The Cibolo Creek Flows Through Boerne

A River Flows Through It

Click photos to enlarge

 

As the Riverwalk of San Antonio is such an ornament to the city and such a popular tourist attraction (only second after the Alamo) that one of the nicknames for our fair town is ‘The River City’ you’d think that any municipal organization possessing the necessary attribute – a permanent body of water deeper than a puddle in, or flowing through downtown – would have been been seen as a gift and an opportunity to do something like it. Maybe not cheek by cheek eateries and boutiques – but at least a pleasant string park, paralleling the river bank can this be created, for the benefit of the residents, the enriching of those retail establishments lucky to overlook it, and the sheer aesthetic pleasure of visitors to such a blessed community.

And so has the community of Boerne done, for a number of blocks paralleling River Road, on either side of Main Street. There is a generous paved trail, some added landscaping and stone work, paralleling the northern bank of Cibolo Creek as it runs through town. It seems that back in the day, Cibolo Creek was just as prone to overflow its banks and flood out parts of Boerne – just as the San Antonio River did, although on a much grander scale. We had noticed the new construction being done on the park, once we discovered Route 46/River Road; the back way between San Antonio and Boerne. So, last weekend we took advantage of slightly cooler temperatures to make a return trip to Boerne, as my daughter had her eye on certain items at the Squirrel’s Nest Resale Shop. The Squirrel’s Nest benefits Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation – an organization that everyone in this part of Texas ought to know about and support, since they are the go-to people when you find an injured, distressed and otherwise out-of-place wild animal or bird.

We had lunch at the Bear Moon Café – which was quite good; everything is made in-house and the servings are generous. Then we walked around a bit, and checked out some of the shops. This was not so much for what was in them, a lot of which was terribly high-end and pricy, but rather to look at the buildings themselves, many of which are historic old houses and business premises, and enormously charming in that respect. They were built for Texas, in the days before air conditioning, and some of them even before electrification: small rooms which opened into other rooms, or a central hall, with high ceilings, and tall windows. Usually there was a wide, shaded porch across the front, and if two-storied, those rooms on the upper floor also opened onto a verandah..

The Riverside Park already seems to be popular; we saw one family eating a picnic lunch, and a number of others settled in with fishing gear, sending their hooks into the lazy green water. The ducks and geese had all sought out shady places, on the opposite bank, though. The only other water critters we saw were turtles; and we didn’t realize at first that they were turtles. I thought their heads sticking up above the surface were just lengths of broken branch, until the heads vanished below the water, and there was a soup-bowl sized turtle, just dimly seen, diving down into deeper water.

All in all, a lovely afternoon in the Hill Country. That was my Saturday – and yours?

Is the Streak Over – Spurs Lost

What happened to the Spurs?

by Randy Watson

You have to score points to win in basketball; even someone who does not follow the game knows this. The Spurs were hammered by their Mid-west nemesis the Oklahoma City (OKC) Thunder. The Spurs were stomping the Thunder just like they have trashed every team they have played up until now. That is right, the Spurs were undefeated in this 2012 playoff tournament but ran into a juggernaut in this Thursday night game losing by 20 points, 102 to 82. Yes, points matter in basketball and the Spurs did not score than many of them.

The Thunder Started off Hot

There are many reasons the Spurs were defeated. It does not help that their All-Star center and/or power forward Tim Duncan only shot 5 of 15 from the floor and only grabbed 2 rebounds. That is nothing special. Yes, he did block 5 shots but that was not enough against a team that is younger and does not seem to get tired. It does not help that the Thunder broke out with an 8-0 lead in the first 3 minutes and did not slow down for anyone. That train never blinked.

Game 4 is Pivotal

The Thunder have not been beaten at home in this playoff contest against any team. The Spurs should be concerned a little but so should the Thunder because if they do succumb to the Spurs in game 4, going down 3-1, there is little chance that they reach the NBA finals and play the Miami Heat. Yes, the Heat will take that series without their All-Star center Chris Bosch. Sorry Boston, not this time. Of course most real basketball fans are glad Kobe Bryant is somewhere else as well as his David Stern loving LA Lakers.

