Archive for the ‘Winter 2009-2010’ Category

Medina Lake Fun

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Texas

Medina Lake

March 10, 2010

We have been enjoying our stay at the Medina Lake Thousand Trails RV Park.  At this park, many people feed the deer corn so the deer and the birds are very tame.

A Cardinal

A Cardinal

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The deer don’t even bother Patty.
Deer in camp
Deer in camp
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patty doesn’t bother the deer either.

Deer near the pool
Deer near the pool
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The pool and hottub here are really nice.  The pool isn’t heated so it’s been too cold to go in, but the hottub is nice and hot.  We’ve been using it almost nightly.
Medina Lake pool - hottub is under the structure

Medina Lake pool - hottub is under the structure

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
One Saturday we put up a table at a flea market at the club house.  We had a lot of business because our junk was marked really low.  It was fun, we eliminated about two hundred pounds from the motorhome, and we made enough money for a couple of meals out.  I sold a  pine needle basket and took an order for a specific size which I made  for a lady over the next week.
 
K.C. at the Flea Market

K.C. at the Flea Market

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We have been enjoying geocaching.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, locals hide a treasure and then post the GPS coordinates on a website online called geocaching.com.  We put in our zip code and then look up coordinates for geocaches nearby.  Once we find a couple of inresting ones, we hit the road.  It’s a great way to learn the area, and locals take you to places you never would see otherwise.
 
 
Yesterday, we went along Paradise Creek to Polly’s Chapel which is located way out in the woods.  To get there, we even had to ford the creek. 
The ford on Paradise Creek

The ford on Paradise Creek

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Don’t worry; it was only a couple of inches deep.  It wasn’t even enough to wash the mud off the tires.
Fording Paradise Creek

Fording Paradise Creek

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We made it to Polly’s Chapel without incident.  It is an amazing old building that was built in the mid 1800s.  The door was unlocked with a vistor’s register inside.   That is very unusual and we appreciated having access to this historical building in the middle of nowhere.
 
Bob at Polly's Chapel

Bob at Polly's Chapel

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We looked around for the geocache.
 
Cross tree
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We found the geocache without too much problem although Bob did look for it in the sewer cleanout pipe.   Some people make containers out of PVC pipe and hide their geocaches inside.  In this case, though, it was actually a sewer cleanout pipe!    We eventually found the geocache under the “privy” building.
 
 We went inside to explore the Chapel.
 
Bob left a donation

Bob left a donation

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
K.C. at the pulpit
K.C. at the pulpit
It's humid here and this piano has very sticky keys

It's humid here and this piano has very sticky keys

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We enjoyed our trip to Polly’s Chapel. 
Time to leave
Time to leave
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We’ll be geocaching again soon. 
 
We have enjoyed getting to know our next campsite neighbor, Al and his dog, Roxie, from Groom, Texas.
Al and Roxie
Al and Roxie

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Roxie and Al
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
.
 
Groom Al
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We hope that we meet up with Al and Roxie along the road again.  See you one of these days, Al!
 
We have enjoyed our time at Medina Lake.  We will be leaving Monday to go to Lake Whitney which is located about halfway between Dallas and Waco, Texas.
 
 
.

The Alamo

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Texas

The Alamo

February 26, 2010

We left the RiverWalk and strolled a couple of blocks over to The Alamo.  Okay, I admit I was using my cane that day so it’s more like we thumped over to The Alamo.  As we were walking over there, we passed a Segway shop.  We found out when we got home and looked at their business card that this was the company who had purchased our Segways and offered us free Segway rides if we were ever in San Antonio!  Too bad we didn’t realize that at the time.

Texas-style decorations

Texas-style decorations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, now to refresh our memory about the history of The Alamo:

Originally named Misión San Antonio de Valero and built in 1724, The Alamo served as home to missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly seventy years.  In 1793, Spanish officials secularized San Antonio’s five missions and distributed their lands to the remaining Indian residents. These men and women continued to farm the fields and participated in the growing community of San Antonio.

