Ready? Set? Leap!
Two weeks, and we’re on the road again! I’m just back from setting up the Logistics for our Spanish Missions tour, set to start on September 14th. We still have a few spots available for any of you adventurous, spontaneous, bold, brave and audacious travelers!
Millie Brown, the Logistician (is there such a word?) for the San Antonio Road Scholars, said she always checked in advance to “avoid any surprises!” So this past weekend, I made a pre-trial run to set up the Logistics for our trip. The tour is going to be fantastic!
Like all good histories, our Spanish Missions tour will start at the very beginning – at Victoria’s Museum of the Coastal Bend “Where Texas History Began!” You may have heard of the Spanish Missions but I’m betting few of you have gotten to enjoy the gem of a museum which boasts some of the best displays of early Texas History.
This museum can really claim to be “Where Texas History Began.” The Victoria area is where the first Spanish shipwrecked sailors under Cabeza de Vaca landed and were nearly eaten by the Karankawa. It is also where the French first tried and failed to establish Fort St. Louis before being destroyed by those same Karankawa. Victoria went on to become the first successful Mexican Empresario settlement in early Texas.
I had been in contact with Elizabeth Neucere, the Curator of Collections at the museum, for almost a year. I pictured Elizabeth as a cheerful, chipper elderly docent in sneakers and dowdy dress, gray hair in a bun. That is the difficulty with e-mail. You never get to actually meet someone. But this time I did. And, you guessed it, she was still cheerful and chipper, but she is a lovely young woman of about 25, dynamic, enthusiastic and so pleased that we were coming to visit.
Amanda Lanum, another bright, young woman in the same age range is in charge of tours. Since our group is special (bet you didn’t know we were either!) we will not only get a personal guided tour of the museum, but we will also get to see the “Back of the House” material that they don’t usually show to visitors.
From the museum, I stopped at the Victoria Chamber of Commerce. Bridgette Postel is the sister of a friend, so we are assured of goodie bags and a warm welcome at the chamber offices. Kristen Kopecky, another dynamic young woman suggested a tour of Victoria itself, after lunch at The Pump House.
The Pump House is one of the nicest and most historic restaurants in town. We ate there last time and loved it. Brittany Edgerton is waiting to welcome us to a seat in their elegant and lovely private dining room. From there, we will pick up a step-aboard guide to give us a drive-around tour of Victoria before heading down to Goliad for the evening.
At Goliad we will stay in the historic Antlers Inn, a quaint boutique hotel. After a leisurely breakfast, we’ll tour the Presidio or Fort, then lunch in Goliad at the Empresario Restaurant. At 2 pm we will enjoy the History Tour with Park Rangers at the beautiful Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga, also known as Aranama Mission or Mission La Bahia, established in 1722 to convert native Karankawa Indians to Christianity.
After our tour we will head to San Antonio where we will check in to the magical, historical Teddy-Roosevelt-famous, Menger Hotel. We’ll spend the evening on the River Walk dining alfresco on the patio of “Bella on the River.”
We’ll end the tour on Sunday morning at the Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo for the Mariachi Mass. After a stop for lunch at Nicha’s Mexican Restaurant, we’ll head home with a head full of knowledge, a tummy full of food, and thankful hearts for the new friends and enjoyable fellowship.
What a great way to start Historic Tours of Texas!