Perkins was a Concrete Wall

It was not only the Thunder’s offense that stole the show, it was their defense, which was actually Spur’s like. Kendrick Perkins guarded Tim Duncan and pretty much locked him down. What? Did you think Tim Duncan had a poor showing when he had open lanes to the basket all night long? Not quite; the Thunder’s center worked hard and finally helped slow down this future Hall of Famer.

Parker was Defeated

The Thunder’s defense was airtight and compelled the Spurs to kick out 3 turnovers in the beginning of the game which enable the Thunder to score some baskets and take the early lead. This is the confidence booster they needed. This quickly became the Spur’s worst nightmare come true. Thabo Sefolosha was all over Tony Parker and he forced this outstanding point guard into making sloppy passes. In other words, this Swiss basketball player got the better of the Frenchman. Who said this was not an international game?

Finished with the Lead

The Spurs did charge back with a 13-4 run to reclaim the lead at 13-12 with 5:16 left in the opening quarter. Incredibly, the Spurs led by 2 points, 24-22, at the end of the first quarter after having committing 7 turnovers. But this was probably the last thing the Spurs could smile about for the rest of this dreary night.

No Rest for the Weary

Manu Ginobili’s spark did not lift his beloved Spurs this time around. Gary Neal was not stellar either. The Spurs were beaten on every level. Not one of the players could be proud of their game at the end of this contest. The only good thing the Spurs can say is that it is unlikely they will commit 21 turnovers again in a game. The Thunder did their job and put a win on their side of the column. It does help that their crowd is raucous and this energy ignited the Thunder and propelled them to victory. This was the worst thumping the Spurs experienced this season. Will this affect their psyche? Unlikely, they know how to win, they are mature, and they are multiple championship winners. The Thunder better not sleep in and party over this victory.

The Thunder had a Winning Game Plan

Kevin Durant, the league’s leading scorer, finished with 22 points which is nothing special for him. The Spurs were not defeated by just one superlative player; they were worn down and deflated by a team that looked to be on a mission. The Thunder practiced blitzkrieg and the Spurs did not know how handle this type of defensive and offensive pressure. In fact, if one player grabbed the hearts of the OKC Thunder fans, it was the European, Sefolosha who played well on both ends of the floor.

San Antonio The City of Waters

City of Waters

It only makes sense that San Antonio would be most famous for – after the Alamo – for the Riverwalk. The downtown landscaped banks of the San Antonio River are a tourist draw without peer. Less well-frequented, or newer developments – say, through King William and Southtown, or along the new Pearl Brewery-Museum Reach are a secret and treasured green-space as well as a breath of fresh air for residents.

The existence of the San Antonio River is more than just a happy coincidence and landscaping opportunity; when San Antonio began to expand and industrialize in the late 19th century, the river provided power for establishments like C.H. Guenther’s Pioneer flour mill – as well as power and a necessary ingredient for breweries like the Pearl and Lone Star. It was also noted by travelers and early residents like Mary Maverick that the very nicest houses in town had gardens which backed on the river – where residents could cool off in the afternoon with a dip in the cool water. The very fact that there was a constant and plentiful source of water existing in this otherwise rather dry region was the reason that San Antonio was founded here to begin with.

When Spanish exploring parties first reached the area in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, they found Indians camping around the San Pedro Springs, in the present-day Olmos Basin and on the grounds of Incarnate Word, near Broadway and Hildebrand. There was where many of the springs which fed into the San Antonio River originated. Taking full advantage of every drop of water emanating from the springs, the Spanish established a string of missions along the River. Being accustomed to the construction and maintenance of elaborate irrigation systems – in use for centuries in Spain since the time of the Romans – the missionary fathers constructed an elaborate series of ditches and aqueducts to conduct water to the fields where it was needed. The irrigation system – or acequia for the Espada Mission is still largely intact. Other missions – including the Alamo itself – had their own water systems to water their own farmlands. There is still a narrow water canal in the gardens behind the Alamo chapel today.

