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Old 11-11-2009, 11:34 AM   #309
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I think that's the one with the elevators on the outside. I would have to put in a coma for that trip, or send Barb to make sure it's safe and won't fall down, take pictures and show them to me later. Dennis, maybe you can post photos and save me from certain death.

The highest structure I've been in a glass walled elevator was about 4 stories—it's not my specialty. On the other hand, I love exploring caverns and mines. As long as I can't see the bottom, I'm fine, thus the coma. As you may surmise, the Going to the Sun Hwy was not a favorite of mine either. You know, all those things start to collapse when I'm there.

Gene
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Old 11-12-2009, 11:53 PM   #310
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Yesterday we went back to the Alamo to go through the building. During the siege there was no roof on the building, an old 18th century church that had been abandoned and eventually made one corner of a rude fort. During the Texas war for independence San Antonio changed hands a number of times. The Texans occupied the fort in 1836 with about 200 men against thousands of Mexicans.

This will get me in trouble with Texans, but today we would say a large group of Americans came to Texas before and during this war with bad intent. We would call them terrorists who set out to unseat a lawful government. The Texans said Mexico was undemocratic and didn't like it Mexico has outlawed slavery. What were they thinking when they went there to believe Mexico was democratic?

This fort was indefensible with the defenders out numbered 5-15 to 1. How their commanders let themselves get into this situation is beyond me when they should have had scouts looking for an approaching force and then made a tactical retreat. Needless to say, they didn't and paid a terrible price. This not to say Santa Anna was a good guy—he was definitely not.

We also took the boat on the Riverwalk river. They cram you in like tourists. I think you can walk and see it just as well. The Riverwalk is a wonderful urban use of a river and few cities have had the foresight to use an urban river so well. Denver has paths along the Platte and Cherry Creek—a friend helped build it in the 1970's. But the city has never supported further development.

We went to a restaurant named something like Foccacio's south of downtown. Good Caesar salad and a pizza. The pizzas are 10"—small—and none are larger. Very good though. It's in a funky building.

Outside there were hundreds of crows on powerlines. They just kept arriving. One crow, much larger than all the others was perched with more space next to him than any others. He must have been Boss Crow. Suddenly they all left together. I think they get together to discuss which cars they are going to bomb. Crows are quite intelligent and even have learned how to use tools. Our truck was bombed a couple of days ago and I cleaned off the evidence today. You see crows everywhere in San Antonio; they are not appreciated, but for them this is a heavenly city. Humans leave lots of food everywhere they like.

Today we took it slow and got things done. Barb did laundry. I checked the tires and added some air. The Michelins don't lose air like the Marathons did, seem to run cooler, and I only added some air because it's getting cooler. I checked the torque on the lugnuts and filled the fresh water tank to go to Padre Is. Then we went to the McNay Museum. They have a lot of Impressionists and some early 20's paintings plus other things. Some very famous artists (Picasso, Cezanne, Rivera, etc.) are represented, but these are minor works. It's in a mansion built in the '20's and some of the original building and interior garden remain. Kind of a Spanish style though perhaps as seen through the eyes of Hollywood. The garden is wonderful however. It's open Thursday evenings and free then, so we stumbled into that.

We went to another Cortez family restaurant (we went to Mi Tierra a couple of days ago), Pico de Gallo. We think this is the one they train staff at to graduate to the others (the other, almost next to Mi Tierra is La Margarita; Barb says the Margaritas are the best she's ever had). It just wasn't as good as Mi Tierra. Some slight differences in the menu and that's why we chose it. The guacamole chulupa had hardly an guac on it and when I told the not too good waitress that, she rattled off the desert menu. I guess she has a limited English vocabulary. The cheese enchilada was excellent. This is still a good restaurant, but hardly as good as Mi Tierra.

We've been in San Antonio for 2 1/2 days and have seen what we wanted to see. It not too hard to get around and we found parking in the evening fairly easily. Daytime lots run $8-10. The city has grown tremendously and now has 1.2 million or so and is the 7th largest US city. It doesn't feel that big and is spread out like so many newer large cities.

Tomorrow we go to Padre Is. I was in Corpus Christi a couple of times in the 1950's visiting an old friend of my mothers. All I remember is it was windy all the time. We never went to Padre Is. Maybe we'll find Rodney there.

Gene
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Old 11-13-2009, 08:08 AM   #311
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It's funny how perspectives change on "heroic" events. (We've got several of those here in New Mexico. Once you know the history, it all looks somewhat different.)

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Old 11-13-2009, 08:29 AM   #312
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Originally Posted by eubank View Post
It's funny how perspectives change on "heroic" events. (We've got several of those here in New Mexico. Once you know the history, it all looks somewhat different.)

Lynn
Yes. Reading about the Alamo, I thought of the monument in San Francisco to the "Heroic" founders of the State who kidnapped the Mexican Governor and held him ransom to bring down the Mexican Gov't in the area. Under any sort of modern term definition, they would be 'terrorists'; but the victors get to write the history books & also get to redefine the labels.

I'm enjoying your keen observations & wry humor Gene.

