Volunteers build an RC (Remote Control) car track in the RV park

A group of remote control (RC) car enthusiasts at the Park Place Estates RV park decided to pursue the construction of a track at the park. The RC car hobby is fairly big in the Rio Grande Valley, as I’ve been told there are at least eight other parks that have an RC track for competitions and the fun of running.

Over the past few weeks a bunch of guys got together and built the track. About 90 yards of dirt was trucked in, walls set and a rather extensive covered platform for participants was built. The talent of these guys is very apparent in the final product.

Proud Sign

Make an adjustment

It’s been fun watching this project progress during the construction. It’s more fun to watch the guys race their cars. These cars really fly.

Very nice covered platform

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Port Isabel Texas and a birthday

Yesterday Sher and I had a fun day. It was my birthday (I’ll admit I’m over 30) so we decided to celebrate a bit and enjoy some sightseeing. We started with birthday lunch at the Harlingen Olive Garden. They give you a free desert on your birthday, and we enjoyed the lasagna chocolate cake after a great meal.

The lighthouse with the keeper’s cottage to the right

Then we drove down to Port Isabel to see the light house. It has not been in service since 1905, but remains an important attraction. The keeper’s cottage next door is a recreation of the original and houses some interesting displays and the local Chamber of Commerce.

Sher with a rather unsavory pirate

As we had just had lunch, we did not go to any of the restaurants. The Pirate themed one looked interesting, but was not open. There was a long fishing pier and several charter boats at the docks. It was interesting that when we got to Port Isabel, the sky was clear. However the fog rolled in while we were there. You couldn’t even see the long causeway bridge to South Padre Island.

I had to get into the act as well

There are several shops  around the lighthouse square. The shops included many local artist’s creations. There were original paintings and prints of the same available. The jewelry selections included nearly all types and styles. There was even one shop where the artist was making chainmail. Yes, like the medieval armor chainmail made with small rings of metal.

After the fog rolled in

All in all we had a great day, and I thoroughly enjoyed my birthday with Sher.

 

 

Bascilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle is a National Shrine in Texas

The Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle is a remarkable place in the Rio Grande Valley. The Basilica has a fascinating history that traces back to the 1600’s in Mexico with a reported miracle. The current location has been the sight for pilgrimages for decades.

The bell tower

The Sanctuary

 

 

 

 

 

Sher and I decided to go to the Basilica on a Sunday for mass. The Sunday schedule has masses all day, with Spanish, English and bi-lingual. There is a mariachi band providing the music on Saturday and Sunday masses. We opted for the 3 o’clock English mass. The mass was very inspiring.

Free Holy Water fountain

First Station of the Cross

The sculpture on the back sanctuary wall

When we arrived, the 1 o’clock mass had not yet let out, and the parking lots were very full. I was able to find a handicapped spot. The complex has lots of support facilities. There is a hotel for pilgrims and a very large gift shop. We went to the gift shop as we had time before the 3 o’clock mass. The gift shop was filled with about any kind of religious item you can imagine. The stations of the cross are set up along a beautiful path that winds through the grounds.

When in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas you should consider a visit to the Basilica. Read up on the history and other information before you go. This is the website link.

Jason Coleman keeps Floyd Cramer’s piano genius alive

Jason Coleman is the grandson of famed pianist Floyd Cramer. If you don’t know Floyd, you do know his music. Sher and I were lucky enough to hear a concert by Jason at the Park Place Estates RV Park where we are official Winter Texans in the Rio Grande Valley this year.

Jason on stage

Coleman puts his music heritage out there with a dedication and sincerity that he gets honestly. His show not only is performing classic songs, but also a fascinating  look into the history of Floyd Cramer’s signature style of piano. Cramer’s piano is heard on just about all of the greats of country and rock from the fifties and sixties and beyond.

I had a nice chat with Jason

Applause from the large crowd rippled through at the start of most of the pieces Jason shared with his audience. He personality and the nostalgia of the music is magic. Not only did Jason play the tunes, but he also shared some poignant video of his time as a young man with his Grandpa Floyd. These clips included his performances with Floyd on TV.

Of the entertainment shows offered at the park, we both agreed that Jason Coleman’s performance has been the best.   I recommend that you check his website here for his concert schedule and available CD’s.

