Posts Tagged ‘churches’

The San Antonio Missions Aren’t Just a Baseball Team (Day 117)

November 12th, 2009 Comments off

Finally got out to see something in SAT. Fortunately, I realized early in the day that my lens was set to manual focus and got that corrected. Unfortunately, it took many, many hours before I figured out that the camera was set to 1600 ISO. Man.

You’d think the constant 1/1000ths exposure times at f22 would’ve tipped me off. Meh.

So there are all these old Spanish missions in San Antonio. Basically the same as the one in Capistrano, except there are more of them, they’re bigger, they’re not as crowded, and there are none of those stinkin’ swallows.

Actually, I guess most days the Alamo is probably more crowded than the Mission SJC. Ah well.

missions_san-jose-exterior-2Mission San Jose

missions_san-jose-interiorInterior de San Jose

missions_espadaMission Espada

missions_san-juanMission San Juan

missions_san-juan-bellsCampanas de la Mission de San Juán

missions_concepcionMission Concepcion

missions_concepcion-courtyardPlaza de Concepcion

missions_san-antonio-de-valeroMission San Antonio de Valero — but nothing interesting ever happened here.

The Texas independence story is pretty cool, actually — I’d kind of forgotten any of it I might have ever known. It kind of makes you wish you had some claim to it. Oh well. Most importantly: Santa Anna was a tool. The Alamo itself is kind of less impressive than the other missions, at least in terms of its size. And there’s not much inside. Nicely maintained, though.

Since I was in the area, I went down to the San Antonio tourist date area:

san-antonio_riverwalkTourist women scan the river for ducks at which to throw pennies.

I liked San Antonio. It’s unpretentious, but it has a lot of real history and culture behind it that it could’ve been pretentious about if it wanted to be. I left the place thinking Austin *wishes* it were as legit as this. People were pretty friendly there also — I actually had three different people greet me in parking lots. When else does *that* ever happen?



Road Trip Hurricane Wreaks Havoc with New Orleans (Day 105)

November 2nd, 2009 2 comments

Fortunately my headlines jumped the shark a couple months ago, so no need to feel embarrassed by this one.

My mom flew out to New Orleans to join the road trip for a few days, btw. She was the one who insisted we go to the French Quarter. Well, “insisted”. Anyway — it was everything everyone told me it would be (i.e., “a bunch of old buildings and it smells like vomit”).

I’m sure it smelled better before Katrina.

We had a cool hotel, in no small part because the room had its own loft.

new-orleans_hotel-roomSee? Loft.

(Prytania Park Hotel — it’s located right in between the Garden District and Warehouse+Museum District.)

Then we walked to the French quarter.

new-orleans_underpassThere was an underpass along the way!

new-orleans_bike-riderThey have porches like this there.

new-orleans_white-doorA door as crooked as a Louisiana politician.

new-orleans_cathedralSt. Louis Cathedral and tourists taking photos of same.

new-orleans_jackson-sq-carriagesTour carriages lined up at Jackson Square.

I learned that Jackson Square was *meant* to be the town’s center. And then the person who ended up owning the land built buildings on either side of it, but that it wasn’t pretty enough — so she had it beatified (park ranger’s word, not mine).

And I’m still waiting for someone to explain why Andrew Jackson doesn’t net out to be a villain for killing all the Indians he did. (In protest, I no longer use $20 bills.)

new-orleans_cannon-me (2)Me with cannon. Cannon with me.

new-orleans_bourbon-voodooI’m thinking about opening my own voodoo shop in Mission Viejo.

new-orleans_kimball-homeThe New Orleans house my mom grew up in lived in for two years as a kid.


I think the people that love New Orleans so much are people who first went there in college with all their friends and got drunk and partied so that now every time they go there, they remember being 19 and getting drunk and partying with their friends.

It’s basically how I feel about Hohenstein-Ernstthal.

(No, I never got drunk in Hohenstein-Ernstthal — except on my own sense of self-importance, which is much headier anyway.)



South Carolina’s Last Stand (Day 100)

October 26th, 2009 1 comment

I liked South Carolina, I’m going to miss it. Folks were polite, the tourist attractions and beaches wholly uncrowded, the swamps were quiet, weather was perfect, great barbecue restaurants. Yeah. Anyway, there was this bombed out church just maybe a half-mile from where I camped. It was called the “Church of Ease”. Cool and sort of romantic-spooky looking, IIDSSM. Like it should be the setting for some Southern Gothic novel or movie (if it hasn’t been already).

OTOH, if you’d like to pass your own judgements…

chapel-of-ease_interiorThe church’s interior with spanish moss Beilage.

chapel-of-ease_spooky-treeA tree! Also a crypt at lower-left. And some tombstones if you zoomed in real close.

chapel-of-ease_drivewayThe church driveway.

