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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Highway 281 to San Antonio

I was lazy this morning and didn’t get up to shower until after the 6:30am showing of “Texas Country Reporter” with Bob Phillips, was over. He profiles several Texans across the state every week, and this week he profiled a man in Kerrville who collects toasters, a man in Memphis (in the Panhandle) who plays the blues, and a group of blind birders in Weslaco who walk along a nature preserve near the Rio Grande to listen to the birds.

I didn’t even pack up my things until passed the 7:30am Today show had started. Why rush when it was still in the mid 30s? Today’s big news were the primaries in Florida and South Carolina.

But the cold didn’t last long. I left the apartment at 9:10am and only drove a few feet before realizing that I had forgotten my camera charger in the outlet upstairs. Normally I remember such crucial things when I’m halfway across town.

I drove toward Highway 281 southwest via FM963, passing through the stone village of Oakalla along a limestone creek with pretty mortars and water holes. Oakalla has a few historical stone buildings from the 19th century that are now empty.

In an hour I passed through Burnet, then the familiar towns of Marble Falls, Johnson City, Blanco, driving through the rolling pastures of western Hill Country. A few adult deer lie dead off the shoulders.

I passed the familiar turn off on TX46 West to Boerne, driving past fields of goats and sheep and clearly now in Texas Hill Country and the German influence. In two hours or 120 miles I reached the northern end of San Antonio and its expanding new developments around Quarry Market. Traffic was backed up at all the strip mall lights and the outside temperature was 61F, warm enough to turn off the heat and roll down the window.

Highway 281 goes right through downtown SA, where directional signs to the Alamo are clearly posted. I was hungry and looking for a place to grab a quick bite to eat, but in SA that is a bad mistake, as all the eateries around the Alamo are touristy and overpriced. I quickly meandered around the downtown, followed a detour that was the result of a market in the area, and made it back on Hwy 281 to the correct turnoff for the San Jose mission.

Here again I was faced with more stop-and-go traffic because the westbound exit was closed for repairs and the detour took me around back-up traffic moving into the city. This was the perfect excuse to stop at a JackInTheBox for a quick lunch.

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