The Pilgrimage

[Warning: While not nearly as long as the Emp's awesomeness fisking of the SOTU below, I would still advise a beverage to help y'all wade through this one. -JB]

Since Red and I have become Texans we’ve always wanted to take a trip to The Alamo. This from everything I’ve read is a required visit, a pilgrimage to the Mecca for Texians. Simply put, you can’t be a Texan unless you’ve made that trip. Yesterday we decided to take that trip. San Antonio is about an hours’ drive from Austin down I-35 and I found it very easy to get to the actual site. One major exit onto I-37 and follow the Alamo signs which are abundant. The Alamo site is pretty much in the heart of downtown San Antonio, however once you exit I-37 it’s only a few blocks away. This was a pleasant surprise since I had scoped out the location on Google maps and expected a lot more time getting through traffic lights and congestion. In the general area there are a number of paid public parking lots and only a very, very few parallel metered parking spaces on East Houston Street which runs along the North side of the Shrine. I chose a paid lot on 3rd Street ($6 for 3-hours, $10 for 8-hours) which was less than a 5-minute walk, most waiting for the crosswalk lights. The location is walled off however there are entrances from all directions. I recommend entering at the west side (Alamo Plaza). Hit the audio tour both just a few steps from the Shrine Entrance. The Audio Tour system costs $6 and is of excellent quality and in my opinion essential for 1st time visitors. Start your tour in the grassy area in front of the shrine, being sure to look at the numerous plaques in the area. As a side note, security is provided by the Alamo Rangers. They have similar uniforms and arms that look like Texas State Troopers. The Rangers have quite a few officers on patrol throughout the Alamo area.

Enter the main entrance to the Shrine on the west side. They have a few ropes set up to straighten the line and get you past the photographer that snaps a shot of your group, more on this later. Please, PLEASE remove your covers as you enter (someone will ask you too anyway), this is a sacred place by Texas state law. There is no video or still photography permitted inside any of the locations here. Also, it’s asked that you remain quiet as possible AND turn off your damned cell phones too. You’re not supposed to touch the walls, but I couldn’t help a light touch, to pray by. My bad.

As I entered, I felt that this is indeed a hallowed place that played a critical role in history of both the fledgling Texas Republic and the entire Union. Another chapter in the history of men seeking that unalienable right – Freedom. As always in this pursuit, the price paid for freedom is blood. This is what the left misses. This place was NOT about the men who fought and died here, it’s about their sacrifice for all of us. The statists are always talking about self, what does society owe me simply because I want it, the expected endpoint of liberal ideology-make the people feel dependent cuz they’re victims. Me, me, ME. These courageous heroes fought absolutely impossible odds and accepted certain death, all to buy time for Texas to rally a real army. In the Long Barrack at the far end, just by the exit is a large glass plaque with the names and home place of the defenders. Some of them are unknown to history and they have their own bronze plaque nearby. It’s amazing considering all the states and countries represented. Consider Lt. Charles Zanco who’s family immigrated from Denmark only 2-years prior to his date with destiny. Zanco was a painter by trade and is credited as probably being the first person to paint a Lonestar on the Texas flag. That he loved his newly adopted home to die for it shows the depth of his character, that is exhibited by ALL the defenders. Contrast this with the left’s obsession about permitting unrestricted and illegal immigration and pandering to these criminals by providing them every service possible, in their own language thereby ensuring they won’t have to assimilate into our society. Charles Zanco did not expect to have his native language spoken to him. He knew that he had to assimilate into our society and that he did beyond a doubt.

