Butterfly on Goat's Beard, Red Lodge, Montana, June 2017

Butterfly on Goat's Beard, Red Lodge, Montana, June 2017
Butterfly on Goat's Beard, Red Lodge, Montana, June 2017

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

High Expectations on Mother's Day at San Jacinto Battleground - Sun., May 8, 2016

We had big plans for Mother's Day: drive to Houston (three hours away) and do two Volksmarches. Because it was Mother's Day, we figured we'd probably have trouble getting into restaurants for breakfast and lunch, but we were optimistic. Our plan was to leave home at 6:00 am Sunday morning to be at San Jacinto State Historic Site close to its opening time of 9:00 am.

We wanted to stop for a nice breakfast as we got closer to Houston. Thankfully, we each had our protein shake at home before we left. Every restaurant parking lot we saw was packed with cars. As we drove around looking for a place, all we saw were lines out the door. We looked for over 1/2 hour at different places.

Finally Bob said, "Do you want to try to find something to eat at H-E-B [Texas' grocery store chain]?"

It wasn't what I had in mind. I was thinking along the lines of Corner Bakery or a good cafe, but my stomach was growling enough to get my attention and I knew I had to eat before our 10k walk. So I went with it.

H-E-B has a counter where you can order food. They had breakfast tacos, refried beans, rice, and other things. I didn't want the breakfast taco, so I ordered the scrambled eggs with potatoes. Bob had scrambled eggs with green peppers and tomatoes, plus he added refried beans and rice. It was mediocre at best. The scrambled eggs had been sitting there a while so were dry and a bit rubbery. At least our tummies were full with good protein for walking and we didn't have to wait over an hour for a table somewhere else.

Onward we went to San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. The day was cloudy and quite windy. The threat of rain was also very real.

I didn't know what to expect of this historical site because I hadn't read about it. I just knew there was a Volksmarch there that sounded interesting. What I didn't know blew me away! I had no idea there was an obelisk there that is similar to the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., complete with its own reflecting pool. Wow.



San Jacinto Monument - 570' tall plus 34' star
As we drove closer, the monument looked even more massive! It is very impressive.

The obelisk with star on top
When we exited the car, the wind was ferocious. I was happy my hat had a chin strap to hold it on. Bob's glasses were hanging on the neckline of his shirt and the wind tore them off and and he had to run after them. One of the lenses popped out because the screw fell out. [He was able to rescue his glasses and errant lens. Costco put them back together for him the next day.]

Upon walking up to the monument, Texas history is displayed on the walls...

People from all over the world fought in this battle.
Amazing what this battle did for the United States
After reading the outside history, we entered the building. I found the walk box and registered, signed the log book and waiver, picked up the walk instructions and a flyer with historic information we could read along the walk. We decided to do the 10k Alternate Route along the ship canal because there was a chance we could do some birding along the way.

While we were in the lobby of the building, we noticed there was a fee to go to the top of the tower ($4 each), a fee for Texas Forever! ($4.50 each), a 35-minute multimedia history presentation, and a fee to tour the battleship San Jacinto. In my mind I that thought these things would be included with my Texas State Park yearly pass for which we paid $70. But that was not the case. Museum special exhibits cost $5 per person. Apparently those items are handled by an outside concessionaire. The museum, except for special exhibits, is free. Oh well, live and learn.

