Day 6: After a fabulous time in Vegas, Sue & I got up at 4am for our flight to San Antonio. (An interesting fact – 4am in Vegas isn’t all that much different from 10pm in Vegas.) We arrived after a layover in Phoenix, rented a car and drove to the Menger Hotel which is literally 100 yards from the Alamo. The hotel is a beautiful, stately old place and here’s a shot of the lobby:
Booking the hotel, I knew it was built in 1859 and frequently visited by Teddy Roosevelt back in the day. What I didn’t know until I saw a bunch of books about the hotel in the lobby gift shop is that the Menger Hotel is apparently famously haunted. One of the most haunted locations in the US, as a matter of fact. (Super!) As legend has it, Teddy R. still stops by on a regular basis as do a number of former guests and employees who checked off the human plane at some point in the last 100 years or so. I decided to steer Sue away from the display of books, and we then strolled down to the Riverwalk for a delicious, homemade Tex-Mex meal. Since we were exhausted from travelling, we had a pretty quiet evening.
Day 7: In hindsight, I think this was one of our most active days because we walked…and walked…and walked all day. Our morning started with a tour of the Alamo which was fascinating.
I knew I should “Remember the Alamo!”, but wasn’t 100% sure exactly why until we took the tour. It was a very moving story. Following the required visit to the gift shop where I did NOT try on a Davy Crockett coonskin cap (only because there were signs telling me I couldn’t…) we set off to trek the Riverwalk. It’s a very pretty section with lots of shops and restaurants.
We walked for several miles, poking into some storefronts and visited an exhibit at the Southwest School of Arts and Crafts before taking a RiverTaxi back to where we started.
After a few hours of pool and sun, we ate an amazing fancy dinner at a restaurant called Citrus before calling it a night and joining President R. back at the hotel.
Day 8: Dude Ranch Day! We drove to Bandera Texas (aka the Cowboy Capital of the US!) and arrived at the Running R Ranch around noon. Our cabin was pine covered as far as the eye could see and neat as a pin.
We joined the ranchers and other guests at the ranch house for a family-style lunch where we first arranged for our afternoon ride with Cowboy Justin. We loved, loved, loved Cowboy Justin!
Unfortunately, I couldn’t handle both my horse and my camera at the same time, so you’ll have to wait a few paragraphs before you see us on horseback. It was a great ride – hot and sunny – through the state park that borders the ranch. My horse was named Cowboy and Sue rode Curly. In the early evening we walked the ranch a bit and then drove to town where I honestly expected to run into Little Joe or Heath Barkley. After dinner in an authentic barbecue joint, I bought myself a cowboy hat after trying on almost all of the 8 million there were to offer.
The only part of the ranch I didn’t like was the fact I was pretty much cut off from internet and cell service. Generally I wouldn’t have minded (so much), but I was trying to get news on a sick friend back home and at one point I stood on a chair waving my cell phone through the air. I felt like a concert-goer listening to “Beth” at a KISS concert. (FYI – any pictures taken by Sue have been duly confiscated and destroyed…)
Day 9: Back at the Ranch
Since we’d had such a great day the day before, we asked for an extra long ride today. Justin took the two of us into the park again and we rode for four hours. I’m going to have to let the pictures speak, because I don’t have words for how amazing it was.
We finished the day by hiking around the ranch, hanging with the horses and cows (and goats!), and then went to supper at Old Spanish Trail in town. The bar stools were actual saddles, but we chose instead to eat in the “John Wayne Room” which had pix of the Duke all over the walls and a salad bar in a covered wagon. Cheesy? Why, yes. But still awesome. We finished the night sitting on the porch of the cabin drinking beer and watching the stars. Lovely, lovely, lovely.
Day 10: Austin here we come: We were very sad to leave our ranch and decided that we will definitely go back some day.
We backtracked on the highway toward San Antonio again which is apparently the fastest way to get to Austin. Well, there were some back roads we could have taken, but it felt a little too “Thelma and Louise” for me and we all know that didn’t end well. So we stuck to the highways.
Our hotel was one block away from Willie Nelson Boulevard (!) and just a ten minute walk from the music clubs on sixth street. We went exploring during the day and found a cute little pub that was playing the University of Texas game. (For those of you who don’t follow college football, it did not go well for UT this weekend. People were very, very sad.) We then trekked up to the state capital building which was surrounded by memorials and monuments that made me realize I wasn’t in New England anymore. Most notable was the one devoted to the glorious confederate dead:
Also near the Capitol was a monument to the men who’d died at the Alamo. I was able to say, “Hey, I remember the Alamo!”
That night we went to our final vacation dinner at a steakhouse that had a great band playing in the bar. It was a great end to a great vacation!!!