The historic springs were the outfall of the Edwards Aquifer; a kind of enormous geologic sponge – which the limestone plateau of the Hill Country soaked up. The hills gathered it up – and places like the San Pedro Springs, the Comal Springs in New Braunfels, and Jacobs’ Well near Wimberley are some the places where it leaked out. (The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) gets the vast majority of the water for all of its San Antonio water customers from wells in the Edwards Aquifer.)

One of the most spectacular springs which fed into the San Antonio River was later called the Blue Hole. It actually gushed out of the ground with great force. 19th century visitors to the area described the scenic wonders of the various springs in prose which verged on the purple, describing the clearness of the water, the beauty of the waterfalls and pools, the ferns, water-lilies and reeds, while wistfully speculating on the presents of water nymphs and naiads. This area became a place for recreation and Sunday afternoon gatherings: in the late 19th century there was a beer garden, a pavilion for dances, and of course – swimming pools. Alas, as the Edwards Aquifer was drilled into in many other places, the natural fountaining effect was diminished and many springs ceased to flow at all, save after heavy rains. To this day, though – the rivers and the springs and the areas around them are still cherished as parks.

Still Time for Wurstfest 2011 Thru November 13

Gone with the Wurst! 2011

Wurstfest in New Braunfels, Texas! Now thru November 13, 2011

by Celia Hayes

Well, another first weekend after Halloween and where would we be, but up in New Braunfels, in Landa Park, enjoying ourselves amid oceans of beer and continents of sausages . . . and kettle-fried potato chips, meatballs-onna-stick, roast corn and sundry other fair food delights. Every year in November, New Braunfels exuberantly celebrates everything to do with sausage, beer, music, their German heritage, and funny hats, not necessarily in that order. Really, we have the impression that every public-spirited citizen and the members of practically every social club, community support organization and scholastic extra-mural activity in New Braunfels and environs put everything else in their lives on hold, to help run a booth at Wurstfest. Which must be quite an exhausting chore, all things considered, for now it runs for ten days, two weekends . . . and in the evening the partying is intense. So is the music. Really, you can’t claim to have lived in Texas, until you have heard a classical Germanic Ummm-pah band play “Waltz Across Texas With You.” Or watched a couple in lederhosen and dirndl . . . swing dancing. The culture clash is, to put it mildly, intense. And I didn’t even get into the German version of a breakfast taco.

However – the sausage’n’suds celebration now has a permanent home in Landa Park, right next to the old power-generating station, which has now been converted to commercial purposes – my daughter insists that when I am a rich and famous writer, I can buy her a New Braunfels condo. We can go spend the 4th of July, where our condo would be convenient for rafting on the Comal, she says, and I say, Sweetie, I had better sell a raft-load more of my books. Several raft loads, actually, since I want for myself a nice little country retreat in the Hill Country. Although . . . this time around, I ran in to someone who actually sort-of remembered my name and having read one of my books, but then someone else saw me taking pictures of people in funny hats and asked if I was from the Herald Zeitung . . . progress, I suppose.

The new hall on the festival grounds is finished and open – a huge, permanent building, built out on stilts at the edge of the Comal River – and it is absolutely wonderful: a good view and balconies all the way around. We decamped late in the afternoon, when the press of crowds got absolutely too much – and went to Naegelin’s Bakery for sweet rolls, walked around and looked at some of the arts and crafts booths set up around the old town square . . . and on the way home, stopped by Granzini’s Meat Market for sausages and other local delights. One of the counter-hands at Granzini’s told us that they supply most of the food booths at Wurstfest with the varied kinds of sausages and all . . . enjoy at Wurstfest, and then stop by for some of their locally made take-home sausage afterwards. Wurst – it’s what’s for dinner, at this time of the year in Texas.

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San Antonio Water Conservation and Our Source of Drinking Water

The Edwards Aquifer – San Antonios Primary Water Source

Written by Randy Watson,

 

So, just what is this Edwards Aquifer that I hear so much about? And why is the level of the Edwards Aquifer important enough to post everyday along with the weather. SAWS, the San Antonio Water System, supplies nearly 2 million people in surrounding San Antonio homes and businesses with clean drinking water, primarily from the Edwards Aquifer. Our area lakes are not used by the City of San Antonio as reservoirs to supply drinking water.

