Monday, December 27, 2010

We have experienced our first Christmas as Winter Texans (WT). On Christmas Eve we attended a Candlelight Service in the Trophy Gardens Clubhouse - followed by fingerfoods - yummy. On Christmas Day, we had a potluck Christmas Lunch with 300 other WTs in the Clubhouse. There were 12 large tables set with each table having their own potluck - ours had ham and turkey. The food was great and plenty of it so we went back at 5:30 for leftovers. We did manage to take a walk inbetween the feasts.

My Christmas present from Don was an hour lesson with a golf pro at a local golf course that our neighbour here arranged. I learned alot but time will tell if anything sunk in. Don must have been watching because he almost had a hole in one yesterday. The little ball stopped 4 inches in front of the hole on the 7th green.

Today I took off for an adventure to the coast - a 2 hour boat tour out of a marina on South Padre Island. The tour was arranged with the tour bus that is onsite at Trophy Gardens and about 50 WTs went. We started out at 8 AM and boarded the boat at 10 AM. The sky was overcast, temp about 55 degrees with a light wind. The boat crew threw out a small net behind the boat and dragged it for 15 minutes and then pulled it in and showed us the catch. The catch consisted mainly of puffer fish and a few smaller fish. We spent the time motoring around in the inner coastal waterway and once headed out to the open sea but it was too rough so we headed back in. Dolphins swam around us and we enjoyed spotting them go up and down. We disembarked and had a delicious lunch at the Shrimp Haus across the road from the marina. We arrvied back to Trophy Gardens at 3:30 PM.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wed. Dec 22/10

Thought you might be wondering if we are keeping busy - and yes we are. We go golfing on the 9 hole Par 3 golf course that is attached to our park every day - no charge and noone laughs at our pathetic strokes. The weather has been lovely with mid day temps in the 80s so we spend some of the afternoon at the pool and may get back in some time in the evening. I have been teaching a morning exercise class 2 x per week. An exercise class runs Mon-Friday but when I don't do it, it is Richard Simmons or Debbie Reynolds so mine is a change for the ladies here.

We are in a new site in the park this year so we get to meet new people - most people are older than us - alot from Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Minnesota, The Dakotas - very friendly. Yesterday Don gave me an early Christmas present - my first golf lesson with a pro at a nearby club. This was arranged by a neighbour here who works parttime as a marshall at that club. It is amazing how many things I was doing wrong. The neighbour lady dragged me out to Ladies Horseshoes this morning and I threw a shoe that landed and rolled - right into my compeditor's shin bone - some blood and probably a big bruise - and lots of talk at this afternoon's cocktail circle. I may not be allowed to go next week. At lunchtime today, we biked over to McDonald's for the Big Mac Wednesday special - $1.29 - very busy place with all us cheap Winter Texans.

We have ventured on a big outing last Sunday. The town of Hidalgo - 25 miles away- does a Christmas light show for the month of December. We got there in the afternoon and toured around the Hidalgo Pump House Museum - right on the Rio Grande - used to pump water from the Rio Grande - steam power. Hidalgo is right on the Rio Grande with an international bridge into Mexico - border patrols keep very busy there. Note the nice fence in the attached picture. After dark we paid for a lovely 45 minute horse drawn carriage ride around the town centered around their City Hall where they had a choir entertaining. Those are Texas armadillas in the photo in case you can't recognize them. Also Hidalgo is where the Killer Bees first flew into USA from Mexico in 1990 so Don wanted a picture of the statue they have. There is a local hockey team called the Killer Bees who play their games at their big new State Farm Arena outside of town.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Greetings from Alamo, Texas

Yes we have been here for a day now. It is windy but it is a warm wind. We started out at 6AM on Saturday morning and headed down the 401 and crossed over at Sarnia. We were ahead of the bad weather predicted. We travelled through Michigan and rain started in the late afternoon - but the temperature was above freezing so we were fortunate. We stopped for the night in Seymour Indiana. On the road again the next morning at 8 AM and the predicted cold temperatures had moved in but it wasn't snowing when we got going. The snow caught up with us before Nashville and the road to Memphis was hazardous with many cars in ditches due to slippery conditions. We were fortunate to be able to go around a pileup thanks to following a trucker down an off ramp and up the other side - the collision was on that overpass bridge.
By the time we reached Memphis, the sun was out and there was no more snow. We spent Sunday night in Grenada, Mississippi - in a hotel room still because the temperature was well below freezing. We were on the road again around 8 AM and had decided that the forecast was too cold for us to stop and camp for a month in Alabama so we set our course for southern Texas to enjoy warmer temperatures. We had a bright sunny travelling day on Monday and watched the temperature change from 24 degrees to 56 degrees F. We ended the travelling day in a RV Park outside of Beaumont Texas - so we could stay in the trailer - with heaters.
So Tuesday we got through Houston and on to Alamo Texas to Lot # 598, Masters Drive, Trophy Park, Alamo Texas. The temperature changed from 45 to 76 F.
We have signed up to stay here for 3 months. Our coats are put away in the closet.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Back Home

