Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Heart of the City: San Antonio|The Saga

We recently spent a beautiful December evening enjoying the holiday lights and exploring downtown San Antonio.  In my last post we were awaiting a special event on Main Plaza.  With a crowd gathered in anticipation it was time for the main event -- San Antonio|The Saga.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Touring the San Antonio Lights from La Villita to Main Plaza

[Now for] A few more sights from our tour of lights in downtown San Antonio, you can see my first two posts on the River Walk and Alamo Plaza by clicking the links.  From Alamo Plaza and the River Walk we [made the short walk to] headed to La Villita, a village of shops [near the convention center] {and which was quiet with the shops closed for the evening}.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


It's not easy for us to surprise each other with gifts.  I'm not good at waiting for a special occasion to buy something and neither is he.  This year was an exception.

"This will instantly make your blog better."  He handed over the box and I paused wondering what it could possibly be.  He was so certain.  I couldn't think of what it would be.

It's a new camera lens.  An 18-135mm which will provide more versatility over a broader range of distances, including doubling my zoom while out and about.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Alamo Plaza Lights Up for the Holidays

A trip downtown to see the lights just wouldn't be complete without strolling on over to Alamo Plaza to check out the tree and a few minutes of people watching.

The tree is different each year so it's always fun to see what they've come up with.  This year it's waves of colorful lights blinking to Christmas music.  H-E-B, a locally based grocery chain, sponsors the tree.  Like the nearby River Walk it's a constant flow of activity on Alamo Plaza.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Strolling the Paseo del Rio at Christmas

There's no place like home for the holidays.  In San Antonio, with its unique Paseo del Rio or River Walk featuring thousands of lights draped over the Bald Cypress trees lining the river, that's especially true.

We recently took a stroll along the Paseo del Rio to enjoy the holiday lights in the 100 ft. tall trees.

I've been away for a while
But it still brings a smile
When I think of the way that it goes
Now I'll sing it to you
Just so we both can do
That 'ol San Antonio Stroll
(San Antonio Stroll, Peter Noah/Tanya Tucker 1975)

Local tip:  Less crowded south of Commerce Street, free parking downtown Tuesday after 5pm.

My previous holiday photos of the River Walk have been mostly from the bridges above since it was crowded down on the the river. See that little peninsula to the right of the passing barges?

This is the view from that spot.  I especially enjoy the reflections on the water.

The view from the bridge framed by cypress branches and lights.

A group preparing for a dinner cruise under the lights, most restaurants with river access will cater a cruise.

Merry carolers floated by singing Feliz Navidad. The Ford Motor Company sponsors our holiday river parade the Friday after Thanksgiving, then makes the parade barges available at a reduced rate to groups during the holiday season. 

Most of the buildings downtown are hotels with this one adding a holiday backdrop to the scene.

The next sequence shows fascinating changes in the water reflections as a barge comes through.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cruising the San Antonio River Part 3: Paseo del Rio

The third in my series of our San Antonio River tour covers the most popular part of the San Antonio River Walk and the area you've probably seen or heard about even if you've never visited.  You can read about our cruise through the Museum Reach north of the city in Part 1 and Part 2.

The Paseo del Rio is the 2.5 mile loop through downtown lined with hotels and restaurants serving our biggest industry--tourism.  We host 26 million visitors a year, that's a lot for a population of 2 million.

On this early November day we are heading under the flood gate which diverts flood water into the bypass channel during times of heavy rains.  The channel protects the businesses along the Paseo del Rio from flooding.  Annual pansies are in place for the cooler weather.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Agave "Blue Aglow" For Foliage Follow-Up

It's been two years since Christmas 2012 when I first wrapped a strand of blue lights around the Agave ovatifolia in the front garden and posted this photo as Agave 'Blue Aglow' for Wordless Wednesday.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day December 2014

So many blooms to share this beautifully mild December.  If we hadn't had a freeze in November there would be even more blooms.  I'm joining Carol at May Dreams Gardens and many more garden bloggers in posting what's blooming for December.

Devil's Tongue Cactus bloomed late last week.  Usually an October bloomer, this one was a surprise.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Cruising the San Antonio River Part 2

In my last post we cruised the Museum Reach section of the San Antonio River from The Pearl to the Locks and Dam at Brooklyn Avenue just north of downtown.  Today we'll continue the cruise from Brooklyn Avenue to the beginning of the Paseo Del Rio tourist area.  To see my walking tours of this area go here and here.  The comparison of the walking tour with the view from the river gives a very different perspective.

The doors to the locks open and we cruise south from the locks and dam.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Cruising on the San Antonio River Part 1

We plan our garden club outings well in advance and most of the time our weather is quite nice even in the winter.  Every once in a while it turns out to be a very cold day combined with an outdoor event that can't be cancelled.  That's how we ended up going for a cruise on the San Antonio River with the temperatures down in the 40's and a brisk wind making it feel even colder.

The hardy among us bundled up and boarded the barge (the boats are technically barges) on the north end of the river at The Pearl.

Yes, it was that cold!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sources of Inspiration: Lee May

"I once had an editor at the LA Times who was known for reminding writers to refer to important people at the top of our stories. "Names make news!" he would bark. Well, with wildflowers, names make good reading. You sure did educate this reader with this post. Boneset. I love it."

That comment was left by Lee May last year on my post about native boneset and I consider it one of the most inspiring comments I have received.  Lee May passed away last Wednesday after a brief battle with cancer.   He covered the White House, Presidential campaigns, and all manner of events around the world as a journalist for the Los Angeles Times and served on the editorial board of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  He was a wonderful and witty writer and that's why his comment meant so much to me.  If Lee May thought I had composed a good post then it must have been very good indeed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday December 2014

The first Wednesday of each moth I join Tina at My Gardener Says.... to post about the wildlife visiting my garden.

The hummingbird moth Hemaris diffinis or Snowberry Clearwing was enjoying our Clammy Weed a couple months ago.  I previously posted about a white lined hummingbird moth on the Stachys coccinea and this is a similar but very different type.  The distinctive yellow and black markings make it easy to see why it is called the Bee Hawk moth in Europe.  This is the first and only time I've seen this type of hummingbird moth in my garden.  They are about three inches long, so they are quite a sight to behold as they nectar on flowers.