Mission San Jose

Mission San Jose

The next day we took a taxi to Mission San José, established in 1720 by Franciscan Father Margil de Jesús, which is considered the best example of a restored mission in the United States. The building of the limestone church, with Spanish colonial Baroque architecture and statuary, began in 1768. At that time there were 350 Coahuiltecans residing in 84 two-room apartments. The famous “Rose Window” and carved stone façade at the entrance are examples of the fine detail and craftsmanship of the artisans who built the mission. Mission San José came to be known as the “Queen of the Missions.” Congress created the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in 1978. The National Park Service has cooperative agreements with the City of San Antonio, County of Bexar, State of Texas, and San Antonio Conservation Society. We walked three plus miles to Mission Concepción where remnants of the original frescos are still visible within rooms of the mission. We learned that four colors were used. Yellow is hydrated ferric oxide, also called ochre or sienna. Red is from iron oxide, also known as red ochre or burnt sienna. The oxides occur naturally in nearby sandstone formations and clay deposits. Black is a carbon pigment. The blue pigment is most likely indigo from plants. The paints contained limestone and goat’s milk as binders. The Franciscan friars converted the region’s Coahuiltecans, previously hunter-gatherers, to farmers and ranchers. They also learned how to quarry and build with stone. We returned to downtown San Antonio via public bus.

San Antonio Botanical Garden

San Antonio Botanical Garden

The San Antonio Botanical Garden, which opened in 1980, is a great place to cultivate your self. Their mission is “To inspire people to connect with the plant world and understand the importance of plants in our lives.” This 38-acre living museum offers colorful floral displays, a serene native forest walk, exotic specimens from around the world, futuristic glass pyramids, and historic log cabins. The five glass pyramids designed by Emilio Ambasz house exotic plants from around the world. Some 6,000 cubic feet of sandy loam and clay was transferred to the East Texas Pineywoods trail so that acid-loving woodland species could survive surrounding a one-acre lake. The authentic hand-hewn post oak, red cedar, and cypress log cabin was built in the 1850s. The South Texas trail showcases dryland trees as well as the cacti that populate this area of Texas. A century plant and Spanish dagger caught my attention. An adobe structure is on display. A Bird Watch with a mirrored glass front offers close-up viewing of birds. The Hill Country trail features plants adapted to rocky alkaline soils. Did you know that sawtooth grass can have ten foot roots? The Schumacher House was originally constructed in 1849 near Fredericksburg. The Auld House was adapted from an 1880s piñon pine cabin located near Leakey. I favored the Texas Hill Country Landscape during our walk down WaterSaver Lane. We observed purple martins gathered on their condominium housing after we left the Sacred Garden. We enjoyed lunch in the Daniel Sullivan Carriage House which was built in 1896 and more recently moved to this location. After lunch, because it was raining, we decided to return to our hotel by bus rather than visit another of this vibrant cities’ attractions. San Antonio is a great place to visit!

P.S. For a different taxi experience in San Antonio, try the Discocab (210-875-8382). Gabriel will give you 3-D glasses, turn on disco lights, and act as your personal DJ. He is a capable driver who delivered us at the airport for $5 less than it took us to get from the airport. Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/rush247good

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