1/03/2009

Winter Road Trips # 1a Goliad


La Presidio la Baha in Golida - otherwise known as "the fort"

GFT has been making road trips nearly since she learned to drive ....somewhere in high school, at the tender age of 17, I started driving off to visit older friends who were already in college in Austin (UT) or Houston (at Rice) . I had two good friends who drove away to New Orleans for a week by themselves at about the same age. We were all barely old enough to vote, but back in the day, old enough to buy liquor. Sometimes I wonder at what our parents were thinking, or IF they were thinking at all. Most parents, including myself, would not let their teen aged children nowadays journey far without chaperones or supervision of any kind. I continued this tradition of independent road trips throughout my college years, schlepping various boyfriends, willing or not, to see the State Fair of Texas, Neiman-Marcus Fortnights, Texas beaches, partying on 6th street in Austin, various museum exhibits around the state, or touring the River Walk in San Antonio.
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Texans, I think, generally love to drive - with a state this size, and public transportation consisting pretty much only of Southwest Airlines until recent years - we've had very little choice in the matter. I know folks who routinely drive across the state to another city to visit the doctor of their choice, or shop, or get their hair done, whatever. When I have moved cross-country (which I done, several times), I have often chosen to drive at least a portion of that journey, just to see and experience the land and the people who live there. My little brood continues to drive east to the beaches of North Carolina each summer, mostly b/c we kinda have fun eating and visiting our favorite spots along the way.
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No collection of road trip anecdotes would be complete without a mention of perhaps one of my favorite road trips of all time. Clever observers will have noted that this latest batch of short pieces are numbered out of order. That is because this road trip to Goliad, which was actually undertaken several years ago, remains the quintessential road trip in my family's collective memory, and thus is forever honored with the number "one".
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Folks who know GFT know that her own natural biological family is small and dysfunctional. It has been a survival strategy of GFT from her earliest days to "adopt" other families she comes into contact with via the road of life, and make them her own. GFT does this not out of cunning but due to a genuine need to find additional folk to love on and be connected to. One of the many families she has adopted over the years belongs to that of childhood friend Vincent the Spell-Checker. In the earliest days, GFT's contact with this family involved little more than dining out together for Tex-Mex, or having Vincent's mother drive GFT and Vincent around in her yellow station wagon, known affectionately by all as "the banana", before the two of them were old enough to drive. In recent years, the bond has grown closer as Vincent's family was instrumental in helping GFT survive her disastrous divorce from husband # 1 and several other rough patches in the road. At this point in life, GFT dotes, absolutely dotes, on this family and enjoys spending time with them whenever she can. So it was with great joy that she accepted an invitation to visit them in their hometown of Goliad, Tx, a few winters back, and bring the junior rug rats. Thus began one of the all time great road trips of GFT's life.

Goliad Mission Espiritu Santo, otherwise known as "the mission"

Vincent the Spell-Checker's family hails from Goliad, Tx, in much the same way that the Kennedys claim Hyannis Port as their family compound - with the exception, of course, that Vincent's family has lived in their old hometown for several hundred years longer. (GFT feels affinity, as her own family on her mother's side has lived in Sulphur Springs for pert near just about as long, maybe longer.) Goliad is one of the oldest most historic towns in Texas , and was where one of the major battles of the Texas War of Independence was fought. A tiny hamlet nowadays, Goliad boasts a few dozen streets, several beautiful historic buildings, some truly magnificent ancient oak trees, a small grocery store which also sells deer blinds, and several decent Tex-Mex eateries. Tourists come from far and wide to visit the mission and the presido ( a fort), located just across the road from each other. These old historic buildings were built by the Spanish, as part of their colonization of the region they called Tejas, and were what the rebels were stealing, or defending ( depending on your point of view) during the battle that waged there in 1836.

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GFT took off in her little car one fine winter weekend, kids in tow, and tore down the highway as fast as she could to visit Vincent and his kin in Goliad. The trip, which normally takes Vincent's mother 9 hours or more, was completed in just 5 and 1/2 hours by GFT. Once there, Vincent took GFT and her kids, who are only some of the many godchildren he claims, around to meet all his relatives and see all the sites. The hard work of being a tourist was broken at intervals by restive visits to local eateries.

The Number 5 Combination - GFT's favorite Tex-Mex meal



Goliad County Courthouse
A fun stop on the tour of missions and forts was the old country courthouse. Texas is famous for its country courthouses, and many Texans "collect" visits to various ones, often comparing and discussing their relative merits or weaknesses. The one in Goliad is a fine example, and is surrounded by a ring of ancient oak trees which are delightful to climb on, walk under, and generally contemplate. (Remember, trees are relatively rare in this state- most of them, other than mesquites, have been planted by the folk who live here. Thus, when we come across them, we revel in them. Never ever take them for granted.)



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