Friday, April 28, 2006

Samples of Several Shows

Branson is known for music but it is also a very popular area for fishing and hunting. Outside of town are some 5 star resorts that cater to people interested in these outdoor activities. One of the resorts is Big Cedar Lodge Bass Pro Wilderness Resort. They did a fantastic job of creating a “wilderness” experience including driving down a winding road through the woods and fording several “creeks”.

Bass Pro also owns Dogwood Canyon Nature Park which offers people the chance to enjoy nature ---- at a cost of course. A self guided walking adventure only sets you back $7.95 per adult. Dogwood Canyon looks really nice but I think I’d rather walk for free at a conservation area.

The RV park offers entertainment most nights at the Rec. Centre, and tonight before the main entertainment they had a “Meet the Rep.” session. Performers from three different shows came and the Activities Co-ordinator interviewed them on stage. Each group then performed a song for us to entice us to see their full show. Many of these performers are trying to “break into” Branson’s show arena, and attend events like this to become known.

The entrance to Big Cedar Lodge

The main lodge at Big Cedar and one of the creeks that cross the roadway.

Face to Face --- Arizona Phod and Sadie

Cowboy Zaph and Sadie.

One of the bands that came to the RV park.

Is that John Wayne? No, but the fella really looks like him and uses the name in his show.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Fish Hatcheries

There are a lot of lakes and rivers in Missouri which attract many fishermen. To keep up with the demand for fish the state of Missouri runs several fish hatcheries, one of which is in Branson. The visitor centre has a short video explaining the process from start to fish. Outside are ponds with various sizes of trout fish.

One of the many the attractions just outside of Branson is the “Shepard of the Hills Homestead” at which only the observation tower was open, and we decided to do the tourist thing and pay the $5 (can you believe it) to take the elevator to the top of the tower. The view was pretty good but I not sure that I got my monies worth.

Outside a cute shop in Branson. This store had some beautiful pottery and some amazing wood carvings.

This fish hatchery at the bottom of Table Rock Dam.

The trout are attacking!!!! Throwing in a few pieces of fish food caused the trout to swarm to the surface.

The observation tower.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Table Rock Lake

Just outside of Branson is Table Rock Lake and the Table Rock Dam. Zaph decided we needed to spend some time in the great outdoors and suggested (demanded?) we head to the lake. We stopped at the Dewey Short Visitor Centre to learn more about the dam and the lake and then headed out for a walk along the lake and the expected paws in the water.

Hey that bus is driving into the water! Duck boat tours are popular in Branson.

A view of the river just outside of Branson

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Granddaddy of Outdoor Stores

It had started raining late yesterday afternoon and was continuing to rain today. We decided that indoor activities were needed so we headed to Springfield (less than 1 hour away) where Bill and Sadie have their home. Bill drove around the city pointing out the highlights — a couple of universities, a technical college, a new park area built in the old downtown core and “the old money” area. We stopped at the “National Headquarters and the Granddaddy of all Outdoor Stores” (that’s what is said on the building) — Bass Pro Shop. I was amazed by this store — absolutely huge with indoor waterfalls, fish tanks, fish ponds complete with a couple of live ducks, wildlife displays, and a lot of neat merchandise that is related to hunting, fishing and outdoor activities. Somehow Ed and I got out of there without spending a lot of money.

On the way back to Branson, Bill drove us by an area that had been hit by a tornado on March 12. This had been a severe tornado that had stayed on the ground for about 40 miles. Several houses had been flatten, several other houses had the back half or roofs ripped off, many more were missing roof tiles or pieces of siding and lots of fences were missing. The power and unpredictability of a tornado really hit home when I saw rubble that was once a house beside a house that just lost a couple of roof shingles.

The sign at the Bass Pro Shop.

Help --- he's attacking me!

You can see the path the tornodo took.

The brick work appears OK while the roof is mostly gone.

