DNA-X 2012 #9 Southwest to South
The DNA-X crew treks east still following the remains of the desert drenching tropical storm into Texas. Sweeping mesas tower above mesquite covered plains as we make our way across this vast state. Everything’s “big” in Texas and the scale of the land is just the beginning. It’s not only the biggest of the lower 48 states but home to Big Oil, which extracts the biggest barrel-load in the US. The biggest cattle in head count and size, the biggest state capitol building, the biggest ranch and the biggest helium reserve are but a few of the superlatives. Not all bigs are good however as Texas has a superfluous obesity rate of 30% and emits a staggering two times the national average of greenhouse gasses per capita. All that oil could have something to do with that.
After a full days drive we land in sprawling San Antonio, the second largest city in the state. Home of the Alamo, this mainly Hispanic city has a lively feel. We detect humidity, something we have not felt for some weeks. Our hotel sits on the famous River Walk, Paseo del Rio, in downtown where you can take a river cruise or walk along the San Antonio River past numerous cafes, restaurants and clubs, no taxi needed.
Not far from the River Walk is the Alamo, the Old Spanish Mission now dwarfed by the skyscrapers of this city. Recalling the battle cry of General Huston, “Remember the Alamo!” stirs a pot of turbulent Texas history. This mission was the scene of a bloody battle where a small band of Texans fought and lost against the ruthless Mexican General Santa Anna. Listen in to one of the docents as they recollect the history of the brave people who once lived in this historic landmark and founded the city that grew around it.
For a not so typical taste of the city head over to the Poteet Flea Market on the weekends for a true Mexican experience. Not only can you find the usual wares and great deals but also regional food and live bands make this a family fun-day. Bring cash and admission is charged.
Our last stop in Texas is Austin, the state capitol and music scene extradinare. This is the fastest growing city in the fastest growing state in the U.S. We stay at the historic and most haunted hotel in the city, the Driskill, no extra charge for the ghosts. Built in 1886 this hotel has an old west feel in a downtown setting. Check out the Happy Hour and live music in the vintage Driskill Bar. Austin claims to be the Live Music Capitol of the World and music can be heard just about everywhere and any time every day. The city is also known for its excellent restaurants for all size wallets. Also popular are the food trucks that produce some of the best and most affordable Mexican food anywhere! Even though this is a city, Austin has some beautiful parks. Right in town go visit Barton Springs Pool, a spring fed, crystal clear natural pool the length of a football field. The water is a constant 68 degrees, perfect on a hot Texas day. But parks aren’t the only place to find wildlife; roosting under one of the bridges over the Colorado River (a smaller cousin to the western river) is the largest urban bat population in the U.S.! Bugs beware!
It’s time to head east back to Florida and after a days drive hugging the gulf coast on I10 we stop in Pensacola Beach. We are curious to see if the beautiful beaches are back to normal after the disastrous BP oil spill in 2010. A walk down the beach revealed large tar balls are still washing up two years later. Time will tell how long the gulf ecosystem will suffer from that tragedy.
We arrive back in Florida in our trusty Range Rover Sport “G” which was flawless on her first big cruise! We had travelled over 7300 miles on the 2012 Expedition! The whole Discover North America Expedition crew would like to thank Land Rover Palm Beach for hosting this blog and for all their support! We would also like to thank all of our readers who followed us and put up with our zany movies, we hope you had some fun! Where to next? “G” is going to the spa to have some new treads put on and a full body massage. When she and the crew are ready we’ll throw a dart at the map! Until next time, remember to get off that couch, pack up the car and go discover this amazing continent!