A visit to San Antonio had been in the works years ago but ended up getting put on hold back then. This was our time/chance to check out the area and after the solitude of Big Bend, we were excited to be in closer proximity to both San Antonio and Austin. To break up the long drive from Terlingua, we opted to do our first dry camp attempt of the trip at a Walmart in Del Rio, Texas. We’d heard that the protocol was to check with management that it was ok to spend the night, then park in whatever area they directed you toward before using the store for resupply. Getting permission was no problem, and we took the last spot in the RV parking area that was closest to a section of grass for Caira. The thought process was that the space between our RV and the grass was marked as no parking and no driving, so we could ensure quiet on at least that side. Wrong! There were several large rigs that squeezed through that section throughout the night, so we’ll grab a middle spot the next time we need to use a parking lot to grab a few winks. It was plenty safe and well lit, but the noise just didn’t allow for high quality sleep. Live & learn! By the way, Texas has lots of picnic areas that are alongside its highways and allow for overnight parking, but since we aren’t “packing heat”, we decided we didn’t want to be that isolated.
Upon arriving at the RV park in San Antonio, we were warned to keep everything locked up and please not feed stray animals. The park looked nice enough but was more crowded than we typically prefer and the stray comment was tugging on my heartstrings immediately. Not an awesome start… As it turns out though, the park was situated right off Mission Trail and very close to the San Antonio Riverwalk.
The Mission Trail (also known as Mission Reach) leads visitors along 8 miles of paved trail, enabling visits to 4 Spanish colonial missions. We took advantage of the fact that the grounds were pup friendly and visited 3 of those missions, taking turns seeing the interior. Check out this site for interesting details about each mission: http://visitsanantonio.com/english/Explore-San-Antonio/Only-in-San-Antonio/The-Alamo/The-San-Antonio-Missions
While I can’t say I’m a fan of forced conversion or spending fortunes on temples and places of worship, I’m a complete and unapologetic sucker for interesting architecture. Unique rooflines, wrought iron, mosaic tile, arches, intricate wood carvings, or boldly colored doors can result in my wandering a site or city for hours, camera in hand, engrossed in the angles and oblivious to the passing of time.
The Riverwalk was a great way for us to get some excercise and see a few different parts of the city at the same time. We picked up the path in a residential part of town, and followed it as it wove in and out of different sections until we wound up in a primarily business district. Along the way were platforms for river tours (non pet friendly), as well as various eateries, bars, shops, and hotels, all of which were semi concentrated in a central loop. There were plenty of quiet little tucked away nooks for solitude, but the multiuse trail was used plenty by locals and tourists alike.
Our day trip to Austin included some time wandering the Zilker Botanical Gardens, as well as allowing Caira an off leash romp in Zilker Metropolitan Park. The Botanical Gardens were open but under renovation. A pathway meandered through various exhibits such as a rose garden, Japanese garden and tea house, koi pond and butterfly garden. In spring and summer, those gardens are likely stunning, and while still enjoyable, they didn’t hold as much color as we’d anticipated. Upside for me: fewer buzzing insects to duck/run from! One of the highlights for me was a massive wind chime that sounded hauntingly beautiful. Zilker Metropolitan Park was clearly a haven for both humans and pups alike. It boasted a fantastic view of the city and was full of people enjoying the winter sunshine on a beautiful day. It wasn’t exactly legal according to Austin leash law, but Mike observed lots of locals with their pups off leash, so we found an empty section of grass where Caira could cut loose a bit. We would love to return and stay in Austin so that we could give it a proper chunk of time!