2015 South Texas Winter (home)

April 2015:

Friends Bill & Deb visited from Houston in March.  Deb and Kathy spent a day with nature, visiting the National Butterfly Center in Mission.  Due to the cool overcast weather the butterflies weren’t out but Deb was able to get information for her school garden and about the annual butterfly festival in the fall.  They also visited the National Birding Center at Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park where they saw an array of birds including an Altamira Oriole, green jays and red winged black birds. 

We were able to spend one more beautiful day on South Padre Island, this time with winter neighbors Craig & Barb.  We enjoyed the delicious shrimp baskets at Dirty Al’s, then walked on the beach on the northern section of the island.  Craig and Barb have been such great neighbors and have become friends over the winter.  We wish them safe travels as they head northwest through California and Oregon before returning to their summer home in Michigan.

On our way to Dallas and the George W Bush museum we spent a night in Austin TX.

We spent Easter weekend in Arlington, TX where the weather was mostly mild and pleasant.  We spent a day at the George W. Bush Presidential Museum, a very “hands on” and well done museum.  The temporary baseball exhibit was quite interesting as it chronicled the history of US presidents and Major League Baseball.  The permanent exhibit was divided into several sections, including a touching tribute surrounding 9/11; we both felt as though we were reliving that day all over.  In the Oval Office we were able to sit on the furniture, behind the presidential desk and admire the furnishings.  This museum is probably one of our favorites of the seven we’ve visited.


We spent a day at the Fort Worth Stockyards, now a very interesting Historic District with several unique shops, historical buildings and great food.  We observed the afternoon cattle drive down the Exchange Street, consisting of a herd of 15 Texas Longhorns each steer representing one decade from Fort Worth's colorful past, and a diverse team of drovers clad in authentic 19th century clothing. We enjoyed browing the shops and concluded our day with a delicious steak dinner at the 3H Ranch Steakhouse.


Thanks to Casa del Valle friend Nancy who provided information, we spent a couple of days in New Iberia, LA and visited Avery Island, home of the Tabassco Pepper Sauce factory. Avery Island is on of five salt dome islands rising above the flat Louisiana Gulf Coast and there is a one dollar toll to enter the island. We enjoyed the Tabasco Factory tour and ended our day with dinner at Jane's Seafood and Chinese Restaurant in New Iberia where we each had a shrimp dish.

We then spent a week at Bayou Segnette State Park in Westwego, Louisiana . We enjoyed attending our first IndyCar race of the season, the inaugural Grand Prix of Louisiana. It was a very rainy weekend, but we had a great time catching up with friends on the crews and watching a very interesting race. Contratulations to James Hinchcliffe and Schmide Peterson Mororsports on a great win!

February 24, 2015

We enjoyed an afternoon at the International Museum of Art and Science in McAllen.  There were two special exhibits: Human Expressions by Alfredo Alcalde, a Peruvian artist and Danville Chadbourne, a San Antonio sculpture.  We also enjoyed the Stained Glass Exhibit, displaying several windows from early eastern United States churches.

One day we had lunch at Mama Mia’s Pizzeria in McAllen; very tasty pizza in a unique atmosphere.  Obviously a popular place by the number of cars in the parking lot!  We also enjoyed dinner one evening at Cortino’s Italian restaurant with winter neighbors, Barb & Craig.  It is a family owned and operated restaurant with delicious food in a cozy atmosphere.  Definitely a must-try when in the Rio Grande Valley.

We were able to spend another day on South Padre Island before the overwhelming Spring Break crowds.  We enjoyed our lunch on the beach of Isle Blanca Park on the southern tip of the island, and then visited Sea Turtle, Inc. where they rescue, rehab and release injured sea turtles.  They are home to “Allison”, the first sea turtle in the world to use a successful prosthesis.  She survived a predator attack with one remaining flipper and we were able to see her swimming with her prosthesis; quite amazing.  The entire facility is quite interesting and educational.

A friend here at the RV Park told us about the South Padre Island Sand Castle Tour.  There are thirty-one completed sculptures along the trail and we were able to see several.  These sculptures are made of sand and water and thus vulnerable to time and weather.  Work on individual sculptures started in the summer of 2013, are treated with a sealant and are expected to last for years.

We were able to enjoy Cross Strung, a fabulous family group we first saw last year in Tucson.  They perform a variety of blue grass, gospel and Celtic music and are definitely worth seeing if you have the opportunity. They also have several traveling shows at these parks, they are generally quite good. Pat Davis Family show is one we saw.

They also grow a lot of nice Citrus here that you can buy locally.

