Decision Time, Part I

We headed back to San Antonio over Spring Break to make a final decision on whether or not to move there, and hopefully to find a neighborhood we liked. This time the weather cooperated with our efforts – highs in the 70s and just enough clouds to keep things balmy.

We fell in love with the Riverwalk on our last visit, so that’s where we spent our first day. We left the car at the Pearl Brewery, which is as close as we could get to the Alamo from the north side without paying for parking.

Just as the City of Austin Power Plant is no longer a power plant, the Pearl Brewery is no longer a brewery. The lovely old buildings have been repurposed into shops, restaurants, hotels and apartments.


Some structures have kept their original names: the Can Plant is now resident apartments, the Bottling Department is a food hall. The stable that once housed horses to pull the beer wagons is now an upscale venue for formal events:


There are still rails in the ground in places, though they’re no longer in use.


The San Antonio river was the old brewery’s source of fresh water, so the Pearl sits right on its bank. This is where the Riverwalk begins, though the river itself continues upstream for another four miles to its spring-fed origins.

A river shuttle carries passengers back and forth between the Pearl and the downstream end of the Riverwalk, about five miles each way.

Our plan was to walk the river at least as far as Hemisfair Park and explore whatever caught our interest along the way, then catch a Rio Shuttle back to the Pearl when we were ready to call it a night.

I love the art installations along the river. The first one we came to was “The Grotto,” a cave-like formation that also serves as access to the the Riverwalk from street level via the mouth of a stone jaguar.

Next we came to the school of glass fish that hangs beneath the I-35 overpass.

At night each fish is illuminated from within. Absolutely gorgeous.

On the grounds of the Museum of Art, a mariachi band was performing for a family party.

Hispanic culture is deep in this city’s roots. San Antonio was founded in 1718 as a Spanish mission, 58 years before the American colonies drafted their Declaration of Independence and 127 years before Texas first joined the United States. This is an old, old city by American standards.

We reached the boat locks and dam just as one of the rio shuttles arrived, so we stopped to watch it go through.

In at the top, out at the bottom.

Stairway portals, architectural flourishes and lush landscaping provide visual interest along the route.

Local directories are posted at regular intervals. When we passed near the Central Library, we headed up to check it out.

San Antonio’s Central Library is an interesting mix of colorful and industrial, artistic and utilitarian.

Luke found an ample selection of books in his interest range (mostly politics and history), but he deemed the ambiance to be uninviting almost to the point of oppressiveness. I reminded him that even in Fort Worth the big central library has security guards posted on every floor, but I did see his point. This is not really a cozy library.

We returned to the Riverwalk and continued on. We had planned to tour the Alamo, but the whole area was packed with tourists visiting for Spring Break and we didn’t feel like standing in line for an hour.

We walked around the Alamo grounds for a bit and then continued on to Hemisfair Park and the Tower of the Americas.

The Tower was built for the 1968 World’s Fair. It is 750 feet high and provides a commanding 360-degree view of the city from observation decks at the top.

The views are expansive, but my emotional reaction bordered on claustrophobia. This city just goes on forever in all directions.

13-year-old me would have delighted at the idea of living in that close-packed warren of humanity, but 48-year-old me wants easy access to wild green spaces and a sunny yard for a kitchen garden. Even the city parks seem few and far between here.

I had to remind myself that we just needed to find the right neighborhood, and then the urban sprawl wouldn’t feel closed-in. As Fortune Red once wisely told me,”It’s the company what makes the feast.”  And even from the heart of San Antonio, the wild spaces around the edges are an easy half-hour drive away.

We had timed our visit to the Tower to coincide with sunset, because I had wanted to see the city in daylight and Luke had wanted to see it at night. We got through the lines a bit earlier than we had expected, so after I got my daylight views we came back down and killed some time in the park. There is a nice play area there with lots of climby stuff.

When the sun set, we returned to the Tower for Luke’s nighttime view.

The city really does go on forever in all directions.

When we had seen our fill, we returned to the Riverwalk.

We were ready to catch a rio shuttle back to the Pearl, but alas, we just missed the last boat. We decided to walk back to the car on surface streets to shave off some distance. But we wanted to see the illuminated fish, so we cut back to the Riverwalk just before the I-35 underpass.

The fish are gorgeous at night, but challenging to photograph well. I really need to spend some time learning how to get clear, distortion-free photos of bright objects at night. These images don’t do the scene justice.

We got back to the car, checked into a nearby hotel, had a quick meal of sandwiches that we’d brought with us and then went to sleep.

Day One verdict: the Riverwalk and Downtown are as beautiful as we remembered, but the idea of living in such a densely populated area is mildly intimidating. The suburbs are a strong option.

To be continued!

Categories: A Plethora of Parks, Artwork, Family, Holidays, kids, Life, Music, Road trip, Travel, Uncategorized, Weather | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merry Christmas!