Speaking of learning, the San Jacinto Monument itself is fascinating. Here are some facts and history about the monument taken from the San Jacinto Monument State Historic Site web page:
  • The 570' tall shaft is topped by a 34' tall star. 
  • The monument is the tallest stone column memorial structure in the world. It measures 15' taller than the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.
  • Two New Deal programs, the Public Works Administration and the Work Projects Administration, built the monument and its supporting features. Architect Albert C. Finn designed the soaring column, while engineer Robert J. Cummins ensured it would stand tall. Construction began on April 21, 1936. The project took three years to the day to complete and was dedicated on April 21, 1939
  • The foundation for the monument is concrete, a solid 15 feet thick at the center, tapering to a 5-foot thickness at its edges. The foundation required a continuous pour of 100 cubic yards of concrete per hour for 57 hours. [Amazing!]
  • The monument weighs 70,300,000 [that's MILLIONS] pounds. It is 125 feet square at the base, and tapers to 30 feet square at the top. The shaft walls are four feet thick at the base, and two feet thick at the top.
  • Blocks of Cordova shell stone, each weighing 500 pounds, compose the building's "face." The stone came from Burnet County, and is over 100 million years old.
  • Each sculpture stone used for the friezes around the monument weighs four tons.
  • The 15.5-foot tall bronze doors weigh 3,000 pounds apiece. These doors carry reliefs of the six flags flown over Texas.
  • The nine-pointed star at the top of the monumentsymbolizes the Lone Star Republic. It is 35 feet tall, weighs 220 tons, and looks like a star from any direction. The star took 20 working days to build, and each stone used was 12 by 12 inches and 3 inches thick. Workers had to cut each piece to fit; not a single piece of the star was level and plumb.
  • The building incorporates engineering features not common at the time. Because of that, the American Society of Civil Engineers has designated the monument as both a State and National Historic Structure.
  • Reflecting Pool - The pool is 1,800 feet long by 200 feet wide, covers about 8.4 acres, and ranges from 4 feet to 6 feet deep. It was likely built in the late 1930s.
The first part of our walk took us out the entrance road on which we had driven into the park. We then headed over to De Zavala Plaza and the Battleship Texas. Wildflowers of a delicate variety are blooming now.

Yellow Sunny-bell (Schoenolirion croceum)
Prairie Verbena
Not sure what this is. Anyone know?
Sensitive Briar
In doing this walk, we learned a lot of history. When you read the history and you're walking in the area where it happened, the stories come alive. Below is the area where the final battle for Texas independence took place. According to the records, there were a lot more trees here back then.

Camps and battles took place here
The San Jacinto Battleground is of historic importance to Texas history and U.S. history. It is when Texas gained independence from Mexico and acquired massive land holdings for the United States.  In the 1820s and 1830s, settlers set up homesteads around Galveston Bay, each with a few dozen to a few thousand acres. They were farmers and ranchers. At that time, these lands were part of Mexico. Small communities grew up around the coastal ports and cities. Travelers crossed the San Jacinto River via the Lynchburg Ferry.

In late 1835, Texas settlers were no longer content to be living in Mexico. Their new president, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, had established himself as a dictator. Texans resisted his rule and rebels drove the Mexican army out of Texas in December 1835. President Santa Anna would not allow this and marched 6,000 troops north to reclaim Texas and squelch the rebellion. He showed no mercy, sparing only a few lives. The Alamo was taken on March 6, and Goliad fell two weeks later. 

Santa Anna marched onward, pursuing the fleeing Texans. General Sam Houston led the Texas army in retreat. His troops were chomping at the bit to engage the Mexican army, but Houston was cautious because Santa Anna had well-trained soldiers and lots more of them. 

But then Santa Anna divided his troops to attack two different targets. It was then that General Houston decided to attack. In a surprise, three-pronged attack at 4:30 p.m., when the Mexican troops were resting and relaxing, the Texans swarmed into their camp shouting "Remember the Alamo" and "Remember Goliad!" The battle lasted 18 minutes. But soldiers hungry for vengeance after the Alamo and Goliad continued chasing and brutally murdering fleeing Mexican soldiers for 90 minutes after the surrender. Only nine Texans died in the 18-minute battle.

Santa Anna had escaped, dressed as a private. He was captured the next day and brought before the wounded General Houston. Houston forced the president to sign a treaty that recognized Texas' independence. The treaty opened the way for America's westward expansion.
Wild roses in bloom
Wild rose
San Jacinto Memorial with "reflecting" pool
Photo bomber in my picture

Beautiful Zodiac sundial in De Zavala Plaza
Map of the battle
De Zavala Plaza was interesting. The Texan army camped here. At this place, they have replicas of the "twin sisters" cannons that were a gift from Cincinnati, Ohioans. [Click the link for the full history of the cannons.] 

