Parks, gardens, and great people in San Antonio

(This post is going out a day late, on 3/4, because I was in bed early last night to wake up at 5:00 am[!] this morning to board the train from San Antonio to Houston.)

My last day in San Antonio was wonderful. I love that place, and definitely plan to return.

To start my last day, I headed toward the botanical gardens, but on the way I stopped again in San Pedro Springs Park. I saw another beautiful live oak, and then happened upon a magical… something! I’m not sure how to describe it, but you can see the photos. My sense is that it was built with the intention of recreating what early humans might have seen when they first arrived in the area that is now San Antonio. It is a large rock, like a tiny mountain, covered in moss and plants, and trickling water all around, into a sort of moat of a pool surrounding it. There was a kind of “cave door” with an iron gate inside. It felt mystical to be in the presence of this object, and I walked slowly around it, admiring and drinking it in from all sides.

When I left the park, I had one more stop to make before the botanical gardens: a delightful locally owned vegan bakery called Plantyful Sweets. I rolled my bike into the shop since I didn’t see any parking out front, and the woman at the counter greeted me warmly and asked about the bike. I told her about my journey, and then she called the shop owner up from the back, and I talked to her as well about my journey and about “vegan tourism” and traveling to Portland, since she is planning to visit Portland in May. (Along with restaurant suggestions, I made sure to mention the Portland Japanese Garden, which is an absolute must-visit for anyone traveling to Portland.)

I ordered a chocolate-mint doughnut, and enjoyed its decadence at the sidewalk table outside. I left the establishment with a smile on my face from both the confection and the enthusiastic conversation I had had with both of those women.

Then I continued to the botanical gardens. They were a lovely place to stroll and rest. As usual for botanical gardens, my favorite parts were the Japanese garden and the cactus garden. The former was a smaller but more traditional Japanese garden than the sunken garden from the other day. The latter took me right back to Arizona!

Another part of the gardens that I appreciated was that the conservatory “peeked out” from underground in multiple locations that looked really cool. (In one case even like a volcano!)

After I left the gardens, I had one more natural destination in mind: Olmos Park. I had inadvertently crossed through it on my first day in town, and found it enchanting. I wanted to go back and drink in the magic once more, so I biked over into it and sank into a bench to relax.

Then it was time to go back to the house of my wonderful Warmshowers hosts, and pack up and say goodbye. One of them was kind enough to give me a ride to my hotel, which definitely saved me some much-needed time.

After I checked into the hotel, I hopped back on my bike and headed up the river walk to the Pearl District (it tickles me that San Antonio has a “pearl district” that used to be an industrial area of working breweries, just like Portland does.) I was meeting someone for dinner who is a fan of the obscure progressive rock band Marillion that I love. We had some great conversation about music, as well as San Antonio in general, and the solar power industry, which is his business.

After dinner, I met up for a drink with someone I had met in Portland a few years ago, when he was visiting from eastern Washington. He has since moved to San Antonio!

What an incredibly full day of wonderful human connections and natural beauty and magic.

I will miss this place. And I will return.

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