Walk on the Riverwalk, March 19, 2022, Part 2

I’m hearing somebody doing I don’t know kind of cheer or something up ahead. They sound very excited, for whatever that’s worth. I hope I’m not walking into a riot or something. I guess we’ll figure out what it is when I get there.

I am passing yet another dam. This is the H.H. Hugman Dam and it used to mark the end of the Riverwalk. When they decided to make the Riverwalk go through from here, they cut a chunk out of the dam to make room for the boats to pass through.

The yelling from before has turned into music which is less concerning than the yelling was. That’s a good sign.

Once upon a time, there was a performance venue called the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium. The building was gorgeous. The actual performance area was . . . okay. Thomas and I saw Phantom of the Opera there in the 90s. In the early 2000s, the city decided that it needed a more state-of-the-art venue and so they razed all but the facade of the auditorium and built two new theaters onto the back. They named the building the Tobin Center, for Robert L.B. Tobin. The new building is this big metal box with lights on the outside and it’s pretty impressive at night. At the side of the building is an outdoor performance venue named for Will Naylor Smith. That seems to be where the music is coming from.. Let’s go closer and find out.

It seemed like I missed whatever it was because people are walking away carrying folding chairs. Maybe there is a sign indicating what it was.

I take that back. It looks like whatever it is it still going on. This is apparently some kind of St. Patrick’s Day event. The performance I was hearing was a punk band called Pinata Protest. That certainly explains the yelling.

It looks like there’s a parade on the River. Or maybe the parade is breaking up. I’ll have to look that up when I get home. I’m thinking that “I have to look that up when I get home” is the theme of this little experiment.

On my right now is the Southwest School of Art, which recently merged with… UTSA? Let’s all say it together. I’ll look it up when I get home. The site for the Southwest School of Art originally was the Ursuline Convent and Academy which was a Catholic girls’ school that was run by French nuns. French nuns formed a lot of San Antonio’s culture. We have the Ursuline Academy here and the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word founded the University of the Incarnate Word, Incarnate Word High School, and Santa Rosa Hospital.

This land here was the far north of San Antonio when the buildings were constructed for the school. As a result, they didn’t bother putting a fourth face on the clock on top of the building. If you were east, south, or west of the building, you could tell what time it is. If you were north, you were out of luck.

I’ve just arrived downtown and there’s this pergola thing that wasn’t there before on the other side of the river. I’m so glad I’m getting my knockoff GoPro soon. I’ll have to come back later and explore that area.

You you you you you ← I’m not sure what happened there. It’s so weird, though, that I decided to keep it.

I’m passing past another mosaic. This one is by Oscar Alvarado from 2002 and is of a bunch of famous buildings in the city and, for some reason, a dog. The buildings include the Tower of the Americas, the Tower Life Building, San Fernando Cathedral, and the Alamo. I’m trying to figure the dog out, but having no luck.

Mosaic, Riverwalk, by Oscar Alvarado, 2002

I’m almost to the place where I am going to turn around. I’m passing the Embassy Suites Hotel on my right. He hotel has a waterfall on the Riverwalk level and people are taking pictures in front it.

On my left there is a building that I used to know the name of. The name was basically the address “(number) Houston Street.” God only knows what that number is. I sure don’t.* There was some excitement about this building when they were constructing it. There was a movie palace called Texas Theatre that was on this site and they were going to take it down for the new building. The Conservation Society was trying to stop the building going up the injunction they needed came down when all that was left of the theater was the façade so the architects and engineers included the facade of the Texas Theatre in the front of the building.**

I’m under Houston Street now which is technically where I should turn around, but there have been parade floats coming up the river as I was walking down and I can see more coming, so I may just keep walking.

I’m on my back north. I stopped to watch the floats. There weren’t that many left.*** I went up to the surface and took some pictures of the IBC Center and the Hotel Valencia and then came back down.

*The number I was thinking of was 175 E. Houston and the name of the building is the IBC Center.