Friday, April 9/10 Lakefield, ON Canada

After a lovely Easter visit with Tom and Diana in Virginia and an overnight hotel in Altoona and a wonderful bed and breakfast stop in St Catherines on Tuesday night we arrived back in Lakefield on Wednesday.

We calculated we travelled over 10,000 miles (16,000 km) since we started this journey on Dec. 19/09. Our Ford truck gets 10 miles to a gallon of diesel fuel when it pulls the trailer so that is over 1000 gallons - at around$3 a gallon - you do the math. Our campground fees totalled about $2000. But the memories of the places we visited and the wonderful people we got to spend time with is priceless. Looking forward to our next journey! We are still rookie RVers but we have learned a few things on this trip which will make the next one easier.
Thanks to everyone who had the patience to travel with us via this blog.
Mary and Don signing off. Adios amigos!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Bern NC - April 1/10

Thursday, April 1/10 New Bern, NC

We enjoyed the beautiful sunny day today to look around the historic downtown are of New Bern, North Carolina. We are parked for these 2 nights in a small RV Park outside of New Bern.

New Bern is a town of 28,000 on the East Coast at the mouth of the Trent and Neuse Rivers. It is celebrating it's 300th anniversary of its settlement by Swiss explorers. New Bern is named after Bern, Switzerland. "Bern is Swiss for bear so there are decorated fiberglass bears around the town for the anniversary. Also there are "historical hydrants" painted like historical characters important to the town. They also have a Firefighter's Museum here but we didn't tour it.

We walked around the historic downtown area viewing the historical homes. It's most famous attraction is the Tryon Palace. This North Carolina government house, built between 1767 and 1770 by Royal Governor Wm. Tryon represented the British crown and became NC's first permanent capital. It has tours but we didn't go on them. The Palace has beautiful gardens and we saw some with the spring flowers blooming - tulips and daffodils.

New Bern has some other claims to fame:

Birthplace of Pepsi - Caleb Bradham invented "Brad's Drink" which later he patented as Pepsi-Cola.

Nicholas Sparks resides in New Bern, author of A Bend in the Road, The Wedding, and The Notebook. Last night there was a premiere in the New Bern cinema for his latest book "The Last Song" which has been made into a movie staring Miley Cyrus. Nicholas Sparks attended.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jekyll Island Georgia

March 29 - 31/10 Brunswick Georgia

We have moved into Georgia on our way up the East Coast. The weather gods were smiling on us and we spent a beautiful sunny warm day exploring Jekyll Island with our bicycles. Jekyll Island was once a favoured resort for an array of wealthy and well-known figures in Amercan history - including the Rockefellers, Pulitzers, Morgans and Vanderbilts. Their winter cottages and club house hotel compose a 240 acre historic site museum. There are over 20 miles of paved trails that circle the island. We had a delicious lunch in the Grand Dining Room of the Club Hotel. The picture on the left is of the Goodyear cottage (Goodyear was a lumbar baron from Buffalo). The picture on the right is an alligator that was sunning itself beside the bicycle path. There are more pictures posted at if you are interested. We had the camera with us today.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekend around Summerfield

Saturday and Sunday March 27 and 28/10

We moved a couple of hours north and landed in a new RV park - Southern Oaks RV Resort - south of Ocala, Florida. Through Passport America we have half price camping in this park - $15 for a night. On Saturday afternoon we biked over to a big Flea Market - which was really a gigantic dollar store.

