Saturday, December 15, 2018

Two Texas County Volksmarches Today - Saturday, December 15, 2018

Today, we walked in two of our 254 Texas counties. There is a Special Programs Volksmarch book dedicated to walking in all the counties in Texas, but Bob and I are not doing the program. (Susan Medlin is.) Bob and I still did the walks.

I did a 5k walk in each town. Bob Alton and Susan Medlin did one 5k and one 10k walk each. The first town was Jourdanton, Texas in Atascosa County. Fifty miles away was the second town of Pearsall, Texas in Frio County. Today, we drove a total of 125 miles. Thank you to Susan Medlin for chauffeuring us around today!

The weather was in the low 40s this morning when we started with a chilly wind blowing. By the time we finished this afternoon, we were walking comfortably with temps in the low 60s. 

Jourdanton: Our first stop was the La Quinta Inn & Suites in Jourdanton where we signed in for the walk and stamped our books. From there, we drove to Atascosa County Courthouse to start our walk.

A little history: As early as 1772 El Camino Real (the King's Highway) from the Rio Grande to San Antonio was well established in this area. The Spanish word "atascosa," denoting boggy ground that hindered travel, gave the region its name.

Atascosa County was created from Bexar (pronounced "bear") County in 1856. The first county seat was in Navatasco and the first courthouse was a log cabin! The county seat was moved to Pleasanton in 1858 and a frame courthouse was constructed. A second courthouse was built in 1868, followed by a third, a red rock structure, in 1885.

After all that, a special election resulted in the relocation of the county seat to Jourdanton in 1910. In 1911, construction was begun on a new courthouse which was completed in 1912. The building was designed by San Antonio architect Henry T. Phelps who also designed the old Atascosa County Jail in 1915.

Details on the courthouse building: The two-story brick building (pictured below) has identical entries at each side. Mission Revival-style detail includes curvilinear parapets and occasional Renaissance motifs, accomplished with cast-stone highlights, metal balustrades, and tile roofing. The corners of the building are turned with three-story tower bays, each topped by an open belvedere.

Livestock, oil, gas, and strawberries are well-known products of the county. [Information from the Texas Historical Commission's historical marker.]

Atascosa County Courthouse
From the courthouse, it was a block to the old Atascosa County Jail. A brand new jail has just been constructed but is not open yet.

Old Atascosa County Jail
Long, tall Texans!
We walked around Jourdanton City Park.
From the park, the remainder of the 5k walk took us through neighborhoods and past an industrial-type yard where there were approximately 40-50 shorn sheep and some lambs. A number of people who did the walk today thought this arrangement was extremely unusual. We couldn't figure out what all those sheep were eating. As we walked around the block, we went past a feed store which seemed to be behind where we saw the sheep. So maybe their food and water came from the feed store??

Industrial sheep?
We finished this walk passing by the park, going through more neighborhoods, and passing the new jail. 

Pearsall: From Jourdanton, we drove 50 miles to Pearsall, Texas in Frio County and checked in for our walk at Baymont Inn. Pearsall's claim to fame is that George Strait grew up here (although he was born in Poteet, Texas). 

Hunger had set in on our drive over, so we had lunch at Cowpoke's Bar-B-Q. It was good, but not near as good as some of our San Antonio BBQ spots. The portions were very large! It must be deer or hog hunting season as the restaurant was jam-packed with hunters when we arrived. 

From lunch, we drove to the Old Frio County Jail to start the walk. On the way, we saw a sculpture of the "world's largest peanut" because peanut farming is a big crop here. 

The jail is the oldest building in town (1884). It was used as a jail, and the jailer's residence, until 1967. It now houses the Pioneer Jail Museum.

Former county jail, now Pioneer Jail Museum.
We followed the walking directions down the street from the jail and passed a Justice of the Peace office which is part of the Frio County Courthouse system. Just around the corner from the Justice of the Peace is the county courthouse entrance. The Frio County Courthouse was built in 1891 by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company from Berlin, Connecticut.  

Justice of the Peace
Frio County Courthouse
Frio County Courthouse Christmas decorations

I should mention the other little thing Frio County is known for: Upper Presidio Road -- a major artery of travel from Saltillo, Mexico to East Texas -- crossed the Frio River and became a King's Highway in 1720. Frio Town, the first county seat, was located on the road over which Santa Anna marched to destroy defenders of the Alamo in 1836.

First United Methodist Church (front)
First United Methodist Church (side)
It looks like this weekend is "A Downtown Texas Christmas" celebration in Pearsall. Everything is being set up today, including kids inflatables. (We saw at least three, including the super-duper inflatable slide pictured below).

Super-duper inflatable slide.
Celebration Christmas tree
First Baptist Church
The sign in front of First Baptist Church says: "The best inheritance a father can leave his son is a good example." Our next turns took us onto Oak Street which is the town's "main street," past McDonald's and Walmart, over railroad tracks, and then past Centennial Park before returning to Oak Street.

Centennial Park -- flags at half-staff for former
President George H. W. Bush.
A Texas Christmas greeting in a bank parking lot.
Banners along Oak Street.
The old Oaks Theatre
More inflatables for the kids. (Road
closed for the celebration.)
Dilapidated car on a stick in front of a
dilapidated, closed, do-it-yourself car wash.
At this point, Susan Medlin and Bob Alton continued on to do the 10k walk. I turned down a neighborhood street to finish my 5k. There have been lots of dogs in these neighborhoods that are off leash which I do not like. 

In Jourdanton, two dogs came barking at us while their owner just watched. The dogs followed us around the house in front of his and kept barking threateningly. The owner did not call them back. 

While I was by myself on this 5k, two rather large dogs that had been sleeping near a driveway on the other side of the house from me, decided I was worth harassing and they shot around the back of the house to where I was continuing my walk. Luckily, they were both very nice dogs and wanted to go for a walk with me and jump up on me for some pets. Coming up in the next block, I could see a pack of five very vicious-looking chihuahuas who were barking and snarling. I told the dogs walking with me to go home because they looked like they didn't want to follow me near the chihuahuas. The two nice dogs turned around and trotted home.

I continued walking on the opposite side of the street from the five loose chihuahuas. I didn't look at them or engage them in any way. Three of them came across the street, snapping and snarling at me very threateningly. I kept walking. Then the most vicious one came at me and grabbed my pant leg. I turned around and yelled at the top of my lungs, "GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME!" I was hoping the owner or anyone else would hear me. The dogs turned heel and ran.

Kitty corner from the chihuahua property, I saw a neighbor watching (and listening). When I got over by him he said those dogs do that all the time when someone walks by. He said he has told the owners about it but that the owner does nothing. Those dogs were about to get kicked very hard by me if they didn't back off!
Sweetgum tree with fall colors.
As I came around the corner back to the Frio County Jail, I saw the Veterans of Frio County Memorial mentioned in our walk instructions.

155 mm Howitzer (Pioneer Jail Museum
in the background)
155 mm Howitzer from the front.
Veterans of Frio County Memorial.
My 5k walk was done. I knew Bob and Susan Medlin would be about another 45 minutes so I decided to see the inside of the little free Pioneer Jail Museum. There was some interesting history on the outside of the museum.

They're NOT referring to a sasquatch!
Inside the museum were some quilts, antiques from the earlier days of Frio, and upstairs were the jail cells.

Very cute quilt.
Another quilt.
Kitchen tools.
I think this is a Santa Gertrudis cow.
Replica jailer's office.
Hall with jail cells off it.
Inside the cell.
When I finished looking at the museum (it took about 10-15 minutes tops), I went back to Susan's car and read my book until Bob and Susan got back. Bob reported there wasn't anything super interesting on the remainder of their walk. They saw a few chickens in yards, but that's about it.

We then hit up the Dairy Queen for Blizzards and headed back to San Antonio. We had a successful walking day. Thank you Texas Trail Roundup members who marked the route and staffed the check-in tables. We appreciate it.

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