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The Outer Banks

Tuesday, December 13th, 2005

Heading down to Houston today, but thought I’d share a few quick thoughts on San Antonio.

* The freeway system is quite perplexing; I’m a pretty diligent driver with knowing exactly where I’m going, but the way they have their freeways designed created quite a bit of backtracking. You have to pay attention to the signs on where you want to go, because there is little forewarning on the exit ramp. Traffic can exit on the left, merge on the left, there are turnarounds everywhere and road construction made it extra challenging on where I needed to go.

* San Antonio is known, of course, for the famous Alamo. And no, there is no basement. But surrounding the famous historic site are: one Ripley’s Believe or Not Museum, on Ripley’s Haunted House Ride, a Madame Toussard’s Wax Museum, a Hagan Daaz ice cream shop, a Davey Crockett minature golf course, and so many tacky souvenir shops with T-shirts 3 for $10 and other great tourist ‘bargains.’ Pretty amazing to see how much commercialism springs up whenever you have lots and lots of people with money to spend.

* The city is also well known for its “Riverwalk.” I did little reading on this and figured it was just another overhyped and overmarketed touristy thing for people to do. Well, I was wrong. The riverwalk has to be one of my favorite highlights of my road trip so far. It is basically a pedestrian-only street that follows the banks of the San Antonio River. Along these banks are numerous restaurants and bars with outdoor seating. On a Monday night or any night, it is the place to people watch. The river is narrow, probably less than 70 feet across, so on both sides there is a path that meanders for a good 2.5 miles. I spent about 2 hours just walking this path and ducking into the shops, hotels and whatever else that caught my eye. In the evening the trees on the path are adorned with colorful lights. It is a very lovely stroll with small tour boats that take a 30 minute ride around the waterways, some boats even offering table dinner service. It may be a touristy thing to do, but it is well worth it. So when in San Antonio, I highly recommend taking a leisurely stroll along the Riverwalk. Wikipedia has a pretty good overview here:

* My host family for this leg of my trip was Lorna and her two teenage daughters, Ashley and Allison. Lorna was very kind to let me hog up her computer to do my necessary email and travelblog updates. It is a vibrant and welcoming household which also features their cat and dog. Thanks again for your hospitality Lorna!

* Other random thoughts: I’m hungry.

* Other random thoughts part two: Yeah, I’m hungry. Gonna stop here and get some grub for my drive down to Houston. Hasta Luego.

Austin lunch

Photos and more

Monday, December 12th, 2005

As per your request, since pictures tell a thousand words and my previous posts didn’t make much sense, here are some photos….

I spent part of the day in El Paso, TX, crossing the border and getting lost in the very crowded streets of Juarez. This is an endless maze of food stands, clothing, knick knacks, fruits & veggies, and more. There is also quite a bit of poverty. Unfortunately, this is also the city where, since 1993, there have been almost 400 women and girls murdered and more than 70 remain missing in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua, Mexico. Amnesty International has a pretty good overview here:

Fitting enough, Hollywood is coming out with a movie starring Jennifer Lopez about these unsolved murders.

Bustling street scene in Juarez, Mexico

My host family, Molly and Juris, in El Paso. Molly comes by way of Malasia, and Juris via Latvia. Both very generous ambassadors to the city!

Carlsbad Caverns National Park. I signed up for a guided tour, but ran out of time as it took me 2.5 hours to do the self-guided walk in the underground trail. Thanks Melody for letting me borrow your National Parks Pass!

For even more pics, please check out my online photo album at:

You do not need to be a member of Yahoo to access the pics. One of the albums is of Costa Rica from last year, so ignore that one! Time to go play in San Antonio now!