On Sunday morning, Mary biked over 5 miles down the road to check out "The Villages". The Villages has a population of over 75,000 now. It started in the 1960's as a Census Designated Community with lots of regulations and is now the largest residential development in Central Florida - 98% white and mostly republicans. It is a golf cart community with special golf cart lanes on its roads, golf cart only parking lots at shops and restaurants and a golf cart only bridge over their main highway and a couple of tunnels at other spots. By December 2008, the residents had over 38,000 golf carts. (info from Wikipedia in The Villages, Florida). We saw a really cute golf cart at the Flea Market that looked like an old convertible. Sorry no pictures - forgot the camera on both outings.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Friends time in Florida

To March 25/10

We really haven't done too much exciting touristy sight-seeing stuff this past week but we have enjoyed time with friends. We attended a Chili Blaze event put on by the Pinellas Park Fire Department at a local park. The next day there was a "Country in the Park" event in the same park and Mary visited in the afternoon.

Sunday night we enjoyed a St Patrick's dinner at Brian and Thery's friends - Jane and Diane and their dog Fuzzy. Jane has a thing for cows and there are hundreds around in her home. We were dressed up for the occasion from Thery's tickle trunk.

On Monday we had a field trip over to the Orlando area to visit Gord and Jill Hill from Belleville who had rented a house with a pool. Gord is another retired firefighter and friend of Don and Brian's. On arrival back at the campground, Thery strained her ankle and had to unforturately back out of the week's line dancing classes with Mary. On Tuesday, Diana and Dave Twiner from Lakefield arrived from the north and stayed with us for a few days being the first overnight guests on our trip.
We leave on Saturday morning to journey north. We have the first 2 nights just south of Ocala, Florida to enjoy the weekend. By Good Friday, we hope to be in Virginia to celebrate Easter with Tom and Diana.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

First Week in St Petersburg

To March 18/10

It has been a pretty quiet week. We have been enjoying spending time with Brian and Thery King (Brian was a firefighter Don worked with) who have a mobile home here. On Sunday we went together to Sawgrass Park nearby and admired the critters, which included turtles - hard and soft shelled, armadillos, alligators and many birds. Thery and Mary have gone to 2 line dancing sessions and some shopping too. Don and Brian rummaged up some old golf and fishing equipment for Don from a mobile home that was being cleaned out. We have been biking and walking and have warmed ourselves in the park hottub because we would like the weather to be a bit warmer but we can't complain. Thursday we journeyed down to Sarasota and on the way back took some photos of a big cruise ship (Carnival Inspiration) going under the long bridge south of St. Petersburg.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

To St Petersburg Florida

Update as of March 13/10

It took 5 days of driving, through 5 states and as of tonight 4 hours of time change (with tonight's jump forward time change) but we made it from Arizona to Florida. You don't want to know how many gallons of diesel fuel we went through. It took 3 days to make it through Texas. We spent 3 nights in Texas, one in Alabama and now in Florida. We at in Robert's RV Resort in St. Petersburg. This park has over 600 sites and lots of activities. It is March Break now so I think there are some extra family members around too. Florida seems very soggy from all the rain they have received lately - Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are all soggy right now. We are hoping we brought lots of sunshine with us and this week's forecast is for sunny weather.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bye Arizona - to East Coast

Sunday to Tuesday March 7 to 9/10

Packed up on Sunday after a lovely lunch at the famous Francisco Grande Hotel outside of Casa Grande with Tom and Lynn. This is a famous hotel and John Wayne had the penthouse suite there for many years. It was built as part of a spring training base for the San Francisco Giants but now is used more by soccer teams. It has a swimming pool that is the shape of a bat and the hot tub is the ball.

Rainy Monday morning we were on the road by 9:30 AM headed for the East Coast and more sunshine for March. South of Tuscon Arizona we travelled through the Texas Canyon - giant rocks mark the landscape - like a scene from The Flintstones. More pictures of the canyon on website. We passed through New Mexico and spent the night past El Paso Texas in the old town of Sierra Blanca (run down campground beside the railway and the highway - ear plugs needed to sleep).

Tuesday we had a bright sunny day with a tailwind and stopped for the night about an hour west of San Antonio Texas. This campground was much nicer than last night but challenging because it was on a hilltop. We enjoyed a delicious steak and shrimp dinner at the Po-Po family Restaurant down the road from the campground.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Friend Tom Retires and Shamrock Farm Tour

Friday and Saturday March 5 and 6/10

Our good friend Tom Brudnicki retired from his job as Office Manager for a Compressor Company here is Casa Grande. He worked for that company for 5.5 years and is now happy to spend his time at the projects he wants to accomplish around home. We joined Tom and Lynn for a celebration retirement dinner at a local Mexican restuarant called Rubio's on Friday night.

