Day Tripping

Striking a balance between work and play is something everyone strives for. And when it’s time to play, lots of things factor into how that time should be spent. I know I’ve repeatedly said how much I like free things to do. We’ve found, if you plan it right, you can get LOTS of fun for free. Our last 3 day trips are great examples of frugal fun!

DAY TRIP #1 – The Salt Palace – Grand Saline, Texas

Grand Saline, Texas is home to one of the largest salt mines in the US. The underground salt dome is 1 1/2 miles wide and over 4 miles deep, yes, I said MILES. In the late 1890’s, there were several salt producing companies. Around 1920 The Grand Saline Salt Company acquired them all and later became known as Morton Salt. By 1930, they were mining over 500 tons of salt daily. The building which houses the salt museum has the distinction of being the only building in the world built entirely of salt blocks…

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Inside is a neat collection of Morton Salt memorabilia…

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Morton stopped doing mine tours in the 1960’s. but there was a 20 minute movie showing some of the history and the mining operation. The cost to visit – nada! But donations are accepted.

DAY TRIP #2 – Grapefest, Grapevine, Texas

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We chose to head over to Grapevine on Thursday because…wait for it…it was free admission day!  Score!! There was free parking and a free shuttle. Every year Grapefest highlights different regions. This year it was wines from the Finger Lakes Region of New York and Canadian ice wines. Several years ago, Steve and I did the Seneca Lake wine tour, so we were already familiar with a few of the wineries. Of course that didn’t prevent me from sampling their goods.

Historic downtown Grapevine would have been worth the visit even without Grapefest, from the train depot…

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To the arts…

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But, it really was about the wine…

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DAY TRIP #3 – The Eiffel Tower – Paris, Texas

You don’t have to travel to France to see the Eiffel Tower. You do, however, have to go to Paris. In our case, Paris, Texas. This was another cool Atlas Obscura find.

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Right next to the tower is the Red River Valley Veterans Memorial…

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The memorial is only partially completed, but it is really well done.

So, what are we gong to do with all the money we saved by finding free day trips? Well, you’ll find out next week!

How do you find free things to do?

Out and about

As I mentioned in my last post, we are always looking for cheap (or, even better – free) things to do. One of my co-workcampers suggested we check out a website, www.Atlasobscura.com. According to their site, “Atlas Obscura catalogues the most unusual, surprising, and amazing places around the world, thanks to the discoveries shared by our intrepid community of travelers and explorers. There are now more than 11,000 incredible hidden wonders listed in the Atlas, …” We checked out the interactive map and found lots of places nearby. We plan to visit all of them, but we started in Royse City where we found this…

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Arriving at the vacant field, my first thought was the aliens had landed, then I thought maybe it was a piece of  abandoned playground equipment But having read the description, I knew it was a Futuro House. You can read all about it here. Walking through the field, I happened to notice some rather prickly looking plants…

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I don’t know what it is, but I wouldn’t want to brush against it! Having seen what we came to see, we decided to just drive around. You never know what you might come across.

If you followed my Touring NH blog, you know I love barns and farms. Most of the “farms” here are called ranches and they all seem to have one thing in common, huge front gates, announcing the name of the ranch…

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And the barns are different. Back in NH, they are usually wooden structures. Here they are mostly made of corrugated tin…

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But one thing is universal, an abandoned barn will fall eventually. I think the only thing holding up this barn is the tree in front of it…

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Fields go along with barns & farms/ranches and Texas has some lovely fields, full of beautiful flowers. The flowers seem to dominate the land, filling it with color…

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We stopped at another field and what I thought was a sea of white flowers turned out to be a tall-ish plant with bi-colored top leaves and tiny white flowers…

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I think it is called Snow-on-the-mountain.

Roadside flowers are sometimes planted to “beautify” or “naturalize” an area and Texas boasts of 19 different types of sunflowers. Regardless of the reason, stands of sunflowers have to make you smile…

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Last week, a storm moved through the area, dumping several inches of rain on us. A few days later, the newly drenched ground pushed up a surprise for me – rain lilies

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Another byproduct of the rain was mushrooms galore…

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The final gift from the storm was a sunset worth waiting for…

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Thank you for coming by!

A Day in Sulphur Springs

Steve spent the morning glued to his tablet. He’d been researching free or cheap things to do in the area and had found a couple possibilities. We packed a cooler with waters and a few snacks and headed out. I didn’t ask where we were going, I was just happy to “go along for the ride”. We took the now familiar route to Sulphur Springs and it didn’t take long to find our first stop, Coleman Park . The 186 acre city park has an 18 hole disc golf course. It wasn’t too surprising no one was playing, considering the fact it was nearly 100 degrees. Despite the heat, we set out on the 2 1/2 mile paved loop around the lake.

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There were plenty of wildflowers to keep my camera busy…

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And lots of winged wonders…

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This tree was loaded with seed/nut clusters. I don’t know what kind of tree it is, but I’ll bet the squirrels with be happy when the sees/nuts ripen.

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Sumacs lined part of the trail. I love the flower heads…

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We walked past an unused fishing pier…

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Another pier…

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Crossed bridges…

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We were nearing the end of the loop when we came around the bend to find this…

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As we walked through the tunnel, I stopped to check out the mud dauber’s handiwork…

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Emerging from the tunnel, I could hear the unmistakable sounds of a waterfall…

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The next section of the loop was definitely designed with little explorers in mind…

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I know when my boys were little, they would have loved climbing through the mountain!

It was early afternoon by the time we got back to the jeep, but Steve had one more place in mind to visit. We had a hard time finding the address, but, then again, the little blurb he had read online could have told us what we were looking for was in the city library!

The library showcases the St. Clair music box collection, reportedly, the world’s largest collection…

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Apparently, you can make anything a music box…

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It was time to head back to Waldo and have some dinner, but what a great day of “free fun”!