- The San Antonio report is quite long. There are so many things
to do here and in the "Hill Country", or along the Gulf
Well, as it turned out, our next move was back to Texas. Maybe
not the best climate choice for a stay that goes until August. But
several other reasons made it the best choice for now. We had planned
to come back to the Austin or San Antonio area during our roaming,
but not quite this quickly. Oh well, we're here now (after a week's
stay in Oklahoma again).
Our home this time is in the Villas
of Vista Del Norte apartment complex .
These are very new gated apartments, and with mostly adult tenants.
The amenities are very nice, with a huge fitness center, an indoor
basketball court, game room, a whirlpool, sauna, and more. The only
down side of the complex is that it is very near
an airport runway. The very worst part, for moving us in and out
anyway, is that our apartment is on the third floor. It was no fun
at all to move into a third floor apartment in 95+ degree weather.
We are the first people to ever live in our apartment, and there
were a few bugs to get worked out. The first one was that the air
conditioner did not work. There were some wires crossed, and every
time that the you tried to turn on the A/C, the heater came on instead
(and yes, if you turned on the heat the heater still came on
). This made the first day move-in even more fun! But we got the
A/C fixed, and the move-in completed. We have a view of a large
field and a small lake, with no other buildings across from us.
A few days after we moved in Anna saw a number of deer in the field
while walking the dog ,
and we have seen three types of birds that we have never seen before
while sitting on our balcony. There was also a roadrunner running
around in the yard with a snake in its mouth. The pair of roadrunners
are actually a common sight around the grounds.
Our first weekend here we made run down to Edinburgh
to see our friends down there, and to make a quick run into Mexico
at Nuevo Progreso
for a few things. Then it was back to San Antonio to finish getting
settled into our new home. We stopped a couple of times on the way
back at produce stands to pick up some very fruit and vegetables.
Having settled in, we started off to see San Antonio and to finally
get some decent mexican food again (after being away from Texas
for months the sight of a taqueria menu almost made Anna and I cry
with tears of joy - funny huh?). As usual, one of our first stops
in the new city was the zoo. San
Antonio Zoo and Aquarium. We had been here once before, years
ago, and the zoo lived up our expectations again. Those expectations
being that San Antonio has a large and very nice zoo. The exhibits
are large and the animals are many and varied.
A day or so after the zoo we headed to Market
Square, or the "El Mercado" in Spanish. We browsed
the shops but didn't find anything to buy (it mostly pseudo-mexican
touristy crap like you can find for half the price in the mexican
border towns anyway). It looked like many of the small individual
businesses and stores in the Square have closed since we were last
here. All the food vendor booths and stalls were also gone. This
was a real disappointment to Anna and I, because these
venders were where we usually ate when visiting the Square. We've
always preferred getting simple tacos or gorditas from these vendors.
Then sitting under a tree in the uncrowded outside square while
listening to the live musicians while we ate. Much nicer than the
two crowded restaurants there. But this time we did eat at Mi
Tierra Cafe, after a short wait. Anna were very impressed with
the pastry counter in the bakery while we waited. The food at Mi
Tierra was all quite good, but nothing really special.
Next, I had to run back to Houston for a quick trip to take care
of some things. I got eat at some of our old favorite restuarants
and visited with some of our very good friends, the Smiths. Heading
back toward San Antonio I made a short side trip to Lockhart for
some barbeque to go. It was Sunday, so Kreuz
Market was closed, and I couldn't sample their fare. I stopped
by Black's Barbeque
and picked up some brisket, ribs, and sausage. This was dinner for
us on my first night back. The brisket was probably the best that
we have every had. But the sausage was too loosely packed and lacked
flavors other than smoke for our taste, and the ribs had been cooked
with so much salt that they kind of tasted a little bit like ham
(still good thought). But the brisket would be worth another trip.
side note here on barbequed ribs in Texas. Out of the dozens of
BBQ joints that I have eaten at in Texas, I can only think of one
place that really cooked up great ribs. And the owner and pit master
there was born and raised in Memphis, and trained by his father.
A second runner-up for Texas ribs is in Sherman. Texas just isn't
the best place for barbequed pork ribs, or pork of any kind for
that matter. There was another good place for pulled pork in Port
Aransas that was tender and juicy, and again the owners were from
the South (Alabama, if I remember right). As far as my judgment
of barbeque goes, here's a little background of my qualifications.
