Saturday, August 28, 2010


I love being in different places, but I hate riding in cars, planes, and buses. Trains are marginally better, but not much. Since I don't have time these days to travel by foot or bicycle, I mostly limit my traveling to the relatively short trip between San Antonio and my country place.

This month has been unusual, as I traveled to New York, NY and Gonzales, TX. The NYC trip was mostly for business, but my daughter and future son-in-law went with me, and there was time for enjoying the city in the evenings. We rented an apartment not far from where my cousin lives, and she introduced us to some pleasant restaurants. One of our favorites is Zen Palate . We spent one evening at a Fraunces Tavern Museum evening lecture (Trudy Eden spoke on the political effects of the 18th century American diet), followed with a private tour conducted by Fred Cookinham (yeah, I know it sounds as though we were fixated on food and cooking that evening). Fred made New Amsterdam and early New York come alive for us. (I highly recommend Fred's tours; I definitely plan to do more in the future )

 I wondered what trees originally grew on Manhattan Island, and Fred suggested that I go up to Inwood Hill Park, which is a chunk of relatively undeveloped Manhattan Island. Sounded like a good idea, so we went to Inwood Hill Park the next day. The terrain is incredibly rugged, with huge gouges and boulders left by glaciers. It's amazing to think that the whole island was once like that. The photos below were taken by my future son-in-law, Ryan Becker.

photo by Ryan Becker

I love the buildings of New York, but there are so many wonderful photos of them, I didn't think I had anything to add. Instead, I wanted photos of places you don't see all the time, like the park above, near 92nd St and the farmer's market below.

photo by Ryan Becker

And one of the gardens at The Cloisters:

photo by Ryan Becker

Gonzales, Texas is just down the road from my country place, but I had never been there before today. I went there to visit Discovery Architectural Antique. My husband and I need to replace the doors that someone stole from our home in San Antonio.

Gonzales is famous as the location of the first battle of the Texas War of Independence on October 2, 1835. It's said that the Mexican government had given the settlers in Gonzales a small cannon to use as protection against Comanche warriors. Prior to October, 1835, the Texas settlers ("Texians") had begun to protest against increasing federal control over their lives. The Mexican government, no doubt foreseeing the need for the use of force against the settlers, asked the settlers of Gonzales to return the cannon, and sent around 100 dragoons (light cavalry) to retrieve it. The Texians were determined not to give up the Cannon and rallied under a white flag that bore a picture of a cannon and the words, "Come and Take It."  I saw "Come and Take It" signs on several buildings when I was in Gonzales today.

As I was driving around looking for the architectural antiques store, I noticed that all the streets bear the names of saints: St Andrew, St Francis, St George, etc. There are large squares of land kept nicely mowed, but I didn't see anyone using them. In fact, the place was a bit like a ghost town. Other than a kid on a skateboard, I was the only person walking around the town. I wondered what it would feel like to live in Gonzales, and what it was like in the early 1900's when, judging by the fancy buildings and mansions, it must have been a far busier place than it is now. What did it smell like then? Today, it smelled mostly like hot asphalt. There was a building with a sign that said, "Alcalde Hotel." During Spanish and Mexican colonial days, an alcalde was something like a city magistrate, who also acted as judge when there were disputes among the residents

The Alcalde Hotel is clearly no longer used as lodging for travelers. There are, however, a couple of motels in Gonzales and at least two pleasant looking bed & breakfasts. The sidewalks have rings at the curb, for tying up one's horse.

I'd like to go back someday, when the weather is not as hot as it was today, and wander around.

Here's a very enticing mansion that was smothered in vegetation, with No Trespassing signs all along the stone wall that surrounds its grounds. You can just see the chimneys and a bit of the roof.

On the way back to the Berry Farm, I drove through Palmetto State Park. Very pretty place with the San Marcos River flowing through it. 


  1. I love NYC!

    I think we've eaten at the Zen Palate. When we go to NY, food usually does dominate the itinerary.

    And like I've said in emails....I'm with you on loving to be places, but not liking the getting-there part!

  2. I was tickled to see this both, on account of BOTH locations. I enjoyed a visit to the area around the Cloisters last Thanksgiving and was surprised at the ruggedness. Trees and birds in the city.

    And I've never been to Gonzales. Had wondered about it. I write occasional travel articles for the Express-News and like to find interesting niches of Texas life. The architectural artifact place looks interesting. But a town without people is a true oddity.

  3. I'm sure it's a different scene during the week when the court house is open, and maybe on the weekends too, when the weather is not so diabolically hot. I noticed 2 tax return service businesses, one CPA, and an EA all right on the square (I tend to take special notice such things, being in the tax business myself), a dentist's office, a gift shop, several antique shops. I'd definitely recommend it for an Express-News article. Most fascinating to me were the reminders that the town was once a thriving commercial center.