The Edwards Aquifer is an underground body of water with sufficient pressure to be considered an artesian aquifer. Not so much like a river or lake or some other body of water you might think of. (I am by no means any kind of expert on this.) In unscientific terms, it is more like water saturated/pourous/honeycombed rocks, caves, fissures, cracks and crevices deep in the earth. The Edwards Aquifer is said to be one of the largest aquifers in the world. Stretching from just this side of Mexico, through the Texas Hill Country, through San Antonio to the south edge of Austin. Generally running north of US 90 from Bracketville to San Antonio and west of IH35 from San Antonio to Austin. It is about 160 miles long and 5-40 Miles wide.

San Antonio understands the precious resource it has for water and monitors the water levels at the J-17 index well near the National Cemetary at Ft Sam Houston. For instance, today, the water level was measured about 650 ft. (Which is about 81 ft below the surface of the land.) The land surface at the top of the J-17 well is about 731 ft above sea level. They likely have instruments to measure the depth, but they could just as easily drop a string on a weighted cork till they hit water and measure that length of string, then subtract it from the height above sea level. In actuality, this is the hydrologic pressure level of the aquifer above sea level. (The actual Edwards limestone formation is closer around 250 ft above sea level.)

In addition to the water levels of the aquifer being monitored, the springflows that feed the area rivers from the Edwards Aquifer are also monitored. If the flow rate of the springs and/or the levels of the aquifer fall below certain parameters, water saving or Drought Restrictions go into place. We are currently in Stage Two Drought Restrictions, which for residential users means we are limited to 1 day per week during certain hours to water our lawns, wash our cars, water fountains must be off and we must conserve water.

They say our drought will last throughout next year, too. We usually get about 36 inches of rain a year. We are only at 12 inches or so to date, down 15 inches from where we would normally be. Even if it does rain, the rains have to land on the Contribution Zone (click picture to enlarge) in order to fill up the aquifer. The Contribution Zone is north  and west of San Antonio. It pretty much has to rain in the Texas Hill Country. Water then runs down the creeks and streams then drops into the caves and cracks/crevice in the earth in the Recharge Zone. The Recharge Zones are especially sensitive areas, as they are the last chance to keep unwanted runoff (chemicals, pollutants, etc.) from entering our water source.

We value our parks, not only to preserve nature, but to protect our water. Government Canyon State Natural Area, located adjacent to many nice Helotes residential neighborhoods, just outside Northwest San Antonio is a 8,624-acre park mostly drainage area transitioning to the Recharge Zone.

The San Antonio River just bubbles up out of the ground and gets it start from the San Antonio and San Pedro Springs. You can actually see the San Antonio River bubble up out of the ground in the Alamo Heights areas at the “Blue Hole” spring at Incarnate Word University and several other springs at the Witte Museum, San Antonio Zoo, San Pedro Springs Park and Brackenridge Park areas.

Ever heard of fly fishing for trout fishing in Texas? Below Canyon Lake dam they fly fish for trout. Canyon Lake is located 30 miles northeast of San Antinio. Trout require a low water temperature. Sufficient release of water from the Canyon Lake dam provides a stretch of the Guadalupe River below Canyon Lake with a low enough water temperature to support a good population of rainbow trout and a few brown trout as well. In addition to trout, anglers can also catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, Guadalupe bass, white bass, and the Rio Grande cichlid.

Interestingly enough, waters from the Guadalupe river provides no significant recharge to the Edwards Aquifer because the stream bed has been cut down below the level of the Edwards limestone. However, seepage losses from Medina Lake do enter the Trinity and Edwards Aquifers. Medina Lake is located 30 miles northwest of San Antonio, while the Medina River flows through Medina County then turn east through south Bexar County to join the San Antonio River in southeast Bexar County and off to the San Antonio Bay at Aransas Natural Wildlife Refuge near Victoria at the Gulf of Mexico.

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20 Acre Ranch with Medina River Frontage in South Bexar County. 18029 FM 1937, San Antonio, TX

Created Sunday, 06 February 2011 00:00

20 Acre Ranch with Medina River Frontage

PRICE REDUCED!