**At least, that’s the story. In order for that to be strictly true, though, they would have to have torn the Texas Theater down back-to-front and what are the odds? I wonder if either (a) the architects always intended to include the facade, or (b) they suspected that the Conservation Society would get their injunction, so they left the most attractive part for last. Now I think I’m going to have to take some time and research that.

***After I got back to the lock and dam, I found that the floats were gathering there, and then on my walk back to the Pearl, I saw people sitting down along the Riverwalk. I guess that the floats I saw were on their way to regroup for an evening parade farther north. I was running out of water, though, so I just headed back home. After all, I’d already seen the floats.

Walk on the River Walk, March 6, 2022, Part 3

As I go under the Guenther Street Bridge, I notice how many spiderwebs there are here. It took me a while to remember what these spiderwebs remind me of. It’s when Alex and I went to the Great Salt Lake. There were all of these little flies all over the place and, drawn to the all-you-can-eat buffet of flies, there were also a lot of spiders. I love spiders, so this was fascinating. However, the grandfather of the family that arrived just after us was freaked out.

As I walk farther, I noticed the sound of the Pioneer Flour Mill. It always makes this kind of regular humming sound, which is understandable. It’s probably the mill milling. But there’s also an occasional hissing, like a can of compressed air.

So I’m going back north. I think that rather than going over the bridge this time, instead I’m going to under the Johnson Street bridge past the arsenal which I’ll talk about a little as I pass it probably and then cross the river back to the other side. I will have to cross the river twice. One of those crossings is going have to be on or just after Nueva Street. There’s no pathway on this side of the river after that. Then my car is on this side, so I will have to cross back over later on.

So now I am at the headquarters of HEB which was the United States Arsenal. I guess that the interpretive signage is on the other side of the river since the interpretive signage on this side is for Guenther’s Upper Mill, which is on the other side. Anyway this was the United States arsenal from 18 something to 19 something. I think after the Civil War.

To be honest with you, when I first ended up working at my current retail location, I actually wondered if there was some way I could parlay it into a job at HEB headquarters, since I have corporate home office experience and retail experience, I figured, “Why not?” I searched for jobs for quite a while, but nearly all of the postings I saw were for graphic designers. I’m sure I could pick it up, since I’ve been trained in five careers so far, but I’d rather be able to get paid for something I can already do.

I found the interpretive signage on this side of the river. Construction began on the arsenal in 1859, but the Civil War interrupted it. Then after the war, it became the arsenal again until 1947. It sat empty for quite a while before HEB bought it.

I think I’m going to cross over the Nueva Street Dam and Marina. The name of it is a lot of words but there you go.

I was originally supposed to be doing this with Evelyn but she hasn’t been feeling well lately, so I’m doing this by myself. I guess that’s okay though, since I’m doing this narrating thing. I’d probably be talking to her and socializing. Maybe walking with dogs because she’s got several of them. She’s got custody of Mila right now.

I keep forgetting to punctuate and add paragraphs. I guess I can do that later once I get home, but sometimes just trying to figure out what I was intending to say is we kind of adventure. We’ll see how this turns out.

At this point, I found that I must have gone through and edited most of this before. The next few paragraphs look pretty good, at any rate.

I just passed where the Texas Master Naturalists Wildscape Garden used to be (it’s in Hardberger Park West now) There’s this really old-looking building right there, and there’s no historical marker or sign or anything indicating what it is. Maybe I get home I’ll look it up.*

Spring is upon us. I have seen at least three animals in pursuit of reproductive success. Right now two squirrels are chasing each other and earlier I passed a couple of pigeons who seemed to be feeling romantic. And when I started my walk, I saw two male ducks either trying to mate or fighting. They kept nipping each other on the neck. They didn’t look angry about it. Maybe they just weren’t to the angry part yet.

I’m on the Nueva Street Dam now. There are traffic cones with arrows attached. I’m not sure what the arrows mean**. This dam is one of the places where we stop the flow of the river when it’s flooding. And also we use it when we clean the river out. I have some pictures of the river when it’s drained. I’ll have to see if I can find them.