I was born and lived in Memphis, I've spent over a decade in Texas,
lived in the Carolina's several times, and finally now have spent
some time living in Kansas too. I think that covers all four of
the major barbeque meccas.)
A few days after getting back to San Antonio we packed up the truck,
loaded the dog, and set off to Canyon
Lake for some camping. We ended up at Canyon
Lake Park. This park sits at the end of a large peninsula that
extends out into the lake. The facilities here are pretty primitive,
with no water or electric at the sites and pit toilets only. But
it has great water access, and the upper camping levels always seem
to have a cool breeze and a great view of the lake. The
other part about this park that we like so much is that if you stay
on a weekday you can have most of the park to yourselves. We camped
on the upper level to take advantage of the shade and cooling breeze,
and we were the only campers in that whole area of the park. And
this was what we went camping for, just the two of us (three if
you count the dog) and some quite along time with nature. Since
we were in the Canyon Lake area I had to spend a little
time collecting some fossils. These were mostly Cretaceous era (80
to 100 millions year old) echinoids (sea urchins) and clams. There
are also a couple of dinosaur footprint trackways near the lake.
A week or so later we took a day trip up to Boerne
(pronounced Burn-ee) to go tour the "Cave
Without a Name" caverns. This is one of the only privately
owned, and publicly accessible, caves in Texas. We waited for a
hour of so to get a smaller tour group, instead of going with a
couple of dozen boy scouts that were there when we arrived. Our
tour guide was one of the owners, and since our group was small
he took his time and was quite informative. The cave tour ends at
an underground stream flowing from deeper in the cave and disappearing
down a hole beside the trail. Like most caves in Texas this one
was very active during Prohibition, and a section of the ceiling
is covered in suet from the fire of an alcohol still. This cave
is smaller than most in the Hill Country, but is very nice with
many beautiful formations. Definitely worth the trip and tour price.
The one odd thing about this cave is that there are twice as many
steps coming up out of the cave than there are going down. I swear!
Those few steps going down could not possible have made us as out
of breath as we were coming back up, no way!
About the middle of June, Anna's parents, along with her aunt and
uncle came for a visit. This was their first time to San Antonio.
So, we decided on a sight-seeing tour of San Antonio (there was
still a lot that Anna and I had not seen too). After some thought
we agreed to take one of the professionally guide tours, instead
of driving and finding parking ourselves. We chose the San
Antonio City Tours, as we had a coupon and they would pick us
all up at the hotel where our visitors were staying. So we headed
out early the next morning, in a light rain. But the rain quit by
about 9am and did help to keep the temps down. We took the full
day tour. Our morning started with the "Alamo…the
Price of Freedom" movie at the IMAX, followed by an hour
or so to visit the Alamo
and finally the boat ride and tour around the Riverwalk.
The afternoon was filled with some sight-seeing from a bus, the
old missions of San
Jose and Concepción
and ended back at the Market
Square. Oh, and a broken down bus on the ride back to the hotel
(only a 15 minute delay)! At first I wasn't very sure about paying
for the guided tour, but by the end of the day I was glad that we
had choosen as we did. I believe that it was worth the money. We
didn't have to worry about any driving or directions, no parking
problems or expense, and we didn't have to wait in line for our
custom extended Riverwalk boat tour. All agreed that it was a very
good day, and we were all tired and ready for a good meal. We stopped
at the Hungry Farmer Steak House on Blanco Road near the apartments.
Dinner was mostly chicken fried steaks, of course, and ground sirloin
steaks. Everyone went away stuffed. Our guest left the next day
so that they could stop by Dallas to visit other family members.
Because of the heat, we were looking for things to do that were
inside. So our next outing was another stop in town. We hit Hwy
281 South for a little ways and then when over to the Whitte
Museum. This is San Antonio's only real museum. We tours the
exhibits on Texas wildlife, geology, and environment. There was
special exhibit on the Mexican influents and festival, a section
of permanent displays on ancient peoples of Texas, and one with
general Middle Eastern and European antiquities. We also spent some
time going through their educational learning center, which is located
in a large tree-house structure. Lastly we toured some old pioneer
buildings. We also made a quick stop by the Trail
Drivers and Texas Rangers Museum, which is next door to the
Whitte. All in all, we were not overly impressed with these museums.
