Travel, Writing

A Morning By the San Antonio River

A walk along the San Antonio River.

San Antonio, Texas, the land of ma’am, terrific tacos, Chicana literature, and Nora Jones.

I’m here for a writing conference, which ended yesterday.

The place where I’m staying called me back to the neighborhood of my childhood.

Wood houses with peeling paint, chain link fences, front yards of abundant flowers, blossoming succulents. Stucco homes of bright green, azure, yellow and old white guarded by courageous dogs, barking their heads off, but tails wagging. The sleeping cat lifted her head when the man selling paletas jingled by.

 

After a few days of workshops, I needed alone time, so I spent the morning walking the San Antonio River (the non-restaurant row part). There are 15 miles of RiverWalk, from downtown through Hemisphere Park, and through several neighborhoods, should you care to take on the whole adventure.

Gentrification is around the block, across the train tracks, where the ten-story apartment buildings begin and Airstream trailers sell bar-b-que, tacos, and cold beer under a rainbow of stringed light bulbs. Breweries take up full blocks buffered by outdoor cafes.

The walking path along the San Antonio River is rimmed with Cypress trees, duck marshes, leased dogs, stately homes, and from time to time, the sight of an older man fishing off the ledge.

“There’s still catfish, bass, and gizzard shad,” the man tells me when I stop to see where his fishing line landed. I nod, wish him good luck, and good eating.

Cool wind pushes along marshmallow clouds, giving a respite from a warming sun. A passel of joggers run by me. “Run the Alamo Marathon” began twenty-three miles back.

Two men, one in front of the other, sing out a call and response in cadence, encouraging one another for the last mile. Two women in their fifties, who look like sisters, hold hands, one slightly in front of the other who is flushed red, but wears a face of granite determination and trust. They jog almost shoulder to shoulder. Their whispered cadence call is for them alone.

A “Do not feed the ducks” sign is posted by a toddler throwing bits of saltines in the water. Soon there is a duck fight among the reeds, where the mallards flap, circle, and honk until one dives underwater and upends his opponent.

Sugar aromas of Belgian waffles drift by. A large Art Nouveau house, turned restaurant, looms into view. The library now houses a museum of Dresden china, gas-lit chandeliers, and original 1920’s memorabilia.

 

Hunger won out after mile three. I bypassed the colossal restaurant and explored a much smaller venue where I had more coffee, veggie scramble, homemade bread, and jam.

Music from nearby DJ’s played, the sun broke through the clouds again, and I rested.

Travel

Reasons to visit the NYC Library

Patience the Lion, brother of Fortitude, greets visitors

I’m here in NYC visiting my son for an early Christmas.

While he takes off to work, I go sight seeing. Today I visited the New York Public Library, the Schwarzman Building.

Now, visiting the library might seem boring but for book and architect fans this is the place to put on the itinerary.

First stop is outside the building. Fortitude and Patience are the impressive marble lions who’ve guarded the library since 1911. This month they’ve donned pine wreaths.

Second stop is the foyer.

Look closer and see how many birds you can identify

Take the stairway up to the second floor. The area is a gorgeous example of Beaux Arts style with elegant chandeliers and marble walls.

Third stop: Walk through the arch way and đŸ€« shhh

A good book is the precious life blood …

you’re in the reading room. Wall to ceiling books in an area that is almost the length of a football field. I wanted to stretch out on the benches and gaze into the library sky.

I did sit and gaze.

Pause for a few minutes

Fourth stop is only for researchers with appointments. They are the lucky ones who get to enter the special rooms which contain valuable manuscripts and Charles Dickens writing desk.

There are also rooms to do genealogy research.

Fifth stop is on the ground floor where you’ll find the gift store. Walk around the corner to the children’s section and check out the two LEGO lion replicas of Patience and Fortitude.

The kids area is small but very cute with a good array of multicultural picture books, tiny kid chairs and larger adult seats.

The highlight in the room is the display of the real Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed animals.

Piglet is tiny but mighty

My last stop-which should have been my first-was the free film exploring NYPL’s history and collections. I suggest you watch the film first.

If my stomach wasn’t rumbling with hunger I would have stayed longer than two hours but hunger won out.

I jumped on the subway and headed to Little Italy for pasta carbonara.

Travel

Exploring Central Park and Roosevelt Island, NYC

We’re heading into Fall here in Southern California. I keep waiting for that nip in the air, the signal that real fall is coming. Maybe in November.

In June I wrote about waiting in NYC. In July, my son finally moved into his tiny 400 square foot apartment where a queen size air mattress takes up more than half the living room.

In September I visited his place and while he went off to work I went exploring into parts of NYC where I’d always wanted to spend more time.

