Saturday, July 30, 2011

Visiting Charming San Antonio

It's 108 degrees today in Austin and yet all my friends back East keep calling complaining about the heat. Weenies! Although I will admit that the heat here was one downfall of our visit to San Antonio. I am told that Christmastime is the best time to visit San Antonio, when it's festively decorated. Unfortunately now is when we are here and so, despite the heat, we made the 110 minute journey to see the famous Alamo, River Walk and some of the missions. As we drove through the downtown streets, in search of the missions, I was impressed with the Spanish architecture and really would love to go back and walk around downtown - it was quite an interesting place to explore.

The missions themselves were not designed for tourists in the blazing sun. We stopped first at Mission San Jose´ "Queen of the Missions."  The chapel was under construction, but we did get a sense of the beautiful architecture, the size and the purpose of the Mission itself and we stumbled on a bride being photographed. What a lovely setting! What a brave bride out in the beating sun!
My personal favorite part of this Mission was seeing cactus grow on an old tin roof.

Mostly the Mission was a large, open, shadeless courtyard and so we decided to head straight for the one that is most well known, the Mission San Antonio de Valero, otherwise known as the Alamo where we got to learn about the 13 fateful days in 1836 when the battle that is remembered as part of the Texas Revolution occurred. 

Thankfully we found an air conditioned room where they showed a movie reminding us of the history that took place on this site. I still want to rent a movie where I can see it played out from beginning to end. Netflix has several of those. Anyone want to recommend one?

Finally we headed to the famous River Walk. It was easy to find - directly across from the Alamo. What surprised me was how extensive it was. 2.5 miles of shops, restaurants, cafes, galleries, hotels, bridges, color and charm. Very European looking, the walk itself is two stories high with treasures to be found at every step. And, despite the heat, many folks were eating outdoors. We were not as resilient - we eagerly found a Mexican restaurant with air conditioning and enjoyed a wonderful meal.

I hadn't realized that San Antonio is the 7th largest city in the United States. With it's two big attractions withing walkable distance of each other, one could easily see the Alamo and the River Walk and think it's a small, quaint city. In reading it's list of attractions, however, Six Flags, many museums, IMAX, you could easily spend a week vacationing there.  We only had a day to give it but I do look forward to returning and making more time to explore lovely San Antonio. 
Happy shooting, friends!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

When in Rome....

Guess that really should be "When in Austin..." 

We've been here six weeks already and we really are falling in love with it, even despite the hottest summer on record. I have taken so many pictures of this colorful city, I'm trying to figure out what to do with them all. I'm contemplating writing a "Travel" article and pitching it to a magazine. It seems to me that when I ask Austinites where they came from, most seem to be transplants, but all seem to agree that they love it here. What's not to love? Great restaurants, outrageous music scene, colorful sights at every turn, lots of cool watering holes and beautiful flowers everywhere.
 This week we headed to Juan in a Million for an outrageous brunch.  They offered a plate of their special blend of eggs, cheese, bacon and potatoes with FIVE taco shells for $3.60!!!
That was two meals plus sharing for me! But it was oh so good. Then we headed to the University of Texas' Ransome Center where they house the world's FIRST photograph and lots of other wonderful treasures, including the Gutenberg Bible and original letters from Tennesee Williams.
Hard to make out, but you can really see a rooftop scene if you walk around at several different angles. Pretty amazing since it was an 8 hour exposure created in 1826!

The University itself has some amazing architecture, beautiful grounds and some intriguing history.

And let's not forget the definitve photo everyone takes.....
This was just ONE day among many very photographic days we've had here. Stay tuned for my look at San Antonio and my upcoming visit to the Cathedral of Junk!

Happy shooting, friends.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Reason We're Here

Our trip to Texas to see if we can stand the heat had one wonderful purpose, Miss Charlotte Anne.

She's our very first Grandchild and every moment we get to spend with her is precious and so full of love. I've been blessed to have a fun city to run around and focus on while awaiting her birth. Now I have several hundred photos of her as well as a few thousand of the area that she will grow up in. 

Austin is such a colorful, friendly and fun city, with wide walking and biking trails that loop around Lady Bird lake, passing through downtown as well as more suburban areas.

Folks gather at night around the Congress Street bridge to see the largest urban bat population (1.5 million) fly out into the night to devour mosquitoes.

Downtown statue.
Crowd dispersing after viewing the bats flying south.
Crowds gather on bridge and below to watch over a million bats come out.

There really is a lot to see and do and eat in Austin - it is a very "user friendly" city.  One weekend we tried the duck tour. 

We passed the famous, beautiful and classy Driskill Hotel.  It was a fun and informative way to get to know the city a bit better.
Today, I enjoy the entire city, from it's colorful skyline to it's cool waters in Barton Springs.  I've taken more pictures than I know what to do with - it's a very funky, colorful town and has many unique facets to it's personality.

But my favorite part is the reason we came here this summer and will keep coming back, and that is to photograph (and love and hug) the beautiful, enchanting, sweet new Granddaughter,
Charlotte Anne Evans.
 Happy summer, friends. I'm having the best one of my life!