Charro Bean Soup

The "South 40 Gang" had a charro bean soup night and invited around 30 people. There's an empty site between our trailer and Glen and Linda's trailer so that became party central. Oh, Zaph is the mascot of the "south 40 gang".

The pot of soup arrived and everyone was ready to eat. By the way, it was very tasty.



Finally Made it to Mexico

We've been here for almost a month and decided it was time to go to Mexico, so right after exercise class we headed out. The little tourist town is pretty much the same as it was last year except there is a bit more military presence there. The border towns have been experiencing more drug related violence than in previous years.

This evening a group of us headed out to celebrate Zach's birthday. The restaurant of choice was Pancho's. We were seated in the room that had a view of the bird coop --- pigeons and quails and had an interesting time watching the birds. The mariachi band sang Zach an interesting version of Happy Birthday.

Zach in front of the Mariachi band



Slide show

Today did not start well as I lifted too hard on the shower diverter knob and ended up with two pieces in my hand. Ed went in search of a replacement knob and I stayed at the trailer and cleaned windows --- not quite what I had planned for the day.

We saw some smoke this afternoon and drove out to see if they were burning sugar cane and they were. The cane must burn hot and quick .... as the flames are a couple of stories high and the fire lasts only a few minutes.

This evening was much better as we went down to the rec hall to watch Bob and Jean's slide show "50th Anniversary Trip to Alaska". It certainly brought back a lot of good memories.

The fire was a field from the road but you could see see the flames and hear the fire.

They started another fire moments after the first one was out.



Texas Citrus Fiesta

Bright and early (8am) we headed up to the rec hall for Saturday morning coffee which is where we hear about the activities for the coming week and in this case the next month. After coffee, the king and queen of the park (chosen by the club members) posed beside the park's float for tonight's parade.

Just before 5pm we headed downtown to get a good spot to watch the parade and were surprised at the number of the people that were already there. Luckily, we were able to find an open piece of curb to sit on. Tonight's parade is special on two counts, one is that it is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Mission in December 2008 and two it is the first time it has been held in the evening. The parade took about 90 mins. to go past us.

Oleander Acres Queen Caryl and King Gale.

One of the floats in the parade

The Oleander float.

This horse was prancing creating a real roller coaster ride for the occupants.



Arts and Crafts Show

The Winter Texan Association sponsors an Arts and Crafts Show each year. Presenters first display their piece at the campground they are staying at where it is judged on a point scale. Any piece rated above 85 is awarded a blue ribbon. All items receiving blue ribbons are then eligible to be displayed at the valley arts and craft show. Today was the day of the craft show at our park, we didn't submit anything but went and checked it out. We were happy to see that several of Bob and Jean's photos received blue ribbons. There's an amazing number of talented people in our park.

Some of the photographs on display.

After dinner I headed out to do laundry and noticed what looked like a fire and smoke. My first reaction was that somewhere they were burning sugar cane, so I went back to the trailer and told Ed. He decided to check it out and discovered not the burning of sugar can but a power generation plant about 7KM away. One of these days I'm going to see the sugar cane being burnt off.



Cool and Drizzly

Yesterday and today were cool and drizzly .... yes, I do appreciated the fact that it was not snowing and it was above freezing. Bob's computer reported a virus so Ed spent most of yesterday getting rid of the Trojan as it kept reappearing. In the end he won.

Today a group of us decided to venture out to see the movie called "I am Legend". A very intense movie guaranteed to keep you awake. Don't know that I'd actually recommend it. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0480249/)



Fun Night

Zaph and I hung out this morning as Ed was helping people with their computer problems this morning. He really enjoys helping out. And this afternoon Zaph and I hung out again as Ed went to check out Zach's HAM radio gear.

Tonight was Fun Night. Anyone so inclined can get on stage and perform. There were a couple of people who sang familiar songs with altered lyrics (i.e. Home, home on the Road...), another couple did a skit about arriving at a campground after dark and attempting to park the new trailer (especially funny to us as we've pretty much been there), a group of pirates mimicking what I think was a Monte Python skit, some "old men skits" and then there were the dancing cats ---very interesting. All in all I laughed a lot and so did the rest of the audience.