In Donna TX there is the burger place. Small building, no sign, no name -- but it is packed for lunch every day! We went there, took 30 minutes to order, 15 minutes to find a seat, and 30 minutes to get our food. The cheese burger was every bit of a pound! Big order of fries and Onion Rings. Oh my was it good! Hope to get back before we leave.

More later!

January 28, 2015

The weather has finally become warm and sunny so we spent a beautiful day on South Padre Island.  We started at Isla Blanca Park on the southernmost tip of the island.  It has over one mile of clean, white beach along the Gulf of Mexico and was absolutely gorgeous.  We strolled along the water’s edge, where we saw people gathering ghost shrimp that they would use for fishing.  We saw a bird who’d caught a fish and wasn’t about to let it go!  We talked with a man who was kite-flying on the beach, a very interesting kite with four lines!  He was very skilled and even made it hover near Kathy as she walked on the beach.

We had lunch at Dirty Al’s Seafood Restaurant, as recommended by our winter neighbor Barb.  It definitely had a seafood smell and a great atmosphere.  The shrimp and flounder were both delicious.  Definitely a must-try.

After lunch we drove north through town and stopped at another beach on the east side of the road.  Although we parked in the paved area, many vehicles and some RV’s were parked on the beach.  It too was a lovely beach and we enjoyed watching people fish off the shore as well as collect shells and just enjoy the walk and the weather. More pictures here.

We discovered Progresso, Mexico with our winter neighbors Barb and Craig.  It is an interesting little village with dental clinics, pharmacies and spas lining the main street.  It was interesting browsing the shops and street vendors and we did manage to buy a Christmas gift.  We had a delicious lunch at Arturo’s Mexican Restaurant before walking back across the border. 


January 2015:

We had a wonderful Christmas; even the weather cooperated as it was fairly pleasant while we were in Indiana and Tennessee.  We were able to spend lots of quality time with family and seemed to be on the go the entire time!  While in Indiana we visited Santa, enjoyed the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, spent time with our siblings and extended family, saw The Hobbit and were able to spend time with longtime friends Craig, Emily and Kale.  Thanks to friends Steve and Angie we were able to see their newborn lambs, quite a treat for Nora as well as the rest of us.  While in Tennessee, we played games, saw beautiful Christmas lights and of course enjoyed good food with Mike, Amanda, Patrick, Shelby, Abby and Grace. 




Now that we are back in the Rio Grande Valley it has been cool and rainy, although still better than “up north.”  We’ve gotten involved in some activities in our RV Park and are meeting new people. We spent a cool, windy day driving the Military Highway along the US/Mexico border where we saw cabbage, broccoli and what looked to be sugar cane fields and several views of the border fence.  We had lunch at Pirate’s Landing Restaurant in Port Isabel, on the Gulf of Mexico.  Because the water was so choppy there was very little activity but we enjoyed the view and a good meal.

December 2014:

Here are pictures from the Wings over Houston Air Show we attended with longtime friends, Bill and Deb.  It was a beautiful day and a great show.


As Deb is retiring at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, she needed to visit Austin regarding her retirement.  We traveled along with Bill and Deb to Austin and visited the Texas State Capitol.  It is a very pretty building, completed in 1888.  We spent the night in Fredericksburg and had dinner at Andy’s Diner as recommended by the hotel attendant.  Andy’s is a local dining establishment with good food, good-sized portions and nearly everything made from scratch.  Definitely worth a try if you’re in the area, (don't miss the Onion Rings!)  While in Fredericksburg, we visited the National Museum of The Pacific War, a unique museum that is comprehensive, well organized and informative.

While in Houston we were able to get together with some longtime friends from Indiana. Dennis (He was in the high school Sunday School class at Westland Friends Church that Bob taught) and his delightful family spent an evening with us. Misty, daughter of friends Tina and Deny, visited for lunch and it was nice to catch up with her. We also met one of Bob's online chess friends, Ingo, from Iceland who now lives in Houston. He took us to dinner at the Tast of Texas restaurant, a new favorite dining place. Although it was mid-November, the restaurant was beautifully decorated for Christmas; the food was delicious and the atmosphere truly Texan. Ingo is a very interesting young man and we were able to learn a bit about him and Iceland.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with Deb's family which is always a treat. The following Saturday we attended the Houston IU Alumni Association "Old Oaken Bucket" football game watch, won by IU for the 2nd consecutive year! It was a great finale to our month in Houston.

We spent 3 days in San Antonio, visiting friends Craig, Emily an Kale. We enjoyed an afternoon at Government Canyon State Recreation Area where we did some hiking.

We arrived at our winter home, Casa Del Valle Rv Park, in Alamo TX on December 3rd. It is a nice, friendly, well-kept park in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas. We look forward to making ew friends and exploring this noew area to us.

As we had to Indiana and Tennessee for Christmas, we wish everyoine a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.