Have fun & keep the blog rolling.

-evan
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Old 11-13-2009, 04:51 PM   #313
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Not being a native Texan (I was born in Mississippi, which has resulted in at least one of my friends calling me a Yankee), I hesitate to be the first to act as if I am riled. I’m really not. Nonetheless, Texas is my adopted state, and I must defend it to the death, at least figuratively. So I do feel the need to make a comment or two. First, I agree that the victors get to write the history books, but I think we have to remember that those who come along later and debunk those history books by publishing the “real story” also have their own agendas and are not necessarily any more reliable. Everyone has biases, even those with imposing academic credentials. The biases just lean in different directions. An example: Over the decades, John Wayne’s version of “The Alamo” has come under more and more withering criticism as being historically dishonest. Yet Billy Bob Thornton’s version, which was received with universal liberal acclaim a few years back, does its own share of manufacturing “history” out of whole cloth. The battle of the Alamo had a lot of complicated, intertwined steps that led up to it. For those who are not already bored to tears, the article at this link:
http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/AA/qea2.html
seems to me to give a pretty interesting and, for all I know, accurate overview. But then I’m biased too, so don’t take my word for it.

And Gene, I too am really enjoying reading of your adventures, and I love your writing style. I especially like the term “emotional time,” and will be using it myself when the occasion calls for it.
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Old 11-15-2009, 07:53 PM   #314
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mdd', I know there has been considerable controversy about the events leading up to the battle. I don't recall ever seeing either movie, but did read some of the history long ago. I also know many historians have made names for themselves by attacking the last historian that wrote about something.

The article you linked is interesting and I was not bored. My interest is about why anyone would think they could defend this fort without far more men. The controversy over Houston's actions has been going on for a long time and probably never will be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.

What I have a problem with is that when you don't know when the opposing army is going to show up and you have no spies looking for that army, and you are in a tenuous position, you'd better be ready to make a tactical retreat. It would only take a few scouts to get some idea where Santa Anna was and certainly a few horses were available. They knew he was coming and expected at least 1,000 Mexicans and they got more than that. The roughly 200 defenders of the Alamo could have wrought havoc on the advancing Mexican column using tactics Americans like Nathaniel Greene had used during the American Revolution (though that would have taken more horses. Or they could have fought a delaying action while retreating, tactics perfected by Washington during the Revolution.

I believe they may have relied on a (false) belief reinforcements would appear and/or that their heroism would take the day. Santa Anna was not a very good general and they may have relied on that. When the Mexicans showed up weeks sooner than they had anticipated, they were caught short. Nonetheless, some of their supporters got through Mexican lines, so it was possible, perhaps, for a retreat at night. Such things have been done. How the defenders thought they could defend this fort is beyond me without many, many more soldiers—even then they would have had to face Santa Anna in the field because, as I said before, all sieges eventually succeed (for ex., Yorktown).

And so the debate goes on. We enjoyed our time in San Antonio and Padre Is. and I'll have start posting photos soon.

Gene
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Old 11-15-2009, 10:44 PM   #315
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Photos time.

1. Our site at Henderson Beach State Park, Destin, Fla. Though next to a very busy are, the sites are quiet and pull thrus are secluded.

2. The beach. The waves may be more than normal since Hurricane Ida was churning up the Gulf.

3. One entrance to Mi Tierra in Market Sq., San Antonio.

4. Market Sq. towards end of dusk.

Gene
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Old 11-15-2009, 11:02 PM   #316
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1. The ceiling in Mi Tierra. Quite busy and even garish, but the food is great.

2. Riverwalk at night.

3. Wall to left of Alamo—where this is the original fortification, I don't know. The lighted tower looked cool at night.

4. Alamo at night. It's rather small and was inside the fortifications and anchored on corner. At the time of the battle, it had no roof. The church used there in the 1700's had long been abandoned and only much later had a fort been built. The top of the Alamo was also added later, though it may have been similar to the original church.
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Old 11-15-2009, 11:16 PM   #317
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1. Menger Hotel are night. This is the original section of the late 19th Century building. Now it covers a whole block. It's a block away from the Alamo.

2. The gardens behind the Alamo. Desert and subtropical plants together. Palm trees grow here, but it seems only if you plant them. They don't appear to colonize on their own. The model happened to be around to give the plants scale.

3. In the 1930's the WPA restored La Villita (The Little Village) to show what San Antonio had been like. This is a few blocks from the Alamo.

4. A shop in La Villita.
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Old 11-15-2009, 11:30 PM   #318
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1. I don't remember anything about this building's story, but the tower has gargoyles and it's pretty cool. There are some interesting buildings, lit up at night, in San Antonio. I imagine that's a TV tower on top.

2. A small plaza in La Villita.

3. Riverwalk. This is an area with many restaurants with outdoor seating. They started building the Riverwalk in the early 1950's and it just keeps growing. They have short tour (35 minutes) boats and boats that serve as taxis around the Riverwalk.
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Old 11-15-2009, 11:57 PM   #319
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After San Antonio we drove down to Padre Is. Nat'l Seashore The Malaquite CG is near the Visitor Center (about a mile, a nice walk down the beach) and half the sites face the beach. There's a dump station with drinking water nearby. $4/night for seniors with the NP pass.

