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Oct 24, 25 - South Padre Island, Texas

Party Beach, Isla Blanca RV Park, South Padre Island, Sea Turtle, birds.

sunny 28 °C

The four of us decided to head over to South Padre, a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico, for a couple of nights, to complete our south Texas experience. South Padre is the Texas version of Florida's Fort Lauderdale, and South Carolina's Myrtle Beach. A great beach and a great play area for young people in the right season. Every water sport imaginable can be done here and then you can boogie down at one of the many night spots on the 3 mile long strip.

It is also a great place for what are referred to here as Winter Texans. Isla Blanca RV Park has over 600 spaces and they are full from mid November though to April with seniors seeking warmth from the northern winters. All over this part of South Texas there are huge RV parks, right now sitting mostly empty but soon to swell with new arrivals.

Isla Blanca is a well worn RV park and the amenities are sorely in need of some improvements. The washrooms leave much to be desired. The park will close for much of 2018 for major renovations, and not a moment too soon. Our stay was fine, the place is mostly empty right now, so there is no pressure on the facilities, and even with that, the women's toilets were a mess by our departure.

Here is a shot of G&K's Airstream crossing the bridge to the Island.

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For posterity, here is George fueling us his new RAM pick-up for the first time...19.25 gallons, at $2,18 a gallon.

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After parking the trailers we drove up past the inhabited part of the island to the end of the road, about 10 miles. Here the wind is moving the dunes over the road and we came upon some horse back riders coming back from the beach.

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We stopped at the Visitor Center for Wi-Fi access. The town has many semi-permanent sand castles set up and hosts a huge sand castle building cost each year. These sand castles have been sprayed with a mixture of glue and water to preserve them for quite a few months before they have to be rebuilt.

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We also had lunch at Dirty Al's, a seafood joint right beside our campground. Jenny and I had a shrimp Po-boy and G&K shared a blackened fish Po-Boy...we all had a beer. Karmen also bought some fresh Gulf shrimp to add to a Gumbo for our supper that evening.

Oct 25 - I was up early to get in a power walk to work off all this excess food we have been eating and when I finished the sun was just beginning to come up our over the Gulf.

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You can see lots of oil rigs off on the horizon, and there is a new pipeline being built to carry local oil to Brownsville and Corpus Christi refineries. The oil economy is everywhere in Texas.

We spent the morning at the Birding Centre, where well over 200 species of birds pass through on their migrations north and south. The boardwalk provides opportunities galore to spot birds.

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This is just a sample of the birds we saw on our two plus hour walk along the boardwalk.

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We also spotted one turtle:

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After the birding centre we went to Sea Turtle Inc. the sea turtle rescue centre. They have been saving and rehabilitating sea turtles for 30+ years and have several turtles that have been so damaged they cannot be released back into the wild. They use these rescue turtles to educate the public about the dangers of humans to the turtles. A well spent 2 hours here.

Finally, a reward. We headed over to Padre Island Brewery for Happy Hour. $8 growler fills (George filled 2 of them) and oysters for $0.75 each. We downed 24 of the little guys and all had a pint of beer. A great way to end our exertions for the day.

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We finished the day with Pizza at Gabriella's Italian Grill and Pizzeria, one of the island's best light dining experiences. We shared a Soprano Pizza. Here they serve pizza with a salad and garlic bread...interesting. Most of us drank wine, but George stuck to beer. A great ending to our stay on the island.

We boogied back to Mission on the morning of October 26. Jenny and I will hang out here until Monday morning, enjoying the company of our good friends before beginning the 2,990 mile journey home on Monday.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 13:57 Archived in USA Tagged birds turtles south_texas south_padre_island Comments (1)

Oct 20 - 23 - Mission, TX, Part 1

Retama Village Resort, South Rio Grande River Boat Ride, Progresso Nuevo

sunny 32 °C

Oct 20 - We arrived late in the day at George and Karmen's (I'll refer to them throughout as G&K) in Mission, TX The drive south from Fredericksburg, to the very southern point of the state of Texas was pretty good, even though it became progressively hotter as we moved south. By the end of the day the temperature was in the mid 90's and the humidity high.

They live in Retama Village, a gated RV park where you own your lot. Even though G&K have a 500 sq ft tiny house, one of the requirements of the community is that you have an RV on your lot. Some owners have decent sized houses with carports for the motor home/trailer, others have just a storage building and you live in your RV and most recently, like G&K's you have a tiny house and the option of living in the house or the RV when you are here. Many of the owners are northerners who winter here in south Texas.