Actually, I think it just burned down rather than having been bombed.

Also, at Steve’s suggestion (he was the guy who owned the campground), I checked out this beach that no one knows about but him. Well, and some other locals, I imagine. Pretty and uncrowded, though, although if you’d like to pass your own judgements, again:

beaufort_triangle-beachOr you could’ve just taken my word for it.

And with that, South Carolina was done. OTOH, if I were to move to any of the southern states I’ve seen in this trip so far… yeah, or Virginia. Although Virginia mostly just because I imagine they have more/better jobs there.



Charleston Walk-Around (Day 98)

October 24th, 2009 1 comment

Spent about five hours on Thursday just walking around Charleston. I downloaded a walking tour guide and, from what I overheard of the other tour guides passing me, I think the downloaded one was at least as good. Less self-important anyway. Here are some photos, shown gallery-style because it’s so much easier to do that way and I didn’t have snarky comments about these anyway:

It’s a nice town. I now know more about Charleston than any other city in the world, I think. Or at least I did on Thursday. “Genteel poverty” seems like a cool term — I think I might like to have seen that era. The spikes on the top of the wall were put there in case of slave revolt. I can’t really see those spikes helping too much, though. Didn’t those people know they needed barbed wire and glass shards up there instead?

Also, I still felt too burned by Biltmore to spend $x on any of the mansions-for-viewing on my route. There were probably 15 or 20 of the 100 tour entries that had an entry fee if you wanted to go inside.



My Morning, Harpers Ferry (Day 81)

October 9th, 2009 1 comment

I used to love doing headlines. That seems like a long time ago. Now? I’m all about second paragraphs.

[Paragraph Redacted]

I dunno. Something about the Civil War, big armory, company town, Confederates making sure it was destroyed all the time, John Brown, railroads, a trans-continental canal, lots of floods, then someone deciding to move the town somewhere so that it wouldn’t keep getting destroyed all the time. Oh well.

harpers-ferry_main-streetMain Street.

harpers-ferry_raised-trackRaised railroad tracks. No, really! They run between Main Street and the river. I think Shenandoah (River). Eventually they cross the Potomac (eventually = a few hundred yards later).

harpers-ferry_catholic-churchThe scaffolding around the church tower adds a uniquely European touch to the scene.

harpers-ferry_ped-bridgeBridges have interesting lines.

harpers-ferry_episcopal-churchEpiscopal church.

harpers-ferry_episcopal-cloudEpiscopal cloud.

It was a nice half-day place. Had lunch at one of the taverns or whatever in the non Parks Service part of town: pulled pork sandwich. Was pretty good, but hilariously overpriced. I also ordered (tap) water.

Also of note: the drive from my campsite in Western Maryland (nice showers!) to Harpers Ferry marks the last time I’ll use my GPS. Garmin’s not very good at giving directions. She dropped me off in the middle of a country road in Maryland and told me it was the Harpers Ferry Visitors Center in West Virginia. Essentially. Probably not as dangerous as the time she dragged me up into the maze of unmarked logging roads in pursuit of Mt. St. Helens, but still. Also probably not as bad as when she told me the speed limit was 70 when it was, in fact, 25. Or the multiple times she’s told me to enter the freeway via the offramp. Plus she’s so smug about it. But anyway. Hopefully REI will still take it back. I still have the box, I think. Moral: don’t buy Garmin.


Vermont Is a Well-Kept State (Day 71)

September 27th, 2009 Comments off

It’s kind of like Switzerland. Not much is out of place. The campground I stayed at, at Smuggler’s Notch State Park, was the nicest, cleanest campground I’ve ever been to in my life. Plenty of trees separated the campsites, for instance. There were showers and they were immaculate. There was a water feature inside the bathroom. There was a ranger on-site 24 hours a day plus a volunteer host. They sold firewood, kindling, and firestarter. And this post isn’t even about the campground.

Which, it turns out, was sort of the best part of Vermont. Ah well.

The campground was located between the town of Stowe and the Stowe ski slopes. Nice locale.

stowe_churchThe church in Stowe.

And then these waterfalls are across the street (and then a steep half-mile down) from the campground.

stowe_bingham-fallsBingham Falls, named after the copper mine.

Anyway, then I ended up going to this state park where they have an abandoned old town. About a mile into your hike through the old town, however, you begin to realize that there aren’t any building there any more or, like, anything to look at. Little River State Park was the name. Avoid it at all costs. I don’t think these pictures are as boring as actually being there, though:

stowe_little-river-leavesThat’s right, another photo of leaves. How I’ve kept my mind is a wonder.

stowe_graffiti-houseFine, there’s *one* house still standing. For now. And: you mean there’s a *down*-side to eminent domain?!

stowe_little-river-cemeteryThe town’s population was maybe 100 and existed for like 80 years, but somehow managed to maintain three cemeteries. Maybe people just died there a lot.

