We departed Scott, Louisiana, in company with the Blythes in their motor coach, full of homemade pies and cafe au lait, swearing to take it easy on food consumption for a few days. Suzanne was driving on the way through Lake Charles, so when I glanced up and saw this sign, I knew better than to mention it, or I’d get smacked… but that threat didn’t stop me from taking a quick snapshot and thinking, “Only in Louisiana could a towing company get away with a billboard like that…”
Our first stop in Texas was not the main tourist welcome center, but was a treat nevertheless. We were somewhere north of Galveston, and all the buildings in the rest area looked like this one, charming reproductions of Gulf Coast Texas houses.
Afternoon came and we stopped about 75 miles past Houston, in Columbus, Texas, a very nice all-American town of 4,000 with lots of flags, manicured lawns and very little traffic. This building is the old Stafford Opera House, and the home next to it was cattle rancher Robert Stafford’s. He built both buildings, and designed them so that he could watch the Opera House stage from his living room.
Our next stop was San Antonio, where our two coaches found a beautiful campground for three nights at Fort Sam Houston, the home of military combat medic training for all of the four services. It is now part of Joint Base San Antonio, but everyone still calls it “Fort Sam”. There is a large military hospital here for wounded warriors, and this was only one of several parking spaces outside the base PX reserved for combat wounded veterans.
My reason for going to the PX was a critical need for new toys for Rudy and Gretchen; their old squeaky rabbits were coming apart from overuse. They were ecstatic to receive their new squeaky squirrels, but within 5-8 minutes, both were disemboweled and the squeakers destroyed. Rudy is probably thinking, “What did you expect we were going to do with them? This is what Dachshunds do!”
After taking care of the pups, the adults took a walking tour of the Riverwalk area of San Antonio. It was a chilly and windy day, and our fleeces and down jackets were used for the first time this trip.
The Cathedral of San Fernando is an interesting reminder of San Antonio’s past. One of the oldest active cathedrals in the USA, it was built between 1738 and 1750. In 1831, Jim Bowie married Ursula de Varamendi in San Fernando; five years later, Mexican General Santa Anna hoisted the flag indicating “No quarter” from the cathedral’s bell tower, hours before Bowie, William Travis, Davy Crockett and 200 other Texians were killed at the Battle of the Alamo just down the street. (Texians were non-Hispanic white residents of Mexican Texas and later, the Republic of Texas.)
Most were out of ammunition and wounded, and then they were bayoneted and shot and their bodies burned; but the Texians took with them about 150 Mexican dead and 300 wounded, a very high exchange rate considering the men in the Alamo were under an artillery barrage. Santa Anna later said the fight “was but a small affair.” One of his officers said in an aside, “With another such victory as this, we’ll go to the devil.” Six weeks later, an outraged Texian army yelling “Remember the Alamo” routed a much larger Mexican force at San Jacinto in just 18 minutes and captured Santa Anna, who asked for mercy, and was allowed to depart in disgrace, on the condition that all Mexican troops would return to Mexico.
The Riverwalk was thronged with turistas, and the restaurants crowded with people waiting to pay $35 for a rack of ribs that would go for $14 back at Oakwood in The Villages. So, we decided to forgo an expensive meal out and had dinner back in the coach. Thanks again to Claudette Prejean LeBlanc in Scott, LA, for her delicious grillades that she sent with us.
On Monday, Suzanne and I drove to McAllister Park to try out its mountain bike trail. We were thrilled by the scenery and the windy paths that circled this heavily wooded park. There were lots of ups and downs as well as some rock gardens that made us keep our focus…
But the best photo of the day came when this Bike Beauty posed in a field of wildflowers. What a romantic spot… and I forgot the picnic lunch, wine and blanket. Darn!