Boquillas, Mexico – May 2019 – Crossing the Rio Grande

The small Mexican town of Boquillas was for many years a mining town, until that ended in 1919. Fortunately for Boquillas it lies directly across the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park.

This worked great for years, with tourists crossing the border to go up into town for lunch, then returning to the park. All that ended with 9-11, and the border closings.

For more than 10 years the small town dwindled down to almost nothing, until finally the US Government built a remote immigration center and the flow started again.



The border crossing is only open on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but our good luck had us there on a Sunday so we headed across the river in a rowboat.



The ‘Park and Ride’ lot on the Mexican side was where we picked up our ‘ride’ into town – a burro.



The townsfolk have this worked out – the family own some burros, and they walk along with you as you ride up the 1/2 mile hill into town, where they take you to their family owned restaurant. (there are two restaurants in town).

The food and cold beer were excellent.



After lunch they showed us around town, stopping off at his wife’s souvenir stand where we picked up something.



Their little town is resourceful. With a church and a school, they have everything they need to survive 160 miles from the nearest town in Mexico.




They do make trips across to the Rio Grande Village in the park to pick up needed supplies.

We continued our tour around town. While there are a few abandoned buildings, most are in use.















We stopped at the Park and Ride lot in town for our trip back down the hill.



A quick ride across the Rio Grande, followed by a brief visit to US immigration and we were on our way – full from lunch and with great memories of a cool little Mexican town.






Langtry, Texas – May 2019 – Views of a (Mostly Former) Town

Langtry, Texas is a town in west Texas, but just barely. In the early 1900s it was a busy place as they built the railroad nearby. Today it is a post office and the Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center (detailed on another posting).



Most of the buildings in the area have been abandoned.















Those that remain have a sense of humor, as evidenced by a sign pointing toward the Rio Grande that says ‘Mexico’ this way.





The town does have a beautiful view of the Rio Grande Valley, and the cliffs and caverns across in Mexico.









And with that we took the lonely road west.




Langtry, Texas – May 2019 – Judge Roy Bean and a Cactus Garden

In West Texas the story goes there are 3 types of people: Those who know Judge Roy Bean from a 1970s movie, those who know Judge Roy Bean from their Texas schoolbooks, and those who are ignorant to the most important person in the history of West Texas. I come from the first group.

Roy Bean was born in Kentucky in 1825, and lived an adventuresome life that eventually lead him to a small Texas town which he renamed after his favorite actress, Lily Langtry – and became the Justice of the Peace for the ‘Law West of the Pecos’

Today there isn’t much in Langtry except a visitor center with a fantastic cactus garden, as well as the original buildings the Judge built in the 1800s.










The cactus garden is very cool with numerous different types of cacti.





























The Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center & Museum, and Cactus Garden was a very unexpectedly nice stop in the desolation of West Texas.






San Antonio – May 2019 – Historic Homes and Buildings

As a historic city San Antonio had a decent amount of older homes and buildings in the center of the city.

The King William Historic District is just south of downtown. It has a great collection of restaurants and shops, but the highlights are the beautiful old houses.







As we reached downtown we passed by a couple great old buildings.





A classic clock, which we appear to have caught at high noon.



Nix Hospital s housed in a very fine example of an Art Deco building.






There are still a couple vintage theaters in town.





The Post Office and Court House is located across the plaza from the Alamo.





The Tower Life Building was completed in 1927. This eight sided classic Art Deco skyscraper also housed San Antonio’s first Sears store when first opened.








The Drury Hotel occupies the former Alamo National Bank building. Located along the famed Riverwalk the 24 floor building has many impressive details in the lobby.









We chose instead to stay at the Gunter Hotel, another great old hotel.



The Gunter Hotel is famous for being the location that blues legend Robert Johnson recorded most of the 29 songs he ever recorded. The bar celebrates the fact that he recorded in room 414, by calling themselves the Bar 414.



Despite the fact that Robert was from Mississippi, he was brought to San Antonio by a talent scout for Vocalion Record, Ernie Oertle. A producer from the label, Don Law, set up a recording studio in room 414 and 413 of the Gunter Hotel.

The drawing below is from an album cover of Robert’s music that was re-released in the 1960s depicting this recording session.



This is the room today, with the small white chair in the corner where Robert was sitting, facing the wall for the acoustics. How do I know this? This was our room for the night!!!

When we arrived every cushion was turned on end, every drawer was open. I immediately assumed it was Robert welcoming us! We spent the night hanging out listening to Robert’s music, either his original or the hundreds of covers from the Stones, Clapton and others.





San Antonio – May 2019 – The Missions

There are 5 Spanish frontier missions in San Antonio, four of which make up the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The fifth is the Alamo.

We were able to visit two of the missions on our day in the city. Up first is the Mission San Jose.




The mission was founded in 1720, with work on the current buildings beginning in 1768 and completing in 1782.



The community’s life was fully supported within the walls of the mission, including this oven.




There are many homes contained along the perimeter walls.




Massive stone arches frame walkways near the church.





Mission San Jose has had more restoration than the others in the area, resulting in a more ornate interior.



The south wall of the church features the ‘Rose Window’. This window is considered one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in North America.



There is evidence of the earlier exteriors on one of the walls.



The main gate to the compound.



The church is holding up remarkably well for being 250 + years old.




Additional views of the Mission San Jose.










Just a few miles away is Mission Concepcion.



This mission dates from essentially the same time as Mission San Jose, however the grounds are much smaller.



Some restoration has occurred here as well.



Mission Concepcion is known for the fresco’s on the interior and exterior of the building.



The interior of the church is not as ornate as Mission San Jose, but elegant in it’s simplicity.



The missions we were able to visit in San Antonio are national treasures. We look forward to a return trip to the area to check out the others we missed.