Thursday, March 12
The alarm goes off, and I am momentarily confused. Is it a work day? No it’s a Thursday, and it’s still dark outside. Why the heck are Julie and I waking up before dawn if it’s not for work? I’m not a morning person, and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen the sunrise in the past year. Then my brain catches up with my body and I remember. Ah yes, San Antonio.
Bertha has a 9:00 am service appointment at a Goodyear there today. I know I know, why the heck would I drive an hour and a half to get work done on the truck when there are places closer that could do it? Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but we have ulterior motives…
We arrive downtown in a timely fashion and drop Bertha off. She’s getting her rear shocks and front brakes replaced today, to compliment the front shocks and rear brakes that I had replaced in Los Angeles at the beginning of the year. She’s also getting two new tires, an alignment, oil change, and I’m having them look at the driver side door, which has started squeaking recently. It’s going to take a while to get all of this work done, so we’ll be stuck in the city for a while. Oh darn, wink wink.
It’s only about a mile from Goodyear to the San Antonio River Walk, I guess we can kill some time there.
When I first lay eyes on the River Walk, I gasp and stop in my tracks, it’s that incredible. The San Antonio river runs through downtown about one story below street level, and all along it’s curvy, twisting length runs a public park complete with paved walking path, boat tours, and shops. You’re walking along through a typical big city and then all the sudden bam! You’re crossing a bridge and look down and see another world down below, a greener world. Vines grow on the storefronts down at water level, a riot of flowers and greenery line the trails. Tall cypress trees along the water’s edge butt up against towering skyscrapers… and somehow this jarring mix of natural and urban works beautifully.
Julie and I stroll down the path, watching ducks swim in the river and enjoying various water features and the sun, which has made a comeback after the recent bout of bad weather. We see a sign pointing up a side path labeled ‘Alamo’. Well heck, might as well learn something while we’re enjoying ourselv- I mean, while we’re stranded here. Ahem.
Even if you’re not a history buff I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase: “Remember the Alamo!”, that was about the extent of my knowledge before today. The history of this building complex is long and sordid, but I’m going to try to keep it short and sweet.
The Alamo was first built in 1744 as a mission called ‘San Antonio de Valero’ when the area was under Spanish rule, it’s purpose was converting the local Coahuiltecan tribe to Catholicism. In the late 1700’s, it became a military outpost for the Spanish, who guarded San Antonio from Indian raiders and American and French troops out of Louisiana. The first group of soldiers to arrive were called The Alamo Company, hence where the name comes from.
In 1821 when Mexico declared its independence from Spain, the soldiers of the Alamo shifted allegiance, and new Republic of Mexico opened immigration from the United States to help bolster Texas’ small population ostensibly to make it easier to hold. Because Texas didn’t have enough people to be designated a state, they were considered a department within a larger state, which didn’t sit well with the locals and settlers. When the locals started complaining, Mexico tried to shut down immigration which just made matters worse, but enough people had settled in Texas by now that they could put up a fight.
The Texas Revolution started in 1835, and the colonists and local Tejanos stormed San Antonio in October and by the end of the year had taken control of it and the Alamo from Mexican general Martin Perfecto de Cos. The next February as Texas was declaring its independence, Mexican forces led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna arrived in force to take back the city and laid siege to the Alamo, which was being held by roughly 200 desperate souls. On March 6 after ten days, the Mexican force broke through the walls wrested control of the Alamo back in a fierce battle than lasted 90 minutes, ending in the old church.
Texian General Sam Houston would surprise the Mexican army later that spring near Buffalo Bay (present-day Houston) while it was divided with his smaller force, capturing Santa Anna and achieving independence to the cry of… yep you guessed it, “Remember the Alamo!”.
It’s too busy to get inside the buildings today, the lines go all the way down the sidewalk and Julie and I just don’t feel like waiting, but even getting to walk the grounds is a very neat experience. The grounds are well kept, old Live Oaks provide relief from the sun, and the history of the place still reaches you, even from outside. This is a place that mattered.
Onward, to the Market Square. Called El Mercado by the locals, this bustling district hosts over 100 locally owned shops and is the largest Mexican shopping center in the city. Reportedly you can find live music here every day of the year, I cannot attest to that, but I can say that there were no less than five music groups performing during our visit. It was so loud in fact that we spent little time outside because the noise level was so high. We duck in to two of the buildings and browse. There’s a lot of neat authentic Mexican style merchandise to be found here, but I was able to resist spending any money. The sterling silver jewelry is the hardest to say no to.
Well, gosh, still no word from Goodyear, and it’s past lunch time. I guess we’ll just have to grit our teeth and have lunch down on the waterfront. What torture.
We stop at MadDogs British Pub, and enjoy lunch out on the porch with a great view of the River Walk. We take our sweet time eating and enjoy people watching. Every five minutes or so, another tour boat comes down the river, laden with people. The boat tours are $15 a person and probably very informative, but I have two good legs and don’t mind walking.
Finally at about 3:30, after a successful stop in at Goodwill for jeans, Goodyear calls: the truck is ready (are you sure? Can’t it wait just a bit longer?) and we reluctantly head back. As far as days spent waiting for for a vehicle to be serviced, this is hands down the best experience I’ve had, ever.
Err, I mean, what a rotten day. Who’d ever want to go full-timing and have to spend a day without transportation in a strange city? All that new stuff to see, things to learn, food to eat…
Yeeeah, who am I kidding, I had a blast. Any successful full-time RVer quickly learns how to make the most of what could be an upsetting situation. And as icing on the cake, the work ends up being less money than I was quoted for back in California when I went in for fluid changes and was told I had all of this stuff that needing fixing – yay Texas!
* * *
Why was the Alamo so busy on a weekday? Because Texas is in the middle of spring break. This week most of the public schools have been out, and next week most of the colleges are out. This means things have really been hopping at Enchanted Rock – the busiest two weeks the park is going to see all year. It’s like Saturday, every day! Pretty exhausting stuff, but it hasn’t quite taken over my life. I have been working on something else behind the scenes. Next week I’ll be making a big announcement about the e-guide, something a lot of you have been waiting for. Hint, it’s coming out soon, real soon! Stay tuned.
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