The Great State of Texas
We left Port Aransas this morning and started on what Google Maps considers the fastest route home. After 500 miles, we were still in Texas! Yes, it is indeed a great state in many ways.
We were entertained along the way by the variety of livestock we spotted, We saw horses, sheep, goats, llamas, and cows (including longhorns and brahman bulls). I found the longhorns quite impressive. I apologize for not having photos to share, but were moving pretty fast.
Port Aransas, TX
We are spending our last week of this trip at the beach. Port Aransas is a town of 3,000+ on Mustang Island, a barrier island on the Texas Gulf Coast near Corpus Christi. It's the entry to the port of Corpus Christi, a fishing town, and a beach town that survives largely on tourism. It was devastated by Hurricane Harvey last August and is still in the process of recovering. Clean-up and construction are going on all over town.
For those of you missing the ocean, enjoy the sights and sounds below. It has been really windy the last few days, with 35 mph gusts, and the picture below shows how churned up the surf is. Some brave souls are participating in a surfing contest here today!
It took a concerted effort that included a couple afternoons of day-drinking by the channel to get these photos of some large ships. You're welcome!
And a few more images from Port A.
Old and New
Today we took a walk through the King William neighborhood. When the mission at the Alamo was secularized in 1793, the farmland that comprised much of this neighborhood was divided among the resident Indian families or sold at auction. In the 1860s the area was further subdivided into lots and laid out with the present streets. This was about the time that many German immigrants settled in this part of San Antonio. Over the next few decades a number of large homes were built in a variety of styles. The neighborhood's fortunes have waxed and waned, but many of the homes, large and small, remain and a number have been restored.
We also stopped at the Blue Star Arts Complex which is a development of artists' studios and living spaces along with some shops, galleries, and restaurants along the River Walk in this part of town.
I am always in search of a garden and Doug is always in search of a hot dog, so today we set off to find both. We succeeded, and found donuts too! Gotta love those who 'craft dough' also having a sense of humor.
About a half mile up the road from there is a Japanese Tea Garden and across the street is Brackenridge park, a large public park north of Downtown.
From there we made our way to the Pearl district. It's another mixed use development, formerly the site of a brewery and now home to SA branch of the Culinary Institute of America, and thus a foodie destination.
We visited all five of the missions that were built along the SA River in 1700s and learned a lot about the impact of Spanish and Catholic culture on the Americas and Native Americans. Each mission was a farming and ranching community in and of itself that cooperated with neighboring missions. The missions existed and grew through the labor of native Americans and Mexican immigrants. Some Native American tribes, notably the Apache and Comanche never became acculturated by the missionaries. The Alamo was actually the first to be built, in 1718. The other four, some of which had existed in other locations, were all located along the river by 1731. In addition to a church, each mission had a walled area that housed residents and contained work areas for blacksmithing, weaving, and carpentry along with storage for food and supplies.
We headed downtown to visit the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, a museum focused on the cultures that have made Texas what it is today. The flags outside represent the many places Texans have emigrated from. Lots to see and learn there. Two temporary exhibits of interest: a history of local craft brewing dating back to 1840, and The Will to Adorn: African American Dress and the Aesthetics of Identity commissioned by the Smithsonian and created through interviews by high school students with local business owners.
We caught a glimpse of the Alamo Dome, where they are expecting an influx of 200,000 for the Final Four. Note the NCAA brackets sculpture. And I finally got a photo of my favorite sign of Spring--blooming redbud. This one was planted in front of the Federal building in honor of those who were killed in the Oklahoma City bombing.
From there, we walked through the Hemisfair Park district, the site of the 1968 World's Fair known as HemisFair '68. The Tower of the Americas, built for the fair, remains and still draws crowds. The park district is now being redeveloped into a multiuse public gathering space. Some sights along our way . . .
Well done, SA!
We are impressed with the infrastructure here. River Walk connects much of Downtown and extends to some surrounding areas. There are lots of bike paths. Like the bus, one bike path is easily accessed from where we are staying. It is 30 miles long bounded by the zoo and Brackenridge Park at the north and Mission Espada at the south. Much of it follows the SA river. It passes through a number of parks and is well equipped with picnic pavilions, water stops, and maps. Their Bcycle program is like CoGo bikes in Columbus, with many convenient sites. In addition to regular bus routes, there are three routes that cater to tourists, one for Downtown, one that takes you to all five of the missions, and a 'culture' route that connects museums, gardens, parks, and the zoo. And yes, you can take your bike on the bus. For a total of $12, the two of us have unlimited access to the buses for seven days. Cheaper than Uber, Lyft, and parking your car downtown for $18 while you have dinner! And, you can text the bus stop number where you are and get a return text with when your bus will arrive. So handy.
We arrived in San Antonio this afternoon, and decided to spend a week here. We are staying at a park called Traveler's World. It is about three miles south of Downtown SA and bordered by a golf course, the SA River, and a bus stop right in front on Roosevelt Avenue. Naturally, we hopped on the bus to go see River Walk, grab a bite to eat, and get our bearings.
Today, we made the trek to Big Bend National Park, destination, Rio Grande River.
On our way back from Big Bend, we stopped in Marathon, TX. It is home to the Gage Hotel designed by Henry Trost (as was The Paisano Hotel in Marfa) as a residence for rancher Alfred Gage. It is beautifully restored and has been expanded considerably. My mom and dad stayed there 21 years ago when they were traveling through Texas. www.gagehotel.com
Around the block from the Gage, we found a colorful combination greenhouse/bed and breakfast. www.evesgarden.org
So, if you are headed to Big Bend and not planning on camping, here you go!
Ann, Doug, Moose, Darla, Sunny, and with gratitude, Winnie and Chinny.