February 8 2010 by Jason Fogelson
The day has finally arrived. I'm in San Antonio, Texas.
After weeks of preparation, I headed to the airport this morning lugging my rolling duffel bag full of motorcycle gear, and boarded a plane for the Lone Star State.
Yesterday was a flurry of activity, as always before a trip. Flying off for a motorcycle trip is different than a normal trip. I always travel light, but the definition changes when you have to carry your gear with you. My helmet alone takes up a good portion of my luggage.
I wear my boots on the flight, even though I hate the extra time and effort required to take them off and get them back on for the security screening. I wear a size 14 boot, and I just can't afford the luggage space. I sacrifice a bit of comfort on the flight, but I'm wearing some great Harley-Davidson FXRG®-3 Boots these days. They're almost as comfortable walking through airports as they are riding a motorcycle, and that's saying something. I tossed a pair of lightweight sandals into my bag to shuffle around the hotel, but other than that, the FXRG®-3 Boots will be my only footwear.
I've had a close eye on the weather for the past week. A series of big storms has moved through the West Coast, and they threaten to make for some wet riding in Texas this week. I'm prepared. I've got my FXRG® Perforated Leather Jacket and FXRG® Leather & Textile Overpants to keep me warm and dry. I've even got some Battery Operated Heated Gloves to keep my hands in top condition.
I packed very carefully. I'm picking up my Ultra Classic Electra Glide tomorrow at Caliente Harley-Davidson. I own a set of saddle bag liners and a Tour Pak liner, so I know exactly how much stuff I can fit on the bike -- no surprises when I go to load up. I just have to wonder if I forgot anything important. I don't think I did.
After a fitful night's sleep, I said goodbye to my wife, dogs and cats, and flew off to the wild blue yonder. Well, the wild grey yonder, if truth be told. Menacing cloud cover haunted me all the way to Texas, and I was greeted by a light drizzle here in San Antonio. I collected my duffel at baggage claim, and hopped in a cab to the Best Western Ingram Park Inn, which is conveniently located just half a mile away from Caliente Harley-Davidson.
My cab driver, Alejandro, has lived in San Antonio for over 20 years. When I asked him where I should go on my one evening in town, he didn't hesitate. "River Walk."
San Antonio's River Walk is a public park that lines the San Antonio River downtown. There are dozens of restaurants, shops and attractions along the managed banks of the river, and even more in the surrounding neighborhood. I took Alejandro's advice -- in fact, I arranged for him to return and taxi me to River Walk about an hour after checking in to the Best Western. It was 15-minute cab ride to downtown, during which I got to see the city at sunset.
River Walk is in the middle of historic Old San Antonio, and is within walking distance of the city's most famous attraction: The Alamo.
The Alamo is open for visitors every day of the week, from 9:00 am - 5:30 pm Monday through Saturday, and from 10:00 am - 5:30 pm on Sundays. Admission is free. I arrived after closing -- which was perfectly fine. I will return to San Antonio on the last day of my trip, and will tour the Alamo then. For tonight, I had to be satisfied with taking some photos of the exterior, reading some plaques, and soaking up the ambiance. There's plenty of ambiance, some of it authentic and some very touristy. Directly across the square from the Alamo are a wax museum, a Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not, a maze of mirrors and a Guinness Book of World Records Hall. Brightly lit horse-drawn carriages ferry tourists around the area. I even saw some helmeted adventurers out on a Segway Tour of downtown.
I broke away from the Alamo to have some dinner at Landry's Seafood House , which I had spotted on my way in to River Walk. It turned out to be a very good choice. A small regional chain, Landry's specializes in fresh seafood and professional service. I had a delicious Gulf Snapper filet, and then hailed a cab back to the Best Western.
Tomorrow morning, I'll pick up my bike at the dealership when they open at 9:00 am, and I'll begin my ride.
I hope you'll follow along.