We Are On a Mission...

"Religious freedom doesn't mean you can force others to live by your own beliefs"

Barack Obama

State 27: Texas - January 19, 2018


We woke up at a Walmart in San Antonio looking forward to a new day on the open road. Yesterday, we ate the best vegan bacon cheeseburger in the country, and we could wait not to see what adventure lie head today! The first item on the agenda is a drive across town to visit the national park depicted on the reverse of the Texas Quarter; “The San Antonio Missions National Park”. The San Antonio Missions purpose was to convert the regions Native Americans to Catholicism in preparation for Spanish citizenship. The park preserves four of the five Spanish frontier missions from the early 17th century built along the banks of the San Antonio River. The fifth and most popular of the San Antonio Missions; The Alamo, is maintained by Texas, and is not part of the national park. The 4 San Antonio Missions, along with The Alamo are designated a National Historical Site, and on July 5, 2015 were all designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; one of only 30 of such sites in the US!

The 5 missions are spread out along a 15-mile stretch near the San Antonio River! This was going to be a very exciting park to explore! As usual, we first called the Ranger's office to see if there was any additional informational we needed to know prior to our arrival. For the first time in our cross country trip, no one answered the phone, which was very strange. Then, a news flash popped up on my phone about the government shut down. Seriously, I was going to miss out on seeing the missions, because Washington can’t do the job we elected them to do? How infuriating! We decided to visit each of the 5 missions regardless, and hopefully would at the very least get to see the exterior of the buildings.

Mission Concepción

Founded in San Antonio in 1731, Mission Concepción is the best preserved of the 5 Texas missions. Mission Concepción consists of a sanctuary, nave, covento, and granary. On October 28, 1835, a 30-minute battle was fought at Mission Conceptión, which was the first major engagement of the Texas Revolution. In case you were curious, the Texans won! In 2010, the interior of the mission was restored, and Archbishop Patrick Flores appointed Father Jim Rutkowski with the pastoral duties of the congregation. Father Rutkowski continues to offer weekly mass on Sundays to this day! Please see the pictures below of 17th century Spanish Mission Conceptión.

Mission San José

Established on February 23, 1720, Mission San José, was founded after other Texas missions had closed due to consolidation. An outer wall was built around the mission, and contained within the walls were rooms for 350 Indians. In 1768, A new church was constructed in the mission, which still stands to this day! Mission activities officially ended there in 1824, and the buildings then became home to soldiers, homeless, and outlaws. In 1933, the squatters were evicted, the mission grounds, granary, walls and Indian quarters were restored. Today, Mission San José is an active parish pastored by Fr. Rogelio Martinez. Please see the pictures below of 17th century Mission San José.

Mission San Juan

Founded in 1731, Mission San Juan did not prosper compared to others due to the allotted land being insufficient to plant crops, and breed cattle to sustain the mission. As many as 265 Native Americans once resided at the mission, but their nomadic way of life and lack of food led to a decline in population by the late 17th century. The mission sat vacant and abandoned until 1840 when religious services one again began. Today, the national park service maintains the grounds of the mission, and the Archdiocese of San Antonio maintains the church building, parish parking lot, rectory, and the parish hall. In 2012, the mission underwent a $2.2 million renovation to stabilize the foundation, the buttresses placed against walls were removed, and the exterior of the building was covered in white plaster. I personally prefer the weathered look produced by time. Please see the pictures below of the 17th century Mission San Juan.

Mission San Francisco

Mission San Francisco was established in 1690, and that same year a smallpox outbreak killed an estimated 3,300 people in the region. The Native Americans believed the Spanish brought the disease, and hostilities developed between the two groups. The mission was abandoned, and re-established in 1716, abandoned again 1719 due to a war with France, and reestablished once again in 1721! If nothing else, the Spanish are a persistent people! However, the mission never really got off the ground, due to frequent uprisings by the Indians. The spread of smallpox has the tendency to anger natives! Unfortunately, I was not even able to view the exterior of this mission. Due to the government shut down, a chained gate across the roadway blocked access, and there was nowhere to park Rosie on the side of the road. Thank you US Government! I have included pictures I found online of the 16th century Mission San Francisco.

