Saturday, March 10, 2012

Doing a calf stretch in San Antonio

I've recently returned from a wonderful visit to San Antonio. This was my third time in the seventh largest city in the U.S. - Yes! 7th. Who would have thought? And each time, I gained more and more appreciation for this city rich in history and beautified by its famous Riverwalk. Now, don't get me wrong - I'm not one in favor of present day Texas politics. But, this isn't a political blog, so I won't get into that. Suffice it to say, they have very archaic views on women's rights, and it makes my blood boil.

Okay, back to my visit. Why have I gone three times, you ask? Well, my son, Michael, lives there and I'm so glad he does, (though closer to home would be better) otherwise I probably never would have made it to this great city.

During this visit, I took two incredibly interesting walking tours with San Antonio Walks. Gary, the leader, knows more Texas history than probably all the high school teachers, from Houston to El Paso, put together. If you go, and I highly recommend it, book a tour or two with him at My cousin Sheila, who I travelled with, and I first toured the King William district, originally settled in the 1850s by prominent German merchants . It was zoned as the state's first historic district by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Gary gave me a quick course in architecture - so many different styles on the magnificent homes - which made the visit even richer. Here's a view from Villa Finale,  with its interesting columns. The home is the first national historic site in Texas!

  Because we enjoyed that tour so much, we signed up for his historic walking tour. As I said, I'd been to the town twice before and, ofcourse, saw the Alamo. But, now I could talk your ear off about that battle and its effect on Texas and the U.S. Gary said that the 2004 film, The Alamo, with Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett, sticks pretty close to the truth. "The writers must have done their research." So, even though Wikipedia has it as the "second biggest box office bomb", if you want to watch a movie about the Alamo,watch that one instead of the 1960 film of the same title with John Wayne playing Crockett. And don't forget to sing the song...Born on a mountain top in Tennesee, greatest state in the land of the free, killed him a... " Okay, I digress...

Are you wondering how this blog fits into my usual themes? Well, with all that walking, plus strolling the Riverwalk, which is quite lovely, I was certainly getting a great deal of exercise.  When you do go, don't just stay at the commercial area of the Riverwalk, though it's full of terrific restaurants and beautiful views. Continue on where the walk gets quieter and more beautiful. By 2013, it'll extend another 15 miles. Now, that's a lot of walking! And be sure to have water with you . Hydrate! Then stretch when you get back to your hotel - or even better, stop and stretch your calves anywhere. Yes, I mean it. Anywhere. Steps are great for that. Do a heel hang. I'll explain how:

Standing on a step, keep the ball of your foot on the step while you let the heel hang off. Keep your leg straight, hold that position for 20 seconds. Then switch and stretch the other leg. You'll feel the stretch go down your calf and through your heel. It feels great! If you can't find a step, use a curb. Your muscles will thank you! Stretching will prevent bunched up, tight muscles and let you continue on your way with happy legs.

There's a great deal more to do in and around San Antonio: Sea World, a water park termed "the number one water park in the world" by the Travel Channel, a zoo and botanical gardens, flea markets and Mexican markets, and terrific restaurants and hotels. I recommend La Quinta Inn and Suites at the Convention Center. Austin is only an hour away and the hill country, with its wineries and The National Museum of the Pacific War, is even less. And stop for real Texas BBQ on the way.  On the right and below are views of the Riverwalk at night.

Am I sounding like a travel writer? Not a bad profession - think of all the wonderful places you could go with someone else footing the bill. Unfortunately, I pay for my own travel, but I am a fiction writer and have  to get back to editing my novel in progress. It's almost finished! My editor said, "This is a wonderful story about love, loss and family, as well as the very powerful pull of land and community. I think you have a wonderful story here and I really did enjoy reading it. The characters stayed with me long after I finished." Thank you, Cara. My main character's name is Liz, and the story centers around a vineyard. Here's a little more of Cara's comments. I can't help posting them; they make me happy. "I think you have a flare for really bringing a scene to life—I could almost taste the grapes in the vineyard. The lush descriptions of life in this unique location made this book really come alive. I really found myself rooting for Liz and her family (and I really did crave wine!). I loved the vineyard, it was as much a character as any of the people in the book, and that truly came through."  I'll let you all know when something wonderful happens with this manuscript.

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