San Antonio Area

January 11, 2008 -- Braunig Lake RV Park in San Antonio, TX

This writer has a lot of catching up to do. I just looked at my last post and it was 5 days ago -- not acceptable! I'll try to pick up the pace a little.

In my last post I wrote about our visits to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and the Fulton Mansion. On January 6th, we took our bikes back to Aransas and rode the entire 17 mile loop through the refuge. Due to the relatively high winds we probably didn't see nearly as much wildlife as we would have if it were calmer. But we did see a number of 'gators, including a young one only a couple feet long and a much older one that was something like 10 or 12 feet long. Unfortunately, I didn't bring a measuring tape along so Dar could get the exact length. There are a couple pictures of these guys in our online photo collection.

Based on our limited experience it seems armadillos are one of the most common animals at the Aransas Refuge. They're all over. On our bike ride, Dar didn't see one that was right on the edge of the road until she was almost past it. Hitting a 'dillo with a bike would probably be a send a rider sprawling. We also saw a couple little snakes crawling across the road. I stopped to check them out. When it comes to snakes my courage is inversely proportional with the size of the snake, and these were pretty small. I'm not sure which of the more than 40 types that inhabit the park it was, but this little guy would stop crawling as I got closer, watch me carefully, and when I got too close would jump up, not at me just into the air, and roll over like he was dead. Probably an innate defense mechanism of some kind.

The following day, Monday the 7th, we spent most of the day putting the bus back together again as we prepared for travel the next day. There was also a lot of interaction with our neighbors. Our last "happy hour" with them was promptly at 4pm and then we went out to dinner with new friends Bill & Sue at Charlotte Plummers, a nice seafood restaurant right along the bay in Fulton. From our table along the bayside windows we soaked in the view of the bay and all the fishing boats in the harbor. I think it'll leave an impression that'll last until we return. I've said this before but we really grew to like the Rockport area.

Tuesday was moving day and we jumped out of bed about 8am. Since the move was only about 160 miles there was little urgency to get going. And, of course, the stream of neighbors coming over during the morning to say good-bye, taking pictures of each other, exchanging contact information, and all that... it was hard to stay on task and get everything done smoothly. But we enjoyed the experience and finally got on the road about 11:30am... just a half hour later than we thought.

Driving north, uphill, and into a stiff wind, the bus performed flawlessly. Dar drove a little over half the way. We arrived at Braunig Lake RV Park, on the south edge of San Antonio right along I-37, about 3pm. After checking in and parking the bus we drove the car a little further into town and had dinner at a Chili's Restaurant. I'll tell you what, I've been to Chili's all over this land, and they have the best chips & salsa you can find anywhere. They're thin, not too salty, and usually still warm. We had way too many but couldn't help ourselves.

The following day, Wednesday, was spent at Holt Cat. Our bus has a Spartan chassis (the frame, engine, transmission, axles, etc -- the "truck" that the coach is built around). Holt Cat is a Spartan Service & Warranty Center and we were there to have a headlight glitch looked at and repaired. The problem is this: the low-beam headlights don't stay on reliably. Up to this point we haven't driven much at night so the problem wasn't recognized until during a pre-move light check a month or two ago. I don't know how long the bus has had this problem but it's got to get fixed. Headlights are one of those things like brakes that just have to work all the time. A very nice Holt service tech ran some tests, consulted with Spartan, and, at this point, we're going back in on Monday to confirm what they think -- that a little electronic "black box" isn't working right and will have to be replaced. Once they confirm the fault, a new part will be air-freighted down and will be installed on Tuesday.

Yesterday, Thursday, we drove The Mission Trail and visited two of the 5 historic missions established by the Franciscans in the mid-1700's. These five missions were all built along the banks off the San Antonio River. The first mission built was Mission San Antonio Valero -- known today as The Alamo. We didn't visit The Alamo yesterday, but did see Mission San Juan Capistrano and Mission San Jose. Both are currently active Catholic churches with services every Sunday. Of the 5 missions along the trail, all but The Alamo are part of the National Park Service. These historic places have been heavily reconstructed, with much of the work done by the WPA during the depression. They provide a good glimpse into the life and culture of the time as the Spanish indoctrinated the native peoples of the southern plains into the ways of the European West.

Looking ahead, we may visit an additional mission this afternoon. On Saturday we'd like to do downtown San Antonio and visit The Alamo. Then Sunday we hope to head north about 60 miles to see the LBJ Ranch and National Historic Park in Johnson City, the quaint German town of Fredericksburg, and Luckenbach Texas. So much to do and time just flies by.



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