The Mission at The Alamo

The Mission at The Alamo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Quarters at The Alamo

Indian Quarters at The Alamo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the early 1800s, the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the former mission. The soldiers referred to the old mission as the Alamo (the Spanish word for “cottonwood”) in honor of their hometown Alamo de Parras, Coahuila. The post’s commander established the first recorded hospital in Texas in the Long Barrack. The Alamo was home to both Revolutionaries and Royalists during Mexico’s ten-year struggle for independence. The military — Spanish, Rebel, and then Mexican — continued to occupy the Alamo until the Texas Revolution.

 

A brass relief of the fort - the mission towards the back

A brass relief of the fort - the mission towards the back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Antonio and the Alamo played a critical role in the Texas Revolution. After five days of house-to-house fighting in 1835, the Texians won occupation of The Alamo, but on February 23, 1836, the arrival of General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s army outside San Antonio nearly caught them by surprise. Undaunted, the Texians and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo together. The defenders held out for 13 days against Santa Anna’s army. William B. Travis, the commander of the Alamo sent forth couriers carrying pleas for help to communities in Texas. On the eighth day of the siege, a band of 32 volunteers from Gonzales arrived, bringing the number of defenders to nearly two hundred. Legend holds that with the possibility of additional help fading, Colonel Travis drew a line on the ground and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over — all except one did. As the defenders saw it, the Alamo was the key to the defense of Texas, and they were ready to give their lives rather than surrender their position to General Santa Anna. Among the Alamo’s garrison were Jim Bowie, renowned knife fighter, and David Crockett, famed frontiersman and former congressman from Tennessee.

The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836, as columns of Mexican soldiers emerged from the predawn darkness, rushed the compound, captured the canons and overwhelmed the combatants. The Alamo remains hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty.

alamo backside of alamo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob with Alamo canon

Bob with Alamo canon

K.C. with the Alamo Texas Rangers

K.C. with the Alamo Texas Rangers

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We enjoyed our day in downtown San Antonio.  Trying to find our way out was an experience but we had our GPS with us and it told us the way.  Thank goodness.

Arrival at Medina Lake and visit to the RiverWalk in downtown San Antonio

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Texas

Medina Lake and San Antonio

February 26, 2010

We left Tropic Winds in Harlingen  on Sunday, February 21.  We headed west on Highway 107, and then north on Highway 281.  We spent the night in a nice rest area near Alice and then drove on in to our Thousand Trails Park at Medina Lake on Monday.  Medina Lake is just west of San Antonio, Texas.

Arriving at Medina Lake

Arriving at Medina Lake

Our campsite at Medina Lake

Our campsite at Medina Lake

After a couple of days of rest, we decided to drive to downtown San Antonio to the RiverWalk.   The RiverWalk follows the route of the San Antonio River as it flows through downtown San Antonio.  They have created a horseshoe route that branches off of the main channel which they can close off if there is a flood.  We took a tour of the RiverWalk.  The boat captain told us that there were forty-eight life jackets in the cabinet.  However, he said if we should find ourselves in the water we should stand up and walk out.  The RiverWalk channel is only five feet deep at its deepest.

Because signal is slow here and I have so many pictures, I’m going to load them differently.  Hopefully it won’t look too chaotic.

 K.C. and Bob above RW

Looking at the RiverWalk from street level

Looking at the RiverWalk from street level

Our tour guide

Our tour guide200 year-old cypress

better pic of bob on tour

Downtown San Antonio has really cool old buildings

Downtown San Antonio has really cool old buildings

Looking down on the RiverWalk

Looking down on the RiverWalk

b Ducks and bridge

 

 

b Beautiful RW

Casa of original Mexican/Texan family

Casa of original Mexican/Texan family

        

       d going under

 

 

 

 

 

 

d looking down river     d neat staircasef RW bells 

 

          f statue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The RiverWalk is definitely beautiful.  We enjoyed our boat trip.

