On Wednesday, we drove to Mission San Jose in the San Antonio Missions National Park and joined a ranger tour of the mission grounds. The ranger told of the Coahuiltecan Indians who lived here and built canals for watering their crops. The mission was restored in the 1930s by the Works Projects Administration.
Mission San Jose, the first and largest in Texas, was founded in 1720. The current church was constructed in 1768 to establish ownership of the land and keep the Russians at bay.
Residences for the families that lived at the mission lined the walls. The guide pointed out the ramadas, or porch shelters, over the doorways. Apparently, at the time of restoration, the inhabitants of the mission were believed to have used the ramadas. However, more recent research has determined this may not be correct.
The décor inside the church is simple in design and features catholic icons similar to other churches.
The backside of the church housed the Franciscans in the two-story arched wing.
The round structures at each corner of the mission served as a bastion to protect against raiding Apache and Comanche.
Restored granary and irrigation canal.
Re-creation of what an oven may have looked like.
There are three other missions within the park, but we opted for a city bus ride to the Alamo and Riverwalk. Our grumbling stomachs steered us toward the Riverwalk first. A gentleman sweeping the walkways directed us to the Mexican Manhattan. Situated at the street level with a patio that overlooks the river traffic it was a perfect place to watch the barges and tour boats navigate the waters below as we enjoyed some of the best Mexican food we had eaten since leaving home.
The memory of our relaxing wonderful lunch soon faded when a yappy dog tied to a post near the bridge we had to cross, jumped on my leg. At first, I thought he only jumped on me, but soon the pain of a bruise formed. Fortunately, his little mouth and teeth were too small to break through the fabric of my jeans and I escaped with only a couple of bruises. Ever since I’ve been leery of dogs of any size and have kept my distance.
I thought the Rio San Antonio Cruise on the river might be something like the riverboat cruise at Disneyland, but we found it to be quite informative. The guide pointed out buildings, detailed the history, and told stories of prominent individuals in the city with an authority that did not include corny jokes.
Back at The Alamo, we checked the bus schedule and realized we only had about 15 minutes to see this icon. I think we got the gist of the place, but I want to visit again when we have more time.
We took a break from sightseeing the next day but did drive out to Luling TX for a BBQ lunch at The City Market. Jon had eaten there once while working in the area. I expected to see shelves stocked with cans and food like any market. Instead, I found a section where patrons ordered drinks and side dishes and a section with dining tables. I followed Jon toward the back where an arrow pointed to a door and a sign said, “Order Here.” Inside the room to the right, was a huge barbecue pit where meat sizzled. We snaked our way around the corner of a counter where a man stood with a serving fork and knife. Jon ordered for us and the man cut the hot meat and wrapped it in butcher paper. After paying, we exited the smoky room and found a table, collected plastic utensils and napkins, and paid for the side dishes and drinks. This may have been the strangest restaurant I ever saw. Although the food was good, I’m not so sure it was worth the drive.
Next up? Corpus Christi TX.