Another San Antonio claim to fame is the Missions National Historical Park, which preserves the missions built by the Spanish along the San Antonio River in the 1700’s as they expanded their empire into North America.
The small bands of native peoples that had hunted and gathered in south Texas for a hundred centuries (yes, centuries!) were increasingly under attack by the Apaches and Comanches from the north. In the end, they gave up their ancient nomadic ways to become converts and laborers in exchange for food and refuge. Unfortunately, 70% didn’t survive, largely due to disease brought in by the Spanish.
Five of the missions (including the Alamo) still stand today, giving San Antonio the largest concentration of Catholic missions in North America.
A new culture, rich in ceremony and tradition, emerged from the melding of the Spanish and native peoples, and descendants (tejanos) continue to populate this area.
The downtown River Walk now extends to include the missions, and the round trip from Mission Concepcion to Mission Espanada is 16 miles – just right for a bike ride. Most of the missions are still active, and we were lucky to witness this wedding party at Mission Espanada.
Our San Antonio stay was capped off with a visit with a friend we hadn’t seen in 20 years. Colby is the son of our Texan turned Oklahoman rancher friends, Marka and Clay, and the last time we saw him he was 11 years old.
We had a happy rendezvous with him and his friend, Lindsey, at one of Russ’ favorite haunts, Texas Pride BBQ, where he used to dine when coming here on business years ago.