There’s some kind of rusty stuff on one of the sides of the dam. I’m not going to take pictures because it looks pretty unappetizing.***

I am now passing the statue of Francisco Madero who was president of Mexico or something like that. There’s an interpretive sign here. Let me see. This is the site of the former Hutchins Hotel, which was his headquarters. He was kicked out of Mexico in 1910 and when he went back to Mexico he became president in 1911, and was assassinated in 1913. That was fast.

I was here one time in . . . November? The statue here was decorated with flowers. I tried to figure what that was about and I never did. I’ll have to remember to come here next November and try that same day and if I do, maybe I’ll call the city to see what’s up with that.

Near the dam is the marina where the barges that the tours run on, and I think the river taxi as well, are stored. There is also a double crested cormorant sitting on a cable here. The first time Alex and I saw one of those, it disappeared beneath the water and didn’t come back out, so we called it the Loch Ness Monster. Though the term may actually have been used first by a passerby. After some time passed and I was like, trying to figure out what the heck that had been and finally I found a description of double crested Cormorant and looked it up and by golly that was what it was. So I mentioned to my dad after that and he’s like just based on the description of it, I could have told you that. And I was like “lot of help you are.”

I didn’t think it was going to get this warm today I should have worn shorts. I’ll survive. Probably. If you find a news article about a woman who has melted on the Riverwalk that might be me. I think that my next weekday off, I’ll walk around the surface and talk about the buildings things that I pass.****

The only real problem with this new approach for narrating my walks is that I dehydrate faster. I think if I’m going to continue to do this, I am going to have to carry my bigger purse with two bottles of water. I’m also getting hungry.

I sort of do this modified intermittent fasting thing. I don’t want to fast too often or too regularly because I think my body might get used to having fewer calories on certain days. Instead, my second day off of work for the weekend, I eat breakfast and then go for a long walk until I’m really hungry. And I’m really hungry.

I think this building here that I’m passing is the International Center. This is where the barges used to be stored. Anyway I am standing here by the water and I can see the place where the barges used to come and go from underneath the building. I think there may be other boats there now, but I’m not sure.

Do you know how long it took me to figure out where this old marina was? I had been reading directions and descriptions and destinations and hitting Google maps and all this other nonsense. I don’t remember where Thomas said it was, but I could never see where the boats would come out of that building.

Now I’m crossing another flood bridge. This is the one closest to the main touristy part of the Riverwalk. I’ve found a lot of lost people at the foot of this bridge. They end up unsure which direction the people are in.

I’m walking past a bunch of hotels. Nothing too exciting here. I mean, I like hotels, but the historically important hotels are, well, not here. Additionally, there’s a dilapidated building here that I’ve seen, but I’ve never really looked at before. I need to go to the surface someday and see if the front of the building looks any better. It’s probably a palace.

One of the hotels I’m passing is a Holiday Inn My father-in-law and his second wife stayed here in one of their visits. Then on the left again, next to the dilapidated building, is the Book Building. Thomas and I were very disappointed the first time we noticed it to find that it had nothing to do with books. It seems to have been designed by an architect whose name was Book.

And then on my right just before the Houston Street Bridge we have the Hotel Valencia on my right. Wow. I don’t remember what was here when I first moved to San Antonio. I need to get off my butt and get a damn GoPro or equivalent so that I can take movies of what downtown looks like today, so that in 20 years I’m not, “there used to be something else there. I don’t remember what.” I’m kicking myself for not getting one earlier, but, like they say about investing, the best time was yesterday. The second-best time is now.

*I looked it up and it looks like it might have been built in 1993. It looks way old for that, though. I guess it’s time for more research.

** And I call myself a history buff. This walk was on the anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo. I think that might have been where the arrows were leading.

***As I went to sleep that night, I realized what it looked like (granted, I didn’t have my glasses on, so . . . . It looked like what you’d see if you covered beggar’s lice in an orange tomato sauce, kind of like Spaghetti Os and then looked at it through a magnifying glass.

