Posts Tagged ‘San Antonio’

Hidden superpowers.

May 1, 2017

When I decided to steal my girlies for a roadtrip, part of me wondered how much of a good idea it would be. Granted, Gracie decided to stay home instead of going with, but even with just half of my dynamic duo, was a five-hour road trip so soon after their trip to Houston (and Galveston) really a smart idea? Could they handle another mega-car ride so soon after the first?

Turns out, my Bee-girl has a hidden superpower or two that she didn’t tell me about. And turnpikin’ is one of ’em.

SATe

After a tasty, tasty pancake-and-egg breakfast, the three of us girls hit the road, armed with mix CDs, fully charged phones, half-baked directions, and all manner of stories we needed to catch up on. And even though we ran into a minor delay at a PlaceThatShallNotBeDiscussed because of a CrisisThatShallNotBeHintedAt, we still made incredibly good time, racing into the city well before rush hour.

And that was including the 30-minute lunch break we took to introduce Auntie Kim to Buc-ee’s, the world’s largest rest stops. I really wish I had’ve had my camera ready for that, you guys. Her. face. Priceless! I understand; we have gas stations smaller than the restrooms alone. The place is just massive. But so clean and rather addictive, and conveniently halfway between our house and the party hotel. Even with our pit stop, we still rolled into San Antonio early enough for dinner and some shenanigans…

Mostly we walked along the Riverwalk, scoping out places to eat and get an early cocktail. We checked out some local curiosities and stopped in a gift shop or two to peruse. We may have found Auntie Rhi (avert your eyes!) a Sully puppet, but couldn’t find a matching Dr. Quinn. Alas…

I love seeing all of the hidey-holes and different shops and museums around the Riverwalk. Some people might find it kitschy, but I love never knowing exactly what you’ll find around the next corner. Because it was Fiesta, for us it mean there was usually a parade around every corner, several times a day, complicating even matters as mundane as crossing the street. Didn’t get to Bee-girl at all, though – nothing got to her! Except maybe when we told her to go pretend to kiss the bull that just happened to be standing at the side of the road…

We finally had to show her how!

Not a bad first evening, even though we called it an early night. Kim had meetings to prepare for, and Bee and I had been go-go-going all week getting ready. A slam! game of War and half of Bee’s Easter candy while we watched mindless TV was the perfect end to what should have been a draining first day – and was, unless you were a certain 10-year-old with superpowers to brush off even the most grueling of five-hour treks across state!

 

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In which all the shenanigans are afoot.

April 25, 2017

It would be a good, good week if it wasn’t so unnaturally quiet. The girls are off on a mini-vacation. Their stepmom had plans to visit her sister this past weekend in Houston, and since they were going to be in the area, Stepmom and the Ex asked if they could hold the girls out of school a few days so they could spend a few days in Galveston. They rented a condo and have gone on dolphin tours, held sandcastle competitions, and scored sunburns so bad I’m not even excited anymore that they’re going to peel. (Because: ouch!)

I miss my girls terribly, but that means I’ve had time to do some planning of my own. Because the girls will be home for one day tomorrow – a teeny, tiny day in which Gracie turns thirteen (!), and I become a mom to a teenager (!!) – and then we snag Auntie Kim from the airport and she and Bee-girl and I zoom down to San Antonio for another mini-vacation! See? SHENANIGANS!

Kim is delivering a presentation at a conference, and so the plan was for me to make the five-hour drive, steal one of the extra beds, goof off with Kim, and drive back, all refreshed. Corrie was going to come with, which would be handy when dealing with all of the driving directions (I still haven’t gotten my glasses fixed), and also the tedium of a five-hour drive, but she’s out of town on two separate week-long work trips this month, and she’d rather not get kicked out of her house. So rather last minute, Kim and I arrived at – what if the girls came?

It’s terrible timing. Missing almost a week of school? Unheard of! We don’t do that! But, as my Ex put it: it’s not every day your daughter turns 13! And I’m not going to have many opportunities for a “free” vacation. Bee could bunk with me in my bed, and we could grab a cot for Gracie. It’d work out great! Also, Gracie’s an excellent navigator! So I took a deep breath and checked with their dad to see if he’d wig out if I pulled them from school and got the green light. Only one problem: Gracie didn’t wanna go.

