When we arrived in San Antonio, Texas on May 19, 2015, the temperature was wavering between 102 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. We were sweaty but the sun felt good after spending hours in the car. Our first stop was at one of the, if not the, most historical parts of the City of Saint Anthony – The Alamo.
The fortress now known for it’s significant role in the Battle of the Alamo was built 1718 in the middle of a cottonwood grove and was originally supposed to serve as a Roman Catholic Franciscan mission. It was later abandoned and then reoccupied by Spanish troops sometime in the early 1800s. We have these Spanish troops to thank for the name of the Alamo; “alamo” is the Spanish word for cottonwood.
The actual Battle of the Alamo didn’t begin until February 23, 1836 and only lasted for 13 days. The purpose of the battle was for the American rebels to win Texan independence from Mexico. But because it was roughly 180 American rebels against about 4000 Mexican soldiers, it’s not completely unbelievable that the American troops didn’t do so hot.
However, this battle was important because it acted as a distraction to give General Sam Houston time to build up his army San Jacinto. The soldiers stationed here were inspired by the bravery of the rebels at the Alamo and used this inspiration as fuel to defeat Santa Anna’s army and win Texan independence on April 21, 1836.
One last neat tidbit about the Alamo… Within the walls of The Alamo memorial site is a large tree that is nearly 150 years old. This tree caught my eye on the way out because I’d always pictured myself getting married under a huge tree just like this one. I only found out later the interesting history behind this crazy big tree.
You might be thinking, “WOW, the things this tree must’ve seen during the Battle of the Alamo!” Turns out, this tree is the first tree to ever be transplanted successfully. By transplanted, I mean taken out of the ground in one place without disturbing the roots and replanted somewhere else where it continues to live in thrive. So, it didn’t actually see the Battle of the Alamo up close in personal.
What’s neat about this tree, though, is that it’s called a Live Oak. Live Oaks have some of the most dense wood of any tree in the entire world weighing in at around 76 pounds per square foot. That’s a lot of weight to hold up and this is precisely why the branches droop to the ground.
Okay, the history lesson is over! After our enlightening trip through the Alamo, we hit the River Walk, one of San Antonio’s most prized social gathering spots, for some margaritas and authentic Mexican food.
If you’re going to go one place in Texas, I wouldn’t think twice about recommending the River Walk. At the most basic level, the San Antonio River Walk is a network of water channels a story below the streets of San Antonio. Along these waterways are lines of shops, bars, restaurants and public art installations.
The establishment of the River Walk was not intentional. The idea came about after a network of waterways was installed after a flood devastated the city in 1921. Many
different plan ideas were submitted to develop the channels a bit more, including a plan to turn it into a paved sewer. Luckily, that plan was rejected and replaced in 1929 with Robert Hugman’s plan for what is now the River Walk.
Tourists are able to take boat tours through the River Walk water channels, which are about 2.5 miles in total. They’re also encouraged to eat, drink and be merry but are cautioned to keep their wits about them as there are no railings separating the sidewalks and the waterways. However, this doesn’t stop people from falling in; it’s said by those giving the boat tours that, on average, at least one person falls into the water a day.
After our (very hot) day in San Antonio, we crammed back in the car to head further west. But we would be doing Texas a serious injustice if we left the state without eating some barbecue.
Rudy’s Bar-B-Q was originally established as an all-in-one gas station, garage, and grocery store in the 1800s by Rudolph Aue. Bar-B-Q was added into the mix in 1989 and launched a state-wide frenzy for this tasty in-house smoked meats and homemade sides.
What cracks me up about this place is that you don’t just order a sandwich and a side of coleslaw – you order meat and sides by the quarter pound and bread by the loaf. Then, it’s all plopped down in the milk cartoon carrier for you to mix and match for yourself. Granted, the whole experience was a bit messy but it was the best damn bar-b-q I’ve ever had. Not only is the food good, but so are the prices. So, if you’re looking for something quick, hearty, and relatively cheap, stop by Rudy’s in Leon Springs, just north of San Antonio.