Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Fun in San Antonio

I drove in San Antonio, the 7th biggest city in the States, on the right-hand side of the road... how brave is that!  I admit that I was a bit of a gibbering wreck, and was very happy to hand over to Stuart who is old hat at driving in the States. 

 We enjoyed the sights and sounds in San Antonio, which has an old world feel.  Aside from the mega high-ways, speeding cars and sky rise buildings.  The river walk reminded us of Dubai's Madinat waterways, little boats and all.   The canal was lined with restaurants, and we had the biggest pizza we have ever eaten.  Best watch those calories. 
Our giant flying pizza

The river walk

Sidewalk artist


The Alamo walls

Hotel behind The Alamo

Amazing kids

Rain forest

Mosaic mural

Blown glass

We collect our home & wheels

The keys to our awesome Chevy Suburban
Hitching up for the first time

The first practice tight turn

Frank, handing over the keys to the Trailer (caravan)

"We have a home again"
It is great to have a home again, the kids don't even mind cleaning!  This way we can travel the country, look for work and not worry about accomodation.  We will just have to steer clear of hurricanes, tornado's, hail storms, mountains and bears!  Raccoons welcome. 
Check this slide-out, it happens at the push of a button.

Our visit to San Antonio and The Alamo

Davey Crockett and James Bowie. We know who they are, Davey Crockett is probably the most famous frontiersman in the USA and Jim Bowie for the “Bowie Knife” and renowned knife fighter. Here is their story in the last days of their life in the Alamo and told by Siobhan.

Originally the Alamo was home to missionaries and Indian converts. It was built in 1724 and was named The Misio’n San Antonio De Valero. In the 1800’s the Spanish changed it into a home for a cavalry unit, and referred to it as The Alamo. Which is Spanish for “cottonwood”. The Alamo was now home to revolutionaries and royalists, who continued to live there until the Texas revolution.

In December, 1835, Ben Milam led Texans and Tejanos against the Mexican troops. After five days of fighting General Martin Perfecto De Cos announced his surrender, the Alamo was taken and strengthened by the Texans.

Two months later on February 23, 1836 General Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna arrived on the scene bringing two thousand men with him. The Texans defended The Alamo for 13 days while William B. Travis (age 25) sent pleas for help to surrounding areas. On the eighth day of the siege, 32 men marched from Gonzales to help save The Alamo. There were now 200 men inside it’s walls. Colonel Travis, wanting only loyalty from his men, drew a line on the ground and said any man willing to fight to the death must step over the line and join him. All but one man did.

These men had a reason for defending The Alamo. They believed that the fort was the key to Texas, and if they held that, they held the State. Among these men was Davey Crockett and Jim Bowie the creator of the Bowie Knife. On March the 6th, 1836 Santa Anna led his troops in a fierce attack against The Alamo. The first attempt was repelled, the second attack they managed to scale the walls, blast open barricaded doors and swarm into the buildings. By sunrise the battle was over. Santa Anna entered the building and surveyed the scene of his victory.

“If we succeed, the country is ours. It is immense in extent, and fertile in it’s soil and amply reward our toil. If we fail, death in the cause of liberty and humanity is not cause for shuddering. Our rifles by our side, and choice guns they are, we know what awaits us, and are prepared to meet it.”
 Danial Cloud - Dec 26, 1835.
End of Siobhan’s essay.

Legend has it that at first light Davey Crockett shot a Mexican General from the walls of the Alamo, across a great distance. Santa Anna said “Davey Crockett is here, only he could shoot that far”.

So Davey Crockett & Jim Bowie died side by side, heroes in battle at The Alamo. 200 Texans died, there were surviving women and children sheltering in the centre of the fort. 600 Mexicans were killed. Santa Anna the self-styled dictator was by no means finished, he marched on to Goliad, another Texan settlement. When those Texans saw they were outnumbered, they surrendered to him. Contrary to the rules of fair war, Santa Anna murdered them execution style and burned the bodies. How did Texas become American soil? Read on. Sam Houston rallied support and marched out to engage with Santa Anna. He surprised the Mexicans during t heir siesta, a battle ensued. The Texans battle cry was “remember The Alamo”. The Mexicans were at a disadvantage because Santa Anna had not allowed them sufficient water, food and rest. After a vicious battle Santa Anna’s army fell to Sam Houston’s army. Santa Anna was found in hiding, captured and taken to the wounded Sam Houston. Santa Anna did not want his own medicine and pleaded for his life, offering in exchange the State of Texas. Therefore Texas is rightfully American soil.

