Presidio La Bahia
In January, I got to add a totally different kind of overnight to the list, when Don and I spent the night in a museum! But more incredible than that, our museum overnight was part of a Spanish Colonial Mission/Fortress, dating back to 1749.
A Door in the Wall
After getting our key from a museum employee, we found the thick wooden door that lead to our "apartment" for the night. The door opened to a space that had once been officer's quarters.
There were no couches or lamps back when officers slept here, but after the fort went through a major reconstruction in the 1960's, these rooms were wired for electricity. The space then became living quarters for priests. Today, La Presidio is operated by Catholic Diocese of Victoria, TX and they rent out The Quarters for about $200. a night. We try not to spend that much for a hotel, but we had the whole fort to ourselves!
The furniture looked a little old... as in Grandma's house. But the decor looked pretty new, considering what we would have found here 268 years ago. There were no creaky floors like some historic hotels. I loved the solid feel of the little apartment, with brick floors, thick stone walls and wood beamed ceiling.
Cooking & Dining
There was a decent little kitchen and a table in the living room. Some might find it a bit unappetizing to dine under the framed flag image. But after a while I stopped noticing the Goliad flag, featuring the severed arm and bloody sword. There were so many images of that arm in the museum and courtyard, I stopped being jolted by it.
The stone walls were too thick to holler through, but we did have a couple of handy wall openings between rooms. I'm guessing the interior windows helped with ventilation back when the priests lived here. They also made the place feel a little less cave-like.
From the kitchen, we just walked through a set of saloon doors to reach the room with the double bed. The "kids room" with twin beds, was on the other side of the living room. We found a fan that we turned on for noise, before bed. We both agreed we'd rather hear the hum and not be awakened to debate over every ghostly sound in the night.
The door (near lamp) at the rear of The Quarters, opened into the church courtyard. Our door and walls weren't thick enough to keep out the sound of the church bells every 15 minutes. But, that's okay. The bells made a wonderful sound, then took a rest at 9 pm, after playing a lovely song. I wish I'd made a recording.
Our Lady of Loreto Chapel
This lovely church built in 1779, was what we saw when we opened our back door. Unlike the fort, the church suffered little damage during the Texas Revolution. It was hard to believe this peaceful church played such a sad role.
The path from the church lead up to a raised corner turret, with a cannon aimed outward. It was a reminder of the fort's gory past.
Don and I don't know nearly as much Texas history as our kids, who went to Texas public schools. It took a visit to the museum to catch us up on the details of the Texas Revolution and the Goliad massacre of 1836. Suddenly it was impossible not to think about Colonel James Fannin and 300+ "Texian" soldiers who were executed right outside the walls of the fort.
The little church still opens for mass each Sunday. It wasn't a Sunday, but the church was open and I lit a candle for ALL those who suffered here, nearly 200 years ago. It's sad to imagine the Texian soldiers being held captive inside this very chapel.
Time to Enjoy
After the museum closed at 5, we had the fort grounds to ourselves. There was a lot of heavy stuff to ponder when all was quiet, but we chose to take our chairs out to the east wall and focus on the sunset.
Inside the Fort Walls
The large courtyard was peaceful. I chose to think about the time when la Presidio was a Spanish mission and the courtyard was actually filled with tents. It was too eerie thinking about Colonel Fannin, the last to be killed. It was in this very courtyard where he was shot.
The fort is on the hilltop, so the sun disappeared quickly behind the wall. The wind began to blow and a nearly full moon began to rise behind us.
A Cozier Courtyard
We moved our chairs to the smaller (and brighter) courtyard. A spotlight shined on the church, but it was still creepy. The wind rattled the dry palm fronds, while crickets chirped. It felt odd and isolated, inside the fort... and we loved it.
We moved inside to continue our dinner snacking of cheese, crackers and fruit.
Then I started worrying over the fact that we had no fire screen and that the "escape window" near our bed, was covered with iron bars. So we fell asleep to the sound of the fan, trying to ignore worries of ghosts, mice and fires.
I woke early and felt a little disappointed that we'd had no excitement in the night. I put on my running shoes and headed out to the fort courtyard and did a few laps while we still had the fort to ourselves. The church bells started their chiming at 8 and the museum opened at 9. We lingered a while after breakfast, but checked out before the magical spell was broken by school buses or tourist jabber.
We spent the night in a fort with an incredible history. I still can't believe we were able to do that.
With all the rules and regulations these days, I'm surprised they didn't do a background check! Thanks to friend, Lori for sharing a link with a write up about La Presidio. This little gem of an overnight was just 2 hours from my home and I never knew about it!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!