San Antonio, Texas was a complete surprise for me. I expected a typical busy city atmosphere, and instead found myself in an unusual and interesting environment. Yes, there were elements of the big city but they were tempered by other features which made San Antonio a really pleasant place to be.
Imagine a big city which is hosting 70,000 extra people for about 5-7 days. Chaos right? Wrong. This city had prepared for our event and everything was geared up to handle the inundation of humanity. Restaurants were well stocked and had plenty of staff on hand to deal with hungry mouths looking for some good Tex-Mex food and some of that great Texan barbecue.
The police were really well organized and extremely gracious to the thousands of visitors. Everything that I heard from my fellow convention attendees was positive. Accommodations were good and everyone said they were treated well. The hundreds of local volunteers who greeted people at the airport, outside hotels, and on streets corners were full of smiles, joy, laughter and lots of helpful information.
We were in the heart of the city with just a seven to eight minute walk separating our condo from the Henry B. Gonzalez convention center and the fifty thousand capacity Alamodome. But what a walk! This area of San Antonio is known as RiverWalk and is absolutely beautiful. A whole system of canals intertwine through the neighborhood. Small river boats seating about 25 people are piloted through these waterways as informative guides point out places of interest and speak about the history of San Antonio.
Along each side of the canals were cobblestone walkways and shade trees. These walkways were flanked by restaurants and shops and were criss-crossed by pretty arching bridges. It really made me think of a smaller scale Venice. And because the architecture of this area is so varied and interesting I almost felt as though I was in Europe:-).
San Antonio is the site of the Alamo. This is a famous historical monument which stands as a testament to the bravery and courage of the people who fought for Texas liberty. In 1836 the Texian and Tejano volunteers, alongside famous characters such as Jim Bowie, the well-known knife fighter, and Davie Crockett, famed frontiersman and former Congressman from Tennessee, fought against General Santa Anna’s Mexican army. They withstood the onslaught for just over thirteen days before they were overpowered.
On Sunday, before leaving San Antonio, we attended Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. This church was built by German immigrants and is very representative of a miniature European cathedral. It is very beautiful both inside and outside and a wonderful place to come and worship God. I think that about seventy five percent of the congregation was made up of our convention attendees, and the priest made a point of making us feel very welcome.
Because we were involved in a four-day convention, we did not have enough time to do this city justice. I know that San Antonio boasts the 750-foot tall Tower of the Americas, is also home to a SeaWorld, the Six Flags Fiesta, a fine zoo, and the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. I certainly would be happy to make a second visit to San Antonio and would highly recommend it as a vacation destination.
Wow! I am still overwhelmed. Two thousand two hundred and fifty three miles completed on the back of the Harley. That was the sum total of the mileage of our trip to and from San Antonio, Texas. And Rich added another five hundred and seventy five miles to that as he travelled from San Antonio to Arlington, Texas and back. He just had to smell the sweat in the new Cowboys stadium:-).
We spent three days on the road to get to San Antonio, and three days to get back to Jacksonville, Florida. That’s a lot of God’s creation visited and appreciated and a lot of private God-time as we rode.
I am not completely isolated when I ride passenger on the Harley. Rich and I have interconnecting speakers and mikes so that we can communicate as we travel. If either of us sees something interesting we are quick to point it out to the other. And it’s always good to say “I love you” as we ride.
But most of the time is spent individually. Rich obviously has to focus on the driving part of the experience, which leaves me with a lot of time to communicate with God. I get to pray for our safety and protection as well as our enjoyment as we travel the highways and byways. This is always primary before and during any trip that we take whether it be on Harley or in the car.
Next on the list to God are all the people that are under my “prayer candle” at home. This is a candle that I keep on the Italian granite island in my kitchen. The candle rests inside a candle jar, and the jar sits inside a metal holder. When people put out requests for prayers for either mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical healing, I put their names on a piece of paper which goes inside the metal container under the candle.
