Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Old West... and the New Pest

I went for a late-afternoon bike ride today and captured these images around the neighborhood.

At Fleming Park, rodeo rugrats can play. (I guess in Texas you can have guns on the playground!)

Down the street, at an art gallery, roams the mighty buffalo.

Rice University, to protect us from H1N1, recently installed hand sanitizer by the doors in our apartment building. "Nice!" says Garrett. "It's like we live in a bathroom!"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fun with Road Signs

Seen consecutively on our Alamo trip.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Remember the Alamo!

After watching the 2004 movie "The Alamo" (entertaining but, sadly, not worth remembering), Garrett and I journeyed westward for the day to visit San Antonio.

San Antonio is famous for its downtown Riverwalk. Below street level, canals and sidewalks wind their way through the city. Restaurants and shops line the water, and boat tours cruise past. I couldn't help but cry, "It's like the Mexico pavilion at Epcot! but real!"

We ate lunch at Casa Rio, which has been serving delicious but affordable Mexican cuisine since 1946.
Many of the trees along the river are junipers. Very beautiful!

All of the boats are named after real women. We saw the "Miss Sandra" go by (for Sandra Day O'Connor) and the "Miss Carol" (for Carol Burnett). Then we saw the trash boat (I'm sure it has a fancier name). The driver pushes a button and -- whoosh! -- its arms sweep out, and the little nets along the arms collect any debris.

Yeehaw! We ambled along the Riverwalk. Notice that there are no barriers between pedestrians and the water. I wonder if anyone ever falls in?

There are many scenic bridges along the way.

This restaurant features wreaths made of cacti!

Crossing the Crockett Street bridge. Rumor has it that it goes all the way to Tennessee! Just kidding.

We made it to the Alamo! The low wall at the left is part of the original structure (the long barrack), and the famous facade at right is the church where Davey Crockett and a few others made their last stand on that fateful day in 1836. I don't know what the building in the middle is, but it is very tall and imposing.

The plaza in front of the Alamo was actually part of the original mission (built in the early 1700s); the church was at the rear, within the compound. On the opposite side of the plaza are a Ripley's Museum, a Guinness World Records museum, and a wax museum. (I didn't take a picture of those.) Texans are so darned proud of this place today, but most of the original site was leveled only 40 years after the siege at the Alamo. I guess they didn't appreciate history the same way. Since 1905, the Alamo has been run by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

From the gardens on the Alamo grounds, you can see the nearby Crockett Hotel. We really enjoyed learning more about the history of the Alamo and seeing its artifacts (sorry, no photos allowed!). There was a particularly cool display on the history of Bowie knives. It made me want to learn more about Davey Crockett, Jim Bowie, and William Travis.

The final assault at the Alamo took place on March 6, 1836. The Battle of San Jacinto, which secured Texas' independence from Mexico, followed in April. Now that we've visited both places, I have a better understanding of what it means to be from Texas.

This is also what it means to be from Texas -- to pile as many of your belongings as possible, no matter how dangerous, into the back of a pick-up.