Looking Through A Glass Bottom Boat

 

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.

We saw several tourists in  glass bottom kayaks at the north end of the Lake. Their trip lasted for 3 hours, ours for 30 minutes. They look like their having a wonderful time exploring the area.

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.

Ralph and the other performers

The River Center

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.

The San Marcos Cichlid

Overall, we had a great time visiting the Aquarena Center. We had fun discovering nature    and learning the incredible history of the place. I glance at my son on our way home, he looked so happy.

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.

 

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About Island Traveler

A father, a husband, a son, a brother, a friend, a traveler, an optimist hoping to create something good & meaningful to every person he shares his world, his home, his dreams, his hope & heart with.
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45 Responses to Looking Through A Glass Bottom Boat

  1. jhirzel88 says:

    Hmm, I always thought of an amuzement park like that of rides and attractions. Granted, there’s a breathtaking boat ride and perhaps a chance to have your eyes in the sky, but I never thought that a natural place like that could be an attraction, as a typical amuzement park would.

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    • Back in those day, amusement is so different to what we define now as fun and exciting. I was surprised myself that there something like that outside the big cities like Houston. They remind me of the circus, magic acts and carnival performances. They is a human connection and they utilize the beautiful nature around them. I appreciate things of this nature. Simple but enjoyable. have a great day.

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  2. I miss the days of driving our daughter to the Hill Country for her camp on the Guadalupe. I’ve only been once to those outlet malls by San Marcos…it was a drill team expedition. I found it very confusing. But all those other places were fun stops as we took her for Opening Day, then again for skits and the horse show, and finally pick up day. Interesting that wordpress called “50 Stars…” a related article since it takes place at our farm and not the Hill Country.

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    • Thank you. I’m glad that wordpress added your post as related, otherwise I won’t be able to discover your Gem of a blog. It must be amazing going around for your daughter’s competitions. It’s always nice to hear from someone that lives in Texas. It’s so huge that I wouldn’t be able to visit all those scenic places. Through your blog, I got to see some of them. Wishing you and your family the best.

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  3. MOL says:

    This is so much better than any big hairy audacious pRk with thrill rides and junk food. The pictures speak for themselves. I hope one day, you can publish a memoir of sorts of your journey through your son’s childhood development! At thievery least, it’s fun to read, see the photos, etc. I’m not sure if I’ve been to your neck of the woods but it sure looks like it’s got lots of places for kids to engage with other than video games. Hooray for you and your efforts!

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    • Thank you for such an uplifting comment. When I read such a motivating response, it feels that I’m doing something right and that all the time and effort in writing/posting is all worth it. One day when my memory fails, I have this blog to remind me of the fun times I had with my family as well as the writers I met in the blog world who’s enriching stories never fails to inspire me. Have a blessed day to you and your family.

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  4. the pictures just left me in awe!! its only after reading your blog that I realized that travelling could be such fun!

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    • It is fun my friend. It doesn’t have to be expensive too. This one was way cheaper than Disney or Sea World. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It took me a while to finalize the pics. Just making sure you guys get the best view of the place. Have a great day.

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  5. Sounds like you had a lot of fun! I love all of the pictures! But why do men dislike shopping so much? :/

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  6. Angeline M says:

    Oh the memories this brought back to me. I used to love the glass bottom boat ride.
    Your blog will not only provide memories for you, but imagine your son reading this in 15 years or so! That will provide him with the warmth of your time together when he was little.
    Great post and great photos.

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    • I hope to relive all these when I grow old with my son. Moments like this are timeless and precious. I had a great Summer because of him. This adventures will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you.

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  7. ristinw says:

    Wow The water is so clean and clear! 😀 Brilliant!

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  8. thedailydish says:

    Another wonderful visit, IT!! Thanks so much for sharing. I love your beautiful photos, but these seems especially telling. My family and I have kept fish for a long time, though our tank’s empty at present. We had African cichlids several years ago that bred and I’ll never forget watching the AWE when we discovered little babies darting in and out of the large fish’s mouth! This park looks incredible. I agree about the “Jurassic Park” look to the sky ride – what a shame they’re getting rid of it. I would have enjoyed visiting this park in its heyday. Underwater mermaids etc, – kitschy yes, but very cool too! Looks like you and your son are making memories to last a life time.

    PS: Had to laugh about the shopping comment. My husband would agree wholeheartedly!! Hope your wife had fun too. 😀

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    • Thanks. It is a sheer joy for me to read your beautiful comments. What a small world. I used to breed and sell Cichlids when I was in college. They almost look like salt water fishes without the expensive cost. My dad is now breeding commercial catfish with the help of by brother-in law. The past is so beautiful that I felt nostalgic about the era even if I wasn’t born on those dates. I’m glad you like the post. As for outlets and malls, honestly they make me dizzy after more than an hour of wandering. But I love my wife and what makes her happy , makes me happy too. And yes, she had a blast at the outlet with her mom. Take care.

