Trip To San Antonio

We flew Delta and had a good experience all the way around and every flight was early. The Missus had never flown before and oh boy did she have a good time especially during the climb-out, her favorite part of the ride. We went all the way down on MD88’s and on the return trip Saturday a Canadair CRJ700 into Salt Lake City and an Embraer 170 to Indy. The MD88’s wouldn’t have been mistaken for new but they weren’t ratty either. The CRJ700 was like new but the Embraer could have been on its maiden flight. (It looks like the Embraer 170 was only FAA certified on Feb 20th though it doesn’t actually say what year ) It even had some of that new car plane smell.

I’d never seen nor heard of Embraer before (Brazilian manufacturer) and it seemed a nice regional jet. Though the Embraer and Canadair appear powered by the same engine class the Canadair’s climb-out gave us a noticably stronger push into our seats. Maybe it was a more conservative pilot? The documentation also reflects the CRJ700 as 4 abreast seating while ours was only 3 (wider seat option?) so maybe the difference is what made the Embraer seem more sluggish than the Canadair which otherwise appear to be pretty evenly matched in most aspects. But that aside having only ever flown Boeing and AirBus products this variety of aircraft was an unexpected bonus.

The hop through Atlanta on the way down was completely uneventful other than we were not paying attention when the boarding started. We were the last ones to board even though we’d been sitting there waiting for 50 minutes. Being Atlanta there wasn’t much to see. On the way home we bounced though Salt Lake City. Imagine our surprise walking through the gate and out onto the tarmac to board the little bitty, dare I say “cute”, Canadair aircraft! My first thought was “thank goodness it’s not a Saab 340!” Of course my only complaint with the Saab 340 is small narrow seats but they can be cool if you happen to not be going too far. I’ve flown one a few times up to Chicago and don’t think it has the legs for this trip. And afterall something I’ve never been on is always preferable. 🙂

The baggage even made it to our destination and back though our large case had the lock and zipper pull-tabs ripped completely off. Besides the damage to the case that was a $10 TSA lock. But if that’s the cost of our luggage making it down and back with no loss or pilfering I’ll gladly pay it.

San Antonio is an interesting place. I’m sure the locals get tired of tourists thinking that all there is to San Antonio is the River Walk. But I enjoyed it though my feet would have been happier if we’d not circumnavigated the whole downtown area.

There was much to do with the get-togethers, the rehearsal and the wedding itself. Fortunately my brother and his (now) Wife have good taste in friends so hanging out was a good time. And I got to see people I’d not seen in probably 10 years. The families were intersting mixes of people as families tend to be but everyone seemed on their better if not best behavior so there weren’t any unanticipated problems at least while I was present.

Wednesday night was dinner with the men at the Republic Of Texas right on the river walk. I actually got there early as our hotel was only 15 minutes away from the river by foot. No Guiness. And that is how I discovered Shiner Boch. I was starting to write a blog entry while waiting but the software doesn’t render correctly in Pocket Internet Exploder (duh) so gave up when the rest of the guys arrived.

After dinner it was down to the Mad Dog tavern. They had Guiness but by then I was OK with diet Pepsi. Did I mention that the Mad Dog was a British styled pub? They even had a red telephone booth. After sitting there for only a few minutes, though, I had to wonder why I was hearing Barry Manilow playing – not The Who, not the Beatles… Barry Manilow. It wasn’t until they started playing the Bee-Gee’s that I decided they needed their red telephone booth revoked.

Thursday noon was the rehearsal followed by lunch at the County Line BBQ (a few pics, authentication required) on the river. I definitely know why they rehearse these things and even after we went through it a couple of times I knew I’d forget something. The wedding planner seemed to really know here stuff. If she ever stopped doing weddings she’d easily find a place doing logistics, I’m sure. The rehersal was also the first glimpes of the chapel and grounds chosen for the wedding. They were quite intersting and were steeped in 3 centuries of history and I can see why the Bride chose the location even if it was a long trip for most everyone.

Probably the most fun was Sporting Clays at the National Shooting Complex. We split into 2 groups, one instructor each, and started on different stations. My brother’s group was shooting an over/under (O/U) while my group was shooting a Beretta. With 22oz of mercury dampers in it the Beretta was like shooting a .410, very smooth and mild.