On Saturday morning we went with our Oshawa frends (Charmaine and Lou) on a tour of a 10,000 holstein cow dairy operation nearby called Shamrock Farms. It is family owned - started by the McClelland family in 1922 - as a guersey cow farm outside of Tuscon. Pictures of the tour can be accessed on the website. It was a very well organized tour that took about 90 minutes on a tram around the farm buildings. The Shamrock Farm dairy products are available in grocery stores in Arizona.
On Saturday afternoon, Charmaine and I took in the local Chili Championship Competition at a nearby park. We paid $4 for the privilege of sampling prizewinning chili made by local people and the money went to charity.
From our RV Park we had a good view of circling antique planes for the past 2 days because the "Cactus Fly-in" was being held at the Casa Grande Airport that is located a mile down the road from us. The Arizona Antique Airplane Association sponsors this event each year and about 200 planes come to be judged in the competition.
Tomorrow we will be getting ready to take off on Monday morning - headed for the East Coast along Interstate I-10.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Casino adventure

Wednesday March 3/10 Beautiful sunshine this week - pool time.
It has been a quiet week but we did visit the Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino Resort by Maricopa (about 15 miles from Casa Grande). Of course there was a deal. You had to sign up for their Total Rewards Program and you received a voucher for lunch or dinner at their buffett and they gave you $15 to gamble with. We had a delicious dinner and then spend a few minutes to feed their machines their free money. I did cash out with $8.75 and Don came out with $5. We did go with another couple - Dick and Kathy from Wisconsin - so we didn't even have to drive.

We also have fun shopping at our local grocery store called Fry's. On the first Wednesday of the month they offer seniors (over 55) 10 % off on their grocery bill. That is the day to shop. It is only 2 miles away so I can bike there. Fry's also has gas pumps and you shop there often enough you accumulate 100 points and then you get 10 cents off per gallon. They have diesel too.

One other thing to mention was that I got my haircut yesterday at the plaza that Fry's is in and my hairdresser was interesting. She was married with 4 children ranging in age from 10 to 18 and she is now 7 months pregnant with her 5 child but is having this child for family friends - a childless couple that have been married for 13 years. So she is a surrogate mother and all is going well for her and expects to be back to work about 3 weeks after she delivers. It is an interesting world.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Last weekend of Feb 2010

Friday to Sunday Feb 26 to 28/10

Quiet weekend under that exciting times watching the last events of the Olympics and the closing Gala and Ceremonies. We did make it out to Arizona College on Saturday morning for a Wellness and Craft Fair for seniors. Don and I had our glucose, cholesterol and BPreadings done and expect to be around for many more years to come thankfully. We were with Charmaine and Lou from Oshawa and took a little tour of the neighbouring desert after visiting the college. In this picture I am having them blow into some Creosote bushes and then inhale the fragrance. The scent is the smell of the desert after rain. We did get rain on Sunday morning and there has been more rain in Arizona so far this year than has fallen in all of 2009 - but that was too dry a year. The desert floor is greening up and some wildflowers are appearing and the octilla cactus are blooming too.
Saturday afternoon I took a bike ride around our neighbourhood and came upon a cattle roping competition at a corral that was at the back of "The Cowboy Church". I sat down by a woman who was from Alberta and I quized her about the event. Her 16 year old son and his partner won the event - yielding about $800 in prize money. The Cowboy Church service is on Tuesday nights at 6:30 PM and I think it might be a non-denominational service. Might be interesting to check out?

On Sunday we hosted our own little cheering section for the Canada US mens' hockey game in our trailer with two other Canadian couples - both from the Oshawa area. We were overjoyed with the Canadian victory. Now we are facing Olympic withdrawal but we are proud Canadians.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

busy week

Monday to Thursday Feb 22-24/10

On a rainy Monday morning we drove out in the desert to visit St Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery. I had visited the monastery 3 years ago with Lynn but now another chapel has been added and their gardens have matured. This monastery was started in 1993 when 6 monks from Greece started building chapels and gardens in the middle of the desert. Along with the chapels, now there are orange, lemon and grapefruit orchards, olive trees and grapevines. Note in the picture on the right that I am dressed up. The women must wear a kerchief and long skirts, long sleeves and closed toed shoes with socks. Men have to wear long sleeved shirts, long pants and closed toed shoes with socks too. The chapels are beautiful with amazing woodwork, brick and stonework. They are just completing their latest one which is built on a hill.