Clarence and Doc sang modified lyrics to Are You Lonesome Tonight

The dancing pirates




I figured if I remembered how to play euchre, I should remember how to play bridge, so I headed off to "bridge" this morning. There was an open seat and I was invited to sit. Since bridge players can be serious, I was little nervous, but this group is in it for fun. This was good, as I made a few mistakes but only one big one.
After 6 hands, the losers would move to another table with a switch of partners, so when we moved, my previous partner was sitting on my right. He opened with a one diamond bid, I responded with a two diamond bid because my hand matched his... There were some comments about my bid, but I didn't get it until it was time for the person across from me to make a bid --- That would be my partner at this table.
A four letter word came out of my mouth as I realized the familiar voice I had responded to was no longer my partner! oops... Luckily, everyone laughed and the third person to bid, overbid mine so I didn't have to play my "bad bid".

While I was at bridge, Ed went off with a group to have pizza and he didn't bring me any back.

Zaph hitched a ride when Bob headed to the garbage bin.



A Walk in the Park

The sun was shining and the birds were singing, so Ed, Zaph and I decided to go to Estero Llano Grande State Park about 20 minutes east of us. This is a new state park which opened last year and I must say that I think they did an excellent job in blending the building into its natural surrounding. Again, the bird population seems to be down but we did see one of our favourites --- the vermilion flycatcher along with cormorant, anhinga, black crowned night heron, yellow-rumped warbler and of course several small birds we didn't identify. Zaph thought it was a successful walked as he received many pets and met another dog.

It's Sunday so it's off to ice cream at 4pm and then just after 8pm it's off to the Dairy Queen for more ice cream and to meet Bob and Rosetta after the first concert of the men's choir (Rosetta plays piano for them, Bob sings).

The vermilion fly catcher




Busy day .... first morning coffee at the rec hall. This is where you catch up with everyone and here whats happening during the next week. Ed got to stand up for his birthday along with everyone else that had a birthday during the previous week and we sang happy birthday. Some people he had helped at computer class needed some more help so he headed off to their trailer. Now they have a story I need to hear ---- they've each been married twice and both times it was to each other.

Tonight was the big luau at the rec hall. A nice dinner is provided along with some entertainment. Following the luau was euchre and pinochle. As we were leaving the couple Ed had helped earlier in the day asked if we played euchre. Ed said he didn't but I did, to which I indicated if they needed a forth I would stay. It turned out to be a lot of fun. One of the couples that played were Rollo and Dorothy (she had her 90th birthday recently and he's 91). They were the people Rosetta took photos of with her flowers. They are a testament to staying active keeps you young.

Jean played the piano and Bob sang a Hawaiian song.

The hula girls taught "Bobette" how to hula.

Ed and I had our photo taken with the "king".



Silent Auction

Another couple of cold, rainy days (you can stop playing the worlds smallest violin) where we hid in the trailer or did errands where we could be inside.

I had promised Ed a steak dinner for his birthday, so Thursday evening we headed off to the Outback Steakhouse --- we haven't eaten at one in years. It was very good and my prime rib was $5 less than the price indicated on the online Canadian Outback menu. Think we'll do the fancy dinners out in the US from now on.

Friday was "dues day" as well as the silent auction at the park. The activities are arranged and run by "the club" which are the people staying at the park. In order to help offset costs like coffee for Saturday morning coffee, paper for weekly calendars, etc. you are asked to pay a $3.00 per person due for the season. Some of the club members do an incredible amount of work for nothing. They decided to have a silent auction to raise money for the club. People donated unwanted items and other people bought them. Ed bought another remote control ---- I think we must have 20 by now but he says we need them all.



More Bird Watching

Yesterday was cold and rainy, so other than exercise class, computer class (Ed's a helper) and the necessary dog walks we stayed in the trailer and tried to keep warm.

