A Walk About Town: Columbus and San Antonio, Texas

A Walk About Town is a meme hosted by Natalie over at Coffee and a Book Chick.

Last weekend, Husband and I took a trip out to San Antonio, just because. It was a fairly uneventful weekend for us, in all the right ways.

First we headed out to my family’s country home near Columbus, Texas, for Friday night. I don’t suppose I shared this information here at the time, but back in early September it burned in one of the many wildfires Texas has experienced during this year of record-setting drought. Here’s what I wrote at the time to share with friends & family when we visited to survey the damage:

From the rumors we’d heard, we expected to find scorched earth, flattened, lunar – and it wasn’t that bad at all, so I guess the overall impression is a good one. Obviously we have been extremely lucky (I said, dodged a bullet and Husband said, more like a bomb), and some of our neighbors weren’t; driving in we saw several houses along our road that had burned down to the ground.

But, it was still hard to see the destruction. Our barn is a mess of sheet metal, with the burned-out tractor buried beneath it. Parts of our property are paved ankle-deep in ash, with a few big trees standing and no undergrowth. Parts seem virtually untouched. Most of it is in between, with greatly reduced undergrowth but many larger trees standing. We guess this is because the winds were high enough to take the fire through relatively quickly.

I’m an amateur at this stuff and have no idea how many of the larger scorched trees will live, but figure some, at least, should; and I know that ash can enrich the soil for the next generation of vegetation. I’m so relieved to see that we don’t now own a solid piece of bleak, sun-baked ash. I have hope for the relatively near future. And the fact that our house was saved is great. It reeks of smoke but the first time we can open it up for 48 hours should make great progress there – right?

Just want to say thank you to the fire crews who worked to save our house. Ours, and the nearest neighbors’, were both saved literally at the door step by their efforts. Many of our neighbors out there have their primary residences and means of livelihood on the land, which we didn’t, so clearly we’re far luckier than most.

We also packed up some clothes, toiletries, dry goods, and books to take to donate for those who lost their homes. It was surprisingly hard to find someone to take them in the town of Columbus; I think it took us 6 tries before we found a well-informed woman who said they had more than they could go through already (!) but directed us to the local radio station, who were filling a trailer to take to Bastrop. Bastrop lost many 1000’s of homes and we’re glad that our stuff will go somewhere where it’s needed.

It’s been kind of a disturbing thing to see but really, all the news is good where we’re concerned.

Several months later, we’re doing really well. Pops has replaced the tractor (insurance money!) and we’re about to break ground on the new barn. The house smells fine. The ground is green again just about everywhere. Still unclear on which and how many trees will survive, but really it’s going to be okay.

I took a few shots here (all clickable for larger views):

70-year-old pine, victim of drought, not fire

site of old barn with old tractor

There’s even some water in the pond again. (Not much.)

misty morning at very low pond

Saturday morning we headed on to San Antonio. When we first hit town we went straight to Freetail Brewing, a brewpub that Pops greatly admires. Unfortunately I took no pictures! But we had a lovely long lunch there, and sampled every beer they had on tap (no small feat at 14 beers – don’t worry, mostly we had little taster glasses). Our favorites were the Tadarida IPA (the hoppier of the two American-style IPAs available), the Rye Wit (just what it sounds; nice little peppery notes from the rye), and the Ate II (a sour wit with champagne yeast – yum!).

Then down into downtown San Antonio. We stayed just across the street from the Alamo, and walked the riverwalk.

bearded Husband on the riverwalk

night view

We were even happier when we found the quieter end of the riverwalk. The bar zone, at the center loop (see map here) resembles Bourbon Street in New Orleans or Duval Street in Key West or any other super-busy touristy bar zone, while the stretch up north was more the quiet, scenic stroll we were looking for.

the quieter end

We visited the Alamo during the day, right after checking in to the hotel, and it’s quite the hopping place; plenty of plaques and educational devices and exhibits, full of people of all ages and backgrounds (with the military very well-represented), and all free, which I think is great. Husband got the best picture after dark when heading back to the hotel:

Alamo at night

As I said, it was an uneventful weekend. We walked, looked around, ate and drank, and relaxed. Just what I needed: a little change of scenery.

Thanks Natalie for hosting! Maybe one of these days I’ll do a hometown Walk About Town… what is everybody else up to?

3 Responses

  1. I was following the news on the fires and just couldn’t believe it. I hate to see it all, and I think about all the people and animals that are affected by it. I’m so glad everyone in your family is doing fine now. That shot of the tractor is unbelievable.

    San Antonio is fast becoming a place that I really need to make sure I visit soon. The history of it is amazing, and the pictures you share are just gorgeous! And I’d probably do the beer sampler set, I love that stuff!

    Thanks for participating in A Walk About Town!! šŸ™‚

    • Yea… that’s nowhere near the most shocking picture, even from our place, and our place got it pretty easy really. Shocking stuff, no question. I’ve been injured for so long now that I haven’t been back to some of the worst burned places where we *used* to ride our bikes. And even here in Houston, the drought alone has changed the landscapes of the parks – they say we’ve lost literally millions of trees in Houston alone, and those are big, old trees… I’ll stop with the sob story now.

      Hey, great fun with the beer! And if you find yourself in Houston (on the way to/from SA, or whenever), let me know, I’ll show you around!

      Thanks for hosting!

  2. […] publication with the worst drought in Texas’s history, and a series of wildfires including one that touched my family, has had me thinking about some of the themes involved. I’ve read a few other pieces of […]

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