The World's Treasure museum in a place like Wichita blew them away.
But I was impressed with one thing. While in the area we had lunch
at the Picante
Grill restaurant, which advertised the "best enchiladas
in town". I had a Chicken Chipotle Casserole that was absolutely
wonderfull (I had been trying to duplicate this dish since then).
Our following trip was Anna's pick. She had seen the Worlds
of Wonder sign when we were driving into San Antonio and had
seen a couple of other ads for it. We decided to go have a look.
We headed back up I35, through all the construction, to arrive at
this park in San Marcos. The main attraction here are another cave,
an observation tower on the edge of the Llano Uplift, and a small
exotic animal park. Again we waited a few extra minutes to take
a smaller cave tour instead of going with a large number of children
there for a field trip. We only had another couple and their kids
with us when we went. However, the two kids both had shoes
that not only flashed every time the child took a step, but had
noise makers (almost like a little siren) as well. God, Anna and
I were about ready to scream 5 minutes into the tour. You could
not even hear our little tour guide half the time because of the
constant noise of those shoes! But we got through the tour without
causing a scene, barely. The cave itself is a small narrow "fault
line" cave, and was formed during the uplift and accompanying
earthquake. The are really no stalactites or stalagmites, or other
water created formations in this cave. Again, this cave had contained
a still and a little saloon during Prohibition. One interesting
room near the end has a ceiling that is covered in marine fossils.
It was very interesting to see them from the other side, above us
that is, instead of at your feet. We also toured their observation
town, antigravity house (tilted up at an angle and painted to distort
your perceptions), and took a little tram through their animal park
and petting zoo. It was a fun day out, but we had hoped for more
from the cave and animal park.
We got up early one morning a few days later and started out before
it got hot. We had a false start and our inital plans fell through.
So we changed our plans and ended up at the San
Antonio Botanical Gardens. This place turned out to be a lot
larger than we thought. Even our sometimes hurried walk through
the paths, gardens, and enclosed tropical environments took us several
hours. The sun was baking us by the time we left, and this accounted
for most of our hurrying. As I said the botanical gardens are quite
extensive and are very well done. I could very easily spend all
day there, with my camera of course, on a cooler day. In one area
they have a section to help people with their landscaping ideas.
Here they had a number of small "houses" with a little
yard, and each yard was landscaped in a different theme. For instance,
one was american traditional, there was a herb garden theme, one
using on Texas wild native plants, and so forth. Another area of
the grounds was an old Texas Hill Country homestead and buildings.
There was the duck pond with cattails that all public garden areas
seem to have. An inclosed cactus garden that also seems to be a
standard. A large area laid out and planted in native plants from
the various regions of the state. One area that I thought was special
and a wonderful idea was a garden area for the blind. The trail
map here was a topology cast in bronze and set at a level where
you could feel the rout of the paths and flower beds. The plants
here were all very fragrant flowers and herbs, and all were labeled
in large bronze plaques with brail as well as raised normal writing.
Very prominent here are the garden's enclosed domes, or cones to
be more accurate. These contain very densely planted environments
of ferns, palms, rainforest with bromeliads, a controlled environment
cactus garden, and other exotic plants. They also have an amphitheater
here where they host theater groups. There are some Shakespearean
plays going on at night here this summer. A while back, I know that
they also setup a number animatronic dinosaurs throughout the grounds.
Our next excursion took us two tries. The destination was Natural
Bridge Caverns. The first time we visited here there were just
to many people. They had to be cramming about 40 people into each
tour. Since this cavern is only about 20 minutes from the house
we headed back to the city. (We had toured this cave a number of
years ago, but it was mostly flooded then, so we got a very shorted
tour that time.) You may have noticed a reoccurring theme with the
caves and caverns. Well, when it's about 100+ degrees outside in
south centeral Texas what could be a better place to get out and
spend some time in the outdoors (techincally) and see some marvelous
sights of mother nature.