The sun was shinning this morning and the forecast was good so we headed to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge to do a little bird watching. The rain had left the trails wet so we got to experience south Texas mud first hand --- you don't sink into it, it just attaches to your shoes and after a while it feels like your walking on high heels. The birding wasn't too exciting, but we did get to see an American Kestrel, Harris's Hawk, Black-necked Stilts, Ruby-crowed Kinglets and a mix of warblers and sparrows.

The Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) on the trees at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

Need a pinata? Interesting sighting on the drive home --- you can't read the license plate but the truck is from Mexico.



Happy Birthday Ed!!!!

The weather was pretty miserable today, but it's Ed's birthday so we needed to celebrate. In fact it was a multiple celebration day as Rosetta's birthday (a trailer behind our neighbour) was on Saturday and Harold's birthday is today as well (the motor home behind us).

Rosetta has a tradition of making cinnamon rolls for birthday celebrations so she made a batch of buns and four were delivered to our trailer in time for breakfast ---- they were really good so I was pretty lucky Ed let me have one and half buns. Next Ed and I headed out to shop for his birthday gift --- the aging sci-fi fan wanted a copy of Dune on DVD (we found it in the first store we looked). After lunch and some more shopping we headed back to the park for cake and ice cream. One of the "gang" made ice cream and three more made cakes and about 20 of us got together to celebrate the three birthdays and eat. Then it was out for dinner and try to eat some more --- over half of mine came home for tomorrow's lunch).

I think Ed had a pretty good day.



Another Birdwalk

I dragged Ed out of bed early this morning and we headed over to Bentsen State Park for the Sunday morning bird walk. It was much colder out then we expected so we were under dressed --- I know it was warmer than at home so I should stop complaining. The result was I missed some of the bird sightings, as I kept standing in sheltered sunny spots trying to warm up. One of the sunny spots however, was by a bird blind, so I did get to enjoy a real splash of color as the Green Jays, Northern Cardinals, Altamira Orioles, Chachalacas, Doves, Olive and Lincoln Sparrows as well as a few other birds enjoyed breakfast at the recently replenished feeders. The excitement on todays walk was going to the hawk tower which overlooks the recently filled resaca (aka ox-bow, a small pond or lake formed when part of a river bend detaches during a flood). A number of different hawks flew over us.

As we do every Sunday just before 4 pm, we headed over the rec hall for the ice cream social. I think our stay here may be hard on our waist lines.

One of the butterfly's we saw at Bentsen.

The bird watchers at the hawk tower.



Flea Market

Our third year in the valley and we hadn't been to the big flea market, so it was time to go and check it out. The market wasn't what I expected as the majority of stands were selling "old stuff" but we did manage to find a few things to buy. Zaph, of course was "mister well behaved dog" and got a lot complements and pets from other shoppers.



RV Show

After exercise class ---- yes I managed to do it for the 5 days ---- Rosetta and I headed over to a friend of Rosetta's who had turned 90 and wanted some photos of her birthday flowers. Dorothy is 90 and her husband is 91.

After the "photo shoot" Ed and I headed to the Valley RV Show to check out the new 5th wheel trailers. Luckily, all the trailers had issues (when we find one that doesn't we'll have to buy it and I'm not ready for a new trailer yet). Many of them didn't have room for a dog bed --- a necessity in Zaph's opinion, some didn't allow you to access your kitchen when the slides were closed (something we feel is important for the way we travel) and others just didn't feel right to us.

Dorothy and her husband checking out one of the photos on Rosetta's camera. Hard to believe they are 90 and 91.

No Ed we don't need a new truck we just got ours fixed, but Ed did note this puppy will pull 25,000 lbs.



Truck and Trailer Washing

Mid 70's(25C) and overcast --- perfect weather to wash the truck and trailer. Ed got the honour of washing the trailer and truck, which took the better part of the day. Zaph and I hung out with me trying to keep him from shaking his head and cleaning up the blood splatters when he did. It's amazing how far blood splatters with one flick of the ear.