One piece of the house was left standing.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Magic Show

This morning we packed up the trailer and headed to Branson, Missouri where we were meeting our friends Bill and Sadie at an RV park. The Ozark mountain scenery was beautiful on the drive through Arkansas into Missouri, lots of hills and cattle grazing. After we settled in, Bill gave us a driving tour of Branson and we were surprised at the size of the town considering the population is just under 6,000 — must be all the hotels, restaurants, shows, etc. for the tourists. There was a deal on tickets for “Kirby”, a magician that we decided we couldn’t pass up. The show was good, especially the 6 year old assistant from the audience who got everyone laughing.

Why did the Titanic cross the road? ..... It wanted to make a Titanic size traffic jam. The Titanic Museum is a new exhibit in town.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Beaver Dam

You get a good workout walking through the town of Eureka Springs as every road is either going up hill or down hill. The owner of one store explained that we had walked from street level onto the 2nd floor of her store — the first floor was below ground as the road had been raised 8 feet a century ago. It’s hard to imagine that the roads were even hillier. The shops are full of unique items many made by local artists or artists from around the US.

As Zaph had waited for us in the trailer while we checked out the stores we decided to take him for a drive and look for a nice place for a walk. The local map showed “Beaver Dam” a few miles down the road from us. “Beaver Dam” turned out to be a large dam built by the Corp of Engineers creating a large lake called Beaver Lake and some beautiful parkland.

Eureka Springs

These paintings are done by local artists. You can bid on your favorite one and buy it.

The garden of the Basin Spring Hotel. Motor bikes are a common site in Eureka Springs. The area roads attract bikers from all over.

Eureka Springs was famous for it's "healing springs" in the late 1800's.

Beware of the "Attack Bunny". Some stores will put everyone to work including the family pet.

Another street view.

The Crescent Hotel. It sits high on a hill overlooking the town --- people say that it is haunted.

A view from the back porch of the Crescent Hotel.

We were standing down the road from the Crescent Hotel and looked across the valley and saw Christ of the Ozarks. It really is tall.

This is one big beaver dam .... The insert is the tower you can see in the middle of the photo.

Beaver Lake

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Home of Wal-Mart

The drive today took us into the Ozark mountains where the roads are hilly and winding resulting in some beautiful views. We passed Bentonville, home of the 1st Five and Dime Store owned by Sam Walton, and is now the Wal-Mart museum. As we were pulling the trailer we decided to pass on this stop — maybe next time. About 4 miles west of Eureka Springs we pulled into a KOA. It would be our home for the next couple of nights.

Carol and Darryl had told us we should visit Eureka Springs and we are really glad that we followed their advise. A short distance from our campsite is the Thorncrown Chapel. The chapel was built by a man who had his retirement home here and wanted to share the beauty of the area with others. The chapel is 46 feet high, has 425 windows, over 6,000 sq ft of glass and only seats 100 people. It is open to visitors from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm, allowing time for a morning wedding before it opens and several weddings after it closes. I can’t find the words to describe the feeling I got when I was sitting inside the chapel.

Our next stop was the Eureka Springs Rail Depot. 2 mile of track has been laid and the old train transverses it several times a day. The “conductor” was a character and told you lots of interesting information about trains. Did you know that conductors dressed in black so the soot from the old steam engines wouldn’t show up on their clothes? Before we could leave, the engine was moved to the turntable so it could be reversed, and connected to the now front of the train. At the 2 mile mark the engine uncoupled to turn around at a “Y” and couple back up to the other end of the train for the return trip. The conductor encouraged us to put coins on the train track so the engine could run over them and flatten them — instant souvenirs. He did say that it wasn’t safe to put anything on regular train tracks and you could only do it here as the engine was moving at a slow controlled speed. Ed and I chatted with the conductor for a few minutes after the ride had ended and he told us that the population of Eureka Springs is just over 2,000 but they have over 4,000 rooms for tourists — definite a tourist destination town.

There was a chainsaw carving show and auction today, so we stopped to take a look. The carving was finished when we got there and they were in the process of auctioning off many of the pieces. It really is incredible what some people can do with a chainsaw.

