Mission Concepcion

I have been so slow with my posts. I apologize. Between my post vacation cold and catching up at work, life seems to be conspiring to keep me from sharing my vacation. The most recent set back was my photo editing program which claims I’m out of memory. Sounds like I’m going to have to clean out the hard drive.

DSC_1396 copy

But I managed to limp along and get some pictures of the 2nd mission we visited in San Antonio. This one is also still a working church but it is not fully restored.

DSC_1397 copy

The church itself looks essentially as it did in the 1700’s but most of the colorful geometric designs that once covered it’s walls and ceiling have long faded away.

DSC_1400 copy

There is ongoing work now to try to restore these frescoes and  bring them back to their original glory.

DSC_1402 copy

Posted in architecture, Churches, Texas, Travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mission San Jose

Sorry I missed a few days including Halloween especially since Halloween and the Day of the Dead  is a religions experience in San Antonio. Unfortunately  I got laid low by the after vacation cold. They are always tough, stuffy nose, chest congestion and oh so tired.  I guess I’m lucky it hit on the weekend. I doubt work would be happy to have me take more time off right after vacation!


But Back to Vacation. After visiting the Alamo, which in addition to being the Cradle of Texas Liberty was the first mission on the San Antonio River built in 1718, we headed to Mission San Jose. This mission was founded 2 years after the Alamo in 1720 and is one of the best known of the Texas Missions.

DSC_1368 copy

At first the missions were without walls but as the number of mission residents grew, walls were erected to encircle the the mission structures.

DSC_1371 copy

Mission residents learned the use of firearms to fend off Apache and Comanche raids.

DSC_1373 copy

Mission San Jose is not only a well preserved piece of history , it is still an active church with a breathtaking sanctuary.

DSC_1390 copy

The Spanish artisans, many brought in from New Spain, preserved the basic components of Spanish architecture.

DSC_1383 copy

In Mission San Jose a beautiful Rose window is preserved and has reached legendary status.

DSC_1381 copy

Mission San Jose is the finest example of a completely  restored mission in the United States, important enough to be a National Park.

DSC_1367 copy

Posted in architecture, Churches, Texas | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Remember The Alamo

Our first day in San Antonio was spent on the Grand City Tour. It was a full day of exploring Old Spanish missions, a river boat ride on the San Antonio River, a Japanese Sunken Garden and much more. It was very overcast and threatening rain but we were intrepid souls determined to see the sights in spite of the weather.

Of course no visit to San Antonio would be complete without a stop at the Alamo, the Cradle of Texas Liberty, so that was where our tour began.


In some ways the Alamo was a bit of a let down. The iconic facade that everyone recognizes was blocked by modern equipment while a master stone mason worked to restore the entrance.

We all realize that these historical buildings need maintenance so they don’t crumble away but of course we all wished it could have been done “on someone else’s tour”.


Inside the chapel section was considered sacred ground so no photos were allowed. It’s a small area but you could almost feel the weight of the atmosphere…the impact of what had happened here. A docent was available to answer questions and a model of the original mission as it would have looked in 1836 was prominently placed.

A side room held displays of artifacts including a rifle purported to have belonged to Davy Crockett, himself.

Outside of the Chapel, but still within the walls of the Alamo we could take photos to our hearts content. We saw the monument erected to the only men that came to reinforce the defenders, led by Colonel William Travis, when he sent out a call for help.

DSC_1356 copy

32 men from the nearby town of Gonzales perished in a futile attempt to dispel Santa Anna’s forces.

DSC_1359 copy

A narrator in period clothing demonstrated the flint lock rifle that was in use at the time. He did a good job from making humorous observations about how one could injure oneself before even going to battle to showing us the spark the flint made that hopefully set off the powder allowing the gun to fire. Ever heard the phrase “flash in the pan”?

The court yard was surrounded by the mostly original walls.

DSC_1357 copy


DSC_1349 copy



Access was gained through a sally port.

Back outside we marveled at the Cenotaph. Towering 60 feet high and located adjacent
to the surviving buildings of the Alamo itself, San Antonio’s “Alamo Cenotaph” pays tribute to the men who died defending the ancient mission in 1836 rather than surrender to overwhelming odds.DSC_1348_edited-1

According to tradition the Alamo Cenotaph marks the spot where the slain defenders of
the fortified mission were piled after the battle and burned in great funeral pyres.

DSC_1362 copy

There are no remains under the marker rather the ashes were collected and are said to be interred in a marble casket in San Fernando Cathedral.

