Tuesday, February 26, 2013

And The Exodus Begins

March 1 is fast approaching and many are gearing up for departure. Lots of them will head to Texas's hill country to wait for spring to arrive further north before they continue home. We have a couple more weeks before we leave.

A new restaurant, Mambo's Seafood, opened recently so we gave it a try on Friday. It was just OK and I certainly wouldn't wait an hour to be seated. Since we went about 3 o'clock our wait was short but then we waited a half hour for our food! Mediocre dining at best is my thought.

Our BBQ and dance was scheduled for Saturday afternoon and the weather was great. We saved three tables for our group but people were up and down all afternoon so we met some new folks who sat down to eat. Here we are with Don and Trudy that we have known for three years now.  Very few things go on in the evening here so you get used to putting on your dancing shoes early in the day. The brisket was very good and we had a nice time.

We chose to go to 5:30 Mass so we could stay longer at the dance. We missed Fr. Roy but Speedy Gonzales was there and we were out quickly.

Sunday was the craft show and this "picture" was created here in the wood shop by a very talented artist and carpenter.  I would have liked to have bought it for my niece Ann who does competitive cowgirl shoot and ride races but it wasn't for sale.

We had a happy hour later in the afternoon. There has been some "drama" about the park's conversion and it was decided to get together to talk about it. But no one took ownership of the subject so small conversations were going on but there was no big speech about what was expected to happen or info on other parks like I expected.

Karen invited our entire group for dinner on Monday. Since there were 18 of us and there was a Wind Advisory for the entire day, we ate in the clubhouse . We were supposed to have this dinner the day we arrived but it was rainy and 47 degrees that day so she only had me and Ted. She asked for a salad so I did an antipasto and it was well received.  Everyone liked all the "good stuff" I put in it.

Several people are checking out other parks this week.  The front runner won't let you make a reservation for less than 3 months until November.  That could put you in a park you would rather not be in if they couldn't accommodate your request.  We have to make our reservation at this park on March 8 so you can see where being made to wait until November isn't desirable.  The others all stay at least three months and this isn't a problem for them. We intend to make our month of January reservation for here next year and hope for the best.  Time will tell.  

Yesterday was so windy that after lunch everyone stayed put inside.  We walked up to check our mailbox and to mail a letter in the afternoon.  I felt like the Flying Nun.  I would estimate the winds at 60 mph.  Watching the news last night told me we weren't alone in all that wind.  I'm just glad the temperatures were comfortable and we didn't have any snow like so much of the nation is battling.

Karen is determined to finish off those meatballs so she invited us for meatball subs for lunch.  We are both in the mode to empty the refrigerator and freezer as much as we can to minimize having to take it back home.

I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. ~ Jimmy Dean

Friday, February 22, 2013

Another Week Gone By

After our "beer tasting" on Sunday, we chose to skip the "wine tasting" on Monday. I don't like beer; Ted doesn't like wine. We only did the beer thing because it preceded the pizza party!

Tuesday was Don and Trudy's annual "Brat and Sauerkraut" party that is held across from us on Dave and Karen's super site. I think 40 couples were invited. Ted helped drag tables, set up chairs and came to get our two vinyl tablecloths. In the meantime I was making German potato salad. To me potato salad is sweet/sour and served warm. Until supermarkets put in deli cases I had no idea potato salad could be cold and made with mayo!

Don and Dave tending the grill.

We sat with two couples, one from Canada and another, Dutch citizens living in Canada. They told us of needing to buy an expensive medical policy to travel outside Canada and it was unbelievable what the Dutch couple had to do to emigrate to Canada and continue to visit the US. I told them they should swim across the Rio Grande like the other 14 million people who are here. It is ludicrous to have some jumping through expensive hoops and waiting to enter and then hang a "get in free card" on our southern border.

Wednesday Ted went shooting and then we went to the premier outlets in Mercedes where I wanted to do some shopping. I found several things and bought a pair of shoes to match one outfit.

Ted had been wanting to stop to visit Bill and Marge since we were over that way. Bill worked at the Thunder Bay mill for Abitibi and we had learned from others what park they were in. We had a great visit and they are supposed to come over this way for lunch and to see our park.

Speaking of which we were all invited to a meeting yesterday and were told the park is going "condo." They expect in five years for it to be all individually owned! Considering there are 17 super sites in Retama next door that are bigger and better, but not sold,  at around the same asking price, tells me that is wishful thinking.

This is a high end park for the valley and the people here did not retire this comfortably by making poor financial choices. Besides the $45,000 asking price there are taxes, condo fees and utilities (they forgot to include insurance). They made the case from an investment standpoint saying you can't get 1% on your money now and then offered to finance at 7.9%. I said at that rate I would lend them money! All of that for a concrete strip!  The super sites with the coach houses are more.