Our hosts are in the process of upgrading their travel gear. Last week they bought a new Airstream Flying Cloud, a 25 foot beauty. Tomorrow they will be getting a new tow vehicle, a 2017 Dodge Ram 1500 pick-up truck.

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We had a great first evening with George grilling lamb burgers for supper. We relaxed with a couple of beers and some good conversation before crashing for the night. It is cooling down to the mid-70's overnight and we feel comfortable enough to sleep in the un-airconditioned TaJ.

Oct 21 - After a fairly comfortable night, I am up at 6:00am, feeling the need to get some exercise. So I do a 30 minute power walk in the humid early morning air. It is still pitch black out, the sun does not rise until about 7:15am. Shortly after sunrise G&K are up and at it, getting their GMC Sierra emptied out prior to heading off to the Dodge dealer to get their new wheels.

We loaf about for the morning, with Karmen taking Jenny and I down to the Retama Village clubhouse, which houses the pool, exercise room and a multi-purpose clubhouse. Jenny gets some internet time and I browse their lending library.

Jenny and I are a bit at odds about our departure date for home. I want to set a date, as I don't like open-ended visits, and she wants to play it by ear and decide to leave on a moment's notice. We will get this worked out I am sure, as time progresses.

At Noon we make the vehicle swap and are soon headed off in search of a local bbq joint...Rudy's. Wow, was this place hopping at 1:30pm on a Saturday afternoon. Jenny and I split a 1/2 pound of brisket ($7.50) and we each had a beer a shared a coleslaw. Total bill $22.00 Delicious. G&K had smoked turkey which looked pretty good as well.

By late afternoon it was really hot, high 90's and very muggy. I caught a nap in TaJ and we decided this would be a good time for us to defrost the fridge in TaJ. It has been severely iced up over the last month. We hope to get to done by tomorrow, then turn it back on and give it a full day to re-cool before the 4 of us take off for South Padre Island on Tuesday.

Supper was pork in enchilada sauce, with a side of poblano peppers and rice. Delicious as usual. We killed off a margarita each, and then two bottles of wine before crashing for the night. A really hot evening in TaJ, but our super fan managed to create a breeze which allowed us to sleep.

Oct 22 - Back up for another power walk at 6:00am...Jenny not participating. It is going to be smoking hot today so I am glad to have gotten the exercise out of the way early.

WE lazed about for the morning, using the clubhouse for some internet time and planning our afternoon adventure. There is a River Club, right on the Rio Grande River that has an afternoon country and western dance from 2pm to 5pm. Now, none of us are dancers but it was fun to see mostly seniors enjoying a two-step dance out on the floor. The club also does a 1 hour cruise on the Rio Grande River. The river is the border between the two countries and there is no wall here...yet. The boat driver said there is a plan to build an 18 foot high wall on the levy next to the river, with gates for the businesses, like his, that would be outside the wall, but still in the US. At the end of his comments on the wall he noted that the Mexicans hadn't written the cheque yet, to pay for it.

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This is a watch station on the border...both manned and camera mounted versions of these are all along the shore of the riv er.

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We did get to finally wash TaJ. The R-pod was filthy after more than 60 days of dry weather. Lots of dead bugs, road tar and so on. It felt good to get here cleaned up once again.

Another great meal from Karmen, another couple of bottles of wine and another day.

Oct 23 - Our goal for today was to walk into Mexico at Progresso Nuevo. The border:

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George bought a new hat for $6.95:

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We had lunch on the street from a vendor. He got us beer for $1 a bottle and I got a real Coca Cola, made with cane sugar. Pretty good. Our lunch was $10 for a stuffed baked potato, and tacos and fajitas. Pretty darn good.

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The street in Progresso Nuevo is all about shopping, with the predominate stores being discount pharmacies. Some street shots.

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WE bought a litre of tequila for $11.95 and a litre of triple sec for $13.00, and had to pay duty of $7.50 when we crossed back into the US. Lots of fun for an afternoon.

When we got back to Retama Village, the Monarch butterflies were putting on a show. There were a dozen or so at G&K's place and Jenny got this shot:

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Tomorrow we head off for three days on South Padre Island. Blog to follow once we return.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 15:54 Archived in USA Tagged mission retama_village airstream mexico_visit south_texas Comments (3)

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