IH 35 Road Trip Part 2

IH 35 Road Trip – Part 2

by Celia Hayes

The road was long, and went on and on in the dark. I thought that we’d see the sunrise about the time that we passed Round Rock, but no – thanks to daylight savings time, we didn’t see it even begin to get light until we passed through Waco. At that juncture, something moved us to want to take a break. Well, actually three things moved us: we were getting hungry again, my daughter wanted to top up the gas tank, and we both needed to use the bathroom facilities. And there was a billboard advertising the Czech Stop Bakery, and not a truck plaza or another Buc’ees in sight, in a little hiccup of a town called West. So, pull off the highway onto the access road, looking for the Czech Stop – easily found, by the way. If the giant lighted sign isn’t a clue, the packed parking lot in front of it ought to be.

I bought two plain kolaches, which they obligingly heated for me, and I wish, I wish, I so wish that I had bought a box of sweet pastries to carry on to Fort Worth with me, for the kolaches were magnificent; savory and flavorful lengths of kielbasa-like sausage, enveloped in a yeasty pillow of bread dough. I looked around the bakery – even at that hour, there was a line in front of the counter. After the fact, I discover that the Czech Stop is famed far and wide. Some commenters on foodie websites even swear that it’s worth the drive all the way from San Antonio for the sweet and savory pastries. I don’t know as I’d drive that far, gas being what it is, but if it is along your way, the Czech Stop is most definitely worth it.

On and on we went, making the interesting discovery that winter still held sway. It was actually darned chilly, and I was particularly grateful for the sweaters and jackets that my daughter had left in her car. I left my San Antonio home in shirtsleeves – and four hours later, there was white stuff caked in the grass along the side of the road, where the pavement met dirt. It had been so long since I had actually seen it, it took a few moments to recognize the remnants of snow. Yes, indeedy – Palm Sunday weekend, and snow along IH-35 coming into Fort Worth – while it’s shirtsleeve warm in San Antonio, with the wisteria and roses are all in bloom.

The next attractive bit of roadside business managed to enchant us thoroughly, even at a passing speed of 70 MPH – and that was the Rustic Creek Ranch, which hove into sight as we were approaching the outlaying fringes of Fort Worth. An extensive waterpark-playground feature, an RV park, grounds landscaped so extensively as to make your average KOA look like a dump … and the rental cottages on-site! Oh, my – I looked them up online as soon as we got home that evening, after an incredibly, horribly, very long day. The Rustic Creek features luxury cottages, with bells on. Oh, did we wish that we could have rented a cottage there, instead of the long drive back and forth. I would have so loved to sink into a double bed, piled high with quilts … Well, I did – I just had to wait until I got home.

And that was our spring road trip. When we make it back in the fall, for an evening author event, we are scheming how to fit in a short stay at the Rustic Creek Ranch. It all depends on how my books sell!

 

IH35 Road Trip Part 1

IH-35 Road Trip Part 1

Find your new home on our San Antonio MLS Home Search

by Celia Hayes

Having a book event last Saturday in Belton – a very pleasant and prosperous town overtaken and reduced to mere suburb status by the mighty municipalities of Fort Worth on one side and Dallas on the other. Not having more than a day available to spend on this excursion, and depending on the takings from sales of books at it for any extraneous adventures, we did not take any scenic and exciting backcountry routes to and from. Instead, we took the simple and uncomplicated road – IH-35, at a consistent 60 to 70 MPH, except for twenty minutes on the return journey, stuck in Austin traffic at a slow crawl. How they can manage a total stand-still on a Saturday evening is beyond me; it must be some kind of special Austin gift.

But that simple, straight-forward jaunt took us right by a number of curious attractions conveniently located right off the highway, beginning with a stop at Buc-ees in New Braunfels. At an early hour on a Saturday, the joint does not precisely jump – but as a stop for gas, sandwiches, coffee and a visit to the princely and beautifully clean bathrooms – the place has no equal in Texas or the world. Believe me; I have experienced some of the vilest public bathrooms in Europe and Japan. In Europe, they built cathedrals – in North America, the finest bathrooms since Rome. At Buc-ees, the food is pricy, but excellent, and how many other choices do you have at 5 in the morning off the interstate, anyway?

