From California to the U.K. in 30 days - Day 17 (Roswell, NM to San Antonio, TX)

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July 30th 2017
Published: August 4th 2017
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The drive from Roswell, NM to San Antonio, TX is a long one; 513 miles or 8 hours, plus another time zone jump. We are on the road by 8.00am. The drive East out of Roswell is relatively level and it’s already over 80 degrees with a forecasted high in the triple digits. The land is almost completely treeless and comprised of dry grasses and desert scrub. A couple of hours later and we cross into Texas, losing an hour in the process. Almost immediately oil derricks spring up as if confirming our location, looking like nodding donkeys with their slow and ponderous swing. Pretty quickly we enter farmland on a gigantic scale. Enormous irrigation circles are carved out as far as the eye can see, sucking water out of the ground to allow the green crops to grow. It’s a wonder there is any water left when you consider the constant drain on the aquifers. I’d tell you what was being grown but I’m afraid I’m not good with crop identification. I can tell that it was green, and not corn. Occasional farms with metal barns, and the requisite collection of rusted farm equipment dot the landscape, but otherwise the land is once again almost entirely unpopulated. One of the things that will stay with me from this road trip is just how much of the U.S. is empty. Enormous swaths of it the size of entire countries is completely and utterly unused. Granted, they may not be the most desirable bits, but there’s an awful lot of empty land out there. Makes you wonder what all the fuss is about immigrants – surely there’s enough here to share? Two hours later and we are still driving across the exact same landscape. Texas is known for its size among other things, and I begin to feel like we are in one of the older cartoon strips where they reuse the background over and over as the characters are running. It’s hot, and we pass through small farming towns with single story ranch style houses made from brick, baking slowly in the Summer heat. We stop for lunch in San Angelo, Texas and have lunch at the Zero One Alehouse. The heat hits as we open the car doors and it’s starting to take on some humidity as well. The food was good, I had 3 different styles of sausages in a mustard sauce and Antonio ate another salad. The kids split a burger from the kid’s menu.

Heading out of San Angelo and we quickly enter what is known as Texas Hill Country. As the name would suggest, it’s fairly hilly and covered in Oak trees. It’s pretty, reminding me of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Spring. Everything is green and the Interstate cuts through the hills leaving chalk white rocks showing through where the earth was scraped away. This being Texas, it goes on for several thousand miles. Eventually we see signs of San Antonio. The freeway adds another lane, and then a few more. Strip malls appear on the side of the Interstate along with a few high-rise buildings. We crest an overpass and see the skyline of San Antonio with it’s Texas size skyscrapers gleaming. Our hotel for the next 2 nights is the Hotel Contessa which is right on the Riverwalk. As we pull in, the temperature reads 103 and humidity is over 50%. It’s like being wrapped in a hot, wet, blanket and I can’t wait to get inside!

The hotel is beautiful, and the location is fantastic. After settling into the room it’s after 7pm. We decide to explore the Riverwalk and look for some dinner. The Riverwalk is very creative and easy to miss. It’s like a subterranean mini Venician Canal. The San Antonio River has been beautifully landscaped with walking paths, bridges, restaurants and incredible plantings, all below the street level creating a magical lush canyon cutting through the city. It truly reminds us of Venice, with everything being at the same level as the water, complete with water taxis chugging by. We stroll along enjoying the sites and heading towards the Hemisphere park. The heat and humidity are stifling. I have to admit, humidity and I do not get along well. I sweat like a pig and get very irritable. AJ & Gracie apparently feel the same way and by the time we get to the park things are fraught. Hemisphere park was created for the World’s Fair in 1968 and is dominated by the Sky Tower which looks a lot like the Seattle Space Needle. It has great playground equipment and the kids blow off some steam while we sit in. At 8pm it is still 96 and oh so sticky. When we can’t stand it anymore, we head back to the hotel for dinner. We end up choosing the Hotel restaurant which turns out to be a mistake. It takes 40 minutes for our food to come and when it does, it is well and truly overcooked. Antonio, who hates to return food, refuses to eat and takes a very grumpy Graciela back to the room. I suffer through dry pork chops, and AJ picks listlessly at his gnocchi. Perhaps it’s the heat, but either way it is the most disappointing meal we have had on our trip. Back in the room the A/C is cranking, and the weather forecast shows a little cooler for tomorrow. So we tuck in for the night.

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