Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Fredericksburg Texas: San Antonio, The Alamo and The Riverwalk

It was in the high 50's today when we got up, but the sky was clear. Our objective was to make our first ever visit to San Antonio to see the Alamo and the Riverwalk. We got underway about 9:00 AM, heading south on Ranch Road 1376 (aka Sisterdale Road) past Luckenbach. We followed the winding Texas two lane blacktop for 40 miles until we intersected I-10 at Boerne. Along the way, the cell phone rang. I love the hands-free cell on the bike. It was Coyote calling from Keller, up near Fort Worth, wondering if we wanted to meet for lunch tomorrow at Cooper's BBQ in Llano. Is a bear Catholic? We'll be there.

On I-10 heading into San Antonio, we were impressed by the clean and green feeling we got from the city. We followed I-10 to where it met I-35 and then took that for a short way before getting off and following the GPS instructions to the Alamo. We rode past and then tried to find a parking spot. I'm not sure the proper protocol for passing a horse and buggy in a tight street but I'm pretty sure I didn't do it right.

I found a little lot a block from the Alamo that had a $10 daily rate posted. The attendant charged me half price to park by his booth and then directed us a block down to the Visitor Center. We met a couple in the lot from Cobourg, Ontario and walked there together. A man in a yellow shirt accosted us and I thought he was trying to sell us something, but he was an Amigo. These people are like wandering tourist information booths. Another nice touch provided for confused tourists.

Helpful parking lot attendant in San Antonio

Live oak in the Alamo Plaza

Great architecture overlooking the Plaza

The Visitor Center was right across the street from the Alamo Shrine. After getting maps, we walked across and rented the handsets for the self-guided tour. The shrine is the old church that everyone associates with the Alamo (Spanish for Cottonwood), but the actual walls that were defended against the Mexicans encompassed a much larger area. For 13 days in 1836, a small band of Texian fighters held off a much larger force of Mexicans under General Santa Ana before, on March 6th, a full out assault breached the walls and the defenders died almost to a man. This site is regarded as the birthplace of Texas liberty. We walked through, listening to the electronic guide give us background to much of what we were seeing. It was a moving experience.

In front of the Alamo Shrine

Memorial to the heroes of the Alamo

One thing struck me as we heard of the political situation that led up to the Texas Revolt. In 1824, Mexico ratified a Constitution based on Federalism, where the central government shared authority with the state governments. A faction of Centralists soon moved to strip the states of their autonomy and vest all authority at the federal level. I can see parallels today with the United States, where the Constitutional limits on the federal Government have been largely surpassed and the states' rights have been eroded.

Leaving the Alamo grounds, we walked a short distance to the Riverwalk. Stemming from a project to curtail disastrous floods, the Riverwalk now extends 2.5 miles and features shops, restaurants, bars and other establishments. It is below street level and feels like a whole other world. We had lunch at the Mad Dog British Pub, sharing a BLT sandwich and a bowl of chicken gumbo. I'm not sure what part of England gumbo comes from. Note for Roxy: the young man serving us was wearing a kilt. We only saw a very small part of the Riverwalk, so I now think I need to go to San Antonio for several days and stay in one of the adjacent hotels. I always thought San Francisco was the coolest city in North America, but it now has competition IMHO.

Mad Dog British Pub - Riverwalk - San Antonio Texas

Waiting for my BLT

Sandy on the Riverwalk

Up the river

You can see the Riverwalk is below street level

I don't know what to make of this

A girl and her dog

Waiting for customers

It was quite hot when we got back to the bike. We stripped our jackets to mesh and then headed north, retracing our route. Up on Sisterdale Road, we were cruising along at a good clip when I suddenly slipped out of The Zone. We stopped for some water but I didn't manage to get back into the groove again. We stopped at WalMart in Fredericksburg for some water and food and then returned to the campground.  Just before we got there, we saw a car with Hawaii licence plates.  I can't remember seeing one of these on the mainland before.

How did this get here?

When I checked my Email, there was a message from Ron, a VROCer formerly known as the Big Guy From Omaha. Now he is the Big Guy From Kerrville and he invited us to supper tomorrow night. Then he phoned and we made arrangements to be at his place shortly after 5:00. I also talked to Leo and found he and Diane had gotten home this afternoon. Another friend, Eric, called to confirm we wouldn't be able to make the Combermere gathering in May.

The rest of the evening was quiet and we retired reasonably early.

Today's Route (136 motorcycle miles):

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