Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

A Dreary Day on One Of My Favorite Routes: I-10 San Antonio to El Paso

I was eager to drive this leg of our journey; I drove it the last time. AdventureMan had a cold and thought it was boring, but I loved the colors and the dryness and it was very much one of those zen zone kind of things for me. I-10 in West Texas is easy driving. Or it was the last time.

This day, it is an anomalous day in San Antonio, it varies only from heavy rain to downpour. As we hit the road, and I have to say, life is so much easier with Google Maps, and now that I’ve discovered the voice, I don’t even have to nag when I am navigating, she just tells us where to turn, and most of the time, gives us plenty of warning, tells us when there is going to be a left exit, tells us which lane we need to be in when exiting, etc. IF, on the rare occasion (LOL) we miss the right turn, she is very patient. She doesn’t even say “recalculating,” she just gets on with it, getting us to where we need to be. It takes a lot of stress out of driving in strange cities.

We wanted to get on the road early, as this is going to be one of our long days driving, and wouldn’t you know, the long day is this messy, rainy day?

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We really need some breakfast to fortify us for this drive, all this rain, all this low-visibility and all these racing trucks with sheeting water spilling off the tops. At one point, I am trying to pass a truck on a curve and AdventureMan is saying “Go! Go! Go!” and I can’t see a thing and I am on a curve and I have to drop back behind the splashing truck until I can get a straight-away and a clean pass.

Thank God we find the Flag Stop, in Bjorn, just outside San Antonio.

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AdventureMan and I diverge. I had a great breakfast, very traditional, eggs, bacon, and coffee. The coffee was surprisingly good, and the eggs and bacon were fine. Filling, tasty, cooked pretty well. I mean, it’s breakfast, it’s a truck stop. He had biscuits and gravy, and it did not meet his standards.

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On this route, there are a lot of areas that are very rural, without a lot of stopping places for gas. At one point, when we were beginning to get nervous, we came to a gas station but the gas was marked way up. We thought we’d drive a little to see if there was a station in the town, and quickly came to a sign that said “no further services” meaning NO GAS. So we went back to the highway robbery place and bought gas, happy to have gas. We ran into a couple just coming from the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, heading on toward Los Angeles. We almost got run off the road entering El Paso by the Eagles road van, with an aggressive woman driver, also coming from South by Southwest.

About four hours later, hour after hour of driving rains and speeding, splashing trucks, we found a town big enough to have a place to eat. We searched for one that was not a chain, and we found the Bienvenidos. I loved the exterior.

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Once again, we diverged. AdventureMan thought the food was very good; I thought it was just OK. I didn’t even bother taking photos of my two greasy tacos. Service was fast and friendly, and there were a lot of local people there, so maybe I just ordered the wrong thing.

Just wanted you to get a feel for the road conditions. The good news is, as we got close to El Paso, the sun broke through and we had clear visibility finding our hotel.

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April 16, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Circle of Life and Death, Cultural, Geography / Maps, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips, Safety, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Emily Morgan and The Alamo in San Antonio, TX

This trip is checking off a lot of blocks for us. Not only do we like exploring new venues, we also like experiencing specialty hotels, and since we are going to make a pilgrimage to The Alamo, we want to stay in a nearby hotel.

I checked Trip Advisor, and other resources. I read and read and read. There are some older hotels with character, and their reviews also feature words like “cramped” “musty” and “seen better days.” Then, there is the Emily Morgan.

The Emily Morgan is elegant, and the Emily Morgan looks right over The Alamo.

Why visit the Alamo? Here is what Wikipedia says about the Battle of The Alamo:

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The Battle of the Alamo (February 23 – March 6, 1836) was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar (modern-day San Antonio, Texas, United States), killing all of the Texian defenders. Santa Anna’s cruelty during the battle inspired many Texians—both Texas settlers and adventurers from the United States—to join the Texian Army. Buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texians defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, ending the revolution.

Several months previously, Texians had driven all Mexican troops out of Mexican Texas. About 100 Texians were then garrisoned at the Alamo. The Texian force grew slightly with the arrival of reinforcements led by eventual Alamo co-commanders James Bowie and William B. Travis. On February 23, approximately 1,500 Mexicans marched into San Antonio de Béxar as the first step in a campaign to retake Texas. For the next 10 days the two armies engaged in several skirmishes with minimal casualties. Aware that his garrison could not withstand an attack by such a large force, Travis wrote multiple letters pleading for more men and supplies, but fewer than 100 reinforcements arrived there.

In the early morning hours of March 6, the Mexican Army advanced on the Alamo. After repulsing two attacks, the Texians were unable to fend off a third attack. As Mexican soldiers scaled the walls, most of the Texian soldiers withdrew into interior buildings. Defenders unable to reach these points were slain by the Mexican cavalry as they attempted to escape. Between five and seven Texians may have surrendered; if so, they were quickly executed. Most eyewitness accounts reported between 182 and 257 Texians died, while most historians of the Alamo agree that around 600 Mexicans were killed or wounded. Several noncombatants were sent to Gonzales to spread word of the Texian defeat. The news sparked both a strong rush to join the Texian army and a panic, known as “The Runaway Scrape”, in which the Texian army, most settlers, and the new Republic of Texas government fled from the advancing Mexican Army.

Within Mexico, the battle has often been overshadowed by events from the Mexican–American War of 1846–48. In 19th-century Texas, the Alamo complex gradually became known as a battle site rather than a former mission. The Texas Legislature purchased the land and buildings in the early part of the 20th century and designated the Alamo chapel as an official Texas State Shrine. The Alamo is now “the most popular tourist site in Texas”.[5] The Alamo has been the subject of numerous non-fiction works beginning in 1843. Most Americans, however, are more familiar with the myths spread by many of the movie and television adaptations,[6] including the 1950s Disney miniseries Davy Crockett and John Wayne’s 1960 film The Alamo.

There is a hint in that last sentence, just about every American around our age grew up singing about Davy Crockett, wearing Davy Crockett coonskin caps, and seeing Davy Crockett in the movies. We watched, horrified, as the wicked Santa Ana overpowered the Texans, including – Davy Crockett. Be careful, parents, what your children watch; some of these movies have a lasting impact. So here we are, a million years down the road, going to see the Alamo.

Our GoogleMap app guides us right into the heart of town, where we have to figure out how to be going the right way on Houston street to get to the valet service, because parking is a big problem around the Alamo/Riverwalk site.

 

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It all turns out to be a lot easier than we thought it was going to be, we get checked in and our bags are taken to our room and it is glorious. It feels like coming home, it’s spacious, with bath robes and a lovely big bathroom and windows from wall to wall overlooking the Alamo:

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This is our view of the Alamo:

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It had been raining, and after the rain the air was that clean, clear air that almost sparkles. I loved all the sights from our window:

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AdventureMan explored the Alamo. I have blisters on my feet from our huge walk around Benson-Rio Grande Valley Park, so I enjoy the big bathtub and a lovely cup of coffee and watch The Alamo from my birds eye perch. Now that we know about the Emily Morgan, we can come back with the grand-kids for a good visit on a sunnier day. 🙂

The Emily Morgan is a hotel you want to come back to. It has this great location by the Alamo, but also right by the San Antonio Riverwalk area, and a lot of great shopping and dining. The Emily Morgan also has special rates for military. 🙂

For those of you who did not grow up with Davy Crockett, you can listen the Ballad of Davy Crockett here:

April 16, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Biography, Cultural, Customer Service, Entertainment, Generational, Geography / Maps, Heritage, Hotels, Living Conditions, Movie, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment