A Camera’s View of the Alamo

The iconic facade of the Alamo

The iconic facade of the Alamo

A visit to San Antonio means a must-see stop at the iconic Alamo. The rainy weather served to highlight the stone features and added to the ambiance. Overall, the famous battle location was more than the typical tourist attraction I expected.

Welcome gate at the Alamo

Welcome gate at the Alamo

Old stone and wood mixed with desert landscape and lush gardens created an intriguing space where I could quietly contemplate the long and varied history of the Catholic mission turned military fort.

Carved stone showing niches.

Carved stone showing niches.

So how did the Alamo get its name? At one time beginning in the early 1700s (possibly earlier), the Spanish opened a mission (San Antonio de Valero) and a good number of Catholic converts were housed within its walls. In the photo above, you can see the niches (those would have held statues) left over from the mission days.

Old stone and wood walls inside the mission. I believe inside this building is a small museum.

Old stone and wood walls inside the mission/Alamo. Inside this building is a small museum.

The stone work of the walls within and the wood give that old Texas feeling.

A cannon in the courtyard.

A cannon in the courtyard.

In the late 1790s and early 1800s, the population of those living within declined and the mission was left in the military’s hands.  The French (in Louisiana) and American forces posed threats to the Spanish in Mexico, so they moved troops into the mission grounds.

The Mission Bell

The Mission Bell

The Spanish troop that arrived came from Alamo de Parras. Over time the compound simply became called the Alamo. A large population of family members came with the troops. A need arose for a hospital which they placed in one of the mission buildings. It became the site of the first hospital in Texas.

Close up of a frieze from 1936 showing the story of the Alamo.

Close up of a frieze from 1936 showing the famed men from the battle at Alamo.

The rest of the story, of course is history, and thus came the slogan “Remember the Alamo.”

The colors of a desert garden.

The colors of a desert garden.

I visited in late spring and found many things blooming in the gardens.

A single bloom. Pretty to look at, but not so wise to eat.

A single bloom. Pretty to look at, but not so wise to eat.

An agave and cactus (prickly pear) garden.

An agave and cactus (prickly pear) garden.

Texas and the Alamo are located in hot and usually dry country. The cactus garden appeared quite happy in its Alamo environment.

A tree in the middle of the grounds.

A tree in the middle of the grounds.

A sculpted tree with trunk darken by rain.

A last glimpse at the historic Alamo.

A last glimpse at the historic Alamo.

Plan a visit and don’t forget your camera. You never know what might intrigue you.

Also don’t forget about other close-by missions around San Antonio, all easy to see in a day visit. Check out my blog Stone and Weathered Wood- Mission San Jose for a few photos from those missions.

If you’re a history buff, this city link offers more information on the history of the Alamo.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

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Bear Mountain Hike: Sedona, Arizona

The town of Sedona is nestled along the Mogollon Rim at the southern end of the Colorado Plateau in Northern Arizona. It’s famous red rock cliffs and formations make it a popular spot to escape the Phoenix desert heat. My family visits frequently and over the years we have checked out many of the hikes and still find the views breathtaking.

A canyon view looking toward Sedona

A canyon view looking toward Sedona.

Our last visit in January was welcomed by a light snow, most of which quickly melted in the morning sun. The shadows stayed cool enough to hold onto the snow and on a short hike to Doe Mountain we found icicles along the path.

Icicles on Doe Mountain hiking trail.

Icicles on Doe Mountain hiking trail.

From that path, we looked up at a ridge in the distance and noticed the trail for it zigzagging up the face of an opposing mesa. On the way home, we checked out the trailhead. Bear Mountain. We love challenging hikes, so decided to give this one a try the next day. It is a 2000 foot climb in elevation, the trails are not necessarily well-marked, and takes 4.5 to 5 hours round trip. I think we did it in 4…but the weather was cool and we were in shape. Even so, I wish we had taken more water (we took two bottles each and several energy bars). In hotter weather, a lot more water would be necessary and it could be brutal with no shade. Warning to those wishing to take this hike. Go prepared. This is the Sedona hike with the most rescues (and deaths).

You can see snow in the background shade of this photo.

You can see snow in the background shade of this photo.

The photo below is from the top of the first mesa in front of Bear Mountain. The views along this trail are spectacular, but at times deceiving. Bear Mountain is infamous for its false summits. That means a hiker will see a peak that looks like the top. By the time it is reached, a new summit becomes visible. For some people, this is the fun, unexpected part of a good hike, for others, it can be  discouraging. Did I say, I enjoyed this hike?

Photo from the mesa atop the first level of the hike. Only a few more stages to go.

Photo from atop the mesa at the first level of the hike. Only a few more stages to go.

If you’re interested in more detailed descriptions and topo maps of this hike, check out this site. It has a great photo at the bottom of the page that shows the various levels and false peaks. Speaking of false peaks, after reaching the one before Bear Mountain, I took a photo off the back side of the trail.

View off last level before the final climb to Bear Mountain peak.

View off last level before the final climb to Bear Mountain peak.

There is no doubt when you reach the top of Bear Mountain. The snow-covered Spanish Peaks on the Colorado Plateau were visible. A beautiful sight.

View from atop Bear Mountain of the Spanish Peaks.

View from atop Bear Mountain of the Spanish Peaks.