DSC_1361 copy

The universal opinion seems to be that Santa Anna was cruel and despicable but I was surprised to learn that he offered to let everyone leave if they would surrender. The heroes refused and the rest, as they say, is history. After the battle Santa Anna did allow the women and children to leave. It is from the recount of events by these survivors that historians have pieced together the events of that day.

It is amazing to think that a handful of defenders, probably less than 200 , held the mission for 13 days against an army that is said to be both battle hardened and greatly out numbering those in the mission.

David Bowie, Davy Crockett, William Travis are the most often remembered heroes but a full roster of those who fought and died can be found at http://www.thealamo.org/history/the-1836-battle/the-defenders/index.html



Posted in architecture, Texas | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Welcome to San Antonio

Leaving Delta behind we retrieved our luggage and grabbed a cab to our hotel. Welcome to The Holiday Inn Riverwalk.

Our hotel had been chosen and booked for us through our Amtrak package. In our travel documents was a voucher  to be presented at check in. I had never traveled this way so I wasn’t sure how it would work out but it was easy. I did have to present a credit card for “incidentals” but that’s just standard procedure in any hotel.

For a Holiday Inn, I was quite impressed.


And it is located right on the Riverwalk.

The river walk winds along the San Antonio river and is lined with restaurants and shops. There are pretty bridges and benches along the way. All we had to do was step out the back side of the hotel and we were on the Riverwalk!

Once we had settled into our hotel room it was time to explore and find a place for dinner. The desk clerk recommended Saltgrass Restaurant and gave us a coupon for a free appetizer.


They told us it was just around the corner. Since it was around 7 pm and quite dark I didn’t bother to bring the camera, just the cell phone.

There were loads of ducks in the river. As we walked along the Riverwalk we got a big kick out of them. They certainly weren’t shy with their loud quack quack quacks!

Eventually we found the restaurant which was so popular that there was a 40 minute wait. Even so every restaurant seemed to be hopping with patrons queued up outside so we decided just to wait. We sat watching the tour boats go by.


We watched horse drawn carriages that were lit up like Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage cross the St Mary St Bridge. they were gorgeous and I vowed to would get a picture before our time in San Antonio was over.


We finally were called and seated around 9 pm. I presented our free appetizer card and got an order of onion strings. OMG! I wish I had taken a picture of that mountain of onion. It was a volcano shaped mountain worthy of a Man Vs Food episode.


Dinner was excellent and as stuffed as we were we couldn’t resist getting the carrot cake dessert to go. Expecting a normal slice of cake we each ordered one. When they brought our to-go boxes and we peeked inside we were looking at slices the size of the island of Manhattan!

carrot cake

Once again we should have taken a picture because no one will believe the size of those slices. Kind of like the fish story about the one that got away!

It took us 3 days to eat through those very good, very big slices of carrot cake. I guess everything really is bigger in Texas.



Posted in Food, Texas | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Fly the Friendly Skies with Delta? NOT!

On Monday 10/19 I drove off to a little town in upstate New York to meet up with my sister and traveling companion. Bright and early on Tuesday morning we headed to the airport for our date with Delta airlines. I fly quite often and for a long time Delta was my airline of choice but that is starting to change. Delta is being edged out by Southwest and on this trip I had a chance to really compare the 2 airlines. We were flying Delta to San Antonio and Southwest on our return from New Orleans.


Our flight was a two parter with a layover and change of planes in Detroit.  I say that only because I’ve had the misfortune to witness first hand extreme rudeness from Delta attendants. One time the flight attendant lost her temper with an elderly couple who just wanted to sit together. She screamed and yelled at them and threatened to have them “removed from the airplane”.

Another time the attendant was upset over something unknown and threw the hand set to the intercom across the cabin. Whew! I sat very quietly all through that flight!

But I digress. I don’t go into these flights expecting a bad experience. In fact it has always surprised me when there’s an outburst like that. So back to our situation.

I paid extra for us to have more legroom on the 1st half of the trip from Albany to Detroit and I had specifically selected aisle seating. As we were getting ready to board Sandy mentioned that our seats had been changed. She’d been moved from an aisle to a window and so had I. To make it even worse I was in row 1 so there is no seat in front of me for my carry on. My carry on had to go in the overhead bin or get checked.


Since I had a laptop and about $2400 worth of camera equipment in my carry on you can imagine I did not want to be separated from my luggage. It was at that point that I realized that our “friendly” attendant was not a morning person. Maybe she hadn’t had her coffee yet because she was not fooling around. Of course she wouldn’t help me try to make it fit in the overhead either. You’d think if you have a customer that will pay extra for a seat upgrade that you’d treat them a little nicer  but noooo, she just stood at the front of the plane telling me to get a move on because I was holding everyone up. I finally gave in and let her check the bag. (Against my better judgement, I might add.)


