Chandor Gardens

I’m still shopping for an English saddle that will fit Mahogany’s very broad, very short back. I’ve noticed lately that even her Western saddle, which is plenty wide, has begun to bridge on her withers and loins. It’s a self-perpetuating problem, since the too-long saddle creates pressure points that cause her to raise her head and hollow her back, which over time changes her back muscles and makes the bridging worse.

So I drove to Weatherford to look at a promising-looking used English saddle. Since Luke and Elizabeth both had the day free, we decided to check out Chandor Gardens while we were in the neighborhood.




The gardens were a labor of love by the English artist Douglas Chandor, who came to the U.S. in 1926 and moved to Weatherford in 1934.



I love all the fun details, like this brick-and-gravel “labyrinth…”


…the moon gate…


…and this, whatever it is.


The estate is smallish, but charming.




We loved Chandor Gardens, but sadly, the saddle didn’t work out. I’ve decided to get an english-style treeless saddle, since at this point I’m out of other ideas within my price range. I like the idea of a treeless saddle anyway, even though most of them are kind of hideous. They do allow much closer contact between horse and rider. Got my fingers crossed that this is the solution I’ve been looking for.


Categories: A Plethora of Parks, Animals, environment, Family, Gardening, Horses, kids, Life | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Wordless Wednesday: Beneath the Shade Tree

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Categories: Animals, environment, Horses, Life, trees, Weather, Wordless Wednesday | 1 Comment

Summer’s End

I got a whiff of fall in the air on this morning’s ride. Little signs are everywhere: ripe berries along the roadside, leaves starting to turn. Mahogany is darkening as her winter coat begins to replace the sunburned summer coat.



I’m ready!


Categories: Animals, environment, Horses, Life, trail rides, trees, Weather | Leave a comment

The Perot Museum

I got a rare Saturday off last week. Elizabeth already had plans to go to Six Flags with a friend that day, so I asked Luke if there was anything he would like to do. He immediately suggested the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which has been on his to-do list pretty much since we first moved here.


The museum is architecturally striking.



Its visible components are mainly glass and unpainted concrete inside and out, which sounds like it should be ugly but is surprisingly attractive. It gave me the sense of being at an archeological site in progress, which may have been what they were going for.


The best way to experience the Perot is to start at the fourth floor and work your way down. There are stairs and elevators, but a glass-walled escalator near the museum entrance will take you directly to the top and provide some nice views on the way up.






Obligatory logo shot:


A window near a fourth-floor bench offers this view:


The fourth floor features exhibits focusing on the beginning of the universe, the basics of physics and prehistoric fossil records. And also this guy:


Lots of hands-on exhibits throughout the museum.


This one is fun. You control red, green and blue RGB outputs to change the color of the big column. It all looks white in the photos, but in person there were actual colors. Luke and I were trying hard to make the column turn brown, but we never succeeded. Orange was as close as we got.


Dinosaur bones! Love this hall. There are two levels here, so you can get a good look at the larger/higher skeletons.

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The turtle skeleton is very cool.


This might be the most metal-looking skull I have ever seen:


T Rex!


Obligatory selfie with the T Rex


We had bought our museum tickets in advance, including special tickets for a 3D film about America’s national park system. When we finished up on the fourth floor, it was time to head back down to the first floor for the movie. That was 45 minutes well spent; the film was awesome. It reinspired my resolution to visit at least half of the national parks at some point.

After the movie, we got a surprisingly tasty lunch at the museum cafe, and then we picked up the exhibits where we had left off.

The third floor houses, among other things, the energy exhibits. The energy hall sings the praises of fracking with a bizarre level of enthusiasm.


There’s even a flight-simulator-type ride that “shrinks” you and takes you underground into the fracking process. I suppose the message is supposed to be “fracking is fun!” but I got off the ride even more horrified by the entire concept than when I got on. I’m probably not the target audience, though.

On the second floor, we found some more modern fauna…

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…including these “slices” of humans captured by MRI technology.


The second floor also houses the “engineering and innovation” hall, which was far and away Luke’s favorite.




On the basement level there is a children’s museum with an adorable walkable model of Dallas.


The Perot is a pretty awesome museum, I’m glad Luke finally talked me into taking him. It’s a nice way to escape the Texas summer heat, too.

As a side note, there is another “branch” of the Perot Museum in Fair Park, but it is currently closed for refurbishment. It’s on our list, though.

Categories: Animals, Family, food, kids, Life, Love | Tags: | Leave a comment

In the Hall of the Mountain King (Road Trip, Part II)

We woke to heavy rain the next morning. Elizabeth was worried that we would not be able to do the Zip Lines or the Canopy Explorer at Natural Bridge like we’d planned. But by the time we pulled into the park, the rain had all but stopped.



We went straight to the outdoor attractions, in case the weather turned wet again later. It’s hard to describe the Canopy, but it’s a lot of fun and looks like this:


You’re buckled into a harness the whole time, so you can’t fall while you practice your balance beam and tightrope skills.

I actually balked when we did the zip line thing and I saw the view from the top platform. I thought I had outgrown my fear of heights, but apparently not. Once I was off the edge and sailing through the sky, though, it was all good.

Here’s the Natural Bridge that inspired the park’s name:



We did two separate cavern tours, the Hidden Passages Tour and the Discovery Tour. The first, Hidden Passages, is smallish but has some striking formations.






The second tour, Discovery, was my favorite cave tour of the trip. This runs through a string of amazing caverns with names like “Castle of the White Giants,” “Hall of the Mountain King” and “Sherwood Forest.”









It was raining hard again when the Discovery Tour ended, and this time it didn’t let up. Alas, Austin remains unexplored. Our next stop was in Bedford, to grab some cake for Luke, and then home.

The plan has always been to travel after the kids are grown. Little “test runs” like this are a good way to experiment with what kinds of things we enjoy and want to do more of, and which things we can leave off the list without losing anything of value. They’re also useful for stepping away from the everyday routine and getting a better sense of perspective on the small struggles that we get bogged down in. Sometimes the solutions look obvious from a distance.

I’d like to say it’s good to be home, but if I’m honest, really all I want to do right now is go climb a mountain or explore the black depths of an untended cave, or maybe camp on a clifftop with giant redwoods on one side and the wild sea on the other. There’s a whole world out there, and the harness of civilization seems even less appealing now than it did when I took it off four days ago. I guess it’s time to start saving up for the next trip.

Categories: Birthdays, Celebrations, Family, kids, Life, Road trip, Travel, Weather | Leave a comment

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