Last stop for the day was the statue of “Christ in the Ozarks”. This statue stands at least 60 feet tall (Ed’s guess) and overlooks Eureka Springs.

Thorncrown Chapel

This old steam engine is in working order but no longer run due to insurance costs.

Inside the old commuter car.

The engine being "turned around" on the turn table.

If you look closely you can see the coins on the track.

The flattened coins.

Auctioning off the wood carvings.

Christ of the Ozarks

Friday, April 21, 2006


Today was a another driving day. Leaving Texas, we headed north into Oklahoma, After of few hours of driving through some beautiful hilly country we turned east in Arkansas. We passed the night at the Wal-Mart in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Last night there was a thunderstorm and this morning the sky is looking threatening. I’d rather it didn’t rain when we are driving but Texas really needs this rain. Today was a short drive, just a hundred miles to the Cooper Lake State Park where we are spending the night. It’s a large park — even has a separate campground section and riding trails for people with horses. The lake’s water level is so low that only one of the five boat ramps is open.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Back to Reality

After a week of “vacationing” with Darryl and Carol it was back to reality — laundry, cleaning and errands. Late this afternoon we headed to their place for dinner and goodbyes. We’re going to miss Sarah.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Darryl had to go back to work today so Carol and I headed out to do some shopping as we needed to get Sarah some belated Christmas and Birthday presents and of course a present for Omar. I think I avoid stores enough that when I have to go shopping I’m amazed by what’s available and wanted to buy it all. Luckily, I think of Ed... and restrain myself

Monday, April 17, 2006

Zoo Day

The forecast was for another warm sunny day so we (Carol, Darryl, Ed and I) decided to take Sarah to the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler. This is a wonderful zoo for kids as there are lots of colourful birds, fish and animals that remain active even in the heat. Of course there are the standard assortment of sleeping and hiding animals (lions, tigers, etc..), but they don’t get an almost 3 year old’s attention, while the parrot that chatters away to you does. A first for me was cattle in a zoo — they had a new exhibit of 2 young longhorn cattle. Sarah had a blast — she loved the colourful birds, the river otter, the exotic fish, the penguins and especially the goats in the petting zoo.

Pretty in pink ... a roseate spoonbill hanging with a couple of scarlet Ibis

This guy is sure tall.

Peek-a-boo I see you Mr. Rhinoceros

"Loving" a goat.

A pair of Macaws.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

It was time for a quiet day. Darryl gave Ed a tour of his place of work and Carol and I headed out to do some shopping — unfortunately most of the stores were closed. Later in the day, Darryl took me for a ride on the motorbike which was much more exciting than the short ride I had at Port Aransas. To celibate Easter, Tim and Carol cooked a tasty dinner.

Is this the real Easter Bunny? (Andy and Zaph.)

Or perhaps this is this the real Easter Bunny?

On the other hand; Sara thinks this might be the real Easter Bunny.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Tractor Pull

Ed and Darryl found an ad for a Antique Tractor Show in a near by town, so off we went. There was, as expected a lot of old tractors which of course thrilled the two guys. The first event we watched was the Antique Tractor Parade — only one tractor stalled and had to be towed out of the arena. The second event we watched was the Tractor Pull. Tractors are hooked up to a sled that has a sliding weight on it, such that the more forward the weight, the greater the drag the sled creates. The weight moves forward at different rates depending on the weight class of the tractor. The object is to pull the sled as far as possible on a sand surface. It sounds kinda of weird but it was fun to watch for the first hour! The Antique Tractor Show is a real family event as there were grandparents, children and grandchildren from the same family competing and being cheer on by other relatives.

There were a lot of tractors at the Antique Tractor Show.

The big event is the tractor pull. The tractor is attached to a sled that has a weight that moves forward creating more resistance. The one who can pull it the farthest wins.

The "mini-tractor pull" for kids --- It was hard work.

