Thursday, February 25, 2016

Winter Walk-Off 2016

It's been a couple of years since I joined Les for his Winter Walk-Off at A Tidewater Gardener.   With so many options for exploring San Antonio it's always good choice to go walking.  So when my sister-in-law was in town last week we had lunch and walked a less traveled route through downtown San Antonio.  With the beautiful day and our beautiful city as a backdrop it's a nice walk for sharing.

The rules are simple.  Take a walk and share the photos on your blog then link back to A Tidewater Gardener.  You can walk your neighborhood as I did a couple of years ago or drive or bike to your  starting point.  No photos of your own garden and there are prizes too.  More details at A Tidewater Gardener.

We'll start our walk in an urban park at the base of the Tower of the Americas.  Glass elevators take visitors to the top where they have a choice of Chart House restaurant, a bar or an observation deck for those who just want to take a look.  Originally built for Hemisfair in 1968, the view from the top at night is spectacular.

So much water!  We don't get much rain so water features like this are a special treat.  All public water features are fed with reclaimed water processed southeast of town and pumped back into the city.

Swirling eddy drain, reminiscent of reclaimed water.  Just sayin'

I always enjoy the bright colors combined with plenty of rushing water in this garden.  Our massive convention center fills in the background.

Concrete aqueducts with waterfalls in the surrounding Hemisfair Park evoke ancient acequias which originally channeled water to homes and farms around the city.

Hemisfair Park renovations required a detour through the branch campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) or National University of Mexico. The detour revealed a public art display I had not seen before.

This sculpture was the only one with a plaque and I didn't get a photo thinking the info would be available online.  Turns out I couldn't find any reference to the art at all.  Looks like a Phoenix or logo maybe.  Oh well, at least the top of the Tower of the Americas fits neatly in the cone.

Mesoamerican sculptures line the plaza between buildings.  This Toltec warrior would have supported the roof of a temple.

Olmec head carving looking pretty authentic and pretty amazing to just happen on them with no tags.

Stele like these dot the jungles of Mexico.

These two appear to be Spanish Colonial carvings.

Put a cork in it?  No, probably what remains of a flute.

A tiny float for Dia de los Niños (Children's Day) parade coming up in April?

Now to join the throngs of tourists down on the San Antonio River Walk.

¡Hola! twin girls and their brother wave to....

....passing boats of tourists plying the famous Paseo Del Rio which attracts 26 million visitors a year.

With our sun hats and cameras, I'm sure we look like tourists too.  Maybe we are tourists for a day.  Tourists in our own town, why not?

One of our arched stone bridges with "La Antorcha de la Amistad" or "Torch of Friendship," a gift from Mexico, in the background.

We head through the Arneson River Theater, stage right.  Yes, that's real sky.

Audience seating on the other side means boats float right through the middle of the show.

Another stone bridge covered in fig ivy.  Most tall buildings in the city are hotels.

The bronze sculpture of a Vaquero driving longhorns across the river in front of the Briscoe Museum of Western Art seems to be under repair with hooves and horns protected from damage.

Heading toward the red sandstone Bexar County Courthouse.

At the end of the Paseo Del Rio, a gritty bit of the river's backside shows how the river through downtown might have looked without the vision of Architect R.H.H. Hugman back in the 1920s.  Most people will turn up river north toward town, we're headed south, notice the traffic signal on the bridge for boats.

Wintering Cormorants on a wire await fishing opportunities near the dam.

The Nueva Street Dam controls water levels in the San Antonio River Walk so tourists see water instead of a dry creek bed.  Reclaimed water is used to fill the river unless we've had enough rain.

In a block or so we enter the mostly residential King William Historic District named in the 1870s for King Wilhelm I of Prussia.

Cypress knees are cool, Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) is common along the river but not so much in my higher and drier neighborhood.  I've seen Cypress knees painted like Santa or all manner of creatures at craft shows.  Cypress knees also make fascinating table legs.

Our regional grocery chain H-E-B headquarters along the river.

The River Walk continues another 10 miles south along the Mission Reach.  Saving that walk for another day, we exit to street level at a small park.

Faux bois is common throughout public parks in San Antonio and I enjoy the details.

A house once stood here

Now it's preserved as green and relaxing open space.

San Antonio is smack on the line where southern charm meets the old west so we'll enjoy a few charming houses in the King William Historic District on our way back to the car.

These homes would have greeted my great-great grandparents when they moved to San Antonio from Palestine (Texas!) in the 1860s.

Generous and thoughtful touch for four-legged walkers.

One very old, very crowded Crape Myrtle puddles along the street

Oge House Inn looks welcoming.

Through the Alamo-shaped arched hedge is a rose garden.

This narrow house brings back memories of our years in a 14' wide townhouse in Alexandria, Virginia.

Bicycles are a popular way to explore the far reaches of the River Walk.  Rent a bicycle here and return it at another location.

Either an artful bike rack or simply outdoor art.  Truck colors may vary.

Yanaguana Garden, a new children's play area, has opened as part of the ongoing Hemisfair Park renovation.  I'll explore the new park on another visit.

Almost back to the car.  The round Federal Courthouse building is scheduled to be replaced with something more functional and safe.

That completes our three mile loop from the Tower of the Americas and back.  San Antonio has so many walking opportunities in almost any direction and on this walk I've found several new places to come back and explore in the future.

You can join in the Winter Walk-Off 2016 by posting your own walk or follow the links in the comments section at A Tidewater Gardener.


  1. That's a great tour of your beautiful city! I remember the Tower of the Americas and the view from the top. I was thinking about that the other day, for some reason. I like the benches at the park--very whimsical. You live in a beautiful city!

    1. It is quite easy to find a nice walk in such a beautiful place. We have great weather too. I should have mentioned the top rotates so you can see the whole city from your table.

  2. What a great walk. It's nice to see that your city encourages this kind of thing. And those roots are their own kind of art.

  3. Your photo tours around our historical, and also modern, city are always so enjoyable.

  4. I've said it before but it bears repeating - your city is lovely!

    1. All the interesting activities are just one of the reasons we enjoy living here so much.

  5. Thank you for participating this year Shirley. I have never been to Texas, but have known about and wanted to visit the Riverwalk for a long time. So many cities have historically turned their backs of the water, thankfully that is changing, and I think San Antonio set the example. Your post also had many other things I admire: Olmec heads, old houses, sculpture, cormorants, and bald cypress.

    1. It was quite a vision and still I think we've done the best job on the concept.

  6. I always enjoy your walks and this one was wonderful. The water features at the beginning especially captured my attention.

    1. There's just so much to see, I need to get in more walks like this.

  7. Beautiful urban park - lots of things to see and so different from the regular street scene make it successful. (I took my walk-off from my Alexandria, Virginia.)


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