Thursday, September 8, 2011

Skateboards, Star Wars, and Smoke

We went to Houston for Labor Day weekend, and while we were there, Mom took Alex shopping for an early birthday present: a skateboard.

Carl and I had talked about it before hand, and had decided Alex was finally old enough to venture into the world of extreme sports.
  He was thrilled!

He called it the best present EVER, and by the end of the weekend, he was already frighteningly good at it.

 Mom also got Ryan a "mini" skateboard. He's still not quite sure what to do with it, so when we went to her local elementary school for some nice flat surfaces, Ryan mostly hung around this pole while Alex went to town on his skateboard.
 Our other big event for the weekend was getting together with my good friend, Lisa, and her kids Xavi and Jane, for a trip to the Houston Museum of Health. It was actually cooler than it sounds - more of a children's science museum. And most importantly, it was host to the exhibit, "Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination."

We looked at a lot of costumes and props from the films.

Alex was especially enthralled with the weapon display. It featured elegant weapons from a more civilized age, blasters, and even had a thermal detonator.

But everyone's favorite part was the hands-on display where you build your very own landspeeder, out of, you guessed it, LEGOs and magnets. It was actually quite exciting, when you could get your magnets in the right place and your craft would hover like it was supposed to.

Sadly, the Millennium Falcon ride had sold out right before we got there. But Lisa and I were the only disappointed ones - the kids didn't even notice.

We had a great weekend, and the only dark spot was the dark spot so many Texans suffered from - the horrific fires which engulfed Bastrop and so many areas of Austin. This was an insane weekend - when we drove out to Houston on Saturday, we passed a fire on the side of the road. The flames were crazy huge, but there were no fire trucks in sight. I called 911, and was shocked to be told I was only the second report of the fire. Within five minutes, we passed four fire trucks rushing towards that scene, but given the way those flames were going, I can't imagine what destruction the fire caused in those five minutes.

Twice in Houston we drove past what we thought were accident scenes - but they were fires that had only just been put out.

And our drive home on Labor Day took us over five hours - a drive I can normally make in 2:45. We always take Highway 290, but we still travelled with a scary view of the Bastrop fire for much of the drive. And when we were finally in Austin, and I took the completely out of the way toll road home just to get off the not-going-anywhere 290 as soon as possible, we made that high up turn from 45 to 183 south, and the vistas looked like something out of a war zone. You could see the Leander fires, the Steiner Ranch fires, the Spicewood/Pedernales fire, and of course, the scary Bastrop fire, even though we were 30 miles away. It looked as if someone had dropped bombs over Central Texas.

I hope I never see a sight like that again.

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