New Price $173,000

No Longer for Sale- OFF MARKET

LISTED By Randy Watson of Mission Realty!

Must see to appreciate! A rare opportunity to own 20 acres of Ranch land on the beautiful Medina River. This property offers something for everyone. Front flat cleared open grass with scattered mesquites. Remainder is great recreational area along the Medina River with trees, some huge pecan trees, heavy brush and over growth.

Wildlife is abundant for the hunter or nature lover. With around 500 feet of Medina River recreational frontage for hunting, fishing, swimming or tubing/canoeing. Bring your horses, too! An area along the bluff overlooking Medina River is cleared to build your home, a weekend cabin or just a place to camp with family on weekends. (There is multiple possible homesite locations throughout the property.)

Would make excellent horse or cattle property. Plenty of room for arenas, barns and pastures.

Located at 18029 FM 1937, San Antonio, TX 78221 in South Bexar County off a paved Farm to Market Road less than 30 Minutes from downtown San Antonio. A wet weather creek/ravine and river bottoms are within the flood plain. A crossing would have to be built to drive across the ravine. An underground natural gas pipeline runs across the front field. No single-wide mobile homes. Some fencing/cross fencing in poor-good condition. Electricity, telephone lines and SAWS water run along the road.
Don’t let someone else beat you to it! Currently under Ag and no city taxes, last year’s taxes were $30. Motivated sellers, awesome location. Send your offers. Have your broker call for a showing. We cooperate with all Texas Brokers.

To see more photos visit Land of Texas…

This property is no longer for sale

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A Day on the Beach At Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake

by Julia Hayden

Upon moving to San Antonio fifteen years ago, I had always wondered – in a perfunctory and mildly curious way – why there would be so many boats and wave-runners around. Such watercraft would be parked on a trailer in the street, or in a driveway, or moving purposefully down the road behind a pick-up truck – and I would be wondering where they were going, actually. We are too far from the coast, and as charming as the various local rivers are, unless they are in 100-year flood, there’s no scope for floating anything larger than an inner-tube on them. And slightly later, I realized that – that damming of various upstream and down from San Antonio had produced lakes sufficient for recreational boating purposes – and that’s were all these people with boats and wave-runners were headed, every holiday and three-day weekend. They were going to Medina Lake, Calvaras Lake, Braunig Lake, to Canyon Lake, and Lake McQueeney, and if they were really ambitious, all the way past Austin to Lake Travis.

So, my darling daughter decided that she wanted to celebrate this last 4th of July in the water, or close to the water’s edge, and being that the price of gas and a hotel room had pretty well removed an excursion to the Gulf Coast from the equation. She decided on Canyon Lake, to spend the day there at the day-beach at Canyon Park – and that we would take the dog. Alas, once we got there, we discovered that the day beach was absolutely closed-verboten-no-exceptions-whatsoever to dogs. So, we had to drive around to the campgrounds, and take a campsite for the day, at a slightly higher price, where leashed dogs were permitted. The only disadvantage to that location was that it was really not a comfortable beach – just an agglomeration of rock – and that there was absolutely no shade. The entire stretch of shoreline had no shade, other than metal canopies over the picnic tables at the various sites. There hadn’t been any shade at the beach, either, or so we had observed – most picnickers had brought their own beach umbrellas or pop-up canopies. They were most desperately needed, in any case, for there wasn’t a cloud in the sky – although there was an occasional light breeze, being on a height elevated somewhat above the water.

We thought the party next to us – a large group of friends and family also spending the whole day there, rather than camping – had the most clever idea of putting up one of their pop-up canopies in the shallow water, and parking a couple of lawn chairs underneath: in the water, which was barely cool, and in the shade, while they played around with inflatable floats, and a pair of wave-runners. We were rebels to the point of letting the dog swim, off her leash, although I am not sure she enjoyed it all that much, and was reluctant to go into the water at all, unless both of us were already in. And I turned my ankle, negotiating the rocks – so I wasn’t so much keen on risking breaking anything else. But we had folding chairs and a bit of shade, cool water and plenty of sun-screen, so in all – much more pleasant a day than at the beach, and having to drive home afterwards with sand in your bathing suit.

