Day Twenty-Three

Trip Start Oct 27, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Thursday, November 18, 2004

I'm not sure I would pick San Antonio as a destination otherwise, but a visit to The Alamo makes it all worthwhile. I had heard that it was very small and that not much of the original mission still exists, so I had low expectations. I had read in a brochure that men wearing hats would be asked to remove them in respect to those who had given their lives in defense of the mission. "Give me a break," I thought. It's just another of a gazillion historical sites in every tourist town along the road. My first hint that it was something special came when the Texas Ranger I asked for directions, in a respectful whisper directed me to a heavy wooden door leading to the "Sanctuary." Once inside, the 1724 mission is truly unique and one immediately notices that the little conversation taking place is done in a whisper. The thick stone walls and the rustic artifacts give a very sobering impression of just how frightening it must have been to die there in battle. The mission was originally named Mision San Antonio de Valero but almost one hundred years later, Spanish soldiers began referring to it as The Alamo for their hometown of Alamo de Parras, Coahuila. Alamo is the Spanish word for cottonwood. Fame came to The Alamo in the thirteen days leading up to March 6, 1836 when the troops of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna defeated the nearly two hundred Texians and Tejanos lead by William Travis. I noted that thirty of those giving their lives at The Alamo were Tennesseans, more than from any other state or foreign country. Included among those thirty of course was David Crockett.

The rest of San Antonio is just a copy of any other big city with plenty of strip malls and Wal-Mart Supercenters. An area downtown near The Alamo known as the Riverwalk is much publicized and as is characteristic of most tourist traps is highly overrated. The Riverwalk is well landscaped but is essentially just a sidewalk along the San Antonio River bordered by numerous chain restaurants and a few shops selling T-shirts and shot glasses. You can go to Hard Rock Cafe anywhere. Zoobley and I went for a short stroll along the Riverwalk, but none of the cafes would allow dogs even at their outside tables so we decided on a lunch of apples and bananas instead. It was just as well since Zoobley harbors a strong dislike of all birds and it seems that San Antonio's downtown has the largest concentration of winged rats (pigeons) of any city to which I've been, London and New York included. This immediately whipped Zoobley into a little spotted frenzy causing her to leave a odorous gift to the City of San Antonio on the downtown sidewalk. Having forgotten my supply of plastic bags, I fittingly used the only resource available to wrap her gift, a tourist map of downtown San Antonio. Ha!

We are starting to notice that Texans in general just don't seem to like dogs. With the exception of my cousin and a few residents in his neighborhood, we haven't seen very many dogs or pets of any kind throughout Texas. It's my understanding that Texans voted overwhelmingly to reinstate the Halliburton Administration to the White House earlier this month, so my best guess is that it has something to do with the general Republican disdain for anything living that can't be exploited for a profit. Hopefully, as we move west, people will be a little less uptight.
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