10 Things to do Near Abilene this Spring Break
By CANDY REAGAN /
Abilene Families Editor
1. Go Biking
If the Allens’ bike-riding excursions (see Pages 6-7) sound like fun, but you can’t leave town and don’t have much money, never fear.
You can ride right here.
The city of Abilene will host its Steam-N-Wheels race March 18, the second Saturday of Spring Break. The entry fee is only $20 in advance or $25 after March 10. The race starts at 10 a.m. at Nelson Park. Riders can choose from three different courses – a 21-mile ride, a 32-mile ride or the 48-mile race and tour. Prizes will be given for the 48-mile race.
The ride will go out Highway 36 toward the Eula and/or Potosi area, depending on the course.
Families also can join the Abilene Bicycle Club and ride at Buck Creek Trail on East Lake Road. Buck Creek is 11 miles of trails on 180 acres of city-owned property. The trails were created and are maintained by the Bicycle Club. Only members can ride there; however, the membership fee is only $15 per family, most of which goes to pay insurance fees.
Greg Allen, a club member, said the trails are marked with maps and signs, but some of the trails can be very difficult. He recommended beginners try the Mesquite Forest Trail first. Helmets are strictly enforced.
For information on both the Steam-n-Wheels and Buck Creek Trail, call Bike Town, 677-2453.
Bicyclists also can ride in the hills around Buffalo Gap and the Tuscola areas, where Allen said the traffic is light. West Texas’ relatively flat terrain makes it a safe place for riding, he said.
Or the state park at San Angelo offers 30-50 miles of great riding trails, he said.
2. Visit An Abilene Park
Parks are great places for a picnic, a football game or some good old kite flying. And children love the playgrounds.
Best of all, parks are free. Abilene has a number of great parks, including several that offer unique attractions.
See the prairie dogs at Redbud Park, watch the skating at Abilene Skate Park at the west end of Rose Park, feed the ducks at Nelson Park or play Frisbee golf at Cal Young Park. The city has a map of all the parks on its website, www.abilenetx.com.
3. Be A Tourist
Buy one of Abilene’s Roundup Passes and became an Abilene tourist.
The pass is a single ticket that is good for entry into five different attractions: The Grace Museum, The Abilene Zoo, Buffalo Gap Historic Village, Frontier Texas! and The 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum. All have great attractions for children, and if you don’t make it to all five during Spring Break, the Roundup Pass is good for an entire year. Catch the rest during the summer.
The pass also is good for 20 percent off books at the National Center For Children’s Illustrated Literature, where admission is free. Passes cost $15 for adults and $7 for children, which is a $10 savings for adults and a $6 savings for children. They are available at any of the participating locations.
4. Make A Rain Stick
Children love arts and crafts activities. Here’s one that’s pretty easy and lots of fun for younger kids. Once you get this made, go out and do a rain dance. We could use the rain.
• A paper towel tube or other long cardboard tube
• Aluminum foil
• Something like small dried beans, unpopped popcorn, dry rice.
• Brown construction paper
• Crayons or markers
Step 1: Trace around the end of your tube onto a piece of construction paper.
Step 2: Draw a bigger circle around that circle and then draw a lot of spokes between the two circles.
Step 3: Cut out around the bigger circle, and then cut along the spokes. Put glue on the spokes and glue the cap onto one end of your tube.
Step 4: Cut a piece of aluminum foil that is about one and half times the length of your tube and about 6 inches wide. Crunch the aluminum foil into two long, thin, snake-like shapes. Then twist each one into a spring shape.
Step 5: Put the aluminum foil springs into your tube.
Step 6: Pour some dry beans, dry rice, or unpopped popcorn into your tube. The tube should only be about 1/10th full.
Step. 7: Follow Step 3 to make another cap and cap the other end of your tube.
Optional: Decorate the tube by making designs with crayons or markers (or cut-out paper or stickers).
5. Bowl, Skate or Golf
Children love bowling, skating or playing miniature golf. All are available in Abilene, are relatively inexpensive and are a good break from being a couch potato.
6. Texas Fort Trails
Abilene’s Fort Phantom Hill is one of eight historic frontier forts on a 650-mile driving trail in West Central Texas. Several of the forts are an easy day’s drive. Frontier Texas! serves as a Texas Forts Trail Visitor Center. Get information there or at texasfortstrail.com.
Start your spring gardening. Children love digging in dirt, so this can easily be a family activity. The Internet can help you get started.
Monrovia.com has one of the Internet’s best plant databases with detailed profiles and color photos on thousands of plants. Each is listed with up to six or more categories of useful information, including their preferred growing conditions, which could be useful in water-challenged Abilene.
8. Make cool treats!
Children love to tinker in the kitchen. See the bottom of this page for two healthy snacks that are fun to make and good to eat.
They were provided by Judy Gully, Taylor County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences.
9. Spring Clean
This probably won’t be the children’s favorite choice, but it will likely be a hit with mom. Good Luck!
Choose a few special books to read during the break. Remember, reading isn’t just a school activity. It’s a fun activity.
Recipes from No. 8
Easy enough for preschoolers to wrap and roll!
2 to 3 tablespoons peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
1 (8-inch) flour tortilla
1 whole banana
1. Spread peanut butter on one side of tortilla
2. Peel banana and roll up tightly in tortilla
3. Slice into pinwheels or serve whole.
Helpful Hints: If a child is allergic to peanut butter, try substituting cream cheese. Don’t offer peanut butter to children younger than three or four years of age. To prevent choking, spread only a thin layer on bread or wraps. The banana in this wrap makes the peanut butter less sticky and easier to swallow.
1 cup milk
1 ripe banana
1 cup lime sherbet
1. Pour milk into blender
2. Add banana and lime sherbet
3. Blend all ingredients until smooth and serve
These recipes were provided by Judy Gully, Taylor County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences