Road Trip

Would any road trip through Texas be complete without a gigantic cowboy hat?

Emancipation Park is a real park in Houston, Texas. On a regular day, it looks just like a regular city park - it's medium sized, well-kept, and filled with little kids -- and some bigger ones. On Juneteenth, it's filled with families of all colors picnicking, barbecuing, and commemorating the day that Texas slaves learned that their long days of slavery were finally a thing of the past.

Juneteenth wasn't always an easy day to celebrate. Many celebrations, in the 1800's, were interrupted by sharecroppers demanding that their laborers return to work. Many cities refused to rent their facilities to large groups of African Americans, fearing that if too many gathered in one place, they would decide to riot. It was important that African Americans came up with their own places to celebrate. In 1872, freed slaves in Houston collected a thousand dollars to buy a plot of land on what would later be Elgin Street at Dowling, so that they could have someplace to celebrate. And though the park now belongs to the city, it is open daily to remind us that freedom is something to celebrate every single day.

The World's Largest Rocking Chair is reported to be in Gulfport, Mississippi. Thirty-five feet tall, this pine rocker probably would rock, if only there was enough weight in it... and it wasn't anchored to the ground! This chair is NOT the world's largest -- there are tons of states out there vying for that title. Indiana and South Carolina are currently in the lead. See other weird -- and ridiculously outsized -- roadside attractions here:

Granted, Disneyworld IS awesome. But the House of Mouse is only one of the places you can visit off of Interstate 75 in Florida. Mare dragged Tali and Octavia to the Lego Imagination Center, on an airboat ride through the Cypress swamps, to a Aladdin-themed dinner theater, and got a kick out of watching Tali cringe at the circling birds and the leaping alligators at Gatorland.

Tali got her back, though.

SkyVenture in Orlando has a wind tunnel that professional sky divers use for practice on their sky diving trips. There was a lot of laughing, as everyone giggled at how crazy they looked in their goggles, jumpsuits, and helmets. There was also a lot of screaming, as Mare learned how to be weightless! The girls discovered that the feeling of flying is totally addictive, and they had an AMAZING time.

And Mare was pretty happy to just play miniature golf and see movies for a few days after that!