Heading West, Part I: San Antonio

Bill & Denise Semion
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Going Somewhere Different Brings Challenges and Rewards

Some like it hot, but some don’t, and while some crave the ocean and beaches, others are drawn to rocks, caverns, desert, and odd-shaped prickly green cacti.

We are the former, not the latter. Each winter, we head south from our home state, Michigan, to Florida. Last winter, we decided to do something different, heading south, then west, to explore Texas, Arizona, and our final destination, California, where we would meet up with family. We experienced a few bumps along the trip – unexpected cold fronts, freezing temperatures, high winds, and of course, rain; days and days of rain. So much rain and cold that two weeks into our trip, I renamed it the “Day by Day” – as we routinely checked our weather apps and decided to head north or south to avoid winterizing our 2015.5 Unity Murphy Bed, “Lucky Us.”

This is the first of several stories we will share about our trip. Our journey starts in Texas, where we landed after spending five days in quarantine in our rig at Gulf State Park in Alabama and then one night in New Orleans after catching COVID in Kentucky. For more about NOLA, see our story here.

South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre Island loomed large as our beautiful, warm coastal destination when we planned this trip, and a different version of Florida’s Gulf Coast danced in my head as we headed west and south from NOLA. But, our weather app told us this was not to be: a cold front (locals call it a “blue norther”) bringing five days of rain, high winds, and cold weather, with night temps below freezing, changed our minds. So we sheltered at Mustang Island for two nights, waiting and hoping that conditions might change, all the while keeping our eyes on the night temps at the next planned stop after South Padre Island – San Antonio, which was also weathering the cold. The way we saw it, five days of bad weather in a city teeming with culture was better than five days sitting in our rig while parked near a beach. Once the night temps looked safe, we left Mustang Island, heading for San Antonio, leaving visions of seeing South Padre Island.

Bill insisted we had to visit the ocean at Mustang Island.
I agreed, just long enough to take a quick photo and run back to our rig.

Our cozy RV sheltered us from the weather at Mustang Island State Park.

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio boasts a beautiful River Walk, always listed among the nation’s top 10, along with museums, shops, and more. It’s the perfect place to spend a few days in not-so-perfect weather, and we found plenty to see and do, including walking, shopping, and dining along the River Walk. We also visited the Briscoe Western Art Museum and San Antonio Botanical Gardens, saw a special Georgia O’Keefe exhibit at the McNay Art Museum, and explored The Alamo and Mission Concepcion, both part of the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo was in town that week, and while there, we watched the Charreada. In this special demonstration, charros (Mexican cowboys) compete in riding and roping skills, along with breaks for traditional festive dancers performing to live music.

Walk along San Antonio’s River Walk, or hop aboard a colorful river barge for a tour.
Discover art, gardens, eateries, and more along the River Walk.
In addition to their indoor plant displays, the 11-acre Texas Native Trail at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens takes you through three distinct and diverse ecological regions of Texas: the Hill Country/Edwards Plateau, the East Texas Pineywoods, and South Texas.
Learn about the 1836 battle for Texan independence from Mexico at the Alamo, an 18th-century Spanish mission-turned-museum.
In addition to the Alamo, Mission Concepcion and three other missions make up the San Antonio Missions National Park.
Charros demonstrate Manganas a Caballo (roping from horseback) at the Charreada.
Dancers swing their colorful skirts, looking like flowers opening in spring while doing traditional dances at the Charreada.
Bustin’ in the Barn lets boys and girls, 4-7 years old, try their hand at mutton busting (sheep riding) at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.
We stayed at Hidden Valley RV Resort once evening freezing temps were not a threat. This park was about a 30-minute drive into San Antonio.
Bill’s stint in the Army enabled us to stay at conveniently-located Fort Sam Houston RV Park a few days later.

Six days and five nights in San Antonio helped put the cold, rainy weather behind us. Next, follow us to Fredericksburg, Texas, Carlsbad Caverns, and New Mexico as we try to make our way to Arizona. Will we be able to follow our itinerary, or will we change our plans? Will our new western hats change our luck? More stories to follow.

Bill & Denise Semion

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