Posts

Showing posts from 2011
Image
Updating December 2011 So what have we been doing here over the Christmas holidays? I painted the staircase we bought last year - easier to climb than the trailer stairs. We had our picture taken for the Park Book that comes out next September - showing all the residents. We haven't had one of these books yet but they are handy if you forget someone's name. We have been experiencing a cool spell here over the holidays - Christmas Eve was cold and rainy - but the rain is needed so we don't complain too much. We have been golfing and biking and shopping. I taught my first exercise class on Wednesday at 8 AM but am restricted to a 30 minute time slot - and I am used to an hour time slot back home so it is difficult to get everything in. We have learned how to play Fast Track - a card game and enjoyed a chocolate fondue at neighbours one night. On Christmas Eve we attended the Candle Light Service in the Clubhouse and had Christmas Dinner in the Clubhouse at noon on Christmas…
Image
First Week at Trophy Gardens, Alamo, TexasWe arrived around 1 PM on Wednesday, Dec 14/11 - sunny and warm and Texas windy. We extracted ourselves from our little Subaru Impreza and all the stuff we brought. Before we go home I must take an inventory of our clothes - we brought a bit too much cause we didn't remember what we left behind in April - we had to buy 20 more hangers. At 3 PM I joined the neighbours at the clubhouse for a Brown Bag Christmas exchange - 100 people joined in with the exchange of $5 gifts in these brown paper bags - lots of bottles of wine, tins of popcorn and boxes of chocolates ( which everyone down here refers to as candy). I was fortunate to go back to the trailer with my new gift - 4 muffins and a loaf of homemade bread made by the neighbour across the road from us. Poor Don was back at the trailer still setting up things so the food came in handy since we hadn't shopped for food yet. Thursday morning, I took Don's bicycle (mine has a flat tire…

December 2011 - to Texas

Image
Friday Dec 9 to Wednesday Dec 13/2011 Time to pack up and head south. We left Lakefield at 9 AM and headed south. Lunch at Don's parents in Toronto and then to London for dinner and spending the night at our friend Susan Reid's new home. Susan had just retired from a 35 year career at Bell. Saturday we drove south to Louisville, Kentucky and stayed in the Marriott Springhill Suites - thanks to Tom's points. We had a nice dinner at the Cardinal Hall of Fame Cafe - showcased all the Louisville sports teams. Sunday's drive took us to Tunica, Mississippi to stay in a Harrah Casino there and indulged in a Paula Dean dinner - Southern Home Cooking. Up early on Monday morning, we drove 13 hours - through Arkansas and into Texas - past Dallas and Austin - to San Antonio. That evening, Don relaxed from the long drive and I explored the San Antonio Riverwalk - to enjoy the lights and took a boat tour to know the landmarks for touring the next day. Tuesday was spent enjoying the s…

Nov 10/11

Thursday, November 10/11 Cloudy - 58 degrees Metro to Alexandria, Amtrak to Baltimore airport ($27 today vs. $51 on Sunday night for same trip). Flew at 1 PM with few bumps to Buffalo. Picked up car ($39 for parking). Fueled at Smoking Jo's in Sanborn, NY ($3.41 for $51 fill-up), over Lewiston bridge ($3.25) to visit Ellie Lech in St Catherines and another stop in TO at the Marsdens homestead and home in Lakefield by 9:20 PM. Impressions of Washington: Beautiful city - so much to see. Helped that I had perfect weather and the trees were turning colors - dropped back into fall for these few days. Conservative city - tons of office workers - no wild clothing or hair - young workforce - not many old people around. Lots of runners around city - on The Mall Most workers - security and police. Purse checking and xray machines in almost every building. Need to go back - did not do Supreme Court or the Art Museums Great to visit with Tom and being spoiled with nice accommodations and di…