Brownsville’s Camille Playhouse celebrates 55 years

Brownsville,Texas is home to a delightful community theater, the Camille Playhouse. Born of humble beginnings in 1963, this vibrant theater has become a beloved source for live theater in the Rio Grande Valley.

Sher and I attended a Saturday night performance of a musical classic: A Chorus Line. The theater is located in Dean Porter Park, a Brownsville city park. The lobby is warm and welcoming when you arrive to purchase your tickets. The theater itself is comfortable with all seats having a clear view of the stage.

We really enjoyed the performance of A Chorus Line. Chris Ikner directs. During the performance, which ran two hours without intermission, Sher and I were continuously surprised with the very talented cast. The choreography was, well, high stepping to say the least. Numbers such as “One” are performed with precision. Several of the cast have excellent voices and share that talent on stage.

A Chorus Line offers song, dance, humor and heart wrenching drama as a group of strangers compete for one of a limited number of spots in the chorus line of a Broadway play. The Camille Playhouse version of the musical is moving, well acted, fun and worth seeing. The show will be onstage February 8th, 9th and 10th. If the quality of A Chorus Line is any indication, we would suggest enjoying any production at Camille Playhouse.

Check future productions at the Camille Playhouse website.

 

Today we saw “The Wall” on the border

Today was sunny and windy in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. Sher and I decided to head out and see if we could see the border wall. We also wanted to see the Rio Grande River, which is of course the US/Mexican border.

We started our trek on US Highway 281 south of Pharr, Texas. We headed east on 281, which for this stretch towards Brownsville is also the route of the Military Highway, another historic route in the Lone Star State.

Border fence seen across a farm field

Closer to Hwy 281, with graffiti

 

 

 

 

 

We spotted some of the border wall sections that were pretty far from the road. We were closer to the fence between Los Indios and La Paloma. The vertical metal slats were mounted in a large concrete foundation.

What we didn’t get, however, was why the wall/fence stopped out in the middle of nowhere. It seemed odd that it seemed to be random as to where the fences had been constructed and where there were none.

We continued our drive into downtown Brownsville into the historic commercial part of town. What a treat to see all the colorful store fronts and signage in Spanish. Different for a couple from Indiana. I spoke with a Border Patrol Agent who kindly directed us to a small city park where we could see the Rio Grande river. It too had a high fence, complete with coils of razor wire on the Mexico side.

Mexico on left, Border Patrol watching the river (I put my phone through the slats for this shot)

Looking across the river at Reynosa Mexico

Our rig parked at the Alice Wilson Hope Park. See how tall the fence is, and note Reynosa through the slats

 

 

 

 

 

All in all we had a very nice day. It was most interesting seeing the thousands of acres of irrigated crop ground. There were some workers in the fields, but mostly it seemed that new crops were just starting to grow, and other fields had been recently tilled in preparation for new crop plantings.

Oh, and that friendly and helpful Border Patrol Agent? He has not been paid since the Government shutdown started.

Windy days, lots to do and a flea market

Sher and I have been at our +55 RV Resort in south Texas for a week now. We are just loving the weather, even though most days have seen consistent winds in the 20 – 25 MPH range. Temps are in the 70’s during the day. We are kind of waiting to swim until we get a sunny day with light breezes.

Beautiful skies and waving palms make for a pretty view from our RV.

We are not that far from where Pres. Trump made his ‘trip to the border’. Local TV news really enjoyed all the hoopla involving the movements of Trump and his entourage.

The guard shack at the gated entrance of our park. Gates are closed at night, IDs required for entrance.

We really like the park here in Harlingen, Texas. We feel safe, as there is a guard gate manned 24/7. The park is really large. There are actually several miles of roads to walk and bike if you wind your way through. Sher and I are both riding our bikes and walking daily. Most exercise we have had in a long time. We both have commented that we do feel better.

Inside vendors at the local Don Wes Flea Market

We took a trip to a local Flea Market this past Wednesday. There were some vendors with used flea market type goods. However most of established vendors inside the buildings were selling a wide variety of new products. We bought some bananas, oranges and a pineapple. The vendor had a pineapple coring machine, so it was ready to eat when we got back.

Well, gotta go. There is another dance tonight we have to get ready for. Park Place Estates always has something going on.