See, she’s a regional finalist for the Big Idea competition. She proposed a health-based community center/retail shop for diabetics – one stop shopping where they could buy groceries, get recipes, get a check-up, work out with the supervision of health professionals, and find a “village” of other people with the same health issues. Because Gracie’s the oldest, and because she was only 4 years old when her dad and I separated, she’s known for a long time about what living with diabetes means. I used to drill her about what to do if she and Bee were alone with their dad and he had a hypoglycemic seizure or he wouldn’t wake up or was acting confused. She’s channeled all of that into an interesting health center – she even thought about adding “halfway housing” for people who were recently diagnosed with Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes and needed help adjusting to a drastically new lifestyle. We won’t know whose idea wins the grand prize until the awards ceremony – which is early afternoon on Saturday. And even if I could convince the district to tell me if I shouldn’t move heaven and earth to get her there, Gracie said she wanted to go either way. “It’d be a great experience!” she said. I hate when my daughter is more responsible than me.

So Gracie is staying with her dad, and Bee and I will be adventuring to San Antonio. I’ll get some one-on-one time with Bee-girl, and still have a navigator for the ride home. (This will be a big test for Bee-girl. She’s a little flighty; I hope it works out with us home safe and sound and not by way of Louisiana.) Bee is wicked excited! Kim’s colleague told us about a wicked candy shop that’s near our hotel, and Kim discovered our hotel has a heated pool on the roof. And somewhere in my texting all of that to Bee, she thought the pool was on the roof of the candy store and possibly that Kim’s conferences were in Hogsmeade?

It shall be a grand adventure, even without the literal magic. And who knows – with Bee helping me find my way back home, we might end up in the magical back alleys of England. Who knows what shenanigans we’ll fall into with that one in charge!

Boat tours and remembering the Alamo.

April 13, 2016

We squeezed sooo much fun into Saturday. We ate and ate and ate – but I think that’s a different post entirely! We also jumped on a riverboat tour early Saturday morning (before it got crazy crowded) and enjoyed the  perfect weather as we cruised along. I wish I had taken more pictures, but some – like all of the gorgeous bridges – were hard to get into the shot. Some – like the beautiful cathedrals – were hidden behind buildings at street level. And other points of interest were obscured behind all of the lush greenery.

Riverwalk3I think that was my favorite part about the Riverwalk – how green and lush and flowery everything was! It was gorgeous!

Like, look at this stairwell. A lot of the curved stairwells leading up to restaurants or shops were decorated like this. Some of the bridge stairs were boring and barren, but most were covered with more green. Spring is definitely a good time to visit!

Even street level was covered with gardens! You had to squeeze between the planters and the river – which made me very nervous! Gracie would not be allowed to walk on the river-side if she were with us! (Although the water is “only” four feet deep.)

There was a little open air amphitheater just a few buildings down from us, right on the riverwalk. I remember how close it was because it gated off our side of the path, with a sign reading “Bands only”, which meant we had to cross over the ancient stone bridge every time we wanted to walk in that direction. I have never more wanted to be in a band.

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The theater is part of La Villita, which has shops and restaurants. It used to be one of the five missions of San Antonio, and uses some of the old buildings. The five bells above the stage represent the five missions (god, it sounds like the Five Families, doesn’t it?), the middle bell representing the biggest mission, the Alamo.

Riverwalk2There were a lot of brick buildings around. Some were old warehouses, some were administrative buildings. Many were old, very old, but some were “newer”. It made me think of Boston, the way a lot of the buildings were cramped in on each other, and allowed to age. And all the mixed zoning, too. So of course I took a picture, because homesick.

 

Riverwalk4There were all these oddities along the way – heads would appear carved into stone, gargoyles on buildings, old wooden doors would appear in buildings. I loved seeing some of the hidden items – and some oddities put there on purpose. I like the way those guys think!

 

 

 

 

 

Like this next one – doesn’t this wall seem to stand up on its own? That’s because it’s built like a triangle, with tight, sharp corners, causing the illusion. It’s also actually a hospital. At this point of the tour, Jeff turned to me and said, oh! good to know there’s one so close, sweetie! And then I smacked him, because he thinks I’m rather…shall we say “medically needy”?  The hospital (whose name I’ve forgotten) was also the place where Carol Burnett was born. <Insert ear tug here, just because>

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There were also a large number of mosaics throughout the riverwalk area, and really, throughout most of San Antonio. This one, on the face of the Lila Cockrell Theater and Performing Arts Museum, was created by renowned Mexican artist Juan O’Gorman. The piece is called the Confluence of the Americas. Adam and Eve are pictured in the middle. European civilization is pictured to the right, Mexican and American civilization to the left, and the child in the middle depicts our melding future. Another bit I love about the building is that it’s named after San Antonio’s first female mayor. That rocks, does it not?

