  The bus boycott was started that same day as the trial.  It lasted 382 days, and ended when the segregated service was ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court.

The museum is open Monday through Friday 9:00-5:00 (last tour at 4:00) and on Saturday from 9:00 to 3:00.

The museum has two wings, one of which is specifically geared toward children.  Cost for visiting the museum depends on if you want to visit both wings.  The cost for anyone over the age of 12 is $7.50 for one wing or $14 for both.  The cost for children from ages 4 to 12 is $5.50 for one wing and $10 for both

For more information visit http://www.troy.edu/rosaparks/ or call 334-241-8661

5. Freedom Riders Museum
The Freedom Riders were a group of Caucasian and African American people who were attempting to highlight the fact that even though segregation was against the law it was still happening.  They were trained in non-violent protesting, and they met a great deal of hostility as they traveled throughout the Southern States. This museum is located at the Greyhound station where Freedom Riders were brutally attacked by a mob in May of 1961.

The Freedom Riders had already been treated violently in South Carolina; Anniston, Alabama; and Birmingham, Alabama before they reached Montgomery.  In Montgomery they were met with a mob  of 200 people carrying baseball bats and metal pipes.  Twenty people were seriously injured in the ensuing beating.  Dr. King was living in Georgia at the time of the incident.  After the incident he came to Montgomery, and gave a speech in support of the Freedom Riders.  The US Marshals were called in to protect Dr. King and his supporters from another angry mob.

As with everything there are many more interesting details to this story. I highly suggest you read this article by the National Park Service about what happened at the Montgomery Greyhound station.

The museum is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 12:00 to 4:00.  I was unable to find out if the museum will be open on Monday for Martin Luther King Day.  Even if the museum is not open there are exhibit panels on the outside that tell the Freedom Riders' Story. These are free to view and always accessible.

The cost of admission to the inside of the museum is $5 for adults,  and $3 for children ages 6 to 18.

For more information visit http://www.preserveala.org/greyhoundstation.aspx or call 334-230-2680

* * * * *

I'm hoping that we will be able to visit all 5 of these places on Martin Luther King Day.  They are all located within a mile of each other so it shouldn't be too much of a problem to visit all of them. There will be free parking on this holiday so that will make it even easier to visit these places.



Extras

Selma
If you have time, I highly suggest you drive out to Selma and visit the sights along the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail (Highway 80).  There are several interpretive centers along the 54 mile drive.

When you get to Selma you will cross over the Historic Edmund Pettus Bridge.  This is where marches were attacked by the National Guard while cameras broadcast the event on live TV.  The event took place on March 7, 1965 and became known as Bloody Sunday.  The National Voting Rights Museum is located at the foot of the bridge.

In Selma you can visit the Selma Interpretive Center, located at the intersection of Water Ave. and Broad St. You can also visit the Brown Chapel AME Church where the marches were organized. And you can also take a walking tour on Martin Luther King Street.
Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma














Birmingham
Birmingham is another city where important things happened during the Civil Rights movement.  Birmingham is located 90 miles north of Montgomery. If you have time to make the drive there are several places you should visit.

Probably the most famous place to visit is the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham.  This is the location where four young girls were killed by a bomb in 1963.  Across the street from the church is Kelly Ingram Park where civil rights demonstrations were held to protest the parks' segregation from African Americans.  The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is located near the church and park and contains many exhibits that teach about the importance of the Civil Rights movement.
Sixteenth Street Baptist Church - Birmingham, Alabama














I'm very excited to visit these places.  I want my children to know that Martin Luther King Day is much more than just a day off of school and work.

So how did it go?  Click here to find out. 

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