The secret to getting hand-drawn Christmas cards designed, assembled and mailed out on time when you work in retail is to start them around June and have them finished and ready to mail by Thanksgiving. I think I need to start doing my gift shopping/making that way too.

Merry Christmas!

Categories: Animals, Artwork, Celebrations, Christmas, Holidays, Life, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Winter | Leave a comment

Spring Break, Part I

My blog hibernates during DFW winters. There’s not much here that inspires me to reach for my camera during the bleak gray months, although I did get a few nice shots this year at the place where I board Mahogany.




I’ve been less and less satisfied with the performance of my aging camera, so I finally picked up a new one earlier this month. The dreary winter landscapes didn’t offer much worth aiming it at until Elizabeth’s bff flew out from California to spend spring break with us. She arrived on a Saturday night and left a week later on a Saturday morning: a week of gorgeous spring weather bookended by chilly drizzles. I had Tuesday and Thursday off work that week, so we crammed all of the sightseeing we could manage into those two days.

Our Tuesday morning began at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. I’m still getting the hang of my new camera; my old one excelled at outdoor shots and struggled in indoor settings, while the new one seems to do just the opposite. I do love the way the new one captures the luminous quality of sunlight.





The weather couldn’t have been nicer. Mid-80s and sunny, with a light breeze that smelled like spring.


Love the giant Texas bluebonnet.


Of course the Japanese Garden was the highlight of the day.






Hopeful koi are hopeful.





After the Botanic Gardens, we headed downtown to the Water Gardens.







And from there we went to the Stockyards.




Don’t tease the mechanical horses!


Saunders Park is still my favorite little hidden gem of the area.





All in all, a fun day!


Next: Thursday in Arlington.

Categories: A Plethora of Parks, Birthdays, environment, Family, food, Friends, Horses, kids, Life, Love, trail rides, trees, Uncategorized, Weather, Wildlife, Winter | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Friendly Reminder

I’ve always kept politics off my blog, but this year I feel strongly enough about our options and their potential consequences to break that rule.

The primary elections are underway. It is so important that you get out and vote. Yes, you. Find out when and where to vote in your state, and go make your voice heard.


I stand with Bernie Sanders. If you don’t know why, I urge you to learn about him and what he stands for. Here is a great article to get you started.

You can learn more about his policies at his website.

If you live in a Super Tuesday state, tomorrow is your big day. Don’t miss your chance to make a difference.

Let’s do this!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

City Gardens

No school today, so the kids and I decided to visit the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. It’s the first time we’ve ventured back into downtown Fort Worth since Luke’s birthday trip to the Science Museum, mostly because I am intimidated by the DFW freeway system.

When I first moved here I said that if I ever mastered these freeways I would never fear any kind of city driving ever again. Now, seven weeks later, it’s more accurate to say that I’ve gotten really good at NOT using the freeways. I know all the ways to get where I need to go without ever touching an onramp. It’s sheer cowardice, but I’m okay with that.

It wouldn’t be so bad it you could just hop onto a freeway and get to where you want to be. But there are SO MANY freeways, and they come together and merge and entwine and separate like a series of snake orgies. One moment of inattention or confusion and you’re shunted off in the wrong direction on an unfamiliar roadway. The Fort Worth Botanic Garden is less than 20 miles from where we live, and to get there we had to navigate these four interchanges (it would have been five but I bypassed the first one):





I come from a town with one highway and no stoplights. Even driving to LA or San Diego was a fairly straightforward (albeit slow and crowded) business. This snarl of Metroplex freeways is alien to me.

But today we girded our loins and headed back into the heart of the city. And it was totally worth it, because the Botanic Gardens are amazing.



If you ever visit the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens and you wonder whether it’s worth paying extra to see the Japanese Garden, the answer is yes.



Yes it is.



All of the gardens are beautiful, but the Japanese Garden is stunning.



There are koi food dispensers along the paths, and whenever you get near the water a galloping horde of hopeful koi appears.



The Japanese Garden was our favorite, but all of the gardens are worth visiting.


I found this near the Conservatory. I think it’s a pretty good arboreal representation of the DFW freeway system:


When we had seen everything there is to see at the Botanic Gardens we still had a good chunk of afternoon left, so we decided to go check out the Water Gardens.


The Water Gardens are kind of surreal. They’re designed to resemble a wilderness of canyons, mountains, lakes and rivers, represented in stark, geometric lines.



The active pool is energetic and exciting.



The quiet pool evokes a sense of standing in a wooded canyon near a serene lake.


The aerated pool was the least interesting to us. I get what they were going for, but it didn’t really speak to us like the others did.


Got mildly lost on the way home, trying to navigate my Apple Maps directions in reverse. By then I was in too good a mood to be bothered by it, though. Eventually I will master these freeways, because the alternative is missing out on too many of the incredible things that the Metroplex has to offer.

I freaking love this place.

Categories: environment, Family, Gardening, Humor, kids, Life, Travel, Uncategorized, Wildlife | Tags: , | 3 Comments

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