We made our way into Texas and marked our first night in the Lone Star State by boon docking again in Fort Stockton at the local Walmart. We had plenty of electricity and used the propane stove top for dinner so our energy usage was very low. We got another early start the next morning, winding our way to the Thousand Trails Medina Lake RV park in Lakehills, TX. We ran a few errands after settling in, including a visit to REI for a travel backpack with wheels for our upcoming trip to Mexico. Storage is at a premium in the RV, which means travel luggage that folds flat is a really great option. We're planning to take carry on bags only, which will cut down on the time we'd need to spend waiting for luggage and will keep us from losing any bags along the way. We'll see how packing goes, we've gotten very used to traveling light, so we should be good to go.
The following day we made our way into San Antonio, making use of the VIA Ellis Alley Park & Ride recommended by the Lonely Planet USA. We parked and hopped on the bus, parking was free with a parking transfer from the bus driver and the bus came to under $4 for all five of us (Armand rode for free as he is under 5). Parking garages are significantly more expensive, so the park and ride option is a really good bet at under $8 round trip. We made our way down to the Riverwalk, purchasing tickets for the next Rio San Antonio Cruise. We really enjoyed our river tour, it was a beautiful ride and gave us a good overview of San Antonio history. The kids enjoyed being on the boat, our tour guide was really friendly and engaged with them a lot, which was fun for them.
We walked along the Riverwalk to explore a bit more (the please conceal your handgun while dining at our establishment signs were a bit of a shocker!) before making our way over to the Alamo. Juliette had been to visit as a kid, and this stop was a real highlight at the time as her brother was really into Davy Crockett and the Alamo. We were excited to visit it again (and for the first time, for Dom and the kids) and our visit did not disappoint. We went on a guided walking tour, which detailed the history of the building and the famous battle, taking us into a side room and providing some additional details on the excavations of the building that were especially interesting for Dominic. Armand was fascinated by the doors that used to lead in and out of the building but were now sealed off. He regaled us with stories about people coming in and out, back when "the doors were open."
We continued walking around the grounds, watching a video detailing the history of the Alamo from construction until it was designated a National Historic Sight in 1960. We then wandered through The Alamo: Crossroads of History exhibit in the Long Barracks, which further detailed events leading up to and following the big battle on March 6, 1863. It prompted a lot of discussion on the nature of warfare, specifically the role that cruelty played in this particular conflict. War is one thing, but cruelty is never necessary, and according to the exhibits this is something that happened a great deal in this case. We are aware that the information provided depicts one perspective, which is that of the Texans. One of the things we appreciated about the Alamo film (2004) that we rented and viewed afterwards was that it depicted the horror and ruthlessness displayed on both sides. Some of the events depicted in the film did not appear to be completely historically accurate, however it was interesting to see after having visited the site.
We hopped back on the bus to pick up the truck before heading to Whole Foods for a grocery run. We've found some good farm stands and grocery stops along the way, but Whole Foods is a great fallback as we know we can find organic produce and a decent selection of healthy (and bulk) grocery items. We've enjoyed finding local produce items along our travels, as well as locally brewed kombucha options! We used to brew our own, but haven't started this back up again since we started traveling in the RV. We found some fresh Shishito Peppers at this whole foods location, which prompted Juliette to come up with a recipe that you can find on her blog.
We decided to spend our second day in San Antonio at the Natural Bridge Caverns, a spot that was recommended to us by a friend who lives in Houston. It's a pretty incredible spot, the caverns are spectacular and our guides provided us with a very informative tour describing the formations in detail. We had a picnic lunch outdoors during our short break between tours as we had elected to visit both the Discovery and HIdden Passage caverns. Armand was a bit nervous during the second tour, as we went down through some narrow passages and had a brief few minute session in complete darkness. He was happy to have gone in the end, and slept most of the way home after walking up and down in the caverns.
On our drive back home we stopped at Natural Grocers for gluten free flour (amazing selection!) we found them via the Otto's Naturals website, they have a store locator area on their website that allows you to track down their amazing Casava Flour across the US (with some locations in Canada also). Juliette has been working on her Gluten Free Baking Academy course and is loving experimenting with different gluten free flours and techniques. We are mostly gluten free at home, as we find it is a lot easier on our digestive system, and taking our bread baking to the next level is pretty exciting, as we've been wanting to bake our own bread for a long time. Store bought options are not fabulous, and there is nothing quite like baking your own!
We spent our last morning in San Antonio at the RV park, catching up on laundry and other day to day tasks. We drove into the city late afternoon, in anticipation of the Ghost Tour we had planned that evening. We made a stop for dinner first at Señor Veggie, a lovely southern style vegan restaurant a 20 minute walk or so from the Alamo. We decided to drive and park closer as we figured the kids would be tired and would not want to walk any more afterwards. Plus we were in a new city, without a lot of awareness of which areas were safe to walk in after dark. This was a really good decision, as Armand fell asleep in Dominic's arms before the tour ended!
The Ghost Tour was Adele's pick, she is fascinated by all things spooky and ghost related at the moment. The tour started out in front of the Alamo, winding through the streets of downtown to end up where we started from. It provided us with some great historical tidbits, plus some spooky additions that thankfully didn't keep the kids up at night!
San Antonio Highlights
VIA Ellis Alley Park & Ride - a great option for taking transit into the center of town (it's only two stops) which helps avoid paying high parking fees.
Lonely Planet USA - a great resource for things to do and see across the US, we've used it a lot!
Riverwalk - a beautiful scenic area in the center of town.
Rio San Antonio Cruise - a fun option that allows you to wind along the river while learning about local history.
Alamo - we really enjoyed our time at The Alamo, we learned so much! It's a beautiful site with guided and self-guided walking tours along with exhibitions and videos to further enhance your visit. Well worth a stop!
Natural Bridge Caverns - breathtaking natural caverns with tours running throughout the day. We elected to do the tour combo, which included both the Discovery & Hidden Passages tours.
Natural Grocers - a fantastic health food store in San Antonio, with a fantastic selection of gluten free flour and dairy free cheeses. We'd be shopping here regularly if we lived in the area, it's a pretty fantastic spot!
Señor Veggie - a tasty southern style vegan restaurant close to the center of the city.
Sisters Grimm Ghost Tour - a fantastic ghost tour that departs in front of the Alamo.