Saturday, February 25, 2012

About That National Butterfly Center (February 19 - 25)

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for checking the blog as we enter our fourth week at Bentsen Palm RV Resort in Mission, Texas. This past week showed a remarkable improvement in the rainy weather so we are much happier campers. As most of you know we are addicted to cycling and have to get in several rides a week to calm that addiction. Thankfully we were able to do that.

Sunday was my birthday. What a terrific day with a morning bike ride, an afternoon reading one of my favorite authors, well wishes from family and friends and dinner at Pappadeaux. This was capped by a video phone call from Abby and Jackson, our grandchildren. Thank you for making it a special day.

Wednesday was a trip to the National Butterfly Park located next to Bentsen State Park. Avid blog readers will remember that this premier park, named after Senator Lloyd Bentsen, houses the major bird watching area in Mission and the Rio Grande Valley. The Butterfly Park taught us many things about the migratory paths of butterflies. Below are the pictures of our time in the park.

Thank you Roger for the beautiful birthday flowers.

Roger cannot wait to view the butterflies.

An example of a Queen butterfly.

Monarch Butterfly

An example of an ardent butterfly watcher. You would not believe how popular birding and butterfly watching are in the Valley. It is hard for an amateur photographer (that would be me) to capture that perfect shot of a butterfly. This lady has powerful equipment to do that job.

Bird feeding station at the Butterfly Park.



Green Jays

Who Knows???

Some butterflies rest solely on trees.

Friday was a return to rainy, windy weather. Thank goodness for the resort workout facility. On days like this Bear misses his buddies at the dog park.

Saturday started out as a cold, rainy, windy day, but we were able to get a bike ride in during the afternoon and Roger took me out for dinner so I call that a perfect day.

Thank you for checking in with us. We leave the Rio Grande Valley on Thursday for Big Bend National Park.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

About That More Rainy Weather (February 12 - 18)

Dear Family and Friends,

I know that I have no right to complain, but this overcast weather has to go! Texas does need water and every drop is precious, so I will concentrate on the positive and stop whining.

Notice the Madagascar Palm located behind the cactus. This palm  is well over 8 feet and was my favorite plant in Tucson. Because of the temperate weather in the valley, these palms grow very large.
In between rain showers Roger and I were able to get out and get some longer bike rides in. We met a new friend from Tennessee, John, and he made a great addition to our very small pelaton. Between Roger and John, I was challenged.
John, Suzanne and Roger sneaking in a bike ride during a break in the weather.

Below are pictures from our rides including a shot of the mission ruins and a typical grapefruit grove.  Yes, those are the ruby reds from Texas.

On Tuesday we decided to drive to South Padre Island while we had another break in the weather. SPI is located 80 miles from Mission and is a beach person's paradise. The weather held and the three of us enjoyed a great day. To get to Padre Island you must drive through Port Isabel and then go over the Queen Isabella Causeway which is quite a spectacular bridge.

Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway

Looking at South Padre Island from the bridge.

Huge Pelicans

The Gulf of Mexico

Bear is not too sure about getting his paws wet.

Port Isabella Lighthouse

Thursday and Friday found us with more wet weather so we decided to do two museums. One was the museum in Mission where we learned many things about favorite son, Tom Landry. This Dallas Cowboy coach for 29 years was a star quarterback in high school and he played for the University of Texas. He also played and coached for the New York Giants. A true patriot, he flew bombing missions during World War II. Growing up in Ft. Worth, I certainly knew who Tom Landry was.

The Museum of South Texas History is located in Edinburgh, Texas. It was here that we learned about the history of the valley, especially the citrus growing. As mentioned before, this area is the home of the Texas Ruby Red grapefruit. In addition lemons, limes, tomatoes and other crops are grown.

Friday night was entertainment at the resort with Gordy and Debbie. They are a singing act out of Branson, Missouri. There is quite a business for entertaining the Winter Texans in the valley. There have been three groups since we have been at this resort.

