Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Plot Thickens

Okay, the hotel only looks like that because they ripped off the edge of the awning so they could build the new one. It really is on the way! Really!! That's why all the hotel staff are wearing safety vests, though they aren't wearing hard hats, Robbie.

They're going to have sleep number beds in every room, too. God, how I wish they had them now. My bed is so hard that last night I dreamt I was being chased by zombies and ended up having to sleep with all the lights on.

Next door - you walk under the railroad trestle to get to it - is the convention center, which we visited today, where extensive remodeling is well under way. It's going to be beautiful, and it's going to offer 21,400 square feet of - say it with me now - flexible meeting space!

That's a phrase that gets thrown around a lot in meeting planner circles.

Here are a few other things we saw today (and pictures will just have to wait until I get home to a more powerful computer, sorry):

The Cactus Hotel, built in 1929. It was the fourth Hilton hotel - ever - and has an opulent tiled lobby, grand staircase and mezzanine, and incredible, beautiful ballroom on the second level. It's haunted, I expect. But it's used as lofts and office and retail space, plus private function space now, not as a hotel.

Paint Brush Alley, murals by local artists on the walls and windows of an alleyway, and part of a citywide mural art project. Some downtown buildings now being used as warehouses also have trompe l'oeil paintings on the windows of what the shops and restaurants inside once looked like. Very cool.

Painted doors - a series of painted doors hung on an outside wall downtown, also part of the outdoor urban art project.

The Texas Theatre, currently gutted and undergoing restoration. Actually, I thought it was cooler to see it like that, with the seats all pulled out and exposed brickwork, than to see it when it's finished - though I'm sure it will be beautiful; the cornices and moldings are very elaborate and you can tell it'll be amazing when it's done - along the lines of the Paramount.

Legends jewelry store, where they sell (among other pieces) jewelry crafted from the local pink, lavender, and peach Concho pearls, and also gold and silver horny toads ("horned lizards, my ass, they're horny toads" was almost, but not quite, what the proprietor said about their name).

Miss Hattie's Bordello Museum. Bet you can't wait for those pictures! All the ladies' boo-dwahs are lovingly restored, though the mannequin who normally stands in the window was lounging about on a red velvet chaise longue in her black lace skivvies, today.

Eggemeyers General Store. You can't get much more general; they have everything, from - well, they have lots of stuff. Handmade jams and jellies, 8-foot black iron wind chimes (which made me think of Robbie), you name it. Also, there are airplanes hanging from the ceiling. We didn't get to spend enough time there.

D'Vine Winery. We didn't sample the wine, but it's a beautiful place - maybe tomorrow I'll stop in and get a bottle or two to take home.

M.L. Leddy's boot and saddle shop. They also have belts! Founded in the 20's in Bryan, the store moved to San Angelo in 1936. The Fort Worth location came later, even though that's now the headquarters. The factory is adjacent to the shop and is walled with glass so you can see the work being done. It smells deliciously leathery!

The Celebration Bridge over the Concho. The bridge is attractive - it's such a pretty river - but I loved the statue in the water, the Pearl of the Conchos, a pretty bronze mermaid. She's topless. Come to think of it, she's bottomless too, but the bottom half is a fish so who cares? Anyway, I got a picture.

The San Angelo Museum of Fine Art. This is a gorgeous facility, which is all I can really say about it because actually I don't care much for museum art. I know, you thought I was all cultured and shit. Mais non! But I was in raptures over the mesquite parquet flooring.

Old Town - This is like Heritage Village in Corpus, y'all. They took a bunch of historic houses and buildings and moved them to one central location. They have offices in them, though - I don't know if the ones in Corpus are used for anything.

Santa Fe Depot Railway Museum. My favorite of the day, because they have not one, not two, not three, not four, but actually I lost count of how many huge, beautiful, detailed, elaborate model train sets, with the bridges and the tunnels and the cliffs and the little trees and houses?! Oh my god. SO totally cool!!! I took lots and lots and lots of pictures here, and not one of them is going to show how awesome the place really is. I like trains.

Fort Concho - we didn't actually see very much of this, just the visitor center in the barracks, the stables, and the commissary. You'd need a whole day to go over it properly, because it has a couple of museums on the grounds, too. I have to admit I liked Fort Ontario better. Fort Concho might want to consider building earth berms with catacomb-like tunnels around the complex, and maybe putting in a major inland lake. But it was still very interesting.

The Chicken Farm Art Center. This is an artists' commune which used to be, believe it or not, a chicken farm; there's also a very small restaurant on the premises which is supposed to be excellent, the Silo House. We saw some spectacular pottery and sculpture (I like this kind of art), some of it whimsical, some sublime... and the cats roaming the grounds are very friendly. What more could you ask?

Let's see, then we had lunch at the Butler's Pantry, a tiny little restaurant in an old house where you have to have reservations no matter when you go, because otherwise they won't be able to fit you. We all had stuffed fried avocadoes, Robbie. Wish you could have been there!

Then there was, let's see, the tour of the hotel with the description of the renovations - oh, those beds look like they're going to be so nice - and then the convention center.

The International Water Lily Garden is gorgeous, and the lilies are beautiful, but some of the pads look almost industrial. There are these gigantic ones that fold up around the edges like three-foot wide dinner plates, and have thorns on the bottom so fish can't eat them. On the grounds around the lily ponds were some cacti that made me think of Robbie.

The Angelo State University Planetarium was another favorite - well, there wasn't a lot that I saw that I didn't like, but I really really liked the Planetarium, and the railway museum. They didn't turn it on for us - but it was really cool just being in there, and hearing the professor talk about it. They're hoping to get in some new equipment, and as soon as they do I might make a trip just for that.

Lake Nasworthy, and the ASU Lake House - we visited the house as a potential dinner venue. You can see the Twin Buttes across the lake. They don't look like buttes, they look like - well, anyway.

The San Angelo Nature Center. This was a fascinating place with a trail by the lake and lots of exotic small animals on display - tarantulas, a chincilla, rattlers, a very restless lynx, lots of turtles, Tony! and horny toads! and so many snakes!!! One was a gigantic python named Baby; curled up in her tank, I couldn't tell how long she was, but she was easily as big around as my thigh. She eats rabbits and wild pigs and small deer. You all know who that made me think of.

That was all for today. I'm sorry to report that we rather anticlimactically had dinner at Cheddar's, then wound up with a spot of shopping at Payless and Wal-Mart, I'm sorry Billy. But tomorrow we're visiting a monastery and it turns out they have a pretty strict dress code for their female visitors, for which my hasty Tuesday morning packing job did not prepare me.

Tomorrow, Scarlett, is another day. But that bed's not getting any softer.

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At August 20, 2008 11:11 PM, Anonymous RDub said...

Just to let you know, there is a D'vine Wine in Austin on 620 and one here in Georgetown on the square. Maybe I'll have to take you there next time you come hang out.

At August 21, 2008 1:27 PM, Blogger giraffeintexas said...

who knew san angelo was packed with terrific tourism spots?


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