January 29, 2019
The weather wasn’t cooperating very well with us so we pulled out the weather map and decided it was time to head North a bit. We had spent about 2 hours in San Antonio on a trip back in the 80’s so we thought a full day there would be good.
South bound to the border we had seen the checks points, still it is a bit nerve wracking having dogs sniffing the van and being asked about our citizenship. I resisted the urge to say “Am I being detained?” as I have seen in videos. They are just doing their job, and most had smiles on their faces…probably because they were finally being paid again after Trumps shut down, but given how nerve wracking it was for me, I can’t imagine how worrisome it would be for people traveling from other countries or those of Mexican ancestry.
Back in the 80’s we were stopped on the highway coming North from Big Bend. Back then it was just cones in the Highway and an officer flagging me over. Here they had tall covered metal roofed structures where three lanes of North bound traffic were being stopped, questioned, and patrolled by dogs (which, by the way, looked really tired and thirsty). Even north of there we were still seeing monitoring stations in store parking lots and elevated police lookouts. Texas isn’t as friendly as it once was.
We decided to stay close to the city, so we found the San Antonio KOA and signed up for two nights. We walked the river near the KOA…nothing special there, and in the morning got on the bus to head in to the Alamo.
It was smaller than we remembered, and even back then I remember it being pretty small. In the city center it is dwarfed by the neighboring buildings. The center court is big enough that the buildings are far enough away that they don’t show from the front. They don’t allow any photography inside, and the building is undergoing constant repairs to prevent the walls from falling apart. Built in 1718, Door handles are worn by the hundreds of years and the thousands of tourists it has endured. We were there on a slow day, but it is evident from the queues they have in place that it is often much busier.
After we visited the Alamo we walked over to the River walk. Designed in 1929, and built in the late 30’s and 40’s, this pedestrian walkway along the tamed San Antonio river (dams prevent dangerous flooding of the area) is like a different world beneath the streets. Shops, hotels, an outdoor theatre, and even a museum, border the walkways. It took a while for the area to attract businesses and Robert Hugman who had designed it never got to see how popular it would be. Initially “The Shops of Aragon and Romula” as he dubbed it, were not well received, but now it is touted as the second most popular attraction in the city behind the Alamo.
We ended our day with dinner at Casa Rio, one of the oldest restaurants on the river and real authentic Mexican food. We ate early, so we were just finishing up as the Mariachi bad was getting ready. We walked back to the bus stop…got on the right bus and made our way back to camp. We had wi-fi at the KOA, so we spent a little time catching up with the world, Mike got some work things he needed to do finished and we hit the sack. Tomorrow would be another day of driving as we headed a bit further North and East to Galveston Island.