Whatever doesn’t kill you…
Makes you really, really tired, man!!
That’s the wisdom that I dredged out of an exhausting, soul numbing photo assignment this weekend in San Antonio. Nothing like a grueling 18+ hour day to turn that frown upside down!
Week three of four weeks on the road. This past weekend found me in San Antonio, Texas!
San Antonio is what I call a little big city, definitely not a cow town but not a metropolis. It feels very Western and very Texas. It is a city that is very proud of its Spanish heritage and its place in Texas lore (see “Alamo”).
My first stop was about twenty minutes outside of city limits in a town called Adkins. Down a dark road in the middle of nowhere lies the barbeque oasis known as Texas Pride.
Now, Texas Pride is not quite a barbeque restaurant – it’s more like a barbeque compound. The place is frickin’ enormous. There’s a few indoor eating areas, a huge area in the back with a bar, a field of picnic tables and a stage. There’s also a play area for the rugrats and a kind of cowboy ambassador roaming around the front of the place on a horse. It was a great vibe on a Friday night, with the crowd keeping warm standing next to open fires knockin’ back Shiner bocks watching the Rangers in the World Series. As I was walking in they were playing “Luckenbach, Texas” which really made my night. Needless to say, I ate way too much BBQ but still managed to finish my entire portion of pecan cobbler which was just….. Wow.
Onto Bill Miller BBQ, a San Antonio chain which is far less the scene but really tasty just the same. You can find them all over San Antonio and I have to say I really enjoyed the freshness of the food and the whole experience. Very much a family oriented, easy, fast and inexpensive meal. AWESOME hash browns. I know, you say, hash browns? But man, these tasted the way they should taste!! Crunchy exterior, onions, yeah baby!! No booze but some good sweet tea.
On a Mission
The Spanish built six missions in the area that became the city of San Antonio. The most famous is the San Antonio de Valero, colloquially known as the Alamo, which is located right smack in downtown. The other four extant Missions can be found in the San Antonio Missions National Park. These missions provide an important window into not only San Antonio heritage but life in the 17th and 18th centuries and how Spanish colonialism changed things in the West forever for the Indians, Mestizos and all those who arrived later.
Mission San Jose
The missions were not only churches but fortified compounds where commerce, farming, education and vocational training took place. The Spanish endeavored to not only bring faith to the Indians but taught them how to build and expanded their diet beyond corn and meat to raising different crops and grinding flour. I encountered the oldest mill in Texas on the site of the San Jose Mission:
The San Jose Mission was the most ambitious mission built by the Franciscans in the area and became the model for the rest. I took the below picture at the entrance to the mission. With the exception of the speakers on the wall, this could have been in 1720. Although back then I’m sure it still had that new mission smell!
There was a mass going on in the church as I was walking around. It’s amazing that it’s been continually in use since 1720. I just can’t imagine something being built today being around and in use 300 years from now.
I loved the hands on the saint in this statue; there is no plaque and although it’s the San Jose Mission, the fact that he has animals around him and that the mission was built by Franciscans leads me to believe that this is Saint Francis.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Onto Mission San Juan, perhaps the mission that needs the most renovation out of the ones that I saw. And, in fact, it was being renovated.
I saw this cross in a pile of cactus in the courtyard of the mission and just loved it. It felt like something straight out of a Sergio Leone movie.
Espada had a really sweet ambience to it. It possesses a very checkered history. It has survived famine, pestilence, battles, fires and more during its time. Planned expansions fell through. But what remains is beautiful.
There was a mass, in Spanish, happening here as well when I visited.
Time constraints unfortunately prevented my visiting Mission Concepcion, the River Walk, and of course, (Remember) the Alamo.
Next up: Phoenix, Arizona!!