Don’t let the title of this post fool you. Texas didn’t swallow the three of us up, with it’s sky-sized flags and cowboy hats. We made it to San Diego long ago–I have a job! It’s sunny! We need to buy furniture!–but first, I want to finish telling you about how my dad and I got here.
After leaving snowy Virginia, driving through flat Mississippi and eating tasty fried seafood in Baton Rouge, my dad, dog and I began the drive into Texas. Let me tell you, it’s a huge state, more than a day’s drive across. I-10 keeps going and going and going. Luckily, this first day wasn’t too bad, for we only drove 5 hours from Lake Charles, Louisiana (home to many oil refineries) to San Antonio.
The country’s seventh largest city, San Antonio is more than just the Alamo. We even decided to skip the historic site. Having only a few hours to take in as much as possible, touring the shrine from the Texas Revolution didn’t seem to be the most captivating spot. Plus, dogs can’t go in, and if Rachel couldn’t see the Alamo, then we didn’t want to either.
Instead, once we pulled off the interstate, and located a large green spot on the iPhone map, which turned out to be the spot for Sunday afternoon tailgates for native San Antonians. Hispanic families, with a dozen or more members and their friends all in tow, hauled grills, smokers, stereos and speakers to the 343-acre park, where the city’s river begins. If most Americans spend Sundays tailgating before the sports game, I think I prefer the San Antonio way, enjoying the park and family atmosphere, rather than focus on football. (But, please don’t make me move to Texas.) Cars had double parked through the park, and we wondered what time some families had arrived to stake out their spot for the day. A few dads must have arrived early for a prime table for a birthday party, marked by streamers and balloons on surrounding trees. The smells of smoking meat permeated the air, and dad and Rachel probably would have liked to stop for the rest of the afternoon.
Instead, our tummies were fueled with a sandwich and soup from Joseph’s Storehouse Restaurant & Bakery. One surefire way to convince my family to stop is to hang a sign proclaiming yourself the city’s best bakery. A few blocks from the park, this bakery-turned-church-on-Sundays seemed our best choice. We shared a veggie crunch sandwich, full of sprouts, cabbage, carrots, sunflower seeds, guac, monterey jack and tomatoes, served on fresh baked bread, along with a bowl of red beans and rice soup. Two huge housemade iced teas completed our meal, that we enjoyed at the park, where Rachel eyed a river full of colorful ducks and other waterfowl.
After checking into a recently remodeled and dog-friendly Red Roof Inn in downtown, we walked the few blocks to the popular River Walk. Built one story beneath the streets of downtown, the River Walk is a public park lined with restaurants and shops. It began as a flood control project, and has become a must-stop for visitors and residents alike. The temperature noticeably dropped as we walked down the stairs, after a quick photo-op in front of the nearby Alamo. The pup was so excited to walk along the river, and wanted to jump in and chase ducks, or grab dinners of the tables lining the walkway. She wasn’t allowed to do either, until a boat ramp offered a chance for a quick dip. Sunday’s miles of walking through the park and along the river were a nice escape from the confines of the Camry. (Rachel slept well that night too, though we did wake up in the middle of the night to her getting sick.)
For dinner, we decided to finally head out to a nice restaurant. Pearl Brewery, also located along the river, is a brewery-turned-mixed use development, with apartments, offices, lots of restaurants and a campus for the Culinary Institute of America. From the crowd in line, La Gloria seemed to be popular, and for good reason. A pair of locals we chatted with in line for drinks said this was one of their favorite restaurants, and it’s been recognized by national media many times. Our favorite picks that night: a prickly pear margarita and our first-ever ceviche, with shrimp, scallops and crab in a spicy tomato sauce.