Burning Gas-Alamo

The Alamo has been pulling me to visit since I read a biography of Davy Crockett in fourth grade. The Alamo began as the Mission San Antonio de Valero by the Roman Catholic missionaries from Spain. Founded in 1716 as part of a Spanish plan to Christianize Native Americans and colonize northern New Spain. By 1793 Spain dissolved the mission through the process of secularization.

Since then the Mission has provided housing for Mexican and Spanish troops, Indians, and squatters. It has been a hospital, a warehouse, jail, Masonic lodge, troop garrison, public park, movie set, and tourist attraction.

Around the 1800’s Spanish cavalry from the Mexican town of El Alamo set up shop in the mission and people began referring to it as “the Alamo.”

The Alamo is a symbol of liberty and a fight for independence. The Mexican army held a small band of Texans under siege in the Alamo. Badly outnumbered, The Texans lost the battle at the Alamo, but fought to the death trying to preserve their new country. The Republic of Texas formed in 1836 after defeating the Mexican army in the battle of San Jacinto.

Texans continue to revere the Alamo as a shrine to liberty, and that is what drew me to visit.

The Alamo is a short walk from the river walk, and is well worth taking the time to see it if you are there.

The Alamo, Mission San Antonio de Valero

Backside of the Alamo

Little known is the string of Spanish missions that extend northward. Five missions spaced about two miles apart existed to convert the Indians and to colonize for Spain around 1720. One of the nicest is Mission San Jose, just a few miles north of the Alamo on Mission Road. The church façade at San Jose has been restored to its original appearance. Five separate bodies control the mission: the City of San Antonio, the Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio, the State of Texas, the National Park Service, and the San Antonio Conservation Society. A park ranger explained that to keep a separation of church from state, the National Park Service owns and operates the property except for the church and the ground it stands on. It belongs to the Archdiocese of San Antonio. San Jose is an active parish church with a thriving congregation.

My photos don’t do justice to the beauty of this church.

Mission San Jose

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Impressions from West Texas

I learned a lot of new things while traveling in West Texas. First of all the scenery this time around was green not brown. A few years ago we traveled west Texas and saw nothing but brown and white. It was in January, and the terrain was void of any green. The white came from a raging blizzard that caused us to turn back. We spent a leisurely day touring the Buddy Holly museum in Lubbock.

This time, though, the grasses were green, the trees had leaves on them, and generally the weather was mild, a cloud cover made it cooler. The speed limit on Interstate-10 is eighty mph (128 kmph) at this point. I began noticing mile markers with six-hundred numbers on them. I quickly estimated  the distance across the state at this latitude is over a thousand miles (1600 kilometers). I set my speed control for seventy-five, but kept getting passed by Texans in a hurry. The most popular vehicle passing me was a Ford F250 with diesel power, and dual rear tires. All of them had a huge grill guard on the front. I thought about that for a minute and it finally sunk in. If you hit an animal at eighty you pretty much destroy your sixty thousand dollar truck. The grill guard may serve to splatter the animal and not the truck.  Judging by the speed of the traffic, most people have not been affected by the cost of gas or diesel fuel at $3.50 per gallon. My Avalon Deathstar was getting 35.4 mpg on this stretch of road. Gosh, if I had used Obama’s advice and inflated my tires a bit more, I might have had to empty my tank every couple of hundred miles.

Here are a couple of  impressions from that stretch of road.

West Texas Family Sedan

West Texas Pick Up Truck

I’ll bet you never thought of it that way!

Burning Gas-River Walk

A few weeks ago Peggy and I took an extended driving trip to points west. My eldest granddaughter was graduating from high school. She is my first, and I couldn’t miss that ceremony.  Dana moved to the Houston area with her parents a year ago. I should say her parents cruelly dragged her out of the Frankfort High School to live in Texas with them. She survived and thrived as did her siblings. They love Texas. She graduated in the top ten percent in a class of one thousand. Not bad, because that is where she was in her Frankfort school. I am so very proud of her, and look forward to more grandpa moments in the future. She is enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin. UT doesn’t understand what is about to hit them; this girl is taking over.

It took us two days to drive to the graduation and my sorry excuse for an ass cannot take those marathon drives anymore. Instead of squandering the driven miles on one event, Peggy and I decided to make something bigger out of it. I planned an even longer driving trip to visit some places I have never seen, and some that I haven’t seen for a long time. I’ll chronicle each place in separate posts.

We departed Houston with the Garmin set on San Antonio.  Nine years ago, I spent a winter in Phoenix and wanted to visit San Antonio on my way home. I tried to book a hotel on the River Walk to learn why San Antonians brag about it so much. I also wanted to visit the Alamo. Much to my surprise there wasn’t a room to be found anywhere in town on the dates I wanted. It turns out I wanted to pass through on the same week as the NCCA March Madness Basketball tournament was happening. San Antonio is a Regional playoff city and the hotels were full. I by passed San Antonio and scooted home instead.

Peggy and I stayed at the Holiday Inn on the River Walk. Most of the hotels in San Antonio are on the River, so it wouldn’t have mattered where we stayed. It was a short walk out of the hotel to the river. We were glad we visited. The River Walk is definitely a cool place to see. I was really impressed with the Venice like bridges and the gondolas taking people on tours. We took the gondola and were not sorry. It is a great way to see everything.  I can spill words all day long, but it is better to watch the video with my photos. The short movie will tell the story much better.

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