THE RAIN HAS FOUND US!
Anyone who knows me well knows that rain, to me, is just a tolerated necessity. Hence, the reason we live in Arizona. I barely function if we have more than 3 days overcast. As I said in my first article this trip, I was thrilled to leave behind the snow, the ice and the rain (in Arizona, of all places!)…or so I thought.
Texas is the only state we’ve been in where you can drive all day, camp for 3 nights and still be in the same state! One of our friends says he’s driven this I-10 stretch, and he thought he would never get out of Texas. We spend our second Texas night boondocking again at a rest stop about an hour east of San Antonio. Larry fixes the door latch and gets inside just as the heavens open in a downpour. No problem, we’ll just snuggle in for the night. Good plan, except between a lot of rain pounding the roof and trucks whizzing by us all night long, it proves to be a very long night. And the weather app on my phone doesn’t promise anything different for the next 3 or 4 days.
I have quite a few things on my Bucket List, but, The Alamo has held a spot near the top for a long time. After hearing and reading about Riverwalk for years, that, too, moved up a few notches. And they’re both in San Antonio. Yay! Cross off two things in one trip! That rain put a big damper on my list in a hurry. OK, I thought, I’ll have to forego them for this trip, maybe we can catch it on the way back.
Thank goodness the weatherman isn’t always right. We wait until the weather clears somewhat before taking off for SA, and by the time we get there, the rain has stopped. Larry programs the GPS for directions to The Alamo. I’d heard it was right downtown, but I’d not thought about the logistics of pulling a 35’ rig like ours through old, narrow streets like these. We quickly see that no parking lot can accommodate a getup our size. Leave it to the master driver, though, he easily navigates through and finds parking for us only about 4 blocks away, on a city street!
There’s almost a feel of reverence about the place, and the crowd grows by the hour. The church façade stands as one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. A symbol of those who fight for liberty everywhere.
A LITTLE HISTORY RECAP
What began as one of the first Catholic mission stations in Texas in 1724, turned into a military outpost; first for the Spanish in the early 1800s, then for the rebellious Americans. In 1836, Mexican President Santa Ana leads 6,000 soldiers to squash the American and Tejano (Mexican Texans) uprising. When the farmers, lawyers, doctors and a few soldiers of the community hear they were coming, they and several of their families run to the fort and barricade themselves within. The men number a mere 200. On the 8th day, however, 32 more volunteers sneak through the Mexican line and come to help. The siege lasts over 2 weeks, but the actual battle, only about 90 minutes.
Those men not killed in battle are summarily executed, and their bodies burned. Among the most famous of those who die are Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. The women and children who survive are released unharmed. They also release one black slave so he can carry the story to the community as a warning. Because of Santa Ana’s brutality, Sam Houston raises “Remember the Alamo!” as a rallying cry as he leads the charge which, eventually, results in Santa Ana’s capture and, subsequently, Texas independence. This cry is considered the quintessential rally point for all who fight for liberty.
MILLIONS VISIT EACH YEAR
In case you’re wondering, the occasional sprinkles and very humid weather do not seem to deter anyone from visiting. By noon, the small courtyards are packed and it’s hard to spend more than a few seconds at the many history boards scattered across the grounds and in various buildings. When you go, remember to get there early! Entrance is free, unless you want to take tours.
DON’T MISS THE AMAZING TREE
The grounds are quite pretty and well maintained, including a meandering canal and several live oaks. The one to ogle over, though, is in the middle of the courtyard by the Long Barracks. In fact, is really is the courtyard, it is so ginormous! Who knows, but it looks like about 300 years old, to me. If it could only talk…
OH YES, THE RIVERWALK!
We meander back to the coach, intending to take off, then decide to fix a little lunch. As I’m munching on my carrot sticks, I wonder out loud how far we are from the Riverwalk. What would we do without the iPhone? Larry punches a few buttons.
“Well duh!” he says, “if we had just walked across the street from the Alamo, we’d have been right there!”
By this time, my bum knee is not feeling so great, and I hem and haw about going back. I’m also worried about leaving the coach for so long in a not-so-great neighborhood.
“You’ve wanted to do this for so long, now let’s go. We can walk slow and stop if we need to. The coach will be fine!”
So we hike 4 blocks back up the street and enter the hotel across the street from where we’d just spent our morning and stroll through the bottom floor. We walk down a few flights of stairs, pass a stunning wall mosaic and voile!
We’re below street level, walking a narrow sidewalk along the river, passing shop after shop. Restaurant beside restaurant. Where once I’d have had to stop and buy a trinket or two, today I remind myself that I am DOWNsizing! I don’t have room!
It’s gorgeous, but, I’m sure, even more romantic at night. Colored lights hang in long, long strands from huge trees; magnolia, lemon, cypress, palm and many I can’t name. Flower beds blossom everywhere. It’s all old-world feel with stone and wrought iron predominating; a little bit like Venice, with its arched bridges and rock walls. Except this isn’t sinking, thank goodness.
DON’T MISS THE RIVERBOAT RIDE
We find the office to buy tickets for the 35 minute riverboat ride and get in line. Just ahead of us is a grandpa, grandma and 3 grandchildren from Oklahoma City.
“Did you know they also have a Riverwalk in Oklahoma City?” he asks. This is news to me. We’ve been through there scores of times and have never seen anything about it- or maybe we just weren’t looking. Oh dear…another bucket list item.
SAN ANTONIO – THE FRIENDLY CITY
City visits are our least favorite places to visit, but, I have to say that, on the whole, this one was super friendly and helpful – and affordable. Everyone seems to go the second mile to make us feel welcome. After lunch, when we walk from the coach back to visit Riverwalk, we see a woman pushing an older Black gentleman across the street in his wheelchair. His legs are prosthetics from the thighs down. They hit the small driveway curb and she is too small to push him over. We are too far away to help, but he quickly hikes himself up, swings his legs around the back of the chair and pushes it up the short ramp himself.
This takes a few seconds, and, by this time, we are up even with the two of them. We smile and nod, intending to pass them by. He’s not having it.
“Hello!” he says immediately. “Where y’all from?” We stop to chat, the lady takes the chair and puts it in the car trunk. He balances there on his metal legs.
“Originally from Michigan, now we live in Arizona,” Larry says.
“Arizona! That’s a beautiful state! I have some friends in Phoenix!” Everything he says seems punctuated with exclamation points. “Well Y’all are welcome to San Antone’! I’ve lived here all my life and it’s a beautiful city! We have some amazing sites to see! What are you going to see?”
“We’re headed to the Riverwalk, but not entirely sure how to get there,” Larry tells him.
The caregiver rejoins us and they stumble over each other’s words, anxious to give us directions at the same time and share their love for the city. Finally he stops and winks at me. “Ahhh let her tell him, she knows it better than me!”
We chat on for a minute or two and he bids us farewell.
“Y’all come on back anytime, you are welcome!” he says, hitching his way the few feet to his car. “And have a wonderful time!”
What a sweet, brief encounter with a friendly ray of sunshine. What an ambassador for San Antonio! Hmmmm I think San Antonio just might be back on my bucket list.