Friday, May 15, 2009

San Antonio, Texas

Yesterday, May 14th, we started out our day early! The tour bus came all the way out to our RV park (approx. 23 miles) to pick us up at 7:55AM. (I thought it would be a small bus, but it was a full size coach!) We began our all day tour at 9AM from the San Antonio City Tour Stop at the Menger Hotel. Wow! What a hotel. Because we were early, we had time to stroll around, take pictures & make a potty stop before beginning our Grand Tour.
This is a miniature depiction of the battle of The Alamo. The Alamo was originally named Mision San Antonio de Valero. The Alamo served as home to missionaries & their Indian converts for nearly 70 years. Construction began on the present site in 1724. As you will notice in the picture below, there was no roof. At the time of the Texas Revolution (1836), the mission church was not completed & there was no roof when it was attacked by General Santa Anna's army. The defenders held out for 13 days against Santa Anna's army. Despite Commander William B. Travis' pleas for help to communities in Texas, only a band of 32 volunteers from Gonzales arrived bringing the number of defenders to nearly 200. Among the Alamo's garrison were Jim Bowie, renowned knife fighter, and David Crockett, famed frontiersman & former Congressman from Tennessee.

While the facts surrounding the siege of the Alamo continue to be debated, there is no doubt about what the battle has come to symbolize. We remember the Alamo as a heroic struggle against overwhelming odds - a place where men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.
This is inside the Menger Hotel. 1859 was the date on the hotel & bar. It was not open at the early hour we were there to take pictures inside.
Beautiful lobby in hotel.

Our first stop was the Chinese Tea Gardens. This was made from the stone quarry where the stones were taken from to build the Alamo & its compound. Here we are at the entrance with our tour guide, Leroy.
Gazebo at the top of gardens.
The grounds were beautiful.

Don't know what they are, but the colors were vibrant.
Beautiful waterfalls
Time to hop back on the bus.
This is the Pearl Brewery. Never heard of it, have you?
Next stop was our River Walk boat ride.
It was a very hot day, but the breeze on the boat & in the lower section of the city on the Riverwalk was very nice. Ready to cruise.
There were a LOT of school kids visiting in the city while we were there. This little group had crossed over the bridge & waved to us. Looks like Dee & her Day Care Group! (Even looks like her at the top of the stairs!)
The Tower of the Americas. This was built for the World's Fair in 1968. It's 5 or 7 ft. taller than the one in Seattle. My friend, Judy M., said she had been up in it when she was working for Civil Service & had to go to San Antonio on business. Not me, I don't like heights!
One of my favorite pictures.

Everything is made out of rock & it is very pretty.
When Bill & I went back to walk along the Riverwalk on Fri., we walked across here. The stepping stones have water running between them. Weird feeling.
After our cruise, we went back to the bus & was taken to the IMAX theater to watch "The Alamo...The Price of Freedom". It was a 45 min. film featuring the battle at The Alamo. It was very informative & made our visit to The Alamo & the Plaza more interesting.
After the film we each were on our own for lunch. We then had about 1-1/2 hrs. to tour the Alamo area.
This is the memorial that was built & dedicated to the men who are known to have died in defense of the Alamo. Their names are inscribed on the sides.
James Bonham & James Bowie are on this side.
William Travis & David Crockett are depicted on this side.
The front of the mission, The Alamo, as we see it.
This is the Long Barrack (Infantry & Artillery quarters)
Miniature of what the mission compound might have looked like.
These are the 6 flags representing the siege. They are: USA, Texas, Confederate, Mexico, France & Spain.
Not very colorful, but this was the only "Yellow Rose of Texas" that I saw!
This was the entrance to the Gift Shop which was built in 1936. A display of Bowie Knives was on display as well as other artifacts.
We are back on the bus heading for the afternoon of our tour to include two other missions & Market Square. Boy I sure was glad it was Leroy that was driving that bus!!! The streets were narrow & I never thought a bus could turn the corner & get down through there!
This is Sunset Station - the old train station. Each one of the green doors used to be a separate track for a different train coming in. Each one of these now is host to night clubs. You can enjoy any type of music from Country Western to Jazz to Rock 'n Roll. I believe our guide said there were 12 all together.
A much better use than seeing it fall into disrepair.
Our next stop is Mission San Jose. We went inside to watch a movie first about how missions began along the mission trail, their purpose and what life was like then and now.
As an arm of the church, the mission was the vanguard of the spiritual conversion of the Indians. For the Indians, the missions offered sanctuary from their enemies. Missions flourished between 1747 and 1775, despite periodic incursions by Apache & Comanche Indians. The Spanish trained the Christianized mission Indians to defend their communities. After 70 years, the need for the missions diminished do to the effects of European diseases, acculturation & intermarriage. By 1824 the San Antonio missions were secularized & the land & churches transferred to the secular clergy.
Inside the visitor's center I found these beautiful cut tissue paper decorations hanging. All of the colors here represent the colors of Spring. Many throughout the market places in town are made of plastic, but these were tissue paper. It reminded me of Mr. Lee & his artwork from China. I thought you might be interested in seeing that someone, somewhere, does make them. The ranger at the visitor's center showed me a book that had instructions. It looked somewhat like what you do, only yours look much more intricate & artfully done.
This was inside one of the small rooms around the exterior of the mission walls.
This is the Grist Mill wheel which was built when inhabitants began to eat more wheat than corn. Operational 1794 & 1809. Reopened 2001.
The Rose Window is known as the premier example of Spanish Colonial ornamentation in the US. Several buildings, besides the mission, support this type of window. Its sculptor & significance continue to be a mystery. There are a couple of stories in circulation regarding either Rosa, a sweetheart lost at sea on the way from Spain, or Saint Rose of Lima, the first saint of the New World.
A great example of Spanish Colonial Architecture. Beautiful work by Mission Indians under the direction of skilled craftsmen recruited from New Spain (Mexico today). The 2 pictures are an extention of each other.