The RiverWalk is definitely beautiful. We enjoyed our boat trip.

        

This is the end of the RiverWalk and also the sight of the San Antonio World's Fair

This is the end of the RiverWalk and also the sight of the San Antonio World's Fair

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We ate lunch at Texas Land and Cattle Company; and having found out that The Alamo, was only two blocks away, we headed on over there.

Port Isabel, Texas

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Texas

Port Isabel

February 18, 2010

Today we took a trip over to visit Port Isabel.  Port Isabel is on the mainland just across the bridge from South Padre Island.  It is a small city with an interesting history. 

Back in the day, Port Isabel was first occupied by Coahuiltecan Indians.  By 1770, the first Spanish Colonial settlers had begun to fish the Laguna Madre at Port Isabel.  In March of 1846, this area was occupied by the U.S. Army led by General Zachary Taylor. He and his men built Fort Polk and improved the port docks.  Fort Polk was the main supply depot for the northern campaign of the war with Mexico and in the Civil War, or should I say, “The War Between the States.”  The fort was decommissioned in 1850. 

 

General Zachary Taylor's Well at Fort Polk

General Zachary Taylor's Well at Fort Polk

 

 

From 1849 to 1850, many gold seekers traveled through Point Isabel looking for a safer route to the California gold rush.  The lighthouse was built in 1852.

 

K.C at the Lighthouse

K.C at the Lighthouse

 

 

From 1861 to 1865, Point Isabel was occupied by both Union and Confederate soldiers. The lighthouse was used as a lookout. Two small battles were fought here. Confederate Colonel John S. “Rip” Ford removed the lens and attempted to blow up the lighthouse, only succeeding in cracking it and damaging the top structure.  The lighthouse fell into disrepair, but the town of Port Isabel fixed it up and turned it and the lightkeepers house into a museum in the 1950’s.  Now it is beautifully kept and is surrounded by quaint little shops.   

Bob by the Lightkeeper's House

Bob by the Lightkeeper's House

We took a side trip to look for a “swinging” bridge in town.  We were expecting to see something like the swinging bridge walkway that used to cross the Klickitat River Canyon.  Instead, we found that it was a lock type system where the car bridge swung to the side to let the shrimp boats head on out to the Bay.  It was a busy bridge.

We went to a museum that was in an old building that had been a mercantile with upstairs family quarters. 

Picture of the old store

Picture of the old store

 

General store as it looks now - it's a museum

General store as it looks now - it's a museum

 

Closeup of the fish on the wall of the general store

Closeup of the fish on the wall of the general store

I stopped to touch the walls of the old general store to see if I could feel the vibes from people of long ago.  Nope, I didn’t feel a thing. 

 

K.C. catching vibes from days gone by

K.C. catching vibes from days gone by

 

Bob, however, reached out and touched the garbage can and said, “Ah, yes.  I can feel the vibes that tell me the garbage truck is coming.”

Psychic Bob predicts garbage trucks

Psychic Bob predicts garbage trucks

  It was a fun trip  Bob was tired and Patty was happy to see him.   

Patty in her favorite resting place

Patty in her favorite resting place

 

Palo Alto Battlefield

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Texas

Day Trip to Palo Alto Battlefield just North of Brownsville, Texas

February 12, 2010

Yesterday we did chores around the house and then rested. 

Bob and Patty rest after completing chores

Bob and Patty rest after completing chores

It's a dog's life

It's a dog's life

Today we took a trip to the National Historic Site at Palo Alto Battlefield just north of Brownsville, Texas. 
a Entry to Palo Alto Battlefiel

We had decided not to go to Brownsville because the locals here in Harlingen tell us it is very dangerous down there.  However, we looked the Battlefield up on our GPS unit and it erroneously directed us to a Walgreen store in downtown Brownsville, so we ended up in Brownsville after all.  Once there, Bob went into the store to ask directions.  Inside he spotted an Army General so he asked him where the Battlefield is and the General kindly directed us about five miles north to the Battlefield. 