Wednesday, November 9/11

Image
Wed. Nov 9/11 Sunny 66 degrees Metro to L'enfant Plaza and stroll over to the Library of Congress (Jefferson Building) - another beautiful building - tour of The Great Hall, Main Reading Room and Jefferson Library Room. Saw the Giant Bible of Mainz (Germany) - written by hand by monk on parchment in the mid 1450's and the Gutenburg Bible - first book printed with movable metal type (only one of three perfect vellum copies in existence.) Strolled over to Madison Library and got my LOC Library Card - good for 2 years and now I can go into the special reading rooms. Watched some "I Love Lucy" clips from a exhibit that was there. Walked to Air and Space Museum - amazing place but teaming with school kids. Had lunch salad at the McDonalds on site. Over to the White House Visitors Centre and watched film. Walked by historical Willard Hotel and stopped in fancy Lobby there. The Trolley Tour driver said that presidents would meet with influential citizens in this lobb…

Washington DC Nov 8/11

Image
Tuesday, November 8/11 Sunny 67 degrees Metro to L"Enfant Plaza and walked over to Capital Building and did 9 AM tour. Beautiful building - incredible tower. Had very knowledgeable tour guide - older woman from Pennsylvannia who treated our group of 20 like she was a sargeant major - but in a nice way. Then back down the street to the National Botanical Garden Greenhouse and Gardens. Blitzed the Museum of the American Indian and enjoyed the temporary exhibit there entitled "A Song of the Horse Nation". It is a beautiful new building on The Mall shaped like a Southwestern Mesa. Walked over to Union Station for lunch in the Food Court there. Toured National Postal Museum after lunch and heard about the Pony Express and Owney the Postal Dog- now stuffed there. Interesting place. Then back to The Mall and visited the National Archives - to see the original Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Next stop was the Natural History Museum - 2nd …

Washington DC Nov 6-10/11

Image
Mary Travels to Washington DC Nov 6/11 Since son Tom works in Washington DC a week a month I thought I would take this opportunity to visit with Tom and share his hotel room to have a home base to explore Washington DC - hadn't been there before. Don decided not to go with me because he had been to Washington on a tour when Tom was in Air Cadets. On Sunday, Nov 6/11 I drove down to Buffalo Airport and flew Southwest to Baltimore Airport ( little over an hour flight) for cost of $159.40 return. I took the Amtrak train to Alexandria VA ( another hour and cost of $51 - one way). Tom picked me up at the King Street station and we had a lovely dinner at a "The Wharf" Fish Restaurant in this beautiful historical port town - close to Mount Vernon - home of George Washington. I had delicious She Crab Soup and Tom had Crab Cakes - shared dessert of pumpkin creme brulee - yummy. Home to the Marriott Courtyard Hotel - handicapped suite - in Springfield, Virginia. Tom gave me the ki…
Image
Travelling home now. We packed up the big truck and headed out of Trophy Gardens, Alamo Texas on Sunday, April 10 at 9:30 AM. Our first night on the road was at the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel, Lake Charles, Louisiana. We arrived about 6 PM and had some supper and signed up for their players card and spent some of their bonus bucks on the slots. We stayed the next morning there until noon so that we could get a few more bonus bucks - senior's monday special.
Then we took off for the Paragon Casino in Marksville, Louisiana - only about 3 hours north. Another nice hotel room - this one had alligators and fish ponds in the hotel lobby. Another feature was their cinema with 4 theatres - so we watched "The Lincoln Lawyer" starring Matthew McConaughay and Marissa Tomai that night.
Off early on Tuesday morning for an 8 hour drive up to Tunica, Mississippi - a Harrah Casino hotel for the night. We crossed the Mississippi River and headed north. The Tunica area has 10 large casino…
Image
Yesterday was our hottest day in Texas. We considered putting on our air conditioner in the trailer but we knew a cold front was coming in and by the time we went to bed the temperature had dropped to 70 and was 60 by the morning. Check out the thermometer in our trailer in this picture. Not much difference from inside to outside. I spent most of the day at the pool.

