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Candy Moulton: On the Trail 2-14-11

Candy Moulton
Encampment, Wyo.

For some crazy reason I thought Texas was warm in winter. I have friends down there in the Lone Star State and they write on their Facebook pages and blogs about working in their gardens in January. So imagine my surprise that on the day I visited San Antonio I was wearing a turtleneck shirt, topped by a flannel shirt, topped by a wool coat and I was not too warm.

My visit to San Antonio actually preceded the really cold weather we all endured in early February. The advantage to being there on a day that was more than a little chilly is that only the die-hard tourists were out. As a result I found a parking place a block from the Alamo, could wander through that most historic of historic places without bumping into legions of other visitors, and there was no wait for a table in the Menger Hotel for lunch, or at the bar for a drink. (I know the latter was the case because although I did not stop to imbibe, I did walk through that old bar and saw that there was plenty of room for friendly folk to belly up.)

I began my visit to San Antonio at the Witte Museum, with its displays of Texas plants and animals. Somehow looking at a poisonous snake when it is behind a glass wall is not nearly as frightening as if I would see one out on a trail somewhere. From the Witte I headed toward downtown toward Alamo Plaza.

This revered landmark began as Mission San Antonio de Valero, a home to missionaries and the Indians they converted. Construction started in 1724. In 1896 the five missions in San Antonio were secularized with lands distributed to the Indians who remained. Early in the 19th century the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the former mission San Antonio de Valero, which the soldiers from Alamo de Parras, Coahuila, began calling the Alamo (the Spanish word for “cottonwood”). It became a home for both Revolutionaries and Royalists during Mexico’s 10 year struggle for independence, and remained occupied by Spanish, Rebel, and finally Mexican military until the Texas Revolution.

You probably all know the basic facts that makes the Alamo so revered today – like how Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie and Col. William B. Travis and a bunch of rough and ready Texian and Tejano defenders, after a successful five-day battle that forced Mexican Army General Martin Perfecto de Cos and his soldiers to surrender, found themselves forted up at the Alamo where Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s army nearly caught them by surprise. The Alamo defenders held off the larger force of Mexicans for 13 days, but ultimately all died in the battle.

Columns of Mexican soldiers made their final assault before dawn on March 6, 1836. Although the defenders fired small arms and cannons, successfully repelling several attacks, ultimately the Mexican soldiers overran the mission walls, captured the cannon and church, and won a decisive victory.

There is ongoing – often intense – debate about the siege of the Alamo and other details of the deaths of the defenders, but few argue of what the battle symbolizes: men dying for freedom and independence.

Although more than two and a half million people visit the Alamo Shrine every year, fortunately for me, only a small crowd was on hand when I was in San Antonio. The site is managed by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and includes not only the Shrine, but also Long Barrack Museum where you can learn much more detail about the battle, the defenders, the story of the mission, and other Texas history. And there is, of course, a gift shop.

Once I’d visited the Alamo, I crossed the street to the Menger Hotel, and had my lunch in that historic property which was constructed in 1859 by owner William A. Menger and architect John Fries.

My visit to San Antonio was all too short so I did not have time to visit the famous Riverwalk nor the other mission sites in the city. Which I guess is okay. That gives me an excuse to return.

For some crazy reason I thought Texas was warm in winter. I have friends down there in the Lone Star State and they write on their Facebook pages and blogs about working in their gardens in January. So imagine my surprise that on the day I visited San Antonio I was wearing a turtleneck shirt, topped by a flannel shirt, topped by a wool coat and I was not too warm.

My visit to San Antonio actually preceded the really cold weather we all endured in early February. The advantage to being there on a day that was more than a little chilly is that only the die-hard tourists were out. As a result I found a parking place a block from the Alamo, could wander through that most historic of historic places without bumping into legions of other visitors, and there was no wait for a table in the Menger Hotel for lunch, or at the bar for a drink. (I know the latter was the case because although I did not stop to imbibe, I did walk through that old bar and saw that there was plenty of room for friendly folk to belly up.)

I began my visit to San Antonio at the Witte Museum, with its displays of Texas plants and animals. Somehow looking at a poisonous snake when it is behind a glass wall is not nearly as frightening as if I would see one out on a trail somewhere. From the Witte I headed toward downtown toward Alamo Plaza.

This revered landmark began as Mission San Antonio de Valero, a home to missionaries and the Indians they converted. Construction started in 1724. In 1896 the five missions in San Antonio were secularized with lands distributed to the Indians who remained. Early in the 19th century the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the former mission San Antonio de Valero, which the soldiers from Alamo de Parras, Coahuila, began calling the Alamo (the Spanish word for “cottonwood”). It became a home for both Revolutionaries and Royalists during Mexico’s 10 year struggle for independence, and remained occupied by Spanish, Rebel, and finally Mexican military until the Texas Revolution.

