2017: San Antonio

A River Runs Through It

March 12-14

Traveler's World RV Resort.

Sad as we were to leave the lovely Hidden Valley RV Park at Del Rio, it was time to move on.

After a short 150 miles, we were back in the city, driving into the southern part of San Antonio. The area of our next parking place was less than inspiring, and the park certainly wasn't up to Del Rio standards; but it was nice enough and we were greeted warmly by our next-door neighbors Betty and Doug. They had a sweet little cat sitting in a cage on their picnic table, so we immediately had something to talk about.

Guenther House.

We had a number of days to explore San Antonio, so we started slowly. On a recommendation from our neighbors, we went to a downtown restaurant for breakfast. Unfortunately it was a bit too recommended; we had to wait about 45 minutes. At least there were things to see; the restaurant is in a historic home and part of it is a museum. Guenther House was built originally in 1859 as a private residence by the founder of a flour mill. The mill, located nearby to the home, is still in operation. Both buildings are right on the San Antonio River, an incredibly valuable location in current times.

Riverwalk.  Mill building. Veranda dining.
Silent treatment.

While we waited for our pager to go off, we strolled through three floors of the house-turned-museum. The people-watcher in me was amused by another couple waiting their turn at the bottom of the stairs, glued to their respective Kindles.

Talk? What's that?

Museum parlor.   Rooftop garden room.

When we finally got into the restaurant, we were underwhelmed with the selections. I suppose we should have known that the family business would influence the menu, which was weighted heavily toward pancakes, biscuits, and flour tortillas. Our meal was serviceable but overpriced. At least it arrived quickly after all that waiting.

That afternoon, we broke out the bikes to explore the nearby Mission Reach extension of the famed River Walk, This fairly recent ecosystem and habitat restoration along the riverbanks includes a paved walking and biking path that joins the downtown River Walk to four historic 18th-century missions eight miles downstream.

After many years of redirecting and channeling the river for flood control, the city has restored a more natural river condition including pools and riffles, shallow areas of rocky bottom that oxygenate water and create habitat.

It's impossible to overstate how special this woodland environment is, especially in the heart of a city. San Antonio residents can come to one of several small city parks along the river and have picnics, fish, bike, jog, even kayak.

The attention to detail is impressive. Mike had to explain this pedestal to me; it's actually a bicycle-repair toolkit for emergencies.

The next day, we went back to work. Working at having fun, that is. Sometimes it feels that way! But I digress.

Our first job today would be a ride on one of the small tour boats that cruise through a short section of the downtown River Walk. These mini-barges run all day long, picking up passengers from multiple locations, so we didn't wait long. Our boat operator was funny and informative and we learned something of the area's history.

Now, I have actually been to the River Walk once before. Somewhere back home, I have an old faded black-and-white photo of a snaggle-toothed twelve-year-old grinning on the riverbank after taking a paddleboat ride. Of course, it's changed a bit since then, and it was especially interesting to learn that much of the current River Walk development happened for the 1968 World's Fair -- ten years after my paddleboat adventure.

One fun moment on the tour was passing the "flat" building. It's actually triangular, but when you float by in the boat, you can't see any depth and the building looks like it's a flat facade.

When our boat ride was over, we searched for lunch in one of the many outdoor cafes along the river. Unsurprisingly, the food was awful and overpriced.

After lunch, we climbed back up to street level and headed for the Alamo. It was, as I remembered, smaller than you'd expect. The church building was mobbed, with a line around the block to get in; so we settled for a walk around the grounds.

I was hot and tired, so when I spotted the Hagen Daz store I made a beeline for it. A double-scoop rejuvenated me enough for the walk back to the car.

That evening, our new RV friends Dave and Betty invited us to a potluck at the RV park. Phew! It was a full day.