April 13, 2013: The Dallas Opera at Cowboy Stadium
March 31, 2013: "Dallas Blooms!" at the Dallas Arboretum
Return to the Index for 2013


April 1-5, 2013
A Visit to San Antonio


 

This week, Fred and I have planned a trip down to San Antonio to visit with Ron and Prudence. Our visit with them will correspond with a visit Guy has planned from South Dakota, and as an added bonus, Karl and Nancy will be down there as well. So the whole gang will be together for a while. We have been down to visit Ron and Prudence so frequently that we don't take all that many photos anymore, but we did do a couple of different things on this trip. I'll just group the photos for this page into categories, regardless of when they were taken.

 

Driving 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.

We now have a choice when we go through Austin; we can either follow I-35 all the way through town (a route that is sometimes slow and congested) or we can take the new bypass around the city of Austin (something we did for the first time earlier this year). With the girls along, I thought it best to stick to the more well-traveled I-35 route in case they wanted to stop somewhere (which, as it turned out, they did). There is not much in the way of services along the bypass.

Actually, the only reason to take the bypass would be if you were pressed for time; it is almost empty and the speed limit is 85. It does require a toll of about $10, which also only makes it attractive if you happen to know that I-35 through town is clogged (as it can be during rush hours).

 

You can see the bypass going around Austin in the little map at the immediate right.

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. You can see this route on the far right-hand map.


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.

 

A Gift from the Las Olas Art Fair


If you read the album page for our last trip to Florida, you'll remember that I mentioned that we'd made two purchases at the Art Fair- both from the same vendor of metal artwork. I got a sign for my house relating to the "home theatre" in the family room, and we bought one for Prudence that had a "wine" theme.

As you can see here, it has a wine bottle and the phrase "wine and friends need to be old." We thought it would go nicely somewhere in Prudence's kitchen, and one of the first things we did on this trip was help her mount it on the wall. She chose the spot above the gas range where it would be most visible.

We had Guy take a picture of the three of us in front of the artwork, and you can see that picture at left.
 

At Ruckman Haus

Pretty obviously, we spend a good deal of time around Ruckman Haus, the beautiful B&B that Ron and Prudence have created and which they so much enjoy hosting. Most times when we are there with them they have at least one guest, so there is always someone new to meet and talk with. After breakfast is done, Prudence and Ron are "on their own time," as they used to say in the Army, and that's when we can usually do stuff together.


On our first evening in San Antonio, all of us got together before dinner, and sat down in Prudence's East Garden by the waterfall having a glass of wine. I should have gone and gotten Fred's tripod, but I didn't, and so the picture he took doesn't include him. But you can see most of our close-knit circle. If you don't already know, Ron and Prudence are at the left, Nancy and Karl at the right, and Guy (seated) and I in the middle.

Below are clickable thumbnails for a couple of other pictures I took that evening:


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I also made a movie this evening, and if you care to watch it, you can use the player at right to do so.

I have also probably mentioned before that Prudence has been feeding and otherwise taking care of two feral cats that habitually visit her patio- Allie and Spot. Allie is still extremely skittish, and won't get near people, but although Spot started out the same way, he is now extremely friendly, and will actually submit to trips to the vet for shots and checkups. Spot likes to be around people; Prudence's guests often comment that when they are on the patio he is usually looking for some attention.

When we were sitting by the waterfall, Spot came down to be nearby, and Fred used my camera to take quite a few pictures of him. Some weren't much good, but I have put clickable thumbnails below you can use to see the ones that were:


 

A Walk Along the New "Mission Reach" Section of the Riverwalk

A transformation is nearing completion along a ten-mile stretch of the San Antonio River south of downtown. Part of that transformation has already been completed. It is called "the Eagleland Project", and consists of a new section of the Riverwalk from the Blue Star Artist Colony south to the flood control outlet station. Now, work is nearing completion on the large section south of that- a project called "Mission Reach."


The Mission Reach Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation Project is transforming an eight mile stretch of the San Antonio River into a quality riparian woodland ecosystem. This unique project restores riverine features and riparian woodlands, reintroduces native plants, enhances aquatic habitat, and reconnects cultural and historical features.

The transformation will change what is now a weedy ditch into a more natural-looking landscape of hiking trails and bike paths, and will tie the city together from the riverís source at Incarnate Word University on the North to Mission Espada, just below Interstate 410 on the South. When completed, a 13-mile linear park will run through San Antonio from north to south. Civic leaders see it as a way of uniting the north side of the city, where almost all of the new development has taken place, with the underutilized and often overlooked south.

The river has always been there. Native Americans camped and hunted along its banks, and Spanish explorers came in 1691, naming it in honor of Saint Anthony. For centuries, the river served as the city's main artery of life and culture. Fifty years ago, a federal flood control project smoothed and straightened the river along the south side, concreted the banks and turned it into a large ditch.

Planning for the overall project began in the late 1990s to improve the river north and south of the existing San Antonio River Walk, a Depression-era project that is now a downtown tourist must-see. Museum Reach, the northern portion of the project, was completed in May 2009. It ties the river from the San Antonio Art Museum to downtown, and has already given birth to a renaissance of the the old Pearl Brewery into a complex of cafes and living spaces. We've walked that section frequently, and in this album you have already seen the section in detail.

A three-mile extension (the Eagleland Project) has now been completed; it runs from the Downtown RiverWalk south past the Blue Star Art complex on Guenther Street to the start of Mission Reach near the old Lone Star Brewery. We have also walked this section before, and, again, you have probably seen our pictures and movies of it already.