We quickly found Gen'l Disarray (Rodney) and parked next to him. His mother, Evelyn, was visiting and we soon began cocktail hour, a tradition easily established in the 2 nights we were there. I am told Rodney makes extraordinary Margaritas, but I prefer the extraordinary Gin and Tonics Barb makes. A good time ensued and various neighbors came and went.

There are a lot of mosquitos. Gin apparently attracts them as I was the only one nailed—many times—and am nursing multiple itchy bumps. Mosquitos are a rarity where we live, so I had forgotten how much I hate them. I also try to forget humidity, but there was plenty. It was 98% last night and by morning the same inside the Safari. This reminds me of trying to sleep before A/C in the Northeast in the summer. Paper was limp, I was too and felt perpetually wet. I look forward to the high desert.

Nonetheless, the view across the dunes to the Gulf was wonderful. The only thing missing was a moon to light the Gulf at night. We slipped into a state of laziness, sleeping and eating, and, of course, cocktail hour(s). Rodney and I discussed many weighty topics for endless hours and I just can't understand why such a smart guy doesn't agree with me. This is the 3rd time we have met up with him in the last year and a half. He always gets there first and somehow we have both decided independently to go to the same spot at about the same time.

We had to leave today and drove to San Angelo—yet another KOA. Driving through San Antonio from I-37 coming from Corpus Christi and switching to I-10 downtown is a challenge. In several miles, there seems to be a massive interchange every few blocks, upper and lower roadways and traffic coming from one interstate after another. This is all very expensive and someone in San Antonio must have been really good at getting federal highway money. On a Sunday afternoon, it wasn't difficult; at rush hour, I don't want to find out.

We entered the Texas hill country next. There are pecan trees all over San Antonio and as we moved north more trees I didn't recognize. Heavily forested through much of the area, but it got drier all the time. After the humid Gulf shore, the air felt cleaner. By the time we got near San Angelo it flattens out again and cotton fields were everywhere. A cold front is coming through and it seems to be winter not too far north. We plan to reach Santa Fe midday on Tuesday.

Gene
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Old 11-16-2009, 10:22 PM   #320
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Photos from Padre Is.:

1. Cocktail hour has begun.

2. Kite flying over the beach.

3. Surf. There something in the sky and I don't think it's one of the kites. Plane, bird, Superman? Blow it up and the answer is revealed.

4. Our trailers behind the dunes from the beach.
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Old 11-16-2009, 10:34 PM   #321
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More:

1. Shore birds; looking south along the beach.

2. Bird waiting on a dune.

3. Crab on the sand.

4. View from the Visitor Center.
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Old 11-16-2009, 10:59 PM   #322
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Today we entered the West. The creeks were dry and the vegetation looked familiar. There were many cotton fields and they are still harvesting here. The towns started to look like the Last Picture Show and were farther and farther apart. Oil and gas wells became common and sometimes the petroleum smell was overwhelming.

When we reached Lubbock, we stopped at a Flying J. It was the only truck stop around and we pulled up to a gas pump. This one worked and worked so well it didn't want to stop pumping—the automatic shut off didn't work. We also noticed the restaurant was closed. There's an attempt to merge Flying J and Pilot, but is being held up because it may create a monopoly. It's apparent FJ is not able to maintain it's facilities, and may have not been able to get credit as many small cap companies can't. We keep saying we're done with FJ, but sometimes they're just there.

We made it to Fort Sumner, NM, and it's getting colder—30˚ at 9:30 pm and supposed to go down to 23˚ tonight. That's a 60˚ drop in less than 48 hours for us and the furnace is running for the first time in weeks. There's also a busy railroad very close. This is Valley View CG, pretty basic in looks, but it does have wifi and is supposed to have cable, but it doesn't work. We're getting a good HD picture from the local PBS station with a couple of interesting programs on the Great Depression. $20 to camp and the lowest we have seen in a long time except for the federal CG at Padre Is. The further west we go, the lower the prices are.

Mosquito bites (aren't they really "stings"?) keep showing up and this appears to be a particularly nasty Mosquito species. Usually when it's windy, as it was constantly at Padre Is., mosquitos disappear, but not these. They are blown to you. I killed about a dozen in the trailer, but not fast enough. I'm sure many people are used to this, but I'm not.

Tomorrow we go to Santa Fe for possibly 4 nights. We have reservations for a pull thru at Trailer Ranch. This will be the 3rd CG we've tried in Santa Fe. It's a 55+ CG and unfortunately we qualify. We'll meet Barb's parents who will be in NM for 2 days. We'll go see Barb's 100-year-old grandmother also. She's having a tougher time lately.

I've been looking at the Colorado weather and it's really cold there. A slight chance of snow at home and south central Colorado on Saturday, so we'll have to see how it develops and may leave Santa Fe on Friday, a day earlier.

Gene
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