On our second try we did tour the Natural
Bridge Caverns. Anna's visit to the cave was delayed a little
as I had to shoo a small very colorful garter snake off the path
leading down into the cave. We had a relatively small group of 15
- 16 people. Small for the most visited cave in all Texas. During
the tour, the complete one this time, it is very easy to see why
this is the most popular cave to see. It is by far the largest and
most beautiful cavern that we have seen in Texas so far. It has
many very large cathedral rooms, and everywhere throughout the cave
there are formations. It's just one huge fairytale landscaped room
after another (the lowest at about 211 feet down). There are also
a number of small underground lakes and ponds along the walking
trail. This tour, unlike most others, is one way with a different
exit so there is no backtracking. This is also a very actively growing
cave. I would highly recommend this cave to anyone visiting San
Antonio or the Hill Country. We did not go through the Exotic
Wildlife Ranch this time. We've been through there 2 or 3 times
already. But if you have never been, by all means go. It is one
of the two largest and nicest in the state.
We were back downtown for our next day out. The plan was to walk
take a few pictures, and then go to the Aztec
Theater to watch the special effects show and their movie on
the Mayans. This one also took use two trips. We stopped by the
Aztec first to check the show times, and found that our movie was
not showing that day due testing of the fire prevention system.
But we did get ourselves some discount coupons for the delay. We
went ahead and spend a couple of hours wondering around the Riverwalk,
looking for things we had seem briefly during our boat tour. Anna
and I don't really care that much for eating at chain restaurants
(with the exception of Outback's), so we didn't stop to eat at any
of the places along the Riverwalk. We headed back to the Aztec Hotel
at 4pm to watch the special effects show in the theater lobby. I
was quite entertaining. If you follow the link to the Aztec
Hotel and Theater take the time to look at their pages on the
hotels restoration. It is really pretty impressive. Especially the
In mid July Anna's mom had a knee replacement surgery, and Anna
flew up for a few days to take of her. Everything with the surgery
and hospital stay went well, and her recovery continues to be good.
While Anna was gone the dog and I played at being bachelors for
a few days.
Time for another cave trip (there are quite a number of caves in
the limestone of the Hill Country). This time it was Cascade
Caverns. I was feeling little under the weather but I didn't
say much and we went anyway. I was glad that we did. Cascade Caverns
is also just right outside of Boerne, and bills itself as the wettest
cave in Texas. Part of the cave is always flooded by an underground
river, and they have to constantly hire scuba divers to dive into
this underground river to clear debris that the river carries into
the cave to keep it form becoming dammed up and completely flooded.
I also have to say that this is the narrowest and lowest ceilinged
public cave that I have ever been in. Through most of the tour I
could probably have touched both walls at the same time, and I spend
over half the tour ducking if not bent completely over. For a non-adventure
cave tour this is unusual. By the way, this posture didn't help
my aliments that day. I do agree with the advertised "wettest"
cave. There is water everywhere along the trail, and some of it
is a couple of feet deep. All this water also makes Cascade Caverns
the most humid cave that I have every visited. The grand room at
the end of the cave has a water fall that is probably 35 feet high,
and falls into a large lake. With the draught in Texas they were
having to artificially help the waterfall during our visit, but
hopefully it will be all nature in the years to come. We returned
back to the surface the way we came down.
The next day we decided to go back to at least two of the missions
in San Antonio, and to visit some more of the attractions downtown.
We wanted start with the missions first, while it was cooler, and
the indoor downtown stuff later. So we headed back to the Mission
San Jose first .
We didn't have enough time during our guided tour to do more than
just walk through this huge place and we want to have a better look.
We spend about an hour roaming the mission grounds and about 30
minutes checking out the visitor center. For anyone checking the
links above, you will probably be surprised to find that this mission
really looks more like a stone fort with a limestone and adobe citadel.
That's because that is exactly what this mission is, and why it
was built. It was built to protect the Spanish people and the Coahuiltecans
(kwa-weel-ta-kans) indians from raids of the roaming Apache and
Comanche tribes. Much of the current mission ground was built during
the restoration project in the 1930's. But it is still a very impressive
place. Some of original native frescos, painted with natural pigments,
can still be seen both outside and inside the structures. Oh, did
I mention that it is still an active church with services, weddings,
funerals, and such.