On March 8 we have to make next year's reservation but I don't know what happens if your site gets sold or is needed for their "show and tell" program. There are approximately 30,000 sites here in the valley so I am not going to worry about it. I have the rental info for the Retama sites and we'll see what happens. We like Bill's park but we want to stay in the Mission area because of the skeet and trap club.

As it stands we will only be here one month next year with our second one in Florida because of the wedding. Who knows? Maybe we will like being back in our old stomping grounds!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Such Beautiful Weather

We sure can't complain about the weather but the farmers could use rain. They were burning off the sugar cane fields when we arrived. It has been harvested and the fields replanted this past month and the new growth is over a foot already. Such fertile ground here along the Rio Grande.

We spent Wednesday and Thursday cleaning, doing laundry and grocery shopping. By Friday it was time to venture out again. About two dozen of us went to Pappadeux's for Pat's birthday. Since Lent had started, going to a fine seafood restaurant worked well for us. Our reservation was at 2:30 and it was about 5:00 before we got home.

Some interesting appetizers floated around. Alligator bites, raw oysters and boudan were at our end of the table. Ted had shrimp and I had talapia. It was all very good. The restaurant brought Pat a huge piece of cheesecake with strawberries and a lit candle in it. She passed it all around and when it came back, she and I finished it!

A Cajun fiddler was playing at the clubhouse but we had not gotten tickets for the show. We tossed around attending the 7:00 show because what we could hear of the 4:00 show sounded good. Just then our next door neighbor yelled in our door for me and asked if we were going. I said we were if tickets were left and she gave us two for free. They were passed to her by a friend from another friend and they didn't want any money.

Wade Landry plays at the God and Country Theater in Branson six months of the year and the other six months here in the valley. He and his wife put on a terrific show with a lot of zydeco music in it. He told lots of jokes about Boudreaux and Tibideau that were so funny. We were glad we attended after all.

We went to church Saturday with Fr. Roy. Our entrance song was Hank Williams' Oh Lonesome Me and the collection song was by Alan Jackson but I don't know the name. It was about Mom and Dad teaching us right from wrong. Fr. Roy gives everyone a Hershey's kiss for Valentine's Day. Last week he chastised those who leave before Mass is over so this week he asked they give him 35 seconds so he and the altar dogs can get to the door to give out the kisses. Surprisingly everyone did.

We had tickets to see Solitaryman who sings Neil Diamond songs on Saturday night. He sounds exactly like him singing and when he sang three Elvis songs he sounded just like him. But ... he was a one man show and his actions on stage were very disruptive to the entertainment value. He spent most of the time adjusting his sound, playing with his computer, knocking over his stool, getting a cough drop (which I was waiting for him to choke on) and taking drinks from a Subway cup. Ted said he chose to close his eyes and just listen because he was very good but
his actions were disconcerting!

Today we had horse races that were hilarious. The horses were created in the wood shop and volunteers were the color coded jockeys. They had big bows, huge glasses, matching colored horse and a colored sign with their horses name. We bet on Ann and Pat in the first race and then chose remaining colors in the others and did not have a single winner in any race. There was a contest for best Derby hat. I had on my red cowgirl hat since it was windy not because of the contest but a floral one was the winner. Today was the first time they did the races and next year people will be decked out like they are at Churchill Downs.

Late this afternoon was beer tasting prior to pizza night. Ted had gone with the fellows and they all bought unusual beers for the tasting. I tried some ale with strawberries and honey but it still tasted like beer (which I hate). Then I tried Fuzzy Navel malt. I liked that OK. There was a Lime Margarita one and that wasn't as good as the Fuzzy Navel. There were lots of beers to try but
I ended up drinking Sprite with my pizza. I just don't care for beer.

We had a good crowd and a few more plans were made for the remaining time of the season. In a week and a half around the first of March, the exodus will start. We are scheduled out of here mid-March.

Our youngest daughter will be married next February in Florida so we need to decide soon how much time we will spend here next year. I think we may do a month here and a month there. Stay tuned and you'll know when we know!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Boat Rides, Shows, Day at the Beach

Here are a couple of photos from our trip to Mexico.  Cindy is in Mexico and Tim is in the U.S.  This is on the bridge over the Rio Grande as we walked into Mexico.

Our anniversary drink in Progreso to honor Karen and Ron's 54th wedding anniversary.

Friday morning Tim cooked us breakfast at their casita and then we took a boat ride on the Rio Grande River. Ted and I did this about 8 years ago and we were truly shocked this time. The development on the Mexican side was astonishing! Both public and private beautiful construction was going on. The only thing I noticed different on our side was the total collapse of the restaurant, Pepe's On The River. During the flood of 2010, it became Pepe's IN The River.  To see it just hanging there in total collapse from the river side was astounding.  There has been no attempt to tear it down and so it just hangs there as a terrible eyesore.

Afterwards we took a ride to the ropas (clothes in Spanish) to show them a few places with the mountains of clothes and people climbing all over them.  What they purchase will end up at a flea market or hanging on their fences for sale.  It is a sight to see.

That evening Crosstrung performed at our park and we had second row seats.  The group is from Utah, all family, and they were truly amazing.  Their two fiddle players were unbelievably talented and they had the audience participate which is always fun.  Everyone enjoyed the show and my family was amazed that we were able to see such quality entertainment here in the park for $5.

Saturday we went to the Don-Wes flea market and produce stands.  Karen and Cindy were interested in the bathing suit store and they both ended up with new suits.  We all bought fruit and I bought a new rug for the bottom of the RV steps.  At 4:00 we went to church and Fr. Roy was his usual self and they enjoyed his sermon.  There was an ice cream social followed by Pokeeno that evening at the clubhouse.  Cindy and Tim borrowed park bikes and rode to the state park while we "old folks" stayed at the clubhouse.  None of us won anything but we enjoyed the evening.

The weather was supposed to be the warmest and sunniest on Sunday so we chose that day to go to the beach at South Padre Island.  It went to 95 degrees and for once the weatherman was right.

Tim brought his metal detector and walked the beach with it but found only a few coins, none of which were gold doubloons!

He had to watch where he walked, as did everyone, because jellyfish were all over the place.  When we arrived, the yellow caution flag was flying.  By the time we left the red flag was up along with the purple one.  This meant "do not go in the water" and "jellyfish are present." 

Dirty Al's, a South Padre Island institution, was our choice for dinner.  We chose a platter the size of a cafeteria tray covered with french fries and 40 pieces of fish, shrimp and chicken on top.  It fed all of us for $38 and was absolutely some of the best fish I have ever eaten.  You could also include oysters if you wanted but no one wanted them. 

On Monday everyone did their own thing.  Ronnie went fishing in the state park, Cindy and Tim went antiquing in Harlingen and then returned to Mexico, Ted and I went to the HitchHiker monthly luncheon and Karen watched her soap operas.  It was a change of pace that everyone enjoyed.

Tuesday morning everyone but Ted went to the Mexican flea market.  I guess they call it this because all the vendors are Mexican!  Little English is spoken and the signs are in Spanish.  I bought a pair of silver earrings, Ron and Tim bought Colt knives and that was about it.  The car returning to Cincinnati was at its capacity and Cindy and Tim only had carry on bags for the plane. 

Ted and I went to the Palapa to help decorate for the Mardi Gras party and put streamers on Roger's truck.  The parade began at 5:00 and somehow I ended up sitting in the truck facing backwards.  Roger was standing over the cab with his I-Pod playing "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey" while Vern and John sat on the tailgate.  We all threw candy and beads to the park residents before culminating at the Palapa for the party.  This is the view from my seat in the pick-up bed.

Our friends and neighbors Karen and Dave with their dog Smoki, who has outfits for every occasion.

Wednesday morning Karen and Ron left.  Around 2 o'clock they called and said they were north of Houston trying to make Texarkana.  That is a l-o-n-g haul in one day.  Ted took Cindy and Tim to the airport for their 11 o'clock flight.  I received a text message around 5 saying they had arrived to snow in Cincinnati.

We had a great time while they were here and now we will settle back into our normal routine.  This first month has flown by but we still have another one before heading home.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Company Has Arrived

That was an interesting outcome to the Super Bowl.  It looked like a runaway until the lights went out!  Neither of us did any good on the betting squares, not even close.  I didn't think the commercials were all that great and the half time show left me with a "is that it?" feeling.  But I have to admit I am glad the season is over and I can have my TV back.

We were busy on Monday doing laundry, going to the grocery and doing some cooking in anticipation of going shopping Tuesday and expecting Karen and Ron on Wednesday.

As it turned out, the shopping was cancelled due to the illness of one of the driver's husbands and our company arrived around 2:00 on Tuesday afternoon, a day ahead of schedule.  Their cabin was empty and they were able to move in.  Otherwise they would have spent the night with us.

This gave us an opportunity to take them around a bit on Wednesday before Tim and Cindy flew in.

We first stopped at Our Lady of San Juan of the Valley Shrine and Basilica.  It is a beautiful church and grounds.  This is the main altar banked with flowers that people bring constantly.  There are also many, many candles lit in front of it.

The grounds are large and impressive.  Sculptures of the "stations of the cross" that mark Jesus' journey to be crucified are spaced throughout.

