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Things I Didn’t Know About the Alamo

March 24, 2011 by · Comments Off on Things I Didn’t Know About the Alamo 

The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

As best I can recall, my early U.S. history lessons focused on Jamestown, the Revolutionary War and our Founding Fathers; perhaps due to my growing up in Arlington, Virginia. As the end of school year approached, the teacher hurriedly moved on to Lewis and Clark, the Civil War, and the California gold rush. I can’t remember ever studying the Spanish-American War, causes of WWI or a mention of Japanese sent to internment camps during WWII.

My eyes were opened last fall when I visited New Mexico for the first time. There, I became acquainted with the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, a Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass, and the Texas Camel Corps.

Recently, I made a trip to San Antonio, Texas, and sad to say, I didn’t remember much about the Alamo.  Sure, I’d heard of bloodshed and bravery, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and William Travis. But, I didn’t understand the background of the battle.  Fortunately, I had an excellent tour guide who provided me with details concerning the events and left me with a desire to learn more.


So, here’s what I’ve since discovered:

Battle of The Alamo


The original Mission San Antonio de Valero (now the Alamo) was constructed in 1718, and for 70 years served as a home to missionaries and Native Americans who converted to the faith.

In 1793, Spanish officials took over San Antonio’s five missions and distributed their lands. In the early 1800’s the site became a Spanish military station and in 1814 the Mexican’s took over.

In December 1835, during the Texas Revolution, a Mexican contingent was forced to surrender to Texans and Tejano volunteers (Texans of Spanish descent) fighting in San Antonio. The Texas group then used the Alamo as their base.

In January 1836, Sam Houston requested permission to “blow up the Alamo” as he didn’t think that group had enough men to defend it. He wanted the supplies and canyons moved  to Gonzales for his use, but Texas Governor Henry Smith denied the request.

A group of only 200 defended the Alamo for 13 days against General Santa Anna and his 5,000 strong Mexican army.  On March 6, 1836, the final battle erupted before daybreak when the Mexicans scaled the walls, rushed into the compound and seized the property.

Visitors to the Alamo!

Twenty six women and children survived including the widow of Gregorio Esparza and his four children. While Gregorio fought for freedom inside the Alamo, his brother Enrique had joined the Mexican army.  Enrique survived and claimed his brothers’ body for burial, the only Christian burial Santa Anna permitted. All the other defenders were cremated.  The manager of La Cantera Resort, where I stayed, showed me the Esparza Library in the hotel, honoring the family.

In 1884, the Alamo was sold to a grocery firm who wanted, in turn, to sell it to a hotel developer. Many people were opposed, especially Clara Driscoll who gave thousands of dollars to prevent the hotel construction. Driscoll eventually worked out a plan to purchase the property for the state.

In 1905, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) became custodians of the Alamo and remain so today. However, they are being investigated by the state of Texas for neglecting to properly maintain and preserve the site.

The Alamo receives no taxpayer funding and offers free admission to an estimated 2.5 million visitors each year. This year they are celebrating the Alamo’s 175th anniversary.

And, UK’s music legend, Phil Collins, has the largest private collection of Alamo memorabilia in the world.


So, there you have it, lessons learned from travel: I better understand the sacred piece of Texas history and promise to Remember the Alamo.


Debi at The Alamo- No photos allowed inside, so everyone takes a shot of the exterior.

The Alamo Gardens

Text a Donation to Help Japanese Survivors

March 15, 2011 by · Comments Off on Text a Donation to Help Japanese Survivors 

Help is Needed.  Please donate.

Below is a list of ways to text a donation to aid survivors of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Tsunami damage north of Sendai, Japan

Text a donation

All donations will be added to your monthly cell phone bill.

Text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross.

Text “MED” to 80888 to donate $10 to the International Medical Corps.

Text “JAPAN” or “QUAKE” to 80888 to donate $10 to the Salvation Army.

Text “JAPAN” or “TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10 to Save the Children’s Emergency Fund.

Text “4JAPAN” or “4TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10 to World Vision.

Text “JAPAN” to 50555 to donate $10 to GlobalGiving.


Please check full article on Matador for several more ways to help.


Winter Fun at Crystal Mountain Resort, Michigan

March 10, 2011 by · Comments Off on Winter Fun at Crystal Mountain Resort, Michigan 

Crystal Mountain Resort

A winter escape in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; are you kidding? Most Floridians happily forgo snow shoveling, driving under treacherous road conditions and freezing rain. But the fluffy white stuff often makes the right stuff for winter fun. So, I flew to Crystal Mountain Resort near Traverse City in February to frolic in the frigid air.


I laced up cross country skis and was soon gliding along peaceful trails. Snow encrusted branches hung over the frosty landscape and sunshine sparkled through the pines. I kept warm by the constant movement of my arms and legs and rationalized the effort earned me a steaming mug of hot chocolate.


In the afternoon, I thought I’d take a shot at a new sport–paintball biathlon. I’d never fired a paintball gun before, but discovered it was rather easy. What was difficult was shushing (cross country skiing) from station to station as fast as possible, then calming the heart rate enough to aim at the target. I hardly resembled the athletes in the Winter Olympics, but sure gained a new perspective and respect of their sport.


Paintball Biathlon

Crystal Mountain Resort offers numerous winter activities and I did my best to try them all. I hit the downhill slopes but the chairlift ride seemed too cold for this Southern lady. Ice skating found me with wobbly ankles and I admit, I would have preferred an indoor rink.


Then, I discovered the Crystal Spa– oh my. An outdoor whirlpool blasted my circulatory system before I indulged in a calming massage. How heavenly to relax with therapeutic touch as warm aromatic oils and stones are applied to the body. Truly decadent as was food in the restaurants.


By nightfall the slopes were illuminated, creating a mystical aura. Snow tubing looked like a hoot but I chose to watch, pretending I was a parent observing my kids. A late evening walk took me by cute rental cottages with icicles dangling from the roofs.



Dogsledding? You bettcha. I became Nanook of the North being pulled by magnificent canines who howled and begged to run. Once they took off, the huskies quieted, content at doing what they love. Fortunately, the owner rode along and instructed me to lean in or out of the sled to balance it over the course.


I didn’t have time for snowmobiling or snowboarding, although they remain popular options in Michigan. Instead, I made a road trip to local wineries. Yes, they’re open in the winter and the view from the top of the Old Mission Peninsula was worth the drive — striking clear blue water in Grand Bay abutting white covered fields. Fabulous wine, too.


I reckon I can honestly recommend leaving Florida and submerging yourself in the snow– for up to a week. Then return to the Sunshine State and you’ll appreciate the glorious weather even more.


If you go:

Crystal Mountain Resort

12500 Crystal Mountain Drive

Thompsonville, MI 49683

800 968 7686


A View from the Old Mission Peninsula


Michigan on Dwellable

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