March 15-31, 2014: Our Spring Trip to Florida
December 27, 2013 - January 11, 2014: Our New Year's Trip to Florida
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January 13-16, 2014
A Visit to Ruckman Haus


This month, Prudence had asked our friend Guy to come down from South Dakota for a visit, and that visit coincided with our return from Florida to Dallas, so after coordinating with Prudence, we decided to return home via San Antonio. We had Zack with us, and Prudence was nice enough to let us keep him in our room during our visit.

We started back to Dallas on January 11th, following our usual route home. This takes us up I-95 towards Jacksonville, which we reach just after lunch. We take the bypass, I-295, that circles around southwest of town, going through Orange Park and across a very photogenic bridge over the St. Johns river. This takes us up to I-10 where we head west. Now it is 300-mile, fairly boring drive until you pass north of Pensacola and finally out of Florida. We usually hit this spot between six and seven in the evening, coming across the bridge and through the tunnel under Mobile Bay about that time. Then it's an hour to Mississippi and another hour to Louisiana. We usually stop for dinner in Slidell, just a mile or so inside Louisiana on I-10. Then we go back one exit to pick up I-12 straight west to Baton Rouge. (There is no need to dip down through New Orleans.) I-12 is one of the few Interstate highways in the country that I have driven end-to-end, and certainly the one where we do so six or eight times a year. I-12 ends when it meets back up with I-10 at Baton Rouge. From there it is another 50 miles to Layfayette, a stretch that takes us across a 20-mile bridge across the Atachafalaya delta.

We stayed overnight at our usual spot in Lafayette, LA, at a motel that is pet-friendly. The next morning, it is back on I-10 heading towards Lake Charles and the Texas border. From there, I-10 takes us over to Houston, and through the complex web of expressways and toll roads that takes us around the east and north sides of downtown. Not a drive for the inexperienced or faint of heart! After a lot of twists and turns, I-10 heads west out of the Houston metroplex and on to San Antonio- another three hours or so.

At San Antonio, we head north on I-410, the loop expressway, but go south again on I-35, at which point we are back on more familiar turf, as this is the route we take from Dallas. We exit I-35 at San Pedro, and take San Pedro north towards Ruckman Haus.

Ruckman Haus is about a mile up San Pedro and one block to its west, on West French Place, right at the corner of French and Breeden.

We usually just pull up in front, since we never know how many guests the Ruckmans might have.

Ruckman Haus

Prudence, Ron and Guy were all there to greet us as we got settled and got Zack up to the Luxembourg Room, where we usually stay. We had a nice three-day visit, so I will just record here some of the things we did with Prudence, Ron and Guy.


Around Ruckman Haus

Of course we always spend a fair amount of time around the bed and breakfast itself. Ron does his usual wonderful breakfasts (in the dining room, where Prudence usually has a different floral centerpiece, and there is always the patio to sit out on, their outdoor cat Spot to visit with, their dog Jax to pay attention to, and so on.

Fred wanted to take some pictures of the Ruckman's apartment over the garage, so we did that one afternoon. We headed over there to the outside stairway up to the apartment. Inside, one sees immediate the short flight of stairs up to the loft.

The Ruckmans do most of their day-to-day living in the cathedral-ceilinged room in the middle of the apartment. At one side of the room is the kitchen, and on one wall is the flat screen television that Ron spends a great deal of time watching, and doors to both the bedroom and the bath, as well as multiple French doors out onto the balcony.

Fred took a number of pictures on the balcony and in this large room, and you can click on the thumbnail images below to have a look at them:

On the Balcony

The Apartment Living Room

Ron has every cable channel known to man as part of his package- more stuff than he can possibly watch. But I've been able to find for him a number of movies and TV shows that he sometimes misses, and I put them on a USB thumb drive, since his TV had a slot for one. But I found out that the TV will only show photos and pictures, so I got him one of the same Sony players I have that will play videos from a flash drive, so he is all set up for that, too.


Zack at Ruckman Haus

We kept Zack in our room for the most part, but since Prudence only had one guest, she allowed us to take Zack out of the room for a time and let him roam around.

One thing we did was to show Prudence how Zack goes outdoors on his leash, and Fred took him out into the East Garden a couple of times. At one of those times, I got the picture at left.