Stone and weathered wood: Mission San José, San Antonio

Sometimes man and nature combine in ways to create a feast for the eye and mind. Twists of gray wood against angular yellow and burnished stone took me back in time without requiring a plaque to announce the date. Paneled doors, crudely constructed, hid under a sturdy wood lintel that has stood the test of time. I found these photos I took during our visit to San Antonio a few years ago to attend my sons flight training graduation nearby. There is a certain allure in old wood that I find similar to drift wood along the beach.

Mission San José

Mission San José

Although much of Mission San José was reconstructed in the early 1900s, it still accurately portrays the layout of the community that made up the Catholic mission to serve the Coahuiltecan Indians in 1720 (source: Wikipedia).

Mission San José, San Antonio, Texas

Mission San José, San Antonio, Texas

In the next photo, the crude skeleton of an awning is softened by green, new growth around the poles and the wispy trees in the background. The trodden pathway of numerous visitors can be seen by the barren stretch of soil along the wall.

MSan JoseWall

This symmetry of the last photo is perhaps too perfect, but I find it fascinating the way it draws my eye right to the center of the photo and the delightful weathered wood.

A Mission Door

A Mission Door

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Sandy is starting in January 2013 a monthly drawing taken from those who comment on her blogs. Comment and your name will go into a drawing for a free ebook of Repossessed by Sandy Parks or one of author Julie Moffett’s Lexi series. You’ll have a month after names are pulled to check back and see if you are a winner. Good luck and  hope to hear from you.

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Birds of South Africa, the North West Province

On a trip to South Africa in 2008, one of our stops included several days at a wonderful safari lodge in the North West. Needless to say, the abundant animal life had my camera (including a 300mm lens) at my side and I constantly snapped anything that moved…no matter how big…or how small.

Elephant at Madikwe National Park

Elephant at Madikwe Game Reserve

Armored Ground Crickets

Armored Ground Crickets

I live in Florida, where birds are a common part of the landscape. I discovered this province quite similar in flora and the number of unique birds. I’m not a bird expert (they are simply fun to watch), but took photos of many I saw and then attempted to properly identify them. While I have a book of Bushveld birds and a list of birds our guide rattled off during our trips in the bush, the task has left a few photos without proper identification. It didn’t help that I went through my notes at the end of the day with a Springbok (drink made with layers of kahlua, peppermint liquor, and Amarula cream) or a sweet Jerepico aperitif (loved it, but can’t find it in the US). If you recognize a bird, or find one I’ve mislabeled, please let me know.

The Lilac-breasted Roller.

The Lilac-breasted Roller. Small, but pretty. The colors are so perfect on this bird, it almost doesn’t look real.

Not wishing to have the pretty ones take center stage a Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill moved into the picture.

Not wishing to have the pretty ones take center stage a Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill moved into the picture.

The vulture. Big, ugly, and a necessary scavenger. I can’t tell from its position and this photo what type. African White-backed or maybe Hooded Vulture?

The vulture. Big, ugly, and a necessary scavenger. I can’t tell from its position and this photo what type. African White-backed or maybe Hooded Vulture?

The long wispy tail of this Shaft-tailed Whydah is rather unique.

The long wispy tail of this Shaft-tailed Whydah is rather unique.

A Pale Chanting Goshawk. Note the orange beak and legs.

A Pale Chanting Goshawk. Note the orange beak and legs.

Starlings are found around the world, but this one certainly had a beautiful blue. Burchell’s Starling.

Starlings are found around the world, but this one certainly had a beautiful blue. Burchell’s Starling.

Helmeted Guinefowl. Love the blue and red head.

Helmeted Guinefowl. Love the blue and red head.

Birds of a feather flock together. Helmeted Guinefowl.

Birds of a feather flock together. Helmeted Guinefowl.

Kori Bustard. Not the best photo, but it shows their rather “prehistoric” head and body shape.

Kori Bustard. Not the best photo, but it shows their rather “prehistoric” head and body shape.

Bee-eater. Tiny, beautiful, and hard to see as it blended in perfectly.

Bee-eater. Tiny, beautiful, and hard to see as it blended in perfectly.

These were some nests I encountered.

This one I believe belonged to a Weaver of some type.

This one I believe belonged to a Weaver of some type.

These two photos show a remarkable collection of giant nests from a bird I can’t identify. Someday I’ll have to contact the lodge where we stayed and ask, as they have it posted in their website gallery from a bunch of photos I left behind after our visit.

Nest2

The head is not clearly seen in this photo (or another taken at the same time), but it appears almost completely black (unlike ospreys). Its body size is that of a large bird like an eagle.

A larger angle showing the entire tree and multiple nests.

A larger angle showing the entire tree and multiple nests. The bird’s head is also twisted forward while preening and again appears all black.

I think hubby found my photo taking a bit amusing and snapped this photo with his pocket-sized digital.

Sandy at Madikwe National Park. A kid in a photo candy store.

Sandy at Madikwe National Park. A kid in a photo candy store.

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Sandy is starting in January 2013 a monthly drawing taken from those who comment on her blogs. Comment and your name will go into a drawing for a free ebook of Repossessed by Sandy Parks or one of author Julie Moffett’s Lexi series. You’ll have a month after names are pulled to check back and see if you are a winner. Good luck and  hope to hear from you.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