This reminds me of the cartoons where the characters legs get stretched. Or perhaps the wide track gives better high speed handling... at least that what the car ads indicate.

The Antique Tractor Show was held beside the community airport where this trainer jet was displayed.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge

Carol (my sister), Darryl (brother-in-law), Sarah (Carol and Darryl’s almost 3 year old granddaughter), Ed and I headed north of Tyler to the Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge. The refuge mainly rescues tigers but also has a few lions and 3 leopards. The animals have come from a variety of sources — private owners, a circus (a tiger had stage fright and couldn’t perform his tricks in front of an audience), Michael Jackson (his trainer was in an accident and could no longer take care of the 2 tigers), a wildlife safari park that closed, etc. Visitors to the refuge are given a tour introducing each cat along with a brief history of their lives. In the office we visited with a 6 week old tiger cub that the refuge is taking care of for another refuge — very cute. On the tour, our group was standing outside of a cage when the cat roared and stood upright at the fence ---- he doesn’t like people very much and wanted to let us know. While we were stopped by a large pen with 2 tigers in it, Sarah bent down and put her two stuffed animals under the outer fence (there was at least 10 feet between the outer fence and the cage). The tigers got very exciting thinking there were 3 “nice toys” to play with. This made us realize just how dangerous large cats can be even though they are adorable as cubs. I couldn’t believe it when our guide told us that it is legal to own a large cat in over 30 states.

We stopped at Tyler State Park for a nice picnic lunch and walk around the lake. It reminded me of the Ontario provincial parks where we have camped.

One of the tigers. The steel container is full of water as the tigers enjoy playing in water.

One of the lions.

The two juvenile tigers that were excited to see Sarah and her stuffies.

Which one is the real tiger cub?

The lake at Tyler State Park.

Princess in training, Rule 7; get your servants to carry you and your royal carrage whenever possible to insure comfortable ride.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Omar Arrives

Omar Lucas Sarr arrived today. He is the first grandson for my sister and her husband. We spent the morning at the hospital visiting with him and his parents. A tour of Tyler was the order of the afternoon. The highlight was a stop at the Rose Garden. The town’s website describes it as “The Tyler Municipal Rose Garden is a 14-acre park, making it the nations largest rose garden. The garden is full of breath-taking beauty, especially in the spring and again in mid-October when the Rose Garden is in full bloom. There are over 38,000 rose bushes of at least 500 different varieties, from tall grafted rose trees to miniature roses no larger than a dime.” Over half of the rose bushes were in bloom giving us a show of vibrant colours. The garden itself is lovely — there is a bridge over a pond, a gazebo and several arbors — I’m sure it’s a favourite place for taking wedding photographs.

Kim with Omar and Sarah.

There were many different varities of roses.

We were facinated by the multicoloured roses.

Darryl, Carol, Frances, Sarah and her friends Care Bear and Little Zaphie were enjoying the meditation gazebo at the rose garden.

Caral, Sarah and Darryl on the bridge. Wouldn't that be a great spot for wedding photos?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Moving Day

We packed up early and headed for eastern Texas where my sister and her family live. Using the internet we had found a campground on Lake Palestine about 15 miles from sister’s home. Our campsite is a few hundred feet from the lake but we have a nice view of it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Swimming Day

We had thought about renting a canoe today but whimped out because the sky looked iffy and lake was rough. Zaph didn’t mind as he got to spend a couple of hours playing in the water and went for a long walk on one of the park’s trails.

Zaph on his private beach.

Some "bird dog"! Well, at least he got the ball before the ducks did.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Longhorn Cavern

A short distance down the road is another state park — the Longhorn Cavern State Park. This is a day use park whose main attraction is a large cavern. According to the web site “ The cave was first formed when the ground levels of water began to drop. As this downward movement occurred, the water began to dissolve the limestone. This downward drainage continued until great underground stream beds were cut out of solid rock. It is this unusual combination of dissolving and cutting by water that makes Longhorn Cavern one of the most unique caves of the world..”