We drove north to the Battlefield.

d wall of visitor center

e Bob at visitor center

After watching a short but informative movie about the Battle,  we walked out onto the Battlefield.  Pretty cool. 

On the Battlefield

On the Battlefield

I am amazed at what I don’t know about the Mexican-American War.  I remember studying it a bit in history in high school, but I obviously didn’t pay much attention. 

Originally, settlers who moved into southern lands swore allegiance to Mexico.  Eventually, however, those who lived in Texas rebelled and fought for independence from Mexico.  Texas won independence from Mexico in 1836.  What I didn’t know is that the southern border of the Republic of Texas was along the Nueces River which empties into the Nueces Bay at Corpus Christi. 

When the Republic of Texas was annexed by the United States in 1845, the U.S. President James K. Polk claimed a boundary along the Rio Grande (then known as the Rio Bravo del Norte).  President Polk had campaigned for president with a pledge to extend the United States to the Pacific Ocean, and the addition of the Republic of Texas as the 28th state represented a major step toward that goal.  However, even though Texas had severed ties with Mexico in 1836, many Mexican leaders refused to recognize its independence.  They denounced the U.S.’s move as an attack on Mexico.  Even those who had accepted the loss of Texas bristled at the claim that the Rio Grande formed the boundary of the new state. 

In the summer of 1845, Polk sent an envoy to Mexico City to negotiate an agreement between the two countries. At the same time, he ordered General Zachary Taylor to lead a 4,000-man army to Corpus Christi.  The official word was that Taylor’s troops were being sent there to defend against Mexican invasion, but it was also a show of force designed to convince the Mexican government to accept the loss of Texas and agree to the Rio Grande boundary.  Polk also wanted to buy the territories between Texas and the Pacific Ocean from Mexico.

The tactic failed.  Mexican leaders expelled the U.S. envoy out of Mexico and announced that they would discuss nothing but the return of Texas.  Polk then ordered General Taylor to move onward to claim the Rio Grande.  Taylor led his troops south to occupy the banks of the Rio Grande River north of the Mexican city of Matamoros.  He constructed Fort Texas there (later changed to Fort Brown after Major Jacob Brown who died while defending it).  Mexican General Paredes sent thousand of troops to Matamoros and appointed General Mariano Arista to command his army there.

Meanwhile back in Washington, many were challenging Polk’s claims to the Rio Grande boundary.  Polk realized that moving troops across the Rio Grande or initiating conflict might turn the American public against him.  Instead, he ordered Taylor to wait for Mexican forces to cross the Rio Grande so that he could then claim that they had attacked American territory.  Oh, that wily President Polk….

He didn’t have to wait long.  Taylor had sent a scouting unit of 63 men out west of Fort Texas to a small settlement called Rancho de Carricitos.  Arista, believing that Taylor’s entire army was on the move, ordered troops across the Rio Grande to confront the Americans.  The 63-man scout party found themselves surrounded by 1,600 Mexican soldiers.  In a brief skirmish, eleven U.S. soldiers were killed and most of the rest were taken captive.

That was just what Polk needed.  Upon learning of the skirmish, Polk announced that Mexico had “shed American blood upon American soil.”  Although not all legislators agreed, Congress voted to declare war.  This is how on May 13, 1846, two years after Polk had declared the intention to peacefully acquire land to the Rio Grande, the United States and Mexico entered into a two-year war.

Taylor marched most of his army to Point Isabel (just across from South Padre Island) on the Gulf of Mexico to wait for ships carrying supplies needed in order to withstand a long siege.  Taylor left 550 men at Fort Texas under the command of Major Jacob Brown to defend the post until his return.  While Taylor was gone, Arista arrayed his men around the post and ordered his artillery to open fire.