Next hot weekend though? I think we’ll tube the river; the shade is more substantial, and I will remember to bring my Crocs . . .

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Scenic Drive to Wimberly – Peace like a River

Peace Like a River

by Julia Hayden

We went to Wimberly last weekend, first for the Market Days, and then to try and find the place where I had taken some particularly beautiful pictures along the Blanco River some years ago. I am getting ready to publish a all-in-one hardback version of the Adelsverein Trilogy, and I thought that a nice rural view of the hills, river, trees and wildflowers would be just the ticket for the cover. Alas, no luck with the wildflowers this year, and we couldn’t find the road that we had gone driving down, which paralleled the river and offered a wonderful vista around every bend . . . never mind – we still got some lovely pictures, I got some plants to begin reviving my poor dog-and-frost destroyed garden again, and my daughter scored some major finds as far as her pressed glass collection goes. Oh, but it was hot. We carried along bottled water, with plenty of ice, drank of it every time we began to feel thirsty, and still came home limp with exhaustion.

We took the back way, from New Braunfels – too much traffic on the highway . . . and anyway, I wanted to look for scenic bits of the Hill Country anyway. We took the exit for Farm to Market 306 as if going to Canyon Lake, turned right on Purgatory Road and went all the way to Ranch to Market 32. Turn east, towards the direction of San Marcos, and then north on Ranch Road 12, into Wimberley. It seemed to be a very short and direct drive, rather than up to San Marcos on the highway, and then over to Wimberley – and it was much more restful a drive – little traffic, once past the turn-off for Canyon Lake.

So – Wimberley; a sweet little town, halfway between Austin and San Antonio, well-grown with oak and cypress trees, and stocked with cute little places selling artistic tchotchkes, kitchenware, antiques and the like. It still has a small-town feel about it – it is not laid out in straight lines and squares like the older parts of Fredericksburg, or Boerne or New Braunfels – it’s more like the original city planners dropped pieces of cooked spaghetti on the floor and took the resulting tangle as a viable plan. Still – considerable charm, even when everyone is heading to Market Days, or decides do go for lunch in downtown Wimberley afterwards.

We took our lunch at Marcos’ Italian, right on the town square; which was a perfect place to sit and recover after the heat. They make their own rolls, as I discovered, when having an Italian sausage roll for lunch – and the same dough is used to make little rolls to dip into spiced olive-oil. We completely missed the turn-off for the River Road, which is where we wanted to go, as I discovered when checking the map again. Instead, we blundered off into the entirely opposite direction – still, it was scenic enough: a cool green river, with cypress trees lining the riverbank, and tiny green feathers of cypress seedlings coming up from the mud. My daughter waded in the water, to cool off – she promises that next time, we’ll bring some inflatable pool toys and float around a bit on the river.

So, that was our Saturday excursion – what about yours?

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Museum Reach of the San Antonio Riverwalk

Our Riverwalk

by Julia Hayden

It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the downtown Riverwalk is the heart of San Antonio – after the Alamo, it’s the other completely unique tourist attraction. Water, trees and skinny riverbank gardens in the heart of a high-rise city – not many other places like it, and all hail Robert Hugman, the architect-genius who conceived the idea of a riverbank promenade, lined with shops and adorned with bridges and gardens.

Water and plenty of it drove the establishment of a settlement and missions here in the first place: an oasis in what was otherwise near enough to a desert. Early San Antonio looked to the water, measured out careful amounts through the acequias, the irrigation ditches. By the mid-19th century, travelers and visitors noted that many of the best houses had gardens that stretched down to the riverbanks, and there were little bathhouses and pavilions, so that residents could go swimming in the hot afternoons. Mills and breweries also sprouted up along the river, having a need for fresh water, or water-power . . . and now we are turning to the river again.