In the 1920's the rancher who owned the cavern installed a large wooden floor in one of the large chambers, and held dances — this chamber proved to have great acoustics. In the 1930's the land was given to the state for a park. The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) cleared additional tunnels and rooms and installed hundreds of lights allowing it to be safely viewed by the public. Today concerts and special events are held in main room of the cavern.

One of the large rooms in the cavern.

Looking down one of the tunnels.

This section of the cave had a high ceiling in other parts even I had to bend over.

A couple sections of the cave had crystals on the walls. Coloured lights at this spot showed the crystals off.

Our campsite at Inks Lake State Park.

Sunset view from our campsite.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Inks Lake

When we were starting to pack up we noticed a number of antique cars driving into the park so we wandered over to the area where they had parked. The local Royal Royce Car Club was having a competition and some antique Fords came into to visit.

Our next stop was Inks Lake State Park, which is approximately 65 miles north east of Fredericksburg — still in Hill Country. Zaph was impressed as we managed to get a campsite on the lake giving him a private mini beach, and in his mind that would mean hours of swimming. Arriving on a Sunday was a good idea.

The Fords.

The Royal Royces

A closeup view of a couple of Royal Royces

Inks Lake. Ed was facinated by the desert plants growing beside a lake.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Wild flowers and Tractors

In an earlier entry I mentioned the fellow who brought his tractor with him. This fellow planned to go on the Tractor Ride — that would be people getting together to ride their tractors through the country side. Ed decided that we should check it out, and it was exactly as it sounds, a bunch of people riding tractors — for me it was a chance to drive on some the country roads and see hill country.

Hill Country is know for it’s wild flowers so of course there is a nursery that specializes in wild flowers. They have several fields where they grow the wild flowers for seed (which they sell), a butterfly house where they have local butterflies (of course) as well as a gift shop and garden centre. The butterfly house was different from the ones in Ontario as it is not climate controlled, but simply a screened building with lots of plants, a small pond and lots of butterflies. All of the butterflies in the house can be found in Texas and we have seen several of the varieties in the wild flying around the trees and wild flowers.

Driving back into town, Ed saw Fort Martin Scott so we stopped. There is one original building left — the stockade. I guess they built it a little better than the rest of the buildings! There are several replica buildings and lots of plaques indicating the building that had been located at the spot.

There go the tractors.

Here comes another batch of tractors. We were told that 49 tractors were in the ride.

Flower child.

Texas Bluebonnet

Field of red corn poppies.

One of the many butterflies in the butterfly house.

A barrel catus in bloom

One of the flowers in the butterfly house.

A poppy.

Ed drove over to the community airport (next door) and found a Royal Royce show.

A 1923 Royal Royce --- the owner was finishing polishing it before it join the other cars in the hanger.

Watch out bad guys --- Sherrif Zaphod is on duty.

Friday, April 07, 2006

LBJ and Ladybird

My knowledge of US geography and history has increased over the past year and today it increased some more. We toured Lyndon B. Johnson’s ranch property in Stillwell and his boyhood home in Johnson City. LBJ became president of the USA when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He finished the term and then was elected as president for the following term. LBJ is mainly remembered for becoming president after JFK was assassinated and the Vietnam War. We learned that LBJ and Ladybird were conservationists, environmentalists as well as firm believers in a good education was the solution to poverty. LBJ signed a number of education bills into law while Ladybird worked on “beautification of America” by encouraging the elimination of billboards along highways and the addition of flowers and trees as well as efforts to expand the national parks system.

Part of LBJ’s ranch was donated to the National Park System in the late 1960's with the provision that Ladybird (she’s 93) has full use of the house until her death. The ranch is still worked and raises Polled Hereford cattle. On another piece of the property, a pioneer era farm is setup — this reminded Ed of the family farm when he young.