There are flags in the Shrine representing the states and countries that had defenders here on that date with history. Just to the right of the entrance, there is Flag #1-Denmark, that has special significance to someone in these parts. You learn a LOT more in here using the audio tour receiver. One thing we both noticed is how small everything is. The room that served as a refuge for the women and children wasn’t much bigger than an average living room today. Red said she couldn’t imagine hiding here for the entire 13-day siege. There was a second floor here and a ramp was constructed at the east end where 3 cannons had a gun loop. Notice the smaller loops for muskets as well. Here’s pic of the front of the building (sorry sizing down and crunching the pic to the size the site takes really reduces quality):

We lucked out and had absolutely perfect weather to visit. Temps in the low 60s with crystal clear skies. Visiting in high summer temps would really detract from being able to really take your time here, although the entire area is a heavily treed, with beautifully landscaped gardens with lots of shade. You’ll exit the Shrine through the doors on the North side. From here you can jog left towards the Cavalry courtyard and around into the Convento courtyard. Take time to read all the panels here that give an awesome timeline of the Alamo up to today. Once finished in the courtyards you can proceed into the Long Barrack at the west side of the site. You should note that the original layout had the actual fortifications on the west side of the site that would have been across the street. Here’s a great map to see how it was and is now: Historical Map of the Alamo. The Long Barrack houses an excellent museum containing a lot of period artifacts and is organized from the earliest history of the Alamo to that day of destiny in March of 1836. At the south end of the building there’s a small cinema that has a 15-minute video giving an excellent, brief overview of the siege and final battle. This might even be a good first stop on your tour, especially if you don’t have a lot of detailed knowledge of the battle.

Something new I learned was the fact that the only surrounding communities responding to Travis’ pleas for help was from village of Gonzalez. 32 courageous men made the march of about 80 miles to take a stand and die there. Here’s a pic of the bronze monument to the Gonzalez volunteers. I have no clue as to the identity of the ugly old fart in the shot, but he sure ain’t bald like the picture seems to depict.

The only part of the original compound remaining is a portion of the Shrine and the Long Barrack, but only the 1st floor. Various owners and uses since 1836 made some major remodeling and some demolition however the current owners; Daughters of the Texas Republic have saved it from even more depradation.

The DTR maintains a very good website: The Alamo Visitors Center. I would be happy to accompany anyone coming to Texas for a visit here, provided I can make arrangements with work.

All in all, this was an incredible visit, a Pilgrimage indeed and should be on every right thinking American’s bucket list.

Oh, the photography. A 6×8″ print is $20, fuck that price. $10 maybe but $20 !!!!11ty are ya’ kidding me?

-Carry On

p.s. Cruchie- Appropriate regards delivered.

16 comments

  1. 1
    LC Grammar Czar, G.L.O.R. growls and barks:

    Thanks for the historical map, JB! I did basic training at Lackland, so, of course, I went there. I only remember seeing the church though (in fact, I guess I didn’t realize it WAS the church until I saw your map). I think another trip is in order in the near future.

  2. 2
    LC Jackboot IC/A growls and barks:

    LC Grammar Czar, G.L.O.R. says:

    I think another trip is in order in the near future.

    Alrighty then….don’t forget you have a willing sidekick here. :em01:

    As far as the church, the Spanish secularized this known mission as: Mision San Antonio de Valero and the rest in San Antonio and the lands they encompassed were distributed to the resident natives.
    LC Jackboot IC/A recently posted..Our most precious bloodMy Profile

  3. 3
    BigDogg growls and barks:

    One thing we both noticed is how small everything is.

    That’s one of the first things that struck me the first time I visited … it’s like the place was built for Hobbits or something.

  4. 4
    LC hilljohnny growls and barks:

    when i visited the Alamo in the late 60′s i was stunned to see my family name on the list. only much later 2003 did i find a family tree showing the connection. my relative survived becuase he was the last messenger sent out to find reenforcements before the fall.

  5. 5
    NR Pax growls and barks:

    I had the pleasure of getting a two week TDY to San Antonio and the Alamo was walking distance from my hotel. I made it a point to my co-workers that I was going to visit with or without them. It was definitely a high point of the trip.

  6. 6
    LC Subotai Bahadur, Lord Pao An growls and barks:

    I visited the Alamo some years ago. One cannot leave it unsobered.

    We may have to face our own version of COL Travis’ line in the ground in our own time.