The next curiosity going north would be just south of San Marcos at the San Marcos Retail Outlets. We used to spend a lot of money there; and it seems that a lot of other shoppers have done so too, — for they have expanded hugely. The outlet mall around Centerpoint/exit 200 is practically a tourist attraction in itself, although I don’t think the Venetian gondolas get all that much use.

Austin – oh, what can one say about Austin: It used to be a series of scattered farms and blockhouses, among the hills and woods by the upper Colorado River, until Mirabeau Lamar killed a buffalo near Congress and 8th street, and decided that henceforward, Austin would be the capital city of an independent Texas. And so it did – these days Austin is distinguished by a vibrant music and intellectual scene, astonishingly clogged traffic on the IH-35 even on weekends, a view of the capital building from the highway, and an incredibly large assortment of hotels along the stretch of IH-35 between Austin and Georgetown. Every hotel chain in America must have three or four outlets along that single stretch.

So does another commercial establishment; a single Ikea store. There it is, on the outskirts of Round Rock, a monument to spare modern Scandinavian design and flat-pack furniture, marooned in the middle of a country where elevated taste often runs to chairs contrived out of cattle horns and upholstered in cowhide with the fur on.

On northwards – to Waco, home to Dr Pepper, Baylor University and … most impressively to a lover of Texas history; the home of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, which is right off the I-35. It is so close that I would have squeezed in a brief and flying visit … if we had not been going past at 6:45 in the mornings, a tight schedule and a serious need to be in Belton by 9:30 at the very latest.

(But there were so many interesting places glimpsed as we flew past, so many bill-boards for places … another time, when time is not so pressing upon us. The rest of this journey is continued next week…)

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?

Back Ways to New Braunfels

The Town That Was – And the Hardware Store That Is

by Celia Hayes

Lately, we’ve taken to getting to New Braunfels by following Nacogdoches road all the way up to where it intersects with FM 482. Just around that intersection we have been intrigued by a range of old buildings – two of them side by side, weathered gray boards, with a false front and a veranda across the front, looking like something on the set of a Western movie. Around the bend in Old Nacogdoches Road, there is an industrial-looking building of yellow buff brick with a tall chimney. The fourth building – the only one still whole and in use is a little way down FM 842 – a charming and totally random brick church; the Catholic Church of St. Joseph. From the evidence of the storefronts, the chimney and the church it seems that there was something there, once.

Last Saturday, when we came up to the corner, there was a middle-aged couple and a teenaged boy chopping the brush in front of the old buildings. It was too good an opportunity to pass up. We parked the car, got out and introduced ourselves, and asked – what was this place? They explained – yes, this was a little crossroads hamlet called Comal. FM 482 was one of the main roads between San Antonio and New Braunfels back in the day … about 1915. The largest building was the feed and hardware stores, the two smaller were the general mercantile and a blacksmith – who turned eventually to being a gas station. The brick building? A cotton gin. The farmers around here all raised cotton; the hardware store and the mercantile were where they gathered at the end of the day to visit with friends. Hard to credit this as cotton country, but it was: Cotton thrived around here – right up until the 1920s, when the boll weevil demolished that crop.

On to New Braunfels, the town that is the home of two local enterprises who have set longevity records; Naegelin’s Bakery is the longest-established, continuously operating bakery in Texas, and from personal experience, the apple strudel and the iced molasses cookies are to die for. The other enterprise, older than Naegelin’s by a decade, is a hardware store: Henne Hardware which is housed in a splendid late Victorian building on Main Street. The building is from the late 19th century, but the business itself was established in 1857 – which as things go is very early, for the Western US.

