Thursday, January 29, 2015

San Antonio Missions

We are now in Rockport, TX, for a month down on the gulf coast just north of Corpus Christi.   I do need to finish up with San Antonio first though.

There were 6 missions built in San Antonio in the early 1700's by the Spaniards to help colonize the area.  The Alamo is one of the 5 remaining.  The other four are close by and well worth spending a day to visit!

The missions were more than just churches, they were fortified communities.  Each with it's own church, farm and ranch.  You can no longer see this at The Alamo, of course, but you can see it in the other missions, especially Mission San Jose where the entire mission was recreated as historically accurate as possible.

Mission Espada
 All of the churches at the missions are still functioning today.

Mission San Juan

 We walked along the San Antonio River between Mission Espada and Mission San Juan and saw several herons and egrets, cormorants and ducks along the way.

 This is the largest of the missions and the one that was almost entirely recreated:
Mission San Jose

Interesting note:  the door in the pic below located up and to the right of the altar led to the infirmary which was on the second floor behind the church.  The door was left open during mass so the patients could hear mass and then communion was raised via a pulley to the open door for distribution.

The stairs you see here lead up to the choir loft in the back of the church.  They are made from solid blocks of wood and balanced such that there are no screws or bolts holding them together!  They are the original stairs and the only way to get to the choir loft:)

Beautiful and ornate, all the figures and symbols surrounding the doors have meaning.

 Mission Concepcion is the only mission that has not had any reconstruction done and the church and adjoining building remained mostly intact.  As with the Alamo, the fortified wall and outer building are long gone.
Mission Concepcion

The ranger is explaining the significance  of all the symbols surrounding the main door.

In his arm he holds a simple flute which he played for us while we were looking through the church!  Lovely!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Night on the River Walk

Heading out today for Rockport, TX.  We decided to go down to the river walk at night to experience the night life and what a great evening we had!  We strolled the river walk down to the SA Museum of Art and it was great. Artifacts from ancient Greece, Himalaya China, Columbia, Spanish-Colonial, American and Contemporary.  Did not have enough time.

Then we strolled back and had dinner on the walk at Budrou's.  Yummy!  After dinner, we went to a Saloon for a beer and to listen some awesome jazz we'd heard from the river walk.  Then, at 9pm, we walked up from the river walk to the cathedral plaza to watch a laser show using the cathedral as a backdrop.  It was amazing!


San Fernando Cathedral

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Natural Bridge Caverns, San Antonio, TX

Natural Bridge Caverns is located about 25 miles from town and we decided to check it out a couple of days ago during the latest rain storm.  We thought we would get in out of the rain pretty quick when we got there, but it turned out that we had to walk from the visitor center outside for several minutes to enter the caverns.  Then we were practically washed through the caverns as the steep walkways were covered with running water from the outside rain.  It was quite the adventure and a bit treacherous.

Natural Bridge is a wet caverns....and I mean you could not escape being dripped on.  But because of the wet it has some of the most beautiful formations!  I was in awe!  I was able to get a few decent pics but I had a lot of trouble keeping my camera lens clear as the humidity was 100 percent down there with a constant 70 degree temp.  Well worth seeing just keep the very steep walk ways in mind.

the natural bridge over the entrance to the caverns

To try and give perspective, the column to the left in the pic below is 50 feet high, these formations were massive and beautiful. You could see water running down many of them.

these formations are called cave bacon
 All these "small" columns you see below on the left are forming very straight because of the water being constantly dripped on them

I think these drapery formations look like jellyfish

Friday, January 23, 2015

San Antonio, TX, The Alamo and The River Walk

The Alamo and the River Walk are two must dos in San Antonio. The Alamo for the history, of course, and the River Walk cause it's cool!

We managed to do these two things before the current rain/cold front moved in two days ago:

As with many historic places, The Alamo is dwarfed by the high rises in downtown San Antonio

I was not allowed to take pics inside but the outside grounds were more enticing for me anyway.  This building houses the research library:

gift shop

the barracks houses part of the museum

 Right across Alamo Plaza you can access The River Walk following the stairs and cascading waterfalls:

 We popped up out of the River Walk to take a look around this plaza with beautiful cathedral....
..... and court house.

St. Anthony de Padua statue on the River Walk

Stopped for lunch at the Lone
Star on the River Walk.  You can see
we are looking down on the river.
Very nice! It was cold but we had a
heat lamp on either side of us;)

Our lunch was a $5 all you can eat pork rib tips!  Came with potato salad and beans.....can't beat
that!  Yummy!

US Army Corp of Engineers Park, Iowa City, IA

Mike and I love it when we can find a COE park because they are always on water and our last stop at Coralville Lake was no exception.  A bi...