Herb and Rosetta had a 50 lb bag of pecans in the trailer for the past year and one of the neighbours decided it was time to crack those nuts. Howard (yellow shirt), Maryanne (green shirt), Bob (white shirt), Rosetta (at the end), Glen (beige shirt).

If it wasn't for all the goop we put on the bottom of his ear, you wouldn't know Zaph had been hurt.



Zaph gets a Foe

Ed was up early this morning and off to the car dealer as the new transfer case was in. When I returned from exercise class Zaph and I headed off for a morning walk. Along the way we helped to capture Puggles (one of Zaph's friends) who had managed to unhook his harness from the rope and was off exploring the park and visiting a neighbouring trailer. That trailer is the home to two "Zaph size" hunting dogs. The black one and Zaph started doing the regular dog "get to know you sniffs" when I guess the black dog decided that he didn't like how Zaph smelt, and grabbed Zaph's ear. By the time I got Zaph back to our trailer there was blood everywhere. Our neighbour Linda came out of her trailer and helped me to stop the bleeding and determine that there were a couple of small puncture wounds on his ear and two tears at the end of his ear. The tears were the source of all the blood. The owner of the black dog came over to find out how Zaph was and loan us some medicated cream that stops bleeding --- worked liked a charm, that is, as long as Zaph didn't shake his head. I was a wreck, but Zaph wasn't overly phased, but was all for the extra attention. Everything was under control by time Ed got back from the GM dealer --- amazing how he can time things.

The owner of the black dog said he recently rescued the dog, who had been badly neglected after the dog's previous owner died and that Zaph was the second male dog that the black dog had snapped at. So, I think Zaph has about 20 friends and 1 foe in the park.

Oh, Zaph wants everyone to know that he could have taken the black dog.


Made it to exercise class again and more picture taking afterwards.

The "banana lady" gave us a couple of bananas to try. It definitely tasted like a banana but it was a lot sweeter. They are shorted and fatter than the bananas we buy in the store.

The remains of a garter snake are in the cactus gardens by the main office. It's interesting how some of the skin is still there are some of it has disappeared leaving the bones.



Texas Bananas

This morning I made it to exercise class. Lots of stretching and upper arm work --- just what I need. After class Rosetta and I decided to take some photos of the banana trees near us. Last year Rosetta purchased a Canon Rebel camera (like my camera, but newer with lots of extra features) and Ed had spent some time showing her how it worked. She's continuing her education this year and I've decided that it's a good time for me to get reacquainted with my camera.

This woman has several banana trees in her yard. This bunch is ripe.

This bunch is not.

There are several banana trees here and a couple of bunches of green bananas.



Ed's Favorite Park Event

Back to Bentsen State Park for the bird walk this morning. Unfortunately we saw more birds in our walk yesterday afternoon then we did this morning. It appears that a lot of the birds we saw last year are not visiting the park this year but there are a lot more armadillos and hispid cotton rats than in previous years. The thought is the wet summer caused these changes.

Ed's favourite park event takes places on Sunday afternoons --- the ice cream social. Lucky boy, he managed to get two servings.



Out for a Walk

The first few days after we arrived went quickly. We had to finish setting up, organize cupboards, buy some food and rest.

Today it was time to get out and do something for fun --- Zaph picked going for a walk at Bentsen State Park which is about 5 minutes away from the park. There we saw some of our old favorites --- Javelinas, Green Jays, Northern Cardinals, Chachalaca and a new one --- the Armadillo.

We must have seen a dozen of these guys in different areas of the park. The Javelina.

A green jay having a bath.

This is the first time we seen Armadillo at Bensten State Park.

Look carefully and you'll see the Screech Owl in a hole in the tree.



2008 Has Arrived

2008 arrived successfully even though we didn't stay up till midnight. Today is our last travel day for awhile as we arrived at Oleanders Acres in Mission. It was great to pull into the spot we were in last year and have familiar faces come out and greet us. One of the best parts for me was to have Glen direct Ed into the spot while I visited.

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