From there we went to Harlingen to see the original casting used to make the bronze Iwo Jima memorial that now resides in Arlington National Cemetery. 

Also buried here is Cpl. Harlon H. Block of Weslaco, TX who is depicted in the memorial.  He was killed in action five days after the flag raising.

We watched a movie on the taking of Iwo Jima.  We have seen it before but it still brings tears to my eyes when I think of the thousands of boys who lost their lives on that small island.

Next up was a small showroom of Classic Chevrolet cars.  Here are Karen and Ron next to a 1961 Corvette that they would have loved to own when they first married 54 years ago!

My first car was a 1956 black and white BelAir like this one but mine was not a convertible.

Of course one of the most famous Chevrolets of all was the 1957 model.

From there we stopped at an antique store where Karen & Ron bought a mirrored beer sign originally from Cincinnati.  Shhh!  It's a Christmas gift.

By then it was time to head home so Ted could make his airport run.  Cindy and Tim arrived just in time for Margarita Hour in the clubhouse.  After a few drinks and some appetizers we all came to our trailer and had a light dinner.

It wasn't long before everyone was heading to their own place to turn in early.  It had been a long day and we were meeting at 9:00 this morning.  Destination:  Mexico.

We made our way to Progreso this morning before 10:00.  Our first stop was for coffee and pastry at Renee's Bakery.  Being serenaded by mariachis that early in the morning is a real eye opener! 

Ted bought a new black belt and had his hardware transferred from the old one to the new one.  I bought a few more things at the drugstore to fill additional requests.  And that was it for us.  But the others were Christmas shopping from cowboy boots to leather wallets, necklaces, belts and things in between.  We were going to be loaded down on the way home.

We ended the day on the music patio in Progreso having a drink to celebrate Karen and Ron's 54th wedding anniversary.  We came back across the bridge and ate brisket at Fat Daddy's.  It was late afternoon when we finally made it home.

Later we took Cindy and Tim to the grocery so they could stock their kitchen with some items.  Tomorrow we are taking a boat ride on the Rio Grande River.  Y'all come back, ya hear!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fun weekend

There was a good turnout for our ladies luncheon and style show on Friday. Everyone was so dressed up compared to the normal attire around the park. I sat with Pat, Ann and Diana. Trudy and Karen were models so they ate at that table. Three different stores showed off their wares. The one I liked best is actually a 14W and up store so I can't even shop there.

However, we are all going to Weslaco on Tuesday to shop at the other two stores and use our coupons that were at each table setting. We will be having lunch over there too. I took photos for Karen but the light was not good so I don't think they turned out all that well.

Afterwards I found Ted over at Dave's so I sat down for awhile too. I gave him Karen's camera and phone because she was still getting her things together in the dressing room.

Yesterday we went to Tony Roma's for an early dinner. That is only the third time we have eaten out since we arrived. Diet or not, I couldn't pass up the ribs. I got the smaller portion but still brought home half of that. Ted could not eat all of his either.

Then we went to church where Mary, Joseph, Simeon, Anna and the donkey re-enacted the Presentation of the Lord in the temple. Benito the dog barked at the donkey and Fr. Roy had to tell him to be quiet, it was OK for the donkey to be in church. Fr. Roy said "That must be Simeon's dog. I read in the Bible that he had a cranky dog." Afterwards we received the "blessing of throats" in honor of St. Blaise Day. Fr. Roy had mentioned that if he asked everyone what day 2/2 was, half would say Groundhog Day instead of Candlemas Day. I think the percentage would have been higher. I want to go to Mass at San Juan Shrine with the mariachi bands but it is hard to skip our weekly encounter with Fr. Roy.

We then picked up Jay and Stella for the Rainey show at Chimney Park. This park sits right on the banks of the Rio Grande River and every one's cell phones were getting messages about the costs of international dialing. We get them when we walk across the bridge too. We just all know not to make or take calls there. I wonder how the people in the park make sure they are not internationally roaming.

Rainey did a fantastic job as Patsy Cline. We all really enjoyed the show. I have everything Patsy ever recorded and she has the nuances down pat. Donna from our park was there because she knows Rainey. They are both from Thunder Bay, Ontario. She introduced Ted because both Rainey's mother and her husband had worked for mills owned by Abitibi. They knew a few people in common.

Today is the Burger Bash and Super Bowl. I think the fellows may shoot this morning. I saw the photo of Obama supposedly shooting skeet. If he is, he isn't on a skeet field, there are no high and low houses nor 8 stations and he is shooting below the birds. So let's just say he probably isn't any good.

I haven't taken any photos but maybe next week with our company here that will change. They arrive on Wednesday and we will be out and about all week. I better charge my camera battery while I am thinking about it!