Saturday, March 26, 2016

Traversing Texas

Our map our travels around Texas is becoming quite marked up [photo], all for the sake of putting 10,500 miles on our new motor, staying within a short 1-2 day drive from the shop. Then another oil change/retuning and we are free to roam wherever.

From McAllen we headed a few miles north along the border to Falcon Lake State Park. A beautiful area with pull through parking slots that are overgrowing with acacia bushes. Before we could properly park, we had to do a few minor trimmings of branches in order to save our paint job. What fun that was.

The temperatures here were again not anything like I had expected. Cool and rainy for the most part. It made for pleasant day tripping however.
Roma is one of the oldest populated towns in Texas, being right on the Rio Grande River (Rio Bravo in Mexico), overlooking an entry point into Mexico. [photo] It has, along side the new modern crossing with all the checkpoint paraphanalia, was the last suspension bridge over the Rio Grande - not in use anymore. Here we walked the bluffs overlooking the river while doing an EarthCache, learning all about the geology of the bluffs. Very interesting to view as we read. The town also had a very interesting tour of architecture from the early early Spaniards and a German immigrant to Mexico who designed and built many of the buildings in the area. [photos] We spent a very interesting afternoon here.

After a  couple of days spent in Falcon Lake and it was on to Laredo, TX, another border crossing but not one that one should use if at all possible. The narco-traficantes are abundant and the violence rampant. It too is a beautiful town, with both very modern and very old areas. The plaza is beautiful, but wait there are two distinct plazas, both with gazebos. On Sunday we toured the plaza areas and could find only a handful of parking spots, 2-3 blocks off and lots and lots of people milling around; families and lover couples alike.

Did you know that Texas once had a republic within it's borders? No, not the Republic of Texas that we have all heard about but the Republic of [the] Rio Grande. The capital was the plaza in downtown Laredo, right by the river bank and old crossing. (their flag) It was actually during the time of the Republic of Texas and lasted all of 286 days. A little bit of trivia for your minds - who knows when it might be a question on Jeopardy. LOL

From Laredo an eastward track was set and we headed for Goliad State Historical [Mission] Park. This is part of the string of missions in San Antonio. The mission itself  was first located in Refugio on the coast but due to Indian hostilities was moved up closer to the mainstream of the mission road. It was rebuilt from the floor up and the exhibits show how life was for both the Franciscans, the pioneers, and the natives - a very hard life, and if the Franciscans had anything to say about it, very simplistic. Education was purely around Christianity and life skills with a goal of christianizing the native population. In touring the actual mission church, and if it has been redone true t life, you can see the indigenous influence in the painte reliefs. [photos]

The state park system spreads helter skelter around the state and has a variety of  reasons for being. Our next stop was Palmetto State Park. Here we encountered a little bit of a swampy, tropical environment that extended not that far out of the borders of the park. Inside, parked amongst the huge trees, it was cool but oh so humid. A very pleasant place to light but the mosquitos are no doubt very vicious.

This stop enabled us to make a dash to San Antonio to try and get my computer repaired. It was a great trip until we discovered that the Apple store doesn't carry repair parts for the new MacBook Air. They have to send it out to the factory authorized repair shop (read overseas) and when it returns in 3-5 working days, they won't mail it onwards. So back we go with plans to head east to Houston. The shop in Houston will be so much easier to get to that the one in San Antonio, from East Texas. This isthe trip that is made the next day - so much for a relaxing interlude in the park. We will be able to drive down to Houston, have a wonderful seafood dinner, pick up the computer and head back to the RV all in one day, unlike the 2 days it would take if we had left it in San Antonio.

And so now are back in E Texas at our home away from home - Double Lake Recreation Area outside of Coldspring, TX. From here it is an easydrive to pick up the mail and also head to Nacogdoches in a couple of days for hopefully the last for awhile, doctor appointments.

Photos will be put up when the computer returns from it's vaction ...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rain? RAIN?????

What is this? Rain? is that a known rain down here in Monterrey, Mexico? I was under the impression that when we came down it would be HOT. Not!

We are parked in McAllen, on the border of Texas and Mexico in what is commonly referred to as The Valley. To my way of thinking, this brings to mind hot, dusty and forever sun. Instead,what we have is cold,rain and wind. Wearing a sweater all the time and wishing for a fleece. Not the ideal weather for sightseeing at all. But from the weather online, the good news is, this ends on Sunday when we go back to hot temperatures and forever sun but with the desert in bloom.

We left the car in the parking lot near the bus station and rode the bus across into Mexico. What a story to tell with that. As we had to get a tourist visa at the border,we headed directly into immigration as we came off the bus. A very short time later, no waiting lines, just us, and our bus had gone: left, se fue, ciao,  however you say it, the driver left us stranded. The immigration officials were wonderful, and very helpful. The long and short  of it, we had to wait for the next bus to come and they arranged for us to get on it. The second driver was a little upset that the first driver had left us behind and called the office. That was the last that we heard of the situation but I can imagine that the first driver had some explaining to do when he got back.

Monterrey is a very modern city in some parts and very old in other areas. We were located in the newer part as we had some medical to be done and that is where the doctors are. (All is well in that department) You felt as if you were in any of the European cities that we have visited.

While here we re-discovered the joys of Uber. Have you used Uber? They are wonderful. i have heard some horror stories but each and everyone that we have ridden in has been very good. A lot more reliable and cheaper than the forever ending stream of local taxis bouncing down the road, honking at you to entice you to ride. The cars are much newer as well.

The bus ride back was just as uneventful as our ride out and in no time at all, we were back in the US picking up the car and then heading out the next day. And still it rains!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A decision made, and we are off ....

After much discussion and humm and hawing, we have made a decision for the next month of our time. A time delineated by a doctor's appoint for Mar 30. Sometimes, however it seems that our decisions are made to change so who knows when and where ....

 Do you sometimes feel like this? Feel like you left something(s) behind? Luckily for us, we have discovered the use of a travel list - one for car travel, one for international travel, and one for an experience of discovery. They are indispensable. And the luckiest of all is that in the USA we travel in our home and we should have everything we need at our finger tips, right? Wrong! There is always something that got taken out and put into the storage unit that we wish we had at any given time. You can not carry every thing with you and we don't even try. Again it comes down to decisions and priorities.
We have friends who carry their household in 2, yes 2 large rolling suitcases and a day pack. We try but ....

This weekend we are in Double Lake Recreation Area, TX just outside of Coldspring, TX. This is our go-to area for a couple of days for planning purposes. This weekend it is a double whammy: planning and quilting. I am wanting to get DS#1s quilt flimsie done so that on Monday I can take it over to the longarmers before we leave the area. The skies are a beautiful clear blue and the sun is shining, without a cloud in the sky. The temps are up in the high 70's during the day and cool enough to sleep snugly at night. Occasional rain has fallen during the night but that is not the norm of late here in Texas.

We are planning a leisurely trip down towards the Valley and across the border to Monterrey, Mexico. Were planning on taking the RV down as we had heard of a KOA in Monterrey but are unable to find it so will park on this side of the border and car trip/bus trip it down to the area instead. That decision will be made when we get there and assess the situation of the time.

I am planning also this weekend, to get the old bike out and to start to ride again. It has been a long time. Danny has bought me special pedals to use until the swelling in my foot goes down enough to get my keene cycling sandals on and thus be able to use my clip-in's.

And then out comes Miss Betsy so that I can work on DS#1's quilt. While sewing, I will also start to watch the BBC's mini series War and Peace, compliments of my friend in England. Thank you Paul.