While others commemorate the 72nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor today, my press group reflect on the sacrifice and bravery of both the Texans who defended the Alamo in 1836 and the Mexicans who fought to take it back.
Both Pearl Harbor and the Alamo were unexpected and overwhelming but the siege on the Roman Catholic fortress by Mexican General Santa Anna lasted for 13 days with approximately 600 Mexicans and roughly 200 Texans killed.
I wish I could show you the cannons and small arms, artifacts and collections on display inside the Alamo but photography isn’t allowed. But, just across the street is a needless wax museum and a string of kitschy tourist shops. Upon learning about the many heroic struggles fought to maintain the compound, I was surprised that the perimeter of the area wasn’t treated as hallow ground or preserved as such.
Still, we learned about the importance of San Antonio, a city that once held the role of the capital of the state.
It doesn’t look anything like upstate New York but the chilly weather sure makes it feel like it. The temps tonight in windy San Antonio – the Alamo City are hovering around a bone-chilling 32-degrees.
I’m here ’til Tuesday on a press trip to explore the River Walk, the number one tourist destination in Texas, now all dressed up with holiday luminaries and joyful carolers. But, instead of sightseeing outside, this wimpy Yank hid out among a bohemian treasure of culture, art and music in Southtown.
The Capital District shares the same distinction: every month ‘First Friday’ is celebrated with top artistic talents from glass blowing to sculpture to mixed media. Back-to-back studios at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center display southwestern Indian, Folk, Still, Landscape and Portrait art.
A fabulous whimsical collection by gregarious Carolina G. Flores really caught my eye. Many of her splashy works feature remembrances of family members: sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles – including this larger-than-life wall mural of her parents west Texas wedding. Flores chronicles her life in beautiful watercolors and chalk that share anecdotes and memorable stories. One vivid tale involves a “Blood Wedding” scenario in the Coyanosa farming community that lead to the killing of the parents of the groom and a sheriff’s deputy!
Hey, they don’t call this the Wild West for nothing.
10,000 showy sweaters made their way through the streets of Somerville, Massachusetts this past weekend.
It was Boston’s first 5K “Ugly Sweater” run and only if you were naughty would you otherwise be forced to wear this much kitsch.
Mutti and me along with my local chums took to the streets with revelers decked out in colorful cardigans, tacky reindeer antlers, knit hats with bells jingling and candy cane stockings.
Our overzealous friend Missy should have taken first place for her ostentatious garb. It was nearly as original as what she wore during our Halloween pub crawl when she dressed up as the “Cat In A Shark Costume Chasing A Duck While Riding A Roomba” from the viral YouTube video.
That’s Missy in the first photo on the top right of this blog entry.
If you’d like to do the same, Ballston Spa is having their 2nd Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater 5K Run this Saturday, December 7th starting at the Milton Community Center. To register: https://register.bazumedia.com/reg/form?eventID=5400
Not only can the half-mile boardwalk at the Lewis A. Swyer Preserve withstand severe flooding but it’s also the perfect nature trail to walk with my sister who has Limb-Girdle muscular dystrophy.
“Wow, this is amazing!” she says as she steps easily and safely onto the level surface, at times as little as a few inches from the ground and other sections as high as three feet off the ground. The boardwalk winds through a rare freshwater tidal swamp area in the town of Stuyvesant, Columbia County and culminates alongside the mighty Hudson river opposite a ribbon of busy Amtrak train tracks.
My sisters’ gait is unsteady and wobbly at best but walking alongside the Mill Creek tributary on a partially wood, partially composite boardwalk gives her the freedom to think about something other than her disease. She admires the bio diversity of the area, listens to a distant train whistle and stops to read the four interpretive signs. She even catches sight of a wood duck drifting with the current. But, of course, the real treat is the sense of adventure and exploration she gets without tripping, slipping or falling in the heart of the woods.
This is a must visit for anyone in a wheelchair or on crutches or who might be intimidated by tree roots, slippery leaves or muddy trails. Not only will they find comfortable benches at the end but a supportive tower with handrails and shallow steps. Tina didn’t think twice about ascending the two-story structure where she enjoyed a peak at the Hudson river and a fast-moving NYC-bound passenger train.
What did you do with your Thanksgiving Day turkey leftovers today? Odds are you wrapped the juicy loot in a bag and tossed it into the refrigerator.
But, prior to the 1930′s, the holiday turkey was kept in an ice box also known as the cold closet. A large block of ice was held in a tray at the top of the compartment to keep food fresh. That ice was harvested in bulk amounts from the Hudson River in the wintertime.
Today, I discovered Stockport Flats, a Columbia County Hudson River Reserve located on Route 9J between the eastern coastal towns of Stockport and Stuyvesant. In an area dominated by tidal wetlands and the busy Amtrak railroad bed sits a surprisingly sound and sturdy structure listed on the National and State Register of Historic Places. The industrial remains of the R & W Scott Ice Company is one of the few left of the 135 ice houses that once flourished on the shores between NYC and Albany.
Brave men used to guide a team of horses dragging a sharp plow over the frozen river. They would cut several inches into the ice that formed squares that could be hoisted onto steam-powered conveyor belts. The great tonnage was stored in sawdust for distribution throughout the state.
This rich story of the “Harvesters of Winter Cold” is told on signs that surround the area. It’s a wonderful place to learn about a dangerous industry that once ruled the Hudson River corridor.
I love seeing Upstate New York activities talked about in the Sunday edition of the New York Times.
In the Travel Section, page 3, you’ll notice a calendar of activities sure to please the discerning traveler. The list includes a rendezvous with french Creole cuisine in New Orleans followed by an annual tour of historic homes in Philadelphia and, saving the best for last, the Polar Express Train Ride from Saratoga Springs to North Creek or rather the imaginary North Pole.
Speaking of which, I’ve got an assignment aboard the Polar Express later on this week. Children need not dress up for the occasion – just like the movie, simply toss on some pajamas and slippers and get your golden ticket hole punched.
“Guests enjoy travel on a festively decorated vintage train, sip hot chocolate, read along with the illustrated story and sing Christmas songs.”
The train operates twice daily through December 29. Buy your tickets online at https://www.sncrr.com/the-polar-express.html