We feel blessed to be able to travel and marvel at God's wonderful creation. Please join us for the ride through our blog.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Three Hour Tour

This week while Lori & Greg were visiting we went on a three hour pontoon boat ride down the Rio Grande River.  I think Greg really took the three hour tour thing to heart, from the looks of his Gilligan hat.
It was a rather cool, windy day but we were still able to see some birds along the way, including an osprey -
an egret -

and a blue heron.
As we rode along the river we were impressed by how nice some of the buildings on the Mexican side of the river were.

This beautiful home was owned by the drug cartel, but is now property of the Mexican government.  It is pretty much vacant but the government continues to maintain it.   The above arch that ends abruptly has a pump on the end of it which pumps water into the large basin at the foot of it to form a fountain.

These are a few of the many nice parks in Mexico.  This time of year is quiet along the river, as it is their winter, even though it is 80 degrees.

The above is a water skiing school and complex, also on the Mexican side of the river.
On the return trip, we noticed how run down the US banks of the river were.  Three years ago a hurricane hit the Rio Grande River valley causing severe damage.  You can tell from the photo below how high the water rose.

Before the hurricane, this was Pepe’s, a popular hangout for Winter Texans. It was destroyed once by a flood, rebuilt and then destroyed by the hurricane, never to be rebuilt again.  We did get a chance to enjoy a beer there along the river before it was destroyed.
Along our journey we also encountered some Mexicans fishing -
Border patrol on the lookout for illegals to cross -
A grill that looked like a gun -

A house on stilts that was built this past year on the US side.
and this telephone pole on the Mexican side which still works.  Guess they feel if it works, leave it alone!

Christmas Visit

We were so blessed again this year to have Lori & Greg spend Christmas week with us.  They arrived on the 22nd and spent eight days with us.  Sunday we took our annual trip to Nuevo Progresso, Mexico to stock up on medications and liquor.
Christmas Eve we attended a dessert social here at the park, followed by 10:30 mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.  It was a beautiful service with the youth from the parish acting out the Nativity with a live donkey and the cutest little Mexican children dressed as angels. Christmas Day we had an afternoon dinner in the clubhouse, followed by a swim in the pool for the kids, and Ray and I working at the evening dinner. 
Wednesday is our usual bowling day, so Lori and Greg went to breakfast at Taco Ole next to the bowling alley and then bowled a few games while we bowled with the league.  Ray and I had to work Margarita night at the clubhouse so Lori & Greg joined in the fun, sitting with other people from the park and visiting with other young folks who were there visiting their parents for the holiday.  The evening was complete with Lori winning the 50/50 raffle for a net of $86.00.
Friday was a busy day for us.  We took a 3 hour pontoon boat ride on the Rio Grande River (more details in next blog), followed by the Hidalgo Festival of Lights in the evening.
Their final day with us, we took them to the flea market, shopping and had a wonderful huge lunch at Costa Mesa Mexican restaurant (our favorite and theirs now too). Lori & I played card bingo (not so lucky) while the guys stayed behind to watch T.V.
Sunday it was off to the airport with a few tears shed. We only wish that Raymond could have been here with us too!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weslaco Parade

Tonight we went with our friends, Vic & Marianne to the Christmas Parade in Weslaco. It was a chilly night and we bundled up, but the cool weather and the parade really gave us that Christmas Spirit. The city of Weslaco is in Hidalgo County, about 20-25 minutes from our park.  It is the hometown of Harlon Block, one of the marines photographed raising the flag at Iwo Jima.  During WWII sandbag production reached a peak in Weslaco, and the town declared itself the “sandbagging capital of the world”.  Another interesting fact – streets north of the railroad tracks have Spanish names, south of the tracks have English names as a consequence of a 1921 municipal ordinance declaring that land north of the tracks be reserved for Spanish residences and business and those south for Anglo residences. 
This is the second year we have attended this parade and just love the hometown feel of it.  The theme of the parade this year was music and jazz.  There were several bands, dancers and beautiful floats, and the children’s favorite, Santa in an old fire truck.


What impressed us the most was that almost every float expressed the importance of keeping Christ in Christmas.
We have no activities planned in the park for tomorrow, but will be anxiously awaiting the arrival of Lori and Greg on Saturday.  Just hoping the snowstorm predicted for New York does not delay their arrival.

God Bless the Children

This year our park took part in “Butterfly Blossoms of Giving”.  Guests in the park were given the opportunity to select a paper butterfly representing a child from the Rio Grande Children’s Home and buy a gift for that child or make a monetary donation.  The Rio Grande Children’s Home provides a place to stay for 22 children between the ages of 9 months to 18 years from our own community who are removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or other circumstances. 

Ray and I, along with Patsy, another activities team member were asked to serve as elves at the Christmas Party held for the children.  We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but found it so touching and rewarding.  The party was held at the Butterfly Center here in Mission, Texas.  I was paired up with a little 4 year old girl who just tore at my heartstrings.  While it was difficult to communicate with her since her English is limited, I did manage to find out that she hated carrots, loved the color purple and just wanted to be loved and hugged. Ray took on the job of pushing the stroller with the youngest child through the trails of the park. We also found it quite funny that when lunch was served, the children (all being Mexican) chose a hotdog over a tamale.

After lunch our jobs as elves began. Christmas carols were sung and candy was given out while waiting for Santa to arrive.  All 22 children each received a pair of shoes, a jacket, an outfit and a toy.  It was so touching to see how excited they were at receiving a pair of shoes and an outfit, but the most surprising thing was that not one of those children wanted what the other one received.  They were just so thankful for what they got and everyone of them were so well mannered.

When the party ended, we left with mixed feelings, joy for the happiness we brought to them but sadness for what they have experienced.  We were not able to take photos for obvious reasons, but I know every one of their smiling faces will be etched in my memory for many years to come.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The three B’s (Butterflies, Border Patrol and Bowling) and a Few Odds and Ends

We knew after volunteering in the park last year that work camping would be perfect for us.  We have been having so much fun planning and working at the activities and getting to know more of the guests as they arrive.  The holiday season has our calendar pretty booked with parties, speakers, dances etc.
Last week we had a speaker here from the National Butterfly Center located one block over from the park.  Since I love photographing the different species of butterflies here in South Texas, I did not want to miss the chance of attending this presentation.   I had hoped she would show some of the different butterflies and identify them for us but instead she promoted the butterfly park and all they have to offer.  I will definitely have to try to get there for a visit early next season when the weather is warmer and the butterflies plentiful. These are a few of the butterflies that frequent our patio.   One day we had 21 on our purple Greg’s Mist plant.

Monday we attended a Border Patrol Presentation which Ray set up.  It was given by Agent J.C. Sievert who was accompanied by Corporal Casas from the Mission Police Dept.  It was attended by 75 of our campers and was very informative.  They reassured us that even though our park is right on the other side of the Rio Grande River from Mexico, that we are safe.  We have never doubted this, as there are border patrol agents visible at all times and there is very little crime in our area.
Today was our 3rd week of bowling on our parks team.  We bowl against other RV parks in the area and we have such a blast.  We haven’t bowled in over 20 years, and while Ray improves each week I seem to be slipping backwards.  I don’t fret over it though, it’s all about having a good time (even though we bowled a very serious competitive team this week).  It is nice to have an activity outside of the park with people from all over the valley.
We also finished decorating our site this week.  We thought we were done, but then our kind neighbors, Tom and Carol gave us several strings of lights so we decided to decorate the palm tree.

With all the fun we have been having, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we even managed to get our Christmas shopping done today. 
Oh, and one more thing, which has nothing to do with the topic, I just love this photo so much that I took of this dragonfly that I wanted to include it in our blog.
Stay tuned for future holiday blogs. The season is only half over!