The interior of the store is totally splendid; a classic old-fashioned hardware store; three bays supported by pillars, a high ceiling (adorned with the tin panels that were the standard at the turn of the last century) and a feature that I had read about, but had never seen – a wire-guided pulley system for transferring cash from three points within the store to the office at the back. There appear to have once been three different points-of-sale within the store, but all the cash paid for merchandise was sent in a little wooden jar to the office at the back – and a receipt returned. It’s very curious – the predecessor of those pneumatic tubes at motor-banks. They don’t actually use it any more, and the duty manager whom we talked to confessed that it is a little bit of a pain, when they try and bring in something large – just to get it around the wires. But still, it’s an interesting bit of Americana. And of course, my daughter loves that Henne’s has two official cats on the premises, who lounge about the place as they please, and deign to catch the occasional mouse now and again.

I love retail establishments that have official cats; it’s almost expected that independent bookstores have them, but really – any retail store except maybe a fish market, or a place serving food – is improved by being adorned by the presence of a cat. Or a dog, if necessary; a tutelary spirit, in any case.

Nimitz Museum Fredericksburg Texas

Museum of the Pacific – Re-enactor Daze

by Celia Hayes

Among the attractions of Fredericksburg, the queen of the Hill Country is the Museum of the Pacific War. Ever since I started visiting the Hill Country (shortly after coming to settle in a tiny suburban San Antonio home) in 1995, the Museum has been expanding by leaps and bounds. On my very first visit it seemed that everything was pretty much contained within the old Nimitz hotel, the steam-boat shaped edifice at the corner of Main and Washington, with the Japanese peace garden out around in back. At a slightly later date, there was a open-sided shed with sides of chain link, down across Town Creek which contained some large and small relatively indestructible exhibits … but that was it. Until they began the Bush gallery, on an empty lot in back which faced Austin Street, and even that wasn’t very much to look at … at first. First it was completed, and then enlarged – maybe enlarged again. The garden alongside the old hotel was also renovated and landscaped, so that it looked more like it did at the end of the century before last – when the Nimitz Hotel was the social center/assembly room/auditorium/performance space for the area.

There is a picture that I have seen in old histories of the area, of the garden as it was – with roses and hop vines growing up over cedar pergolas. Old Charles Henry Nimitz, Admiral Chester Nimitz’s grandfather had built up the hotel from the four-roomed adobe house which existed on that particular town lot in the 1850s. He was quite a character, C.H. Nimitz – he had a reputation as a prankster and tall-tale-teller, but also was one of the most respected and successful town fathers; in the early days, the garden at the side of the hotel was a kind of beer garden. Now it is a garden again, but a little more ornate than before … and the Bush gallery with all the indoor displays is huge. All the displays and relics which used to be in the old hotel building are there, and expanded upon.

The Admiral Nimitz Foundation took over management of the hotel property in 2005, and has never looked back … well, in the archival sense, they have looked back. As for the museum complex? It’s now an excellent addition to Fredericksburg as a destination for sightseeing. The front of the Bush gallery – which seems to be about six times larger than it was on the first time I visited — is adorned with what appears to be a submarine rising up from the depths. The Japanese mini-sub captured at Pearl Harbor, which used to be out in the garden, is now in its own exhibit space in the Bush gallery. Down the road a little way and across Town Creek, the out-of-doors Pacific War Zone is now three acres and change. They have a whole PT boat there, and a vintage hospital operating theater set up in a Quonset hut, and an open-air beachhead exhibit, which is the venue for extensive reenactments throughout the year. The next one is scheduled for the weekend of June 30-July 1. If you miss it, there won’t be another one until the first weekend in September. Which, considering the brutal summer heat of South Texas, is probably a good ideal. Still, I can’t help thinking that the very best thing that you can do for your birthplace is to grow up and become very, very famous.

Buc-ees New Braunfels

It’s New, It’s Huge, It’s Buc-ee’s New Braunfels!