Tuesday, Feb 23/10

Another adventure to drag Don to. Our park is about 5 miles from the Central Arizona Campus at Signal Hill. I noticed the college campus when we drove back from the monastery so I thought I would find out more about it off the internet on Monday night. Coincidentally they were hosting a public event for Tuesday - a fundraising lunch for local foodbanks - ceramic artists made 300 bowls and each person picked a bowl and had it filled with delicious soup - plus sides of cornbread, brownie and beverage - done by their culinary students - $10 donation per person and you take the bowl home. We meet a couple from Peterborough in the lunch line and another one from Toronto. I meet a Dutch couple and their 12 year old son who were visiting from Purmerend Holland - I stopped to talk to them because I heard them conversing in Dutch. They were visiting their daughter (Ginger DeWeert) who was a pitcher for the college softball team at this campus - on full scholarship. She is also on the Dutch national team.

Wednesday, Feb 24/10

Off to the Arizona - Sonora Desert Museum outside of Tuscon (75 minutes south on I-10) for this bright sunny 65 degree day. Although it is called a museum, it is really part zoo, part museum and part botanical garden. It was founded in 1952 to preserve the natural vegetation of the Sonoran Desert and its ecosystem. There is so much to see here that you can't do it in one day. They have a Hummingbird Aviary that has the little birds flying all around you. We watched the Raptor Free Flight Program with 3 Harris Hawks flying for the crowds.
Thursday, Feb 25/10 - My day to be nurse to look after Lynn after she had her central line catheter removed today - no longer necessary since she has had her 6 chemo treatments. Don gets a rest too. We do keep cheering for the Canadians at the Olympics!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Skydiving Arizona

Week of Feb 14 -21/10 Casa Grande Arizona

We have had a pretty quiet week of fun in the sun but the highlight was watching our friend Bill Ratke make his first skydiving jump out of a perfectly good airplane at Skydive Arizona which is located close to here at the Eloy Municipal Airfield. Bill is a good friend of Lynn and Tom's from Wisconsin and is a pilot himself but wanted the skydiving experience. $300 later he had a great thrill jumping tandem and has a 5 minute video to prove it. Skydive Arizona is the world's largest skydiving school with over 150,000 jumps. People from all over the world come to skydive here plus US Military and Germany and Dutch military too. We watched for a couple of hours and parachutes continually come down and plane loads of jumpers go up every few minutes. Their airplanes can put 170 skydivers in the air at one time with 500 jumps possible in an hour. The clear desert weather allows for around 340 jumping days a year. For more interesting info check out skydive arizona.
The picture is not Bill but shows a tandem jump like Bill had and a photographer filming it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Olive Grove and Indian Parade

Wednesday to Saturday Feb 10 to 13/10

Enjoying the beautiful Arizona sunshine and visiting with our friends Lynn and Tom. On Thursday I did go for a tag-along adventure with other people from our RV Park to the Queen Creek Olive Mill outside of Phoenix. It was started by a guy from Ontario in 1998 when he moved down to the Phoenix area. He settled around Phoenix because there was a hockey league in Phoenix he could play in. It is the only Olive Glove Mill in Arizona and makes high quality extra virgin oil - the only kind anyone should be using apparently. From a ton of olives they harvest between October and December, they get 40 gallons of extra virgin olive oil. They also have a wonderful restaurant attached to the mill and gift shop where you can buy their oils - You have to pay the high prices for the good stuff. The Arizona climate is great for growing olives and no pesticides are needed because the temperatures of over 100 degrees here in the summer kill the olive fly that plaques crops in Italy, Spain and Greece. Olive trees produce olives in 3 to 5 years and can live for hundreds of years.

Just to let you know the peach and pear trees are blooming here now and the harvest happens in May.

