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We fell in love with the San Antonio area and had a great time exploring the hill country of Texas, an area that stretches from San Antonio to Austin. Lots of neat little towns all authentically grounded in Texas spirit. But, lets start with San Antonio de Valero, or otherwise known as the Alamo. Settled in 1718 by Franciscan missionaries it became the largest of the five missions that were built in San Antonio and is today a UNESCO World Heritage site. The effort to convert  Indian natives to Christianity was largely unsuccessful and the mission crumbled into a jumble of crumbled masonry until it was resurrected primarily as a fortress in the early 1800’s. Texas at that time was a part of Mexico but the movement to become independent was already in place when the former mission was recreated as a fortress. The Alamo, a Spanish word for cottonwood tree,  became the focal point for Texan independence on March 6, 1836 when Mexican troops laid siege to the fortress and overran the defenders , many of whom became more famous than they already were including Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, James Bowie and Colonel Travis. However, the war for independence did not end there and several weeks later Sam Houston defeated General Santa Ana at the battle of San Jacinto. Nine years later Texas became the 28th state of the union.

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The Mexican army in its retreat destroyed much of the mission and the fortress and although it was used periodically over many years for a variety of endeavors, the Alamo pretty much remained a mass of ruins. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas took over restoration efforts in the early 1900’s and the site is now run by the state of Texas.

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What’s left of the Alamo defense forces…

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Bandera is a small town not far from where we parked at Lake Medina and along the Texas Hill Country Trail. Built along the banks of the Medina River and home to many cypress trees, Bandera became a center for cypress shingle making in the mid 1850’s with a workforce largely comprised of Roman Catholic immigrants from Poland who in addition to working the mill also built the second oldest Polish Catholic church in Texas, St. Stanislaus Catholic Church.

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Bandera became known as the Cowboy Capital of the world because of the advent of numerous dude ranches that sprang up in the area in the early 1900’s. Although not served by a railway, Bandera became a hot bed of ranches with the advent of the automobile and many San Antonians would flock to the hill country to enjoy the countryside. Many of the ranches still exist today.

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Today Bandera is a small town of souvenir shops, museums and local bars that retains a lot of the mythology of its early years.

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and an Indian motorcycle for sale at the museum…

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Castroville, located 25 miles west of San Antonio along a big bend of the Medina River, was settled by Henri Castro, originally from the Alsace region in France, in 1842. He imported Catholic farmers from Alsace and built a town that relied on agriculture for its existence, primarily corn, cattle, horses, hogs, and poultry. The town built upon its European heritage and many of the buildings were quite “un-Texan” with thatched roofs that later gave way to cypress shingles, and a lack of porches common to Texas architecture.

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The first church in Medina County was built in Castroville, St Louis Catholic Church,

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Located in the heart of hill country, Fredericksburg was recently voted #2 by Southern Living as the South’s Best Small Towns. In a promo put out by the Chamber of Commerce, one can decide to…

Which Fredericksburg would you like to explore?

  • The pageantry of year-round family events?
  • The richness of our German-Texan heritage?
  • The natural beauty of our hills, streams, and wildflowers?
  • The endless quest for the perfect shop?
  • The relaxation of a cozy lodging?
  • The exotic flavor of that special club or winery?
  • The satisfaction of living your dream in the beautiful Texas Hill Country?

You will discover all of these in Fredericksburg!

Admiral Nimitz was born here…

An image from the internet…

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My father’s last tour of duty was in Geneva, Switzerland where he and my mother lived for another 8 years after Ethiopia before buying their final home in France. A co-worker of my Dad was a frenchman by the name of Pierre Chevalier who also nominally worked at the UN and was a huge foodie and avid fan of all things related to wine and spirits. They were two peas in a pod. This recipe was one Pierre dreamed up with another buddy in homage to my father’s American heritage, but with a decidedly European flair. Named for my father and a stroke to his ego, please enjoy Steak à la Rawson!

steak a la rawson

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