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  9. cocomino says:

    How beautiful and clean water.Every one must feel excited when they go to this place.
    There are few artifactually-produced around there.

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    • It was an exciting experience. I’ve never seen such a big spring lake yet until I visited the place. It made more appreciate and value mother nature. your daughters would have enjoyed the boat ride.

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  10. What a great travelogue! Definitely subscribing 🙂

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  11. eva626 says:

    i went canoeing a while ago and it would never compare to how you had this adventure…

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    • Thanks. I think all of us have our special adventures. I would have love the canoeing too but my son’s too small for it. I used to kayak at sea when I was in college. I don’t know if I would still do it it my hometown’s sea by myself when learning later that there were sharks at the back side of the island. But I would sure like to try the freshwater kind.

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  12. Frank Bishop says:

    That looks like such a sweet ass day. I have never gone on any of those boats with a glass bottom, it looks really fun! I was born on the Mississippi and I can tell you all manner of crazy critters I’ve seen.

    One summer we found that a mud slide had opened a little cliff into a tributary in the river. The bank was solid clay. So being the boys we were, we got the clay wet and used it as a slide to dunk ourselves into the water. It was a good time. Then the gators came.

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    • Crazy critter? That sounds interesting. I remember as a kid playing in the mud, pretending it’s a river. One time we had a platform and my cousins and I rode on top of it and we let it drift the pond. We were too heavy that it went down under water. Oh, well it was still fun. So what happened when the Gators came?

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  13. eof737 says:

    Great pictures especially that last one of your son leaving the place. It sure sounds like an old world place… Beautiful pictures as always… I’ve been away at two retreats and I now back to catch up on all the blog posts and comments I missed. 😉

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    • It is an old place. They kept it as it is. Eventually the boats and the river center will be of whats left of the past. they will remove the other old structures in the future. I was lucky to still see some of the original components of the once glorious past of the 1920’s-1950’s. Have a blessed day.

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  14. Pingback: Beyond River Tubing | this man's journey

  15. Patricia says:

    Thank you for the pictures and descriptions!
    My parents took me for a glass bottom boat ride in the Bahamas when I was nine. I never forgot, it was pure fairy tale for me. Glass bottom boats seem to find their way into many of my stories, and because of that ride i had a seawater aquarium for years that taught me a lot about sea life.
    Reading your post made me relive that long-ago stunning adventure.

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    • I never been to the Bahamas but the photos about the place makes me wish that one day I will have the chance to walk its mesmerizing beaches. It must had been so beautiful to see the colorful saltwater fishes . It’s like snorkeling without getting wet. A lot of our dreams are influence by the wonderful things that we see and experienced. One of my dreams is that I.m at the beach, sitting under a coconut tree, staring at the glistening blue ocean as my feet digs into the soft powdery white sands. No worries, no stress, just at peace and happy with the simple joys in life. I was once there, I know that one day, it can happen again. Keep making sweet dreams for us. Have a great day.

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  16. Pingback: A Glimpse Of Aquarena Springs « In parole semplici

  17. I really enjoyed this article. This was a place we visited as children. You rekindled some wonderful memories.

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    • Thank you for the visit/comment. Galveston Island is my family’s favorite Summer getaway. Infact, we’re back for more this week. I went to Rita’s ice cream place today and saw a familiar bike from your last post which I enjoyed reading by the way. My wife wants to try the family bike next time.may be this weekend? My son made me smile tonight when he said that this is his best Summer yet. Best wishes to you and your family.

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  18. Penny says:

    I have never been to Galveston Island, but I hear its beautiful. You are forunate to have a great journey of amazing adventures. Your posts are always inspiring, the photos are fantastic.

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    • Thank you. It is a vibrant place especially during Summer. We were just there yesterday, just a fun, beautiful place. The Sun, sand and waters makes me wish that I live close to the area. I hope to go there this weekend, my son has one more week before classes starts. I appreciate your comment a lot. Wish you all the happiness in the World. Stay blessed and inspired.

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  19. Pingback: River Tubing In San Marcos « In parole semplici

  20. I love that place! It’s perfect for me… Nature, adventure, animals, serenity and a picture of a mermaid. I just love mermaids… =)

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    • You definitely would love the place and not just for taking pictures. There is something about it that made me appreciate nature more, of God’s work and of the beautiful past that most of us already forgot. It would be cool to see the mermaids perform. Sometimes the most basic and simple form of entertainment are the best ones. Thanks again for your visit. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

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