A trip to beautiful San Antonio recently captivated a deluxe motor coach filled with Relyance Bank Crown Club members and guests.

A trip to beautiful San Antonio recently captivated a deluxe motor coach filled with Relyance Bank Crown Club members and guests.

The first stop on the trip, the group was surprised at lunch when Cindy Whitwell, director of the Relyance Bank Crown Club, gave everyone a gift card to eat at Crackle Barrel. They then traveled on to Grapevine, Texas, known as the Christmas Capital of Texas, for the night. After checking into their hotel, the evening was free to enjoy as they chose. Most in the group enjoyed the Historic downtown Grapevine where they were delighted with the nightly Light Show Spectacular at the Town Square Gazebo. They also had time to shop the unique shops, art galleries and the many fantastic restaurants. Some watched the would-be train robbers as they emerged from the Cotton Belt Hotel Clock Tower. Others in the group decided they needed some shopping time at Grapevine Mills.

The next day they traveled to San Antonio, after a stop for some fun shopping at the SAS Factory. They checked into the Drury Inn and Suites, which is the restored 1929 Alamo National Bank Building.

The group was surprised when they opened the doors of their beautiful suites that overlooked the Riverwalk. They enjoyed many amenities including a rotating menu featuring a variety of hot foods mornings and evenings, as well as cold drinks at their 5:30 daily kickback.

The next morning they departed for the missions’ tour. Early missions were un-walled communities built of wood or adobe. Later, as tensions between northern tribes and mission residents grew, these structures were encircled by stone walls. Struggling under hardships of searching for food and diseases the Coahuiltecan Indians were willing recruits for the missionaries. In exchange for labor and conversion to Catholicism, Indians received food and refuge in the missions. The group first visited Mission of Concepcion. The mission was transferred from East Texas in 1731 and looks essentially as it did in the mid-1700s as the mission’s center of religious activity.

The next mission they toured was San Jose, known as the Queen of Missions because of the size of the complex. The third, Mission San Antonio de Valero, commonly called the Alamo, was founded in 1718. It was the first mission on the San Antonio River and was where, in 1835 American Troops held out for 13 days against the army of Santa Anna.

After the missions’ tour, they visited La Villita, San Antonio’s first neighborhood, located on the south bank of the San Antonio River. Today, La Villita is a thriving art community filled with shops, galleries, cantinas, restaurants and working artists.

The next morning they had a tour of San Antonio where they saw the Tower of the Americas, the San Fernando Cathedral (the oldest cathedral in the U.S.), and the King Williams area, where the first German settlers came. The group next traveled to El Mercado, the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico where they had lunch and shopped.

The next morning the group departed for their final destination, Austin, Texas. On the way, they had lunch at the Broken Spoke Restaurant and true Texas Honky-Tonk. Among many TV and movie stars, football heroes, musicians and singers and other famous visitors, the Queen of England’s entourage stopped in to get a feel for a true Texas Honky-Tonk.

After lunch, they had a driving tour of Austin’s historical and architectural section. The group next toured the beautiful Texas State Capitol. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986 for its "significant contribution to American history."

The group ended the day with a visit to the LBJ Library and Museum located on the University of Texas Campus. The library houses 45 million pages of historical documents including about 643 hours of his recorded telephone conversations. The iconic 10-story building was designed by award-winning architect Gordon Bunshaft and features a Great Hall with a stunning four-story, glass-encased view of the archives collection. The museum collection contains more than 54,000 objects donated by the president, his family, friends and the American people.

The group was particularly interested in the temporary exhibit: "The American Soldier." This dramatic exhibition of photographs captures the essence of 150 years of American soldiering. The exhibit covers the Civil War, Spanish American War, Boxer Rebellion, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Afghanistan and to the streets of Baghdad. The enlarged photos capture the danger, frustration, humor, beauty, camaraderie, the death and victory that the American soldier encounters through history and continues to battle to this day.

Those who enjoyed the magical time in Texas were Clayton and Patsy Stroud, Ed and Patsy Gnau, Patrick and Jill Moseley, Claude and Mary Wilbern, Jimmy and Betty Johnson, Phil and Mary McBee, Roger and Linda Minyard, Barbara Wegner, Earl Raines, Patty Sheffield, Robyn Edwards, Gordon and Judy Reese, Cecil and Patsy Smith, Jo Stanfield, Elaine Rose, Pat Bethea, Beth Doughty, and John Whitwell. Cindy Whitwell escorted the tour.