As you surely know by now, my husband Bill and I plan trips for each other as birthday surprises. The planner organizes the details—reservations, car rentals, tickets, maps, wardrobe selection and everything that a major trip might entail, while the birthday recipient does nothing but save breath to blow out candles on a cake located somewhere to be determined.
Now it’s my turn to plan. Back to the Internet. Back to little mental notes I’ve taken in conversation with Bill. Back to accessibility, attractions, travel details, wardrobe requirements and even culinary desires to make my present to him an unforgettable experience.
The light bulb over my head began flashing big time. We were going to “mess with Texas” because I know Bill is an avid “wild west” fan. So looming before me as if on a marquis is one word: Alamo. Remember?
Off we go. I had made reservations in San Antonio, famous for its River Walk as well as its proximity to the Alamo. First, we explored the beautiful city of San Antonio itself.
The city’s famous River Walk along the San Antonio River is a fascinating dream as it meanders through cypress-lined paths, arched stone bridges, lush landscapes and entrances to boutiques, restaurants, shops and museums. Fifteen miles of river walk, and, yes, we made a brave attempt to do it all. Picture vividly colored umbrellas shading dining tables, gardens in boxes with unusual plants native to the area, mariachi music filling the air, the intoxicating aromas of Tex-Mex temptations and a general ambiance of relaxed party time. We completely surrendered to the spell cast by the southwestern culture. It was not a difficult accomplishment.
That was by land. We also braved a boat tour along the San Antonio River for a water view of our surroundings. River Walk, or Paseo del Rio, is the largest urban ecosystem in the world, and gliding along quietly was a serene way to navigate this beautiful American city.
Bill immediately realized how close we were to The Alamo, a mere “stone’s throw” of a walk and a historic landmark he had always wanted to visit. The story of the Alamo began with the establishment of the Mission San Francisco de Solano near the Rio Grande River in 1700. It was originally a church before its conversion to a powder magazine in the Mexican/American War. American volunteers refused to surrender in the face of overwhelming odds. They sacrificed themselves to gain a respite of 13 days, which allowed General Sam Houston the time to bring his army to the battlefield to repel the Mexicans, thus making Texas a free state. Those who perished during this conflict included Col. William Travis, Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett. Bill said he felt he was reliving history—and I’m thinking that my mission as birthday planner was accomplished.
As our finale, we visited the Texas Ranger Museum, complete with a replica of a true wild west town, including a working jail, blacksmith shop, a newspaper and telegraph office and, of course, a saloon where we bellied up to the bar for mugs of—cold root beer!
So my own John Wayne was in his element. He was the star of his own cowboy movie, complete with 10-gallon hats, dust-covered boots, holstered guns and yee-haw attitudes. And I, the Miss Kitty in this scenario, survived the gun smoke and lassos with the self-satisfaction that I was the next honoree. And, by the way, I did resist the temptation to purchase cowboy boots for my already loaded suitcase.