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Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Homer, Alaska

Monday, April 28, 2014

Hills and Rivers

Friday and Saturday were travel days as we worked our way westward along I10. I don't like those long, PDD travel days, so we broke it up into two approximately 260 mile days, stopping overnight at Hidden Lake RV Resort in Beaumont Texas. It was nice enough, very friendly folks at check-in, nice pull-through site and a rather inexpensive laundry room! I took advantage of that to do my laundry for the week, so I wouldn't have to deal with it in San Antonio. We had also been watching the weather, and saw that we would be driving into a severe storm watch area later in the day Saturday. Keeping that in mind, we made an early departure and arrived at the San Antonio KOA just after lunch time. No storms, just clouds for the drive, and we never did get any storms, just some gusty winds, although not nearly as bad as they had to the west in El Paso.

The RV Park is pretty nice. It's a very short, maybe 10 minute drive to the River Walk area, and there is also an inexpensive bus that stops right outside the grounds that you can take down there as well. Unfortunately, dogs are not permitted unless they are lap dogs, which mine definitely are not :-). It's quite typical of a campground in a highly popular area, in that the sites are spaced quite close together. The park was very full when we arrived, as it was at the tail end of the big festival they have here each year, Fiesta!. Many  guests have departed yesterday and today, so there is a little more spacious feeling now. It has full amenities, including playgrounds, swimming pool, and a small breakfast restaurant. It's not my favorite type of place, but it meets my requirements for this stay of being clean, quiet and close to the areas I wish to explore.

The weather has cleared up with no storms in the forecast, however it is HOT! Near record temperatures for Sunday and Monday isn't too far behind. We decided with temps going up to 98 degrees Sunday that it would be a good day for a scenic drive, rather than any long walking routes. San Antonio is part of the famed Texas Hill Country, and we set forth with a plan to drive north is search of wildflowers and scenery.

We found fields of corn poppies and drummond phlox at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg. 

Close-up picture of corn poppies. I was very tempted to stroll through the nursery and pick up some flowers for the summer, but I really didn't know how they would do once we get up to the colder climates....speaking of which, did you know it was SNOWING yesterday and today up there??

I had read of a scenic drive north of Fredericksburg called the Willow City Loop. Its a ranch road that heads out of the hills and into an area of canyons and cliffs, along with roaming livestock from the ranches along the route. Casey did get to see plenty of his beloved cows.

Texas bluebonnets. It's nearing the end of wildflower season here, and I never found fields of mass bluebonnets like you see in the advertising. There were plenty along the roadsides though.

We saw thousands of these prickly cactus, and I liked this one that was a perfect heart shape.

And I found one with a bloom on it already!

After our Willow City Loop, we stopped at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. It was time to stretch our legs, and there were several hiking trails to choose from here. We chose the Loop Trail, that goes around the base of the Enchanted Rock. Enchanted Rock is a 500 foot high dome of  pink granite, the second largest formation of its kind in North America. It's an impressive geological feature with an estimated age of over a billion years, making it one of the oldest exposed rock in North America. The site also has archaeological significance, and figures prominently in several Native American legends.

Both puppies were very happy to be out and exploring.

By then it was time to head back to the campground and settle in for the night. I also had to get the game plan for Monday set. Again, it was going to be very hot in the upper 90's, so we planned to go to the River Walk early in the morning for some preliminary exploring, and then afternoon siesta during the heat. I elected to start our River Walk explorations at the north end, near the up and coming Pearl Brewery complex. It was listed as being quieter, dog-friendly, and free parking :-). So we decided to start there, and walk south until we decided it was enough for the day.

Our first view of River Walk. From the main streets of the city, you would never know what a quiet oasis is just out of sight. 
This section of River Walk down by Pearl Brewery was created in 2009 and is known as the Museum Extension. Several interesting pieces of art are scattered around the Walk, such as this sculpture called The Grotto by local artisan Carlos Cortes.

We found these fish "floating" under the interstate overpass.

In order to allow the water taxis and tour boats to access the the new section of the River Walk, the only working boat locks in Texas were constructed near the Lexington Street bridge to raise and lower the watercraft.

Warning: be prepared for many pictures of the San Antonio River walk over the next three days!

Shaded areas were much appreciated.

It would be lovely to have your office in these beautiful old buildings along the riverfront.

We made it all the way down to the Central Area, where the river has been detoured in a u-shape rejoining the main river further south. This is a very busy area, loaded up with restaurants, shops and of course, tourists!

By now it was getting warm, and we'd been walking quite a ways. It was time for lunch, and a very nice cowboy invited us up to The Lone Star Cafe, telling us it was dog friendly. Needing no further encouragement, we headed up and this was our view while we had an early lunch.

The food at Lone Star Cafe was very tasty and quite reasonable as well, as we chose from the lunch special menu. For the price of McDonald's, we had a great lunch, relaxing with a great view.

After lunch we headed back north along the River Walk towards our car, taking pictures of small details that caught my eye....

decorative stairs...

ducks swimming alongside the water taxis...

beautiful tiled murals all along the walkways. It was at this mural, though, that we had a bit of a surprise. I was looking at he mural, and Al was paying attention to somebody else walking down the path, and all of a sudden we heard a big "SPLASH". Whipping my head around, I see Honey swimming around in the river! Oh boy, I knew it was hot, but seriously?? Of course, Casey thought this was a wonderful idea, and was trying his hardest to get in as well. Luckily, it was near the historical dam, with partially submerged rockwork going into the river from the walkway, so we could guide Honey over there and she was easily able to climb out. We had a good laugh over that one.

We were quite impressed with how the city takes care of the area. We saw several cleaning people sweeping and cleaning the walkways, gathering trash, several landscapers taking care of the flowers, along with watering boats. We also saw a river-cleaning watercraft, that was going slowing along the river with skimmers, collecting any debris and leaves floating on the surface. Little things like that make it look so beautiful.

We finally made it back to the north end of River Walk, which is also as far as the water taxis can go. Upon reaching the car, we were surprised to see we had logged almost six miles of walking! We headed back to the RV Park, where a short siesta was in order for all of us, then it was time for me to work on this journal while Al took the car over to WalMart for an oil change. Later, after dinner, he's going to work on getting all the crushed bugs off the front of the coach, while I work on the plan for tomorrow! Normal chores still have to be done, don't they? 


  1. Great pictures!! They brought back great memories - San Antonio was definitely up toward the top of the list of my favorite places from this summer. I can't even imagine having that hot of a temp right now - it's been mostly in the high 50s here with a few days in the low 60s. I am not minding it too much though - VERY thankful that we aren't having any severe weather up here.

    1. Oops - just read my comment over and meant to say this winter. My seasons are all mixed up, lol.

  2. I've been in San Antonio for almost 7 months and I agree that the city is doing a great job with the Riverwalk and other areas. I leave here on May 5th to head to a summer job in Cody, WY. I hope the snow will be gone so none of us have to deal with driving in it.

  3. We absolutely loved the River Walk. So much to see! We were privileged to be there right before Thanksgiving, so the Christmas lights were all lit up. The boat ride up and down the river is great to see everything too.

  4. I spent 2 years stationed at Randolph AFB just outside San Antonio back in the early 70's. The river wallk was just a couple blocks back then. My how things change. Fiesta San Antonio was and I guess still is a huge celebration in that area!!

  5. Glad you are enjoying SA. We are ready to get back for a while-even if it is hot :). If Al gets tired of washing, the guy who comes to the park does a really good job.

  6. Our second visit to the Riverwalk was during the holidays, what a beautiful magical place it is then. Our first visit we stayed at a hotel with our balcony overlooking the Riverwalk and a view of the cathedral just off it. While driving across I-10 in the Winnie TX we got stuck in a terrible traffic jam due to an accident, we were considering trying Hidden Lake in Beaumont. Nice to know it would have been okay, I had been sitting by a billboard of it for a few hours.

  7. Love this post. We would have been there in early April had the plan not been changed. Maybe next year. Thanks so much for all this information about the wildflowers which I really want to see and the beautiful San Antonio River Walk. I had no idea it would be that hot already. Honey knows what she's doing. Too bad Casey didn't go for it right away before you guys knew. Very funny story!