14. December 2009 17:26
Though I knew the epic importance of the Alamo from the John Wayne movie, I was interested in finding out where Hollywood ended and where the truth began at the Alamo National Historic Landmark. To prepare, I first watched The Alamo: the Price of Freedom at the Rivercenter Imax Theater and visited the History Shop, where a detailed diorama of the Alamo mission illustrates the sprawling size of the mission when the 200 Texans tried to defend it against the 3,000 Mexican forces.
The only remaining building from the original Alamo mission is the chapel, which served as a sanctuary for the women and children during the 1836 battle. Exhibits and artifacts, such as a lock of Davy Crockett’s hair, William Travis’ ring and James Bowie’s knife, fill the chapel and surrounding buildings to present a more personal perspective on the battle.
When the evening caused the River Walk to once again glow with Christmas lights, I enjoyed a dinner cruise on the river. I floated near where some of the fiercest fighting of the Battle of the Alamo took place and wondered that a place once so full of violence could now look so peaceful.
Inside the Alamo's museum
Dinner cruise on the River Walk
14. December 2009 07:53
At the Saeur-Beckmann Farmstead, I discovered what exactly Little Miss Muffet was eating when she was snacking on curds and whey in the traditional nursery rhyme. The living history farm portrays the working lifestyle of a 1918 Texas farm at the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site in Johnson City. Just down the road from Lyndon B. Johnson’s childhood home, the farm uses costumed interpreters, period farm equipment and live animals, such as the rather intimidating horned Texas longhorn cattle.
I discovered the curds and whey by following my nose to the wonderful smells coming from the farm’s kitchen. The cook working on turning the curds and whey into cottage cheese explained how she used a wood-burning stove to create dishes far and away better than anything store bought.
Nearby, the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park left me feeling as though I knew the Johnson’s personally. On a driving tour, I passed by the president’s birthplace, cemetery and the Texas White House, where he lived from 1951 until his death in 1973. Details, like the presence of a phone on the president’s chair in the dining room, gave insight into the daily life of Johnson. I learned even more about the president's life and the time period he lived in at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum before an evening looking at more San Antonio Christmas lights.
Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum
Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum
San Antonio Christmas lights
8. December 2009 11:45
Looking up, it seemed to be raining Christmas lights. The colored Christmas lights hanging down from the high branches of the cypress trees lining San Antonio’s River Walk twinkled downward like water trickling down a waterfall.
The 122,000 dazzling lights reflecting onto the San Antonio River created quite the Christmas wonderland. I happily strolled past shops, restaurants and live music along the stone path before deciding on a barbeque dining establishment.
Earlier that day, I started off my guided trip with Mayflower Tours by learning the Spanish colonial history of the Texas town. Originally constructed in 1731, the San Fernando Cathedral has remained a spiritual center of the town since a group of 15 families arrived in San Antonio from the Canary Islands on the invitation of King Philip V of Spain. Not far off, the 1720 Mission San Jose became the largest Texas mission with amazing stone ornamentation still intact. Both churches, along with the colorful and festive Mexican market, show the mix of indigenous and Spanish influence created when the Spanish originally conquered the area.
San Antonio River Walk
San Fernando Cathedral
San Jose Mission