Years ago when our daughters were young, we took a weekend trip to San Antonio. We stayed with some friends, and they very graciously offered to watch our four daughters (ages 4, 5, 8, and 10) so that Reese and I could have a day to ourselves.
This hardly ever happened. Our budget was always stretched to the limit back then, and it was rare when we could afford a babysitter. To have a whole day was almost a dream come true. We still didn't have any money, so we went to the Alamo. It was free.
The Alamo is the northernmost in a series of missions along the San Antonio River. The Spaniards built these missions in the 18th century as a way convert the indiginious peoples to Christianity. The Alamo, or Mission San Antonio de Valero, was one of the smallest missions. Little of the original structure stands today. It is understandably crowded as a site where Texans fought Santa Ana and his Mexican army for independence. It does feel like one is walking on hallowed ground when there.
Along a nine mile stretch of the San Antonio River south of the Alamo sit four other missions. There is Mission Conception, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Mission San Jose, and Mission San Francisco de la Espada. There is a series of auquaducts that watered the crops grown inside the mission grounds. San Jose Mission still has the outer wall around on the inside of which were rooms for the converts. The strong outer structure was able to protect itself against Apache and Commanche raiders. San Jose Mission has a mill, too, part of the elaborate design of this well known "Queen of the Missions." The sanctuary is enormous, and still used by the local Catholic community for mass.
We were telling this story to our daughters as we were driving home the next day. We were mostly driving home. What we were really doing was driving in the direction of the San Jose Mission. When we suddenly pointed the mission dome and steeple in the distance, our daughters all shouted, "Oh, let's go! Can we go?"
"What do you think, Reese? Do we have time?"
"Sure. Let's go."