You probably all know the basic facts that makes the Alamo so revered today – like how Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie and Col. William B. Travis and a bunch of rough and ready Texian and Tejano defenders, after a successful five-day battle that forced Mexican Army General Martin Perfecto de Cos and his soldiers to surrender, found themselves forted up at the Alamo where Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s army nearly caught them by surprise. The Alamo defenders held off the larger force of Mexicans for 13 days, but ultimately all died in the battle.

Columns of Mexican soldiers made their final assault before dawn on March 6, 1836. Although the defenders fired small arms and cannons, successfully repelling several attacks, ultimately the Mexican soldiers overran the mission walls, captured the cannon and church, and won a decisive victory.

There is ongoing – often intense – debate about the siege of the Alamo and other details of the deaths of the defenders, but few argue of what the battle symbolizes: men dying for freedom and independence.

Although more than two and a half million people visit the Alamo Shrine every year, fortunately for me, only a small crowd was on hand when I was in San Antonio. The site is managed by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and includes not only the Shrine, but also Long Barrack Museum where you can learn much more detail about the battle, the defenders, the story of the mission, and other Texas history. And there is, of course, a gift shop.

Once I’d visited the Alamo, I crossed the street to the Menger Hotel, and had my lunch in that historic property which was constructed in 1859 by owner William A. Menger and architect John Fries.

My visit to San Antonio was all too short so I did not have time to visit the famous Riverwalk nor the other mission sites in the city. Which I guess is okay. That gives me an excuse to return.

For some crazy reason I thought Texas was warm in winter. I have friends down there in the Lone Star State and they write on their Facebook pages and blogs about working in their gardens in January. So imagine my surprise that on the day I visited San Antonio I was wearing a turtleneck shirt, topped by a flannel shirt, topped by a wool coat and I was not too warm.

My visit to San Antonio actually preceded the really cold weather we all endured in early February. The advantage to being there on a day that was more than a little chilly is that only the die-hard tourists were out. As a result I found a parking place a block from the Alamo, could wander through that most historic of historic places without bumping into legions of other visitors, and there was no wait for a table in the Menger Hotel for lunch, or at the bar for a drink. (I know the latter was the case because although I did not stop to imbibe, I did walk through that old bar and saw that there was plenty of room for friendly folk to belly up.)

I began my visit to San Antonio at the Witte Museum, with its displays of Texas plants and animals. Somehow looking at a poisonous snake when it is behind a glass wall is not nearly as frightening as if I would see one out on a trail somewhere. From the Witte I headed toward downtown toward Alamo Plaza.

This revered landmark began as Mission San Antonio de Valero, a home to missionaries and the Indians they converted. Construction started in 1724. In 1896 the five missions in San Antonio were secularized with lands distributed to the Indians who remained. Early in the 19th century the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the former mission San Antonio de Valero, which the soldiers from Alamo de Parras, Coahuila, began calling the Alamo (the Spanish word for “cottonwood”). It became a home for both Revolutionaries and Royalists during Mexico’s 10 year struggle for independence, and remained occupied by Spanish, Rebel, and finally Mexican military until the Texas Revolution.

You probably all know the basic facts that makes the Alamo so revered today – like how Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie and Col. William B. Travis and a bunch of rough and ready Texian and Tejano defenders, after a successful five-day battle that forced Mexican Army General Martin Perfecto de Cos and his soldiers to surrender, found themselves forted up at the Alamo where Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s army nearly caught them by surprise. The Alamo defenders held off the larger force of Mexicans for 13 days, but ultimately all died in the battle.

Columns of Mexican soldiers made their final assault before dawn on March 6, 1836. Although the defenders fired small arms and cannons, successfully repelling several attacks, ultimately the Mexican soldiers overran the mission walls, captured the cannon and church, and won a decisive victory.

There is ongoing – often intense – debate about the siege of the Alamo and other details of the deaths of the defenders, but few argue of what the battle symbolizes: men dying for freedom and independence.

Although more than two and a half million people visit the Alamo Shrine every year, fortunately for me, only a small crowd was on hand when I was in San Antonio. The site is managed by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and includes not only the Shrine, but also Long Barrack Museum where you can learn much more detail about the battle, the defenders, the story of the mission, and other Texas history. And there is, of course, a gift shop.

Once I’d visited the Alamo, I crossed the street to the Menger Hotel, and had my lunch in that historic property which was constructed in 1859 by owner William A. Menger and architect John Fries.

My visit to San Antonio was all too short so I did not have time to visit the famous Riverwalk nor the other mission sites in the city. Which I guess is okay. That gives me an excuse to return.


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