Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another week has gone by in sunny Texas and now I have to try and remember what we did special this past week. There has been lots of golfing since the weather has been nice. Here is a picture to show this to be true. Don goes out to men's golf on Monday mornings and I tried Ladies Golf on Thursday morning and didn't embarass myself too badly.
At the weekly park meeting it was announced that there are 875 residents in the park now and some more expected in the next 2 weeks.
I went to the evening entertainment on Tuesday evening - "Gold Wing Express" - a father and 3 sons from Branson Missouri - very good musicians/singers and funny too.
Spanish class is an hour on Wednesday and we have homework too but it may need alot more time than that to get it to sink into our brains. Wednesday afternoon, Don and I went into old McAllen for a massage - a deal out of the newspaper - we each had a 45 minute full body relaxation massage for a total of $45.00 - it was a good deal.
On Thursday night, I went with Maureen (cousin Don's wife) and Gail (another Winnipegger) to McAllen for dinner and the theatre. We saw "Late Bloomers" - is a comedy about a fictional RV Park with the park owner falling for a stripper and the owner's daughter comes to break up that romance. It was staged at South Texas College. We had a good time.
Saturday was the park Craft Sale in the morning and the afternoon I biked to Pharr (14 mile roundtrip) to take in the Rio Grande Wood Carvers Show - some beautiful stuff.
Today there is alot of excitment in the park for the Football playoffs. The couple that manages this park are from Wisconsin so they are dressed up as cheese heads to cheer their team to victory.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

It has been a disappointing rainy cool week in Texas but we manage to do what we can - no swimming or golf for a few days - but no snow either so we can't complain.

We did go on a outing on Thursday night to Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen (across from the McAllen International Airport). It is one of the largest remaining adobe homes built in Texas and dates back to 1935. There is a cottage and hooch (3, 325 sq ft)and a main house(6,739 sq ft)( all constructed of 12 inch adobe block). An unusual feature of the house was the aluminum sulfate paint on the inside and out to prevent radar waves from penetrating the building.

There was 25 x 55 ft adobe block bathing pool. When constructed, the pool was all one depth, that being 12 feet. It was known as a draw and fill pool, as it had no filtration system. It had to be drained and refilled whenever the water became dirty. It was filled from a freshwater well located at the back of the cottage. The owner would attach a six-inch pipe at an airplane engine and jet water fifteen feet through the air into the swimming pool, filling it in less that 30 minutes.

The estate (with its 8 acres)was lived in till 1964 and sat empty for 3 years until a local couple bought it for $24,000 and restored it. It was sold in 1998 to the City of McAllen for $1.4 million. It is now the McAllen wing of the World Birding Ctr, offering nature trails and water features. It is also rented for meetings, conferences, weddings and other celebrations.

We went to Quinta Mazatlan to listen to a presentation on "Exploring the Edges of Texas" - a book written by Walt and Isabel Davis, a retired botanist and a reference librarian/birder who spent the first 4 years of their retirement - covering 4000 miles. They researched 16 stories of botanists and naturalists who first explored Texas. Inspiring. Isabel did say that they were ready to spend some time at home now.

On Friday afternoon we blew the budget and spent the rainy afternoon at the movie theatre to see "The Social Network" - story of the biginning of Facebook. ($1.50 each). We liked it.

After picking up a few bargains from the lawn sales in the park on Saturday morning, I went with another park resident to a Mariachi Band Concert at the University of Texas - Pan American in Edinburg for the afternoon. The UTPA Mariachi was founded to promote Mexican folk music and the culture of the Hispanic people for the benefit of the students and community of South Texas. This Mariachi Aztlan group performed at the White House in Oct. 2010 and have travelled internationally and won numerous competitions. I didn't understand the Spanish songs but the music was amazing - so much talent - singing, violins, trumpets, guitars and a harp - plus a dance group and junior high band joined in too.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Got to catch up again. Did go on the long bike ride to McAllen last Monday morning - great until we had to bike back from Country Omelette with full bellies and into the wind?

Wednesday's Mystery Tour went to the "Museum of South Texas History" in Edinburg - a town northwest of us. It was very well done for the history of the Rio Grande Valley from prehistoric times to 2000. Lots of unrest in this area due to border disputes with Mexico. This is also a rich agricultural area - with the help of irrigation for the crops of cotton, sugarcane, citrus and vegetables. One building was the original jail complete with gallows. Lunch that day was at a barbecue place and then we came back to the RV Park. We did have another adventure to a soup and sandwich fundraiser at another mobile home park not too far away but that wasn't too exciting.

We will try to be more exciting this coming week. I am off on another bus ride tomorrow to an aloe vera farm?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday, January 2/11

Maureen (cousin Don's wife) and Gail from Manitoba and I visited the Our Lady of San Juan del Valle Basilica in San Juan - about 5 miles from our RV Park. This shrine averages more than a million visitors a year and is one of the most visited shrines in the United States. We arrived today while a Spanish mass was going on with capacity attendance - 3500 in the basilica - floor and balcony seated and about 2000 standing and more people outside. It was the 4th mass of the day with 2 more scheduled.
The history of this Marian shrine began in 1920 as a small wooden chapel. A bigger church was built in 1954 but was destroyed in 1970 by a tragic event. While 50 priests were concelebrating mass with another 50 people in attendance, and 100 school children in an adjacent cafeteria, the pilot of a small low-flying airplane crashed into the roof of the shrine and exploded into flames - the pilot was the only fatality. A new shrine was built and dedicated in 1980. The beautifully landscaped grounds feature the 14 Stations of the Cross. In 1999, Pope John Paul II dedicated it as a minor basilica.

So we have passed our days playing lots of golf and some biking and time at the pool. From before Christmas there have been nightly fireworks in the neighbourhood and on New Years Eve they went on from dark (6 PM) to 1:30 AM and some after that.
Don has joined the First Responder Team in Trophy Gardens. This is a team of 8 volunteer residents who carry a pager and help residents that have emergencies in the park here and assist the ambulance if needed. I am off on a long bike ride tomorrow morning with the bike club - 17 mile roundtrip but we get to stop for breakfast. On Wednesday, I am off for a Mystery Bus Trip - will report after.