Just so everyone's up to date - if you haven't heard yet, we made it home safe! I'll cover San Antonio in this post, and finish up the rest of our trip in the next post.
(Adam's photos inserted and his comments in italics)
Our time in San Antonio was great! I had no prior conceptions of what the city would be like, and I was blown away. Adam used his couchsurfing membership to hook us up with a great couple with an incredible old house just a few miles north of downtown and the Riverwalk. Steve and Jayne got us set up in our own separate bedrooms in their totally restored 100 year old house (my bed was a 400 year old antique), then sat us down to give us the house rules.
Anyone that stays must spend at least one night with the owners of the house, drinking too much and telling their story.
That is all.
Evidently Steve and Jayne are very popular in the couchsurfing network, due to their incredible house and their gregarious personalities. One of their absolute favorite things is having houseguests and hearing all of their stories.
After telling us they don't feed their house guests, they fed us a delicious gourmet meal with fresh baked bread and pesto sauce, and opened a bottle of wine handpicked from their wine cellar. We then fulfilled the terms of our contract, and due solely to our sense of propriety, helped Jayne polish off the bottle of wine as we told our tale.
It took much longer than absolutely necessary to get our story told. Storylistening is an interactive art with Janie, and we would get only a few sentences out before Janie would jump in with comment, anecdote, or amazing tale of their own bicycle touring done on a recumbant tandem all over Europe. The evening felt a bit like a tennis game, bouncing lines back and forth. It took some focus and strength of will to get the story straight and complete, especially as our excessive sense of duty had compelled us to finish off several more bottles of wine.
In addition to his many other talents, Steve is studying to become an official San Antonio tour guide. The next day, he took us all over town, pointing out old buildings designed by famous architects, structures left over from the World Fair, and lots of the famous houses and public works of art.
We like our hosts and the city so much we stayed an extra day. The restaurants around where we were staying were excellent, and we got great recommendations from our host. Downtown, the bustling Riverwalk was great. It was a bit commercial, and overrun with national chain restaurants, but the public art built into the walk itself was unique and funky. With passages beneath waterfalls, plants rendered in lifelike concrete, locks and a surprising variety of waterfowl, the Riverwalk was captivating.
We were welcomed into the house and told not to worry - Don and June Seebeck had waited on us for dinner and they were taking us out as soon as we had a chance to clean up. There was nothing for it but to smile graciously and get ready to eat, one more time.
All across the southwest, we had been seeing the old metal windmills used to pump water into cisterns to provide water for cattle. Don had acquired a couple of these old windmills and had them erected in his yard as ornaments - the best yard ornaments ever. Especially since he let us climb to the top and check out the view before we rode away in the morning.
After a late night, we got up early. This day's journey would bring us to Austin, Texas. We knew this as our final destination; this would be our last morning waking up on the road.