We also let Zack roam around a bit indoors (always with one of us close by to keep him from places he shouldn't go). I think he enjoyed the bit of exploring he got to do, and I think Prudence enjoyed seeing a cat in the house- at least for a while. (Spot stays outside on the patio. While his meetings with Zack went OK, we didn't get the impression that in the short time Zack was here that he and Spot became fast friends.) Click on the thumbnail images below to see some of the pictures I took of Zack inside Ruckman Haus:


Walking the Museum Reach Section of the Riverwalk

One afternoon, the five of us went over to take a walk along the relatively new northern park of the San Antonio Riverwalk System. The stretch between downtown and the Pearl Brewery complex is called Museum Reach, for the Riverwalk will eventually extend as far as the Witte Museum.

Today, we parked at the Pearl Brewery and walked all the way down to the Indigo Hotel on the north side of downtown. I have created an aerial strip view of this section of the Riverwalk, with many of our stops marked, and have put it in the scrollable window below. We were actually walking north to south, but I have turned the strip view so that north is at the left. (Also, to make the view fit a bit better, I have straightened out one place where there is a major bend in the river.)

It was a beautiful afternoon, nice and cool, and very typical of a San Antonio "winter."

Just South of the Pearl Brewery

From the Pearl Brewery parking area, we walked down the steps to the Riverwalk proper. At this point in the Riverwalk, a great deal of time and money have been expended to create an urban oasis. There are artificial waterfalls, islands and other water features, along with walkways on both sides of the river and plenty of seating for folks who just want to enjoy the scene. Click on the thumbnails below to see the pictures that Fred took here at the beginning of our walk:

About a half mile south along the Riverwalk, the creators of the space built an area known as the Grotto on the west side of the river. It is an artificial cave, with a little waterfall and places to explore. I guess it's for kids, but well enough done that adults can enjoy it too.

Further down the Riverwalk, there is an art installation underneath the I-35 bridge. It is called F.I.S.H. and it is by a local San Antonio artist Donald Lipski. It consists of some 25 multicolored Fiberglass fish of varying sizes that hang down from the bridge span. They are lighted at night, but are pretty in the daytime as well. You can click on the thumbnail images below to see what they look like:

Another stop we made was south of the I-35 bridge in an area that was designed to give waterfowl places to gather, with little artificial concrete islands and a kind of natural shoreline. There were quite a few birds of different kinds there today, and Fred took pictures of some of them. Click on the thumbnail images below to have a look:

About a half mile north of downtown one comes to a set of locks on the San Antonio River.

A River Barge in the Locks

These locks serve to keep the level of the San Antonio River even all the way through the downtown section of the River Walk. Like any river, the San Antonio River actually flows downhill; there is something like a 15-foot drop between the Pearl Brewery and the beginning of Mission Reach south of downtown. The construction of the downtown section, with all of its restaurants, the circular section that goes by Riverfront Center, and the various walkways and bridges require that the river be essentially level throughout this section, and also require that the "flow" of the river be minimized.

The locks here achieve the first purpose, and are used so the river barges can go up to the north end of the River Walk along a level course. The boat you see in the locks in the picture at left will be lowered or raised those fifteen feet at this one point. Just like the Panama Canal, but much, much smaller.

Fred took a picture of Prudence and myself at the locks. The view looks towards downtown. He also took a picture of one of the many decorative elements that have been installed all along this section of the River Walk.

Well, we continued to walk down the River Walk until we came to the plaza by the Indigo Hotel, which is on the west side of the river. We went over to the hotel to have a snack on the outdoor patio (and so Ron could smoke a cigar).

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On the Patio at the Indigo Hotel

We went inside to the bar to get some snacks and some wine and stuff, and then took it out to one of the tables on the patio, where we sat around for a while snacking and chatting. I made a movie while we were here, and you can watch it with the player at left.

Fred and I also took a few pictures while we were here, and you can click on the thumbnail images below to have a look at them:

As it was getting to very late afternoon, we headed back up the River Walk to where we parked at the Pearl Brewery, and when we got there, Fred got one more picture of Prudence and me in the fading afternoon light. Our walk along the river was the last major thing we did that involved picture-taking on this trip down to San Antonio, but we stayed until Thursday before heading home.


Back to Dallas

We got back into Dallas late on Thursday afternoon, and the sun had just about disappeared. Nevertheless, Fred got some nice pictures of downtown Dallas as we came in from the south; some of these images are below:

It was a good trip to Florida, made all the better with our stop in San Antonio.

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

March 15-31, 2014: Our Spring Trip to Florida
December 27, 2013 - January 11, 2014: Our New Year's Trip to Florida
Return to the Index for 2014