Monday, April 19, 2010

Catastrophe and Charreada

On the third day, the skies cleared, we started following the Texas Star Trail, and my camera had a catastrophic mechanical failure. The day began so very nicely. Our first stop was the Alamo, which I'd never been inside. From there the walk proceeded through downtown, past many, many historic buildings. Molly read from the Texas Star Trail brochure as I happily snapped photos of it all. Somewhere on Commerce Street, around building #30 of the 70-some on the trail, my lens stuck in the extended position, the LCD went black, and E18 appeared on the screen. Thus started my total meltdown freakout, which involved stops at two camera shops (one not a Canon dealer, the other closed on Sunday), followed by internet research back at Casa Rosenbeans. Turns out this is a very common error in Canon PowerShots, and it usually entails a repair that can cost anywhere from $100 to $200. I'll be taking a trip down to Enfield, CT next week to drop it off at Precision Camera. Thankfully, we have an excellent camera repair facility in the area (it used to be in Chicopee).

I think I'm almost as addicted to my camera as Molly is to her iPhone. I was despondent at the thought of not having mine for the last two days of my Texas trip. Molly is letting me use her Canon PowerShot SD750 for the duration -- it doesn't have the manual controls that my A620 has, but it takes pretty decent pictures, so I'll be ok.

We spent the afternoon at the
Charreada -- a Mexican rodeo at Rancho del Charro on the south side of the city. It was all very colorful and cool, with traditional costumes and various competitions. All the riders -- men, women, and some rather young kids -- rode into the ring for the opening procession, and then the events follow. I really liked the women's precision riding. Men's events included horse reining and bull tailing (chasing after a running calf and pulling its tail). I think there were also some roping events, but we didn't stay for that.

We returned to Casa Rosenbeans for a totally different activity -- hooping. Molly was interested in trying it out, so two of her son's friends came over with their hula hoops. The girls had made their own hoops, and they were a bit different in size and weight than what I'm used to. Molly got a good introduction to basic waist and hand hooping, and she did really well. Later, her friend Noemi came over and tried it out -- she was a total natural and was hooping away in no time flat. I think the two of them may be the latest recruits to the wonderful world of hooping.

Today (Monday), we're going to SAMA again so that Molly can do something with her docents while I walk the River Walk in the opposite direction from our Friday and Saturday wanders. We'll then do a tour of a historic Victorian house in the
King William District. Tonight is the River Parade.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

¡Hola de San Antonio!

We have been experiencing a deluge of Texan -- if not Biblical -- proportion. In between downpours, we've managed to work in quite a few activities in the past two days, although we've had to do a bit of adjusting of plans on the fly.

On Friday, we went straight to SAMA (the San Antonio Museum of Art), where we looked at the psychedelic art exhibition and were joined by Amy S. for a lovely lunch on the covered patio of the museum's café, which overlooks the River Walk. It's just as well that we abandoned our idea of taking the river taxi to the museum -- all the while we were eating lunch, not one single river taxi came by. By the end of lunch, the rain had let up enough for us to walk a bit of the River Walk around SAMA. This is a new section of the River Walk, just opened last year, which included various art installations in the underpasses and along the walk. Near SAMA, we saw a couple dozen giant fiberglass fish (supposed to be long-eared sunfish, native to the San Antonio River) hanging from the I-35 underpass, and a grotto with stalactites and a scary face, made by a famous faux bois studio in San Antonio.

With the skies reasonably clear, we headed down to Mission Concepción to take a quick peak at the newly-restored chapel, and back downtown to El Mercado for a bit of shopping, and to a tweet-up at the Southwest School of Craft and Art where we got some free food and a sneak preview of several booths in the Fiesta Art Fair.

We awoke Saturday morning to the most horrific rainstorm I'd seen in years. Thunder, lightning, black skies, and rain like someone had opened a gigantic fire hose on the city. For the second day in a row, our plan to walk the Texas Star Trail was scuppered by the weather. We waited around until the torrential rains abated a bit, and went to the Pearl Farmers Market, which thankfully was under tents. Things looked better weather-wise after we'd done the fruit and veg shopping, so we optimistically headed for the Art Fair, which wasn't crowed and was quite pleasant despite the by-then misty spritz. The rain had seriously delayed the set-up of the sound equipment for the music stage, however, but loyal fans that we are, we waited for Miss Neesie and the Ear Food Orchestra to play the first few songs of their set.

A little before sunset, Molly and I returned to the I-35 underpass on the River Walk to see the fish lit up and to wait for the bats to come out. At 7:55 p.m., they emerged in groups and started swirling around, out and then back under to bridge, before taking off in search of their dinner. There aren't as many bats as live under the Congress Street bridge in Austin, but this was the greatest number of bats I'd ever seen at one time so I was impressed. We noted that the air smelled of guano and were careful to stand away from their flight path so they wouldn't poop on our heads.

That pretty much sums up days one and two in San Antonio. Stats (steps and expenses) to follow. Adios.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Deep in the Heart of Texas

$20 to check baggage.
No free nibbles.
Chatty Cathy, cut the string!
Love my new neck pillow.
Miles between gates at DFL.
I have arrived.

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Did you ever see Dallas from a DC9 at night?"

Torch of Friendship and Hemisfair Tower, San Antonio

So sang
Jimmy Dale Gilmore, a true Texas troubadour if there ever was one. I don't think I'll be on a DC9, but I will be flying over Dallas at night when I go down to visit Rosenbeans and take in a bit of Fiesta San Antonio. It's been three years since my last visit, and five since I last went to Fiesta, so I'm quite psyched.

Rosenbeans will be my personal San Antonio Tour Guide (she's a certified professional). We've been working on a spreadsheet for the trip with her suggestions and some of my ideas. I want to take advantage of her expertise and knowledge of All Things San Antonio, so I thought we should do the Texas Star Trail, a 2.6 mile self-guided walk around the historic downtown, starting and ending at the Alamo. We'll take a river taxi from downtown to the San Antonio Museum of Art, where Rosenbeans is a docent, to see an exhibition of psychedelic art. SAMA is housed in a former Lone Star Brewing factory, and nearby, a former Pearl Brewery has been turned into the Pearl Farmers Market -- we'll be checking that out as well.

We've chosen several events from the Fiesta schedule -- some old favorites, including the Fiesta Arts Fair and the River Parade, as well as a couple of new-to-me things, including a Charreada and a tour of a Victorian house.

I'll be taking my mini laptop so that I can blog a few times from Casa Rosenbeans. And I may even be able to upload some photos to Flickr while I'm there. Be watching the internets for more about our adventures.
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