Today Don and I went on a Tour of the La Sal Del Rey Wildlife Tract. This is a tour offered by the Valley Nature Centre with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. We had to be at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge at 7:30 AM. We were loaded in a 12 passenger van and drove with a park naturalist for an hour north to one of 3 natural salt lakes. El Sal Del Rey, Spanish for "Salt for the King" was first located by the Spaniards in 1697 and quickly claimed for the king. They harvested salt here that was hauled out by ox carts to the Gulf, into Mexico as far away as Mexico City, and to all the Missions in Texas. Salt…
Image
Getting close to the end of this winter lifestyle in Texas. We have said goodbye to many of our neighbours this week as they head back up north. We have set our takeoff date for April 10 and will slowly make it over to see Tom and Diana in Virginia Beach by the 14 and proceed to Ontario on the 17th. So what have we done lately other than golf, swim, bike, eat and play games? On Saturday, March 26th, another neighbour Barb and I went to the Texas Women's Expo at the McAllen Convention Centre. It was the first time an event like this was held in the Rio Grande Valley and it seemed to be well attended by the ladies of the valley. It was the first event I had been to that I saw more local Hispanic people than Winter Texans. We enjoyed visiting the exhibitor booths and listening to speakers on Yoga, Feng Shui decorating, heart health and even a little fashion show. There was a salon doing haircuts, manicures, eyebrow waxing etc but the line-ups for that were long. On March 30 we enjoye…
Image
Another update to tell about a few new experiences. On Monday, I went with 7 TG neighbours to partake in Winter Texan Appreciation Day in Progresso Mexico. Don declined the adventure since he had been there in February when I was in Arizona and didn't want to go again. Even with scary reports of drug cartel problems in the Rio Grande Valley, the Mexican border towns rely on Winter Texans coming over the border to go to the dentists, buy their medications, eat and shop. This was the day they show their appreciation and the main street of Progresso was closed to traffic and 5 stages with entertainment were set up and there were many giveaways of bags, hats and pins. Winter Texans love anything that is free so lots of people came over to enjoy the day. We started with a Mexican breakfast in a little cafe on the side street. Luckily one of our group could speak Spanish to help us out. The rest of the morning we spent shopping and getting pinned with little advertising things. Lots of…
Image
Into Kingsville - a town that grew thanks to the King Family (mostly Henrietta and her grandson Bob) bringing the railroad to the area so they could ship their cattle and other products. The Kings donated an acre of land to any church that wanted to come to the town. They also donated land for schools. Our first stop was at the King Ranch Saddle Shop. Beautiful expensive things - complete with lots of stuffed animals and a working saddle shop. Check out their products at http://www.krsaddleshop.com/.



Back on the bus to be transported over to the John E. Conner Museum at the Texas A&M Kingsville. It contained the Graves Peeler Hall of Horns (trophy game mounts collected by an amazing, hunter, rancher and lawman, and the saviour of the Texas Longhorn.) It also had historica exhibits and a temporary exhibit of quilts from the Kingsville Saturday Quilters. Back on the bus and returned to Trophy Gardens by 5:30 PM after starting out at 6:45 AM - good day - lots of learning.
Image
Back to the King Ranch trip. On the 2 hour coach trip on the way to the ranch we had a local historian - Helen Myers - give us the history of the ranch and area. When we reached the ranch, a Ranch historian (retired teacher) boarded our bus and told us lots of info on our hour bus tour of the Ranch itself. The picture on the left is their business center which was originally their general store for the families that lived on the ranch. The first home on the property was a 2 room mud hut that Richard King brought his young bride Henrietta home to. A second home was built but burnt down in 1912 and the 3rd home was built on the original site. Henrietta King instructed the architect to design a house that anybody would be comfortable walking into wearing boots. Driving by the front door of the Ranchhouse you see Peacocks and Peahens at the front door. These have always been on the property from early days because Henrietta was afraid of rattlesnakes and peacocks will attack and kill ratt…
Image
Time to catch up again. What have we been doing for the last 10 days? Just enjoying the Texas sunshine. Last Wednesday we did meet our friend Thery King and her cousin Wanda for a lovely lunch at Pirate's Landing in Port Isabel. Last night we played "Night Golf" - a scramble with glow in the dark balls - it was fun with 45 people out. Sorry to say cousin Don and Maureen left this morning for Winnipeg and we will miss their company here at Trophy Gardens.