    I have a piece ready to post, but I will refrain so as not to push this down the page.

    LC Subotai Bahadur, Lord Pao An

  7. 7
    FrankOK growls and barks:

    Around 1980 something, I wanted to go to San Antonio with my big-ass Sinar 8 X 10 camera and take a few photos of the Alamo – I still want to go there and take a few photos but I believe I’ll take the 5d instead as B&W is not my area of “expertise” nor do I have a ready list of labs that will do 8 X 10 C-41 film – as in none.

    Might try it a little later in Spring – March or April.

  8. 8
  9. 9

    The Alamo is on my must see list of historical/patriotic sites in this country. I’ve read up on the history and sacrifice and can lead my own way I’m sure, but would love your company sir.

    I read Three Roads to the Alamo a year ago, and was disappointed in the scant amount of pages given to the battle….as good of a book as it was, I wish Davis had spent more time on it rather than going on in endless detail about Bowie’s failed real estate dealings and Crocketts political battles.

    it’s a shrine, and my thanks to the Daughters of the Texas Republic for keeping the place….they are saints for doing that.

  10. 10

    You’re not supposed to touch the walls, but I couldn’t help a light touch, to pray by. My bad.

    it will be my bad too man, you have to touch the place….just like you have to touch the cemetary gate at Gettysburg and the Dunker Church at Antietam….it connects you with the place and I love to put my hand on places like that and speculate on who in the hell touched that exact spot so many years ago.

  11. 11
    LC Draco growls and barks:

    A few more items…

    1) As you walk thru the door, you can see the bullet holes in the wall that were never patched up,

    2) There are several GREAT books out there that actually explain the events leading up to the battles, and actually shows the walls and positions of everything from men to the cannons for each battle,

    3) It IS one of the best historical, dare I say almost religious, places that Texas has available, and

    4) Davy Crockett, who lost his second bid for the House of Representative and later died at the Alamo – “You can all go to hell…I’m going to Texas”
    LC Draco recently posted..POW exhibit on display at The Airborne Special Operations MuseumMy Profile

  12. 12

    LC Draco says:

    1) As you walk thru the door, you can see the bullet holes in the wall that were never patched up,

    I read somewhere that the barracks room where Bowie was killed still had his blood on the walls, but it has been painted over. Can anyone verify that?

  13. 13

    p.s. Cruchie- Appropriate regards delivered.

    As I knew it would be brother. Much appreciated, until I can deliver my own in person.
    LC 0311 Sir Crunchie I.M.H., K.o.E. recently posted..But He’s the Only ELECTABLE One!My Profile

  14. 14
    Mattexian growls and barks:

    Awesome report, Jackboot! :em01: I was there myself on Sunday, with my wife, and old best friend, and his son. He’s lived there for a few years, and because of his affiliations, he was able to give us a guided tour. He also brought us to the church a few blocks away, where the recovered remains of the Alamo defenders are enshrined, where we could pay our further respects. It was the first trip for my wife, and my second, to make this pilgrimage. I agree about the price of the photo, being a bit exorbitant, but I thought it worth it as it’s been many years since having any pics with my old friend.
    Mattexian recently posted..National Ammo Day, 2011!My Profile

  15. 15

    One bit of trivia y’all may not know.

    The vast private collection of Alamo memorabilia is on loan from none other than Phil Collins himself. He is a very big collector and benefactor.
    LC Aggie Sith, a goddess, only different, G.G.O.R. recently posted..SuperstitionsMy Profile

  16. 16
    LC Xystus growls and barks:

    As I probably have mentioned here before, my brother & I visited the Alamo in ’94–in one of the odd coincidences connected with my history it was the day W. was first elected.

    LC Draco noted:

    Davy Crockett, who lost his second bid for the House of Representative and later died at the Alamo – “You can all go to hell…I’m going to Texas”

    A quote to save & pull out as ammo on the appropriate occasion! (FWIW it’s been claimed that he always used his actual first name & that it was Wart Dismal who made him famous as “Davy”.)