Tuesday March 18, 2014 Room 208 Clarion Inn Lafayette, Louisiana 2PM CST
The last few days have been a bit of a blur—not only because we covered a great deal of distance but because we also tried to absorb a huge chunk of Texas history and then tried to get around a huge chunk of Texas real estate in one piece. But let me begin on Saturday morning when we departed San Angelo, Texas. I didn’t take a great many pictures because we were still in the flat, dry West Texas area which doesn’t look very different from Southeast New Mexico—as a matter of fact, one doesn’t realize we’ve left New Mexico for quite a few miles.
So I’m not exactly sure where we stopped at a rest area but I was very taken with the toy like appearance of the picnic area there. As a matter of fact, throughout the country there are some really creative picnic area structures. Some are made to look like skiboats in white snow, others like miniature adobe dwellings etc. I didn’t always photograph them but maybe next year they will be my focus. Each year I kind of find something to use as a constant in each area—one year it was steeples, another, old buildings. It makes looking at familiar places less repetitive if I find something new for which to look.
We eventually came to a town called Eden, Texas where Venison World caught my eye. Neither of us are great lovers of venison but we do enjoy some good chewy beef jerky on which to munch our way down the road. We got a bonus here, they sold pepper cheese sticks too, so with my larder of crackers and a cold bottle of water we made our way into Texas hill country. Eden is very appropriately named—it lies right on the edge of the hill country and its abundant green, green trees. It is desert no more!
Menard, Texas has a rather imposing welcome sign as signs go and an intriguing small sign, in brown—the color of historical signs—indicating a “ Ditch Walk” going both ways across the highway. I can’t get Bill to dally much and look at these things –not the way my sister and I do—but even he was curious about a DITCH walk. Well, it is beautiful—it is a man-made meandering stream along which are built some really cute homes. Of course, it wasn’t built with that aesthetic in mind, Texans are much more practical about water. It is a ‘ditch’ not a stream and it was built to irrigate the fields of a fairly large ranch—2000 acres—large to an Eastern mind but really modest out here.
We followed it for as long as there was a road beside it, which was only several blocks along which there are benches and street lights. Then we turned into what was the original center of Menard and which, like so many of the old towns in this country, is pretty empty and dilapidated. We made a left and headed into the countryside once more. Came to another rest area, this with the tables nicely placed in the natural setting. As we moved Eastward the sky started to cloud up heavily and it seemed we might be moving into rainy weather.
Sometimes we manage to catch a few of the historical signs posted along the roads and I particularly love the mental image of the trial under the live oak home of wild bees. Don’t think I’d attend, thank you. I must admit, though I love the deserts of the West, trees, the threat of rain and gentle hills were a welcome change. Took a few pix of Kerrville and its surroundings for the grand-daughter of one of my friends. Kari’s other grandparents live here now and she spent part of last summer at camp in Kerrville. I thought she might like to see what it looks like in winter/early spring.
Then we entered an area of Texas that was a surprise to me fourteen years ago. I had not known there was a concerted effort of Spain to get the area populated and that a German Prince (a minor one to be sure) gathered up a sizeable group of his people and came and settled in this area of Texas. Their intent was to establish a new Germany within Texas. The group is known as the Adelsverein—actually that is a shortened form of the whole name—and Admiral Nimitz’ grandfather was a member. Initially, an almost 5000 acre plantation was purchased, maintained by Indian slave labor for the recreation of the members. The whole history is very interesting for those of you interested in history. So as not to bore the others I will merely share the link to the story:
It certainly explains The Nimitz museum in Fredericksburg which is housed in the hotel his family owned. It also explains all the Germanic names in the area. Interestingly, Texan German is a sub group of American Germanic groups!
Bill and I made bets as to what the large Church-like building on the horizon would be—he said Baptist! I said no, Lutheran. But then, realizing the size and ornate design I decided it was a Catholic monastery. Turned out to be a Catholic Church—St Joseph’s Rotary in Honey Creek, Texas.
Another thing that catches my eye are cute billboards and in this country there seem to be lots of Chick-a-fil ads with the cows encouraging the ingestion of chicken! LOL
And then we were at the Quality Inn at New Braunfels, which lies between Austin and San Antonio and let me tell you, the traffic NEVER stops on that interstate outside the window.
Sunday morning dawned sunny but a really series of strong thunderstorms passed through the area in the early morning. Bill had been having a cigarette outside around 6 and the lightening was very strong,though he didn’t hear any thunder. I slept right through it!
Headed to Seguin where Bill gassed up and I noticed a donut shop. Bill didn’t want any, so he said, but he came in and bought a glazed one. I had a zebra and bought a sugar/cinnamon crueller for Monday. I also got a cup of coffee—the best coffee I’ve had in ages—not the weak stuff we Americans drink and rave about. This would put hair on your chest—that Lina SanFrancisco knows how to brew a good cup of coffee. Woke me right up!
On through Stockdale, Gillette and Yorktown—ranches with all kinds of breeds of cattle and cross breeds. AND even among the grazing cattle, huge oil wells drilling away. No little pony wells, big boys here! Not as smelly though. Just outside Yorktown we came to another historic sign—this one telling of the Lithuanian immigrants to the area.
Following behind the band of rains and over wet roads we arrived at Goliad. Several years ago, while visiting our friends Karen and John in Corpus, Karen bemoaned the fact that the Alamo is the battle that is so well known to Americans when the siege at Goliad was so much more brutal and large than the Alamo. At that time, I decided that we would sooner or later visit Goliad and learn about the battle, more about the Angel of Goliad and gain a better understanding of the Texan Revolt.
Our first stop, Goliad State Park in which is found the CCC restored Mission Nuestra Senora del Espiritu Santo de Zuniga. The Spanish don’t name anything simply. No Notre Dame here though I don’t think Notre Dame is the full name either! Here is Our Lady of the Holy Spirit of Zuniga. There is a Ranger and his wife who guard the place very closely. Other than walking the grounds toward the exit, we were never left alone in or outside the shrine. In actuality, both were very informative and in today’s day and age of routine vandalism and graffiti writing on anything white, I guess I cannot blame them for their vigilance.
The oldest Mission in Texas is in the North near Natchitoches, built to repel the French who were attempting to enter Texas from Louisiana. This mission predates the Alamo and those other Missions around San Antonio. Apparently, there were so many missions so close together because the various tribes that the Franciscans were trying to convert did not get along together—so a different mission for different tribes. Makes sense. The Apaches were a particular problem, raiding other tribes and the missions. Actually, in at least one case the Apaches raided a mission, stole articles made by the Comanches, raided a settlement and left the items, so the settlers raided the mission serving the Comanches. Fun times in the old West! As beautiful as this mission is, it was desanctified and is no longer used. What a shame—the acoustics are incredible. The lady said there was a concert there just recently and it was wonderful. Also two priests from Crimea visited just recently. One spoke no English, the other very little. The Ranger showed them the Missal on the altar and they proceeded to start to sing the liturgy together. He said it was so moving—I wonder if they were doing it in Gregorian chant! So beautiful.
The lady showed us a picture of the Crucifix taken about 2006 on Easter Sunday. The light from the window in the choir loft totally illuminated the Body of Christ in a circle of light. Can you imagine the “ miracle” the Franciscans would have used to awe the pagans they wished to bring into the fold? She isn’t sure how often it happens, but the unexpectedness of it makes it even more striking—even for the friars!
Walking around the reconstructed Chapel we were surrounded by the original walls of the mission. The black and white picture of one wall is all the CCC found when they began the work—that wall is still standing and is behind me on the wall that is running perpendicular to me. We were sort of herded out from between the buildings so I was unable to get a picture of how it was incorporated into the new structure.
We drove around the park and took pictures of some of the new spring flowers. While the hot pink one is really beautiful it is, in actuality, orange not pink. Don’t know why the camera wouldn’t record the real color. The first blues are the famous Texas bluebells and the cup shaped in called a five dot for obvious reasons.
Continuing down the highway we came to the Presidio la Bahia. Both it and the Mission we’d just toured were originally build closer to the Gulf and both were moved inland twice until they were build here in Goliad.
Texas history is very different from the AMERICAN history most of us are taught in school. While the British were running the French out of Quebec and establishing strong British colonies along the Eastern seaboard, the Spanish were establishing strongholds in New Spain, part of which included modern day Mexico and Texas. The Spanish settlers of Tejas were known as Tejanos. ( One of their descendants with whom Bill worked in West Leb said he was Spanish, NOT Mexican and that he and his fellows resented the illegal Mexicans in Texas taking their jobs! How many of us think of their being Tejanos in Texas whose family dates in this country longer than many of ours?)
