Friday, August 13, 2010

Remembering to Remember the Alamo

Never forget the Alamo. Aside from the fact that it was a building somewhere in Texas, I didn't really know all that much to forget.

Down in San Antonio the Alamo brings in throngs of tourists. Enough to support a Guinness World Records and Ripley's Museum on the main drag. Pay parking lots are everywhere – some audaciously demanding ten dollars for the privilege of leaving your car behind. Most charge a far more reasonable five.

The first stop in San Antonio is obvious – head on over to the Alamo and peek inside. Photography is not permitted within the walls for whatever reason they have decided. It seems not much is allowed inside. Even touching the walls in prohibited, though with many people all trying to make their way around, those signs seem to be wishful thinking at best.

There's not much to see – it's a building. There was a battle fought here, and I guess that was important. I'm not really up on my history, but I know a few people decided it was important enough to sacrifice their lives. That crazy guy who is said to have killed himself a “b'ar, when he was only three,” gave his life – strange seeing his signature read David, when history knows him so well as Davy (Davy Crockett – born on the wild frontier) as did Mr. Bowie, best known not for his unique fashion sense and music, but rather his knives.

There are a few things on display within the walls, but it is a quick visit. Most of your time will be spent outside trying to get a good picture, free of the tourist thrall. Visiting in the mid afternoon, when the sun casts the best light on the building is the way to go. In the morning, when the light was behind, and people were shooting from that side, I heard families cry, “we need a better picture. One where the building looks like the Alamo.” That the building, on all four sides was indeed still the Alamo did not seem to matter. Apparently only the entrance with the well known arch on top counts.

Having made the first half of a three hour round trip journey from and back to our motel in Austin, I was delighted to learn there were other reasons to come out to this city. Not last on the list would be the River Walk.

The San Antonio River Walk takes visitors off the main streets, down by the water, where they can walk the city and take in the beauty of the water. It's unfortunate that said water is an unappealing brown. It is also upsetting that restaurants and shops have moved their entrances lower down to catch all this human traffic. Walking around noon will have you swarmed by hostesses trying to get you into their restaurant for lunch. Prices may be competitive, but there is no way to wander in peace.

I also found a number of the sections were under construction – or being repaired. Not required work, simply future proofing. Now, if I had a main tourist attraction in a city residing in a state with warm clear weather all year long, I know I'd choose to start construction in the height of tourist season. That just makes sense.

When you return to street level a brilliant church is before you. This too is being worked on, blocked off by metal gating – destroying any hope of a clutter free picture. Once more, tourist season is obviously the best time to block off your city's attractions.

There were other things that brought us out to the end of town – the Mexican Market being one of them, but before we reached it there was a Goodwill. I've been on the lookout for cheap CDs to listen to in the car. There were none to be found – though for 3.99 I could buy a broken Master Chief Halo action figure. I thought about it, but decided it was too expensive when a X-Box 360 wireless guitar controller was selling at just 5.99. Who comes up with this?

Back outside, one snow cone later, the Mexican market opened ahead. It was less than appealing. Children could buy wrestling costumes with masks, and evil red eyed versions of Superman on he back. Small guitars were also for sale, though signs warned people not to touch them. I can't imagine anyone willing to buy something like that without trying it first, but the novelty factor must be working. Other signs such as, no pictures with the hats, were disregarded. I mean, come on – what good is a shop selling a big hat if it can't be posed with?

And then it was back to the Alamo and the parking lot. The day had been long, and well spent. But it was time to get back to Austin, where we would see a AAA baseball game in the early evening.

The walk back held on last delight – an individually packaged pickle sold from Wallgreen's. Its label read, “Contents: One Pickle.” How could such a thing not be bought just to say it was done?

With garlic treat devoured we were on our way back. A few ranch signs were photographed, but then we were at the ball park. This was the final part of Katherine's birthday gift – something for which there just was not enough time yesterday. We chose to get the seats sitting on the grass out in Home Run territory – there people sat on blankets, and children ran around enjoying the whole experience, on top of simply watching the game. They met with other youths, played, displayed, and engaged.

The game itself? It seemed like a disaster when by the bottom of the sixth the visiting team from Sacramento were up by six. Our heroes closed the gap by one, and then two, but it was still laughable. By the end of the fifth inning, things seemed to have shifted – the game was tied at six. By the end of the sixth, our boys were up by four, the next inning saw them ahead by five. It wasn't until the top of the ninth that Sacramento saw themselves step up with a lead off home run, but with just one move so late in the game, hope was lost and that was the ball game. What started off so beautifully for them ended up with doom.

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