On Saturday Lynn and I went to the O'Odham Tash Indian Days Parade in Casa Grande. Casa Grande has several large Indian Reservations in its surrounding area and it hosts one of the largest Indian Festivals in USA. The Festival has a rodeo, carnival, arts and crafts market and a parade that all take place this weekend. Lynn and Tom have lived in Casa Grande for almost 6 years now and this was the first time Lynn has gone to the parade and since it wasn't too thrilling and very slow paced - it will probably be the last.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Superbowl Weekend

Saturday to Tuesday February 6-9/10

Enjoying the lovely Arizona sun these days. Saturday and Sunday we visited the Gourdfest again to keep filling up the trailer with gourds which we have doing a good job of. I even had my picture taken with one of the gurus of gourding here - Bonnie Gibson as she was instructing a class. She does amazing work and here is a picture of one of her expensive pieces that you could purchase.We hoped for 1/2 price works of art at the close of the show on Sunday but that didn't happen.

We spent Sunday night cheering for the Saints at the Superbowl with our friends Lynn and Tom.

Monday and Tuesday have been quiet with time spent biking and relaxing at the little pool. I have instructed the water aerobics class for the ladies twice now and will continue to do it 2x/week while I am here.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Casa Grande Gourdfest

Friday February 4/10 Beautiful sunny 80 degree day

Today was the first day of a 3 day Gourd Festival at the Casa Grande Fairgrounds and it was incredible. Don and I were the purchase agents of the President of the Canadian Gourd Society (Barbara Bellchambers of Lakefield) and aspiring gourd artist Katie Marsden. Their goal is to fill up our trailer with gourds for their artwork. This gourd show is the largest in the USA with over 100 vendors and a large judging contest and other fun things like a gourd sailing regatta on the pond there and the racing of little gourd cars (like boy scout cars) and the kindergourden which teaches the public about gourds. Don took 250 pictures and you can view them through the website and link to the 3rd picture site - merry marsden travels.

We are in a small RV park with 125 sites. The people are very friendly - not too many Canadians and there are activities - art and craft classes, dinners and luncheons, bocce ball and field trips. It does have internet access but we are parked a bit too far from the office for the signal so we walk down to the clubhouse with our computers. There is a small pool - temp of 94 degrees and then a hot tub which is hotter than that!

We bought a 3 day pass for the gourdfest so we will get out to see all we can of it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Travel to Casa Grande Arizona

Monday to Wednesday Feb 1-3/10
1200 miles driven

Packed up and travelled up the road to San Antonio and then got on Interstate I-10 for many miles. Monday night we stopped at Segovia Texas - was an EconoLodge that had a few RV sites in a field beside it. Only $16 for the night but we had to go to the lodge lobby to use the internet and the restrooms were not pretty. The Lodge was run by an East Indian family which seemed out to place in Texas ranch land.

Tuesday we almost made it out of Texas but stopped on the east side of El Paso and ventured to the Cattleman's Steakhouse. This place was 5 miles off the highway and had all kinds of attractions with the restaurant - little zoo with rabbits, goats, peacocks, deer, llamas, buffalo, cattle and rattlesnakes; a lake complete with some Canadian geese; western movie set - a list of 10 movies were partially filmed on this site. Their largest steak in the Steakhouse was called the Cowboy - a 2lb T-bone. We did eat there ($50) and stayed the night parked in their RV area (no charge).
Wednesday took us through El Paso and finally out of Texas and into New Mexico for 200 miles and then into Arizona, through Tuscon to Casa Grande. Most of the day we travelled through rainy drizzle and temperatures in the 40s but when we arrived in Casa Grande, the temperature climbed to over 60 degrees and the sun was shining. We are in Leisure Valley RV Resort in a temporary spot for the night and will find a better location to stay the month of February and spend quality time with our good friends - Lynn and Tom Brudnicki.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Visit to Mexico

Thursday to Saturday Jan 28 to 30/10

So I did venture across the Rio Grande River into Mexico at the town of Progresso which is about 15 miles from Alamo with two Manitobans - Bob and Judy. You can see in this first picture, the big fence that is being put up in the distance. The second picture is taken from the bridge that we walked across into Mexico. We parked the car on the US side for $2 and paid 25 cents each to walk across. We were not checked as we walked into town with all the other winter Texans but Mexican soldiers stand guard. There was a shooting on the main street in December but that was at a drug smuggler trying to drive across the border. That put a dent into tourism for a while but people forget easily. The main attactions are the dentists and the drug stores for cheap prescription drugs. The main street is long and filled with shops of Mexican trinkets. I did buy some Vanilla - everybody does. Bob had his haircut for $3. I saw a sign for teeth cleaning for $5 and dental examinations are free. We had lunch at a pub where many winter Texans from our RV park go each week for cheap drinks,, music and dancing.