Two in my group, myself included, were repeatedly castigated for trying to shoot like we were shooting rifles and focusing on that front sight instead of the target. I’d love to brag that I did exceptionally well but I was probably in the 80% hit range. Seems each station had one of the two targets that would confound me and I’d only get 6 or 7 total targets. The only bragging rights I could claim was one 2 bird throw where I hit them as they intersected. Two shots – one kill – dumb luck. I’ve not shot a shotgun in a decade and had forgotten how much fun shooting pigeons can be. I can’t shoot them here on my own range (not enough open area) and not easily by my self so I don’t shoot shotguns much. That may change since when I sold my last shotgun (Remington 11-87) there wasn’t a sporting clays range 10 minutes away. There is now… hm…

The wedding went off without a hitch, or at least it seemed to. I’m not exactly at home in a tux so I was happy that not only I did I not trip over my own feet I didn’tI trip anyone else. Or maybe they were just far enough back in my wake I didn’t notice? Unfortunately, my attention was constantly on where I was walking, so as not to trip, so far I’m looking down in the few pictures I’ve seen. Oh well… better than tripping!

I was so preoccupied due to my precarious position in the line of groomsmen I only barely caught “mau-iage is wat bwings us togetar todey” giggles and not once did I hear the words “wuv, tru wuv” come from the preachers lips. Though I’m fairly certain I saw the Bride roll her eyes, ever so slightly, when the preacher was half way through his lengthy San Antonio history lesson. But I could be mistaken 😉

One intersting feature of the ceremony was the line up of groomsmen. One of the group couldn’t make it to the wedding because he’s over in the sandbox. So during the ceremony the #1 groomsman slot beside the Best Man was kept open in his honor. There was idle chatter about “photoshopping” him into the pictures from a picture he’d sent my Brother where he’s in full regalia in his hum-v. I thought we should “photoshop” ourselves into the hum-v instead…. but that’s just me.

The reception dinner was wonderful and we had a good time with our table mates. To avoid the “beef or chicken” question dinner consisted of both. The beef was probably the best fillet medallion that I’ve ever had. The chicken was excellent as well once I got the artichokes pushed aside. It’s hard to believe the sauce on the chicken was so good after being associated them. But the real star of the dinner was absolutely the salad.

On the humerous side of dinner when I bit into the first fork full of rice I was instantly reminded me of the piney cologne I wear, Polo. Pine nuts…. yum!

After pictures, boquette toss and garter traditions was cake and dancing. Sadly I got dragged onto the floor several times, the first time I’ve been caught dancing since 1988 at least. But between the wife, the bride and a rather demanding Aunt I had little choice in the matter.

After it all the bride and groom took to their horse drawn carriage for a trip around town. We won’t discuss how our Uncle’s truck full of noisy relatives later tracked down their carriage…. 🙂

Between the festivities and when we weren’t on the riverwalk we holed up at the Residence Inn – Alamo Plaza. That put us within walking distance of almost everything; 4 blocks from the mall and 5 from the riverwalk. Even the chapel was within walking distance but only if dressed casually since it was 8 or 10 blocks and that wouldn’t have been fun in formal attire (cab time!). The rooms were very nice and no bedbugs! Yes… we checked! Other than the expense my only complaint is that house keeping wasn’t very consistent. I can understand only changing the sheets every 3 days but not bringing towels and TP? Yes we had to call the desk and say “can we have some TP please?”.

The whole time in San Antonio I had my eyes peeled for a new hat. I’d intentionally not worn a hat down so that I’d have an easy way to transport a new one home. So after scouting for the first 3 days I pretty much knew which hats I wanted. Sadly I’ve only one head or I’d bought 2 or 3 in all since I cannot find decent US or even Mexican made western style hats here in Indiana without them being expensive and of the Stetson crown style. So Saturday morning we checked out and left our baggage with the porter and headed out for hat shopping and lunch. There were a few places in the mall that had nice hats in the designs I like but most were Stetson’s and way over $100. The “5-10 Store” down on the North-East bump on the inside of the riverwalk had several I liked but only being able to transport one it was an easy choice to get the one from the cigar shop in the mall.

In the end it was nice to be boarding the plan Saturday afternoon. I’m a home body type and simply like being home more than anywhere else. Fortunately TSA didn’t make our lives too tough and the trip went much more smoothly than I’d anticipated. But I was still away from home too long. I was also looking forward to the return leg across the Rockies since the flight from Indianapolis to Atlanta to San Antonio took us over absolutely nothing intersting in the way of landscape. The layover in Salt Lake City wasn’t much and I didn’t want to do the whole security thing so I only took pictures from the terminal and a few out the plane window though we were largely obstructed by the wings.

The trip photos are in the San Antonio 2006 Gallery (under Travel). There are a total of 6 galleries but 2 are only viewable if you’re logged in. Friends and family who don’t know the family login can email me for credentials.

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