Monday, December 18, 2017

Another blog - I just can't stop!

We’re on the coast. We have a deck. The sun sets every night around 5:37 PM. We sit on the deck and watch it. Every night is similar in the timing, but the look is totally different. We hope sometime in the next 3 months we will experience a second green flash – second for me but third for the Woman, according to her.

Talk to you soon!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Another blog - good days just keep on coming!

We headed to McAllen for a fun filled day now that the sun has returned to the Texas Gulf Coast. Our main focus was Quinta Mazatlán, part of the World Birding Center. A Spanish Revival Style mansion built in 1935, this 10,000 square-foot residence is one of the largest adobe structures in Texas.

While much of the original estate has been developed, about 15 acres of the original grounds serve as an urban birding habitat literally 2 miles from the center of downtown McAllen. Since we missed our usual birding haunts in Port Aransas, we were eager to get here to maybe get a gander at something new. This Great Kiskadee greeted us first, a bird that we had not seen before today – bonus!
The second bird we spotted was a Chachalaca. The docent told us that the Chachalaca is related to the Road Runner. A large chicken-like bird of Mexico and Central America, the Plain Chachalaca is the only of its species to reach American soil, and only in far southern Texas. The name of this bird comes from its loud, raucous calls which early inhabitants thought sounded like chattering.
We were told that a bunch of birders were hanging around the grounds to catch a glimpse of the Green-breasted Mango, an apparently elusive variety of hummingbird. It had been spotted on December 6 here, and a platoon has arrived daily to score a sighting, with no luck since then. We did however get a great look at several Green Jays. When we let the docent know what we had spotted, she let us know that the Green Jay was the official bird of the City of McAllen.
As another bonus, we got treated to a bit of Vegas. It turns out that one of the traveling Cirque du Soliel shows, Varekai, was playing at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo Texas. Luckily, the arena was only a 10-minute drive from Quinta Mazatl├ín, so we coupled the visits together and made a day of it. Taking in a very authentic lunch in downtown McAllen at Maria’s, this outstanding Cirque performance brought a fitting end to a special day.
Talk to you soon!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Oops - one more blog

We came to the point in the central US that is the farthest South in order to escape winter. But, we no sooner get here than the unimaginable happens. Last night the forecast was predicting a low of 33 degrees – sheesh! And now by 10 AM the next day, we are literally in full blown winter blizzard!  And we are taking no solace in the fact that most locals we bump into at store registers are excited and shouting “I’ve never seen snow before in my life!”

I guess the only saving grace is that we are not 80 miles North in Port Aransas as we had planned to be. As bad as I make it out to be here, it’s at least a little bit better than being there!  Listening to the amazed weather forecasters on the news we’ve learned that the Texas Gulf Coast has now received more snow this season than Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver and Boston – combined! Actually, it’s been a lot more combined – sheesh again!
Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Allright, gotta do one more blog

Our advancing age continues to play havoc with our day to day lives. Little things like not remembering where the keys are and not being able to find glasses are frustrating, but this one takes the cake.

As our friend Ron had warned us, our primary dead bolt lock on the front door of Colectiva is not working properly. We had an RV tech pull it apart, and he could get the lock to lock using the key from the outside, but not to open. From inside the coach, the latch switch works just fine, so we can lock the door at night and open it in the morning. We just can’t unlock the door from the outside once it is locked.
So, we left the coach yesterday to do some shopping, and when we returned, I could not open the front door. I couldn’t at first figure out why, but looking closer, I realized that the main dead bolt lock was engaged, and I couldn’t open it with the key. It turns out that even though the Woman had known at one point that the lock was broken, when we left the coach, she locked it anyway. I could not open it, even though Kona was staring out the window at me with “Help me” eyes. I honestly didn’t know if a locksmith could even help us as this was a dead bolt, and there was no way to disassemble the mechanism from outside Colectiva.
As I was googling locksmiths on my phone, the Woman says to me that she had found she left the window over the couch unlocked – good news. Bad news – the window sill is about 7 feet off the ground. I pulled an Adirondack chair over under the window and told the Woman either I helped her reach the window to climb in, or she help me. She said she couldn’t lift me, meaning I had to help her. I propped my knee up for her to step on, but she said she couldn’t step that high. So, putting hands firmly on both back pockets on her jeans, I literally pushed her up through the window, where she tumbled down the couch onto the floor.
Problem solved, I guess. But I am tired of all the 65 stuff. Wish I could have gotten some amusing photos of the whole event!
Talk to you soon!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Arrival - finally!