This Presidio or Fort was established in 1721 and was moved to its present site by 1749. During the American Revolution Spain was an ally of the Revolutionaries and beef were sent by the Spanish government from Texas eastward to feed the American rebels fighting along the Gulf and Mississippi! The Tejanos were subjects of Spain—not Americans! The American Revolution did not involve Texas!!!! ( By the way, California was also at this time Spanish and had missions and converted Indians, too. They also were not involved in the American Revolution!)
Eventually, France under Bonaparte was able to weaken Spain and cause it to lose its power to control the New World Colonies and so Mexico revolted to gain its independence and began to establish a strong new country. Texas had pressure from two fronts—another new Nation bent on westward expansion that had many politicians and settlers who believed that Texas was actually part of the Louisiana Purchase made from France, giving Louisiana to the US. There were still French within the Purchase who wanted to be independent of the US and sought to move West into Texas. In addition, Mexico vowed to protect the Catholic religion and secure those areas that were once controlled by Spain.
One of the Royalist Mexican military leaders was Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana. In 1812, Tejanos captured San Antonio from the Mexican ( Spanish ) forces and declared Texas a free independent Republic. When the Tejanos massacred captured Spanish officers, Americans who had helped them left the cause and Santa Ana was able to recapture San Antonio, killing many and driving others into Louisiana.
Eventually, the Mexicans were successful and once independent of Spain established a constitution and joined the under populated Tejas with another under populated state. Then to improve the economy of the area the Mexican government opened the area to immigrants from the US and Europe. In just a few years the newcomers so populated the area that they did not get along with the Tejanos who were happy with the Mexican Constitution nor with the Mexican Government who did not provide them with the rights to which they felt entitled. Land feuds erupted between the established Tejanos and the new Americans who arrived to grab the land grants given them by the Mexican officials. In the South of Tejas, there was an Irish contingent with their own dissatisfactions. A new air of Revolution was rising. It is funny to note that Tejanos felt like strangers in their own land. There are pockets of this country—South Texas, South California and some Eastern cities where I feel like a stranger in my own land. Why? Immigrants—many of whom won’t or can’t speak English and who demand rights not given to others. How history repeats itself. Don’t think we’ll see a Revolution, though.
The final blow to peace was the election of Santa Ana to the Presidency of Mexico and his subsequent dissolution of the Constitution and takeover of the Government as Dictator. finally, he was successful in defeating the Texan revolutionaries at San Patricio, The Alamo, Refugio. The Texans were at first disorganized with about four men claiming leadership of the movement. The Presidio de Bahia was eventually seen to be threatened with little chance of survival. The commander, Fannin, however, had been ordered to hold the fort and he refused to abandon his post. In time, Houston assumed sole leadership and he ordered Fannin to leave and rejoin him at Victoria. Unfortunately, he waited too late and as he and his men marched off they were trailed and overtaken by Urrea, one of Santa Ana’s leader. Urrea wanted to take the men as prisoners of war but Santa Ana ordered death to a man. All of the troops were returned to the fort, including the wounded in carts. Then over the course of several hours, with Fannin watching at least some of them, the soldiers were executed by firing squad. 342 soldiers, some of them already wounded. And then,last of all, the wounded Fannin was to have his turn. He asked that he not be shot in the face, gave his gold watch over to assure a Christian burial and asked that the remainder of his possessions be sent to his family.
He was shot in the face, his things were taken by the Mexican soldiers and his body was thrown into a ditch with some of his men and burned along with them. This massacre as well as the loss of the Alamo incited the Texans and a new rally call: Remember the Alamo , Remember Goliad! Rose. A new flag showing a detached right arm carrying a bloody sabre was flown as the Flag of Goliad and at the Battle of Jacinto—westward toward Houston was the sight of the final battle and the capture of Santa Ana. And so, the Texas Republic was born. Those Tejanos not in favor of the Revolution moved to Mexico or Louisiana. Many filed suits to regain their lost holdings in Texas. Most did not win.