Since we are somewhat experienced as long-haul road-trippers, we are – thank you very much – aficionados of those beside-the-highway establishments set up to offer gas, food, conveniences, or even just a place to pull over to stretch one’s legs and let the dog romp for a bit. Some of these places – like the Pilot Travel Centers and Flying J truck plazas – offer (or did offer, the last time we checked) amazing coffee, with half-and-half on tap, not those nasty little mini-containers of liquid chalk. And when I was stationed at Hill AFB in Ogden, Utah, we always used to calculate our commute to Southern California on I-15 to include a breakfast or lunch stop for burgers at the Bun Boy, in either Barstow or Baker – heck, my grandparents used to go to Los Vegas back in the day, and my father remembers stopping at the Bun Boy even then. The burgers were fantastic, the breakfast plates were huge, and there was always a lot of interesting people at the counter, including truck drivers who could tell you down to the mile marker where all the speed traps were. (Alas, the Baker Bun Boy, next to the world’s tallest thermometer went out of business a while ago.)

Head, shoulders and a good bit of torso above many such roadside establishments in which to pause in the midst of the weary journey is Buc-ee’s. What is Buc-ee’s? You may well ask; the answer is that it’s a chain of nineteen stores in South Texas aimed at supporting the long-drive motorist. It has a beaver mascot, a string of amusing and sometimes slightly raunchy billboards along the highways advertising their presence … and the cleanest bathrooms around. They started in the early eighties, offering cheap bags of ice, reasonably priced and good-quality food, and the aforementioned bathrooms … all of these things being hugely appreciated by travelers who have encountered … well, let’s just say that overpriced ice, horrible, expensive food and truly nasty bathrooms are more the usual thing for long-haul travelers. Remind me to tell you about the service station bathroom on the highway near Gibraltar which we once encountered. My then nine-year-old daughter took one horrified look at it and said, “Mom, I don’t have to go that bad.”

This being Texas, Buc-ee’s offers everything bigger, better and relatively cheaper … and more gas station lanes than I have ever seen in one place before. In short, it is to your usual truck plaza/traveler’s rest stop as Buckingham Palace is to a crumbling double-wide in a trailer park on the bad side of town … especially the latest Buc-ee’s, which opened this week in New Braunfels. The Luling Buc-ee’s, which we knew best, is now but a small annex to the splendor and glory of the New Braunfels outlet. I had never in my life seen a travel-plaza with servers cutting up BBQ brisket on a wooden stand … or a made-to-order deli … with a row of computer stations to place your order. Or as many soft-drink spigots as there were; seventy-five in a row, or so said one of the duty managers giving away samples of coleslaw and dips on chips. This new hall of splendors and merchandise is admirably placed just off IH-35 and the turnoffs to Canyon Lake and to Lake McQueeney – and quite honestly, it looks as if they could handle as many travelers at one time as are spectators at regular Spurs games.

But oddly enough – no 18-wheeler truck services. Just autos and RVs.

Exploring Buda

Exploring Buda, Texas-Just 45 Minutes North of San Antonio


by Celia Hayes

We didn’t spend all of last weekend watching the wienerdogs run; the Buda City park where that event took place was pleasingly located right next to old down-town Buda, so when we had enough of wandering around between pavilions, we walked along the three or four blocks that constitute Buda … and looked around. It’s one of those sweet, small towns which retain enough of their original late 19th century buildings to be quite charming, even if those buildings mostly run along one side of the street … because the railway runs alongside the other. Buda’s town founding fathers set aside a 150-foot wide reserve of land between Main Street and the International and Great Northern railway line. The International and Great Northern may have been the reason for being in the first place, and the trains still rumble through on a regular basis.

Originally, the town was named Du Pre, but on discovering that there was another town with the same name, everyone agreed to call it Buda. Some sources say the name came from a local mispronunciation of Spanish for ‘widow’, since the Carrington House hotel and restaurant was the major landmark in town and a number of respectable widows worked there as cooks. Then again, it might have been homage to refugees from the failed Hungarian revolt in the mid-1800s, who settled thereabout.

