San Antonio – The Mission Trail

Part 3

As you get older, sometimes you lose track of time. Taking into consideration that we’ve been “on the Road” for about three weeks and you’ll understand that Part 2 did not end the San Antonio part of the “Great Tour!” Our actual last day was cold and rainy AND our travels down the Mission Trail.

There are four missions on this trail, The Alamo, which we visited earlier was the first mission for a total of five. It will take the better part of a day to see them. Some have historians on site to tell you little know facts and local lore and all of them have free admission.

These missions were started by Franciscan Friars in the 1700s. They were financed by Spain and the missions served both the Crown and the church. Missions were tasked with converting the Coahuiltecan Indians spiritually and expanding the Spanish empire further north in New Spain.

Missions were also walled forts to protect the Friars, settlers and Native Americans. The Native Americans went to the missions to escape disease and raids by Apache and Comanche Indians. The Natives could not escape the European diseases, however, and most died either from disease or in the raids. Most of the missions had failed by the late 1700s.

The Espada (sword) Mission founded 1731, finished 1756 and abandoned before the Texas Revolution in 1835.

Mission San Juan Capistrano started 1731 and unfinished after 20 years due to Apache raids. Spain sold the land to ranchers in 1794. The missionaries had left but 12 Coahuiltecan remained.

Mission San Jose built 1720, booming by 1768 and left by Spain in 1821. Native Americans totaled 281 and did much of the work building the mission. Life was segregated from the soldiers and others there.

Mission Concepcion was started in 1731 and completed in 24 . From 1731-1762 Native Americans totaling 792 were baptized and 588 of them were buried due to contracting European diseases such as smallpox and measles. Some of the original paints have been uncovered and restored here. Absolutely beautiful.

History, architecture and artistry of the missions, designed by the Friars and built by the Native Americans. I will leave it up to each of you to decide if the Missions helped or damaged the indigenous people who were living in the area. I highly recommend visiting and learning more. More info:

Stay tuned for the Del Rio, Texas leg of this trip.

San Antonio – Briscoe Western Art Museum and Riverwalk!

Part 2

Next up, Briscoe Western Art Museum. Senior tickets are $8, what a bargain! Prepare to spend a few hours there to take it all in. Three floors of art, statuary and historic items. Having been a horse person in my past I was interested in the large array of saddles and related items, and the artwork. This museum allows photos as long as the flash is off. Yay!

Instead of expounding on the exhibits and the feelings in my soul caused by some of the artistry, I’ll just post some pictures. This museum is a must see if you get to San Antonio!

The following 4 are from Caitlin’s North American Indian Portfolio. George Caitlin traveled and lived with the Great Plains Indians from 1832-1837 and created some magnificent paintings.

Cimmerian Whispers (My Favorite)

You can lose yourself in the Briscoe. The pictures do not do justice to the talent that is exhibited here. GO!

Now for The Riverwalk! I had mixed emotions traveling down the Riverwalk area. Tom and I were planning a holiday trip to San Antonio and we were talking about it when he went into cardiac arrest. Two years and four months later, here I was. It was just as wonderful as we had imagined. I sat on a bench quietly for a while in memory of one so dear. It was not as much a melancholy moment as it was a remembrance moment, full of gratitude.

The Riverwalk is such a great place with many beautiful areas and it is also a peaceful place. We felt safe everywhere we walked. Pictures follow.

During the Riverwalk stroll we stopped to see the old village of La Villita, almost 300 years old and on the National Registry of Historic Places. Today it is a cultural arts hub that covers one city block.

By the end of the day we had walked a little over 6 miles. It was a good day and we both suffered from sensory overload. We headed back to RV park as we were leaving for Del Rio, Texas the next morning. Another leg of the “Grand Tour” completed. Stay tuned, more to come!

San Antonio! What a Town! February 17-20

Part 1

We arrived at Braunig Lake RV Park (Passport America $27/night) around 1:30 PM on Sunday the 17th. We did a quick set up and headed downtown. Being retired and not keeping up with what day it is can sometimes come crashing in. It was Sunday, and the following day was the President’s Day holiday and we certainly remembered when we entered downtown! Whoops!

We got downtown with no trouble but the place was packed. The wait to get in to the Alamo was more than 2 hours and the Visitor’s Center was overrun. Plan B: we decided to do a riding tour around the historic areas and then eat some Texas barbecue. We go local and enjoy eating at local restaurants in all the places we visit. No chains just good, local, delicious food. We chose Big Bib Barbecue on Lanark Drive. 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor, yelp, and google plus several locals recommended the place.

Big Bib smokes their meats for 14 hours on mesquite and have many options. The food was okay but the people were awesome. I had the chicken and Ray got the brisket. Fresh Texas veggies, drink, bread and a variety of sauces (all home made and I liked the Bib’s hot and spicy) all for under $20 for two. It was finger lickin’ tasty

Smoked Chicken, Potato salad, collards, and bread!

We went home and prepared for an early day on the 18th. We headed for the Alamo and arrived before it opened. We were 7th in line and talked to a great Texas Ranger while we waited. He was from Lake Erie and moved to a warmer climate. Interesting person. The Alamo is free admission and they have several rules concerning reverence, including: no hats, no food or drink, and no photography. The Alamo is considered to be a Shrine of Texas Liberty and hallowed ground.

The fort/mission is 300 years old and was a mission from 1700-1793 but is best known as were the siege of the Alamo occurred in 1836. Texas gained freedom from Mexico in 1837 and was the independent Republic of Texas until it joined the Union on February 19, 1846. The walls of the Alamo are under restoration and can not be touched as they are very unstable. There are several period re-enactments on the grounds that are very informative.

The defenders of the Alamo were everyday folks. Best known were: Colonel James Bowie, Colonel Davy Crockett, and Lt. Colonel William Barret Travis, The soldiers who survived were ordered killed by President General Antonio López de Santa Anna and their bodies were burned. More info on the defenders:

Interesting fact: during restoration graffiti from the soldiers was found on the second floor beams. The graffiti survived the destruction of the battle. Fact 2: the battle was one sided and the siege lasted 13 days:
189 Defenders from the Union
3,000 Mexican soldiers

I was very moved by this experience and learned a lot more than was taught in history classes. The Alamo holds an important place in our history and should be visited. 3 Million visitors go annually. To put it in perspective, Myrtle Beach, SC gets 14 million annually. Ummm.

Historic Hotel alongside the Alamo

After the Alamo we headed to San Fernando Cathedral, built 1738-1750 by Canary Island settlers and is the oldest cathedral in Texas. It is a combination of Gothic, Gothic revival, and Colonial architecture. The remains of the defenders of the Alamo are interred there and prior to the siege of the Alamo General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna raised the flag of “no quarter” from the cathedral tower.

Part 2: Briscoe Western Art Museum and Riverwalk – to be continued!