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Published: March 30th 2008
Obfuscator writes: We got up at a reasonably early time, and hiked around McKinney Falls State Park. McKinney Falls actually has upper and lower sections, neither of which is terribly tall or impressive. They're mostly small cascades, with interesting formations that have been polished through many years of erosion. There are a couple of trails that lead to each, and we enjoyed the nice walk through them, watching a variety of birds as we did. The water looked rather inviting for a good swim, truth be told. The state of Texas has signs warning you not to, though, citing extremely high bacteria counts.
We left there and turned south toward San Antonio. Along the way, we stopped in the town of New Braunfels, which Onaxthiel had been told was quite nice while he was in the army. New Braunfels is a German enclave, originally founded by a German princeling and a substantial population of German settlers. They picked a nice scenic spot along a river, and quickly became a major rail hub in Texas. Now, it seems to be mostly a sleepy town with a WurstFest in the autumn.
It has a number of pretty old buildings, including the
old county courthouse, which is built in a distinctly German style. There's also the famous Schlitterbahn, apparently quite the waterpark, though there wasn't any water running in it when we walked by. We walked around the town for a bit, and checked out a lot of really pretty murals that decorate some of the buildings. After a while, we figured we had seen most of the town, and stopped in to a local German restaurant for some lunch. The restaurant was founded by German immigrants just recently, and had very authentic and good food. For all you Madisonians, they also have boots. Afterward, we stopped into the oldest bakery in Texas so we could get some dessert. They had very tasty apple strudel.
Not too long after, we found ourselves at the Alamo in downtown San Antonio. Apparently when Onaxthiel first saw the Alamo, after being told for his whole life that it wasn't as big as people expected, that he thought it was pretty big. I had no particular preconceptions about the size of the Alamo before arriving at it, so I guess I was unsurprised by the whole thing. It's not huge or anything, but it's really
just the church and the old barracks and some walls that stand, and even without all the other area that the Alamo enclosed, it was certainly big enough for the approximately 200 people it held. They don't want you taking pictures inside the church part, or really inside any of the buildings, so how I ended up with some is really quite mysterious. It's a neat historical site for anyone interested in the Texas Revolution, American history, or Mexican history. It was fun, and a nice sunny day to see it, without being too hot.
We left the Alamo and headed for the San Antonio Riverwalk. This winding man-made canal runs through much of the downtown, and along countless restaurants, bars, and shops. It's really scenic, and we took the little water-taxi tour through it, which points out some of the cooler things you can see. We also walked much of it. There's a lot of art all over the place, as well as sculptures, flowers, and man-made waterfalls. Nearby you can see the Tower of the Americas, which is basically a rotating restaurant atop a tall spire. We spent a few hours here, and had a drink at
a British pub.
We eventually went a bit away from the downtown, and ate dinner at the Little Red Barn, a place Onaxthiel really liked when he lived in San Antonio. It's a steakhouse with huge portions for very reasonable prices. Neither of us will tell you that the food is amazingly good, but it's solid, and it's well priced, so that's definitely worth a stop. (Onaxthiel adds: I was disappointed to find out that Little Red Barn no longer carries Lone Star beer. This is a local brand, and near impossible to find outside Texas, as well as a weekend tradition when I was stationed at Fort Houston. You can never go back!) When we were done there, we went to a motel, since they were fairly affordable in this city, and the nearest camping was fairly far away.
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