Our first day as Snowbirds in Texas

Our first activity at our new “home” for the winter of 2019 was a dance in the  large dance hall at our RV park. The Park Place Estates and RV Resort has great facilities, including their Friendship Hall. The music at the dance was provided by Leslie Blasing, a professional singer who provided a wonderful evening of song.  Sher and I met several wonderful residents of the park. All were most gracious and friendly.

Looking over our table at more of the craft sale

During a conversation someone mentioned that there was going to be a craft fair the next morning. Well, that peaked my interest as we had brought some of our jewelry with the plan of setting up somewhere and sometime down here. One of our new friends got me set up with the lady running the craft show, and yes, we could get a table for $5, a very reasonable fee for a four hour show.

This was how our jewelry display looked

Six o’clock came early for set up, but we’re used to early starts at markets and festivals. I was pleased with the number of vendors. All had good wares to sell, and our jewelry was a good fit.  The crowd wasn’t huge, but there were enough folks that liked our stuff. When it was all said and done, we had a respectable number of sales during the show.

After lunch Sher and I took a nap. Then we took a nice bike ride around the park. Then some reading, some blogging, and just relaxing. We are really starting to like this Snowbird lifestyle.

Oh, and the next seven days here in Harlingen, Texas will be partly cloudy with highs in the 70’s, rain chance 0%. It doesn’t get much better than that.

An RV Resort in the Rio Grande Valley

Sher and I decided that we wanted to flee the cold Indiana winters this year. Thus off we headed to the South Texas area known as the Rio Grande Valley. New Year’s Day seemed like a good day to not only start the new year but also start our journey south.

Our trip took us three days. Three wet, rainy, and drab days. Yes, it rained continuously from the time we left home base until just south of Corpus Christy, Texas. Finally some sun!

After 3 days of rain, we loved seeing a sunset north of McAllen, Texas

We arrived at Park Place Estates & RV Resort in Harlingen, Texas just at dark. I had talked to the office, and we were expected by the gate guard, who showed us to a spot with electric for the overnight. Come morning when the office was open, we toured the park. They had suggested two spots for us, and we were happy with one of them. As first timers at this park, we received a very good discount for our first month’s fee.

Nice concrete patio at our site. The weather for our first day was sunny in the low 70’s. We’ll take that!

This facility is designed with Snowbirds in mind. There are tons of activities planned, everything from horseshoes to making stained glass. An 85 degree heated pool and hot tubs are always available. We brought our bikes which will make getting around this large park easy. This park is one of several under the same corporate umbrella, and several other RV Resort companies are represented in the area.

This is our first time being true “Snowbirds”, that is in a warm winter climate in a park for +55 folks. We aren’t visiting family, nor are we traveling about doing touristy things. Sher and I are looking forward to a relaxed but sometimes busy couple of months. We’ll let you know how things are going…

The Oasis Restaurant on Austin’s Lake Travis

The Oasis has a wide spread reputation in the Austin area. We wanted to check this restaurant out as the sunset views were reported to be spectacular over Lake Travis.

We really enjoyed the view of Lake Travis from one of the Oasis Terraces

The pretty drive to the Oasis winds through the hill country west of Austin. When you arrive at the facility there is parking and a short walk to the entrance to the restaurant. The exterior is interesting and covered with neat metal sculptures.  We arrived around 2 1/2 hours before sunset and were immediately taken to a semi-private room that would seat our party of ten. Our room had a good view out over the lake.

The plentiful veggie fajitas

Two Oasis signature drinks in souvenir glasses

 

 

 

 

 

We started our evening with a couple of signature cocktails in take home Hurricane glasses. Our meals were, in my opinion, very good. Sher and I both ordered fajitas, me the beef and Sher the vegetarian. The portions were large and the food very tasty. The kid’s menu was well received by our youngsters who also appreciated the portion sizes.

Outdoor seating on the many terraces

The Oasis restaurant has seating both inside and outside on a series of terraces built into the side of the hill. All of the terrace tables have a great view of the lake and the horizon where the sun sets. A running photo contest is one part of the Oasis tradition. The evening we went was, to say the least, not very good for an artistic sunset photo.

The Oasis Restaurant has a 35 year history in the same location. Over the years there have been several changes in services offered. Some reviewers have panned the food, however our party was pleased with the quality of our meals. A series of steps was required to get to our tables, but ground level tables are available.