Friday, January 30, 2009

Birding At Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park

Before we get into the birding, I have to tell you about eating at Pepe's On The River. We were one of the first groups to arrive, and the waitress started to take our orders just about noon. There were some 22 of us, and about 1:30 we started to get our food. Needless to say we were not happy with the service there. Seeing as 8 of the folks never even got their orders at all, I'd say we would never go back. When we told them 8 still had no food, they told us that there was now 2 tables ahead of them and they would have to wait. We all figured we had waited long enough. They went away really hungry, and ended up eating elsewhere.
The group we were with is part of the Class of 2007 from Escapees. The class is one active group. Some other classmates were in Florida, and they had lunch at the same time. They called us and we all called out a big "HI". We took a group picture. Other than the food fiasco we had a terrific time. John and Susan Coleman, who worked with us for a while at CARE, were also there. She had told me they are members of the class, but I had not remembered. It was good to see them.
On Wednesday we met with Carol and Everett. More fellow volunteers from CARE. I took pineapple upside-down cake for dessert, and Carol made some kind of soup with lentils, and we had some good biscuits. We stayed the better part of the day just talking and exchanging ideas of where to go next. We'll see them down the road after we leave here on our way to Bourne.
Now for the birding. We left about 11:00 this morning. It was a chilly start to the day. We had to wait till it warmed up a little. For those of you who don't know, the wind blows here alot which makes it somewhat chilly early in the day. The State Park isn't far from us. We parked in the designated area, and walked to the visitors' center. The fee for the day was $5 each. The tram came at 12:30 and took us to the first stop. We got off there and started to walk. They have these cool bird blinds where you can watch the birds at the feeders. I had wanted to see the green jays, and boy I got my fill. We also got to see some beautiful orioles. The highlight of the day was seeing some javelinas. They look like wild boars. There was a group of about 10 or more. They were at one of the blinds where we were watching the birds. It was really something to see. Along with the Chachalacas and kiskadees we were pretty happy with what we saw. Wait till you see the green jays.
I'm looking out at the sunset as I write this. Just another beautiful end to another beautiful day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Another Great Pot Luck.

Tonight, being Monday, was pot luck night. I thought I had some hamburger, but didn't. So I took out chicken breast and made some elbow macaroni, cooked the chicken, and mixed it all up with some sauce. It really wasn't to bad. There is only about one helping left so I guess it went over well. I asked why there aren't more folks attending. The nice lady I sat next to said too many people go out to eat. It's too much trouble to cook. I hope I never get that way. I really like to cook.
Tomorrow we are traveling to Pepe's On The River to meet some friends from the Class of 2007. That's our Escapees group. We haven't met most of the class who are here in the valley.It will be great to meet them. Some say it's a terrific place, some say not so. We'll make up our own minds.
Yesterday we went to church here at the park. About 200 come every Sunday. The preacher is really nice and add lots of humor to his message. During the sermon he referred to us as Q-tips. You know----white hair-white shoes. Everyone laughed. We really have had a great time here, and are looking forward to many more.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Good Food New Friends

Last Friday we went to the local Elks lodge for fish fry. You could have your choice of battered or cornbread. We chose battered. There was also french fries, cole slaw, stuffing, and drinks. Everything was pretty good, but some of the fish was in the fryer too long. Tom and I enjoyed it, but some of the folks didn't care for it and said they won't be back. To each his own. They also have prime rib night once a month. You have to have reservations for that. Folks just kept coming in the door. We were leaving and there was still a line.
Every Monday here at Sleepy Valley they have a pot luck. Not everyone goes, but we met some really nice folks. The food was excellent. Just enough entrees and veggies vs desserts. After the meal there is always game time. I had taken my dice to play Farkle. We had 12 folks who wanted to learn how to play. Man, trying to keep score for 12 isn't easy. Tom sat at one end, and I sat at the other. Lois, the activities director already knew how to play. We had a really good time. Some want the rules and Tom printed some copies to give out. We played 2 games and called it quits. By that time it was 10:00 and time to close up.
The next night we went up to the clubhouse for some entertainment. It was $5 each to listen to Vance Greek and the Deep River Boys. They were fantastic. Four guys from Rio Hondo, which means deep river, came to sing some gospel, some country, and some hymns. It was a variety of very good music. Before we knew it, they were finishing up. If they come again while we are here we'll go hear them. There is entertainment every Tues. and Thurs. The price varies from $3 to $5. Not bad!
Yesterday we went to the Golden Coral in Weslaco to have lunch with Chapter 19 from Escapees. The buffet was terrific. All kinds of good stuff to eat. The folks were great, and gave out lots of SKP hugs. They have a long list of activities. Vicky has it all planned out, and they have an outing nearly every week. The next one is to the zoo, and on to a historical mansion, then another place. In February they plan to take a river cruise. We are thinking of going to that. They are a very active group, and if we keep coming back to the valley, we may join the group.
There is always something to do in the area. We could be out 7 days a week if we wanted. There is always a flea market open or some kind of festival, and SKPs meetings. And of course, there is always Mexico. What fun we are having. What a life.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