One of LBJ’s cousin’s founded Johnson City, which is approximately 15 miles east of Stillwell, and not very far from LBJ’s ranch. There is a visitor centre and some restored buildings as they were in the 1880's. The visitor center has two very interesting films; one on LBJ’s presidency and the other on Ladybird life.

A replica of the house Lyndon B. Johnson was born in. It is called a "dog trot" because of the open passageway in the middle of the house.

The main house.

Two of the Lincoln Continentals that LBJ drove around the ranch.

Cattle resting in the shade.

Where's the rest of the food? --- this goat is sitting in one of the cattle food bins.

Checking out the cattle.

The pioneer farm.

The main house, wash house and water tower on the pioneer farm.

A house from the original Johnson City settlement

Texas Longhorn cattle

Watertower in the Johnson City Settlement

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Enchanted Rock

About 20 miles north of Fredericksburg is the Enchanted Rock State Park. Borrowed from their website: “The Rock is a huge, pink granite exfoliation dome, that rises some 425 feet above the surrounding land. Its top is at 1825 feet above sea level, and covers 640 acres. It is one of the largest batholiths (underground rock formation uncovered by erosion) in the United States.” Ed and I didn’t really look at the map and just followed a sign assuming that it would take us to the summit trail — it did eventually. We hiked most of the way around the base of rock before we found a trail that led to the summit. If we had checked the map and walked the other direction from the parking lot we would have been at the start of the summit trail — luckily it was a nice hike and Zaph met a group of school kids who were quite happy to pet him. The summit trail is a short trail that leads you onto the edge of Enchanted Rock and as it is just a big rock, you can work you way up to the top by whatever course looks easier to you.

The Enchanted Rock is the hill behind the sign.

A pond at the state park.

Do I have to climb this?

Dad, can I take this rock home?

This is one big rock.

Zaph in one of his favorite places.

A small pool in the top of the rock

Great view!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Wine Country in Texas

Fredericksburg was originally settled by people of German decent and still maintains a lot of the German heritage. One of the big festivals celebrated here is Oktoberfest and many restaurants feature German food. The main street has attracted a lot of antique dealers, gift shops, unique boutiques and wineries. Yup, Texas has a wine region and it’s right here in hill country. I didn’t know that, and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of some of the local wines we tasted.

A lot of care has been taken in renovating and maintaining the buildings in the downtown area. For example, one building that had been a hardware store and is now an antique shop still has the original floor to ceiling shelving down one side of the store, now displaying antiques instead of nuts and bolts.

There’s a type of 5th trailer that is called a “Toy Hauler”. The front section of the trailer has the normal living area while the back section is left mostly empty and the back flips down and acts like a ramp. Most people use toy haulers to carry a golf cart or an ATV. One fellow at this campground uses it to carry his tractor.

These were some of the unique items for sale.

One of the antique buildings on the main street of Fredericksburg

I'm not sure why a building in Fredericksburg would have an elephant on it.

Flowers in the park

A statue in the park depicting the treaty between the locals and the natives

This poster was displayed in one of the wineries.

The toyhauler and tractor.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Hill Country

About 1 ½ hours north of San Antonio is the town of Fredericksburg. It is a popular destination this time of year for viewing wild flowers. Texas does not mow the sides of highways and roads during wild flower season promoting glorious shows of colour. Unfortunately, the show is expected to be poor due to the drought — hopefully Ed will still get some good photos.

Admiral Nimitz of World War II Pacific Combat Zone fame was born in Fredericksburg and to honor him the National Museum of the Pacific War was located here. The museum has several exhibits one of which is called the Pacific Combat Zone. This exhibit shows the museum’s large artifacts in unique environments such as an invasion beach with landing craft and artillery, a field hospital in a Quonset hut, etc.

We are staying at the Ladybird Johnson Municipal Park just outside of Fredericksburg. The park is quite large as it not only houses the trailer park but also a golf course, 2 baseball diamonds, tennis courts, swimming pools and large picnic areas. Zaph loves it as there are lots of places to play ball.

