Saturday, April 27, 2013

Xeriscapes and eXploring - Sat., Apr. 27

Last April Bob and I did a Volksmarch in Kerrville, Texas, which took us through Riverside Nature Center. The nature center had some beautifully arranged xeriscapes with cacti, mesquite, and other plants that do not require a lot of water.

Xeriscaping is basically landscaping that is dry (Greek: xeros).

I bring this up because today we Volksmarched in Castroville, then drove out to Brackettville, Texas. Along the way, we saw many areas of xeriscaping and south Texas brush country.

Let's start in Castroville. The town is rife with history.

Our 10K (6.2 mile) walk started at Sammy's Restaurant and headed to the outskirts of town, down to Medina Creek, through Castroville Regional Park, past a large, old cemetery and through the historic part of town. Wildflowers, trees and cacti bloomed in red, purple, white and yellow along the way.

Castroville is an Alsatian town with roots in the Alsace region of France at the border with Germany. Many buildings reflect the architectural style brought over from Europe.

Castroville's early residents were mostly farmers. Our walk took 2-1/2 hours because of all the historic markers and photo ops.

Here are photos from our Castroville walk. The temperature was 76 degrees with 90% humidity.

Alsation Steinbach House Park, Castroville, Texas
Mexican hat wildflowers (Ratibida columnifera)
Walking in a neighborhood.
Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) blooming in someone's yard.
Medina River, Castroville, Texas.
Red sage.
Palo verde tree (Cercidium microphyllum)
The "Walking Trail" was a part of our Volksmarch.
Scissor-tailed flycatcher in Castroville Regional Park.

Castroville Regional Park
Castroville Regional Park has an RV campground with two park hosts. It's not a very big park and looks quite crowded. Bob  and I had thought about moving there at one time. It's outside the city and has a large pool. Before we saw it, we thought as a regional park the RV sites would be large. However, after seeing the sites, we don't think we'll be staying here. Rigs were packed in like sardines.

These look like overflow sites.
The main RV park in the trees. Very close quarters.
Little-leaf sage (Salvia microphylla "Hot Lips")
An interesting piece of Castroville history: Since 1847 the community has celebrated St. Louis Day (a Catholic observance of the feast of St. Louis) on the Sunday closest to August 25. Through the years a picnic became traditional on the church grounds following high mass. An evening dance ended the day-long celebration.

After the 1920s, the picnic and dance were held at Wernette's Garden, now known as Koenig Park. A dance pavilion was built in the park in 1953.
St. Louis Catholic Church
Susan and St. Louis statue
Purple orchid tree (Bauhinia variegata)
Beautiful wagon planter display in a yard.
Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio Confusus) with a skipper (?)
Bob in front of the original St. Louis Church (1846). In 1868 Sisters of Divine Providence opened their first permanent school in Texas in this building.

In the Dubuis House below, the two original rooms were erected in 1947 by Claude Dubuis from Lyons, France.  Father Dubuis, the first priest in Castro's colony, was captured not once, but twice, by Comanches in 1847. He escaped unharmed both times and went on to become a bishop of Texas. This house is the first example of Alsatian architecture in Castroville.

The Dubuis House
The building below is now City Hall, but it wasn't in the beginning. It started out as the Medina County Seat Courthouse. When the county seat was moved to Hondo, this building was converted to a school and now City Hall. Its walls are made of 18" thick native limestone.
First Courthouse of Medina County.

Geyer-Rihn House - it looks so inviting.
Fields of wildflowers still in blom.

 Koenig Park where the St. Louis Day celebration is held.

This year is the 131st annual St. Louis Day Celebration.
This festival has a long history in Castroville!
Freeze frame. "If I don't move, they can't see me."
Double click on the historic marker below to read about how Castroville started.

Medina River
We stopped in at Haby's Bakery for snacks.
The mural on Haby's Bakery (below) was done in February 2000 by Patrice Hoff, professor of visual arts at college Jean XXIII in Mulhouse, France. The wall is a tribute to Alsatian-Texan history. The mural includes a portrait of Henri Castro (founder of Castroville), the St. Louis Catholic Church, the town of Eguisheim, France and outlines of Texas and Alsace.

Mural on the side of Haby's Bakery.
At the end of our walk, we stopped for lunch at Sammy's Restaurant.

Fortified, we headed west on U.S. 90 to Uvalde and Brackettville. See part 2 of today's post for more.

Welcome to Spacerguy, who dropped in from a parallel universe, and One Texan's Travel's [sic].