"Mission Reach"

Today, we'll be walking along the new Mission Reach section, which has really changed the south San Antonio area through which it runs. But change doesnít come cheap. The tab for the entire project is $384 million, with the Mission Reach portion costing $271 million. There have been delays in funding, and many south side residents thought Mission Reach would be would be another unkept promise. The city and county worked together, however, and funds have been committed to ensure the completion of Mission Reach.

But everyone involved stresses that Mission Reach is not designed to be a mini-RiverWalk or a collection of cafes and bars (population density simply would not support that). It is designed more to highlight recreation and the Missions- and to make the south side a more attractive place to live. Mission Reach will restore the river to a more natural state, by planting native grasses, plants and trees and reclaiming more than 113 acres for aquatic habitat.

Additionally, the project will restore a portion of the river channel near the the four missions- Mission Concepcion, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Mission San Jose and Mission San Francisco de Espada- to re-connect the four historic structures with their agricultural beginnings. The project calls for construction of "portals" at each mission, marked with special stone gateways, that will link directly to the river, making it easier for visitors to reach. For the first time, San Antonio residents with the gumption to do so will be able to walk or bike from downtown to the Missions in a safe, pastoral environment- without having to negotiate city streets and traffic.

 

The Eagleland Section

So Ron, Prudence, Guy, Fred and I are going to begin our Mission Reach walk by parking at the Blue Star artist enclave, and beginning our walk south through the Eagleland section.

Near the artist enclave there is a an overlook, and we all paused so Fred and I could switch out and get pictures of the whole group; you can see these above.


We walked south on the west side of the river, crossing over about halfway through the Eagleland Project to come out by the flood control outlet that marks the beginning of the Mission Reach section. You can see Prudence and I standing near that structure in the picture at left.

The Eagleland Project is not like the Museum Reach section; there are no shops or restaurants (save for Blue Star) and the section goes through an open, wild area, so there is little landscaping- save for the walkways and a couple of river crossings. So the walk is all out in the sunlight. Click on the thumbnails below for some pictures along the Eagleland section:


This brought us to the beginning of the newest section of the Riverwalk System- Mission Reach. At this starting point for the new section, there was an informative sign that was interesting to read. Just click on the link below and I'll pop it up in a scrollable window so you can read it, too:

Read the Sign about Mission Reach

 

The Yturri-Edmunds House and Mill

This whole section was new to all of us. The first stop of interest was the Yturri-Edmunds House and Mill. Here, there was indeed a house and old mill- but a small outdoor chapel and an arbor garden as well.


The Yturri-Edmunds Mill

At this first spot along the river where we stopped, on old house and mill have been standing since the mid-1800s. Manuel Yturri de Castillo received some property here about 1825. After his death, his wife remarried. After her death, her second husband dammed the river and built the mill which still stands today. If you would like to read the sign describing the house and mill, just click on the link below:

Read the Sign about the Yturri-Edmunds House and Mill

Below are clickable thumbnails for some of the pictures we took here:

 

A River Crossing

From the mill, we were on the east side of the river, but about a quarter mile along, the walkway crossed over an interesting "bridge" to the west side.


This "bridge" was actually just a "low water crossing": usually a concrete "dam" with a number of culverts through it. When there is normal river flow, the culverts can carry water under the walkway. In flood, the water simply goes over the walkway (and of course pedestrian crossing is not possible then). Because of the flood control on the San Antonio River, this does not happen often. As you can see, the crossing was decorated with colored stone blocks.

I wanted to get a good picture of everyone, but we had no tripod. Fortunately, as we were standing on the bridge, an Australian on a three-wheeled recumbent bike came by going upriver. He and his companion, who was riding a normal bicycle, were vacationing in the States, and had brought their bikes with them. He was nice enough to use our cameras to get a few pictures of the five of us. His best effort was with Fred's camera, and you can see it here.

We took a few more good pictures of this interesting crossing both as we headed south and then later back north. You can use the clickable thumbnails below to see some of them:


 

Scenery Along Mission Reach

We continued walking south another mile or so, just to see what we could see. There were a few little dams and waterfalls, and some sheltered overlooks where folks can sit and enjoy the outdoors. I also noticed that there were bronze distance markers embedded in the walkway, and underneath some of the rail and car bridges we passed under were pretty mosaics; decorative elements are outstanding all along the Riverwalk System. Below are some clickable thumbnails for a variety of the snapshots that we gathered as we walked down and back along Mission Reach:

 

At Blue Star

We walked for a couple of hours, all told. I think Prudence's ankle was still giving her some discomfort, which is one of the reasons we didn't go any further than we did.


When we got back to Blue Star, we spent a bit of time just wandering around this area of shops, artist studios and little cafes. Developed from a grassroots event in July of 1986, Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum is the first and longest-running venue for contemporary art in San Antonio. The establishment of Blue Star as an exhibition space arose from the need to provide a platform for the work and ideas of local contemporary artists. The development of Blue Star's exhibitions and educational programming has resulted in the social and economic revitalization of the surrounding King William and South Town neighborhoods. There are a number of outdoor art installations, and I have put clickable thumbnails at left for some of the pictures I took of them.

Those are all the pictures for this particular trip to San Antonio. We enjoyed seeing Guy (and planning our trip up to his neck of the woods at the end of May). And, of course, we are always indebted to Ron and Prudence for their hospitality.

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


April 13, 2013: The Dallas Opera at Cowboy Stadium
March 31, 2013: "Dallas Blooms!" at the Dallas Arboretum
Return to the Index for 2013