We Really Like This Place

What a great place this is. We have been looking for a spot like this for a while. Today was such a lovely day! It's 7:30 p.m., and the window is still open and we are wearing shorts. The steak we cooked outside was great. HEB had a sale on T-Bones, 3.99 a lb. We got a couple of big ones. One is enough for both of us. With a salad made from fresh local veggies and some fried potatoes--yum yum.
Yesterday was a good day for a trip to Mexico. New eye glasses are what's on the agenda. We wanted to find out how much they charge. The exams will be free. Maybe Saturday wasn't such a good day to go. Next time will be during the week. I have an idea now what I would like to purchase. One thing that surprised me was the marshmallows. They have the the size of a fist. HUGE! They would be so good over the fire. It's too bad we won't be home till July. They'll go bad by then. I might get some tequila. They have all kinds. I am also looking for some silver earrings. Maybe with some turquoise. We'll see.
The other day was flea market day. They have a great one in Donna. No sooner did we get there than we ran in to Everett Stone. He was and Carol were volunteering at CARE with us. There is a bike repair place at the market, and he was getting his bike fixed. They are staying with friends at the park near the market. We did a lot of walking, not much buying. I bought a pair of crocs, and if we go back I'll get some more. I picked up a few pair of earrings, and not much else. After we left there, we went to the produce market. I like to get juice oranges. I also got some grapefruit. Everything is delicious.
At this moment we are watching the football game in Pittsburgh. It is snowing and cold. Of course the Eagles lost. Oh well, one team from PA. is OK. It's only just starting the second half so I shouldn't count my chickens. The weather has been so awful up north. We feel really bad for them, but we're really glad to be here.
Today Tom received an e-mail back from friends that are planning a get-together of the 2007 class. We haven't seen most of the folks for about a year now. The plans are to meet the middle of March near San Antonio. It'll be good to see our friends again. But right now we are content to just be here in the sun and warmth and meet some new friends and get to know the area better. We'll just sit back and count our blessings. And blessed we sure are.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mission, Texas

Finally we found the weather we have been waiting for. We love the palm trees, and the sun warming our insides. This morning was pretty chilly when we got up, but by lunch time, we were driving around with the windows open. I'm really not complaining. I know how cold it is up north. The "resort" we are in is named Sleepy Valley Resort. It is located on the west end of Mission in the Rio Grande Valley. The folks here have been very friendly so far, and welcomed us right away. Of all things, we couldn't locate our sewer connection. We had ladies walking around looking for the white cap. The ground is covered with some kind of grassy type vine. Someone finally found it. From what we understand, we have to cut our own grass. That's a first for us. The info they gave us when we checked in told us that mowers are available for our use. They sight isn't as big as some, but bigger than some others. There is some concrete, and some gravel, so there really isn't much to cut.
A stop at the HEB grocery store was a must. The fridge is now full. I have to get used to this cooking thing again. We have to find out where the good fruit stands are. I love fresh squeezed orange juice. Grapefruit is a favorite also. Can't wait for it. They have some huge flea markets here. We love going to them and just walking around. We never seem to buy much, but really enjoy going.
We plan a trip to Mexico in the next day or so. We'll cross over in Progresso. Maybe get together with some friends, and find some other SKPs out there. They have gatherings a few times a month. Anyone out there, give us hit in the comments at the end of the blog entry.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

At the Beach

For the last 2 days we've gone to the beach. Yesterday was cooler than today. You didn't really need a jacket, but it was nice that we didn't wear shorts. Today was much warmer. We took lunch, folding chairs, and something to read. Lots of RVs park on the beach overnight. Someday we will when it's warmer. It would be great if Ed and Hazel could be with us. I have visions of setting up together, getting out the margarator, or maybe some wine. I don't drink it myself, but they do and so does Tom. We could maybe have some shrimp and crab legs. What a fun time that would be. Just sitting watching and listening to the water and the bird life.Yesterday on the ferry we saw a dolphin swimming next to us in the channel. Cool. Today no luck.
I don't think I mentioned we are in Rockport at the Western Horizons campground. It is really nice here. We are very happy with the spot we have. Out the front window is a great view of the "lake" here. Every morning we have blue herons, egrets, ducks, and today we even had a white pelican. Tom has taken some pics that I haven't seen yet, but I know are great. We really like this place, and if we had not made reservations in Mission, we would be staying for another week.
Tomorrow may bring bad weather, so we have no specific plans. There is always something do do here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cold Weather and Marley

Texas has been having some unseasonable weather of late. We have been very chilly for the past few days. It's too cold to go to the island out to the beach, so we decided to go to the movies. We saw Marley and Me. What a great movie for pet lovers. We could really identify with the whole story. Tom had read the book, and really wanted to see it. Our daughter had seen it and went home to hug her dogs. On Tuesday night you can get free popcorn. We went in the afternoon, so we didn't have that option.
Before it was movie time we went to see if our friends Leona and Joe were at The Lagoons. We stayed there last year for a week in the late fall before going to Livingston. They worked in Minnesota where we worked. It was good to see them. We had a nice chat for about an hour, and off we went. After a stop at an RV dealer, it was off to the movies. After the movie we stopped and bought a pizza to bring home. It wasn't too bad.
If the weather cooperates tomorrow, we plan to go the Port Aransas for the ferry to the island. On the way home we'll stop for some shrimp. We saw some of the shrimp boats today while driving around, and they were much smaller than the ones up in Palacious. Can't wait to taste some.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Blessing Hotel

In one word...DEEEELICIOUS!! As you will see from the pictures, this is an old building. It is still rented out as apartments and rooms. You can see the old front desk and the mail cubbies. There are old pictures on the walls, and old oil cloth on the floor. The furniture is old mixed with more up to date items like TVs. The best part is the meals. Today I ate the best stuffing ever. There was also turkey, roast beef, fried chicken, ham, cabbage with ham, salad, corn bread (it wouldn't be Texas if they didn't have corn bread), home made yeast dinner rolls, greens beans made with bacon and tiny white potatoes, creamed corn, mashed potatoes, yams, and some other veggies. Add some potato salad and other fixin's, and you get a really full tummy. You walk into the dining room, pay the cashier, pick up a plate, and go to the stove. Everything is in the pot it was cooked in. You just scoop it out onto the plate. You can go back for more, but they want you to use a clean plate. Then you go sit at tables that may have other folks there. Some tables are long, some are round. Tom and I were really taken with the place. Will we go back? You betcha! Next time thru this part of the country, we'll stop to eat for sure. You don't need reservations. Just go, eat, and enjoy. The dessert was in little bowls. Some kind of peachy something, and a spice cake. They know you only need a little bit after you have the meal.
After we left the Hotel we drove around town. Almost everyone here has a smoker. Some are larger than others. Blessing is a poor little Texas town. You can still see some hurricane damage. Though Blessing is west of the worst hit, it doesn't take much to blow down some of these places. We have a lot to be thankful for.
We're off tomorrow for Rockport. We just keep going south. The cold front came through. When I started talking to my Mom it was 78. During the conversation the temp started to drop. By the time we hung up, it was down in the 60's and still dropping. Now we have the electric heater going and I have on a sweatshirt. Some rain is expected tomorrow. We don't have far to travel, so we don't have to rush. I like this not rushing stuff.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Blessing, Tx.

Tom and I arrived here on Tuesday afternoon. The plan was to just veg out and recharge our bodies. That we have done! We have been watching TV and lots of movies. Today is the first day that our satellite dish has worked. There are lots of trees here. We are in Chapparel RV Park. There isn't much to do, but that was the plan. Blessing is a wee small town, but has a great place to eat. At least that's what we hear from most RVers. Tomorrow we'll find out. I'll let you all know how it goes.
Yesterday we drove into Palacious. It is known around these parts as the Shrimp Capitol of the World. We took some pictures of the shrimp boats in the bay. I couldn't believe how big they are, or how many there are. We didn't get any shrimp, we are saving that for Rockport next week. We made the assumption that they have mostly wholesale businesses. In Rockport we can get it fresh off the boat.
Today was also laundry day. The laundry room is nothing to brag about, but it got the job done. It took us the better part of the middle of the day. We didn't want to take the time to do that job before we left Livingston. Man, we love that place. We have met so many good friends there. This year Hazel and I played games with some of the ladies. When other volunteers came they played, too. Last year we were much to busy to have so much fun. The new volunteer coordinator is doing a great job. Hats off to Dan. He has made being there so easy. We'll go back for sure.
Another thing happened while we were there. Tom joined the elks. He was initiated in Huntsville, but is a member of Gillette, Wy. It took some doing, but it got done. Now we have all the benefits of camping and good food where available. Just another way to get past all the high cost campgrounds.
I just want to say again how much we love the CARE Center. If any of you folks want to have a very worthwhile month, just call Dan at CARE at 936-327-4256. He'll let you know what times he needs folks to come help. Or you can send us a comment at the end of this entry, and we'll answer any questions you might have about what we do there. Folks like Jan and Chuck, Sandy and Doug, R.B., Miss Terri, Dan, Carl, and Joe will welcome you with big smiles and Escapee hugs. If you're really lucky, you'll get EVEN-STEVEN by Miss Ellie, the resident sweetheart. We will definitely be back.
On Monday we will head for Rockport for a week, then on to Mission in the Rio Grand Valley. We have some friends there, and will get together with them while we are there. We have a month there before heading on up toward the hill country for a get together with class mates, and maybe a rally. It all depends on the weather. If we don't like the weather, we'll just start the engine and move. Ya gotta love it. We sure do!!!