Thursday, November 03, 2005

Texas Part 3

We arrived in Austin Tuesday afternoon and...left Wednesday morning for a day trip to San Antonio. The car veritably flew down the highway since we'd left suitcases, a bike, a cooler and other STUFF at the hotel.

In a little over an hour we were standing outside the Alamo. Now, I'm happy to say, I can accurately remember the Alamo. I hadn't expected it to be so green, and I found it strange that it was right in the middle of the city. The Alamo, while still quite stirring for all its history, has gone commercial. The mission has remained fairly pure and contains a memorial to those who fought and died there. The only other large building is a huge gift shop. Outside the gift shop is a wall that contains a timeline with the world history and the Alamo's history running in tandem—nicely done.

After fortifying the Alamo's coffers with some souvenir purchases, we went across the street to the Riverwalk Mall—portal to the Riverwalk. If you ever go to San Antonio, you MUST see the Riverwalk. The San Antonio River runs through the city and has been developed into a park/mall/walkway/ garden/restaurant deck/haven. If you can't tell, I really liked the Riverwalk.

Mom and I started our visit to the Riverwalk with a 35-minute tour boat ride around the place. We had a wonderful tour guide who pointed out all the structures as we floated along. I can't even begin to tell you all that is there. Go to Paseo del Rio for a virtual tour of the Riverwalk.

Our tour ended around lunchtime (how convenient) so we went back to The Original Mexican Restaurant which just so happened to be the original Mexican restaurant opened along the river in 1946. We lingered over lunch enjoying the people watching and ambience. We stopped in a couple stores along the way and took some pictures (classic tourist activities).

The day was not over yet! We piled back into the car and headed a bit north (maybe a 5 or 10 minute drive) to the San Antonio Zoo. We spent a couple of hours walking the zoo and filming the animals. The day was very hot (about 90), so we mostly saw the animals at their siestas. The paths between the "grottos" were windy and heavily planted. It could get kind of confusing, but I liked that. They were making a real effort to keep the animals in as open spaces as possible. They had an area called "Africa" that was slated to open next year sometime. For more information: San Antonio Zoo.

After the zoo it was time to head back to Austin. We got a little lost on our return trip. We were on Highway 183's upper deck, and we needed to be on the lower deck. That's the strange thing about Austin. All the main highways have upper and lower sections in the heart of the city. There are ramps and crossovers between the opposite direction lanes, but the upper lanes are really the express lanes of the highway. The signs up on the upper deck will list an exit that actually has two or three lower "exits" off of it. It takes a little getting used to, and I finally nailed the navigation of it—by the time it was time to leave Texas (wouldn't you know?).

Thanks for reading.

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