****I’m editing this on the evening of my next weekday off. I ended up having Popeye’s for lunch with my dad and then going to Friedrich Wilderness Park with Evelyn. I spent the evening crocheting and working on my Mandarin. So maybe I’ll do that on my next second day off.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is The Bone Shard Daughter, by Andrea Stewart. The Bone Shard Daughter is set in a world where the major form of magic are constructs animated by shards of bone. Lin, daughter of the Emperor, is forbidden to learn the bone shard magic. Nevertheless, she is trying to learn it in secret. She is in competition with her father’s protege, Bayan, for her father’s esteem. There are three other narrators and their stories intertwine, telling the story of an empire that is falling apart.

Walk on the Riverwalk, March 6, 2022, Part 2

I am still in the King William District approaching the Johnson Street Bridge. The pillars on the Johnson Street bridge were originally somewhere else. I’m so embarrassed. I usually know these things off the top my head.

I’ve crossed the Johnson Street Bridge and I took a brief water Pokémon Go (there’s a gym here), and research break and learned that the pillars on the Johnson Street were originally on the original Commerce Street Bridge. The Commerce Street Bridge was moved to Johnson Street. At the very least, the finials are still there. One site (bridgehunter.com) says that this is a new bridge built in the 1980s, but the Austin Chronicle says that the current bridge dates back to the time when O. Henry lived in San Antonio. I may have to go back to the bridge and look for makers’ marks or something to get to the bottom of this.

There are stairs here but I like to take the ramp. Funny, I was walking with Alex one day and I could not remember the word ramp to save my life. I ended up calling it the escalator. I tell people that if I have a stroke nobody will know because I use the wrong words so often.

N.B.: I’m not sure what happened to this next section because I seem to jump back and forth between the next two topics, so I had to try to recreate the paragraphs from what I can recall from the walk.

Just after the Johnson Street Bridge is the headquarters for the San Antonio River System which has some interpretive signage and these cisterns to collect rainwater outside. It also has a nice little half-wall that is a good place to sit down for a while.

Next up is the Pioneer Flour Mill, which was originally the CH Guenther Mill. This is a really pretty building and one of my friends who is very gifted photographer took such a nice picture of it once. I am also taking a picture of it, but it won’t be nearly as good as hers.

The Pioneer Flour Mill, 2022

I accidentally started a block and now can’t make it go away. So hi there!

So just realized I always had some pictures of how you get from the Riverwalk to the Witte Museum. It’s not as easy as you would think from the signs saying that the Riverwalk goes from Mission Espada in the south to the Witte Museum in the North. The main problem is the Brackenridge Golf Course. The river goes through the golf course, but it’d be too dangerous to have a walking path through it.

So maybe that’s something I could do. I could walk north from the Pearl to the Witte Museum and post my pictures. I’d have to figure out how to make the images work, though. Once upon a time I would have done this with an HTML table with the text in the left column and the pictures in the right column, but I can’t get a table to work in WordPress. I’ll have to wrestle with this idea.

Next door to the Pioneer Flour Mill is a breakfast place called the Guenther House. My mother-in-law took us to breakfast there once and it was really good. I need to go back sometime.

I suspect that a lot of the words I can’t understand might be “doggo.” So many people are walking their dogs on the Riverwalk. Just so many adorable puppers.

I am at the Blue Star Arts Complex and took a break to drink some water and I realized how little water I have. It’s now time to turn around.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! Today we have Catherine House, by Elisabeth Thomas. Catherine House is a post-secondary school that isn’t a college or university but that fills the same spot. Presumably it qualifies you for, for example, law school, in the same way a university would. The only issue is that while the education only takes three years, students are not allowed to leave campus for that entire three years. Creepy and atmospheric and just so good. At least I enjoyed it. You might, too.

