The first time you take your kids through the lights at BLORA, the lights are the main attraction.  All eyes are glued to the window, "oohing" and "ahhing" the whole way on that first trip.  Once that first-trip-magic has worn off it becomes a whole new ballgame.

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BLORA can be a time-consuming endeavor, and the first key to a successful trip comes before you even leave the house.  It's all about planning.  Plan on up to an hour of waiting time just to reach the main gate.  Once you've paid and made your way into the vehicle procession count on at least another 45 minutes of viewing time.  That's a lot of time for the kids to be idle.  It's also a long time for the kids' bladders.

There are a few restrooms located throughout BLORA's Nature in Lights displays, but keep the length of wait time in mind before you load the kids up with hot chocolate to get into the festive spirit.  Hot chocolate is bad.  Snacks are good.  When selecting snacks, your tolerance for messes in the car may be different from mine, but rule #1 in the Garrett Family Truckster is NO STICKY STUFF.  I'm willing to vacuum up some Goldfish treats off the floor and seats, but I'm NOT dealing with messes left by sticky fingers.

Another important reminder in the snack department.  It's going to be dark out there, especially if you have tinted windows.  You'd be better off avoiding the smaller snacks that will all into cracks and crevices.  Cookies are good, as long as they're not gooey or crumbly.  You always have to worry about loading the kids up on sugar in the middle of a long, enclosed period.

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Once your snacks are loaded and the kids have used the restroom it's time to hit the open road.  Deciding which vehicle to take is also important.  Depending on the weather, we'll take either my wife's minivan or my truck.  If the weather is dry and warm, we'll take the truck so we can throw the kids in the back once we're in the procession and get some peace and quiet.  If the weather outside is frightening we'll opt for the mom-van.  Letting the kids have their own space to spread out is vital in keeping the peace.  It also makes it easier afterward to assign blame for messes and spills (another good reason to throw them in the back of the truck).

BLORA is a unique place to begin with, and the trip to get there is an adventure in itself.  I've spent many hours on the trails of BLORA on my mountain bike so I know the area well, but my first trip there I found myself asking, "Did we really just run over a cattle guard?".  Yes, BLORA has roaming cattle.  BLORA is also part of Ft. Hood, so be careful not to stray from the main road.  I've always come from the east, so taking FM 439 to Sparta Rd is the quickest way.

In addition for the gate entrance fee, which starts at $5 and goes up from there, plan on making a stop at Santa's Village.  Personally, by the time we get to this spot in our journey I'm already beginning to tire of the kids bouncing off the walls so we skip it.  You can take a picture with Santa, get some hot chocolate and even visit the petting zoo.  Bring the extra cash if you plan on making a pit stop at Santa's Village or Santa's Depot.

All-in-all, BLORA is a great family outing around the Christmas holiday, and Nature in Lights is open until early January.  Load up the family and soak in the lights.  For those new to the Ft. Hood area, BLORA is a great place to visit during the summer.  Whether you want to camp, swim, fish, hike or bike there's plenty to do, and it's all geared for the military family.