A quick trip back toward downtown brought us to Mission
It was a quick trip because all the missions were build close enough
together so that a monk could easily walk from one to another in
a single day. During our earlier tour there was a wedding going
on here, and our sight-seeing was very restricted. This mission
has not been so completely restored, and also looks more like what
one might expect a centuries old religious mission to look like.
Again some of the native indian painted frescos can still be seen
inside the buildings.
By now it was getting hot, so we head off to visit the
Institute of Texan Cultures near downtown. This was a very fascinating
museum that specializes in the cultural heritage and immigration
history of the various peoples that make up modern day Texas. They
also have a "Back 40" outdoors area where they conduct
exhibitions of pioneering skills in a community of old buildings.
On the day that we were there the people giving the talks and demonstrations
(the best they could anyway) were all young children. It was a special
event that they had volunteered for. The "Back 40" also
had a very cute little miniature goat that seem to be everywhere.
Back inside, in the air conditioning, we toured the displays and
special exhibits. Including a questioning exhibit about whether
Bigfoot(s) exist in Texas, with the evidence that has been gathered.
Another display gave some history on the Black
Seminole Indian Scouts, who I had never heard of before. They
have very interesting history (including several Medal of Honor
winners), and also a very sad one like most "indians"
dealing with the government back then.
Our final stop that day, after a rather expensive turkey sandwich,
was a trip up to the observation deck of the Tower
of the Americas (very cool 360 degree view in this site). Yes,
it's a long way up in a glass fronted elevator (750 ft). And yes,
Anna is afraid of heights. We loaded ourselves into the back of
the elevator and she shut her eyes as we got started. Once up top
there are two levels, along with a gift shop and restaurant (no
prices on the menu - so watch out). The inner level of the pinnacle
is air conditioned with pay telescopes and access to the shops and
food. The outer level, much to my surprise, was not completely glassed
in and was open to the air. There was a very nice breeze blowing
up there. We walked around looking at the view, took some photos,
people watched some, then when back down the elevator, and when
I was feel restless one morning, so I grabbed my camera and some
water went to go check out Eisenhower Park in San Antonio. This
was about 10 - 12 minutes from the apartment. I walked some of the
trails, and got to see the very first Western
Scrub Jays that I have ever seen (no pics though).
The day after my trail walking, Anna was off work and we headed
back the Aztec
Theater. This time we got in to see our movie. The screen at
this theater is very much like an IMAX, but you can easily see through
the screen and the audio come out through the screen from speakers
behind it. Very cool! The first part of the show described the history
of the theater, and how they have restored and modernized a 1931
Mighty Wurlitzer organ. Then the show began on the anticent Mysteries
of the Mayans began. It was a fascinating show, and carried
a good Wow factor on the huge screen.
The following weekend we headed north to Austin to go see the nightly
flight of the bat
colony at the Congress Street Bridge. Anna has wanted to do
this for years, but we never got it scheduled correctly. We got
a hotel and then drove to a viewing point at the south end of the
bridge. At about 8:25pm the bats started coming out in large numbers.
Due to the wind that evening they did not fly over us, but instead
flew down the river channel, which meant that our view was limited.
But it was still a very incredable sight to see about
1.5 million bats take flight. For a some minutes after it began
you could still see huge flights, with thousands and thousands of
bats stretched out across the sky. By 8:50 it was over and we were
headed back to the car. Due to the low light and very quick bats
very few of our pictures are worth looking at :-(
We got up the next morning and visited yet another cave. This time
it was the Inner
Space Cave. This cave system is north of Austin and stretches
underneath I35 (the cave was found by the highway road crew when
they had problems drilling test holes for the road bed). One nice
feature of this cave is the entrance and exit. You get to ride on
a little railcar to save you from all the steps. All caves are interesting,
and this one was too, but it really doesn't have anything to make
it stand out. The publically accessible tour area is somewhat small,
but there are many living formations to be seen. This cave no longer
has any natural openings, but once did have, as several animal remains
have been found here. More remains were found in this cave than
anyother cave in the Hill Country. They included a mammoth, saber-toothed
cat, dire wolf, gaint sloth, small wild horses, camales, and others
mammals. We both agreed that our tour guide this time wasn't very
good, but we had fun as always. We stopped by the hotel, got the
dog, checked out, and started home.
