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Blog 2010 The Current Travel Journal Feb 01, 2010.



Texas Citrus Festival Parade

The Texas Citrus Festival Parade is today and as always Oleander Acres is entering a float. The theme this year is Traveling Texas.

Oleander Acre's float.

The King and Queen of Oleander Acres --- Doc and Betty.

One of the floats --- I think it's the King and Queen of the Festival along with her attendants.

This float was decorated with sliced fruit.

There were horses pulling a carriage .......

and this horse pulling a cart

Doc was showing us a single finger and the trophy ..... Oleander's entry had won first place in it's class.

This parade was a little different as there were military vehicles, zero radius lawn mowers, trucks, etc. driving in the parade.

Not quite sure who these guys were but they were very colourful.

I just loved how the mane was weaved on the white horse.

These horses could almost dance.



Learning to be a Greeter

Today was the park's Arts and Craft Show. They take this show very seriously --- the Bully Patrol stands outside allowing only the artists to enter between 9 and 9:45 am and the judges to enter between 9:45 and 10am. Greeters (I was one of three) meet the artists and escort them to the appropriate tables where other people register them. Turned out being a greeter was pretty easy and maybe after I've done it for a couple of years I'll be ready to apply for a job at Wal-Mart.

In the afternoon the hall is opened for viewing. Turns out we have some pretty talented people in the park. One woman makes little sculptures and jewelry including making her own beads. Ok, she is a professional a sculptor but her stuff was amazing. The park also has talented wood workers, painters, photographers (no Ed didn't enter), knitters, crocheters, card makers, etc.




Last year the club thought it was going to need to raise money to help renovate the library so Cheryl decided that making and selling pasties could be a good fund raiser. Turned out the library renovation changed to building a new pool hall and so far the club doesn't need to provide any funds so the money is waiting for a good project.

Anyway, I think people like the pasties as they asked Cheryl if she was going to do it again this year. As I helped last year I was asked to help again. Learning from our mistakes, the pasty production went a lot smoother this year. 130 pasty were sold and a nice amount of change was added to the special funds. I took my camera with me but I got down to work and totally forgot I had it with me till the last batch of pasties went into the oven.

Finished pasties cooling.

Cheryl admiring the finished product.



I'm a Red Hat Now

The Red Hat group from the park were planning a trip to local museum for a quilt show. I wanted to see the quilts and decided that it would be fun to go with the other ladies so I paid my $2 dues and became a card carrying member of the Red Hats. As I didn't own my own red hat I borrowed one and put on my purple T-shirt so I sort of fit in with the rest of them.

First stop was a Tea Room which we filled with the 40 ladies. There was a sea of red and purple.

Judy and Kay are sisters.

Judy loves our park. Both her sister in-law, sister and a good friend from home are in the park this year.

Cheryl decided there was no point in standing yet as there was a long line to pay.

Second stop was the museum. The quilt show was about 10 or 15 quilts recently completed by mostly winter Texans. We were given some time to look at them then we were lead to another part of the museum where she told us about the Mission area. I was a bit disappointed as I had imaged the "quilt show" to be old quilts and that the woman from the museum would talk to us about the quilts telling us about their histories and what the patterns meant. It turned out I was part of the entertainment as the ladies had fun watching me nod off, wake up and nod off again --- I really need a cat nap after lunch. Despite my need for a nap and not getting the quilt show I had hope for I still had fun with the ladies.




Going to Ropa is an experience no one should miss. Ropa is Spanish for clothes --- thus going to Ropa is going shopping for clothes but in a very unique way. There are warehouses that receive large bundles of discarded clothes, some used and some new. You can either buy a bundle or buy the clothes by the pound. Today we went to two Ropa's --- one was a little pricey, up to $2.25 a pound. Some items we purchased were 25 cents a piece. The benefit of this Ropa was everything was sorted and put into bins. Jean, thanks for the photos.

Let's see, the colours for Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold .... yup I think this might work.

Darlene, myself and Linda standing by the clothing bundles with our treasures.

The second Ropa was a lot less expensive .... everything was 20 cents a pound but you had to sort through mounds of clothing making it a lot harder to find things . Linda was at the top of a 10 foot pile.

A fork lift kept the pile neat making it harder to find things.

