First San Antonio then on to Mexico

We’ve made it to San Antonio no worse for the wear, save for a small chip in the middle of our windshield. We got that patched this morning (thanks to hometown USAA) so we’re raring to go. We’ve decided, due to very recent favorable reports, to go through Laredo instead of Eagle Pass. This will also save us time and distance on the Mexican side in our run to Matehuala.

Distance is most important because, as you probably didn’t hear, there are major fuel issues in Mexico. Contrary to what our administration would have you believe, not only are the Mexicans not paying for the wall, it’s not even on their radar at the moment. It seems that the cartels have been stealing gas from the Pemex pipelines and selling in on the black market. This business has become so big, and so expensive for Pemex, that new-president Obrador has taken a stand. He has closed down the pipelines and is instead having all gas shipped by truck. This has caused massive shortages in much of Mexico, including along our proposed route. In some cities there are reports that 90% of the Pemex stations have closed for lack of supply. Seems to me that this game of chicken with the cartels has about as much chance of ending well as Trump’s wall has of stopping terrorists from coming across the Canadian border.

Of course this adds another wrinkle to our trip. Not only will we be dodging the cartel’s bullets after crossing the border, but now we have to pray we don’t run out of gas in no man’s land. Cross your fingers, wish us well, light a candle or just say good riddance.

Now About San Antonio

The ride in from Beaumont was a mostly uneventful 5 hours. The three things that will stick with me are all the futuristic overpasses in Houston (looks like something out of the Jetsons), the percentage of semis on the road to cars and the fact that Texans don’t drive as fast as the crazies in Louisiana. They do use the “pick a lane any lane” approach to Interstate driving, however. I noticed that some 45 years ago when my friend, Bob, and I drove across Texas on our way to California. Bob would tailgate trying to convince a slow driver to move over, and never succeeded. We concluded, at the time, that if you don’t learn, as we did, that the right lanes are for slower traffic, then you can only be puzzled by the crazy New Yorkers who won’t just pass you on the right.

We arrived in San Antonio around 3pm and found our downtown La Quinta easily. Our friends, Bob and Caroline, had already arrived and were waiting for us before touring the Riverwalk. The hotel is very nice and conveniently located a short walk from the major attractions. And to Lydia’s absolute delight, the shortest route to the Riverwalk went right through Macy’s.

If you haven’t been to San Antonio, I definitely recommend a stop, especially if you’re in the area. It’s a big city, though the downtown is compact and the Riverwalk is truly beautiful, and much more interesting than I expected. Essentially, San Antonians redirected a segment of the San Antonio River (starting back in 1968 for The Hemisphere), put in serious flood control measures, and then lined it with all kinds of interesting features – waterfalls, pretty walls, lush landscaping and lots of bridges. The city streets are actually up above the river and there are stairways and elevators that take you up and down. The river is lined with hotels, restaurants, bars and some shops. There are also vast stretches for just plain walking. We got a lot of exercise Thursday night, Friday in the rain and early this morning, when we took Maya for a long walk.

We also took in the Alamo on Thursday afternoon – also just a few blocks from the hotel. It was a better experience than Lydia remembered from a previous visit, but still something you can do in an hour.

We had a bad dinner on Thursday night at a Riverwalk, Texas-beef place. Meat was tough and dry, sides were nothing to write home about. But the beer, at least was quite acceptable. Our guess is that for the best local-type food, avoid the tourist-saturated Riverwalk. On Friday, after meeting for drinks at the Menger Tavern, in the hotel of the same name, we took a cab in the rain to Esquire Tavern. Both were GREAT places. The Menger, filled with dark wood, was where Teddy Roosevelt did most of his recruiting for The Rough Riders, back in the 1890s. Very believable! The Esquire, also a very old building by San Antonio standards, has the longest, wooden-topped bar in Texas. It’s pretty spectacular. They serve excellent burgers and cold beer. Just what we were after.

Today it’s on to Laredo and the final prep for crossing the border tomorrow.

Mike Pontius