Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Palo Alto NHS and New Chairs

The recliners that came with our 5th wheel were not the greatest quality. After sitting in them for a few years, the cushions had begun to sink. Kevin’s was actually leaning to one side. We are limited to the type of recliners we can buy because they have to be no more than 32 inches wide from side to side so they can be turned sideways and pushed against the rear when the slides come in for traveling.

I had priced some La-Z-Boy chairs last summer in Wisconsin. I found a model that is small enough, but I didn’t like the prices. While looking through one of the Winter Texan newspapers here in Texas, I came across an ad for La-Z-Boy chairs at nearby Whalen Furniture for $299 each. That’s a deal.


P1130654Last week we stopped in and took a look. We ordered two chairs, but had to pay $124 per chair extra for the swivel option. Although the sales tax is higher in Texas than in Wisconsin, the total bill was still about $75 less than I had found last summer. And the sales lady was nice enough to work it out so we didn’t have to pay delivery charges. They also took our old chairs away to donate to a thrift shop.


On Saturday we rode our bikes to Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park again. We rode around the loop inside the park twice which made for a total of about 12 total miles of riding. We didn’t see too many birds on our bikes, but I did get another great shot of a Green Jay. Aren’t they just beautiful!!



P1130664On Sunday we headed towards Brownsville to visit the Palo Alto National Historic Site and Resaca de la Palma State Park. We went to the park first and walked the 3 mile road inside the park. There are about 11 miles of trails throughout this park and a nice visitor’s center. It was a very windy day, and we saw almost no birds. We did see a Screech Owl in a box behind the visitor center. He must have been sleeping because his eyes are closed in every picture I took. What a cutie!


Our second stop was the Palo Alto National Historic Site which is the location of the first major battle of the US-Mexican War in 1846. There is a visitor center with some displays and an informative movie. A one mile path takes you out into the battlefield area where there are interpretive signs and replicated cannons on display. Its just a big field.


The entire battle was fought using cannons. Basically, the US had better cannons and won the battle.


I enjoy learning about history at these historic sites, however this one was not all that interesting. I guess battles don’t appeal to me too much.

On our way to Brownsville we drove on a stretch of road that had the border fence right next to it. Some houses had the fence at the back of their yards. I stark reminder of the immigration issues our country faces.

The weather the last few days has been quite warm and humid. Both Monday and Tuesday were near 90 degrees with 70 degree dew points. The cold front that has spawned severe weather in other parts of the country has brought a welcome relief to temperatures here. The rest of the week is predicted to be in the mid 70s. Much better!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Friday, January 25, 2013

South Padre Island

Yesterday we spent the day exploring South Padre Island. We got up early (for us) and were on the road by 8 am. Its about a 1.5 hour drive from Mission.

P1130568Our first stop was at the Port Isabel Lighthouse which is just before the bridge that takes you to the island. We didn’t pay the $3 per person to tour it as we’ve seen plenty of other lighthouses and had other items on our agenda for the day. But, I had to stop for a picture outside because there’s just something about any lighthouse that screams “Take my picture”!


The two mile long Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway takes you to the island. It’s the only road access to the island. I can imagine its quite a mess if there is a hurricane evacuation.

Our next stop was Sea Turtle, Inc., a non-profit sea turtle rescue, education and rehabilitation center. While researching what to do on the island, this place kept coming up as one of the best tourist places to visit. I’m so glad we did. They ask for a $3 per person donation, and it was well worth it. We arrived at 10:00 when they opened. If you ever go there, I would recommend arriving when they open as they do a couple of presentations first thing. The first demonstration was Allison, an Atlantic Green Sea Turtle that was attacked by a shark and only has one flipper. She was fitted with a customized prosthetic device so she can swim in deep water.

P1130574Curator, Jeff George, gave a very informative 15 minute presentation about sea turtles. He explained how poaching had almost wiped out the entire population and caused all species to become endangered. Great strides have been made to save these amazing creatures. Fascinating stuff!

I had no idea Atlantic Green Sea Turtles are so beautiful.



This Loggerhead Sea Turtle named Fred is about 150 pounds. He’s missing his front flipper.


This guy has learned to come to the window and he will get lettuce. How funny!


Our next stop was the Convention Center to see the Whale Wall. This is #53 out of the 100 whale walls painted by acclaimed artist Wyland, and it covers three walls. We’ve seen other whale walls in Hawaii, Florida and California.


A pleasant and unexpected surprise was the free Laguna Madre Nature Trail behind the Convention Center. It’s a series of boardwalks with some great birding opportunities. So, you get to see some more bird pictures.

There were several kayaks out in the water admiring these Redhead Ducks.


I was very excited to get this next shot. Notice the Great Blue Heron in the top left and the alligator in the bottom right of the picture. Click to see a larger view.


Roseate Spoonbill


Reddish Egret




Snowy Egret


This is either a Tri-Colored Heron or a Little Blue Heron.


We watched this Great Blue Heron fish for his supper. How cool is that! Here he is on the banks of the water.


Standing in the water waiting, waiting, waiting. He stood very still for quite a while.