My daughter and I had business at the Pearl Brewery last week and we thought – oh, let’s bring the dog, and explore the new part of the Riverwalk, which we had seen from previous excursions to the Farmer’s Market and to La Gloria. So off we went, intending really to only go a few blocks – my daughter was only wearing light sandals, hardly the right footwear for a prolonged city trek. But once we got down to the level of the new walkway and gardens, there was just too much temptation to go a little farther, just around this bend, to see this bit of river, this view, the school of flying fish suspended underneath the IH-35 – hey, they light up those fish at night, how cool is that?

We walked past little bits of reconstructed marshland, banks covered in jasmine, the locks that lift the river-taxis up to the slightly higher river level, patchwork gardens of native plants, the tilework bench at the river-landing by the old convent school that is now a school of art and crafts, a fountain behind a classical-style arcade . . . the oldest VFW post in Texas – housed in an old white mansion which looks like it escaped from the set of Gone With the Wind, and bits of art, everywhere. There also seemed to be a lot of birds – not only the usual pigeons and ducks. Under one of the concrete bridges, swallows had built dozens of nests. There was a water-bird of some kind, standing so perfectly still, on a rock in the water-garden opposite the Museum of Art that at first we thought it was a sculpture itself. But it wasn’t – and the hawk that roosted on top of a telephone pole near the AT&T building, leisurely dining on fresh-caught pigeon (we knew it was a pigeon because the feathers were falling down all around us) – that definitely wasn’t a sculpture.

We walked all the way down to the Commerce Street bridge and back: it was marvelous, and well worth the cost. The downtown Riverwalk may belong to the tourists – but the new reach; that belongs to us locals.

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Tubing on rivers near San Antonio, absolutely relaxing; no cellphone, no internet, no city traffic – other than other tubers – just drifting along in the river current, keeping cool and watching the r

Created Sunday, 20 March 2011 15:07

By the Rivers’ Edge

The rivers that run through Texas were not historically reliable enough to facilitate heavy transport in the way that the Mississippi and its various tributaries were and still are. The various rivers – Rio Grande, Nueces, Guadalupe, San Antonio, Sabine, Brazos and Trinity – were at times and in places navigable by shallow-draft boats and steamships – it all rather depended on how recently it had rained. They were slightly more useful at providing small-scale power for mills, at those points where they could be built. But the most important use for Texas rivers though, especially the western-most of them – was simply that they were there, providing water in an otherwise arid land.

San Antonio was located where it was because of the generous sources of sweet, cold water – springs of which came out like fountains because of the aquifer, buried deep under the limestone hills to the north. Travelers and memoirists alike noted the importance of water and the river to San Antonio, even in the early days. By mid-19th century, it was noted that the very best houses in town backed on the river, with bath-houses and pavilions built along the banks, and in the heat of summer, practically everyone found relief from it by soaking in the water. After the Alamo, San Antonio’s premier tourist attraction is – of course – the Riverwalk. Out of the spotlight, there are a number of projects to extend various existing parks and construct new recreational greenways along the banks of urban rivers and creeks – but that’s a year round and on-going project. The major summertime enjoyment of other local rivers is just about to be launched, with a large and refreshing splash.

For San Antonio residents, the nearest place to indulge in that kind of recreation would be on the Comal River (at three miles long is about the shortest river in Texas), which runs through New Braunfels, and a twenty-mile long stretch of the Guadalupe between Canyon Lake Dam and New Braunfels. Those reaches of river are marvelously scenic, with unlimited opportunities for sightseeing, dining and shopping at every bend, no matter if you are kayaking, canoeing or just doing it on a rubber inner-tube. My daughter claims that Texas river tubing is absolutely the most relaxing way to do it; no cellphone, no internet, no city traffic – other than other tubers – just drifting along in the current, keeping cool and watching the riverbank go past. There are some deep places, and some rapids here and there; the river reaches are patrolled fairly rigorously for under-aged drinkers, and for those who carelessly bring glass or Styrofoam out onto the river – but for sheer total relaxation very possibly the only way to beat tubing, is probably a full body-massage at a day spa. A lot of the river outfitters have already opened in mid-March, although it won’t really kick into high gear until it gets warmer. By Memorial Day weekend, there’ll be so many tubers out there on weekends that you could probably cross the Guadalupe, by hopping from tube to tube.


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