We finally made our destination in South Padre Island. Fortunately, Harvey chose to only mess lightly with the Padres, so there is virtually no noticeable damage here. The day we arrived just happened to be the day that they scheduled their annual Holiday Parade down Padre Island Boulevard. We managed to cob a decent location based on tips from locals.

We ended up with a site that noses Colectiva into the bay, and we are looking straight at the sunset in the evening. Before the Holiday Parade we managed to take in what we hope to be the first of a series of spectacular sunsets.
Our whole arrival weekend was filled with local holiday events to kick off the season, and to welcome the arriving Winter Texans. The vast majority of the population of South Padre Island in the winter are folks from Northern states rather than being Texas residents. We took in the judging of the Holiday Fishing Tournament focused on Redfish.
It was one surprise after another. We learned that the next night was the Holiday Boat Parade with locals decking out their vessels with beautiful light displays. We heard that the Painted Dolphin Restaurant on Jim’s Pier was holding a special parade dinner special, as the Boat Parade would travel right by. It turned out they were fully booked, and out waiting list spot never came through. So we just went over to Jim’s Pier when we thought the parade might pass, and everyone seemed to be leaving, saying the Parade was over. But as luck had it, all the boats simply turned around at the end of Jim’s Pier and passed back by one more time. We caught the entire parade!
We are lucky in that the KOA on Padre Island is taking full advantage of their location. They have two piers just off the RV sites. One pier has charter boats as well as various ocean excursions, such as dolphin watching, dinner cruises, etc. The other has a bar and restaurant where you can grab and adult beverage for a ringside seat on the sunset. It’s a nice feature we plan to take advantage of.
We got here just in time for the Super Moon as well. The Super Moon, or Moon Giant, is a full moon that happens to coincide with the closest distance that the moon reaches in its elliptical orbit around the Earth. It was truly impressive.
We are booked here for 3 months, with Nick and Val, Karen and Albert, visiting us for Christmas – yippee! So I will be signing off until we hit the road again in March, except for any interesting experiences we may come upon while here. The birding isn’t quite as supercharged as we found in Port Aransas in the past, but there is still plenty to look at as we stroll around SPI.
Talk to you soon!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Gotta love RV parks

Every RV park we have stayed in tried to be both cute and unique in their signage. Somebody always has fun trying to best a fellow RV park by being more unique or cleverer in their signage.

Most signs seem to revolve around pets, and in particular one function of a pet. But in Kingsville, I think I saw what I believe is the funniest I’ve seen to date.
Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Kingsville Texas

We had been to Kingsville before, and saw the legendary King Ranch which in the 1800’s was at one time the largest privately-owned ranch in the world. My mom had dated a descendent of Richard King, but something better came along. What we didn’t know when we visited Kingsville last was that there was a business associate of Captain Richard King, and his name was Captain Mifflin Kennedy. Both had come to Texas from the East Coast, essentially penniless and destitute. They both became steamboat captains on the Rio Grande River, and amassed enough money to begin their ranching empires.

At its peak, the King Ranch claimed over 15 million acres of grass lands. Mifflin on the other hand managed his ranch holdings to over 400,000 acres. However, his innovations in managing his ranch were innovative for the time. He actually fenced his earlier held Laureles Ranch, requiring over 36 miles of fencing. He didn’t end up fencing in his ultimate La Parra Ranch, but continued to exercise innovative ranch and livestock techniques.
Sadly, the Kennedy lineage was doomed. The eldest son of Mifflin and Petra Vela de Vidal Kennedy purchased the Kennedy Ranch from his other siblings. John Gregory Kennedy had two children, John Gregory Jr. and Sarita. Both had become sterile in their youth due to illnesses – chicken pox and influenza. So, when Sarita died in 1961, there were no Kennedy heirs in line to continue the legacy. The ranch lands are held to generate funds for various Texas charities.
We visited the Kingsville campus of Texas A&M University. Enrollment at Texas A&M Kingsville is over 9,000 full time students. On the campus we discovered a museum that we really enjoyed.
The John E Conner Museum is on the campus. John E Conner was the first Dean of the Kingsville campus of Texas A&M. The museum is some natural history, some local artifacts, and some local artists works. But the exhibit we enjoyed most was about Kingsville born Richard E Cavazos. Cavazos was the first Hispanic brigadier general in the US armed forces. Being awarded Distinguished Service Crosses twice, once in Korea and once in Vietnam, he completed his Army career as four star general and the head of US Army Forces Command.
Talk to you soon!