Grapes in Texas

In France, Greece, Chile, Argentina, Australia, California, Oregon, and South Africa we visited wineries, tasting rooms, and vineyards this year, so, when we saw that we were in Texas in time for the Grapevine Grapefest, we knew we could not miss it.  Boy is an expert on grapes, now, and the event promised a free kids activity area.


To avoid the 90+ F/ 35+ C temperature, we got there in the morning when the gates opened.  We enjoyed the festival music and food, playing some games of skill to win a few prizes before trying any wine.  The event featured areas spotlighting Oregon wines, Argentinian wines, and USA sparking wines from various regions.  The main area, however, was the Texas producers.  We wandered through the festival and sampled a variety of Texas wines.  Many were very sweet, as Texas wines traditionally have been, but some winemakers have been experimenting with Spanish varietals to make a dryer wine.  After our year of vineyard experiences, we decided Texas wines were not our favorite, but we still found a glass to enjoy with lunch.

Back to schoolwork

After two weeks of Christmas vacation, there were vocal protests when we returned to our studies this morning.

Even with the view.


We have a few more days in Australia, with a bit more visiting friends, and a bit more beach. We are, however, getting ready for our next stretch through South America.

We started with Spanish lessons. We are reviewing with Salsa, a free online streaming video from GPB, just for lower elementary kids.

We are also reviewing geography. These are a few of our reading books this week:



We are loving the Lonely Planet Not For Parents book! Though I have had a peek.

Port Maquarie

A few hours up the NSW coast from Sydney, we stopped in Port Macquarie. The former penal colony is now full of beaches and caf├ęs. We enjoyed both, basing ourselves in an apartment along Lighthouse beach.

Our last big push of schoolwork, before we take a Christmas break, had us focusing on Australian geography and history. Here are a few of our books:




We were able to get a temporary library membership, so that has been a great supplement to our e-reader books this month. Boy has enjoyed a stack of “fun” books, too. Dad and I are spending our library time with travel guides and wifi, planning our next travel leg.

Port Macquarie is also Australia’s koala capital, home to a large eucalyptus forest and a koala rescue hospital. We walked through the state forest trees and toured the hospital. Local vets and volunteers treat dozens of animals at a time, some ill and others injured in traffic accidents.

A small rainforest ecosystem is also found here, along the ocean. We hiked the elevated path through the trees at the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre. The interpretive center provided children with laminated wildlife spotting cards. We saw local bush turkeys, but did not find any other birds on our walk.

The path to Lighthouse Beach:


Our final tourist stop was a local farm. Honeycomb Valley Farm is an organic farm that gives tours to the public and sells local honey. Along with another family, we toured the farm, met the animals, checked out the beehives, and tasted some honey. The kids completed a scavenger hunt with a prize of a bee shaped cookie at the end. Boy enjoyed feeding the chickens and cleaning the fresh eggs before packing them in egg cartons.

Australian Summer

From Malaysia, we flew to Australia, arriving into Sydney at the beginning of December. We lived here for many years, so this was almost “home.” After a night in the city, and a bit of Christmas shopping, we rented a car and drove North, up the coast of New South Wales. Our destination was a rental apartment in the Mid-north coast town of Port Macquarie.

Right along the coast with a view of the ocean, we settled in for a rest and a round of heavy planning for our next leg of our travels, South America.

Our schoolbooks: