After Sammy and I had our fill of fun at the petting zoo, I decided to turn our morning trip into an afternoon trip as well. The petting zoo sits along a road known as the "Mission Trail," a nine-mile stretch of Socorro Road, and is a part of the Royal Road of the Interior--one of the oldest roads in North America. Our first stop was the San Elizario Chapel, which was built in the 1880s; unfortunately, the building appeared to be in the stages of restoration and wasn't open to the public.
Located just across the street from the San Elizario Chapel is a building with a very interesting covered portico. Built as a residence in the 1850s as a residence, "Los Portales" now serves the San Elizario community as a museum and information center; Sammy and I toured the exhibit inside, which offered a lot of information on the history of the area.
We then got in the car and headed about five miles north along Socorro Road to our next stop--the Socorro Mission. The current structure was built in 1843 after the previous building was lost to flooding of the Rio Grande in 1829. Sammy and I quietly poked our heads inside to check out the interior, but the priest was meeting with some parishioners, so I didn't take any photos out of respect--but it was quite lovely with carved and painted beams and corbels that were salvaged from the flooded building and are believed to date from the eighteenth century.
We had one last stop left on the Mission Trail before we could head on our way home--the Ysleta Mission, the oldest continuously active parish in the state of Texas. The current structure is the result of many phases of rebuilding that have taken place over the years (it too lost a building to the 1829 Rio Grande flood)--the distinctive beehive-shaped bell tower was added around 1897.
Unfortunately the Ysleta Mission is closed on Sundays, so we weren't able to check out the interior, but Sammy enjoyed exploring the grounds while he stretched his legs a bit. Since this was more or less sightseeing on a whim, I think I'll do a bit more research and go back on a day that I know they'll all be open. We still had a pretty good time, though!