Walk on the Riverwalk, August 6, 2022, Part 1

It’s funny, I have had such a terrible case of writers block lately but I  also haven’t been thinking much about travel or anything like it for a while. Once upon a time I was thinking about how one of the things I wanted to do with this space was give tours of the San Antonio Area.

It just hit me as I’m walking down the Riverwalk and am almost under the Cesar Chavez bridge, that I could narrate my walks on the Riverwalk. It would give me some new content and also a little glimpse into San Antonio and its history.

I am almost at Cesar Chavez and am passing a transmission antenna for I believe it’s a radio station but this location is where the first Spanish language television station in the country came from. KWEX-TV was the home of the Univision Spanish-language network.

I enjoy pointing out to people by the way that the “red” stripes on those antennas are actually orange. I was very surprised when I started working in broadcasting way back in the Jurassic era to find that out. At first, I thought it was a mistake on the FCC paperwork because they sure look red when compared with blue sky, but when you get closer, you realize that they are orange.

I just crossed under the Cesar Chavez bridge. Now we are officially in the King William district. Back in the 1800s Prince Karl of Solms-Braunfels brought a bunch of German settlers to Texas. They settled out where New Braunfels is now and they set up farms. Some became very wealthy and they moved into the city of San Antonio and built themselves mansions. This area was originally called “Koenig Wilhelm” after about King William of Prussia.

I saw a policeman riding a motorcycle down the other side of the Riverwalk. I don’t know what that’s about. He didn’t have his lights on or anything.

Later some bicyclists who were listening to music went down that side and I can’t understand what my version of Dragon Anywhere picked up there.  It came out as “But I just saw you were here right now.” I don’t even know.

As I pass under Arsenal Street, this is a nice place to walk in the fall because there’s, like, a lot of red oaks and a lot of cypresses and stuff and in the fall, they lose their leaves and if you time it just right, there’ll be leaves on the sidewalk and you can shuffle through them a lot like I’m back home in Chicago.

Okay. So back to King William. When World War I came and suddenly the Germans were the enemy so they temporarily named King William Street as Pershing Street and after the war they restored the name King William, but for whatever reason, they translated it, rather than

Most of the German settlers were Catholic and they got upset with the fact that San Fernando Cathedral was, well, I guess it might have just been a parish church at the time, was so heavily Hispanic, so they got their own German Catholic Church. This is St. Joseph’s, over by what used to be the Joskes and then was the Dillards at the Rivercenter mall. And now I’m not sure what is in there now.* I’ll have to go and see what in there now. It’s been a while.

Anyway the deal that they struck they would never sell the land the church was built on, so as the Joskes wanted to expand, they are had to build around the church on three sides. The people who celebrated mass at that church lived down here in the King William district.

Right now I am across the river from the headquarters for the HEB grocery chain which was normally probably talk about that another time.

Another thing that a lot of families did down here was milling. I’m passing right through what used to be Gunther’s upper mill I took a picture of the historical marker. I should post it when I get home and post this. I’m getting a little winded narrating and walking at the same time. Also my purse is kind of heavy. It has a big 20 ounces water bottle and the extra charging battery for my phone.

The historical marker for Guenter’s Upper Mill, San Antonio Riverwalk, 2022

I was rereading some of things I wrote and I may have to edit this quite a bit because I got something about “awaiting an actual statement.” I don’t know what I could have been saying that Dragon Anywhere would interpret as “awaiting an actual statement.”

I’m going to post this and then start working on what “Listener Genzyme” means. I might post the next chunk for tomorrow, it might take me a little longer than that to sort this next section out.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is The Winterbourne Home for Vengeance and Valor. Amazing book, not crazy about the title. The Winterbourne Home for Vengeance and Valor is the tale of April, who has one prized possession, a key with a crest on it. A crest that she sees on objects belonging to the Winterbourne family when she is at the art museum on a field trip. Her key is somehow connected to the Winterbourne family, but how?

*I do know that there’s an H&M in that building now, but I don’t think that takes up the entire space. Let’s go be the oldest person in an H&M! That sounds like fun!