The traffic on I35 was horrible, like normal it seems, so we decided
to go out west on Hwy 290 to Hwy 281 and then south to home. We
changed our minds on the way and decided to stop by LBJ
National Historical Park, which was about 15 miles out of our
way. We toured their little museum, walked some of the trails, and
poked around their Heritage Homestead Farm (watched the blacksmith
forging tools and a man shoe a horse). By then we were getting hungry
pretty warm. We finished up our stop here with an "out of the
window" auto tour of the rest of the park as we headed home.
It was a few days after this that Anna's hospital asked if she
could stay for a few more weeks. We talked it over, and since we
still had a list of unfinished to-do's around San Antonio we said,
"Sure we'll stay for another 6 weeks, but not a full 3 month
assignment". Anna made one request to our staying. She wanted
to go to Oklahoma and check on her mother again, and we wanted some
time to play while we were in Oklahoma. So now we're packing the
car and it's off to Ramona, Oklahoma.
We made the trip in two day, with a stop in Killeen
to stay overnight with a cousin of Anna's. We had dinner at the
Orchid Thai Restaurant, and everything was wonderful. Anna's Chicken
Padd Thai was probably the best that I ever tried, and all the rest
was also above par. The next morning we drove to Oklahoma City for
another stop to visit friends, then hit the road again to Ramona.
We arrive in the late afternoon with no problems.Our stay was wonderfully,
as always, and Anna's mother is recovering well (she was driving
again when we left).
While in Oklahoma we went to Jenks, a Tulsa suburb, to visit the
Our niece, Kristen Ward, came with us. The OK Aquarium is very nice.
Not many large tanks, but a very large number of small extremely
well done aquarium tanks. In this way it was more attractive than
a number of other aquariums that we have toured. Oh, and as special
treat for me there was a large antique fishing tackle exhibit. We
all had a very nice time.
We left a couple of days later. We planned to drive to Lawton,
to go to the Fort
Sill Museum and the Geronimo exhibit there. There is also a
wildlife refuge near there. We stopped in OKC again to have lunch
with friends, then continued southwest on I44.
Well, we got to Lawton, and guess what, every hotel in the town
was full (Fort Sill graduation and a county rodeo). We decided to
go ahead and take a tour of the Wichita
Mountains National Wildlife Refuge, and then drive to Wichita
Falls for the night. The extra drive was only about an hour. We
got a room at La Quinta, and ordered in Chinese food from the Taste
of China restaurant (the hotel had a menu). Anna had a delicious
Orange Chicken, and my Chicken Le Mein was okay but a little bland.
We left the next morning, with Sonora and another cave tour in
mind. Most of our drive was through large cotton farm land and was
pretty boring. It got more interesting as we continued south out
of Abilene. There, we drove into the the Callahan Divide Mountains/Hills.
The scenery got better, and I had more fun driving the curves. As
we continued south we started seeing the beginnings of the Horse
Hollow Windmill Farm, which is the world's largest windmill farm.
These windmills are at least 20 stories tall, and they seem to go
on ever. There are more than 400 windmills in these hills. We stopped
for several pictures, and then got back on the road.
We continued on into Sonora without other stops (we were starting
to get tired). Guess what we found in Sonora, another rodeo and
more booked up hotels. We got one of the last two rooms in town
that would take pets (they told us a funny story about last year's
rodeo, when they found a bathroom full of baby goats). We had dinner
at the nearby Sonora Mexican Grill. The red salsa was good, and
they had a very interesting and good green sauce. They said the
green was just a blend of avocado, sour cream, and lots of fresh
garlic. It worked well to cool down the heat. Anna's dinner was
good, and my chicken enchiladas in ranchero sauce (Juan's Special)
was excellent. It was the hottest tongue searing ranchero sauce
that I ever had, and I was sweating after the third bite. But it
In the morning we made the first tour of the Caverns
of Sonora, and all that we can say is Wow..!! Neither one of
us had ever seen anything like this cave. The first part is pretty
blaugh, but then you come to the fantastic part. Just about every
square inch on the cavern is covered in calcium crystals. And I
don't mean the ordinary calcium carbonate formations like other
cave. I mean that everything is covered in white crystalline
growth. It's like walking through a huge very delicate geode. The
tour was almost two hour for the one-way trip. Our tour guide was
very knowledgeable and helpful. We think everyone should see this
cavern at least once, and recommend it everyone coming to Texas.