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After the riverboat tour, Jeff and I popped up to street level and wondered why there was a particularly dense sea of tourists. When they parted for a moment, we saw why: The Alamo.

Alamo4I guess I expected it to be…not bigger. Everyone says how small it looks compared to everything around it. Maybe I heard that one too many times and expected this teeny tiny thing. Because I didn’t find it cramped by buildings and I didn’t think it was weird that a mall was nearby or that business buildings were to the left and right of the grounds. (NOT right up on the building like I had been led to believe.) People who think this is weird need to grow up in Boston, where we’ve built around history, because everything is history! It would have been great to get a picture without everyone creeping about, too, but you get what you get. See all of my newest friends!

 

So we walked about for a bit and read all of the plaques and enjoyed the museum. I loved that they included many inscriptions about the women of the fort, the ones who helped the mission at the time, and the ones (particularly widows and family members) who helped tend the grounds of the museum afterwards, making sure their memories weren’t forgotten.

It was a good morning and a wonderful way to start our San Antonio trip. Not to mention an excellent way to work up our appetite so we could go enjoy all of the restaurants on the way back through the Riverwalk!

On the Riverwalk.

April 12, 2016

That weekend went fast! The four 1/2 hour drive went slowly (good god – how am I going to do 13 hours to Denver?!), but the rest of the weekend? I swear I just blinked.

We had a fantastic time! We ate our way through half the city, and drank our way through the other half. And then we worked off every bite and sip – we hit 20,000 steps every day we were there. Walking the Riverwalk will do that do you! Especially when your room is so close you can just “run” back to it to drop off a bag, or change clothes, or take your third nap of the day.

We were pretty lucky the room situation worked out, though. As anyone who’s friends with me on social media knows, our original hotel, The Hotel Contessa, tried to back out of our reservation and and their obligation. Jeff had reserved a king suite. When we checked in, all was going well. I mean, it wasn’t the Cosmopolitan or anything, but it was okay. Until Jeff walked into the bedroom and stopped dead in his tracks. Because guess why? Two full beds, that’s why. It was 10 o’clock at night, we had been on the road for four and a half hours, and we had to spend an hour with the hotel arguing to get what we had paid for. And that was after the SAN1bellman spent 30 minutes trying to get the manager on duty on the phone. We ended up trudging back downstairs and arguing in person, to which the hotel finally conceded that they could get us into a suite the next day, for the duration (supposedly), but we’d have to spend the first night of our romantic getaway in separate beds and switch rooms. For all of that trouble (and, you know, getting it wrong, plus wasting a good chunk of our Friday night), the manager was willing to throw in breakfast vouchers. Breakfast vouchers. Not even a bogo on massages (that we’d been planning on splurging on) or comping our night’s stay.

So Jeff called around and found us a property right next door at The Westin. After hearing about our poor pitiful drama, The Westin upgraded our room and threw in free wifi. Oh, and the view wasn’t bad, either!

Did I mention how our hotel was right on the Riverwalk? I mean, steps. Steps from our hotel bar to the path winding around downtown. Just look!

It was so relaxing, being able to sit and people watch, or get up and go. I honestly don’t know how anyone gets any work done downtown at all. And if the scenery  wasn’t enough of a distraction, there were these little guys, too:

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Ducks! Sooo many ducks! I spent Friday night trying to coax one up closer to the bar area (no luck), and then decided I needed one as a pet. I asked Jeff if he thought I could catch one. Of course he doubted me. And then the next morning I saw this: sleeeeping ducks. Some ducks were even sleeping like they were flamingos, up on one leg. Mere inches from where we were walking! It would have been a cinch to bend over and grab one. Ta da! Never doubt a Sicilian when your life in on the line! Katie when shenanigans are afoot!

So despite a rocky start, we actually had a pretty good time getting our couples’ getaway off the ground. Just make sure you don’t ever, ever plan on giving The Hotel Contessa any of your moneys if you ever stay in San Antonio. God knows what might happen to your reservation.