As many people prepare a meal on Thanksgiving Day, we decided to spend more time together enjoying the outdoors by riding our bikes and bringing along a little picnic. I like that the holidays allow you to slow down a bit and spend more time with those you love. This Thanksgiving our children were either working or spending it with others, so we decided to make the best of it.
A couple of weeks ago, I had read about the Angel Hike and Bike Trail, which is in Goliad, Texas. I knew traffic on the road would be light, so we decided to jump in the truck and drive to Goliad, bringing along our bikes, and a cooler full of snacks and drinks.
Goliad, Texas, is a small town, approximately 26 miles from where I live in Victoria, Texas. Much like Victoria, Goliad has deep roots in Texas’ history with the third oldest municipality. This town is probably as rich in Texas history as San Antonio, Texas, too. Goliad has had nine flags from different nations flown over the Presidio. The city is known for its rich history as it is where the first Declaration of Texas’ Independence was signed in 1835. It is also remembered for the Goliad Massacre, being one of the worst days in Texas history.
The Goliad County Courthouse was built in 1894 and sits in the town’s center surrounded by shops and restaurants around the square. “The Hanging Tree”, known to historians as the place where death sentences were carried out with a rope and a strong limb, is still standing today on the north courthouse lawn.
The history behind the “Angel of Goliad” is about a Mexican lady named, Francita Alvarez, whose courageous, strong will and merciful heart, was able to influence Mexican officials not to execute the Texan prisoners captured at the raid in Goliad. She begged for their mercy and asked them to provide food so that the soldiers could survive. Upon their release from captivity, these soldiers told their families about her efforts and what she did for them while held in captivity. To honor her, the community of Goliad has erected a monument called the Angel of Goliad which is located near Presidio of La Bahia.
The Angel of Goliad Hike and Bike Trail is about four miles of trail round trip, which crosses the San Antonio River, Goliad State Park, and several historical missions. I must say that Goliad has one of the most charming downtown squares with vintage and antique stores, bakeries, restaurants and gift shops.
The trail begins near the downtown square off Market St. and Fannin St. We unloaded our bikes and put on our bicycle gear before we began down the trail. As we meandered through the wooded areas, we came upon a quaint, small wooden bridge where I stopped to take pictures and admire the running water below.
The trail zig zagged through the woods where several benches were installed along the way for those who wanted to take a break and enjoy the view. As we came to a clearing we could see in the distance a beautiful white structure, so we rode our bike in that direction and arrived at the chapel of the Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga.
Espiritu Santo de Zuniga is located at the entrance of the Goliad State Park, which is managed by Texas Parks & Wildlife. The original structure was located near San Antonio in 1749, but with the help of reconstruction efforts by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1931, the mission site received a historical park designation. The establishment of the building today was created from local quarried stones. Through this process, the archeologists were able to unveil many artifacts, which are showcased in the museum located inside Mission Espiritu Santo.
We parked our bikes and went inside the Mission which was beautifully painted with colorful designs. Omar got to play with some of the armor worn by the soldiers. Plaques with historical information are laid out throughout the museum to give you a better understanding of the Native American Indians, as well as the Catholic missionaries that once roamed the lands.
Since the mission is inside Goliad State Park, we decided to ride through the park and check out the various campgrounds, as well as head towards the launch area for the Goliad Paddling Trails, which is approximately a six mile river trail that can be enjoyed by kayak or canoe in about four hours.
From here we headed up the hill to the Presidio La Bahia, a Spanish fort designed to serve the missionaries to convert the Karankawa Indians to Catholicism in 1725. Here Colonel James Fannin and 350 of his men lost to Mexican General Jose de Urrea, known as the Goliad Massacre in 1836. In the 1960s, the fort was restored and became a National Historic Landmark. The Catholic Diocese of Victoria operates the Presidio La Bahia and the Chapel continues to serve as a community church.
The fort was closed this Thanksgiving Day, but the historical site of the famous Mexican military figure, General Ignacio Zaragoza’s (1829-1862) birthplace was open. Inside the building, we learned about Zaragoza’s small army conquering the French army on May 5th hence the celebration of Cinco de Mayo (May 5) that became a national holiday throughout Mexico to honor this victory.
We noticed that behind La Bahia Fort is a large monument, so we rode our bikes to explore the area a little closer. This memorial is called the Fannin Memorial which is where General Fannin and his soldiers were laid to rest.
From here we rode our bikes down Highway 183 passing the Goliad Fairgrounds back to our truck. We enjoyed the day exploring and riding our bikes.
Although many use this holiday as a means to enjoy a meal together with family or watch football, I see it as a day of gratitude. After reading the history behind the men and women that endured hardships and sacrificed for their families, I’m forever grateful to those that lived before me. Today, I could not be more thankful for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me and how fortunate I am to be able to do these things with the one person I love the most, my husband!