Frigid San Antonio and The Alamo (Feb 6 2014)

It snowed last night and is freezing again. Highs are only supposed to get up to 40 and that’s the HIGH.

Big Dog was trying to hook up with V, another acquaintance in Austin, but is unable to reach him so just wants to by-pass Austin. I’ve always wanted to see the SXSW city so I’m a bit disappointed but who can enjoy much in these freezing temps? Ugh. It will have to wait until another (warmer) time. The sweaters are coming back out.

DSC01662.JPGBefore leaving Bastrop, we get gas at the mother of all filling stations, Buc-ee’s. There must be space for 80 or 100 vehicles! Their mini-mart is a MAXOID mini-mart. Yee-haw! Now, THIS is Texas Style!

DSC01663.JPGWe also cruise Pecan Street (pronounced pee-KAHN, as I learn from a good-looking local with a good-looking dog) trying to find our friend J’s grandmother’s house. J is also a beauty queen so maybe this part of Texas produces a lot of Beautiful People. We never do find Grandma’s house but there are some really pretty Victorians on Pee-KAHN Street.

DSC01670.JPGFrom Bastrop to Luling it’s Texas Cowboy Land. There are ranchettes everywhere with cows grazing on 10 acre lots. Some ranchettes have garish gates with life-sized steer and bison statues. One even has a Statue of Liberty replica. The giant rolls of hay are back. The cows and horses here look hardier and seem friskier than their California kin, but maybe it’s just a reaction to the intense cold.

DSC01678.JPGLuling must be Watermelon Town. Their water tower is painted to resemble a watermelon. A shop has a giant watermelon cut-out busting out of its façade.

DSC01685.JPGSan Antonio is the Big City in this region. Big Dog has always wanted to see the Alamo, ever since he was a boy with a coonskin cap traveling through Texas with his family on their way to Mississippi to see relatives. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, his father would never stop in San Antonio.

The city seems to have been paralyzed by the cold. It actually feels colder than Chicago, perhaps because of the humidity, but maybe also because we are not quite dressed for it. The locals are smarter – they are staying inside and the streets are mostly deserted except for batty tourists like us.

DSC01692.JPGWalking along the famed River Walk is an exercise in endurance today, although I can imagine how it would be very attractive in decent weather with the canal-side cafes and lit-up trees. But not today. Only a handful of tourists are strolling and I feel sorry for the greeters standing outside every deserted restaurant and bar.

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DSC01693.JPGDSC01696.JPGThe Alamo is rather dwarfed by everything around it. I am still a little mystified how a place of TOTAL defeat could be so revered. Guess it’s that “never give up, never surrender” spirit. (Which the Japanese LOVE…and yet none of the places they conquered and then lost are “special places” in the way the Alamo is for Texans. And you have to remember, the Texans had as much right to this land as the Japanese did to Guadalcanal…or Iwo Jima…) It’s a part of American history, myth, legend and collective culture and in that sense, very fascinating.

We hop from slightly-less-freezing church to warmer gift shop to oh-my-god-it’s-heated theater and museum.

DSC01700.JPGDSC01708.JPGDSC01704.JPGBig Dog’s been in a mood for Mexican food and this is San Antonio. There ought to be something pretty authentic. In a downtown office building, there’s a funky Mexican joint called La Jalisco. I wonder why it’s not EL Jalisco, but at least it feels un-touristy. When a couple of cops show up to eat, we know for sure we are in a local place.

They don’t serve booze here but the waitress (from Colombia, not Mexico) tells Big Dog he can get what he wants next door and bring it in. We love these laid-back Latinos and Latinas.

It’s been a week on the road with Sprockets and we’ve gone from the Temperature Torture Tour to How Can It Be This Cold This Far South Tour. It’s supposed to be super cold again tomorrow. Oh boy.

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Author: ontheroadwithsprockets

I've been traveling since I was born -- the first big trip was before I was two, across the Pacific, from my native Japan to Los Angeles on a cargo ship. There have been many journeys since then, through many continents and cultures.

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