||The Second Occasional LoneStarCon Science Fiction Convention and Chili Cook-off,
Variously known as the 55th World Science Fiction Convention and LoneStarCon 2,
To be held from August 28th through September 1st, in the year 1997, in San Antonio, Texas.
Progress Report #1Christmas Along The Riverwalk
by Casey Hamilton
aving heard about the holiday lights along the Riverwalk for
almost as long as I've lived in Texas, I decided this year it
was finally time to go see for myself how San Antonio celebrates
the holidays. Since Ed had a couple of days off from work for
Christmas, we made the hour and a half trek south from Austin
to San Antonio the Friday before Christmas.
We planned to meet friends from Kansas who were visiting San Antonio
for Christmas, in the lobby of the Marriott Rivercenter about
5 p.m. We got there in plenty of time and easily found a parking
spot in our favorite pay-as-you-park lot, nestled between the
Alamo and the Crockett Hotel, and right around the corner from
the Rivercenter Mall.
It's a weird tradition of mine to visit malls right before Christmas,
either on the 23rd or Christmas Eve. Earlier than that, I get
annoyed by the crowds always seeming to meander right in my way,
by the kids screaming, by the lines of people everywhere. But
right before Christmas, things click into place for me, and I
start to enjoy Christmas.
I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of huge numbers of people.
Sure, there were plenty of people there, but most of the locals
were off at one of the other malls in town. The crowd at the River
Center Mall seemed to be more visitors and tourists.
After wandering for a while, we walked through the intervening
glass doors on the street level of the mall, directly into the
lobby of the Marriott Rivercenter, spotted our friends, and tried
to figure out where to go for dinner. Since there are literally
dozens and dozens of options available in a very short walking
distance, it generally takes a while to make the decision.
It wasn't dark yet, so rather than doing the Riverwalk right away,
we decided to head for Landrys Seafood House. The food is usually
good and reasonably priced. Landrys also has the benefit of being
right around the corner from one of our two Marriotts, and just
down the street from the convention center. After dinner, we headed
down to the Riverwalk for drinks and dessert.
We located one of the convenient entry points to the Riverwalk
just half a block down the street, and descended to a different
world, romantic and entirely removed from the reality of street
level. Traffic noises immediately faded away and our senses were
overwhelmed with the red, green and white lights twinkling in
all the trees and reflecting on the rippled water, a nearly psychedelic
The Riverwalk has always felt like a cross between an old European
city and the nicer parts of New Orleans' French Quarter. It's
designed for strolling, with relatively few steps or stairs, for
wandering from one restaurant to another, as you check out the
menus conveniently located for potential customers' perusal. Most
of the restaurants, which span a broad range of food types and
prices, have both indoor and outdoor seating, sometimes stretching
right out to the river.
The myriad assortment of restaurants snuggle up against each other
on every side, with occasional shops and galleries thrown in to
keep the mix more interesting. Italian, Texan, Thai, Chinese,
ribs, steaks, seafoodone right after another after another.
The entire time, river taxis and dinner barges make their way
from one end of the Riverwalk to the other, sometimes with carolers
entertaining themselves as well as those they pass.
After looking at close to a dozen different menus, and not finding
what I was in the mood for, we discovered a place called Dicks,
which specializes in wait staff with smartaleck attitudes-perfect
for a Friday night. We took one of the outdoor tables, and were
pleased to find active heat lamps over each table. Jackets and
coats were definitely not necessary, even though it was in the
mid 50s outdoors.
Great fudge pie, large glasses of Shiner Bock on tap and good
Irish coffee, conversation with friends, enjoying the holiday
lights, and the pleasure of watching people make their way along
the Riverwalk both on foot and by boat, was definitely a splendid
way to spend a Friday evening. I heartily recommend it.
Unfortunately, Ed and I had to get back to Austin if for no other
reason than to feed the cats. But I suspect we'll be back to wander
the Riverwalk many times before LoneStarCon 2, at least if I have
my way about it.