Thank you for reading our blog. We are hoping for much better weather next week with lots of time for cycling. We are in the valley until the end of the month and then we are off to Big Bend.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

About That Rainy Weather (February 5 - 11)

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings from the Rio Grande Valley and Mission, Texas. We are into our second week in this most southern part of Texas. We are socked into a weather pattern that is rainy and will be for the coming week. Part of the challenge of RVing is dealing with that kind of weather. We are thankful that we are not shoveling snow, so there will be no complaining on our part.

Since working out is so important to us, we were able to sneak in a few short bike rides and workouts in the small facility located at the resort. They have several treadmills, stationery bikes and an elliptical machine. In addition, I have discovered Zumba which is done on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the community center. Zumba is an aerobic workout that is set to salsa music and involves many dance steps combined with arm work. It is so much fun, but it does take practice.

I have mentioned that this resort is very active with lots of classes and social hours. Roger and I went to a microwave cooking class and learned how to take advantage of the versatility of our microwave/convection oven instead of using it for a warmer. Roger attended a genealogy class and we both hit Margarita Wednesday.

We went to see "Iron Lady,"  starring Meryl Streep. We were living in England when Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister.

I apologize for this brief blog, but with rainy weather, we were RV bound this week. It is a good thing that we love our Tour.

The sun is out this Saturday morning and we are headed out for a bike ride with a new friend from the resort. We are planning a trip to Padre Island on Monday, so please check back with us next Saturday. Once again, thank you for reading our blog.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

About That Rio Grande Valley in South Texas (January 29 - February 3)

Dear Family and Friends,

Our final days in Kerrville were spent getting  our sleep number bed in working order. The Tour has a bedroom slide that will operate only when the bed is retracted. In order to retract the mattress, air must be released. Apparently the hoses connecting the pump to the mattress have been coming apart while we retracted the bed, making a longer set up at the next stop.  Basically, the hoses were too short for the system. It took a few days and with the help of the mattress people and Winnebago, we got the system working again. Yeah, knock on wood!

With fog in the Kerrville - San Antonio area on Wednesday, we delayed our departure until 9:30. We drove on I 10 to San Antonio (saying goodbye to the beautiful Hill Country of Texas), where we picked up I 37 and then State Highway 281 south to McAllen. We had a scary moment when a truck carrying three huge rolls of hay pulled out onto the highway in front of us, losing a roll in the process. Roger was able to drive our RV in between the hay and the truck thus avoiding an accident. Those quick pilot skills really came in handy.

Also along the way, we noticed signage for a new Interstate 69 that will eventually run from the Valley area up through Dallas and points North. This is the new trucking corridor that should ease traffic concerns in Texas.

We pulled into our new "home for a month," Bentsen Palms located in Mission, Texas, around 4. One hour later we were meeting lots of new people at a margarita party. Bentsen Palms is a very social RV resort located on the edge of the Rio Grande River.  There are so many things to do each day that a daily schedule is posted on their website. Dancing, cards, birding, aerobics, painting, pontooning, kayaking are just a few of the classes that we can enjoy. In fact Roger and I are signed up for a cooking lesson next Monday. In addition there are many get togethers revolving around food. This is definitely a party crowd.

This is a very warm, humid area and the plants and bugs love it! The residents of Bentsen Palms are in their shorts and tee shirts enjoying the weather.

The Bentsen (named after Texan,  Lloyd Bentsen) Rio Grande State Park/World Birding Center is located next to our resort. Apparently it is the headquarters of nine facilities located in the South Rio Grande Valley dedicated to birds. That is why there are so many birders here for the winter.

Below are a few pictures:

Roger airing our tires before our first of two bike rides in the area. We have to go early to avoid the afternoon winds.

Roger is ready for our ride.

We are able to ride our bikes in the park and can watch the birders as they spot some very rare birds.

An estuary of the Rio Grande called a rescara.

Roger is being very patient while I snap pictures of the rescara.

Lots of Canadians in the Bentsen Palm RV Resort.

Bear and Roger enjoying one of the best dog runs that we have seen so far.

Bear looks like he could fly with those ears flapping.

Our site at Bentsen Palms.

Along a main road in the resort.

Birds love this area.

Thank you for checking in with us as we continue our life on the road adventure. Please check in with us next week. Bye for now.