We found several items of clothing to wear plus some items for Mardi Gras.



Mexican Fiesta

Cheryl, Linda and I volunteered to help the activities director today. We made 13 Tamale Pies for the Mexican Fiesta --- think I can do it in my sleep now. Everyone said the pies were very good so it must have been worth the work.

A local Mexican Dance school brought some of their students to the park to dance for us.

Each dance is from a different area of Mexico, thus each costume is unique.

The main dance instructor was trying to keep from laughing as these four young children were doing their dance --- guess they were doing it their way.



Early and Late Birthday Celebration

Ed and Colin both turn sixty this month and both are excitedly waiting for their first Canada Pension cheques to arrive. To celebrate Colin, Margaret, Ed and I met at Estero LLano Grande State Park and went for a walk. Zaph, Splash and Mexi especially enjoyed it and I think the rest of us did.

This Common Pauraque was sleeping under a bush. A second Pauraque was about six feet away under another bush. Pauraque roost during the day and hunt for bugs at night. These birds are very difficult to see as they look like the twigs, leaves and branches they sleep in.

This cormorant gave us quite a show. He had speared a fish ................

............. and hit it against the tree several times before he finally ate it.

After the walk, we drove over to Colin and Margaret's trailer where she made us grilled shrimp and stuffed Cornish hens cooked in the Ronko, yum!!!!! Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan that day. A few days earlier in the week, Colin and Margaret's refrigerator died. They purchased a new refrigerator and it seemed to be working fine until today. When we arrived from the walk, Colin decided the refrigerator needed to be defrosted ---- NOW. So after borrowing a cooler from the neighbours for the frozen items. The refrigerator was turned off. As we sat down to dinner the refrigerator was turned back on. As to be expected, the refrigerator incident had an timing effect on dinner. Turned out the vents of the fridge were on the side so it would not run correctly in the trailer. The refrigerator was returned and a replacement purchased. Hope this one will work as expected.



Fun Night

Fun Night is when people get up and do silly things so we can all have a good laugh and laugh we did. Last year we didn't bring our video camera but this year at the last minute I threw it into the trailer, so when Ed was asked if he could video fun night he didn't have a good excuse to say no.

The first skit was a story about the trials and tribulations of using a bedpan .........

Next, a local elementary school came in to show us "speed stacking". It's a hand - eye co-ordination exercise where cups are stacked in patterns. Apparently it's very popular .... lots of hits when you google "speed stacking" and lots of video on youtube.

Darryl is shown how to speed stack.

We were also treated to a fashion show feature some unusual models

Starting on the left we have the recyclable "can-can" skirt and straw hat, a "print dress" with a "pill box hat", a "box sweater", a "slip on sweater with 3 quarter sleeves" .... yup three quarters were taped to each sleeve. At the far right we have the "tea-shirt"... yup tea bags were pinned all over the shirt and "bell bottom pants". She jingled when she walked.



Tummy Rubs

Ed had a pretty good birthday ..... some time to do his own thing in the morning, helping a friend with a slide show followed by freshly baked cinnamon rolls with the neighbours (thanks Rosetta) in the afternoon and finally a nice steak dinner at Cheddars. The service wasn't as good as it normally is (our server had two trainees and they definitely need more training) so Ed wrote an e-mail to head office and got a phone call back from the kitchen manager at the local restaurant offering us a free dinner. Guess it's worth giving your opinion when you're not happy.

Gotta love those teeth ------Zaph is lying upside down on the bed getting his morning tummy rub.



Happy Birthday Rosetta & Ed .... 1 and 3 days early

One of our friends (Rosetta) celebrates her 70th birthday on January 12th and Ed, of course, celebrates his 60th birthday on January 14th. As they are "0" birthdays we decided to celebrate them in style. (Rosetta is playing the piano for the Men's Chorus on the 12th so we did it a day early). Ed's actually birthday won't be forgotten .... we're going out for a steak dinner.

We gathered a group of people, party favours and a cake and drove to Ponchos ---- a Mexican restaurant that's not too far away.

Ed & Rosetta.

The Mariachi Band came and played a couple of songs for us.

Lots of delicious food.

and of course cake. The cake said Happy Birthday Rosetta and Ed ..... 130 years of knowledge

I'm ready..... let's party.



