Monday, April 21, 2008

Roxiticus Spring Break: Blogger Vacation Spots

The kids are all on Spring Break from school here in the Roxiticus Valley, and I've been noticing as I surf Other People's Blogs (OPB) that many of my fellow bloggers are on vacation, too. I caught Otilius blogging, battling in Battle of the Blogs, and surfing OPB from the Don Cesar in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida. I stole a Castaway Blogger cartoon from Emmyrose, who had just returned from a trip to the island paradise of Boracay. Please feel free to comment here with your own Spring Break stories.

Due to Rex's knee replacement surgery that we consciously scheduled for last week (the week before our girls' Spring Break from Mendham Township Elementary School), we made no plans to go away this year. While we have friends who took off for Disneyworld, Antigua, and Cancun, we didn't think it made any sense to leave the Roxiticus Valley. This past weekend, thanks to the 80-degree weather, Rex (who is recovering nicely, thanks for all of your well wishes) was able to sit out on the deck and look out over the "just popped" weeping and Japanese cherry trees and the row of Bradford pear trees in the "back forty." Meanwhile, the girls got an early start on summer with soccer, teeball, croquet, and just plain frolicking around the yard.

For those who don't have the wonders of the Roxiticus Valley in their own backyard, we've got a unique Spring Break (or anytime, particularly when the weather is blah in your neck of the woods) vacation spot for you. Since the publication of the book Lost Horizon in 1933, the term “Shangri La” has represented a place of beauty, peace and enlightenment. In Orange, Texas, Shangri La Gardens and Nature Center has recreated a modern Shangri La with the best of both nature and gardens.

This modern-day Shangri La is so green that you'll probably want to get there in time for Earth Day (tomorrow -- Tuesday, April 22nd, or the same date next year). Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center is the first project in Texas and the 50th project in the world to earn the U.S. Green Building Council's Platinum certification for LEED®-NC, which verifies that the design and construction of Shangri La reached the highest green building and performance measures. As one of the most earth-friendly projects in the world, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center offers you and your family a glimpse of how people can live in harmony with nature. The combination of gardens and nature at Shangri La presents a serene oasis for retreat and renewal, as well as the opportunity for you and the kids to explore, discover and learn.

Nestled within 252 acres in the heart of Orange, Texas, Shangri La Gardens and Nature Center is a program of the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, a private foundation whose mission is to improve and enrich the quality of life in Southeast Texas and encourage and assist education. The unique ecosystem of Shangri La furthers that mission and carries on the vision of H.J Lutcher Stark, the man who originally developed it more than 60 years ago.

Shangri La's formal Botanical Gardens contain more than 300 plant species in five formal "rooms” as well as four sculpture “rooms.” Adjacent to the Botanical Gardens is a bird blind which allows visitors to observe nesting birds in Shangri La’s heronry.

If you're planning your trip during a school break, there's lots for the kids to do at Shangri La, too, but the Shangri La environment makes it feel fun, not educational. The Shangri La Nature Center includes a hands-on exhibit called the Nature Discovery Center, a laboratory, and three outdoor classrooms located deep in the cypress swamp. The Orientation Center includes an Exhibit Hall, Discovery Theater, Children’s Garden, Exhibition Greenhouses, CafĂ©, and Garden Store.

So, what are you waiting for? You can start with a visit to the Shangri La Gardens and Nature Center web site and plan your trip to the city of Orange, Texas!