"Twin Sisters" replicas
De Zavala Plaza and sundial
From De Zavala Plaza we walked up to the Battleship "Texas" which saw action in both WWI and WWII. We did not pay to tour the ship and continued our walk along the levee next to the reflecting pool on our way toward the monument.


Battleship "Texas"
5k of our 10k walk was almost complete. From the parking lot we took the Alternate 10k Route along the Interpretive Trail and boardwalk out into the marsh. The regular 10k route would have taken us on more roads to historic sites, but being the nature girl that I am, we proceeded toward the marsh.

The start of the boardwalk overlooks a large
petrochemical plant. Yuck!
Bob on the boardwalk
A better view of the marsh
Looking back toward the monument
Bushy Sea Ox-eye (Borrichia frutescens)
Some type of aster or daisy?
Once we finished walking the plank boardwalk, we entered the woods. All of a sudden, no more gusty winds, but lots of mosquitoes!

Trail through the woods
A gentleman coming from the opposite direction (where we were headed) told us the trail was closed far ahead because water was over the trail. We decided to walk as far as we could. When the trail ended at a road, our instructions said to turn left, which we did; however it didn't seem right. (Of course not, because it was left.) Anyway, we kept walking because, in looking at the map on the back of the directions, it looked like that's what the road was supposed to do. We knew, however, that the instructions were wrong when we could see the ferry dock, the opposite place from where we were supposed to be.

We back-tracked to the trail we had been on and continued on the road going the opposite direction. The road just kept going and going. I finally said to Bob, "We've gone far enough, I don't want to go all the way to where the water covers the trail and then have to backtrack again. Let's go back now." Once back at the car, we decided we had done our 10k. We returned the history pamphlet to the walk box, as instructed. Then we drove the rest of the roads in the park to see the remainder of the history markers.

When we drove to see where the Marsh Trail was supposed to re-join the regular 10k walk, there was a gate and a closed sign at that entrance to the trail. Glad we didn't go any farther than we did. It would have been a long way back.

Hello, there, Mr. Rabbit!
View of monument from Marsh Trail.
After driving the rest of the roads, I talked Bob into shelling out $4 each to go up in the monument. Thankfully there was an elevator, not stairs! We actually found it kind of interesting, even though it's not very big and you can't walk all the way around the tower.

Sign in elevator.
The views were spectacular, even with the cloudy skies. We could see some of the places we had walked.
View from the top of the monument

Cordova shell stone - over
one million years old
Barge and tugs on Buffalo Bayou

Battleship "Texas" and barges on the bayou
Petrochemical plants...downtown Houston in distance
It was getting late, we were tired, so we decided not to do the downtown Houston Volksmarch today. We will save the downtown Volksmarches for a week-end get-away and do three or four of them over a weekend.

That being said, we didn't return home the same way we came on I-610 South, instead we crossed the Lynchburg Ferry. Yes, it's the very one that the Texan settlers used in the 1800s (although the ferries have improved since then).



We took the ferry, headed to I-10 West and decided to drive through downtown Houston to look around. For a first pass through the downtown, we saw lots of places to check out further.

We made one more stop for dinner. Again, all the good restaurants had full parking lots. Looking at food options on signs by the exit ramps, we chose a fast food place called PDQ. Bob had a good salad with blueberries. I ordered something like "Thanksgiving dinner" on a brioche bun. Yuck. The brioche was hard, I took the turkey out of it. The turkey was so tough I could barely cut it. I would not order that again! From there, we hopped back on I-10 West and headed to San Antonio.

The day wasn't quite as we had planned, but we had a pretty good walk and learned more about Texas history in the place where it happened.

Travel Bug out.





3 comments:

  1. When you go back to Houston, do the Hermann Park walk. It is beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So sorry we didn't connect that day. I wish I would have done the ferry, didn't realize it was historic.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day! Love the pictures.
    Anne

    ReplyDelete

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