Gazing Balls

Where do old worn out bowling balls go?

They go to Oleander Acres RV park to be made into gazing balls.

A couple of women from our park scoured the local flea markets and found around 30 old bowling balls. Next they found some willing participants, pieces of glass, pottery and mirror and a lot of silicon sealant. The result are these gazing balls.

Not being good at abstract I decided to create a flower pattern.

Baby, it's cold out there. South Texas had an unusual cold snap with the temperatures dropping below freezing for a couple of nights.

It was weird to walk around the park and see sheets everywhere.

Even the park owner covered a couple of the sensitive cacti.

Gypsy makes her self comfortable when she comes for a visit.



Zaph's New Friend

Two of our neighbours arrived on New Years Eve day. The snow in Illinois delayed them by a day --- the mid west is really having a tough winter so far this year. As is the tradition when there are new arrivals we went out for dinner. Being New Years Eve we decided to head out early and arrived at our first choice in restaurants at 5 pm --- it was going to be an hour wait so we headed to our 2nd choice. Not as popular a restaurant as we were seated right away. It was a little more expensive but the food was good and the company great. Ed and I opted for a quiet evening (they were having games and finger food at the rec hall) --- watched some TV and cracked a bottle of sparkling wine at midnight. It sounded a bit like a war zone as the Mexicans are very fond of fireworks and shot them off for at least an hour before midnight and half and hour after.

Hey .... that's not a play toy ..... that's my tail.

Zaph's new friend Gypsy came over to help wake Ed up --- she did a really good job. I had let Ed sleep in and skip Saturday coffee as he's fighting a cold. Gypsy is my neighbour's 5 month old Papillon and she seems to really like Zaph.

Working on Zaph's rawhide chews --- she still has the razor sharp baby teeth.

Have you seen Avatar 3D yet? I didn't know much about it except for the few clips I'd seen and that it had been in the works for 15 years. Ed really wanted to go so I thought I might as well go too and I'm really glad I did. It was an amazing movie .... great special effects but also a story and of course good won over evil. It's been a good day --- bridge with decent hands, the movie and a visit to the DQ. Life is pretty good.



The great Elfphod

The festival of lights is held each year in Hidalgo Texas which is about 15 minutes from Mission. Nine spots in town, including the city hall, parks, and court house were decorated. A number of private homes along the route were also decorated.

This home was across from the City Hall Plaza and seemed to be getting as much attention as the plaza did.

As you drove past this home you could hear music and watch the animated figures.

Zaph decided to pose with the horses .... unfortunately he forgot to wear his Christmas lights.

We had stopped by our friends Mark & Lynn's place to say hi and noticed that they had three dogs instead of the regular two. They explained they were puppy sitting "Bear" a 9 month Rottweiler/lab/German Shepherd/etc. mix. Mark takes take Bear out for exercise using a golf cart as neither he nor Lynn are all that stable on their feet. Having raised a large dog we know that they need a lot of exercise so we offered to take Bear when we took Zaph for a walk. The walks are generally uneventful except when we stop to chat and the dogs decide it's play time.

Having a water break .... this was one of the few warm days we've had so far this winter.

Christmas Eve means a program down at the rec hall. Betty did an amazing job again this year especially since some of her regular participants either went home for Christmas or were late coming down.

The lights are turned off and candles are lit giving the room a wonderful ambience.

Christmas morning in the trailer revolves around giving Zaph his presents.......

The stockings were hung by door knobs with care.....

Elfphod checking out foxy. Zaph puts up with alot. We even made his walk around the park wearing his new hat .... thought it would be nice to spread some Christmas cheer

Not the happiest elf in the workshop

Christmas dinner was a pot luck at the rec hall for about 150 people. Everyone really out did themselves this year --- I think there was enough food left to feed another fify people. Santa and Mrs. Claus also made an appearance to hand out gifts to the park managers daughter and Jose's (park handiman) children. It was especially fun to watch the little girls (under 4 years old) reactions to Santa --- no fear at all.



Merry Christmas



Ah... sun.........