When there are too many names on any one piece of paper, I start a new one on which I always write, “for all those who have gone before and…” Under this I add the new names. So once you make it under my prayer candle you’re there to stay! When I light the candle I do so “with intention” that all those named be lifted up to the Lord while the candle is burning. And as I go about my day and I see the candle I offer more prayers for everyone.
Once this is done I then turn over my sorrows and heartaches to God and ask that He relieve me of them, that He resolve them for me, if it be His will. That last phrase is always the hard part of praying to God. But if I am to practice total trust in the God of my understanding and His plans for me and others, then I must add that phrase, otherwise I am dictating to God what I think He should do!
And then it’s on to world intentions. Now that could take up a trip to the moon and back! We, mankind, have made such a mess of this world and continue to do so today. Sometimes I get a little despairing when I realize we are still making the same mistakes, doing the same things as we did thousands of years ago, and expecting different results. I read somewhere that’s a true definition of insanity!!
I spend a lot of time asking God to please change peoples’ hearts, to lead them on the path of love and compassion. I ask him to remove hatred and greed and the quest for power. I ask Him to take care of the defenseless ones and to bring food to the hungry. I ask Him to shower humankind with His love, His grace, His light, and His energy.
So as you can see, my Harley time is put to great use. It’s usually a very intense and focused time for me and the tears flow frequently. I have accepted this as part of my mission in life and I am very willing to do it. As I pray for others and their needs, I also benefit because I am deepening my own spiritual life and my relationship with God. So it’s a real win-win situation for me and the tears are a small price to pay.
I almost forgot. Some of my Harley prayers are simply words of worship and praise. I forget who the singer is but the song says something like, “Our God is an awesome God”. I like to let Him know that I see that and appreciate it. And let me not forget the gratitude. My soul is full of gratitude for the many blessings in my life, and so I thank God for all He has done and is about to do. Amen!!
The butterflies are dancing all over my stomach. We are about to embark on the most adventurous Harley ride ever. Today we leave Jacksonville , Florida and head to San Antonio, Texas. That’s almost eleven hundred miles one way!!. My biggest wish: that God protect us and give us safe and joyous riding.
Harley is packed and waiting patiently to rumble out of the garage. Rich has cleaned her beautiful blue chassis to a sparkling shine. The side saddles have been packed since yesterday, and once the king-pack is packed with “last bits”, the remaining two bags will be strapped on top and we will be ready to roll.
It’s amazing how much stuff you can get on a motorcycle if you plan carefully. I cannot believe that we will be gone for ten days and I have packed so little! The only real “rule” I created for myself was, only one pair of jeans for the three-day ride: they can be washed and readied for the return ride home too. Oh, and I also made myself not pack deodorant. We can share for this trip:-).
We are keeping a careful watch on Alex as he blows across the Gulf towards Mexico. Rich has been calculating times and distances and although we may run into some outer band rain showers, we should be arrived at destination before anything too strong might hit. We have good rain gear and so are well prepared for riding in the wet. If things should change drastically then I guess we will have to “hole up and hunker down” while we evaluate and readjust.
I am looking forward to seeing some new country and more of God’s great creation along the way. We have been as far as New Orleans going west from here but this is much further west. Our first stop is projected to be Pensacola by this evening. Tuesday we plan on heading for Lake Charles in Louisiana and then Wednesday will see us arriving in San Antonio.
I also need some personal down time, and there’s nothing like riding the back of the Harley for that. I know I will be spending much time in prayer and there will probably be tears too. But that’s OK because my “Buddy” will be with me upholding me and getting me through. Harley time is great for some private personal self nurturing.
Why the tears, you ask? Because of sadness surrounding my daughter, and more sadness surrounding my eldest son. Then throw a deep sadness in there for the shaken relationship with my sister and voila, the makings of a good country and western song!! Hopefully there will be much joy along the ride and even greater joy at our destination to balance out any sadness I may be carrying in the depths of my heart.
So I may be “off the grid” again for a few days. Richard will be taking his trusty Netbook with him so I will have ability to write if the urge comes. I will just have to see how my availability happens around the events that are planned for San Antonio. Safe travels to one and all and have a wonderful Fourth of July!