This past weekend our little family packed up and took a trip down memory lane. Literally. It has been 18 years since George and I first attended college together at Sam Houston State University and 15 since we graduated. We had met Spring 2000 while working at Six Flags AstroWorld in Houston, before I transferred to SHSU. So last weekend we loaded out stuff in Clementine and headed to Huntsville State Park, in Huntsville, Texas, to explore our old campus and the surrounding area and show Jamie where our family began.
I’ll share some of the activities we did in a bit, but first can I just express how absolutely amazing it was to go back to a place that we had been away from for so many years but felt like we’d been there just last week. It was great to see all the changes intermingled with all the so many things from out time there- both on campus and in the community.
Walking the campus of our old college definitely made me feel both young and old at the same time. I both wanted to return to that time in my life and reflected on how far we’d come from that point. It was both a very conflicting and comforting feeling. I admit, I also had a lot of comments about how spoiled students are today with cafes, groceries store and such. We had to walk to stores off campus when we were students there … or eat at the cafeteria. It made me feel a bit like my grandparents “walking uphill both ways in the snow”.
I highly recommend taking your kids on a “Walk Down Memory Lane” one day, even if you are still living in the area. I hope that one day Jamie looks back and realizes how amazing that weekend was for us as a family. Just he chance to see a physical place where two individuals came together and how much has been affected by a few choices and decisions made in that “moment in time”.
So what did we do over the weekend? Let me show you what you can do if you are in the Huntsville area …
Huntsville State Park
I was pretty excited to stay at the local state park when we made plans to go to Huntsville for the weekend. There were so many hiking trails, the boys loved swimming in Lake Raven and biking and the campsites were so beautiful. We were surrounded by so many trees and wildflowers. Buster and I logged nearly 7 miles of walking and hiking through the campground and trails. Their education center had a variety of activities to participate in and Jamie also started working on the Junior Ranger packet. This free program, offered by Texas Parks and Wildlife, helps kids learn about nature, by drawing, writing and observing. Jamie enjoyed this activity, which can be done at most of the TPWD State Parks.
Sam Houston Memorial Museum
I love this place! I spend many, many hours walking the nearby track with college friends, played soccer on the field behind it and sat in the shade of the park trees studying. The Sam Houston Memorial Museum is a fifteen acre complex located on the site of the homestead of General Sam Houston. You can tour the homestead and learn about the life and legacy of General Sam Houston. A guided tour consists of a short video about Sam Houston, guided visits to the Woodland Home and Steamboat House with costumed historians, living history demonstrations, a visit to the Main Memorial Museum, and our Museum Store. You may choose from several demonstration options including hearth cooking, historic toys, blackpowder gun and pioneer skills, medicine of the 19th century, and blacksmithing.
We spoke with costumed staff at the gift shop after our independent walk through the park.
(Map source: Sam Houston Memorial Museum)
Sam Houston Statue Visitor Center
One of the popular spots for beginning photography students was the Sam Houston Statue. Not one of the several statues on campus, but rather the world’s tallest statue of an American hero offers a welcome to Huntsville on I-45. It is the ninth-tallest statue in the United States.. The 67-foot tall, gleaming white statue of Sam Houston, dubbed “Big Sam,” is a source of pride for the city and university.
You can find interesting facts about the statue on this webpage. The Visitor Center is operated by the City of Huntsville as a part of their Tourism and Cultural Services Department, but you can find a variety of information on local and state-wide activities. You can also pose with a giant face of the Republic of Texas’ first President nestled in the foliage on the grounds.
City of Huntsville
Spending 3 years in the city of Hunstville, Texas was a never-ending treasure hunt. It’s small-town charm was one of a kind with unique restaurants, cafes and bars to antique venues and more. The community is filled with a variety of places to explore. SOme include:
- Texas Prison Museum
- Museum of Texas Arts
- Museum of Texas Furniture
- H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum of Texas
You can find a list of places to visit by visiting this webpage.
Despite the fact that this post was about the recommendation to take time to explore your past with your family, I also must say, if you are in Huntville, Texas, whether staying or passing through, you should make time to explore this little Texas town. You never know what adventures you’ll find!
Some photos from our Huntsville/SHSU explorations: