Day 18 – San Antonio Part I, The Discovery

DAY: 18
LOCATION: Lafayette, Louisiana (with an overnight walmart stopover in Houston, Texas) to San Antonio, Texas
MILES: 412


We pass through Houston at sunset, a whole day of country radio ringing in my head, and mostly George Strait; “The stars at night – are big and bright, deep in the heart of texas…” We make a Walmart stop to spend the night, in Katy, before heading out for San Antonio

San Antonio

With some help from the aircard, we arrive 15 miles south of San Antonio in “the historic town of Von Ormy”, at the Hidden Valley Recreation Park

Hidden Valley Where there is a note for us…. pagetts So we call, and Teri was a gracious concierge, recommending a few great spots for food…Mi Tierra, in El Mercado downtown and Benjamin’s Kitchen just 900 yards down the road.

Once we get parked, I run…not too far, at Aaron’s request. Despite my rebellious independence, I’m glad he gives me reason to stay close. I wonder if rattlesnakes and things are still out and about in November. I “defiantly” remain near. In my head, George sings to me… “The prairie sky – is wide and high, deep in the heart of texas….”

We take cold showers and drive into San Antonio. As an aside, I’ll say here that I must use more pictures than usual in my actual post, because I’m no where near skilled enough to describe this experience to you in adequate enough detail. I’ll just say…I haven’t saturated these pictures. This is what it was.

We went to Mi Tierra – My Land – a Mexican restaurant and bakery. This restaurant, founded by Pete and Cruz Cortez, started in 1941 as a bakery which boasted three tables for farmers and other early risers. From its humble birth it has become a landmark – a place that people from all over Texas travel to visit, where every member of the staff can’t wait to passionately relay bits of Mi Tierra’s history, bearing a look of earnest pride and, if you seem attentive to their story, you are rewarded with the most authentic hospitallity…as though you’d stepped into the kitchen of a long lost friend. Today it seats over 500, is a perpetual festival (Christmas lights all year) and a somewhat shocking amalgam of decor…

cruz cortez neon ….it was neon. And there was no mockery in it. But it was still neon.

This place fed my visual appetite and I, glutton for more continued to ingest until I had gorged myself on all the colors and textures, this crazy combination of sincere and tongue-in-cheek, intricately hand-crafted and ten cent plastic. Each place I looked there was more and more and more and with no end in sight, I’m no longer paying attention to where the waiter is leading us. I nearly walk into a pole, as I gawk at a crazy mural on a wall. I began to feel my skin grow warm and the room blur just slightly, a sort of drunken, foolish happy, like a kid in the toystore, until Aaron pulls me to a calmer spot outside on the terrace, sweet relief for a mind on overload, a little bit of air and…what was that? Those people at the table next to us, receiving their food…I frown, wondering where my menu was and refrain from leaning over and just…sniffing at them and their dinner. Aaron just smiled at me quietly from across the table. “You should be taking pictures”, he says knowingly. Indignantly my internal monologue sputters “I am!”, but of course…only mental pictures, not ones to share, so I nod with as much “I already knew that” dignity as a faux-journalist can muster and say quietly “I shall when I go to the restroom”. Ha. Good one, I congratulate myself. Thats thinking on your feet when you’re caught not thinking at all! For a few moments I forgot to be the composed editor-in-chief, detachedly scanning the room, outward calm and disinterest, while internally taking calculated, organized notes which flow perfectly into a stunning and triumphant review, nay indeed…I walked into that place, forgot about the camera hanging around my neck and wandered amok like a gangly colt.

I pull myself together. Look at the menu. Drool just a wee. Swiftly dab drool on menu, whilst glancing to see if anyone noticed. Just then the waiter brings chips and salsa, my most favorite…they are…perfect; thick but not heavy and the salsa is a little like putting a flavored sparkler on your tongue…little zips and zings of different flavor, chanting like a little mariachi band in my mouth “Cilantro” “Jalepeno” “Onion” “Gaaaarrliiiicccc!!!” …Aaron and I grin at one another, having too much fun. I settle on the Carnitas Michoacan (Pork Tips marinated in Oranges and Spices). I’m a really remarkable settler, as it turns out. These tacos are served in REAL fresh flour tortillas…they appear jet puffed and add a buttery, softness to the delightfully citrusy pork…oh, I just can’t even do justice to the way my “buds” (as Aaron lovingly referrs to his tastebuds) rejoiced.

It was just that impressive. And I haven’t even explained to you the wonder which is the Pastry Case. (I capitalize “Pastry Case” because…well, it deserves to be a proper noun, a landmark, a….location)…just…look…

Pastry Case

The homemade Dulce De Leche cheesecake and rich, nutty coffee wasn’t too shabby either. For more pictures (and pictures of the REALLY cool exterior) please see the gallery in the subpage.


From here we decide to see the riverwalk, as I’ve heard its quite extraordinary at night. Well, it is. Now, Aaron and I typically get excited about really rather…unusual things, for example, upon walking down the stairs to the riverwalk, all of San Antonio in its sparkling glory at our feet, Aaron cries with unabashed excitement “CYPRESS KNEES!” …which caused me a moment of confusion until I looked and saw that he was pointing and waving happily at what are the roots of a cypress tree…they stick up into the air like knees…and really are very cool…but mostly whats cool is how happy they make Aaron and his inner arborist. As we walk, Aaron suggests maybe we go to Walmart on the way home that night, maybe.. find some cute duds to wear tomorrow when we come back…things we haven’t worn on the road these last three weeks. I like the plan.

We wandered for the better part of two hours down there, and while some people leave their heart in San Francisco, we certainly lost ours to San Antonio, and as we walked, this man and I, us roadtrippers and business builders, us hangers-on-ers, story-makers, I lost my heart to him all over again, the wind in the cypress trees singing “The sage in bloom – is like perfume, deep in the heart of texas.” …

To Be Continued…..

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