San Antonio With a Mission.....or Four
~Monday, December 21, 2020~
If you haven’t heard yet, let us be the first to tell you, today is the shortest day of the year. Yeh!! I am so ready for the days to be longer. I think RV’ing is a lot more fun, particularly when the evenings have more light and more people are out and about, cooking and dining outdoors, playing games and mingling with each other. So bring it on!
Our last day in the San Antonio area, so what shall we do? One of the highlights in this city of 1.5 million people, is to visit the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. That’s number one. Number two will be us picking up where we left off on the San Antonio River Walk. But first, we need to finish making arrangements for our next stay in Louisiana, at the Grand Bayou Resort in a town called Coushatta, Louisiana. There are a lot of interesting things within an hour’s drive, especially Natchitoches (pronounced naa-kee-tush) which is why we primarily picked this location. Stay tuned to find out why. I’ve never heard such a strong southern accent in my life, as I spoke with Linda in making our reservation and promptly asked if there were any alligator issues. Her answer….”Well, I’ve never seen them personally, but know there are a few across the lake a ways”. O.k. We will definitely be keeping Sadie out of the water. Since we originally were going to book 6 nights, we decided we might as well stay the entire week since the 7th day is free. And it still leaves us plenty of wiggle room in getting to Old Town Florida by January 5th (I can’t believe I’m saying Janauary…..can it already be here?).
Now, time for some mission visiting. First on the list is Mission Espada.
There are 4 Spanish colonial missions that were built from 1720 starting with Mission San Jose, to 1755 with the dedication of Mission Concepcion. Franciscan missionaries sought to make life within mission communities resemble Spanish villages and culture. And it was here that native Americans learned vocational skills. Mission Espada displays the most preserved aqueduct system that was used to bring water to the fields years ago. A fire in 1826 destroyed most of this mission’s buildings. Luckily, we were able to go inside the church and have a look around. The portal and doorway entering the church appear very unusual for
the mission style of architecture.
The next mission we visited was San Juan Capistrano.
The fertile farmlands allowed for a self-sustainable community, helping to supply the region with produce. The chapel and bell tower are still in use. Again, we were able to go into the church.
Mission San Jose was our third stop
and is known as the Queen of the Missions.
Spanish designers built the mission using Texas limestone and brightly colored stucco. Mission Concepcion was our final stop and remains true to its original design. In fact, the church stands as the oldest unrestored stone church in the United States.
And all of these inspiring missions still operate today as sanctuaries of peace and worship.
Starving and thirsty, we were antsy to get to downtown San Antonio to get on the River Walk and find a good brewsky place. We found a fun British pub with plenty of seating right next to the river, called Mad Dogs. Our waitress was great as she promptly brought out an ice cold IPA for Jeff and a frothy, frozen margarita for me. Even though it was still a little early for dinner, we decided to partake in some sustenance, while watching the boats and people go by. Are the boat operators actually steering? At first we thought it was all for show as they seemed to be very willy nilly with their maneuvering through the water. We later read they actually ARE steering those boats and go through quite an intense training program to do so. Anyway, we had the most delicious wedge salad along with a baked potato soup that was equally as good. After our dinner, we took a stroll along the River Walk, amazed at all of the festive lights
and shocked at the number of tourists, most adhering to pandemic protocol. The more we walked, the more we appreciated just what an undertaking this project must have been. Architect Robert Hugman had quite a vision. To harness the river winding through downtown, he wanted to compliment that with 2-½ miles of winding pathways and bridges flanking the San Antonio River. This concept also incorporated flood control solutions by creating dams and bypass gates. His vision began right when The Great Depression took place, delaying execution. So the project did not break ground until 1939. It took many years to develop this amazing nucleus of a site for San Antonio, as hotels, restaurants and landscaping were added over a span of 80 years. A definite must see while in San Antonio both day and night.