In the Summer, my boys and I like to take a drive to Clark Gardens in Mineral Wells. Have you been there? Well, it’s time you went!
Not too far from Fort Worth, but just far enough to feel like an adventure, it’s an easy day trip with kids.
Here’s how we do it…
We try to start out early to beat the summer heat, but, trust me, we’ve never gotten there when they open at 7:00 a.m. It’s a pretty straight shot from Weatherford on US 180, but I can’t resist taking I20 to 281. It’s a little out of the way, but totally worth it to see the hilly terrain and Brazos River.
When you turn on to Maddux Road a little East of Mineral Wells, you’ll wonder why you bothered making the trip. Scrubby cactus and mesquite line the drive. But trust us and go on in; we promise you’ll be surprised.
Owners Max and Billie Clark started landscaping their yard for their daughter’s wedding years ago, and just kept on going.
And going. And going. I’ve told you about my gardening abilities – or lack thereof – before, and how a mesquite patch could be transformed into something this lush and beautiful is just too much for my little flower-killing self to imagine.
We like to start off through a series of lily ponds and butterfly islands. My boys keep their eyes out for frogs and turtles perched on the lily pads, and, this year, the gate attendant gave us something new to watch for: Big Bertha. Apparently, a huge water snake has lived around one of the water falls for years and we never knew it. We searched high and low, only to find out she was spotted on the other end of the park that day. You could take that as a big loss or big win, depending on your opinion of snakes.
Next, feeding the ducks and goldfish keep the boys busy while we relax under the ceiling fans of one of many pavilions around the gardens. We make the boys pose sweetly for a few more pictures than they would like.
Then head off to their favorite part of all: the Train Station.
And what a train station it is. Inside, trains pull into models of old Mineral Wells and Weatherford. Outside, they chug past each other through miniature farms, nearby towns, over bridges and across rivers. My boys are captivated, watching from every angle and always hoping to see a lizard or a squirrel on the tracks.
When we’re all finally satisfied at the train station, we mosey through the rest of the park. My boys call to the peacocks while we make our way through rose gardens and daylily beds. They put up with our interest in the Historic Tree Trail, and run through the shade to an overlook high above the valley. They tiptoe into the chapel, and then sing at the top of their voices when they notice the booming echo and realize no one else is inside.
We typically pack some snacks and drinks, and there are drinking fountains all through the park. Still, by lunch we are very hot and very hungry, and very happy to have seen the whole park one more time.We drive back in to Mineral Wells for barbecue at the Mesquite Pit, and then head home, exhausted.
A house full of sleeping kiddos is the sign of a very good day trip!
What fun little trips do you like to take with your family? Tell us about them!
You are so Cute, Smart and Organized,
My family used to go canoeing in the summer, and my parents were always sweet to help me keep an eye out for small, flat stones with a tiny hole eroded in them from the river water. I would bring these rocks home and lace onto a piece of string to make a necklace. If the stone just happened to be heart-shaped, it was all the better.
My boys are constantly bringing home their own little keepsakes like this. Seashells, an especially pretty branch of pinecones and special rocks all come home from our trips in pockets and suitcases.
I recently ran across this picture in a Ballard Designs catalog that gave me the idea to make little jars for all the treasures they bring home. Aren’t they pretty?
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own:
Glass Jars: I used a three-pack of spring-hinge jars by Spare Parts at Hobby Lobby, $5.99
Clear-drying Glue for Glass: Try Weldbond, $6 on Amazon
Metal Label Holders: I used a multipack by Spare Parts at Hobby Lobby, $2.99
Paper, Pens, and Scissors
-Get your 40% off Hobby Lobby Coupon Here–
…And here’s what you’ll do:
Following package directions, glue your sea shell to the lid of the jar and give it plenty of time to dry. Patience, patience…
Using your Metal Label Holders as a template, cut the Paper into rectangular labels. Give each label a title, such as the name of the beach where you collected your sand, or the year of your vacation, and write it out in your prettiest (or your child’s cutest…or your printer’s trendiest…) handwriting.
Mold the Metal Label Holders to match the curve of the jar by holding the Label Holder against the jar and pressing with your thumbs from the center of the Holder to the edges.
Thread a 10-inch piece of Jute Twine through the Label Holder, going in the hole from front to back on the right, across the back, and out the hole, back to front, on the left. Center the Label Holder on the jar, wrap the Twine around the back, and tie tightly to secure. Trim the tails as needed.
Wrap another 10-inch piece of Twine around the mouth of the jar, and tie it in the front with a handsome square knot. Fray the ends of the twine.
Slip your Label into the Label Holder, and you’re all set to fill your jar with treasure.
Here’s another look at the finished product:
Does your family save mementos like this from your vacations? Show us how you display them! What kind of keepsakes would you store in your jars?
You are so Cute, Smart and Organized!