Time was when the trains would stop in Buda, passengers would detrain, hurry across Main Street and have a quick meal in the Carrington House dining room. The Carrington is still here – a splendid Texas-Victorian pile with a metal roof and wide porches and galleries on two floors, but it is not a hotel any more. It’s now office space and an antique store. There are several more antique stores along Main, a florist shop where a corner gas station used to be, a number of pleasant-looking restaurants and bistros and the Wildflour Cakery & Boutique, set up in a brand new-built-to-look old building. (Note: the Mexican Vanilla Cupcakes are to die for!)

Some of the older buildings seem to go on nearly forever – and everyone knows when the trains come through. I think I would get used to it, eventually, and I always loved to hear the sound of a distant train at night, but I think that you need to be about half a mile away for the nostalgic effect to work.

One of the shop owners told me of some buildings across the railroad tracks – also new-built-to-look-old, which were supposed to have stores and offices on the ground floor and residential lofts above … but alas, the prospective tenants found the noise of trains rumbling past at all hours, a few yards away, just a little too much. I was assured, however, that the newer housing developments in Buda are far enough from the rail line that the romantic effect is achieved, rather than the earsplitting one.

I was tempted to no end by one of the antique places, and shelf after shelf of National Geographic magazines from the 1930s and 1940s. When I was a kid, one of our neighbors had a whole collection of them, and I thought they were fascinating. Not the articles so much, but the advertisements, especially the wartime issues. Maybe I will go back and buy a few for old time’s sake. Or at least, for some of the Wildflour Cakery’s cupcakes.

Wiener Dog Races in Buda

The Running of the Wiener Dogs in Buda, Texas

by Celia Hayes

Let me say up front that we’re still a little unsure of how to pronounce ‘Buda’ – although most of the people that we met there last weekend pronounced it ‘B-yu-dah’, which is fair enough. For those unfamiliar with the geography of South Texas, it is a once fairly independent and separate little community about an hour’s drive north of San Antonio on IH-35, and close enough to Austin that it and the similar little community of Kyle are more or less bedroom slippers to Austin, as Boerne and Bulverde are now bedroom slippers to San Antonio.

We decided to go to support a friend who has a dachshund and who had a vendor booth for his bird feeders and ornamental lanterns, and because the mental vision of galloping wiener dogs was too much cuteness to resist. It seems to have begun as a sort of adjunct to a Lion’s Club hotdog roast fund-raiser, and then someone suggested the notion of racing dachshunds as an attention-getting device. The whole thing took off from there, and now Buda has fully embraced the image of being the Wiener Dog Racing Capital of Texas – well, anything is better than slipping into dull suburban anonymity. The Wiener Dog Races in Buda a have just had their fifteenth run, so I can pretty much say it is now a well-established tradition – as being a very well organized one.

The event itself takes place in a city park in the older part of town, and in order to keep the traffic and parking situation from getting totally out of hand, the Lions’ Club very cleverly set up the parking lot in a huge empty field behind the equally huge Cabela’s outlet, just off the highway, and shuttled people to and fro in school-buses, which seemed to come every five minutes or so. Getting to the festival itself was practically painless, although I did feel for those people who were juggling folding chairs, kid-strollers and a dog or two on leashes. Did I mention that this was a totally dog-friendly event?

Why, certainly it was. Although only dachshunds or mostly-dachshunds can run as contestants in the races, other dogs were totally welcome into the venue itself, and even into many of the shops open on Main Street. I think about a third of the people there had dogs with them, my daughter says no, more like half … but as there were as many attendees who had multiple dogs, so it probably came out pretty much like. And if you didn’t arrive with a dog, there were opportunities offered by various dachshund rescue associations to leave with one, if you were so inclined. Dachshunds are jolly little dogs, friendly for the most part – and they made a fine show in the first heats, too. None of them lost interest half-way down the track, although some owners of fine racing wiener dog stock tell us that the racing is something that they really have to be in the mood for doing.

A lot of the vendors had dog and dog-related items; stuffed sock dogs, metal art featuring wiener-dogs, jewelry … and dog treats, of all kinds. The two creators of OohLaLa Gourmet Dog Treats even went so far as to tell us that their dog treat cookies were so wholesome and good that they could even be eaten by humans. There was one thing that we did notice, though … the whole of that afternoon in Buda, we didn’t see a single cat. I wonder why?

