We had been in a hurry to replace Mark’s bike because we wanted to ride the new River Walk bike/hike trail in San Antonio. Tuesday was the last full day in this area, and we had temperatures in the upper 70’s—a perfect day for a 15 mile bike ride!
Everyone knows about the Alamo, but there are 4 other missions south of the downtown River walk that are now joined by a wide, smooth path. (Note that I did not say it was a flat path because there were definitely a few hills.) All of the missions are part of the National Park Service, and have free admission. So it was a cheap day of exercise and education. It is so much fun biking for hours without worrying about car traffic, and enjoying beautiful missions along the way!
We started the day at the mission 3 miles south of the Alamo—El Concepcion. We left our car in the parking lot and walked through the beautiful church.
After we left Concepcion, we unloaded our bikes and headed the 4 miles south to the second mission—San Jose. This includes a one mile ride off the trail, and either the signage isn’t very good or we are both rotten at reading signs. This was the only time that we felt lost all day. Because we have visited San Jose before, we didn’t watch the national park film this time. The compound walls are the most intact of any of the missions, and made it the easiest to imagine life for the Franciscan friars and the local Indians they were trying to convert. I love the deep blue sky against the white limestone walls of the mission!
The next step was the furthest south gem on this necklace of missions—Espada. Less visited because of its more remote location, we enjoyed talking to the volunteer guide here. He was spinning wool and practicing dying it with powder he made from the cochineal we learned about during our hike 3 days earlier. We might have left the university, but we’re still learning! We assume this new knowledge will be helpful the next time we decide to spin our own yarn to make new red clothing for ourselves.
We headed our bikes to the other side of the river and rode back towards the downtown area. We stopped at the 3rd mission in the chain—San Juan. Check out the prickly pear cactus that is a head taller than Denisa!
All the missions have active congregations that have services on the weekend. Because they are also operated by the National Park Service, there are friendly docents to answer any questions at each stop. We talked to the group here who are living in their RVs, working 3 days per week in exchange for a free camp site. Once we settle down from wandering, we might do the same.
We stopped for water and protein bars, but we definitely burned more calories than we consumed. So we celebrated by fighting the 5:00 rush hour traffic to get to Grimaldi’s Pizzeria--home of the coal brick oven pizza!
We also stopped in at Trader Joe’s. It was our first shopping experience there, so I googled for recommended things to buy. We were proud of our healthy choices of Spinach and kale greek yogurt dip and the grape seed oil. But we are looking more forward to trying the cookie butter and Joe-Joes. It was a great day wandering around San Antonio!