Sunday, October 30, 2011


After a few days in Dallas and since we couldn’t get tickets to the World Series we decided to head south to the beach? Having never been to Padre Island we wanted to see it. We planned to stay at the National Seashore campground and talk long walks on the secluded beach. We got an early start for the 425 drive. We were a little concerned about getting a spot in the campground because there have been lots of snowbirds heading south.

After passing through Corpus Christi, we crossed the causeway onto the island. I thought it was somewhat strange that there wasn’t any traffic, nor did we see anyone in an RV. As we drove the approach road to the entrance to the National Seashore, a distance of about 8 miles, we saw no other cars. Very strange. When we pulled up to the entrance station the ranger on duty opened the window as I handed him my senior pass. As I held it out for him to see he asked in a sort of condescending voice, “What to you have there?” I told him it was my senior pass and we were hoping that there was still some room in the campground. “Are you sure you want to go there?” he asked with raised eyebrows. I said, “We haven't driven 425 miles in hopes of finding mountains.” He then said that we could have the whole campground to ourselves as there was no one there. He explained that there was a red tide. “I guess we can’t go swimming then?’’ About this time in our conversation I noticed that my eyes were burning and I could feel a tingling on my tongue. Then I started coughing. He responded by telling us all about Red Tide.

Red tide here in Texas causes all kinds of things to happen. Coughing, burning in the eyes, tingling of the tongue and the inside of the mouth, and if you make skin contact with the tide, rash. The ranger said we were welcome to stay if we wanted to experience all these things but suggested it was best if we went inland or perhaps to Galveston. We ended up in an RV park in town not anywhere near the beach.

While in Corpus Christi I toured the USS Lexington, a World War II aircraft carrier. Smaller than the USS Midway in San Diego where I volunteer, but much the same. The Lexington has more displays, but they don’t have an audio guide like the Midway. Lots of information about different sea battles in WWII with lots of artifacts.

Well, since we couldn’t go to the beach, we headed north to San Antonio. We stopped for lunch at Texas Pride BBQ another place featured on Triple “D”. I heard tell that Texas is famous for its brisket and smoked meats so we just had to find out for ourselves.  Located in an old 1040's gas station, it is truly out in the middle of no where.  You wait your turn at the counter and when it’s your turn and place your order, the meat is sliced off the brisket or the ribs off the rack and wrapped in butcher paper. It is then place in a plastic soda bottle case along with the sides you ordered. You then carry your purchase to the dining room filled with picnic tables where you unwrap your food and eat it right off the butcher paper. We topped it all off with peach cobbler that was really good. The BBQ wasn’t too bad either.

We stayed outside of San Antonio Canyon Lake. Another very nice campground operated by the Army Corp of Engineers. This area is what they call “Hill Country”. It’s very dry due to the past summers heat and drought causing an extreme fire hazard. They won’t even let you use a gas BBQ or camp strove in the campground.


On our first full day here, we headed into the city and went to the The Alamo and the River Walk. Everyone knows something about the Alamo and those who died there. Today it is considered a shrine to those who died there. Only a small part of the original buildings exist today. The assault by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s army in 1836 is the most important part of the Alamo’s history, but its history goes back much further. In 1724, construction of the Alamo began. Originally named Mission San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo served as home to missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly seventy years. In the early 1800’s the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the Alamo. The first hospital in Texas was established in the Alamo. In December 1835 the Alamo was attacked by Texan Revolutionaries and taken from the Mexican Army.

On March 6, 1836 Santa Anna began his assault before daybreak. Cannon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several attacks. Regrouping, the Mexicans scaled the walls and rushed into the compound. Once inside, they turned captured cannon on the barracks and church, blasting open the barricaded doors. The fighting continued until the defenders were overwhelmed. By sunrise the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo.

San Antonio is also famous from its river walk along the San Antonio River. Below the street level in the downtown, its banks are lined with restaurants and shops. Walkways on both sides of the river allow you stroll along the shaded path or if you prefer you can take the water taxi. Really beautiful in the daytime, must be something at night with all the trees lit up.

Since we were in Hill Country we paid a visit to the LBJ Ranch. Yes, that ranch. After the death of Lady Bird Johnson in 2007, the ranch was deeded to the American People and is overseen by the National Park Service. You can tour the ranch in your car with an accompanying CD. Then for $2 you can go on a short tour of the Texas While House.

The ranch is still a working ranch, growing grain and hay for the Hereford cattle being raised there. You are free to walk around the outside of the house. On a rise overlooking the Pedernales River the house is surrounded by huge mature oaks which shade the front of the house. Johnson sometimes held cabinet meetings under the trees in the front yard. I was easy to see why as President, LBJ preferred being at his ranch in Texas over being at the White House in Washington.

This is one of LBS's neighbors and now a Texas State Park.  It is a demonstration farm where volunteers operate the farm as it was in the early 1900's.  They milk the cows each morning, make butter and cheese, butcher the hogs, smoke the bacon with no modern conveniences.  Very interesting tour given by those working there.




Nick Saraceni said...

Ok...what kind of Windmills did you photograph? You covered the State Fair but not the ones you came across in South Texas. Inquiring minds want to know.

Gassaway's Adventures said...

It's a Dempster #3 Vaneless