Mission San Antonio de Valero

Originally named Mission San Antonio de Valero, it is more commonly known as The Alamo, and is the most famous of the 5 San Antonio Missions. Founded in 1718, the Alamo was a Roman Catholic Mission until its abandonment in 1793. With the onset of the Texas Revolution in 1835, Texas soldiers occupied the Alamo until they were all wiped out at the Battle of the Alamo in 1836! The battle was a 13-day siege by 1,800 Mexican troops on the Alamo Mission resulting in the killing of all 185 Texan soldiers. Despite being vastly outnumbered, under supplied and with few reinforcements, the Texas Army successfully repelled 2 Mexicans attacks, but were unable to fend off the 3rd due to a lack of ammunition. On March 6, 1835, the Mexican Army advanced on the Alamo for the 3rd time. As Mexican soldiers scaled the walls, the Texan soldiers retreated into the mission’s buildings preparing for close quarter hand to hand combat. Although all 185 Texans were killed, 600 Mexican solders also died and/or were wounded in the battle. The Mexicans mercilessness during the Battle of the Alamo inspired many to join the Texas Army. On April 21, 1836, Sam Houston led the Texas Army to victory and independence at the battle of San Jacinto with the immortal battle cry, “Remember the Alamo”. On an interesting side note, Sam Houston was serving as Governor of Texas during the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. Houston was the only Governor of a Southern state to oppose secession from US, and was subsequently impeached after refusing to pledge allegiance to the Confederacy. What a heroic man!

Today, the Alamo is the most visited tourist site in Texas, and stands as an enduring shrine considered to be the cradle of Texas liberty. Best of all, the Alamo is not affected by the government shut down, because it is owned by the state of Texas! Finally, I would be able to enter one of the missions instead of standing on the outside of the buildings wondering what’s inside! What an experience it was to see Sam Houston’s sword, Davey Crockett’s rifle, and walk the same halls where 185 brave Texans fought and died in the name of freedom! Unfortunately, photography was not permitted inside of the original 2 remaining structures at the Alamo: the Church and Long Barracks. Please see the pictures below of our visit to the Alamo.

Every state we visit has one town or city which is the worst in the state, and in Texas that place for us was San Antonio. The city was run down, dirty, crime ridden, and was the worst place we had encountered thus far in Texas. Lori and I could not wait to leave! Since we missed out on the last mission due to the government shutdown, we had extra time on our hands, and decided to go to the local library to catch up on some computer work. I turned into the parking lot of the library, parked Rosie, and went in the back to retrieve a snack as we were both starving! I then made my way back up to the front, and no sooner than my ass hit the driver’s seat I heard an ear piercing “SCREEEEEECH” followed by an ever louder “CRASH”. Did someone just crash into the library? Did someone just get hit by a car? Did someone just crash into Rosie? All these thoughts and more raced through my mind in a matter of seconds!

As a nurse, I have both a moral and legal obligation to assist anyone I encounter whom needs immediate medical assistance, and failing to do so could result in the revocation of my nursing license! My head shot up in an instant to survey my surroundings! In the street right across the parking lot I saw two cars collide with each other, and the impact sent both cars spinning around a full 360 degrees. After both cars came to a stop, one of the cars sped away from the scene of the accident! Lori and I were in shock, did he really just do that? Is the other driver ok?

In moments such as the aforementioned, everything goes into slow motion, and I grabbed my first aid kit and my fire extinguisher! I played through the steps of CPR and First Aid in my mind, walked through the ABC’s of first aid, and attempted to mentally prepare myself for the visible trauma I was about to encounter! Just as I was about to run towards the scene of the accident, I saw the young lady exit her vehicle, and the cops and EMT’S arrived seconds later! What an amazing response time! Although visibly shaken, thankfully the young lady appeared to be uninjured!

I believe it is the responsibility of every physically and mentally capable person to be trained in CPR and First Aid. The American Red Cross, and the American Heart Association offers classes all across the country. The class costs less than $100 bucks, and only takes a few hours of your time. However, the cost of not being trained in CPR and First Aid are far greater! While it may be a stranger in need of assistance, your skills may also be needed for your friend who has drowned while swimming, or your child who is choking on a hot dog at the dinner table. What if you are accidentally shot while hunting, or you break your leg while hiking alone in the woods? Would you know what to do? No one ever thinks the aforementioned will happen to them until it actually does! According to the Red Cross, the average person trained in CPR and First Aid will use their skill at least twice in their life! You never know where, when or who will need your help, and the life you one-day save might just end up being your own!

Between San Antonio’s poor presentation, missing out on seeing much of the missions due to the government shut down, and being an eyewitness to a felony hit and run, Lori and I mutually agreed we had seen all we needed to see of this city. To hell with the library, we are getting out of San Antonio immediately! After departing the parking lot, we drove 197 miles East to a Walmart in Houston where we spent the night.

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