Thursday, April 2, 2015

Silver Wings

Friends.  This was the shortest, and most epic trip it's hard to wrap up.  But I'm trying.  I've made collages of all the worst/most boring pics that I just can't leave out, because they all mean too darn much.  And I've sorted this into four posts -- one for each day -- all named for Merle Haggard songs.

We drove ourselves to the airport for a change to give Mark's dad the day off -- thanks Albert!  We left so early, and still didn't have time to eat before getting on the plane.  Those Seatac ads must assume you've gone to the airport the night before, I swear.  Everything went as per usual at the airport, except after I got through security and I'm putting my purse back on, etc. and realize Mark's not there.  Thank goodness he's just getting his hands swabbed for gunshot residue, not getting the private search.  Like this is normal now, but apparently it is.  Anywho, uneventful flight, typically awful food (I blame you Tom Douglas) (seriously do not put your name on this stuff) (I have written complaints to Lean Cuisine and received personalized apologies and coupons for much less aggregious food errors).

Anywho, San Antonio!  First stop, picked up the rental car from Hertz.  We got a Kia Soul and had serious ambivelence about whether we'd like it, but we loved it!  Mark fit and I was comfortable, and for a couple with a one foot plus height difference it's a tall order (no pun intended, but since I'm leaving it in, now it's totally intended).

Next up, the bed and breakfast!  We decided to stay in a few different places to maximize our time in different cities, and stay in different sorts of hotels.  We LOVED O'Casey's Bed & Breakfast.  First of all, very reasonably priced.  Second of all, they sent very thorough information after we'd made the reservation, and a follow-up text the day of our arrival since we'd be checking in after their "office" hours.  Everything worked like a charm, and if I were just a skosh better at reading, we would have missed one of our housemates and getting the pic of us below.  As it is, I couldn't figure out how to lock the front door when we left (due to the not reading) so we were hanging around when our housemate showed up and offered to lock the door after us.  Thank you Judy!  This was also our first round of introducing ourselves to complete strangers and then proceeding to have an actual conversation.  As you might have noticed, this never happens here.

Downstairs -- the key rack, typewriter, record player -- just like home, but cuter and uncluttered!
Our room -- daybed, our bed, private bathroom, closet complete with refrigerator, microwave and electric water kettle for FRENCH PRESS COFFEE.  God bless Texas.  Basket with complimentary chips and water.
Mark looking up cabs on the phone while I surreptitiously take pics!  Absolutely no luck with cabs -- Mark talked to several cab companies that didn't have cars in our area, or could get to us in 45 minutes to three hours, or just didn't talk so Mark gave up.  Entree vous our very first Uber experience!  Mark downloaded the app, and our ride was there in about six minutes.  Nice guy, clean car, safe ride and interesting story.  I can't tell you how convenient Uber is -- you don't even need to know where you are, because it works with GPS.  You don't need to know exactly where you're going either as a guy that drives around town for a hobby or a living understands where to drop you off when you vaguely ask to go to the Riverwalk or the Capitol.  And when you have driven yourself, spent 30 minutes looking for a place to park, then spent $20 on said parking spot, then skip the cocktails because you have to drive again to get home, Uber at $6 each way this trip seems like a freaking luxury.  A couple days later and we would be out of luck as San Antonio instituted regulations effectively creating a ban on Uber.  

Our housemate Judy took the pic of us on the porch, and I took a pic looking up the sunny street in this really cute neighborhood.

Just a White-winged Dove.  We bought a Birds of Central Texas, and I think that's the most useful thing for identifying birds.  Instead of wading through hundreds of unlikely suspects, you can find the typical bird, and the guide fits in your glovebox.  

Everywhere we went sounded like the middle of the rainforest -- I have never heard so many, and such loud birds.  We wondered if it was just because they are different birds than we're used to, and you quit hearing the things you hear everyday, but nope.  Birds are louder in Texas, or louder birds (doves, pigeons & grackles) love Texas.

The female Great-tailed Grackle.  She was really moving so I don't have a single good picture, but you get the idea.  We'll see a male later.  Well we'll see hundreds, they're like crows there.  But prettier!
Finally, dinner!  We ate at Saltgrass on the Riverwalk.  The Riverwalk is like Disneyland without rides or characters.  Tons of people, stuff to look at, restaurants, bars, noise and birds!!!  And of course there's a river, complete with boats and ducks.  So Saltgrass -- they were very busy, and we wanted to sit outside so there was a wait.  They gave us a pager and we continued walking around, and then went to the bar to wait.  And wait.  I began to worry they forgot us, Mark asked if they had a table ready and I think they took pity on us because we were seated upstairs on the balcony right away.  I don't usually bore you with the entire blow by blow on what we ordered, but when you go please just order exactly what we did and you will not be disappointed:  Shrimp & Chicken Enbrochette, Maudeen’s Center-Cut Filet, Asparagus and Mark might have had the New York Strip.  Both the dinners came with a delicious Caesar Salad, and the bread for the table was like the pretzel bread at John Howie's.  Sometimes you feel rushed at a restaurant, and you haven't even finished the appetizer before they bring out your entree, or worse they bring it all together just to move it along, but not so here.  We were just remarking that they had such a nice leisurely pace, and maybe it was a Texas thing, when our waitress came up to apologize because our dinners had come but the server got the tables mixed up, and served them to someone else who started eating and never realized it wasn't what they ordered!  LOL.  The dinners were worth the wait, and when the bill came they discounted the cost of both steak dinners.  The only thing better than filet is free filet.
The Briscoe Western Art Museum was closed, but you could still see some neat things through the gates.

Just through any of the alleys to the street along the Riverwalk, you're in the city!  The Riverwalk is so bustling, tree-covered and loud, you forget you're in the middle of a regular city.  A regular city with horse drawn carriages covered in lights like Cinderella's pumpkin.
The Yellow-crowned Night-Heron -- they live in the trees over the Riverwalk!  I am very fortunate to not have fallen in the river with all the time I spent walking around looking straight over my head at these birds.  I got a couple better pics later -- this was almost dusk, and the trees make it much darker and hard to focus without turning on the flash and being "that person."

Merle singing Silver Wings -- thank you Youtube.

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