Since today was our last day of summer vacation (not counting this weekend) we decided to take a field trip. I thought it would be nice to visit the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory. Blue Bell Ice Cream is a Texas insitution. It is completely revered and idolized. I’m not an ice-cream lover, so to me it tastes just like any other ice cream, but what do I know? They do have a darling logo and I love local food of any sort, so I was very gung-ho about going. Mister decided to join us at the last minute so we had a true family outing.
The ice cream factory was nice. It was a typical factory except there were giant vats of chocolate and pecans sitting around. Today the flavors being made were butter pecan, chocolate something-or-other, and cantaloupe-and-cream which is only made for two weeks per year. (I was very disappointed that they didn’t have it in the ice cream shop at the end of the tour. It’s only available in stores.) My favorite part of the tour was the ice cream sandwich machine. It is quite a petite little thing. A huge slab of chocolate brownie-type stuff goes in one side, a pipe full of ice cream goes in the other side, and out comes a perfect little sandwich. Periodically a quality checker opens up a sandwich, peers at for a moment then tosses it into a bucket off to the side. A bucket full of perfectly good sandwiches! Thrown away! The horror! Maybe they ought to share the wealth and pass the rejects out to us drooly-mouthed tour goers.
After out trip to Blue Bell, it seemed a bit sad to already head home (it ended up taking us two hours to get to the factory), so we drove another twenty minutes out of our way and went to the Washington on the Brazos State Park. It consists of the Barrington Living History Museum and yet another museum dedicated to the great awesomeness that is Texas. Really, you have never been to a state that is so enamored with itself. (Not even California.)
The living history museum is quite small. Only six or seven buildings. But it was absolutely fantastic. There was nobody else there, for one thing. So the chatty, amiable and enthusiastic tour guide Mark (complete in 1800’s farmer attire) followed us from place to place describing everything. He has worked there for years and knows history and anecdotes about each item in the place.
The most fabulous thing about this museum is that it is 100% hand’s on. It consists of a house, a cottage, barn, smokehouse and slave quarters, all fully furnished. You can sit on the beds, touch the books, Put a kettle on the stove. There are all sorts of old-fashioned toys for kids to play with; little handmade wheelbarrows to push around; a washboard, laundry line with handmade clothes pins and plenty of clothes to clean so the children could try doing the laundry like in the olden-days. We also got to feed the chickens and pigs, grind corn into meal, and play some handmade instruments.
It was just wonderful, except for the fact that it was unbearably hot and humid since it’s so much closer to Houston. I had sweat dripping off of nearly every body part by the time we left. I don’t know how the poor women back then survived the hot Texas summers with heavy skirts and long sleeves. I would have been romping around in my skivvies the second the thermometer hit 80º. It made me want to cry just thinking about the impossibly hard work it must have been every day on the farm for all of our pioneer ancestors. I definitely don’t have that pioneer drive in me. My spirit is coddled and cultivated. I don’t mind camping for a day or two, but only if I have lots of snacks to keep me going. Heaven help me if our world falls apart and we’re suddenly thrust back into pre-electric times. Mark, the tour-guide, will be all set, but I will be a total basket case.
I’m very upset that I forgot my camera, so you’ll all just have to imagine us carding wool and cleaning the floor with a cornhusk mop.