Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.
Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Birthday, Bob, and Lightseeing, Part 2 - Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015

Happy Birthday to my dear husband! Life with you is fun, exciting, revelatory, deep, and loving. I can't wait to see what the next year holds in store for us. You are my soul mate and partner in adventures. I love you so much!

Both of us worked today. Bob left work at 1:00 pm, went to the gym, then braved the grocery store to buy ingredients for his birthday dinner tonight. I worked until 4:30 pm, then went home to cook dinner.

Every year on Christmas Eve (Bob's birthday), we have a traditional spaghetti dinner (Bob's favorite meal). We also had mashed yams and steamed asparagus.

After dinner, we headed out to see Christmas lights. Our destination tonight was the Windcrest neighborhood on San Antonio's northeast side.

We had a general idea of where the neighborhood was located. When we found the neighborhood, there was no doubt about it. A long, line of cars was snaking through cul-de-sacs and crawling along slower than a snail's pace. Right at the beginning, we parked and walked to some of the award-winning homes.

Grand Prize Winner, Best of Theme:
Windcrest - Home of Magical Boots and Santa's Sleigh Bells
Grand Prize Winner, Best of Theme
In Texas, reindeer wear blue cowboy boots!
Grand Prize Winner, Best of Theme
First Place: Window/Entrance
Second Place: Joyful
Second Place: Joyful
Second Place: Joyful
Second Place: Joyful
Second Place: Joyful
Here we are at
Second Place: Joyful
This Second Place: Joyful award winner had so much going on, it took a lot of pictures to convey what they have here.

Second Place: Joyful
Second Place: Joyful
After we got past the three homes above, the cars thinned out a bit. When we got to the next traffic jam, we parked to get a picture of the Windcrest Christmas tree by the fire station and gave a donation to the firemen.

Once we got back in the car, we went the opposite direction of the big line of cars onto less crowded streets and saw some pretty lights. However, to see more of the biggest light displays, we had to get back in the line of cars. 
Windcrest's Christmas tree
The boot theme is prevalent at this house!
Cute toy shop decoration
The next two photos are of the same house. We loved the blue lights. They also had Christmas music and their lights were synced to the music.

Over an hour later, we had our fill of Christmas lights and headed home.

My blog plans include catching up with the rest of November and December. Two more cruise day blogs need to be written and some other stuff I haven't recorded for posterity yet.

Everyone have a wonderful Christmas Day, however you choose to celebrate it. If you're driving, please take care on the roads or stay put until the weather clears. Some areas are predicting snow, ice, 50+ mph winds...those are pretty treacherous driving conditions.

Travel Bug out.

Lightseeing, Part 1 - December 17, 2015

Thursday, December 17:
Magical, beautiful, fantastic light displays make the San Antonio downtown River Walk a great night-time visitor's mecca from the Friday after Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve. Bob and I had the pleasure of doing a 10K (6.2 mi.) Christmas Lights Walk with Susan, Darren and their son, Kyle, on Thursday night, December 17.

The walk started at VFW Post 76, the oldest post in Texas. From there, we immediately entered the River Walk trail and headed toward the locks on the river.

Lights by the locks reflected in the San Antonio River
Beautiful lighted decorations line the path
Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
Tobin Center for the performing arts opened this year. We were delighted to see the colored lights adorning the building and wonder if they will change the colors with the holidays. Red, white and blue for 4th of July, perhaps?

As we walked, we passed river barges loading people for river barge tours of the River Walk holiday lights. 

River barges to take people lightseeing
Waterfall court at Embassy Suites Hotel
The next part of our walk led us up to the Main Plaza in front of the San Fernando Cathedral. When we crested the stairs we heard music. Lo and behold, The Saga, a 24-minute art installation laser light show projected onto the facade of the San Fernando Cathedral, was in progress. The show usually runs Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. We were delighted by our good fortune to see it on a Thursday night. The Saga will be in San Antonio for ten years.

The pictures below don't do the laser light show justice. The lights are continually moving and changing to show the history of San Antonio in 24 minutes. You will get the idea of how cool this is, though.

The Saga at the San Fernando Cathedral
The Saga at the San Fernando Cathedral
The Saga at the San Fernando Cathedral
From the cathedral, we crossed the street to the Bexar (pronounced "bear") County Courthouse. Taking photos at night shows a different side to San Antonio than what you see during the day.

Bexar County Courthouse in the foreground

Entryway to the courthouse
La Villita lights
La Villita was originally settled nearly 300 years ago. Now this is a historic arts village. Click the link to read more.

By this time in our walk we were hungry. I talked everyone into going to The Republic of Texas which was on our route. While the food was good, the service was quite slow. Therefore our walk lasted longer than it should have. It was okay, though, we were out to enjoy the evening, not rush through it.

Kyle and Darren at dinner
Me and Bob at dinner
Looking at Republic of Texas and the
River Walk from Commerce St. bridge
We resumed our walk with nice full tummies. Next stop: the Alamo. Every year there is a themed Christmas tree at Alamo Plaza. This year's theme is the San Antonio Spurs.