We had to pay another 25 cents to get back over the bridge and show our passports to get back into the USA. The border customs officer checked out my passport and asked me a few regular questions and then was handing me my passport back and asked me "How tall are you?" and I answered 5'9" and then asked him why he asked me that? He said he didn't often see such a tall women - understandable since he sees short Mexican women and old Winter Texan women who are mostly 5'4" and under.
Since Mexico on Thursday, the temperatures have dipped a bit but we managed to play 18 holes of golf today and a few games of shuffleboard. I spent a little time in the stained glass workshop and cut some glass to make a windmill stepping stone when I get home.
On Sunday we will be preparing for our departure on Monday morning to make our way to Arizona. Cousin Maureen (and 2 Manitoba girlfriends from here in this park) will be flying to Las Vegas tomorrow night for a 4 day mini holiday. Don and I will be dining Sunday night with our friends Laurel (DD volunteer firefighter)and Joan Hamilton from Lakefield who have a RV in the neighbouring park here.
Back to the blog as we travel to Arizona.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Checking out the birds again

Sunday to Wednesday January 24 to 27/2010

We didn't accomplish too much this week but we ventured out of the resort today to visit Estero Llano Grande State Park in nearby Westlaco with our new friends John and Bonnie - Rvers from Kincardine Ontario. We Ontario people have to stick together because there aren't too many of us down here in southern Texas. The Winter Texans in this RV resort mostly come from the mid west states and mid western provinces. So back to the park we were at today. We arrived there at 8:30 so we could go out with a naturalist to learn about the birds that are there. About 80 different species of birds were spotted in that time. This park is 176 acres on the site of an old rv resort and is special for its large wetland environment so there are lots of waterfowl to see and an alligator too.

This photo is of a Pauraque - special to the Rio Grande Valley. You would walk right past it and not notice it because it looks like a piece of wood on the forest floor. It is a night hunter and sleeps on the ground all day hardly moving an inch.

These birds are Chachalacas - special to this area too. They are the size of a pheasant and they make alot of noise. We actually saw this flock at a bird feeding station at the Valley Nature Center in Westlaco that we visited in the afternoon after we feed ourselves at McDs - $1.49 Big Mac Wednesday.

Other birds of not we saw today were - Vermillion Flycatcher (small bright red bird - size of a swallow - black wings), whistling duck (burned marshmellow color), Anhinga (large water bird), cinnamon teal, white winged dove, buff-bellied hummingbird, golden fronted woodpecker, scissor-tailed flycatcher, eastern phoebe and savannah sparrow.

That is all the birding places in the area that I wanted to get too. Tomorrow I am going over the border into Mexico with some friends of Cousin Don and Maureen. Don doesn't want to go.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Exploring the Rio Grande Valley

Tuesday to Saturday, January 23, 2010

Such a nice week I didn't get over to the Clubhouse to post a blog all week. Cousin Don and Maureen drove us over to check out South Padre Island on the Gulf of Mexico (an hour drive from here in Alamo) on Wednesday. The weather was sunny and warm but windy so our walk on the beach was like getting slightly sandblasted. We lunched on a platter of shrimp, fish, chicken and fries at Dirty Al's. We toured the World Birding Center on the Island enjoying their boardwalk and new viewing tower. Para-surfers, windsurfers and sand sail buggies were enjoying the windy conditions which the island experiences most of the time. We were advised not to bring the RV to camp here because the salt water and the sand cause alot of damage to your rig.

Yesterday Don and I visited another park for birding - Bentsen Rio Grande State Park. We did see some lovely birds and javelinas (look like wild pigs but they aren't in the pig family at all). This park is right on the Rio Grande River so border patrols are present - even a chopper flying overhead. Most of the birds go south through this area in October and November and come back north in April - birds are pretty smart. The naturalist told us that some days thousands of hawks are counted from their hawk tower. With so much land cleared for development and farming, the bird's habitats are severely threatened. Plus the damming of the Rio Grande River (further upstream) for irrigation and to control flooding has changed the vegetation in the area. One year recently no water of the Rio Grande River reached the Gulf of Mexico.

So we keep busy when we aren't touring with golfing, the pool, walking, shopping and whatever else comes along.