After the cavern we headed back to San Antonio, via Fredericksburg
and some other small Hill Country towns. We finally stopped at Casey's
Barbeque on Hwy 281, north of San Antonio. We had a Sample Platter
(with brisket, pork loin, turkey, sausage, and ribs), along with
1/2 a chicken to try everything. The turkey was very good and the
sausage was nice, but the rest was only marginal, and we probably
won't be stopping at Casey's again.
Well, it's 100 plus degrees outside, and we have tour all the caves.
So what do we do now. It's time to start getting wet! We pack the
car and the dog again, and hit the road to Corpus
Christi for a couple of days. We like the hotels north of the
bridge on Hwy 183 because you can get right on the beach. This time
we chose the Gulf
Beach II hotel. It's not fancy, but it reasonably priced, it
allows pets, and it's about 100 yards from the water. After checking
in early, we grabbed a quick lunch, and then it was off to the Texas
State Aquarium during the heat of the day. They had an entertaining
dolphin show starting just as we got there, then we spend a couple
of hours wondering through their aquarium tanks and exhibits. This
is not a really great or first rate aquarium, but it nice enough,
with plenty of educational stuff on the gulf. After the Aquarium
we had an early dinner, spent some time walking the beach and relaxing.
After dark we went for another walk on the beach and walked down
to the USS
Lexington, which is lighted in blue spot lights at night.
The next morning we played in the surf again, drove all the way
down Corpus' Shoreline Drive, and kept going south onto Padre Island.
We drove to the Padre
Island National Park, then head north again (on Hwy 361) up
Mustang Island to Port
Aransas. We stop in Port A a couple of times at marked wildlife
viewing areas. After a short ferry ride we drove through Aransas
and Fulton (finally getting to see some wild dolphins south
Aransas Pass). Our destination was the Aransas
National Wildlife Refuge. This is famous for Whooping
Crane in the Winter and Spring. But we had never been here during
the summer. We toured the refuge, taking pictures of deer, wild
turkeys, birds, scenery, and water lilies. After our tour we headed
back to Corpus so that we could walk the dog, who had been in the
room for several hours now. We ate at Frenchy's Cajun Boiling Pot.
The Seafood Gumbo was a disappointment in flavor (neither Anna or
I finished). But everything on the fried Seafood Combo Platter was
delicious and really hit the spot. Anna had her standard Shrimp
Po'Boy and was very happy. Another walk along the beach at night
We got up the next morning. played around a bit, and then headed
back to San Antonio. We still weren't really ready to get back home
yet, so was took a side trip to visit the last two San Antonio Missions.
Those being Mission
San Juan Capistrano, and Mission
It was seriously hot by then, so we made our visit fairly quick
and headed across town to the apartment.
A week or so later some friends from Houston can to visit us. We
got up the next morning, Sunday, and we all went to
Sea World .
This was Labor Day weekend. Needless to say, the line of cars to
get into the park was huge. It was still a very warm, actually hot,
day (by 2:00pm I had managed to get a raging headache from the heat).
The "Shamu" killer whale show was phenomenal! We just
caught parts of the other shows, but what we saw was very entertaining.
We didn't go on any of the rides due to the long wait times. The
really sad part of our visit is that Anna and I both forgot our
cameras! This has never happened to both of us at once before.
The tickets that we had were two day passes. So, our last weekend
in San Antonio we went back to Sea
to see the other shows. This time with our cameras (I will be posting
a photo gallery in the Recent Photos page soon). Again the killer
whale show was wonderful. We also watched the Viva! show, it was
also an awesome performance! Anna and I then attended the Sea Lion
Mystery and Detective show, and became part of the show as the "warm
up performer" brought us down front as victims. Of course we
stopped by other shows and exhibits between the bigger events.
After that, we had to start packing. When we were finished, we
headed to the Sherman area to do some house shopping. We found a
place a few blocks from Lake Texoma (map
it). We should be closing on this house around October
13th. We made one more stop for several days in Arkansas to visit
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