Day Thirty Seven – Monday, September 26, 2016


Welcome to our first full day in San Antonio, Texas.  We woke this morning in our suite at the Homewood Suites on The Riverwalk to a cloudy and rainy day.  After getting ready, we went downstairs for a wonderful, full and enjoyable buffet breakfast.  The best of our trip so far, and perhaps a reason to stay at Homewood Suites!  The weather forecast showed for improving weather, but looks like we’ll have to wait till tomorrow for sun.  One thing we didn’t have to wait for was humidity!  Welcome back to the kind of sticky weather we had most of the summer in the New York/New Jersey area!  When we left the hotel this morning, the temperature was in the low 70s, but the humidity was up in the high 80% range!  A real change from the very low humidity we’ve experienced for weeks. Frankly, it’s been so long since we’ve felt like this, we can’t remember!  Don’t imagine it will get any better when we get to the Texas Gulf Coast, or into the Caribbean Sea during our cruise!

The view from our room this morning

We walked over to the historic Menger Hotel, where we picked up our San Antonio tour tickets.  Just across the street from the Alamo, the Menger Hotel was built in 1859 (just a bit more than 20 years after the famous Alamo Battle) and the famous Menger Hotel Bar was the place that Theodore Roosevelt recruited his famous Rough Riders calvary brigade!

Once we got the tickets, we headed over to the tour bus, and low and behold, it was obviously planned for us so that we couldn’t miss it!


Along the tour we passed the Oldest VFW Post in America (from Veterans of the Spanish/American Bar).


We also heard about the Scottish Rite Cathedral

And we passed the Emily Morgan Hotel.  We had no idea who Emily Morgan was, but were told that according to legend, she was captured by the Mexican Calvary in 1836, and was forced to travel with the troops of General Santa Anna.  On April 21 of that year, Santa Anna’s forces were defeated by an Army led by Sam Houston at the Battle of Jacinto in 18 minutes.  Supposedly, Santa Anna was unprepared because he was having sex with Emily!  It was also suggested that she may have been the inspiration for the song, The Yellow Rose of Texas, but historians think both suggestions are more story than history.  She had no involvement with the hotel, but it’s a good story, you must agree.

We also passed a number of old theaters, that after closing, because of changing tastes in the mid 20th Century, were resurrected by residents as performance spaces.  The Majestic, the Aztec, and the Empire are busy places, and in the sense of full disclosure, the person performing at the Empire is no relation to us, although he is from New Jersey!

The bus tour also passed the Esquire, where we ate dinner last night,


and this place.  Have no idea of it’s name, but the guide told us it was originally a convent (see the cross) but is now a bar!


Then it was time to explore the Alamo.  It seems that a lot of people have been somewhat disappointed by the Alamo, as it seems a lot smaller than most of us imagine.  I already knew that the John Wayne movie of the same name, was not filmed at the real Alamo, but rather a replica that was indeed bigger than the original (found this out reading a John Wayne bio), but I have to put myself in the disappointed category.  Not sure if it was because it was smaller than I thought, or because it was not in a setting that I imagined.  Having seen it in many movies, books, etc in a certain setting, it was odd to see it in the middle of a city!  San Antonio is, after all, the third largest city in Texas, and the area surrounding the Alamo was a city, with restaurants, shops, and tourist destinations.  I guess my expectations were not realistic!

After visiting the Alamo, we went over to the Shops at River Center, to see the IMAX movie, Alamo, The Price of Freedom!


As luck would have it, we’d just missed the start of the 1 PM showing, and we had to wait till 2 PM.  Again, as luck would have it, there happened to be a Margaritaville Cafe on the River Walk in the same mall.  Guess where we ended up killing 45 minutes??  A couple of “Boat Drinks” (two 5 O’Clock Somewheres, followed by two Bahama Mamas) with Gabe the bartender, surrounded by our friend Mr. Buffet and his music, and time passed very quickly!

San Antonio seems a little empty to us, and the IMAX Theater was no different, as we were two of just 5 folks that watched the Alamo movie.  It was a very good 45 minute telling of what happened at the Alamo during the February 23rd to March 6th period of 1836, and we enjoyed it.  Just an FYI…although we were sitting just a block or so from the real Alamo, this movie was also, I believe, filmed at the same location that the John Wayne movie was shot.

We walked around the Alamo Plaza a little bit more after the movie, but the humidity had gotten to us, and we decided to walk back to our hotel and crash for a bit, with a couple of rum and cokes, in the air conditioning.

Tonight we headed downstairs about 5:30 for the Manager’s Complimentary Social (free drinks and snacks). We had a couple of glasses of white wine, and a nice conversation with a man from Kentucky and a lady from Trinidad.  One of the nice thing about the Homewood Suites is the evening social, and the ability to meet and enjoy people from different places!