Original hospital room

Monday, 19 September 2011

Family in Texas

Danny & Kyle, dressed Western
We are fortunate to have family in Texas, otherwise it would be a lonely start. They have all given us a warm welcome.  It is so good to have a helping hand with settling in, they have lots of good tips! Uncle JB in particular has given us really good advice on cars.  Uncle JB & Auntie Olly have invited us for dinner in their barn a few times.  Wow, Auntie Olly & Kirsty can cook divine food!  They have a smoker braai and we had home-smoked chicken on the night that Kyle and Danny went to their Home coming dance.  It is an old fashioned country dance.  They looked awesome, and ran the gauntlet of comments from the family as they prepared for their big night out.  Deks has torn his bicep muscles, as he was carrying huge slabs of granite.  Kirsty is looking great, we have enjoyed a few cups of tea with her at our camp.  Jordan brought his bike to our camp site and spent the day with us, he gets along really well with all our kids.  Michael did some shooting with Solomon, and we have now met the lovely Janine. We are still looking forward to seeing Tammy and her family as well as cousin Jimmy

Buying our RV

We took a trip to Victoria.  The car sales men there gave us the run around.  Eventually we found the car of our dreams, it's BIG.  In fact most cars here are very big.  It is a Chevy Suburban, seats 8 and has a big 5.7 V8 engine.  So it can pull our RV.

Next up.. we went hunting for RV's.  We had in fact searched for RV's in Houston a few days ago.  After much thought we decided not to have a motorized RV.  It would be better if we could un-hitch a Travel Trailer (caravan) and have our car for driving in town.  The other choice was a motorized RV, which would be like driving a tank through town.  We went to "Frank's" in Victoria and boy did he give us a deal.  He sold us a brand new Travel Trailer at cost price.  I was so overwhelmed that I had tears in my eyes.  We were all so stunned.  Now we have a home! Our Trailer can sleep 9.  It has a slide out to increase floor space.  Length 26 foot. The kids have 3 permanent bunks, which they are calling nests.  Michael will have a fold-out sleeper couch.  It has a private master suite.  It is the first time we have owned a new vehicle of any sort.

Triple bunk nests
We will have a house warming party with our family here.

San Antonio, Texas

Flag's in a puddle - Michael's photo
We brought the rain to Texas.  They have had a drought here for 3 years.  Well, perhaps this rain won't break the drought but it has cooled the earth down.  We were boiling at 45 degree's.  Now we are swimming in our tent! At least we have air beds.

Deer at sunrise
We are camping at Brackenridge, Lake Texana.  At this stage we are in a tent, and are having close encounters with the critters in the woods. 

Last night we had our nocturnal visitors again... this time we outwitted the little critters and had our food all locked away in the car... fortunately the raccoons have not yet figured out how to break into cars!  However we left out a dish of water and a few snacks for them.  We had a wonderful time watching from our "viewing tent" as the raccoons came to play.  We have rescued a few of them from the huge trash can's, we have to put a long pole into the trash can so that they can climb out.  

The squirrels broke into our food storage container by gnawing away at the clasp, which they figured out was preventing them from getting to the goodies.  We intercepted them just in time.
  A possum also came to visit and man that is one ugly over sized rat! My cousin said that we should give it a fright and watch it play dead...well when a troop of wild humans rushed the next possum it's eye's nearly fell out it's head and then it turned tail and ran as fast as it's little possum legs could go.  We laughed till we cried!  The next possum we saw was road kill, it really was dead.. shame.
Elusive Racoon
The armadillo are so so cute and ugly.  they come right up to us, they have funny piggy faces.  The kids caught one, and it covered it's eyes with it's paws.  We found out later that they carry disease.  oops.  
I've had 2 of them run right up to me and sniff my toes, maybe they think my pink nail varnish looks like tasty grubs.

This is our campsite... wish you were here.  The mosquito's here have to be seen to be believed.  They blacken the sky practically! We have learned to put our lantern away from us, and use it to attract the mosquito's which we then spray.  We are camped beneath Live Oaks.. well that's what they are called.

Awake at sunrise.. 7:00 am
Our second campsite in the same park, more breeze = less mozzies
Our campsite is so beautiful, that we may return to live here for the winter in our Rv.  There are little nature trails all over.  We don't feel altogether comfortable with the nature trails as there are a lot of Rattle snakes and Copperhead snakes here.  Have seen a few photo's and we do not want to meet the real thing.