The Hill Country has been known for its beautiful landscapes , a more laid back way of life, of friendly people and of the diverse natural recreations. One of the natural wonders is the Aquarena Springs which gained popularity when it opened in 1928 as a resort nestling on top of the crystal clear Spring lake together with the sailing of its first of the many glass bottom boat. Last weekend, me and my son had a rare chance to experience its breathtaking scenery and had a glimpse of its wonderful past.
Summer Adventure number 5: Looking Through A Glass Bottom Boat At Aquarena Springs
Days before, I was trying to search the web for places to bring my son in San Marcos while the women are reuniting with its two huge outlet malls. Maybe some of you would tell me that I am crazy for missing the shopping opportunity but after a couple of visits for the past 4 years, a man can only take a certain amount of shopping expeditions before the nauseating feeling sets in.
Among my searches, I discovered Aquarena Springs, which used to be the first amusement park in Texas long before Shamu from Sea World or Bugs Bunny of Six Flags arrived in San Antonio, Texas. In 1951, the World’s first Theater Submarine opened. People from all over the country would flock to see the clowns and mermaids perform underwater. It must had been a mesmerizing entertainment. Looking at the photos, I can’t help but appreciate the golden Era of the past. I wasn’t born in those times but now I understand why my parents would sparkle when they talk about the great times they had during their younger years.
We arrived at the Visitors’s Center at around 10:00 A.M. My son and I can’t wait for our first glass bottom boat ride. We had 30 minutes to spare before the next boat trip and that gave me enough time to make sure I had with me all the things we needed for the day.It was time to board the boat. We sat close to the captain’s area. My son was already glued to his chair with eyes fixed to the glass bottomed floor.Even before the boat started to move, we could see some fishes swimming underneath. The water was as clear as that of a swimming pool.
We saw several springs bubbling up from the white sandy bottom. The San Marcos Springs discharge an average of 225 million gallons of water per day and is the source of water for the San Marcos River.
The Springs is home to the endangered Fountain Darter, the Texas Blind Salamander, the San Marcos Salamander, the Texas Wild Rice and the San Marcos Gambusia. It has other inhabitants like the Cichlids and even the non-local mouth breeder Tilapia. There are instances where non-native new species are introduced by some irresponsible fish pet owner who thinks its amusing to release them into the wild.
Part of the Submarine Theater that once provided an unusual and unique form of entertainment. Clowns and Mermaids perform underwater. The most memorable part of the presentation was the swimming and diving performance of Ralph, the pig. Piglets started their training at 2-3 weeks old, then began performing at 2 months old and gets to retire when they’re too big for their trainer.
Guess what movie used the park’s resort in 1978? Yep, its Piranha by director Joe Dante. I saw it when I was a kid and just like Jaws, I’m fascinated by their ability to nibble humans in minutes. Of course, if I watch it again, those fishes would look fake and so does the once scary shark movie by Spielberg. The cinema’s special effects have come a long way from plastic looking to 3-D.
After the boat ride, we checked out of what’s left of the Alpine Swiss Sky ride. It reminded me of the movie, Jurassic Park. I thought the design was amazing but there are already plans to remove it from the park. I was glad that me and my son got to see it before it disappears.
Before heading to the Aquarium, we ventured into the floating boardwalk at the Wetlands Walk. We saw some big mother tilapia. They almost look like aliens in their circular nests adjoining each other. For those who haven’t seen it other than their fillet form, this is what they look like.
We saw some interesting fishes, reptiles and amphibians including the San Marcos endangered list at the Aquarium. We ate some Mango tarts while watching the short movie about Ecology and mother nature. The cool, air-conditioned building never felt so refreshing. The heat outside was draining our energy.
I hope you enjoyed my 5th Summer Adventure for 2011. Next is about the exhilarating experience of River Tubing. Till then, it will be a blast to hear your stories of the unforgettable Summers of not so long ago.