SW US Trip with Marion C. and Sue Hope
El Paso and San Antonio, Texas, Stops 16 and 17
June 4 - Days 23-25 - To, and In, San Antonio
Thursday, June 4, up and to breakfast at the hotel. On our way but first, we did a jog over to the Four Corners Monument. This is the place where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet and is the only place in the US where four states meet. Here we are, each of us in a different state.
Because the leg from Cortez to San Antonio is something over 1000 miles, we decided to spend the night in El Paso - about half way. Since we got in after dark, spent the night and left early the next morning, we didn't see anything in El Paso except the big lighted star on the mountain. It was impressive but we were tired after over 500 miles on the road so we only looked at it as we passed. We found our hotel and collapsed.
Friday, June 5. After breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road for San Antonio. We arrived about 7:00 PM and found our hotel. Dot's nephew and his wife, Vern and Lisa, met us and we drove downtown to the River Walk. We wandered around on the River Walk, just taking in the activity, then had dinner at The Iron Cactus. After closing the restaurant (grin) we wandered back to the hotel and called it a day . . . and night. Tomorrow we have to get up early since we have a tour beginning at the Alamo in the morning.
Saturday, June 6. Up early, breakfast at the hotel, met Vern and Lisa and we headed for the Alamo. Vern and Lisa had arranged for a private tour, with Historic Texas Tours and tour guide Shelly Reynolds, of the San Antonio Missions. The Alamo wasn't open when we arrived but we got to look around outside while waiting for the tour van. For some reason, I left my camera in the Jeep so the photos on the mission tour are compliments of Vern - who was smart enough to bring his camera along!
San Antonio has five missions. The first, in both time and the American consciousness, was the Alamo, originally named San Antonio de Valero, established in 1718. The second was San Jose, built in 1720, followed by San Juan, Espada and Concepcion, all dating to 1731. First on the our tour was San Jose. This mission was built a few years after the Alamo, 1720. It provided more protection against Indian raids than did the Alamo of the time.
The second mission on our tour was Mission San Francisco de la Espada, or just Espada. This mission was first established in East Texas as San Francisco de los Tejas but relocated to San Antonio in 1731 and renamed at the same time. This was one of the most entertaining of the missions. Brother Jerome, one of the funniest people I have met recently and a friend of the tour guide, can be seen in the fourth photo below telling us some of the recent history of the mission. In particular, at some point, they were strongly advised to switch to electric votive candles from the traditional wax ones because of the danger of fire. Of course, there was a short in the electrical system powering the new candles producing a serious fire which heavily damaged the sanctuary. Some good came out of it though. While restoring some of the statuary from the alter, if was found that they had been painted at some point in their history and when the damaged paint was cleaned off, one was found to be covered with gold leaf - which cleaned up nicely. It can be seen in the last photo below - it's in the center above the alter.
The third mission on the tour was San Juan, originally San Juan Capistrano. This mission was first established in East Texas but relocated to San Antonio in 1731.
The fourth, and final, mission on our tour was Concepcion. This mission was also relocated from East Texas San Antonio in 1731. It was originally brightly painted both inside and out but only some of the interior painting is still visible.
The tour being over, we were delivered back to the Alamo, hoping to find it open. Boy! Was it ever open. It turns out that the Alamo sponsors an event every first Saturday - called appropriately enough, First Saturday (grin). This is a special day when re-enactors in period dress, persons offering period foods, arts and crafts and vendors of all types of period products congregate around the Alamo. It is very entertaining. Here are a few photos.
Marion Cone and Sue, then Vern and Lisa consort with the enemy.
We toured the Alamo but photography is prohibited inside the mission. It was quite interesting. A lot of real history here. After completing our tour, we drove about a mile across town to the market, El Mercado. We had a late lunch or early dinner at Mia Tierra - an extremely good restaurant adjacent to the Mercado. After lunch, we toured the Mercado. The range of items for sale there is enormous.
We next were given a tour of Fort Sam Houston where both Vern and Lisa are stationed. We did a driving tour, seeing base housing which has provided the home to most of the well known Generals in US military history. We finished up our tour at the Quadrangle. The Quadrangle is the original building on Ft. Sam Houston. It consists of a square with buildings around the perimeter and a clock tower in the center. The enclosed square is open, grassed and shaded by trees. There are deer, rabbits, peacocks and other wildlife that live here. No one knows why, how or when they were introduced. One legend is that the deer were introduced while Geronimo was held captive there. Geronimo and his braves reportedly refused to eat army food, thus the deer. While no one knows how the animals got there, they constitute a "petting zoo" of sorts for the many children who come into the quadrangle with their parents to relax, picnic and just look at the animals and birds.
The tours over, we headed back to the hotel, staggered to our rooms and collapsed. It has been a loooooong but fun filled day. Tomorrow, we make the run back to New Orleans on the way home.
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