Sunday, February 15, 2009

February 15, 2009 Brackettville, Texas

Sunday, February 15, 2009

.... heading north out of Crystal City for Uvalde, then west to Brackettville and Del Rio. These are the "Texas Badlands". Uvalde has the attraction of a Super Walmart ... a mecca to any RVer. The hawks out here are amazing. Huge birds (of several varieties) that are perched along the road. One every couple of miles. They just look at us as we drive by, as is to say we are interrupting their concentration on lunch. One day last week I even saw a bald eagle! By lunchtime we have found Brackettville. There are 2 things of interest here ... The Alamo Village and Fort Clark Springs. We need to do something "touristy", so we drive directly to the Alamo Village just outside of town .. this translates to 7 miles of very bad road that are about to get worse. We find the entrance gate and pay our $15.00 and drive onto a washboard of dusty, rocky, rutted tracks that lead off into the scrub. We are now "off roading" in a 23,000 pound RV while towing a jeep. Nice! We crawl along at about 5 miles an hour and wind and wind and wind. Up a rather interesting rise and around and around. Will it ever end?? Will there be room to turn around?? Are we totally screwed?? Why didn't the guy at the gate say anything? Too late now, we are past the point of going back. The dishes are vibrating out of the cupboards. My fillings are coming loose. The Jack LaLanne juicer just hit the floor (and didn't break)! Actually, the ground around us looks so hard, we could probably take off across country and not get stuck. Saints preserve us.

Finally we see the Alamo and town recreation. This is the first movie set actually built in Texas. John Wayne had been trying to make the movie "The Alamo" for at least 15 years. He was using his own money and kept running out of funds. He was using land that belonged to his friend, Happy Strahan, and had constructed the facade of the Alamo when, once again, he ran out of money. Happy offered to find the rest of the investors and chip in himself, but he had certain conditions ... the buildings had to be more than just facades (he wanted all 4 walls and roofs) and the buildings could not be destroyed in the filming. The deal was struck, and the movie "The Alamo" with John Wayne, Richard Widmark and a host of others was finally made in 1959. It was a huge hit (still a popular film) and everybody was happy. The story takes some liberties with the truth, but that's Hollywood. This place had been used for outdoor locations a few times in the early 1950's, but after Wayne's movie, with the addition of the recreated town, it has been used continually for movies, TV,Commercials, documentaries and even some music videos. Roy Rogers filmed here, "Bandolero" with Jimmy Stewart, Dean Martin & Raquel Welch, "Lonesome Dove", some "Gunsmoke" episodes, History channel series, the list is pretty long.

There are a group of dedicated volunteers that love the Old West and staff the stores and Cafe that are open to the public to keep some cash coming in between films. Having seen the "real" Alamo in San Antonio ... which is a rather small stone building that is surrounded by a smallish town square and dwarfed by the much taller buildings in Downtown ... it was really interesting to see a more accurate replica of the actual compound, as it looked in 1836. It was a dusty little church with connected outbuildings and a very poorly maintained walled compound of about an acre, well outside the town of San Antonio de Bexar. Seeing this, you wonder how they managed to defend it as long as they did ... no surprise that Santa Anna clobbered them in the end. The exit from the village is not nearly as exciting, as we know what to expect, but we backtrack to Fort Clark Springs to the RV park for the night. This was an Infantry post in 1857, with an additional command of Cavalry soldiers. It guarded the border with Mexico and the town of Brackettville grew up around it. After the Civil War (when it was occupied by the Provisional Army of Texas, as they had seceded from the Union) it was returned to the US Military and most of the buildings that remain today were built. They were Indian fighters and had a very rough life. The fort was home to the 5th Cavalry Regiment and Colonel George S. Patton, Jr. was the Regimental Commander in 1938. Many units trained here before their deployment overseas and this was one of the last horse-cavalry posts in the nation when the cavalry became fully mechanized in 1944. Today, it is a cluster of historic buildings that is also a private recreation and retirement community. There are neighborhoods that have the names of the original "camps", bird trails, fishing, hiking, camping and a host of other areas. the RV park has lots and lots of folks who come for the entire winter ... but after the experience we had a Triple R, we feel like we are packed in like sardines. Glad it's only one night.

We are off to Big Bend area in the morning. There is enough moisture in the air that you can feel it on your face, but it just doesn't rise to the level of mist. This area has not had a real rain in about 18 months. It is truly parched. Back on the road!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment