Have I ever mentioned that there is one piece of interstate in the country that I absolutely despise? I do everything I can to avoid I-10 through Texas. I plotted our whole trip around avoiding it. Thanks to Lauren’s reroute to Vegas the other day, this is now the fastest way to San Antonio. We’re booking it there so we can see my brother Mike, his wife Blythe, and my nephew “Prince” Leon. I had to suffer 560 miles of the longest, straightest, flattest, hottest stretch of road to get there, but it was worth the trade off. In return for my suffering we had 4 more days of fun with family and spoiling my nephew rotten. As a bonus we got to see the Alamo and try out some amazing restaurants!
They say that “everything’s bigger in Texas”. That sentiment starts with how absurdly large the state is and ends with the ego of every native Texan. Did you know it takes over 800 miles of driving just to cross the state? I know there are longer states but I haven’t found one that feels longer. The thermometer hit 107 that day as well, which didn’t help Texas’s case one bit. The whole drive went something like this: desert, hill, flat, tree, my god it’s hot, desert, flat, tree, my god it’s hot, flat, hill, tree… Are we there yet?!?!? In addition to being tortured by the drive, my mind was obsessively preoccupied with the fact that we were heading east. If going west had the feel of a world changing pioneer’s journey, going east felt like a kid being dragged towards the exit at Disney while yelling “but, I don’t wanna leave”. If that wasn’t enough to make my day terrible I was also wrestling with the fact that immediately after San Antonio I was planning on (dreading) seeing my dad. All of these factors combined to make the whole drive a big ole bucket of suck. Somehow though, my day was salvaged the instant I got to my brothers house. I got out of the car, and from the front porch, the first thing I hear is “The Prince” yelling “Heelloooo Uncle Kenin!!”. No one can stay grumpy after a greeting like that from a 3-Year old :-)
Our 4 days in San Antonio were mostly comprised of sitting around the table having meals together, sharing a few (or a few too many) beers, telling travel stories, and finding various ways of delighting my 3-year old nephew. It’s always amazing to me how the sense of kinship can be so strong amongst children. We had only seen Leon once before, and that had been almost 2-years prior, but he acted like we had been around the whole time. I also was able to spend a good amount of family time with both Mike and Blythe. All in all I would call the visit a huge success.
What did we actually do in San Antonio? Well it started off with a bit of a cliche. We went to the Alamo. We drove into downtown San Antonio and parked near the River Walk. We took a nice afternoon stroll over to the Alamo. The river walk is a lovely area that covers about 5 miles of the San Antonio river. There are all kinds of shops and covered walkways, restaurants, and even a water taxi service. It’s a great place to eat and shop and I highly recommend it. Once we arrived at the Alamo I was surprised to see how small it really was. It was clearly one of those cases where a place’s history overshadowed how diminutive the building actually was. We spent some time in the shrine and then checked out the museum attached to the property. Overall it was an enriching experience, although it was a bit disturbing to see all the memorabilia that people have stored over the years.
Once we wrapped up our visit to the Alamo, we spent some more time walking through downtown San Antonio before heading home and getting ready for dinner. Our family thought it would be a great idea to to do a “down home” Texas style barbecue and they did a great job of picking just the place. They took us to Texas Pride BBQ, which lived up to even the highest of expectations. We had a night filled with messy barbecue, live music, and dancing. It was absolutely perfect!
The next day we didn’t go see any sites. It’s not that we didn’t know what to do, we just chose to have a “family day” instead. We started the morning by going to the park with Leon and some of Blythes friends, then had a nice lunch together at home. We had a tapas style lunch, that was reminiscent of our visit to Spain, and paired it with an awesome Java Stout from the Santa Fe Brewery. We decided to go out to dinner that evening and we headed over to the old Pearl Brewery and ate at La Gloria. The food at the restaurant was great, but the real star that evening was the old brewery. We walked along the river front chatting about San Antonio and the many things to do around the city.
Pearl was an old brewery that is now a self described “culinary and cultural destination” along the banks of the San Antonio River. I’ve always been fascinated by old industrial buildings and equipment and Pearl was full of both. After eating our fill of mexican food we spent the evening exploring the old brewery and had another stroll along the river. We finished off the evening in a rather Southern fashion. We picked up a 12 -Pack of a local favorite, Shiner Bock, and spent the rest of the evening sitting on the front porch reminiscing. My brother and I talked and told stories until the beer ran out and the sun came up.
The next day, after sleeping in, we went over to the local community pool. The day was clear and the weather was perfect for it. Lauren and I and had a grand time playing with my nephew. We spent a few hours swimming, diving, and going down the water slide. We played in the pool most of the afternoon until the rains came and chased us away. Once we packed everyone into the car we realized we had worked up quite the appetite so we decided to stop on the way home for an early Sunday dinner.
We kept it casual and had burgers and milk shakes at Cheesy Jane’s. The food was great and the shakes were better. The menu had a good variety of sandwiches, but we all ended up with a burger. Lauren went for the slider sampler and I dove head first into the “Wurst Burger”. It was a 1/2 pound burger patty topped with pepper jack cheese, grilled onions, and delicately finished with a split Kiolbassa. Somehow after all that burger, we also managed to squeeze in a couple of milk shakes. I went with my all time favorite: mint chocolate chip. After our glut fest was finished up, we managed to pry ourselves away from the table and head home.
We spent the rest of the evening just enjoying each other’s company while fighting the sadness that inevitably comes when you know you have to pack up the next day. We had a great time in San Antonio, both with my family and in the city. I was surprised at how comfortable and welcoming it was and we could easily visit again.
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