Our visit to Flatonia Texas was, well, a bit disappointing. The RV site was boggy, not much was going on in the area (although the winery was nice), and Jeff’s muddy mountain bike trails were a total bust. In contrast, our time here near Boerne (pronounced Ber-ney) Texas has been absolutely fantastic.
I’ve never really explored the Texas hill country. It’s just beautiful with green rolling hills which remind me a bit of Tuscany. There’s even a burgeoning wine industry here, who knew? Being hilly, it makes sense that there are a number of mountain biking trails in the area, which Jeff explored. He’ll have to do his own trail review post later!
We stayed about 30 minutes outside of San Antonio, which is known for its historic missions. There are four missions (five if you count the Alamo) along the San Antonio “missions trail” which you can access by car, or by an eight mile biking/hiking trail which winds along the San Antonio River. It’s actually part of the San Antonio Missions National Park, a national historic site. Cool! Biking and sightseeing – sign me up!
So we loaded up our bicycles and found a parking spot ($3 all day!) not too far from the Alamo and pedaled away. We figured it would be easiest to bike all the way to the end first, then visit the missions as we worked our way back. With the help of our iPhone GPS we located the start of the actual bike path and then figured out that it was about 4 miles to the FIRST mission, and then the path went 8 miles beyond that to the farthest mission. OK, no problem. What are a few more miles? But we also didn’t realize that you had to divert off the path by at least a half mile to a couple of the missions. Or that the path wasn’t exactly flat – it was somewhat hilly! And then we accidently turned off onto another bike trail for a mile or two and had to backtrack. Toward the end, we got turned around in downtown San Antonio finding our way back to the Alamo. All told, by the time we got back to the car, I had clocked 30 miles. I was tired. You CAN drive to all of the missions, if you aren’t up for quite that epic of a biking day. San Antonio also has a network of bicycle rental stations called B cycle. We saw B cycle stations all up and down the trail, so it would be possible to drive to one of the missions, rent a bicycle and do just part of the trail. It is a beautiful ride along the river and the section between the four missions is an easy ride. There’s not a lot of shade though, so in the summer, I expect it can get very hot.
The historic missions were fantastic! I didn’t know (or had forgotten) the impact that the Spanish Catholic missions had on the area. Life for the native Indians was hard and the missions offered food, education and shelter. But in exchange they had to give up their way of life, accept a new religion and pledge fealty to the King of Spain. I’m not sure in the end whether they were better off, or worse. All of the missions are still active Catholic parish churches and admission to the historic sites is free. Free tours are also available at Mission San Jose, the largest and best preserved of the four. We finished up at the Alamo, which was almost a disappointment after seeing the other missions. (At least admission was free there too). But we got to all of them – mission accomplished! (sorry)
One of the very best parts of traveling the country is having the opportunity to visit far-flung friends. We reached out to long-time friends Cheryl and Carlos, who had relocated a couple of years ago from South Florida to Fredericksburg. We were able to connect and spent a wonderful day touring on our motorcycles and exploring historic Fredericksburg and environs. We got to see their new home, catch up on news, and had some great food. Another day they came to our place and we got to show off our beautiful bus, drink wine and grill burgers. What a nice visit we had! It’s wonderful to have a network of friends and family all over this beautiful country.
Sometimes we visit an area and feel that we’ve “done it”, move on. This area has so much more to explore. We’ll definitely be back!
Next up: Big Bend National Park!