Taylor knew that his fort was under fire. After gathering supplies and ammunition, he and his men set out with 2,300 troops and 200 supply wagons to make the 25-mile trek to break the siege at Fort Texas.  General Arista watched Taylor’s moves carefully.  On the morning of May 8, 1846, Arista positioned 3,200 troops at the halfway point of the road where it crossed broad plan at Palo Alto.

Although Arista had the advantage in troop numbers and they carried a large number of cannons into the field, Taylor’s troops were better trained.  They carried newer rifles and their “Flying Artillery” possessed cannons with greater range that fired a variety of multiple-shot projectiles.   The U.S. 18-pounder siege cannons dominated the battle and pounded Arista’s lines with exploding shot.  The Mexican ranks were decimated.   

Bob with 18-pounder cannon

Bob with 18-pounder cannon

Mexican cannon

Mexican cannon

U.S. Cannon in the field

U.S. Cannon in the field

Mexican efforts to mount cavalry charges to the U.S. flanks were turned back by the maneuverable and quick-firing “Flying Artillery” of Major Samuel Ringgold and Captain James Duncan.  The Mexican soldiers held their ground, but after a four-hour battle in the late afternoon the Mexican toll was 100 dead and 125 wounded.  Taylor’s force counted only 9 killed and 17 wounded. 

“I was anxious to charge because the cannon fire was tearing at our ranks.  I ordered General Anastacio Torrejon to attack from the left with the greater part of our cavalry, expecting to open the way for a second strike from the right – using infantry and the rest of the cavalry.  I waited for Torrejon to complete his charge, but he was stopped by an opposing force that defended a marshy ravine and turned back the attack.”  Mariano Arista, General, Mexican Army

Eight hundred lancers formed to charge….On they came – but when they had got within about 40 yards, the front of the square attacked, poured in its volley of buckshot and balls, and horses, officers, and….lancers were brought to the ground.   Napoleon Dana, Lieutenant, U.S. Army

“The gunners went into it more like butchers than military men; each man stripped off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, and tied his suspenders around his waist; they all wore red flannel shirts and therefore were in uniform.  To see them limbering and unlimbering, firing a few shots, then dashing through the smoke, and then to fire again with lightning-like rapidity, partly hid from view by dense clouds of smoke, with their dark-red shirts and naked arms, yelling at every shot they made, reminded me of a band of demons rather than of men. “   C.M. Reeves, Corporal, U.S. Army

To make an already long story short, this battle was over but the war continued for months.  After many disastrous defeats by the Mexican forces, on September 14, 1847, Mexico City fell to the U.S. army lead by General Winfield Scott.  A few months later, the two nations signed a peace treaty at Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the war. 

Although some American’s felt we should keep the land we had conquered, it was agreed that we would retain that which we had claimed before the war.  Mexico’s leaders faced the painful task of renouncing claims to Texas and accepting the Rio Grande as the boundary.  They also sold us vast stretches of land for $15 million. That land became our southern most states of New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Out on the Battlefield it was interesting to see pictures of how the Battle shaped up and to actually see the places where the battle took place.  We walked under a line of Mexican flags that respresent where the Mexican Army waited for Taylor to approach.  A line of U.S. flags shows where Taylor stopped and prepared to fight.  It was too far in the distance for us to walk.

Map of the Palo Alto Battlefield

Map of the Palo Alto Battlefield

Mexican flags show where the Mexican Army waited for Taylor

A line of Mexican flags show where the Mexican Army waited for Taylor

The line of U.S. flags in the distance show where the U.S. Army halted and prepared to fight

The line of U.S. flags in the distance show where the U.S. Army halted and prepared to fight

Strategic map of the Battle

Strategic map of the Battle

U.S. cannons in the distance

U.S. cannons in the distance

 

The Battlefield as it looks today

The Battlefield as it looks today

 

It was a most interesting day.  I realized how little I knew about the Mexican-American War, and for that matter about President Polk.

 

<