Carriage ride, anyone?
The Alamo
Alamo Plaza Christmas tree
Kyle and Darren
Spurs logos, player numbers and basketballs adorn
this tree
Waterfall court of the Hyatt Regency
In the Hyatt's waterfall court is the Biergarten restaurant. We weren't hungry, but a photo opportunity presented itself and Kyle took a great photo of the four of us.

Bob, Me, Darren and Susan M.
After we walked through the Hyatt Regency, we were back on the River Walk enjoying the lights.
My favorite photo of the evening!
From downtown, we headed north onto the Museum Reach of the River Walk toward The Pearl (where there used to be a brewery...now transformed into the Hotel Emma, shops and restaurants). Along the Museum Reach of the River Walk, different types of art are along the path. Underneath the I-35 bridge are large fish. At night, the fish are lit.

Coming up on The Pearl "lagoon"
Once past The Pearl, an outdoor eatery had this tree trunk ensconced in lights.

After The Pearl, we made our way back to the VFW Post and called it a night. The weather was lovely for our six-mile walk, but the Christmas lights truly made it magical.

Check the next post for another night of lightseeing.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Pre-Christmas Festivities - Dec. 12 - Dec. 19, 2015

Saturday, December 12: Travelers World RV Resort gift exchange party was lots of fun. We gathered at 7pm in the Recreation Hall. Each person chose a number.

Mike selecting a number from the basket
When everyone had a number, the numbers were called in order. The first person whose number was called chose a gift from a table full of brown-paper-bag-wrapped gifts. As soon as you touched a bag it was yours (no shaking or trying to feel what was in the bag).

Table full of brown bags
Waiting for numbers to be called
Let's get this party started!
The early gifts were not stolen. It was not until the pig slippers below were unwrapped that things got interesting.
Bill with pig slippers
Gloria was very interested in the pig slippers and stole them from Bill.

Gloria stealing the pig slippers
Then the dog slippers were opened
From that point on, many gifts were stolen. A gift could only be stolen twice, then it belonged to that person. Popular gifts were wine, beer, slippers, food, and a purse.

Squirrel Brand nuts, traveler's mix
Karen opened a bag and found the biggest flask we had ever seen. Let's see how long she keeps it.
Karen with her new flask
MaryAnn opened up a container of truffles
Felix stole the flask.
Joslyn with her new bag.
When the gift exchange was over, Terry played dance tunes and a number of couples took a spin on the dance floor.

Steve and Margaret; Deena and Larry
Carol in her western wear
Darwin and Shirley
Line dancing is always popular. Here are BettyAnn, Lydia and Francine showing us how it's done.
BettyAnn, Lydia and Francine line dancing
We had a fun time and some laughs. One of the gifts was a "wife tamer remote control" which, when you pressed buttons, said things like, "Bring me a cold beer." The man's wife said, "That won't work. Get your own darn beer."

Sunday, December 13: My friend Susan M. has a cookie exchange party for her girlfriends once a year. She had it today from 2-5 p.m. She invited Bob over too and he could watch sports on their big-screen hi-def TV. We arrived early so I could bake my cookies in her big oven, and help her make and set up the hors d'oeuvres for the party.

Susan and Darren's Christmas tree

When everyone arrived, we put all our cookies on the dining room table, then went in the kitchen for wine and hors d'oeuvres. As we sat around the table, we had a chance to talk about our families, Christmas plans and walking.

Beautiful layout of the hors d'oeuvres
Hors d'oeuvres
Then we moved into the dining room, took our trays we brought, and walked around the table collecting cookies as we went. We picked up sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, Almond Joy cookies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate fudge mint cookies, fudge, apricot jam bars, date bars, chocolate-caramel-nut bars, and macaroons.

Sugar cookies
Snickerdoodles and chocolate/caramel bars
Chocolate-covered marshmallows
Apricot and date bars
The cookie exchange is my favorite holiday tradition in San Antonio, along with walking to see the holiday lights on the River Walk. Thank you, Susan, for inviting us to your home for the cookie exchange party!

Saturday, December 19: Travelers World RV Resort had their annual Christmas parade at 6pm. Decorated golf carts and a decorated stroller with a beautiful calico cat inside made a round of the RV park, then stopped in the Rec Hall for hot cocoa, cookies and singing Christmas carols.

Golf cart parade

Stan, Pat and Lanora
Joslyn and Warren

Fran and Tom
Pam and Bob
Back decor on Pam and Bob's cart

Cat in decorated stroller
Steve and Margaret
Guest from Australia in a beer shirt
Don and Jocelyne leading Christmas carols
Stan and Lanora
In addition to the parade, we also judged who had the best Christmas lights display at their RV site. The 2016 winner is Steve.

Terry congratulating Steve on the win
A good time was had by all.