February 1, 2011

Texas Two-Step

We’re officially Texas residents because our mailbox is in Livingston, the Escapees campers’ home base - but we’re really just sightseers as we pass through headed east or west, north or south. We get to visit nephew Marc in Bastrop more often than any other family members. A pleasure! We stopped here for Christmas – and also so that Chuck could see a urologist in Austin. His Louisiana doc was booked into January, and we wanted to move on west.

Passing the time before the appointment, playing Mexican Train with Maggie, Kelvin & Marc!

A biopsy was recommended and taken. Waiting for results, we moved south to Hondo to check out the Escapees Lone Star Corral Co-op (Texans love Texas themes). In winter the area is rather barren, but the history of small towns once accessible only by buggy and the railroad seems starkly real.

TX Hondo St Dom Primitive Stone Heart
TX Hondo St Dom Church & Tree

The closest town to the campground is D’Hanis, founded by twenty-nine families from Alsace, France in the mid 1800s. The San Dominic Church was abandoned in 1914 when the town center relocated closer to the train route. Many graves are early immigrants and children who died during an 1810 diphtheria outbreak.
San Antonio has the largest group of Spanish Colonial missions in the US, and a unique history! The area was home to semi-nomadic Indian populations when it was contested by  Spanish and French explorers. The Spanish built the missions, and taught the Indians to farm and raise cattle. Some Spanish horses escaped or were stolen, and spread north across the plains into Canada. In 1722, San Antonio  was the capitol of Spanish Texas. After Mexico won independence, they governed the land north of the Rio Grande. In battles following the 1836 fall of the Alamo, the independent Republic of Texas was born, which briefly became a US state before seceding in 1861 with other Southern States despite the heated objections of Governor Sam Houston. At the end of the Civil War, Texas rejoined the union.
Here in San Fernando Cathedral lie the remains of Travis, Crockett, Bowie and other defenders of the Alamo. In 1936 they were disinterred and placed on public view for a year before being placed here. You’ve got to wonder, would they do that sort of thing today? Bones?
We’ve visited all five Spanish missions along the San Antonio River. At Mission San Juan, dating prior to 1750, a docent told about his great-grandparents of Mexican heritage, who were married in the San Juan Mission Church, where he attends services each Sunday. Electricity is installed, walls crumbling.


Today San Antonio is a vibrant multicultural city, as we learned at the beautiful San Antonio Museum of Art during a visit with Curator of Contemporary Art David Rubin, who I worked with at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans. 
TX SAMart David Rubin
TX SAMart Gary Sweeny Assemblage

We came back to Marc’s in mid-January. Chuck had his follow-up visit and the biopsy was positive – which or course is NOT good, he has cancer. Fortunately it is small, contained and not aggressive. He’ll have a series of radiation treatments in Austin.
But it’s so COLD here just now! Look closely, that’s ICE on our frozen-solid water hose! Further, we’d planned this trip to see what Arizona and New Mexico were like in winter (whining)! Well, the doc confirmed that treatment is not a rush but should be attended to soon…so we’re heading west and will return at the end of March, when the Texas bluebonnets are in full bloom!  
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More Texas icons:

Yes! Extreme hog hunts! Come & get ‘em.

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