First stop, Central Park. The park never gets old and is usually lively with music in the mall. Within a few hundred feet the music went from solo saxophone to bluesy jazz and ended with lively bagpipes.

The park has 29 sculptures and I doubt you could see them all in one visit (unless you plan to stay from dawn to dusk). I hunted for the Alice In Wonderland statue I’d missed before and along the way, I saw birds I’d never seen in California.

I managed to get a photo of a Red Cardinal near the Pond.

Cardinal in Central Park

And I found an inviting entrance tucked beside a busy walkway. The sign outside said “Hallet’s Nature Sanctuary.” I entered and found a peaceful place with paths leading up to gorgeous boulders and a rocky waterfall where a host of Sparrows bathed.

Enter the Hallet Nature Sanctuary-Central Park, NYC. http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

During the construction of Central Park, in 1858, the designers left the north edge of the swamp relatively untouched for a bird sanctuary and named it the Pond. A portion of this woodland is reserved (Hallet’s) and is open during scheduled hours. This is definitely one of Central Park’s best-kept secrets.

Another day I took a ferry from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island, in between Manhattan and Astoria, Queens, where through most of the 1900’s the place housed an insane asylum, hospital, and prison.

The two-mile island can be easily walked from one point (the lighthouse) to the other (Franklin Roosevelt’s Freedom Park). The view from both ends is worth the walk.

Blackwell Island Lighthouse-www.alvaradofrazier.com

Although the insane asylum is now inoperative, you can still see the skeleton structure covered in ivy. I’m saving that photo for my Instagram feed near Halloween; it’s that creepy.

Instead of the asylum, you’ll find Cornell Tech, the Octagon historic residence, parks, a newer hospital, shops, and the ubiquitous Starbucks.

When you’re done exploring for the day you can return to Midtown Manhattan on the Roosevelt Island Tram, if you’re not afraid of heights.

Up in the Air on the Roosevelt Island Tram-www.alvaradofrazier.com

Or you can take a ferry down to Wall Street and continue investigating the city sights.

Now that my son lives in NY, I’ll be back near Christmas time. After that, I’m traveling with my mom and family. Remember the story I told you about the ghosts? Well, they have not been back, but Mom’s asked us to take her to her parents birth state, in Guanajuato, Mexico where she last visited in the 1940’s.

I haven’t been to Mexico since the 80’s. Although I don’t really want to go, and I know this will be a difficult journey both physically and mentally for Mom, I will because that’s what you do for family. I’m glad she did agree to spend a couple of days in San Miguel de Allende, a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. The trip should be interesting.

Explore more, whether by foot or by book. See you next time!

Travel

One Day You Will Wake Up …Travel More

 

This quote sums up my attitude about travel and life, in general.

Maybe I have this attitude because I had breast cancer in 2005 and thought my life was way more limited than I anticipated (I’ve been in remission for close to 13 years, yay!!)

I grew up in housing projects and low-income apartments. The furthest I traveled before the age of eighteen was three hours away to San Diego, California. But I read a lot of books as a kid and envisioned the places I read about: England, France, Spain.

I worked a lot, mothered three kids as a single mom, and had neither the money or energy to do any travel overseas except once and from then on I was bitten by the travel bug.

So I say all this because I’ve returned from traveling in Spain and Portugal.

 

Casa BastilĂł in Barcelona, Spain. Designed by Antoni GaudĂ­

These two places were on my bucket list because my DNA results listed these two areas in my ancestry.

I’m 51% Native American (North America which includes Mexico) with the rest Italian, Greek, and almost a quarter from the Iberian Penisula (Spain and Portugal).

It’ll sound strange, but when I traveled to Mexico, specifically the pyramids, I felt a tug in my heart as I stood on the pyramid of the sun. A lot of people may feel the same sensation after all the pyramids are a wonder, but besides the ‘tug’ I felt like I’d visited before, in another life and time.

Look familiar? The architect for this bridge was also the one for the San Franciso bridge. This one has train tracks running underneath the freeway. Lisbon, Portugal. Cristo Rei statue in the background.

 

When I travel, I’m sensitive to similar feelings. This emotional reaction, “I’ve been here before” has happened in Florence and Sienna, Italy, and in Lisbon, Portugal.

I don’t know what to make of this experience but I’m eager to travel to Greece now and see if I ‘feel’ anything.

I took tons of photos in Madrid, Sevilla, Barcelona, Lisbon and share them on my Instagram account: m.alvaradofrazier . I have a link on the right-hand side of this blog. Let me know what you’ve been up too by following me and I can follow you back.

My summer travels are over and I’ve tried to get back to revisions on my novel. I find myself working around my daughter’s cat, Heidi, most mornings. (She missed me).

Play with me! Heidi, the grand-kitty

I hope you’ve been able to travel or enjoy your backyard this summer. I’d love to see pictures!