San Antonio and Houston

San Antonio, Texas 4/6-4/8/2016

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The Alamo at night
The Alamo at night

Today we travelled the short distance from Austin to San Antonio……  just a short travel day.  I decided to get a pedicure upon arrival…my feet have gotten way too far from my eyes (Presbyopia is setting in, Bonny ).  I felt right at home at a Vietnamese salon. For dinner we went across the street from our RV park to a little Mexican restaurant where no one spoke English – except for us.

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Mission San Juan
Mission San Juan

I was a little under the weather yesterday and didn’t do my “due diligence” readying the coach for departure for San Antonio.  While we were driving we heard a crash, but couldn’t determine the source….until we tried to put our slide out.  On investigation we found a block with knives had fallen off the counter and 2 knives got wedged in the mechanism of the slide out.  This had a potential catastrophic outcome.  We could live with the slide in the “in position”, but you cannot drive with it protruding even an inch.  This could have resulted in hauling the coach to  a Freight Liner yard and being some what dismantled to retrieve the errant knives.  Fortunately with some maneuvering, Doug was able to recover the knives.  Lesson learned. ……follow your preflight check off list…always.

All over Dallas there were enormous pictures of photos claiming to be taken with an I Phone 6S. …they are stunning.   About 4 years ago Doug decided to guide me into the 20th century. I was hell bent not to give up my flip phone….who cared about texting?  I was having some minor knee surgery…this meant I couldn’t escape.  He decided it was the perfect time to introduce some new technology.  Our household was converted entirely to Mac.  He gave me an I Phone and an I Pad and the iPad book for “Dummies”.  He has always been dismayed that I never read an operations manual. I did learn  to functionally use all these devices.  Then two  years later he decides to get a Samsung Galaxy???  I couldn’t even figure out how to answer it , let alone use GPS.  Again a lot of grousing….he purchased an IPhone 6-S yesterday and has been in heaven reading the manual and adding apps….we are again on the same page.  Upon reflection, I am seeing a pattern in my life (taken 69 years)….  I don’t change with ease.  I have had only 2 jobs, with both lasting 20-25 years each.  We still own the same house in Long Beach that was purchased in the 1970’s.  I was born and raised and lived in Long Beach for 63 years.  Where was I going with this???…..the pictures and video from the phone are amazing.  Many of our future pictures will be from this phone.  I wonder if this means I don’t have to schlep Doug’s camera bag and tripod any more…..nice. (Doug here – don’t get too excited yet Bonny)

April 7, 2016 San Antonio, Texas

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Dinner on the River Walk

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Doug picked the RV park in San Antonio, Traveler’s World, specifically because it was on the River Walk Bike and Hiking Trail.  This is a recent addition in the city and is 12 miles of paved and beautifully landscaped grounds that run along the San Antonio River is in the downtown surrounded by hotels and restaurants was where we had Texas BBQ….it wasn’t exactly gourmet, but after 2 margaritas, it all tasted good.  I don’t think Doug or I have had a loaded baked potato in over 3 years.   With Texas BBQ there seems to be little offering of vegetables….Doug loves it when there is no green on his plate.  It had been 85 degrees during the day which made for a balmy beautiful evening. 

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Doug met these school kids on a field trip at the mission. They thought it was “cool” we were from California

April 8, 2016…To the Alamo and beyond

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Our new friend, Ray. Thanks for the help, Ray

Today we headed towards town on our bikes.  We met Ray on the bike trail, asked directions to the Alamo, and he personally escorted us to the front door.  Ray is the first person we have met in San Antonio that is a resident….every single other person was a tourist, like us.  He took a “short cut” and showed  us through the King William  section of town where the big old original homes were built.  Then we wove our way through down town traffic, turning from left hand lanes into traffic……….it was scary.

As nice as the River Walk Trail was, there were some bugs…..I accidentally opened my mouth and got some unwanted protein….I am not a bat, so it wasn’t particularly enjoyable.

The Alamo is smack dab in the middle of downtown San Antonio and actually seems dwarfed by its surroundings.  I think I finally have some understanding of how Texas came to be its own country( for a while )  and the huge Mexican influence of the area.  Did you know that people from the US were encouraged to move to Mexico with large land grants….you had to become a Mexican citizen, convert to Catholicism and learn to speak Spanish! These American were referred to as “Texians”.  That is an immigration policy advanced by the Mexican government! There are parts of that I could support today.

While we were riding on the trail, we met a couple from Great Britain.  They said they were “SKI-ing”.  Odd……Spending Kid’s Inheritance.  They took every opportunity when school was on holiday to visit the USA.  They have visited all but 3 of our states.  They are going to Hawaii for her 50th birthday.  Of course the topic came up of how the US is perceived in Europe.  Seems they too have much the same trouble we do in getting unbiased news.  She said rather sheepishly that the way Donald Trump is portrayed to the European audience makes the USA seem rather laughable. 

As I mentioned before, our new favorite Mexican restaurant is across the street from our RV Park.  Our waitress and the owner spoke very little English and had a hard time explaining the ingredients of mole sauce…something I have never before tasted.  Last night, by the time we left, the place was full and we were the only Gringos to be seen.  Dinner $22 & that included 2 beers. 

Our New Best Mexican Restaurant
Our New Best Mexican Restaurant

Doug and I have both experienced first hand how illegal immigration has affected the economy of California.  There is a very different feel here in San Antonio, a positive vibe, if you will.  The Texas and American Flag can be seen everywhere.  Driving into Huston, at one point, I saw 5 Texas and USA flags at one time.  Texans are proud of their state and proud of the USA and proud of the Mexican roots of the Texan culture. Today’s Texas culture descends from the Texians and the Tejanos.

4/9/2016  Driving to Huston

Doug is fascinated sighting a single young blonde, thin 18 wheel truck driver.  Not the typical female truck diver at all. I believe he is planning a scientific study. So far he has found one!

This is how Texans apparently deal with a traffic jam.  I saw this once  in Redding also.

Don’t like this road just head across the grass and join THAT road!

We had dinner with a fellow surgical resident of Doug’s from UCLA, Jim Livesay and his lovely wife, Robin.  He is a cardiac surgeon at the Texas Heart Institute and is nearing retirement.  We also attended their church, Christ the King Presbyterian Church….a relative traditional Presbyterian Church minus the robed choir.  It is a new church that has grown quite fast and had predominantly young families. Doug and Jim enjoyed reliving their exciting times at UCLA as  co-residents.

Jim Livesay
Jim Livesay
The Great Houston Cardiac Surgical Standoff
The Great Houston Cardiac Surgical Standoff

I have read Travels with Charley twice and loved the fact that John Steinbeck attended church where ever he was on Sunday……too bad we won’t be in New Orleans next Sunday.

Our time in Huston has not been spent sightseeing, it has been “people seeing”.  Doug will explain the Sunday afternoon we spent with the Pampolina’s  This reunion was very emotional.  We all found ourselves getting teary eyed at times.  I was very touched at how interested their two adult children were in learning about the sister they never knew,  little Felice.

Reunion with the Pampolina’s after 45 years!
Phil Pampolina
Phil Pampolina

Here are some homes in their beautiful neighborhood.  Theses homes  with pools are available for a fraction of the cost of southern California homes – and no state income tax!! They do have property taxes that are somewhat above California.   I did mention No State Income Taxes!

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