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Relive family road trips with Hills & Lakes adventure


MARBLE FALLS — When my dad would load us up in the old family station wagon for a Sunday drive, we would start by pulling out a series of maps. Then, with my mom riding shotgun and my brother Jeff and I strapped securely into the back seat (so we couldn’t touch or hit each other), off we went exploring the back roads.

Sometimes, the tour took us a couple hours away from home; other times, just around the block (depending how quickly Jeff and I managed to get the little blood vessel on my dad’s head thumping and pumping.) But it was always an adventure, and we discovered new places and things.

Fast forward about 20 years (OK, more like 40.) My iPhone has replaced that crazy map I could never quite, but the family road trip is still a great endeavor.

And it’s getting a new look and feel thanks to the Falls on the Colorado Museum folks.

On May 10 (which is a Saturday, so not quite a Sunday drive), the museum is hosting the first Hills & Lakes Fun Road Rally.

“We’re combining some history and a bit of high-tech,” museum board member Fran McSpadden said. “And it’s a great thing for kids to do with their parents — or even kids and grandparents. I think it’s just a great thing families can do together.”

All you need is a car (motorcycles aren’t allowed for safety reasons), two or more people and a smartphone.

“We thought using a smartphone would encourage more people — especially younger ones — to come out,” McSpadden said.

The road rally is a modern twist on the scavenger hunt, with a bit of a historical bent. Basically, it works like this.

After leaving the museum, 2001 Broadway in Marble Falls, the participants will get text messages via their cell phones. These texts are clues that will take participants to local businesses, scenic areas or historical points and, eventually, to the Finish Line Party.

It’s all on public roads and should take about two to three hours to complete. Teams will cover about 55 miles.

“It’s a chance for people to explore and even discover some new places. Well, new to them,” McSpadden said.

This isn’t a race, so participants must follow posted speed limits. Teams earn points by answering the text clues and finding the stops. Each route includes pit stops where teams can earn additional points.

At the end, teams can celebrate, whether they’re top point earners or not, at the Finish Line Party. Prizes will be awarded to the top three scoring teams and best photos. There also will be door prizes.

Though the event isn’t until May, McSpadden and museum officials are encouraging people to register as soon as possible. The entry fee is $25 per person or $75 per team if registered before April 25. After that, team registration jumps to $100.

The event is limited to the first 50 teams that register. The rally requires at least two people: one to drive and one to handle the cell phone.

“But you can have as many on your team as there are seat belts in your car,” McSpadden said.

Or, if you’re like my dad, you might prefer a little duct tape so those back-seaters keep their hands to themselves. And just so you know, Jeff always started it.

Go to for more information or to register.