Inside the mission church
These were ovens used for baking & cooking
This is Mission Concepcion. It was transferred from East Texas in 1731. Colorful geometric designs that once covered its surface have long since faded. Our tour guide, Leory, was raised at this mission as an orphan.
This is our tour guide, Leroy. A very friendly, humorous fellow. He spent 31 years in the Army as drum major to the US Army Band. He retired in 1988. He has since worked for 21 years for Gray Line Bus Lines & now is working for San Antonio City Tours part time. He sounds like he likes to be a little bit free to play golf on the side! He ended up marrying the preacher's daughter & he said sometimes he thinks he married her sisters too!
That ended our day in and around San Antonio. I was a bit tired when we got back to the trailer. I went to bed fairly early too.
Today, Bill & I went back to walk around. Found that it was more fun yesterday. It was quite hot & humid today & going up & down a lot of stairs was bothering Bill's breathing. As we were coming back up the last set of stairs, we saw an airman in uniform. Our tour guide had told us yesterday that today was graduation day for new recruits. I said to the young man, "Was this your day?" and he said "yes". I shook his hand & said "congratulations & thank you". I think he was overwhelmed. I hope I made his day! Lackland AFB is right on our route to/from the RV park. I thought of my great nephew Danny whom was there for his training, my brother, Herb, who took his basic training there & no one to see him graduate in those days, and my son, Mark, who took his security training there for the Navy before going to Whidby Island, Washington. You might say I felt a "connection".
We had taken a picnic lunch with us so we ate that on the Alamo Plaza & then came back to the trailer. He read the paper & I went swimming, read & took a nap, read & got wet again. It felt good! I think we needed some "apart" time!
Before I end this, I want to bring you all up to date on a few prayer concerns.
First, my niece's husband, Larry, who has Lukemia, has been having a rough time since last Sunday. He spiked a fever on Sunday & had a dr. appt. in Pittsburgh on Mon. He has ended up in ICU & on oxygen. He seemed to be doing a little better, but is still not feeling his best. Fever (an infection some place, they don't know where) is still present. Please keep him in your prayers!
Next, our friend, Tom, from Iowa, started having some chest pain on Sunday & didn't tell anyone until Mon. night. He ended up having an artery blocked 80% (one that was part of a triple by-pass a few years ago). Today they did the angiogram & placed a stent in. They were worried about kidney damage & the dr. said they would work as fast as possible & if they couldn't get it done in a reasonable time they would quit while they were ahead. It seems God was on his side & everything went well. He is still in ICU & being watched for any problems with his kidneys but so far so good. Phyllis called tonight to report & said he ate a good supper, but he has to remain flat on his back for the next 8 hrs. (which is killing him!) Please, keep him in your prayers too! He is determined to come back to Arizona in the Fall/Winter.
Tomorrow we will be traveling toward Dallas. I have the route picked out, just so we can find what we are looking for when we get there. We are looking forward to visiting with Jerry & Judy, friends we met a couple years ago while camping in Tennessee.
Well, I guess that catches me up again. So until next time.............The Traveling Cardinal's


LaVon Baker said...

OOOOH, good post, Peggy. Said a prayer for your friends and for you and Bill as you travel Saturday.

Bob and Snookie said...

Girlfriend, you are really getting into this blogging! I bet your kids, family and friends are so glad to be able to follow along with your daily lives. You are doing a great job..KEEP IT UP!