At about 6:45, we headed next door to the Westin Hotel, and the Italian restaurant,  Zocca Cuisine D’Italia, where we had a 7 PM reservation.  We had a lovely dinner, with a bottle of bubbly, a couple of great apps (sorry, we ate them before the pictures), two great pasta entrees, and dessert!

On the way home, we had a lovely walk along the River Walk back to the Homewood Suites.  It is probably the nicest it’s been all day, and we enjoyed the walk, the sights we saw, and just being out and about!



Our Bedroom Window, overlooking the River Walk

Tomorrow, day two in San Antonio, and the weather forecast calls for partly cloudy skies, and a high of 79.  Let’s hope the humidity isn’t as high, but I wouldn’t count on it!  Have a good night, see you tomorrow!

Day Thirty Six – Sunday, September 25, 2016


Here we are, day 4 in Texas, and it already feels like home!  Now, if we can only get resident status for tax purposes, we will be in great shape!

We started the morning in Fort Stockton, at the Best Western and our objective for the night was the Homewood Suites in San Antonio.  The day started cloudy and overcast, as we filled the car up with gas, and continued our eastward journey on Interstate 10.  I have to say one thing before going on, about Texas Interstates.  What the hell do they make the surface out of???  My God, they are the noisiest roads we have ever driven on!  The radio is up a notch or two, we have to practically yell at each other to be heard, and it constantly feels like you are driving on road that is being prepped for repaving!  Okay, moving on…. more thing, Bed Heights.  Over the past 35 days, we have slept in dozens of hotels, and sampled lots of King Sized beds.  There seems to be a trend that the bed height is above what we use to consider a standard height bed.  I don’t know if it’s the mattress, the box spring, the frame, or all three, but some of the beds are so tall that you literally could use a step stool to get in.  Last night at the Best Western, the beds were so tall that the only way we could get in was to throw ourselves up and in.  God forbid if you roll out of one of these beds!  Now, we really move on!

The theme of the early part of our trip today on Interstate 10 was ENERGY.  We passed fields with hundreds of electrical generating windmills, oil wells pumping away on the side of the road, and high tension wires, I guess carrying that wind generated electrical energy to the cities.  An interesting mix.

The theme for the rest of the day was rain.  It started as a drizzle, went to a slow steady rain, and then the sky opened and it poured!  The combination of the rough pavement, the trucks (of which there were many), the wind, and the teaming rain just made for a wonderful drive!  In fact, at one point when I was driving, Susie had me get off at an exit in the middle of nowhere, just so we could wait it out a bit.  Our wait was long as the rain didn’t let up, but became heavier before abating a bit. We tried to check the radar, but we were of course in a 1X service area!   It was a lot of fun changing drivers in the downpour.  Shower taken for the day!


Eventually the rain did let up for a bit, and it even almost stopped for a while, but just before we got to San Antonio, up it started again.  This time, it was joined with lightning and thunder!  Oh joy!  When we got to the hotel, and drove into the garage, the young attendant told me that they only did valet, and that it would be $27 a day.  I told him I’d gladly pay twice that, not to have to drive anymore in the rain!!


As I said before, we are in the Homewood Suites on the Riverwalk, and it’s a very nice hotel.  It’s obviously not a new building, and after checking in, I found out that the hotel was built by converting the Historic San Antonio Drug Company Building.  The building is on the National Directory of Historic Places and the conversion was done with great care to preserve the original design of the building, including keeping the original windows.  This is the first time we are staying in a Homewood Suites, and we are very impressed by our king bed suite, and the whole hotel.  We look out on the river, and all the amenities seem to be top shelf!

Speaking of top shelf, after having a stiff drink, we started looking for a place for dinner, and found that the Esquire Tavern was just a block or so away.  The Esquire is billed as the oldest bar on the Riverwalk, having opened in 1933.  The walk only took a couple of minutes, so we made it there getting only slightly wet.  We started our dinner with two Moscow Mules, a drink we were introduced to by our friend Dennis, the bartender at the St. James Restaurant in Mineola.  These came in the traditional copper mug, and were a great way to start off dinner.  Fried pickles, a couple of great burgers, and a couple of more mules, and we were in shape to take on the night!


Tomorrow is forecast to be cloudy with occasional rain.  Let’s hope they’re wrong, as we’d like it to be dry, if not sunny, as we explore San Antonio.  We will be here for 3 nights, so we have 2 full days to explore, and there is lots we want to see!

As they say, Remember the Alamo!

PS…Let’s Go Mets!!!!