Musings of a Museum Fanatic: July 2016


Story Time on the Naperville Riverwalk

One of my favorite parts of summer is heading to the Naperville Riverwalk on a Tuesday night. Why you might ask? To see my Mom and the other awesome library ladies sharing their Riverwalk story time. Every Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning the three branches of the Naperville Public Library host a children's story time on the Riverwalk. You really need to bring your kids or just stop by as you're enjoying the beautiful Riverwalk. Seriously check it out!

Dad and I were regulars when I lived at home but it's been a while since I went to one. I had the idea earlier this summer since Lane was a little older he might actually enjoy it. So Kevin, Bethany, Lane and I thought it would be fun to surprise Mom. She was definitely surprised!!

He's happy he can see Gigi (My Mom)

Kevin was trying to get him to sit on his lap. What does Lane do? Turns around runs to me and throws himself on my lap. It was pretty awesome haha. Poor Kevin!

Library Ladies in action!

I only got a little bit of the action unfortunately. Technical difficulties ... aka your nephew tries to grab the phone from you.

It was an awesome evening! Lane, Kevin and Bethany loved their first Riverwalk story time. This is probably my top 10 favorite photo ever. 


The Alamo

When you visit San Antonio there is one place you MUST go. I'm pretty sure they won't allow you to fly home unless you've been there for a visit. That is the Alamo. In 1744 Spanish missionaries laid the foundation after several different sites. For 70 years this was home to the Spanish missionaries and their converts. Four more missions were established in the San Antonio area after the Alamo. 

After the decline of the Spanish rule and Mexico declaring its independence the Alamo became a military outpost and remained so. In the 1820's an effort was made to increase the population in Texas, so Mexico opened it up to Americans who wanted to colonize.  

What started as a trickle soon turned into a full on flood. Much like the American Revolution, with the feeling ignored in how the country and their state in particular was run. It was the job of the Alamo Company to bring back the cannon given to the inhabitants of San Antonio to use as protection against the Comanches. Well they weren't about to give it up. In fact they turned on the soldiers, refused to give it back and taunted at them "Come and Take It". Well hello Texas Revolution.

Two significant battles were fought in San Antonio, the Siege and Battle of Bexar and the Battle of the Alamo. While the rebels were successful in the first they were not in the second. The assault on the mission and killing of all the Texan defenders led to the now famous battle cry "Remember the Alamo". Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett were among the brave fighters.

The grounds of the Alamo were lovely, much of the gardens were in bloom and there were historical reenactors talking to visitors. Both in the Long Barracks and the Alamo Mission itself there are exhibits telling you about the history of the Alamo and the Texas Revolution. In 2011 the Alamo and the other San Antonio missions were nominated to go on the UNESCO World Heritage List because of their key role in American history.  


Chart House in Tower of the Americas

Chicago has the Sears Tower and New York has the Empire State Building, most cities have their iconic tall buildings. San Antonio is no different but theirs is in tower form ... Tower of the Americas to be exact. This 750-foot-tall tower was built as the theme structure of the 1968 World's Fair, HemisFair '68. You can pay to go up to the observation deck for sure but when we found out about the Chart House Restaurant we were all over that. Why pay to just go to the observation deck when you can have lunch and the view too?

The Chart House gives spectacular views as the restaurant rotates one full rotation every hour. Both Kevin and I were surprised at just how fast the rotation was. We were expecting not to be able to tell at all that it was moving but you can definitely see it moving. The food is just as good as the views. We both enjoyed some of the iconic seafood dishes as well as splurging on the totally indulgent must have dessert, Hot Chocolate Lava Cake. While the luscious seafood does come with a steeper price there is a well priced Happy Hour menu that can be enjoyed with the great views on a weeknight.

We really enjoyed the meal and the entire experience! Although near the end Kevin was feeling the rotation a little too much. Our booth was this odd little corner one tucked right against the window, it was one of the best seats in the place! I wish I had gotten a photo.

My crab topped salmon was insane. I wanted to lick the plate it was so good! Kevin really enjoyed his as well, it was an avocado pico topped fish.

Now for the part you've been waiting for ... the view! These were all taken from our table.

The park that the Tower of the Americas sits in is just as lovely as the view from the table. We enjoyed walking around after lunch for a while. We saw a cute duck family and even some crazy characters!


The Buckhorn Museum & the Texas Ranger Museum

We all know I can't go anywhere without visiting a museum, I can even find a museum at Disney World. Through my research I came across the Buckhorn Museum and Texas Ranger Museum. These two museums come together in one large building with the Buckhorn Saloon. While I did lots of research, I'm not gonna lie I was surprised at what the Buckhorn Museum really turned out to be in person!

As you can see before you even enter the building you can tell it's a whole different type of museum.

After we paid the entrance fee, we were highly encouraged to grab a drink at the saloon bar to enjoy throughout the exhibits. Being a museum professional I had a bit of a hard time with this one plus it was 9am! We decided to wait until we went through the Texas Ranger Museum portion (as you'll see later!)

As I mentioned I had looked at the website and was aware that there would be lots of taxidermy specimens but we were totally taken aback at the sheer number of them. All of the horn furniture was also unexpected. We learned as we went through that the original proprietors, Albert & Emile Friedrich, of the saloon realized early on that people in the early days of the frontier didn't always have money for booze (the horror). So they came up with a barter system, they would barter horns and antlers for beers and whiskey. This worked out quite well.

Albert and Emile quickly amassed one of the largest and most unique collections of antlers and horns. Some of the specimens in their collection are record holders, you'll see the 10,000 Irish Elk image below and they have the record holding 78 point buck.

What a lovely image of a deer (with a very odd and life like Teddy Roosevelt!) you might be saying ... well if you look a little closer that image is made out of rattle snake rattles. This was Emile's hobby. She would also accept a jar of rattles in exchange for a drink. Through her lifetime she collected more than 52,000 rattles and made numerous pictures from them. They were sprinkled throughout the museum.

This is the Irish Elk.

Smiling badger is saying hello!

Then there was the circus/sideshow part of the museum. This started out with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show and the moved into the more recent side shows. We really enjoyed the interactive parts of this exhibit.

Then it was back to the bar an on to the Texas Ranger exhibit.

Kevin and I really enjoyed The Buckhorn Museum & the Texas Ranger Museum. They were both fun and a good way to see some authentic Texas!