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San Antonio Botanical Garden

After SABotanicalMay16.1leaving the Japanese Tea Garden, my plan was to enter Brackenridge Park and walk along one of the trails that cut across the park towards the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. My first thought was to try the far end of the parking lot but finding no evidence of a walkway there, I turned back towards the concession building/gift shop to ask directions. Unfortunately, the person at the shop could not answer my question, so I headed outside to explore around the building. I saw a walkway on the far side of the river but could find no way to get there. Then I spotted the red caution tape that was blocking access to the trail. The rains that had come through the day before had caused the river to overflow, thus causing the closure of my shortcut to the gardens. SABotanicalMay16.2Plan B was to walk to the nearest bus stop and catch the next bus to the gardens. I was just a short distance from said bus stop when the #7 passed me by. Since the next bus would not appear for another hour, I decided to walk the 2 miles around the park to the gardens.

Once at the Botanical Garden, I decided to fortify myself at the SABotanicalMay16.5Carriage House Bistro before setting out to explore. Immediately beyond the entrance, I found Formal Gardens, Rose Gardens and open spaces of lawn that are typical of most gardens. But as I left this part of the park behind me, I discovered some whimsical sculptures on display, entitled Storybook Houses. I was particularly amused by the colorful balloon structure that represented Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You Will Go.  Nearby, was a play area with over-sized Adirondack chairs and picnic tables; even an adult would feel tiny sitting in one of those chairs.

I wandered towards the back end of the gardens and discovered three separate areas representing vegetation found in East Texas, South Texas and the Hill Country. SABotanicalMay16.3Each area also included a structure typically found in that region. Meandering through the Hill Country, I looked across a meadow of grasses and wildflowers. Near one of the structures found in the Hill Country, I found a Passion Flower in full bloom and paused to admire its intricate design.

Walking along the trails through the East Texas section, I found a ball like object made of twigs lying on the ground. I had SABotanicalMay16.4observed that many of the trees around San Antonio were filled with them and I guessed that they were akin to the lichen that covers some trees in the northeast. Here I had the opportunity to study it close up and when I researched this object later, I discovered that it was called Ball Moss.

Finishing my exploration of the cacti and yucca plants of South Texas, I returned to the formal gardens. I eventually found a peaceful area by a fountain that allowed me to enjoy the views for a while before continuing towards the entrance. Just outside the garden was the bus stop that would take me back to town. Feeling that I could not walk another step, I sat on a bench and watched a small lizard while I waited for my ride.

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San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden

TeaGardenMay16.1I decided that my next outdoor adventure in San Antonio was a visit to the Japanese Tea Gardens. Resolving to use whatever public transportation was available, I walked one block down from the hotel, hopped on the #7 bus and headed north towards the gardens. Within 15 minutes, I was standing at the entrance to the gardens.

Once inside, I sensed the calming influence that filled this small oasis. I paused a bit to take in the carefully laid out landscape; a structure meant to encourage the user to pause and meditate. The walkway beyond the entrance, looked down upon a peaceful haven TeaGardenMay16.2of stone bordered gardens, ponds supporting lily pads and koi, and a waterfall.

Rather that step down into the gardens immediately, I decided to explore the upper level for a bit and headed down a dirt path that lead through the woods. This route seemed to head towards the zoo and exhibited no apparent association with the formal gardens. I spotted a small trail that lead me up towards a dirt road that was pretty open and barren looking. Since it gave the appearance of a maintenance road, I turned around to proceed in the opposite direction. When the trail continued beyond an open gate, I decided it was time to head back towards the formal gardens. Looking off into the woods on my way back, I found evidence of someone encouraging the cat population, spotting the occasional small enclosed structure TeaGardenMay16.3and cans of food.

Back at the gardens, I headed down one of the stone walkways towards the waterfall at the far end. Along the way, I discovered another path meandering back towards the tea-house. It was a bit more enclosed, with vegetation creeping into the walkway but still part of the formal gardens. Just as I was about to head down this road, I spied a rather hairy black cat walking upon this route ahead of me. As it jumped over the stone border, I noticed theTeaGardenMay16.4 lovely spiky white stripe down its back. Discretion being the better part of valor, I decided that I did not need to explore this particular path and moved on, leaving the skunk to its territory.

Reaching the waterfall, I looked across the ponds toward the stone pavilion above the gardens. I enjoyed the stillness that exuded from this scene. As I crossed over the stone bridges and walked around the ponds, I thought that is would be nice to sit for a time and become completely immersed in the calm atmosphere that was clearly the intent of those who planned this haven. But alas, there was not a bench to be found, so I walked up to the stone pavilion, sat on one of the steps and gazed at the waterfall before continuing on to the Botanical Gardens.

 

Riverwalk

RiverwalkMay16.1During the month of May, my husband attended a conference in San Antonio, Texas. Since this would probably be our only opportunity to visit Texas, I tagged along to see what the city had to offer. One of my primary goals, was to visit the 4 missions outside of the downtown area. Although many of the guided tours and one of the metro buses stopped at the first two of these, no one seemed to go to the last 2. I investigated different options, from getting a cab to the furthest mission, (Mission Espada)RiverwalkMay16.3 and either walking to the next mission (San Juan) and getting a bus or cab from there, to renting a bike. With each mission situated 2 miles apart from each other, I thought walking and calling a cab from the 3rd mission might be do-able until I had to contend with the heat and humidity. As far as riding a bike the 11 miles back to town, I rationalized that I had not been on a bike in over 35 years and this was not the time to find out if I still could. So eventually I gave up on my plan of visiting all the missions and looked for other ways to get outdoors.RiverwalkMay16.2

The San Antonio River runs through the city and planners have built a lovely walkway along the river, first near the downtown area and later extending it to Mission Espada in one direction and the San Antonio Zoo in the other. The loop in the downtown area, being along tourist row, was lined with hotels and outdoor tables shaded by the colorful umbrellas of restaurants. One day, I just decided to keep walking RiverwalkMay16.4until I left the busyness behind me. As I headed north, the hotels, shops and restaurants gave way to a narrower walkway lined with a variety of bushes, flowers and trees. Here, only the occasional jogger acknowledged by presence as they passed by.

As I strolled along this peaceful portion of the trail, I was thankful to be surrounded by bits of greenery once again.  Soon, I discovered a section along the path that was obviously designed as a place for the traveler to pause and take in the natural surroundings. RiverwalkMay16.5I rested here for a bit, while I studied the Yellow Crowned Night Heron wading through the pool. He was not startled by my being there but for every step I took closer to the pond, he took one step further away until he was hidden by the vegetation nearby.

After the Heron tired of my antics, I continued further along the Riverwalk. It wasn’t long before I came to another oasis. This haven offered a small waterfall and a different variety of vegetation from my previous stop. To one side of this pool, I discovered what I believed was a rather large King Sago Palm sporting a mature yellow cone. I lingered for a bit, enjoying this sanctuary before forging ahead to the 1.5 mile mark and returning back to the downtown area.