Bam, a quick plunge into the water.


Success, a fish in his mouth/bill/beak!


We then actually could see the fish wiggling down its throat. Gross!

I forgot what this bird is called, but the guy next to me told me to take its picture because it was pretty rare. He told me the name, but my brain was pretty overwhelmed with bird information by that time :)  Anyone out there know what it is?


After all that bird watching, we were ready for lunch. We ate at Parrot Eyes based on the recommendation of bloggers John and Sharon. They have a $6.95 deep fried shrimp lunch special that was very good, and I had printed an online coupon for 15% off. The $1.75 margaritas were also quite yummy! We got 7 large butterflied shrimp with fries and cole slaw. A great outdoor dining deck with some caged parrots.


Several Brown Pelicans were hanging around hoping for a handout.


After lunch we did some beach walking to burn off some of those calories. There were quite a few people shore fishing. As you can see, vehicles are allowed to drive along the beach.


This guy from Michigan showed us his catch. He said they are mostly white fish.


Watch out for those jellyfish. We learned at Sea Turtle, Inc. that even after they are dead the venom can still get you for up to two days. Don’t touch!! We also learned that turtles can’t tell the difference between plastic shopping bags and jelly fish, which can cause great problems for the turtles when they swallow a bag. Merchants on the island do not use plastic bags.


We spent a few hours on the beach walking and enjoying the beautiful weather. Although there are quite a few buildings along the beach, it is not a very developed beach area. No boardwalk, benches, shops, rental huts, etc. Just beautiful ocean views.

We ended a wonderful day with a dip in the pool and hot tub back at the campground. Life is definitely good!!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nuevo Progreso, Mexico

Yesterday we spent a couple of hours in Mexico. We drove about 30 miles to the Progreso International Bridge. Parking on the US side is $2.00 for the day. Texas charges you 50 cents per person to cross the bridge into Mexico and 25 cents to come back.


The above picture was taken on the US side. If you look in the background, you can see that the area above the side walls is open and there are small narrow openings in the lower part of the concrete wall. As you cross the bridge, there is a sign on the bridge where the border is. On the Mexico side of the sign, the upper areas of the bridge are closed off on both sides by wooden shutters. We’re not sure why, but wonder if it had to do with people standing down below begging for money. You could see them through the small slots in the bottom part of the wall. The people we saw were all women, holding out hats and calling out in Spanish. I told Kevin they might have better luck if they learned a few phrases in English. It was kind of disheartening to witness.

Here’s the Rio Grande River as seen from the bridge.


Once you cross the bridge, there is a very nice statue welcoming you to Nuevo Progreso, Mexico.


Two years ago we crossed into Los Algodones, Mexico while staying in Yuma, Arizona. Both cities look pretty much the same. Lots and dentists, pharmacies and stuff for sale. We wandered up and down both sides of the street and checked out prices on a few things we were interested in buying.

Top on the list was alcohol. We knew that Texas charges $3.75 per bottom duty when you cross back over so had to add that to the price of any bottles we saw. Brand name US liquor was not that great of a deal when you add the duty charges. We did find some off brand tequila for $5.25 per bottle. We only use it to make margaritas, so purchased two bottles. We also bought two off brand bottles of Kahlua for $8.20 per bottle. And two large bottles of pure vanilla for my mom for $1.95 per bottle. You can’t beat the prices of vanilla in Mexico!

The other item I was looking for was a painted Mexican clay pot. I’ve seen some really beautiful pots at some of the RV sites in different parks we’ve visited in Mission. Although there were lots of pots for sale, none of them appealed to me. I was also surprised how expensive they were, from $20 to $60 depending on the size.

I did find a nice leather purse at one of the little booths along the sidewalk. I asked the lady if it was real leather. She whipped out a lighter and started holding the flame against the purse. I guess that means its real leather. I’ve never heard of that test before. It seemed to be very well constructed and even has the name Coach stamped into it. I’m sure its authentic!! Regardless, I liked the purse and talked her down from $23 to $20. I real Mexican bargain :)

P1130565 No trip to Mexico is complete without a margarita. We found a bar inside one of the stores that had large frozen margaritas for $3. We each got one and they were quite potent. I’m not much of a drinker, and the rest of the afternoon was a bit fuzzy for me.  I guess I behaved myself since I’m not in a Mexican jail :)

A few miles back across the US border there was a stand along the side of the road with lots of clay pots and produce. We stopped and found a pot we liked. It’s not the painted style, but I liked this natural look, and it has Mexico etched into the bottom. It’s 8” across the top, so an 8” plastic basket should fit inside just right. I also bought a huge head of cauliflower for $1.50. Another good deal.


Today we visited Susan who writes the blog What’s Up With Susan and Company. She is a fulltime RVer and is currently work camping at Pleasant Valley Resort about 10 minutes from us. We first met Susan last year in Phoenix. She showed us around the clubhouse and we got to see her 5th wheel, a very nice Big Horn. We spent some time catching up, and then it was time to head back home.

