Sept. 15, 2017 San Antonio Day 3

I woke up early today–couldn’t sleep. Did some reading until Bob got up. We left the campground around 11:00 to visit the San Antonio Missions World Heritage Trail. The 5 missions straddle either side of the San Antonio River and lie about 3 miles apart from one another. The Riverwalk connects 4 of the Missions by a trail that you can either bike or walk, or take the bus, but we chose to drive it on this sunny 93 degree day. The Alamo is one of the 5 missions, so we set out to explore the other 4 today. We started with Mission Concepcion.

It stands as one of the country’s oldest original stone churches. 

Franciscan missionaries from Spain taught the Coahuiltecans how to give up the nomadic life and live in a permanent settlement along with the spiritual guidance they shared with the Indians. Religious services are still held here. The architecture of that time is amazing.

 

Seen on the walls are restored original frescos.

It was so interesting to learn about the history of the missions. The church inside was beautiful.

Our second stop was at Mission San Jose–famous for its rose window as seen in the front of the church. 

The carvings on the entrance were even more amazing.

The sections of buildings surrounding the mission were the living quarters for the Indians. Inside the church, the altar was gorgeous.

Walking through the porticos, you could see the beautiful masonry work.

Leaving there, we wound our way along and over the San Antonio River, past the dam and spillway.

The road was very scenic through the Mission Parkway to Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Of the 5 missions. this is the only one that was white. The exterior walls were covered in plaster for preservation.

This mission was moved twice to different locations to be successful. One task the 203 Indians who lived here could not accomplish was to build a new and larger church. They did not have the Indian labor to do it. One thing they did accomplish was successful farming techniques with irrigation. The neighborhood surrounding the Mission San Juan is still a vibrant community and the mission serves as their spiritual center today. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go in to see it. There had been some recent vandalism there and it was closed. Our last stop was at Mission Espada, probably the smallest church of the 5. Here is where we learned about the masons who were a mixed breed of Indian and Mexican people who designed and manufactured the masonry of the missions.

From a distance we could see the mission church and also hear beautiful music playing.

As we neared the church, the artistry of the arches and beautiful flowers growing there was breath-taking. 

You could see the same artistry on the front of the church.

Inside, it was small, but there were signs of their craftsmanship everywhere–from the hand-carved pews and altar to the holy water fonts on the walls.

We had the place to ourselves and we sat in the peace and serenity we found there. 

It was the perfect way to end our self-guided tour of the missions. We got back to the campground around 3:00. I sat with Auggie outside while Bob cleaned up a few things for our move to Big Spring, TX tomorrow. It’s just a one night stopover on our way to New Mexico. I’ll guess we’ll save Austin and the rest of Texas for another trip. When we called to confirm our reservation at our campground in Big Spring (no “s”) for tomorrow, the guy said he only had one site left. His campground was filled with oil rig and pipeline workers. We’ve seen that kind of thing in all of the campgrounds we’ve been to throughout Louisiana and Texas. They have all been full of construction workers or repair contractors helping with the cleanup after the hurricanes. Our campground filled up for the weekend and we noticed a couple of buses that had pulled in from Wisconsin and must, of course, be Packer fans! Go Pack!

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