I told her if there was any damage I would hold Delta responsible to which she said I was out of luck because she had given me a verbal warning about checking a fragile item.


The laptop did not make it unscathed but the damage was minor and can be worked around. Thankfully the camera and lens were fine. I suppose I shouldn’t feel too bad. The poor trainee flight attendant was being growled at the whole flight. She was just one of those “not nice” people.

The 2nd half of the trip was uneventful. My carry on went into the overhead with no problem but it seems every trip on Delta there’s at least one unhappy flight attendant.

It was good to arrive in San Antonio and leave the unfriendly skies behind.


Posted in air travel, Travel | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

How about an Amtrak Vacation

My fall vacation finally got here. After a crazy spring, summer and even fall at work I was more than ready for some R & R.

This vacation was something a little different. It was billed as an Amtrak Rail Vacation but I have to admit we did  a lot of flying too. So before I break things down into specific adventures let me give you an overview.


The trip name is Riverwalk to the French Quarter (Don’t worry, we’re not walking)

DSC_1412 copy

As you may have guessed by the title, this is San Antonio to New Orleans.


Our trip began in San Antonio Texas where day one was basically our first travel day arriving around 5:30 in San Antonio via Delta Airlines.


Day 2 was a Grand Tour of the city starting with the Alamo. It was a full day.


Day 3 was also in San Antonio but it was a free day where we could explore at our leisure.

It Rained!

It Rained!

Included in the package for San Antonio was 1 dinner voucher. (Hard Rock Cafe)

Day 4 was the train trip arriving in New Orleans around 10 pm. (They sure like their pharmacies in New Orleans)

DSC_1493 copy

Day 5 was in New Orleans starting with a 1/2 day tour of the city. The afternoon was ours to explore on our own.

DSC_1510 copy

Day 6 was also a free day but dinner was at the Court of the Two Sisters with a voucher.


Day 7 was our travel day back to New York this time with Southwest Airlines.


We arrived in Albany, NY at about 5:30 pm. I spent the night at my sister’s and drove back to Massachusetts in the morning. I really wasn’t ready for the vacation to end but my fuzzy little fur-babies were glad I was home.Twins 001a

So now that you have the general idea of what this vacation entailed I’ll get down to specifics in the next posts coming up soon.


Posted in Louisiana, Texas, trains, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge

Good morning everyone. I’ve been up since 6 am in hopes of spotting some of those deer I’ve been hearing about down at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge located in Middletown , RI.

The first time I tried I overslept so missed the dawn, the best time for those shy little critters. Today I was up but it took me longer to get out of the house than I expected so I saw the sun pop over the horizon as I left Fall River. Darn!

Well I figured I might as well check out the trails. On my last visit I didn’t stay long, just made sure I could find it.

DSC_1337 copy

I was surprised to see quite a lot of cars in the parking lot considering it was only about 30 minutes past sunrise, still pretty early. As I pulled out the camera I saw a bird watcher with his big spotting scope but most of the rest were fishermen. I didn’t spot any other photographers so I guess I really did miss my chance. I decided to check out one of the trails anyway.


The Flint Point trail is a 1.4 mile loop with a couple of observation platforms. Everybody seemed to be going that way so I did too. I didn’t intend to walk the whole trail since this was one of my first jaunts since my back started improving but it was a beautiful morning so as long as it wasn’t hurting I just kept going.


There are a couple of benches along the way so it was a cool but pleasant trek. I didn’t expect to see any deer. That window of opportunity had closed, or so I thought but as I approached a corner I heard something larger than a bird off to my left in the brush.


I didn’t see what it was but it made me slow down my pace and I turned the corner cautiously. And there in the path to my right was the tail end of a deer.

DSC_1313 copy


DSC_1316 copy

Turns out it was a doe and a a smaller deer. No spots so I don’t think it can still be called a fawn but clearly smaller than the adult. The little one watched me all the time while Mama only paid attention when I moved.

DSC_1318 copy

DSC_1320 copy

Thanks to the sun’s angle and the brush playing havoc with the auto focus,  the pictures aren’t going to make it into my portfolio but at least I was rewarded for my trip.

DSC_1324 copy

I don’t know how long those deer and I would have stood eyeballing each other if a jogger hadn’t rounded the bend at that point. The deer just drifted quietly into the bushes.

DSC_1335 copy

I figured I was about half way around the loop so I finished the walk. No other deer but that was two more than I expected to see. I guess I’ll have to try again only leaving at 5:30 am next time!


Posted in animals, Rhode Island | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments