Monday, November 26, 2007

Fables of the reconstruction

Remember The Alamo? Well, there it is.

I visited it six years ago, but the parents hadn't been there. I didn't mind seeing it again. I didn't have anything in mind for the day anyway. It's odd to come across this historic structure smack dab in the middle of a bustling downtown. The Alamo appears to be the hub for the spokes that are San Antonio's other tourist attractions and traps.

Until this trip I didn't realize how much has been rebuilt or is non-original at this site and the other missions. Granted, much of the rebuilding was done long enough ago to seem like it is true to history. The interesting thing is that it isn't always accurate. For example, the community ovens at Mission San José are not constructed how the Native Americans used them. The guard tower in the wall's corner should be square rather than round. The Alamo's famous facade was added when the U.S. Army began making repairs in 1850. The church had already been standing for approximately a hundred years.

There is no charge to visit the missions on the trail, including The Alamo. Although The Alamo is the best known, I recommend visiting at least one of the others. You'll get a better sense of what the spaces were like when the missions were in operation and, in my experience, not have to deal with larger crowds to see what you want. The guided tour at Mission San José was informative and added a lot to the time spent on the grounds.

It warmed up a little today, although it was still on the cool side. Think jacket weather versus coat weather. My parents wanted to see what the River Walk looked like during the day, so we wandered over there for some lunch before leaving the city. I thought we were going to be in San Antonio tonight, but my dad was ready to move on. This has been an unusually active week while I've been here. I'm not saying that it's been bad, but I was expecting more time to sit around and knit, read, or watch TV. About the only TV viewing I've had was watching last week's episode of Kid Nation on the CBS site.

I did use some of today's travel time to knit. I cast on for my mom's hat and knitted it for about an hour. Needles and yarn, how I've missed you. I'm in sore need of time to myself too. I've rarely had an alone moment since I landed in Dallas a week ago. On top of that, I've been in places not quite big enough for everyone there. It will be good to get home tomorrow night.

We left the city for Texas Hill Country for our mid-afternoon destination, the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site between Fredricksburg and Johnson City. We watched an NBC program from the 1960s in which the President took a reporter around his home away from the White House. Then we hopped on a bus for the guided tour of the LBJ Ranch. It mostly consisted of listening to the driver talk about the former President and First Lady. It sounded like his family has lived in the area for generations, so it was interesting to hear his personal recollections about the people in this part of Texas in addition to his knowledge about LBJ.

We were able to get out and take a peek at Johnson's reconstructed childhood home, which is pictured above. Although it isn't the exact building in which he entered the world, it smelled authentic. (I'm not being snarky. I mean that its scent reminded me of the farmhouse my great aunt and some of her siblings called home their entire lives.) We were able to walk across the road to the private family graveyard where LBJ and Lady Bird Johnson are buried. Considering I would expect a former President to have an ostentatious headstone, I was surprised to see the modest marker for him. About a mile up the road from the home where he was born is the LBJ Ranch House, the place he called home until he died.

We pulled into Marble Falls, Texas after sunset and have settled in for the night. Who knows what tomorrow in the Lone Star State may hold?

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