We’re taking advantage of the nice weather by spending a little time most afternoons visiting the pool and hot tub. I know its rough, but somebody’s got to do it!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bike Riding and a Few More Birds

The weather has been great the last few days. Mostly sunny with highs in the 70s. I know our neighbors up north are experiencing some subzero temperatures. Sure glad we’re not there.

On Saturday we rode our bikes on the Mission Bike Trail. We went all the way to the end which is about 8 miles according to what I could find online. So I’m thinking that’s about a 16 mile round trip ride. It took us two hours. The trail is asphalt and reasonably flat. It runs along a canal and trees for most of the way. We saw several roadrunners along the way. They were being rather camera shy, but I did manage to get a picture of one of them. We’ve seen roadrunners in Arizona, but these were our first Texas sightings.


On Sunday we road our bikes about 3 miles to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. This time we hopped on the tram and took a ride around the park. There was a park volunteer riding along who gave some information, but it was not a narrated tour.

We saw some of the same birds we had seen a few days earlier. In case I haven’t shown you enough bird pictures yet, here are a few more.

A wonderful shot of the Great Kiskadee.


A pretty good shot of the Altamira Oriole.


And one more Green Jay because they are so pretty.


There is a pick up truck that parks a few blocks from our park loaded with bags of oranges and corn on the cob. We haven’t had corn on the cob in a long time, so we thought we’d give it a try. When I asked if it was sweet corn, the man told me it was white corn from Mexico, and it is very good. Okay, three ears for $1.50. It was the worst corn we’ve ever eaten, hard and pretty tasteless. We won’t be getting anymore. The guy also cut up an orange for me to try. It was much better. A 10 pound bag costs $4.00. I may be going back for a bag of oranges before we leave.

They were cooking ears of corn over a grill and selling it on a stick. Apparently, people down here like it. Not the sweet corn we’re used to in the Midwest, that’s for sure!


Today we took a walk and are just kicking back, relaxing and enjoying the nice weather.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Very Good Day

Yesterday was a very good day!!

The day started out with good news from our son Korey. Since getting engaged he decided to move to Omaha to be in the same city as Cathryn. In the four years they’ve been together, they haven’t lived in the same city expect for the summers they worked at camp together. They are tired of a long distance relationship.

The good news is that Korey got a job near Omaha working at another Lutheran camp. His job will be similar to the job in Minnesota, but this is a larger organization so his hours will be more regular. And, no more overnights at camp. He seems very happy with the new job. Now he just needs to move his belongings next week and his life will be a little more normal again.

Kevin has been working with some mobile RV repair guys trying to figure out why our landing gear wasn’t working. One guy thought it was the motor, but they weren’t able to find a replacement motor. That turned out to be a very good thing since we later discovered we didn’t need a motor. A second guy came over and checked it out. He attached a battery to the motor, and the motor worked. So, something must be wrong in the wiring. He didn’t think he was qualified to fix it, so he gave us the name of a different guy. Neither of these guys charged us anything because they weren’t able to fix it.

This set Kevin’s mind to working. He started doing some further investigating and finally found the fuse for the motor. It was by the batteries, not near the motor itself, go figure. He replaced the fuse and tried it out. Everything seems to be working fine. We can’t quite figure out why it was working intermittently for a while. You’d think a blown fuse would cause it not to work at all. But, whatever happened, the new fuse seems to have solved the problem. So, no pricey motor to replace. Yippee!!

Another great thing was that the sun was finally out yesterday. Our friends Kim and Harland from Nova Scotia stopped at the park for a two night visit in their beautiful new motorhome. It was great to see them again, and we had a great time visiting. We took them to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park for a hike and some bird watching.


I had mentioned that the first time we went to the state park on our bikes, we didn’t want to pay the entry fee. After more research, I discovered there are a lot of state parks in Texas, and you can buy an annual pass for $70 which allows you to bring up to 6 people each visit. We plan to visit several of the parks during our time in Texas so we bought the pass. Now we can ride our bikes on the trails in Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley as much as we want.

I’ve been on the hunt to see Green Jays since we’ve been here. The Rio Grande Valley is the only place in the US that you can see them as they don’t travel any further north. Everyone kept telling me they are at the birdfeeders in the campground, but I could never find one.

P1130485Yesterday we hit pay dirt at the state park. Here are several pictures of them. Aren’t they just beautiful birds!! As always, you can click on any of the pictures for a bigger view.








We also saw another Chachalaca.


And another Altamira Oriole.


And two more new birds. The Great Kiskadee.


And the Clay-Colored Thrush.


In case you think I’ve become bird obsessed, I’ll show you that we did do something other than bird searching.

P1130482On Monday we went to a quilt show at the Mission Historical Center. Kevin was beside himself with joy, but was a good sport and came with me. This was not a judged show, just people in the area displaying their work. I loved the colors on this one.


P1130483And this one really appealed to my Midwestern roots with all the styles of barns.









P1130484I think black backgrounds are always so striking, especially with bright colored fabrics. I’m inspired to get my sewing machine out and start another project. If only those birds would stop calling me :)


Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!