November 11, 2011: A Day Trip to the Tyler Rose Garden
October 12-26, 2011: A Trip to Florida
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November 5-9, 2011
A Trip to San Antonio to See
Hal Holbrook's "Mark Twain Tonight!"


Prudence asked Fred and I to come down to San Antonio this weekend to join her in going to see Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain; his performance was being presented at the Trinity University Auditorium on Sunday evening. Her sister, Nancy and Nancy's husband Karl were coming down as well.


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.


Hal Holbrook Performs as Mark Twain

The main reason for our trip down this time was to go with Prudence, Ron, Nancy and Karl to see Hal Holbrook performing as Mark Twain and Trinity University's Laurie Auditorium.

The Trinity University complex is about three miles from Ruckman Haus Bed and Breakfast, over by US 281. We went kind of a roundabout way to get there, and there was a fair amount traffic near the University.

We parked in the SAISD Stadium parking area and then followed the crowds across the street and along the walkways leading to one of the entrances to Laurie Auditorium. We got our tickets (THANK YOU, PRUDENCE!), found our seats (quite good and quite close) and waited for Holbrook's appearance.

I took my camera to the venue, but it became apparent quite early that with all the ushers and theatre personnel around, I would not be able to use it without being observed; indeed, a couple of other folks near us had already been cautioned not to use their own cameras once the performance began. So, I have no pictures of the actual production that we saw, nor do I have any movie clips of his performance. The production we saw was not the original "Mark Twain Tonight!" that he has been doing for the last thirty years, but an updated production that is more topical.

But I'd like for you to get a flavor for what his performances are like, and I'll do that by providing a few clips that are similar to what we saw. Now, all the clips that I could find were a minimum of twenty years old, and so even though Holbrook's makeup even back then made him appear quite old, he no longer needs so much makeup to appear old as he actually is old- 86 this year.

In this clip, Hal Holbrook plays Mark Twain expounding upon Man, "the reasoning animal." The words in this scene come mostly from Twain's 1903 essay, "The Damned Human Race" and other essays, such as "Papers of the Adam Family". The YouTube clip was labeled as being from 1967, although I don't know for sure.

Of course, Holbrook is most famous for his entire production entitled "Mark Twain Tonight!" that he has been performing for as long as I can remember. Below are players for the first two segments of that production:

"Mark Twain Tonight!" (Segment 1)
"Mark Twain Tonight!" (Segment 2)

Watching these segments may have whetted your appetite to hear more of his performance. If you would like to watch the other segments, you can use the links below:

"Mark Twain Tonight!" (Segment 3)
"Mark Twain Tonight!" (Segment 4)
"Mark Twain Tonight!" (Segment 5)
"Mark Twain Tonight!" (Segment 6)
"Mark Twain Tonight!" (Segment 7)
"Mark Twain Tonight!" (Segment 8)
"Mark Twain Tonight!" (Segment 9)
"Mark Twain Tonight!" (Segment 10)

The production we saw was really, really good, and if you have a chance to see Holbrook in person, you should definitely do so. We both thank Prudence and Ron very much for inviting us to go with them!


Our Walk Along the New Riverwalk Extension

On Tuesday afternoon, two days after Hal Holbrook, Ron and Prudence and Fred and I went over to the new, northern section of the San Antonio Riverwalk, planning to walk downtown and have dinner and then walk back. The new section of the Riverwalk extends from downtown north to the old Pearl Brewery on Josephine Street. So we drove over to the brewery from Ruckman Haus, parked, and walked down the steps to the Riverwalk.

Now, if you have been through this photo album up to this point, you have already seen some pictures taken along this stretch of the Riverwalk. Fred and I walked the stretch once with Ron Mathis and Jay Enriquez about two years ago, and a couple of times with Guy on his various trips down to San Antonio. So if you've seen those pages already, I wouldn't blame you if you just scrolled through this one.

One addition, though, is my aerial view of this section of the Riverwalk, which I cobbled together from sections of the San Antonio aerial views from Google Maps. The river wanders not only north/south but also east/west, and trying to follow it through what would be a huge section of the aerial view of San Antonio would be a bit tricky, so I hope you'll find the "strip" view a little easier to follow. It is in the scrollable window at left. When you arrive here, you'll want to locate our starting point by using the horizontal scroll bar to scroll all the way to the right. There, you'll see our starting point and you'll be able to follow our yellow path as we walk south towards downtown.

I've also marked some of the locations where the pictures you'll see were taken. We came up out of the Riverwalk when we got down to East Houston Street.


At the Pearl Brewery

The first group of pictures were taken just after we walked down the stairs from the Pearl Brewery parking area to the Riverwalk.

Here, some very nice artificial waterfalls have been built, and there are lots of bridges, benches and water plants. If you will click on the thumbnails below, you can see some of the pictures we took here:

Beginning our walk south, we passed an area right by the brewery where a small amphitheatre has been constructed, with the "stage" a concrete platform out in the river a few feet from the lowest row of seats. I've never seen anything going on here, but obviously something does. When we passed this area, I turned around and looked back towards the Josephine St. bridge, and you can see the "stage" out in the river. The Riverwalk goes down both sides of the San Antonio River for most of its length, so you can walk on either side, but only the east side is continuous, so that's the side we followed.


