Category Archives: texas

Thanksgiving in Texas

River Walk in San Antonio.

I was hoping for a bit of warm weather before the frigid onset of winter in New York by taking a long weekend in San Antonio, Texas, to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family.

Robert E. Lee Hotel, 100% air conditioned! Did not stay here, unfortunately. Actually, that was probably okay.

Texas flag in downtown San Antonio.

Unfortunately, the humid heat that greeted me at the airport lasted only a few hours before a cold front moved in that was just as chilling as the weather I’d left in Brooklyn. Still, it was a great, if too brief, trip and I always love spending time down in San Antone.

Weathered concert poster. Is that the Star Wars keyboard elephant?

I left NYC on Thursday morning and flew (first class, for the first time!) to Dallas for a brief layover and then took a short flight to San Antonio. I made it just in time for the traditional Thanksgiving feast.

 

San Antonio Museum of Art, where people had affixed their museum stickers.

On Friday, we walked from our hotel on the River Walk down to the San Antonio Museum of Art. I read that the River Walk was constructed in the mid-1900s following a devastating flood in 1921. What was originally proposed as a storm sewer is now a lovely pedestrian walkway lined with lush foliage, shops, and restaurants. The River Walk was extended in 2009 to reach the museums further out of downtown, including the San Antonio Museum of Art, which is inside the old Lone Star Brewery building.

Egyptian dog mummies at the San Antonio Museum of Art.

By an odd coincidence, the museum was hosting To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum, which I’d already seen in Brooklyn. Life sometimes feels like it’s composed of tightening concentric circles. Good thing one does not really live forever, or after only a few lifetimes we would have found the webs between everything and would then spend the rest of eternity trying to track down something that is completely our own. Or perhaps we would just getting really rich and learn many languages, like fictional vampires do. Anyway, the exhibit is a wonderful one, and I yet again was enchanted by the ancient paper and fiber pieces held beneath dark fabric and glass.

Roman art gallery at the San Antonio Museum of Art.

As the museum was once a brewery, it has a lot of beautiful, large open rooms. I especially liked this new Roman art gallery, where I spotted a few Antinous statues (my personal travel scavenger hunt).

The grave of Pat the horse.

Later that day I walked to Fort Sam Houston from my relatives’ house to pay my respects at the grave of Pat the cavalry horse.

Pat's tombstone.

When Pat died in 1953, his formal military funeral was attended by over 100 people. There are still horses at the military base, although now they are only used in the funeral processions of people like past presidents.

San Antonio Botanical Garden.

We also visited the San Antonio Botanical Garden, which has as its centerpiece these futuristic greenhouses.

Inside the greenhouse.

Here is the inside of the tallest, high enough to hold those towering palm trees. Others had desert plants and forest recreations, including one with a miniature waterfall.

Sofia and the ducks.

Some confident ducks had a pond, where a pretty heron was nesting and turtles were resting on a rock in the center of the water. I’m guessing they were also not ready for the cold weather.

Christmas parade on the River Walk

That night we watched the annual River Walk Christmas parade from the deck of our hotel. The boats that usually give tours of the river were decorated with lights and had bands and dancers riding on them.

River Parade

I’ve been going to the Christmas River Parade for as long as I can remember, but this year has to be among the coldest. Since we were at the end of the route, the boats seemed to be hurrying in a group to the end to get off the frigid water.

Guadulpe River State Park

On Saturday we visited Guadulpe River State Park, which has beautifully clear water where trees were gnarled in the shallows.

The twins playing on one of the trees.

Ah, I sometimes miss nature being in New York. Not that it’s completely absent. I live by a huge, green area with tons of leafy trees…there just happens to be 600,000 graves under the grass.

Seed pods in sunlight.

I seem to have lost all my rock skipping skills after the year of city living, but I’m still fairly good at rock and fossil finding and found one to take back to NYC for my collection. I have a little group of rocks on a bookshelf from places I’ve been, like the castle ruins in Valence, the beach of Nice, and the Montauk lighthouse.

Texas sunset.

The next day I flew back to NYC, unfortunately being surrounded by a sick person, barking dog, and screaming child on the long leg of the flight. Oh well, I had a book of horror stories and my iPod and watched the flat puzzle of the Midwest disappear under clouds. Soon we were breaking through to the New York skyline, and I think I spotted my apartment building as we cruised along the harbor.