Today I was off on an adventure to King Ranch - a 2 hour bus trip north of us. The King Ranch is the largest family owned ranch in Texas - 825,000 acres. I wanted to tour this ranch because we have a Ford "King Ranch" pick-up truck and have passed the ranch on our way to the Rio Grande Valley for 2 winters now. So here is some info on the King Ranch.
Captain Richard King (1824-1885) , a Rio Grande Steamboat Captain bought 2 Spanish land grants on the Santa Gertrudis Creek and founded the legendary King Ranch in 1…
Image
Time to get back on track with this blog. So the sad update on golf is that Canada lost the tournament to the USA and then this past Wednesday it was Winter Ranch (the RV Park beside us) and Trophy Garden Challenge (our park) and we lost again. Maureen and I attended a 90 minute seminar from golf guru "Steve" (http://www.cornettasgolf.com/) that preachers to the recreational golfer at a nearby hotel ballroom. It was entertaining and we are hoping it helps our games. (It isn't showing so far?)


So what else have we done - besides golf and potluck dinners? Don and I went on a little bus trip to a Rio Grande River Cruise last Monday. We had an hour ride on the Rio Grande River - saw the damage on the riverfront properties from the flooding of the river last fall. The river stayed elevated for 33 days. We had a delicious lunch at the Riverside Grill where our cruise started and ended. The Border Patrol presence is certainly seen. We saw their lookout tower right beside this RV…
Image
Update for this week. Monday was the Aloe Vera Farm tour. It was very interesting but sad because the aloe vera plants were severely damaged or killed by the freezing temperatures this February. It will take the plants 8 to 9 months to come back for the leaves to be harvested again - if they survive. There was a 45 minute outdoor tour on a haywagon done by a retired teacher who owned a citrus farm next door. Then we had a 45 minute indoor tour by an 88 year old lady - with a wonderful dry sense of humour - a little like Betty Whyte. She and her 89 year old husband help one of their sons manage the place. These presentations were followed by a chicken dinner lunch in their diningroom which they turn into a dance hall on the weekends. Plus they have made a golf course inbetween the aloe vera fields. And they are selling house lots around the place too.
So on to more of the week and it has been golf tournaments on our little Par 3 - 9 hole golf course on the property of this RV Park. Wed…
Been back in Texas for almost a week and can't say I have accomplished much? Been out on the golf course here a few times to get back in the swing of things (pun intended), taught my exercise class on Tuesday and Friday morning - suffered from that with those 2 weeks off routine in Arizona.
Did get out of the park with Maureen (cousin Don's wife) and Gail (another Manitoba friend) to visit the nearby town of Pharr. There was a 45 minute Trolley ride to see its historic buildings, followed by a chicken dinner and then a "Senior Cinderella Play". This was put on by the Pharr Literacy Program - a grass roots organization that started several years ago to bring ESL classes to the hispanic population (97% of their population) and now they run a nursery, their classes in English, Spanish, sewing, computer, business are all free with the students having to do volunteer service for their classes. This county is one of the poorest in the USA so they are giving these people a c…
Image
Last day in Arizona for this trip - to fly back tomorrow to Texas to rejoin Don in the Trophy Garden fun.
Yesterday Lynn and I spent the morning on a Historical Tour of Florence - travelling around in a trolley and stopping to tour homes or public buildings in that town. For lunch we had enciladas and tacos at an old Inn and listened to a man talk about a gunfight that took place in Florence between the sheriff and his deputy for unknown reasons. After lunch we went to the Casa Grande Ruins for a Native American Music Festival - featuring flute music. The weather has been sunny and 80 degrees so it was a pleasure to be outside for these events.
Tom, Lynn and I went to the movies to see the new "True Grit" movie with Jeff Bridges and then we had to rent the old "True Grit" with John Wayne. The new one is more sophisticated but the old one has its charms too.
That is it for Arizona.