Sunday we had two main goals: to see the rest of the missions in San Antonio, something I’d never done, and to visit Natural Bridge Caverns, something I hadn’t done in many years and thought Dan would enjoy.
The day started off with a rainy breakfast of donuts, babybel cheese, and a giant shared peach in the car, and we found our way to the first mission, Mission Concepcion.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of this mission, but there wasn’t a lot to see – the main church part, the best preserved of the four, was closed for renovation, but we did poke our heads into some of the other rooms. Mass had just been held.
We made our way south to the next mission, Mission San Jose. This mission was by far the largest and most complete of the four we saw, and we were able to explore quite a bit, though mass started right after we got there so we didn’t get many photos inside the church. My favorite part was the still-functional mill. It continued to rain and my shoes and pants got soaking wet.
Next, we hit Mission San Juan Capistrano, where (again) Mass was being conducted inside the little church. We explored a bit but it wasn’t as big or extensive as the previous mission and there wasn’t much new to see – other than a priest in vestments going around the side of the building to pee. The lawn was full of giant starlings taking advantage of the rain to eat whatever worms came up out of the ground.
Finally, we arrived at Mission Espada. I really enjoyed this one, partly because the Friary is still used by the Church, partly because they were having a festival out front and I could tell the mission was a big part of the local community. We peeked our heads into the church and walked around a bit but the best part was getting lunch from the stands selling gorditas and aguas frescas. I think the turnout wasn’t quite what they had expected, given all the rain, but it was still festive.
Pants and shoes soaked, bellies full, we headed north to the Natural Bridge Caverns and took the original tour through the caverns, seeing all kinds of interesting formations, and going through back passages because some of the rooms on the normal tour were flooded due to all the rain. I wasn’t able to get the photos I really wanted to, due to the low light available, but I think I got a few good ones. My favorite part of the tour took us back up from the lowest point we were able to go, and when we got up to the top and looked down it was like seeing something out of Lord of the Rings: being in the mines of Moria or the caves that the army of the dead live in.
It was really, really wet inside the caverns, but since my shoes and pants were already soaked it didn’t matter much.