Road Trip to Bergheim Texas

Road Trip: Bergheim

by Celia Hayes

The name ‘bergheim’ means – if I remember my several years of high school and college German correctly – ‘mountain home’. Strictly speaking, although the beating urban heart of Bergheim, Texas, is not anywhere near a mountain that I would recognize as such, (having lived at the foot of the Wasatch Range in Utah, or from living in the foothills of California’s San Gabriels) it is pleasingly situated at the top of a substantial rise in the Hill Country, and a pleasant drive north from San Antonio. Especially, if you take 46 to get there; either east from Boerne, or west from Bulverde; the road rambles through rolling country, sparsely scattered with small ranches and housing developments, groves of trees, campgrounds and resorts oriented towards the Guadalupe River.

And there, right in the middle of it is the 109-year general store and post-office, housed in a cut-limestone building with a classic 19th-century bedstead front. It is, as nearly as we could see, the only retail outlet on the road, save for a gas station quickie mart and a Subway about a block away at the intersection with FM 3351. Who lives in the area – and there are residents, and visitors who come for tubing and canoeing on the Guadalupe – who want to drive ten or fifteen miles in either direction for a quart or milk, some potatoes, a link of cured sausage, a pair of jeans, a six-pack of beer, some crawfish bait or a pair of pliers, when the sudden need for such arrives in the middle of a busy weekend. Very few people actually do, even in these days of big-box stores and instant-overnight-Fedex delivery. And when that shopping trip meant a couple of hours in a wheezing Model A Ford, or in a horse and buggy … well, this is why general stores still exist in the wide-open back-country of flyover states like Texas, and why they have come to carry an amazingly eccentric variety of items.

Someone once expressed a need for a certain item, the storekeeper stocked it, and other customers purchased it … and there you go, which is how the owner of the local hardware store explained it to me. Alas, his enterprise is now defunct, having been swamped by suburbia and then put into competition with Lowe’s/Home Depot. A pity, because it was one of the few places that you could easily find an expert to explain the finer points of refinishing a bathtub or replacing a garbage disposal. Which is not to say that there aren’t experts at Lowe’s/Home Despot; they’re just much harder to find, especially on holiday weekends.

Anyway, the Bergheim General Store is a bit like going back in time to what a general mercantile was, a hundred and more years ago: a little bit of everything, and everything in it’s place, everything densely-packed on the shelves, and the aisles narrow, the whole place erratically lit, not a shred of commercial décor save the lighted beer signs and nothing about it reflecting conventional retail wisdom about well-lit, wide aisles and the favored products at eye-level or on the endcaps. Nope: it’s where it is at the Bergheim General Store, and efficient use is made of limited space. Four generations of the same family have been in charge of it since 1903.

Aside from having electricity and air conditioning introduced sometime in the last 190 years, the inside is pretty much as it was when built: plain narrow-board floors, plain whitewashed/painted stone walls. And the front door stoop is of cut stone; over the years, it has worn into a gentle valley in the middle from all the customers coming in and out of the store. I noticed this often in Europe, mostly in places hundreds of years old, or a doorway made of soft stone. This is not something I have seen much in the US, certainly not much in Texas, where there are only a double-handful of stone-built structures older than statehood itself. It’s worth a drive into the country to see – that, and what lies inside.

San Antonio Airport International Travel up 33 Percent

San Antonio Airport International Passenger Numbers Soar

by Randy Watson

The San Antonio International Airport;s (SAT) International boarding passenger count had a major increase in 2011, reaching 182,031, or a 33.1 percent increase over 2010.

Domestic passengers continued to rise in 2011, totaling 7,898,793, up 1.2 percent over the previous calendar year. Total enplaned and deplaned passengers reached 8,171,824 in 2011, a 1.7 percent increase over 2010.

The large international passenger increase was primarily due to added seats in the market.

Source: San Antonio Airport System