San Antonio

My cousin Sofia made me this welcome sign.

I’m all moved into my apartment, if not completely unpacked. Park Slope has a different vibe than Williamsburg, but I think I will like it here. I need to find a new jogging path now that I’m not living next to the running track. I’m starting to get oriented, as I took the subway to Target, Ikea, and Trade Joe’s today for supplies. I’ll post pictures of the new place later. Last Wednesday, I flew to San Antonio, Texas to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and relatives. The trip to La Guardia from my apartment went smoothly and the car I’d requested showed up on time. Actually, it was two minutes late and the driver was really apologetic. I wish I could take cars more often. After a transfer in the fancy Dallas airport where you can use a credit card in the vending machines, I was landing in San Antonio and was greeted at the airport by my dad and brother. We then drove to my aunt, uncle, and three cousins’ house where I was formally welcomed by the above sign that Sofia made. The rest of my family only got their initials added at the top.

New part of the Riverwalk.

It was good to spend Thanksgiving in Texas, as I wasn’t able to come back to the States from France last year. It was such a nice change to be away from New York and the subway rides. I know I shouldn’t, but I do miss driving. I miss the ability to just drive anywhere you want, wherever you want. To have the freedom to drive all the way to Canada or Mexico if you wanted.

Fish installation at the Riverwalk.

That first night we walked along the newest section of the Riverwalk, where they had cool art installations under each overpass. I especially liked the above illuminated fish, which were suspended over the water. As the sun set we watched the bats fly out from under the bridge. Nature is something else I miss in New York. I remember a few weeks ago I was walking in Union Square and saw all these people gathered below a tree, flashing their cameras. I turned out there was a frazzled eagle perched there, feathers loose on its head. I feel lucky that I was able to grow up somewhere so close to nature that sometimes there would be a deer wandering in the street, a possum under the porch, or a fox at the tennis court.

Black Crowned Crane at the San Antonio Zoo.

The next day was Thanksgiving, and one of our family traditions is participating in a morning race. I only started running this fall, so I was wary about trying to run a 5K, as I had yet to run a mile in one go. However, my mom convinced me so we walked down to the Turkey Challenge. When the race started, we kept a steady pace and I was shocked to see the mile market appear before I was even tired. So I ran my first mile! We took a short walking break and started running again and the second mile marker appeared soon after. I think we took one more walking break before running the rest. My time came in at 36:57, which I don’t think is bad at all for my first 5K. My goal was to run a mile by the end of the year, so I guess that is accomplished.

Lorikeet at the San Antonio Zoo.

That afternoon we visited the San Antonio Zoo and saw many excellent birds and beasts, including the most giant hippopotamus that I’ve ever seen.

Lion hiding at the San Antonio Zoo.

After the visit to the zoo, we had Thanksgiving dinner, which was delicious and had many vegetarian-friendly side dishes, as well as a pumpkin pie.

Praying mantis wearing a scarf at the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

The next day we visited the San Antonio Botanical Garden, where they had these giant wooden insects displayed throughout the park. I loved the addition of a holiday scarf to this praying mantis. That afternoon we visited my great-aunt, who I hadn’t seen in a long time. That night we went to the River Parade, where boats decorated with holiday lights and blasting Christmas music cruised down the Riverwalk.

Cacti at Government Canyon.

On my last day, we took a hike in Government Canyon and saw many cacti and risked twisted ankles on rocky paths. I think this was my first time to be out of hearing distance of a car horn in quite a while. It also made me miss how I would go to a new place almost every weekend while in France. I should try to take some train trips out of the city.

Government Canyon seen from the top of the trail.

The next day I got to the airport early and flew back to NYC. I yet again got a cab driver who had no clue where Williamsburg was. I knew the right exit to take and was looking around at the buildings to orient myself when he pulled out an iPhone and was putting in the address. He asked me whether we were in Brooklyn or Queens, which made me want to scream. Anyway, we turned out to be a block away and I was soon dragging my suitcase up the stairs. Unfortunately, my suitcase got a broken wheel, but I guess it’s five years old and has been a lot of places. I also broke the zipper on my coat last night. Why??? Well, after leaving all my broken things in my apartment I met up with Elizabeth for falafel in the East Village and we compared our Texas Thanksgivings. I guess it’s officially the holiday season now. Time for my traditional last minute gift buying.