December 9-19, 2009: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
November 26, 2009: Thanksgiving
Return to Index for 2009


December 1-4, 2009
We Visit Guy Blair at
Ruckman Haus in San Antonio


 

Fred and I have not been to see Prudence and Ron in a while, and we found out some weeks ago that our friend, Guy Blair, from Green Bay, was going to be down in San Antonio for a visit this week, so we contacted Prudence and Ron and they said we should surely come on down. So that is our short trip for this week.

 

Getting to Ruckman Haus


You've probably seen a map of the route from Dallas to San Antonio before. It is pretty simple, for once you get on the Tollway south from my house, and merge onto I-35 South, it is a straight shot for about 280 miles all the way to downtown San Antonio.

Once in downtown San Antonio, all you have to do is follow I-35 South until you come to the exit for San Pedro Avenue. Once off the expressway, you just take San Pedro Avenue north.

Finally, you just take San Pedro Avenue by San Pedro Park on your left, and, one block past the park, you turn left onto French Place. Prudence and Ron have their bed and breakfast at the end of the first block on your right.
 

Guy Arrives in San Antonio

We arrived at Ruckman Haus on Tuesday afternoon; Guy had arrived there the previous day. We spent our first afternoon and evening catching up with him, and looking at some of the pictures from our cruise.

 

Northern Extension of the Riverwalk


On Tuesday, it was quite chilly, but the three of us decided to go over to the new northern part of the Riverwalk, since Guy had not yet been there. Fred and I had toured it with Ron and Jay back in October, but we enjoyed showing it to Guy as well.

Fred and I (and also Guy) have been to the downtown Riverwalk a number of times, and you have seen pictures taken along it and a diagram of it before. What you may not know is that San Antonio has been extending the Riverwalk northward; eventually, it will go almost all the way to the Witte Museum. For now, though, the Riverwalk extends about a block north of the old Pearl Brewery (which is currently being transformed from a brewery to office, retail and residential space). So on Wednesday morning after another of Ron's excellent breakfasts, we drove over to the Pearl Brewery and parked in the lot there for free, and right at the edge of the lot was a new entrance to the San Antonio Riverwalk.

As I've marked on the aerial view below, we entered the Riverwalk at the Pearl Brewery where there is a beautiful series of waterfalls and pools. (I should note that the aerial view was taken before any of the new work on this part of the Riverwalk was undertaken, so you can't see the widened river, the new walkways on either side or any of the other features that you'll see in our pictures.)

We explored the waterfalls and pools and then crossed the river and walked to the current northern terminus, then turned around and walked back. At the brewery, just before we crossed back over to the east side of the Riverwalk and headed south towards downtown, I got a picture of Guy and Fred. The picture looks north towards the current end of the Riverwalk, and you can have a look at it here.

Fred also took a few pictures here near the Pearl Brewery; click on the thumbnail images below to have a look at them:

Back on the east side of the San Antonio River, we decided to follow the walkway south; Ron Ruckman had said that the last time he and Prudence were down here, he didn't remember that the walkway on the west side of the river had been completed, and that there was some backtracking involved. We did find that you can walk along either side, at least as far as the Museum of Art.

As we walked along down towards the next bridge over the Riverwalk at Newell Avenue, all of admired all the work that has gone into the construction of this unique attraction- including the plantings all along the walkways on either side of the river. You might be interested to know that The Riverwalk has been designated an ASHS Horticultural Landmark. When we got to Newell Avenue, and walked under the bridge, we saw this interesting seating area sheltered by giant mushroom. I couldn't determine if it was a bus stop or what, but it was unique.

Across the river on the west side is a new feature that I'll just call The Grotto. The last time we were here, we didn't go across the river to explore it, but today the three of us did so. Approaching it from the north, we could see inside the grotto; there were stalagtites on the ceiling, and two waterfalls- one outside and another inside. When we got inside the grotto, we found that it conceals a stairway up to street level, among other interesting features. One of those interesting features was a carved face, and you could see the inside waterfall through it. The grotto was a really interesting attraction along the Riverwalk.

The Grotto
I made a movie of the grotto, including Fred, Guy and the grotto itself.

Heading south, we could see, up ahead, the I-35 bridge over the Riverwalk, and we could also see that there appeared to be some things hanging down underneath the bridge. Pretty soon, we got close enough to see that they were fish! Not real ones, of course, but colorful sculptures. They were whimsical and quite beautiful, and we spent a few minutes wandering around on both sides of the river admiring them.


The next feature we encountered was the " Brewery Bridge." We learned that this bridge is not new, but actually more than a century old. In 1884, the Lone Star Brewery began operations on the site across the river. Famed brewer Adolphus Busch expanded and modernized the plant in the 1890s. The brick and stone building had two towers, and these were connected by a steel bridge used to move beer barrels. You can just see this bridge in the illustration at left.

Prohibition ended beer production here in 1918, after which many businesses occupied the buildings until the early 1970s when they were largely abandoned. A massive renovation transformed the brewery into the San Antonio Museum of Art that opened in 1981. An enclosed walkway replaced the original bridge, which was dismantled and stored. In 2009, the bridge was incorporated at this site as part of the San Antonio River Improvements Project.

We took another couple of good pictures of the Brewery Bridge, and you can have a look at them here and here.


After going back and forth across the Brewery Bridge, we spent some more time walking up and down along this new part of the Riverwalk. We did not go so far as the locks and dam as we did when we were here with Ron and Jay in October, but Guy did get a good idea of what this new part of the Riverwalk system is like. As we headed back to the car, I took a few more pictures that you might be interested in looking at, and you can do so if you click on the thumbnail images at right.

 

A Day Trip to Austin

When we got back from the Riverwalk, Ron and Prudence had pretty much finished cleaning up from the breakfast they'd served to their other guests, and they suggested that we take a drive up to Austin to hang out. I think there was an art gallery Prudence wanted to see, and maybe an antique store or two. So about eleven o'clock we got into their SUV and headed up the highway.

By twelve-thirty or so we were at the giant flagship store for Whole Foods in downtown Austin, just wandering around. Prudence and Guy spent some time in the store's wine cellar where Prudence picked up a couple of bottles of different wines she had'nt tried. We ended up having a bit of lunch in their cafe upstairs.


Then we drove downtown and parked on Congress Street, just a couple of blocks down from the Texas State Capitol Building. We crossed the street to visit the Austin Museum of Art. I thought the view of the state capitol was nice enough today that I'd ask Fred to step back out to the middle of the street so I could take advantage of the very light traffic to get a picture of him with the state capitol in the background, and you can have a look at that picture here.

We spent an hour or so in the AMOA; there were some interesting exhibits- all of it modern art. And we did some shopping in the museum store, where I bought a couple of things to lay away as gifts for my sister in the future. Then Ron took us to Perry's Steakhouse downtown, just a short distance from the AMOA. He and Prudence had been there before, perhaps because they have an extensive "wine cellar," which actually looks more like a library- a whole wall of wine bottle niches extending from floor to ceiling with a sliding ladder like in a library.

We had a really good meal; I enjoyed it very much. I took one candid shot of Fred and Guy and Guy took one of the rest of us. You can see that second picture here.

Perry's Steakhouse
The interior of Perry's Steakhouse was very nicely done, so I made a movie beginning in the Wine Room and moving out to the bar area where the five of us had dinner.

We spent another two days with Ron, Prudence and Guy, taking Guy to the airport early on Friday morning. We came back to the B&B to have some breakfast with Ron and Prudence, and then Fred and I headed out for home. It was another very nice visit, made all the better because we got to see Guy again.

 

Our Trip Home

As usual, I did the driving on the way home. I like to drive and, if the truth be told, I am not that great a passenger. We had passed through Austin, about an hour north of San Antonio, when I noticed that Fred seemed oddly jumpy and not his usual talkative self. I asked him about it, and he said he felt tingly and had a headache. I thought it might have been something he ate and asked him if he needed to stop anywhere, but he said that no, he'd just like to get on home. He thought it might be his blood pressure spiking or something like that. So we drove on.

He seemed not to get any worse as we finished the trip up to Dallas, but he wasn't getting any better, either. As soon as we got home and pulled into the garage, I told him I'd bring everything in and that he should probably go in and lie down for a while. As I was finishing bring everything in, he came and told me that he'd taken his blood pressure and that it was something like 180/120- very high, even for him. (Fred has been taking Norvasc, a blood pressure medication, for a couple of years now.) I really didn't know what we should do. I put in a call to my own doctor and to Dr. Whitley in Florida. I didn't reach Brent, but my own doctor's nurse called me back and said we should probably go to the emergency room and have him checked out.

What happened next really doesn't belong here on a page ostensibly devoted to our trip down to San Antonio, and so I'm going to continue this story on the album page devoted to non-trip events for this year. If you would like to continue this story now, just click on the link below:

Fred's Heart Attack

(There will be a return link on that page that can bring you back here.)

You can use the links below to continue to the album page for different day.


December 9-19, 2009: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
November 26, 2009: Thanksgiving
Return to Index for 2009