Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Aquarena Springs, Or Rather San Marcos

Despite the name "Two Way Roads", we're not really a travel blog. Such things are plentiful on the Internet, and for all intents and purposes, it is a wasteland. Such things are NOT really like any substitute for travel, unlike Travel Channel's original programming (is the only purpose of traveling to see beaches or eat weird food?). If you really are stuck at home and are poor, try the latest version of Google Earth, a collection of add-ons, and a few travel guides. For the desperate, try a psychedelic drug.

Anyway, the following is a blog post that should've been posted a year ago (I'm a procrastinator!) and is about my visit to Aquarena Springs and San Marcos in general.

Let's just get one thing straight: San Marcos, Texas, is a gilded wasteland.

Some of the highlights (and lowlights)

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I've always been fascinated with the fact that the railroad runs right by this H-E-B. Why? The grand possibility of grocery cart smashing! There used to be a second railroad abandoned in the early 1990s that made it possible for westbound trains to go north.

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I've never been to this strip center here, anchored by JCPenney and Target, but apparently there was a strange mall-like structure in front of it....

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Unfortunately, researching for this mystery mall (torn down between 1998 and 2002) is difficult due to...


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Seriously, it's zoomed out so you can see both. This place is really great if you love shopping, and really hellish if you don't. Everyone drives from store to store, there's very little food options available, weather is almost always hot, and...it's a mess. Personally, I'd prefer if they made a "San Marcos Mills", but hey, it draws thugs.

OK, so Google searchers out there: that's "san marcos indoor mall".

As of 2008, the hotel I stayed at was under construction.

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It was really nice. Conference centers, omelets for breakfast, and a giant lobby with a 20-story high ceiling. It was an Embassy Suites. The only bad things were the Wi-fi was NOT free and the pool was pretty undersized for a hotel like this.

Across the street was "Stone Creek Crossing", which features a Target, Bealls and JCPenney (said JCPenney was freshly-nabbed from the strip center above)

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The downtown. It's more lively than most Texas downtowns (but San Marcos isn't a terribly small town) featuring restaurants, local shops, a courthouse, and a small storefront museum dedicated to Lyndon B. Johnson.

There's also a dollar(?) theater, which was a few screens. I don't know of any others. There was also a Mediterranean restaurant that signaled that there's no public smoking bans in place. Seriously, any restaurant with carpet smells like smoke.

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For the sake of completeness, Texas State University-San Marcos.

At last, Aquarena Springs!

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One of the first theme parks in Texas, the park from the 20s to the late 1990s featured an underwater amphitheatre where "aquamaids" drank Dr Pepper underwater, Ralph the Diving Pig, and way creepy diving clowns. Among others.

There were other rides (nothing big, I heard) in the past.

Anyway, the place as it stands today is just a nature park. There are still glass-bottomed boats, but the place still has the sad remnants of its former glory.

The submarine amphitheatre cracked in 1998 and filled up with water. Oh well, it was never really ADA-compliant anyway.
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There were also remnants of a gondola ride above the park. A tower also stands, abandoned. The ice cream vending machine was good, though:

That thing was good.

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