To be fair, I think the park’s trails were meant more for snowmobilers than normal people. Is that fair? Whatever.

Spent the rest of the day driving around the Stowe area trying to derive meaning — the next day was going to have better weather, so I was waiting for that before going up into the hills mountains. Tried to go to “Texas Falls”, but there was a bridge out at the trailhead. Drove up to Lincoln Gap, but there’s not really anything to *see*, just a road and another trailhead. Went to Shaw’s, which is the east coast’s Albertsons. Bought batteries and brown-and-serve sausage links. Pretty cool. Ate at an expensive Thai restaurant in Stowe. Then went back and luxuriated in the cleanliness (and orderliness!) of the campsite.


Bison as Refugees and the St. Ignatius Mission (Day 42)

August 29th, 2009 3 comments

Do bison need a “refuge”? Is there an underground railroad that guides the bison *to* the refuge? From whom are they taking refuge? From where are they refugees? And if it’s a refuge, shouldn’t they get to go wherever they want rather than getting shoved around by National Bison Refuge employees from giant pen to giant pen? And if you’re going to invite people to drive around the refuge full of bison, shouldn’t the bison put on a show? Or just do something other than stand there grazing?

But for their relative rarity, they don’t seem all that different from cows. And the refuge seemed more like an internment camp. Nice skies though.

national-bison-range 1OTOH, bison strike better poses on the horizon.

national-bison-range 3I was sort of excited about bison when I saw them, but after the third herd: oh well.

And then the Reader’s Digest book suggested I go to the Catholic mission in St. Ignatius (it’s maybe an hour north of Missoula) because of the church there.

st-ignatius-mission-church 2This is the outside of the church.

st-ignatius-mission-church 1This is the inside of the church.

st-ignatius-mission-church 3This is also the inside of the church.

Pretty cool for a 120-year-old Catholic church on an Indian reservation next to a dying logging town. Pretty cool for most Catholic churches, actually. The paintings were done by the original missionaries’ cook, who didn’t have any training as an artist. Although I’m guessing he made more money as a cook than he would have as an artist. You know, just realistically and all that.

Ended up getting down to a campground at Spanish Creek, a few miles north of Big Sky, almost at the bottom of Montana. National Forest Service campgrounds rule — another campsite on another river and within a small (13-site) campground for a reasonable ($13) price. And the number 13 keeps out the superstitious riff-raff (my theory — I can’t prove this).


17-Mile Drive, Carmel Mission, and Monterey (Day 4)

July 16th, 2009 3 comments

This was yesterday.

Drove out of Big Sur. Relieved to get cell reception. Relieved at gas prices below $3.70. Turned left onto 17-Mile Drive, which is mostly like a lightly-trafficked tour through beachside golf courses and houses. Continued for 17 miles. Exited. Went to the Carmel mission (that has a fancier name than that). Saw Junipero Serra’s grave. Exited. Drove through the maze of Carmel streets. Found Hwy. 1, went north. Stopped in Monterey. Parked in a garage. Walked to waterfront. It’s like a small-scale San Francisco (IMHO). Ate lunch. Walked to Cannery Row. No canneries in operation. Walked back to car. Pried bike out of back of cab. Re-attached front wheel. Tightened trip computer magnet. Changed into bike shorts. Rode up and down bike path from Pacific Grove to Seaside and back. Re-deposited bike in back of truck. Changed out of bike shorts. Went back to waterfront to verify. Still there. Returned to car. Packed an overnight bag. Drove up Hwy. 1 to the 101. Dropped in on friends in Sunnyvale. Ate dinner (very Italian, very awesome). Observed baby. Took walk toward downtown Sunnyvale. Returned. Showered (very nice). Went to bed.

big_sur_north_coastlineOne last look at Big Sur coastline. It was a foggy send-off, so I missed the lighthouse and the bridges. Next time.

17-mile_drive_carmelThere was some golf course right next to this spot, but it seemed only moderately famous.


Carmel mission courtyard with tower, crosses, and fountain.

The mission in Carmel(-by-the-Sea). Would probably be good to take the second pic again on a blue-sky day. And a day when I wasn’t so antsy to get going that I didn’t play with the composition. Ah well: regret is sweet.

monterey_fishermans_wharf_pierFisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, boasting the highest concentration of free clam chowder samples of any location in the lower 48.

Next up: SF and praying my car doesn’t get broken into…!


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