In time, Goliad and the Presidio fell into disarray—the war had taken its toll. The Chapel of Loretto which had served the people of the area was deteriorating. It had served as the site of the signing of the first Declaration of Independence from Mexico in 1835 and the place where some of Urrea’s captives were held before their execution in 1836. It was then used as a residence.
In 1853, the Catholic Church acquired the Presidio and Chapel from the Town of Goliad. It has been an active Church ever since. The statue on the front is Our Lady of Loretto and was sculpted by Gustav Borglum’s son!
There is the misconception that Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s independence from Spain that preceded this Texan Revolt. It does not. Cinco de Mayo celebrates a victory that took place over 30 years later—it celebrates the defeat of the French in 1862. The defeat was short lived and the French were able to set up Emperor Maximilian in Mexico City for several years. But that situation is a whole different story! Interestingly, Cinco de Mayo is not a very big deal in Mexico, probably because it wasn’t the total defeat of France.
As the day grew older and the wind grew stronger I walked around the outskirts of the Presidio to see where the executed defenders and their commander are buried and to the plaza that commemorates the efforts of a local woman to save as many of the prisoners as possible. One of the survivors later told of this woman whom he describes as nothing short of an angel. Hence the name-Angel of Goliad.
After a very full and mentally exhausting day, we continued on to Victoria and the newly opened Comfort Inn. It smells like a new car and is just beautiful. Ate at Johnny Carino’s. Didn’t in Alamogordo, Roswell or San Angelo. Figured I’d better before we got out of the area where the restaurants are. Had the sausage Spagatini skillet that I love with a glass of Malbec. So much food I saved half of it for lunch the next day.
Yesterday was basically a long drive to get to Louisiana. We were going to go to Galveston and follow the Gulf into Acadiana and then head up to Lake Charles and Lafayette. When I got up we looked again at the map and decided that we probably wouldn’t make it to Lafayette easily that way and since I really want to just spend easy time in Lafayette we decided to go more directly. That entailed some fancy navigation to keep Bill out of five or six lanes of awful traffic going through the center of Houston. If it were my sister I’d take her right straight through on I-10 but all those lanes make Bill tense so instead I got him close then swung us North on 6 to farm road 1960.Let me tell you, even the planes use 6 to get into Houston as noted by the several that looked as though they wanted all the traffic to move so they could use the road as an additional runway! 1960 hasn’t seen a farm or ranch in over 50 years! After what seemed like hours we finally got past the city. I ate my leftover Johnny Carinos and Bill stopped at a Burger King. When he came out the traffic on 90 was backed up for what seemed like miles. We figured we’d have a mess all the way to Lake Charles! As it turned out, there was a super wide load with some kind of tank on a flat bed. A bucket loader was in front with the pace car to lift power lines as this thing went under them. There were two wide load cars, one in front, one in back; two motorcycle cops with lights flashing in front and one other in the back. Quite an entourage. But after he got under the lines at the intersection we were able to leave him in our dust. Crossing the Sabine was a relief and the bridge wasn’t too bad. The Bridge across Lake Charles was another story—felt like we were going to kiss the sky. By that time I realized that I’d left my SD card in my computer and the camera’s memory was full. Not too many miles later we arrived in Lafayette. Almost 400 miles, most of them slow and tense.
After some confusion and changing room numbers and then physically changing rooms we were settled in. The temperature a freezing 43 degrees and a TV without a guide. Needless to say, I didn’t go out to eat—fried chicken and pinot noir and I was in for the night. Slept until 11 am today. Haven’t gotten dressed. But got the blog caught up, the pictures sorted and some bills paid as well as ordered another book on Amazon. So a productive and quiet day. Bill put a chair on the deck but it was cold today and whenever he opened the doors I froze. It is going to be hard getting used to Vt winter when we get home. It is 4pm now—so think I’ll eat something and read a bit—it has clouded over so no deck for me. Tomorrow supposed to be 70’s and sunny. That’s my kind of weather. Until the next time—bye from Louisiane KandB Forgot to say that St Paddy's Day really didn't get celebrated this year. Wore my jade earring and Claddagh ring. No Guinness, boiled dinner or soda bread!!:( Also Bets called while we were trying to get round Houston. Having a heck of a time getting health insurance coverage she can afford. No job and doesn't qualify for any help and no one to assist with the application forms. Typical government--make something mandatory and make the sign up process written in Swahili or something.