Art Installation at the I-35 Bridge

We continued walking south along the Riverwalk, enjoying the warm afternoon, and we eventually came to the point where the river goes under Interstate 35. Here, there is an interesting art installation. Hanging from the underside of the bridge are perhaps thirty or so multi-colored fish made of some kind of plastic material. They are too high to reach, and so I can't verify the material. But when you look at them from a distance, they give the appearance of being a school of fish swimming through the air (particularly when the light is right and you don't see the wires they are hanging from).

At the right, you can see this "art" as we approach it from the north side of the bridge. You get a somewhat different perspective when you look back at the art installation from the south. Whatever the material is, it can be internally illuminated; at night, the fish are aglow. When we returned this way in the evening, the fish seemed more ethereal, since it was impossible to see their supports. While we were here on our way back, Fred got some good closeup pictures of some of the illuminated fish, and you can see some of these if you click on the thumbnails below:


The Locks

The San Antonio River slopes downward continually, of course, but it needs to be fairly level in the downtown section so that the tour barges can make their way along it and its side-canals, and so that the "canyon" through which it flows can be kept at a constant level of one story deep. This means that upriver (and downriver) of that busiest and most crowded downtown section, there must be locks that keep the section at a constant level. On our walk south, we pass the northern set of locks.

Actually, a simple dam would have worked just as well, but the city has prepared for the time that the tour barges will want to negotiate the northern section of the river, and thus a set of locks is necessary so that the boats can be raised from the level downtown section to the fairly level northern section. Coming from the north, we eventually could see the locks ahead of us.

I made a movie of the locks here today, and you can watch it with the player at left. If you want to see a movie of the locks themselves in operation raising and lowering a boat, you can go to the album page for October 20, 2009, jump to the section "The Riverwalk" and scroll down to the point where we reach the locks. More pictures of the locks and the movie of the operation can be found there. For now, click on the thumbnails below to see some additional pictures we took here today:

We continued past the locks on the upper level, and then descended the stairs to reach the lower level of the Riverwalk. As we were descending the stairs, I looked back at a different view of the locks, and you can see that view here.


Scenes Along the Riverwalk

Other than the aforementioned spots, our walk along the river was very, very pleasant, due in large part to the care the city has taken in the construction of this amazing attraction, the artwork and artistic touches that have been so liberally used along its length, and the tasteful buildings that border it. In this section, I want to include some of the other pictures that we took along our walk.

For example there are three or four places where artificial waterfalls have been constructed along the side of the river. (Remember that we are walking along about fifteen feet below street level.) At other places, artistic touches have been added, such as this tunnel of artificial trees that will become, eventually, an arbor.

It's just an amazing place, and well worth as much time as one can spend here. If you will click on the thumbnails below, you can see some other really good pictures of this wonderful section of the San Antonio Riverwalk:

I made two movies as we were walking along the Riverwalk, and you can watch them with the players below:

The Vermont State Capitol from State Street
The Capitol Grounds from the Portico


Drinks at Luke Bar

Just north of Houston Street, there was a new plaza on our left, a very well-done open space between a new Sheraton Hotel and a fairly tall office building. On the other side of the river was another hotel and the outside balcony of the Luke Bar.

We took the stairs up to Houston Street, crossed over the river on the Houston Street bridge. From there, I could look back and see the broad stairs that led up from the Riverwalk to the big plaza, and you can see that view here. On the other side of the bridge, we walked up onto the outside patio of the Luke Bar. We got a table overlooking the Riverwalk- outside, so Ron could smoke a cigar. Fred took our picture while Ron perused the menu, and you can see that picture here. We had a nice view across the river to the plaza on the other side, and we sat, relaxed and had drinks and hors d'oeuvres as night fell.

I could tell we'd be at our table while it got dark, so I intentionally took two pictures, as similar as I could make them, of the buildings to the north of us- one while it was still light and one after it got dark. You can see these two pictures below. We had a pleasant stay at the Luke Bar; here is a picture of Prudence and Fred enjoying their drinks.


Dinner and Our Return

We had dinner at a new place I'd not been to before, but where Ron knew some of the owners and servers. We sat at a little table overlooking the river. After that, we went to a place we have been to before- the V Bar. Once again, we got a table outside, even though it was cool. The bar had heaters going outside and they made it quite pleasant to sit and look out over nighttime downtown San Antonio.

Eventually, we headed back along the Riverwalk to the Pearl Brewery. The Riverwalk looks entirely different at night. Even though there were few people walking along, we felt entirely safe, and as we passed them, I got a picture of the locks at night. I got a last picture of Fred, Ron and Prudence as we climbed the stairs back to the parking area.


Other Activities This Trip

About the only other unusual thing we did on this trip we did before Karl and Nancy returned to Dallas- we went house-hunting for Nancy. She has lately gotten the idea that it would be nice to have her own place in San Antonio; she thinks she would feel more comfortable about spending a lot of time there with her sister were she not taking up space in the B&B, and if she had a place she could call hers. Not only is this a pretty good idea, but since Nancy does have the resources to do so, we ended up driving around a couple of times with her Realtor looking at a few places.

We looked at big houses and small, and there was even one in a zero-lot-line community that Nancy really liked, and I took a number of pictures and movies of it for her. They don't belong in this album, though. (I can tell you that as of this writing, two months later, Nancy has found and has put an offer on a different house in San Antonio. I think that she will shortly have her own place there.)

This was another good trip, and we headed back to Dallas on Wednesday.

You can use the links below to continue to another page in the photo album.

November 11, 2011: A Day Trip to the Tyler Rose Garden
October 12-26, 2011: A Trip to Florida
Return to the Index for 2011