A WWII Bomber

A PT boat --- one of only a few in existance

A Japanese tank

One of the display areas in the museum

The super structure off of a ship and an anti-aircraft gun --- displays outside of the museum.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Who Turned the Thermostat Up?

It is hot here!!! The high yesterday was 92F (matching a previous record high for this day set in 1996), and it was hotter today. We spent the day driving to, and exploring the 4 Spanish missions (other than the Alamo) that are very close to San Antonio. Missions fell into disuse in the early 1800's as the requirements for fortified settlements diminished. However, the churches of these four are still in active use today. The US National Parks Service maintains the ruins, and provides visitor services.

Mission Concepcion

Looking down one of the corridors at Mission Concepcion

The ceiling in the church at Mission Concepcion

At the Mission San Jose, the natives lived in the rooms that ran along the wall. They used the cement and stone object at the left for cooking.

Ruins of Convento --- the missionaries lived on the 2nd floor while the lower floor was various storage rooms. Mission San Jose

Looking through the Ruins of Convento at Mission San Jose

Some of the carving above the main door of the church at Mission San Jose

Mission San Jose had a grist mill. Water was diverted from the San Antonio River to power the mill.

Zaph checking out an old well at Mission San Jose

The bells at Mission San Juan

A lot of restoration work is currently under way at Mission San Juan

The Espada Aqueduct --- Acequias (gravity flow ditches) were dug to irrigate the fields. The aqueduct was built to cross Six Mile Creek.

The church at Mission Espada

The ornate doors on the church at Mission Espada

The bell tower on the church at Mission Espada

Look whose coming out of one of the buildings at Mission Espada

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Remember the Alamo

A city bus stops outside the KOA and goes downtown , stopping about a block from the Alamo, and only costs 80 cents a person. We couldn’t pass up the convenience and deal. The battle at the Alamo was a pivotal event in the fight to free Texas from Mexico. History became alive for us as we listened to an older gentlemen tell the story — he was an incredible story teller. As we missed the beginning of his talk we stayed and listened to the next gentlemen tell the his version, and then we saw the 20 minute video — we really remember the Alamo now! The story is of a valiant attempt by 200 men to defend the Alamo mission from about 2000 troops of the Mexican army. All 200 men were lost and the Mexican army suffered huge losses (over 1000 were killed). The story of the battle was told throughout Texas and spurred the Texans on to continue fighting the Mexicans and gain their independence. Stories are told of the cries “Remember the Alamo” as the Texans fought the Mexicans. There is a great web site on the Alamo if you want to know more.

Later in the afternoon, we visited the River Walk, a mile or so section of the San Antonio river that winds through the old part of the city, which had been developed as a tourist area in the 1950. The result was a beautiful combination of sidewalks, bridges, and old building all combining to form a pleasant relaxing environment. One of the popular things to do is take a boat ride along the river in the River Walk section, during which the boat operator gives a guided tour of the area and relates some of the history. Info:

Invasion!!!! Some ducks at the KOA try to take over Zaph's waterbowl.

The Alamo

A couple of the original cannons

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas maintain the Alamo and have planted some beautiful gardens.

This Live Oak spreads across the grounds.

This was living quarters and was one of the last strong holds for the Texans during the battle.

A view of the River Walk --- it's a great place to walk or stop and have a meal.

One of the entrances to the River Walk as seen from the boat.

This is a theatre and we were told that it was used in the final seen in Miss Congeniality.

Another view from the boat. The red object in the background is the Flame of Friendship, a gift to the city from Mexico.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Happy April Fool’s Day

Did anyone play any tricks on you this morning? We left Mustang Island on schedule and drove the 180 or so miles to San Antonio. I was really surprised how flat the land was for the first 100 miles — it looked like I expected the prairies to look. We decided to stay at the KOA in San Antonio, as it is less than 5 miles from downtown and WiFi was included. The park turned out to be quite nice with fairly large sites and lots of trees plus a stream. Much to Zaph’s disappointment however, it looks too dirty for Zaph to take a dip.

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