On a Mission: San Antonio, Texas – July 20 & 21, 2019

From Guadalupe Mountains National Park, we headed to San Antonio, Texas for the weekend. Our mission was to watch our daughter perform in the Alamodome and to visit the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. We have been to San Antonio several times before and have visited the Alamo, but have never seen the other missions.

We stayed at Traveler’s World RV Resort in San Antonio for three nights. Being a resort RV park, it has more amenities than we needed, but its location was ideal, right on the San Antonio River Walk, just a mile north of Mission San José. In addition, there is a bus stop right across the street from the RV Resort where you can catch a bus to take you into downtown San Antonio. We utilized the showers every day since it was hot and muggy outside, but did not use the swimming pool, not quite sure why other than Left Buddy (LB) is not very fond of swimming. It was also time to do laundry, so the coin laundry facilities came in handy.

Saturday morning, we hopped on our bikes and headed south on the San Antonio River Walk to the mission that was the farthest away, Mission Espada. All of the missions belonging to the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park are easily accessible from the San Antonio River Walk by bike (missions map). After visiting Mission Espada, we worked our way back north to the RV park, visiting other missions along the way. Next up was Mission San Juan, followed by Mission San José. Mission San José is the largest and most complete mission restoration of the National Historical Park. It is also the location of the park’s Visitor Center. The Spanish Missions were not just churches, but whole communities with the church as a focus. There were Indian Quarters built into the protective walls at Mission San José which accommodated 350 Indians, with the outdoor ovens located next to the quarters in the courtyard. There is also a grist mill just outside the mission walls. We didn’t spend a lot of time at each mission as we needed to get to the Alamodome in the afternoon for the drum corps competition.

The bike ride itself was very enjoyable. The San Antonio River Walk south of downtown is much different than the part that is downtown. In the heart of San Antonio, the River Walk is off limits to cyclists, where pedestrians are king and the River Walk is full of people and lined with shops and restaurants. South of downtown, the River Walk is bike friendly, with wider paved paths in a more park-like atmosphere, with trees and grass lining the way next to the San Antonio River. There are picnic tables, drinking fountains and maps sprinkled alongside the path for your enjoyment.

By the time we made it back to the RV park, took a shower and rode the bus into downtown, it was close to 2 pm, much later than we had planned. We had not eaten lunch yet and we were starving. Originally we had discussed eating at Bill Miller Bar-B-Q, just south of the Alamodome as it is a pretty popular place with the drum corps crowd. However, Bill Miller’s was about a mile from where the bus dropped us off. Instead, we looked up the closest BBQ restaurant, B&D Ice House, just a couple of blocks away. As we approached it, we were having second thoughts as the place looked like a shack with no one sitting at the outdoor picnic tables. Our hunger kept us from changing our minds. The iced tea and lemonade was self serve from the large orange and red drink coolers outside, with paper towels instead of napkins. We each ordered a couple of different meats and sides and then shared. It was all very tasty. We discovered that there were people there. They were all inside in the air-conditioning occupying all of the handful of tables inside. After we sat down outside in what little shade there was, a few other people came along and joined us. Other than being a little hot, we still enjoyed our meal.

The rest of the day was spent inside the Alamodome watching the drum corps competition. We took the bus instead of riding our bikes downtown because we knew we would be leaving the Alamodome late and did not want to ride our bikes back to the RV park in the dark. After the competition was over, we hustled back to the bus stop in order to catch one of the late buses that only run once an hour. When we got to the bus stop, Google Maps let us know that the bus was running about 20 to 30 minutes late. As we were trying to look up more information on the bus on our phones, we looked up to see our bus pulling away. It was about ten minutes earlier that Google said it would be and the bus driver did not waste any time before moving on. Dang, we missed it! Well, even though we had each purchased an all day bus pass (which is just slightly more than two one-way tickets) and thus already paid for the bus ride back, we decided to call an Uber instead of waiting another hour for the next bus. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

On Sunday, we rode our bikes north along the San Antonio River Walk into downtown. Our original plan was to visit the one mission we had not yet seen, Mission Concepción, on the ride in. However, we didn’t feel like we had enough time because we wanted to meet up with our daughter who had a “free day” from drum corps. The day mostly consisted of hanging out with our daughter in the air conditioning of the food court in the Rivercenter and going to dinner at Michelino's since drum corps usually causes our daughter to crave carbs, especially pasta. For dessert we walked over to Yanaguana Garden and Playground and bought a frozen treat from Paleteria. Yanaguana Garden is on the west side of Hemisfair Park (part of the site of the 1968 World's Fair). We came across Yanaguana Garden walking from the bus stop to the Alamodome the day before. It is in downtown San Antonio, but has a very cozy, neighborhood and community feel. The area, with walkways shaded with arbors covered with flowers, is filled with families with young children, splashing in the water fountains, climbing over the equipment in the playgrounds, or just relaxing on a park bench. It was refreshing to see people outside, being active and interacting with each other in a friendly and inviting atmosphere.

We left our daughter in Hemisfair Park to wait for the corps buses and continue her tour. Our final mission of the weekend was to ride our bikes back to the RV park before dark. Our mission was successful. Despite not visiting Mission Concepción, we felt our weekend in San Antonio was successful and complete. Even though we had been to San Antonio several times before, we saw and discovered new things and spent time with our loved ones. What’s more important than that?

As usual, RB created an album of our discoveries: San Antonio 2019. Also, check out our related video: San Antonio Mission Trail by Bike.