Roger here.... Back to South Texas! Now that we have returned, we remember why we liked it so much last winter.
The climate is great during the winter months. Since we have been here, the lowest high temperature has been 68 and the highest high temperature has been 88. It does not get cold at night -- great to feel the breeze through open windows and listen to the coyotes.
The landscaping around our RV lot and brand new coach house looks great. More than half of the plantings are required to be indigenous to the area, so we have plants that attract butterflies and birds. We also have roses (because the developer's wife loves them).
We have lots of space, all of it either concrete or maintained (drip-irrigated) lawn. The 17 x 12 patio behind the coach house seems huge. We plan to cover it with a pergola, add a solar fountain and maybe even an above-ground fire pit. We also intend to put in outdoor lighting, a counter with a tub for icing drinks/warming food, and a stainless steel grill. With pots full of flowers we hope to have a shady outdoor oasis for eating, reading, and enjoying the very private view.
Our camping furniture looks okay right now, but we will be replacing it with the garden furniture from our Indiana house that has been in storage. Dianne's lemon tree in the foreground below has finally found a permanent home - no more lugging it in and out of the motor home shower. Hallelujah! (Lemon tree should like it here in the Rio Grande Valley, because this is where they grow Texas grapefruit. -- D.)
I don't have photos of the people here, but we both agree that they are the friendliest, most accommodating people we have ever encountered in our travels. The Winter Texans (like us) are far more laid back than the snowbirds we have previously encountered in other warm areas. Our new neighbors at Retama Village have made us feel very, very welcome. AND we have fallen in love with the local Hispanic population -- so friendly (always smiling), so warm, so hard-working, so competent, so genuinely happy to meet you. I did not know that a general population could be this nice: from the bank personnel at our new bank, to the servers at the restaurants, to the check-out people at the H.E.B. (the nicest grocery we have ever encountered - another story), to the contractor who is finishing the inside of our coach house, even the public servants at the water company, despite long lines of folks waiting patiently (which we also found amazing).Retama is such a relaxing place with soooo many things to do. Our first social event was the New Year's Eve party in the club house that eventually moved to the pool area. Unfortunately, since then, we have already missed a few of the activities that we hope to be a part of -- including a men's breakfast (finally something just for the men :-), a weekly hors d'oeuvres evening social, ping pong (for me), bicycling, bird watching, hot tubbing, lap swimming, etc., etc., etc.
We missed all this because we were busy getting our new coach house ready to be finished on the inside. We have been anticipating this for almost a year. I could not believe how quickly things came together. We spent a couple of days at Home Depot and Lowe's measuring the appliances that we wanted to include. We then taped off the inside of the coach house with four colors of tape: blue for walls, green for cabinets and appliances, red for anything electrical, and regular old dull masking tape for the furniture we have in storage. (Anal- retentive me reigns supreme). After two days of taping, I left a cell phone message for Raul, our contractor, and was amazed when he showed up, smiling, at our doorstep ten minutes later. After a preliminary review, he gave us a price for the work (amazingly reasonable, in fact our friends from the midwest would be astonished). He took us to a site that he recently finished to see if we approved of the work. (We already knew we did from the open houses we viewed last spring). He then told us he could start the next day (today) and sent us on our way to buy recessed lighting, a ceiling fan, and bathroom vent fan. Wow. I expected hassles. I am sure that there will be some, but the start was more positive than I could possibly have dreamed.
We have just scratched the surface of all the joys we intend to experience here. More to come as we become true Winter Texans. (Not as athletic fans, of course, Purdue basketball, the HS swim team that I coached decades ago, and the Colts are still at the top of my loyalties.)
The Whippet Picture of the Day shows our ever laid-back dogs enjoying some deck time in their new relaxation area. (Chaplin is very happy because he has soft, green grass to lay in. He absolutely LOVES the dog park and has reacquainted with some of his dog friends from last winter. --D.) We are soon hoping to include a video of whippets running at the dog park to prove that they can also be active.