Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Orleans Road Trip - Day 18

D'ja ever wake up and wonder what day it is? It seems easier for the old buzzards to lose track of what day it is out on the road than at home. At home they have a day clock which works great. But on this Road Trip, they have been using their pill dispensers. Lucky Linda takes her pills before her Bright Side breakfast so she knows what day it is all day. John doesn't know until he takes his pills in the evening and by the next morning he can't remember what day it was before he slept. But usually during the daylight Linda is handily nearby as a resource for what day of the week it happens to be. As you can see in today's photo gallery, it was Thursday on Linda's pill of the day calendar.

We are still having fun seeing new old things each day on our trip. Today we drove to downtown San Antonio. After accurately bringing us there, Wilma waited for us in a parking garage on level 4. The first two levels are reserved for valet parking. The third level is reserved for some various companies and John Q. Public gets 4th level and up. Good they have an elevator. We explored the River Walk for the first time in our lives (despite having been here before). It is an amazing place and it would be easy to spend several days exploring its many nooks and crannies. The weather was perfect. Once we figured out where on the River walk we were (so we could find our way back to Wilma later) we hitched a ride on a Rio Taxi. Our captain explained the meaning of the different colors of hat bands the guides have. His was red because he has 9 years of service. Blue means from 1 to 4 years and white means less than 1 year. The second taxi had two guys with blue bands. One of them was being retrained since he had just gotten out of jail (he then explained that he had really been teaching high school). Our other guide had a very faded red band and was proud to tell us that he had the most years of service (22 years) and is the only one born and raised in San Antonio. All of our guides were friendly, helpful, funny and full of information.

We bought Rio Taxi "Yellow" tickets that were good for just over 24 hours. Our first ride was to River Center where we got off to have a Starbucks mocha for John and a chai tea for Linda. We tried to find someplace besides Starbucks but failed. There is something to be said for knowing what you are going to get. After we again figured out that we were at the River Center Convention Center, we hopped on another Rio Taxi and rode it as far as our day passes (we had the "Yellow" tickets) allowed. Our passes were good for the "downtown reach". Our limit was the dam and the locks upstream. We got off at Lexington and watched our taxi go through the lock at the dam. We caught another taxi coming down river and rode it to Convent Street where we got off to visit San Fernando Cathedral, the oldest cathedral sanctuary in the United States. It was founded in 1731 while Texas Territory was still being governed by Spain. As you go in there is a sarcophagus on the left that contains the remains of the Texans who died defending the Alamo. The cathedral is very beautiful inside and out. Behind the alter there is gold gilding covering a large area. The stained glass windows are exquisite and the statues amazing. In today's photo gallery you will see a shot of the ceiling with some wooden beams. That is a style of art called Tromps L'Oeil where an illusion is created to fool your eyes. In other words, the wooden beams going across the ceiling are made of paint. This technique has been traced back as far as Pompeii. The gift shop next door to San Fernando contains the cross that was on the top of the Cathedral at the time that Santa Ana defeated the Texans at the Alamo. It is said that Santa Ana hung a red flag indicating he would show "no quarter" to those defending the Alamo. The defenders all knew they were going to die. Their remains were originally buried under the sanctuary of the old San Fernando Cathedral and were found there in 1936. They were exhumed and placed on display for a year. They were then re-entombed in the sarcophagus on May 11, 1938. You can learn more about the cathedral (translation: seat, as in seat of the Bishop) by clicking here.

When we got back onto a Rio Vista river taxi, with the two blue hat band guys we were with before, John asked where he might find a good chef salad. After some discussion, one of them got us interested in going to the Hotel Menger for lunch. It was built in 1858 and has a rich history involving Teddy Roosevelt, O Henry, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant and many ghosts. One lowly enlisted man stationed at Ft. Sam Houston in the 1950s deserves mentioning. His name was Shearn Moody Jr. and he found that soldiers who owned property in San Antonio could live "off-post." He told his company commander that he wanted to live at the Menger Hotel and the Captain patiently explained to him that he'd have to own the hotel if he wanted to live there. Specialist 4th Class Moody patiently explained to the Captain that that was the case. Read all the way to the bottom of the Hotel Menger plaque in the photo gallery.

Carrie Nation is not mentioned in the hotel's wikipedia piece but if you know where to look (and our Rio Taxi driver told us) you can see the repaired spot on the bar where she took out a chunk of the bar with her hatchet. It is near the 2nd seat closest to the door. Just ask the bartender. There are also 3 bullet holes close by (around a mirror) that were put there by Teddy Roosevelt. It was at the bar in 1898 where Teddy recruited his Rough Riders.

Our lunch was spectacular. Linda chose a smoked chicken quesadilla. John, not finding a chef salad on the menu, asked if they could make him one. Our waitress said “Poof! You're a chef salad”, and he was magically transformed. Not really, but he was very impressed with the salad that was served to him (see today's photo gallery). He said that it is the best chef salad he has ever had. Part of the reason for that was the extraordinary, thick and lumpy bleu cheese dressing. There a great picture of that in the gallery as well. While we were waiting for our lunch, John asked Linda if she knew that she had on 2 different kinds of earrings. “Duh, yes, I was conducting an experiment to see how long it would take you to notice. This is the second day I have worn them”. You can see them in today's photo gallery. Linda told John that her inspiration was a former customer at Hot Spot Printing who always wore two different kinds of earrings so Linda decided to try it while on this Road Trip. What she also told John was that she was unable to find the other two matching parts. They weren't "lost" she just didn't know where they were.

After lunch we returned to La Quinta to rest, visit with Fannie Mae and blog for a while.

In anticipation of his Whataburger Nirvana coming to an end within 48 hours or so, John located a GIANT Orange and White W high in the sky under which to have dinner. He had a Whataburger with bacon and cheese (90 fewer calories than a double meat Whataburger) and a senior Diet Dr. Pepper. Linda finished off her smoked chicken quesadilla from lunch after the enhancement of an order of grilled sliced jalapenos (from Whataburger). She had iced tea and Dr. Pepper to drink.

There are 64 photos in today's gallery which you can view by clicking here.

Linda's favorite “sign” today was a quote from Davy Crockett; “You may all go to Hell and I will go to Texas”. Poor ole Davy. From being born on a mountain top in Tennessee, to having a Hellish time defending the Alamo, he will always be remembered and appreciated by Texans. And his remains are resting forever in a Holy Place. Via con Dios Davy!

John's favorite sign, on a shirt this time, goes back to 1985. Many people in the U.S. know the saying, but most don't know the significance. "Don't Mess with Texas" was a program started by the Texas Highway Department to educate people to not litter up the state. It was extremely successful.

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