Finally .... the sun came out and temperatures warmed up a bit. So over to Bentsen state park for a walk.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Altamira Oriole

On the feeding stations complete with 2 Orioles and 2 Kiskadees



Wishing we had Brought a Boat

It wasn't great weather but we all needed a walk so we drove over to Estero LLano Grande State Park and walked around. Ed was happy to see that the Vermilion Flycatcher was in residence and we noted that there were a number of different ducks floating around the pond.

Black-necked Stilts

The flowers have been enjoying the wet cool weather.

Couch's Kingbird

It started raining on Tuesday and by Wednesday morning I was really starting to wonder if we should have brought a boat with us. Zaph and I ventured out for one walk and came back looking like drowned rats. A fellow stopped us on the walk and asked if the owner of the park was charging us extra for the swimming pool around the trailer. By time the rain had stopped late Wednesday night there had been more than 2 1/2 inches of rain ---- very happy it wasn't snow.

After returning from our walk, I grabbed the camera and took this photo. The trailer itself is sitting on high ground.

In the late afternoon on Wednesday, the neighbour who parks behind us arrived with his motor home. He miscalculated his path a little and went to pull forward --- ooops not going forward just going down. Luckily he was off the road so he decided to land where he was. He would move another day when the ground had dried out a bit.

On Thursday I went out and too this photo of one of the rear tires.



Decorated for Christmas

The club put on a "sloppy joe" dinner tonight that was very good .... especially since I didn't have to think about dinner or cook it. After dinner I played euchre .... haven't played since we left the park in the spring. While you are playing euchre are you suppose laugh so hard that your cheeks hurt? Obvious I had a lot of fun and no one has told me to not to come so it must be OK.

It's not fancy but we did get some lights up for Christmas. The RV park looks very cheery with all the Christmas lights.

.... bored.......... The weather hasn't been very good ---- chilly, cloudy, drizzly ---- so we've spent a fair bit of time in the trailer. But ..................

it's been a lot better than it is at home. Rob & Ellen, thanks for the photo of our house. Not missing the snow at all.



The Valley

After an uneventful drive we arrived at Oleander Acres RV park in Mission early Sunday afternoon. The office was quiet so we ended up having a long chat with Lois (one of the work campers and president of the club) and got caught up with the goings on at the park. One of the "goings on" was Jack (Lois's husband) was bitten by a rattlesnake a couple of weeks ago. They had gone out to do an errand in the park one evening and had stopped to chat to some people when Jack noticed what he thought was a dead snake on the road. He decided to move it off the road by picking it up .... big mistake .... as it managed to get Jack's finger with one fang. After "the bite" Jack ensured that the snake was dead. Jack & Lois went to the hospital, where they were moved to the front of the line and seen immediately, and were told that the snake was required to ensure that the correct anti-venom was used. The snake was brought to the hospital and Jack was treated. The doctor told Lois that Jack was in critical condition and she should call family ---- it's was 3am. The treatment worked and Jack's back at the park being Jack. Rattlesnakes are in the area but rarely seen.

Monday the trailer got a bath and Tuesday the truck got it's bath so all of the big jobs are done and we can start to relax and enjoy the winter. I think the weather is going to be really interesting this year ..... the park experienced a frost on Saturday morning (pretty much unheard of) and it was 87F on Tuesday and today the high was 60F.

Yesterday we did our first walk of the season at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. Think the timing was bad as we didn't see a lot of birds. We did seem some very interesting ants though. If you look closely at the above photo you'll see white dots on the bottom of the feeder and on the post.

The white dots were pieces of bird feed being carried by ants. There was a steady stream of ants going up and down the poles.

The Green Jays made an appearance.

as did the Javelinas.



More Zaph at the Beach

Happy 23rd Anniversary to me and Ed .... 29 (if you count co-habitation). Seems like a lot to me till I think of the people I know that have been married for 60 years. For each of those 23 years Ed and I have spent the day together, sometimes doing fun things and sometime not. The things we've done include Christmas Shopping, sitting beside each other on a plane going on vacation, waiting in line at the passport office, going to an afternoon matinée and now walking on a beach watching Zaph have a roaring good time. Oh, we also went out for a very nice Greek dinner at a Steak and Seafood restaurant (the chef is Greek and does a Greek dinner on weekends).

All body parts need to enjoy the beach equally.

Nothing beats a good stick, sand and water.

perfect posture.........

Walking on air ......

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