Monday, January 28, 2013

Boat Trip on the Rio Grande + Wine Tasting

Hi all, Dianne here.  Well, our brief winter seems to be gone and now it's springtime in South Texas!  The forecast for the foreseeable future shows temps in the low 80s with sunshine.  To celebrate our good weather, we joined a group of friends and neighbors for a pontoon boat ride on the Rio Grande.  One of the perks of living here or staying at the adjacent RV park is that if you collect a group of 8 people you can rent the boat owned by the Bentsen Palm development, complete with an experienced captain (Doug).

It will be interesting to read Bob's blog, Because We Can, to get his take on the day's events.  We were both snapping away during the trip up and down the river.  Here are a few interesting sights that I caught on camera:
Friendly Fishermen on the Mexico Side

(Actually I have yet to meet a Mexican down here that wasn't warm and friendly.)
Reputed Abandoned Cartel Mansion - Mexico Side

Roger and I took this same pontoon boat trip in February 2010, and at that time there were signs of life and beautiful horses at this mansion.  

Crested Caracara

Most of the wildlife we saw consisted of birds and turtles.

An interesting bit of history is that before he became president, Zachary Taylor stayed in this house when he was commissioned to patrol the Mexican border.  The house is abandoned and not restored.

We saw evidence of the flooding from Hurricane Alex which hit northern Mexico in June of 2010.  These photos show the former Pepe's on the American side, which was a popular place to eat and dance for Winter Texans:

I don't think anyone will be dancing there any time soon....

You can clearly see the water mark from the flooding on this horse stable that is part of the "cartel" mansion estate on the Mexico side:

Of course, the Border Patrol is a constant presence here....

Just two more sights that caught my eye....

This palm-thatched roof has some extra greenery (home on the Mexico side -- note the swimming pool right on the river's edge).

This next photo would make you think twice about  taking a swim in the river.  These are live wires on this pole on the Mexican side of the river.  It's just a matter of time before it falls all the way in!  Our boat captain, Doug, told us it's been this way for quite some time.  

We also passed by a party boat on the Mexico side.  They had music and dancing, and looked like they were having even more fun than we were!   We enjoyed some friendly photo-taking and waves back and forth with the Mexican party-goers.  There is a Mexican flag barely visible behind the American flag.

It was a beautiful day with good neighbors and friends, and we enjoyed a picnic lunch and some wine as we cruised along.  

The day's fun was just beginning, though..

At happy hour one evening, we were discussing the great wines our next-door neighbors, Bob and Linda, enjoyed as they traveled through Spain last summer.  

Bob got the brilliant idea to have a Spanish wine tasting, and after they made a few shopping trips for supplies, their friends and neighbors were treated to an excellent evening of wine, food, and a little education too, on Bob and Linda's new patio.
Bob started us off with a little background info and history on the wines we'd be sampling.  Linda even printed out score sheets!  Such a clever girl....

To go along with our Spanish wine there was a whole table of go-with foods.  

The fun lasted well into the evening, and was capped off with a campfire in their new fire pit.

It just doesn't get any better than this!!

Since I'm in charge of the blog this time, I will end by making up for the lack of doggie photos lately.  Here are a few of my favorites:

This first one shows Tequila and Freckles, a dog visiting at the RV park next door (Tequila is on the right).  Tequila and Freckles shared a dog pen for months at Cinderella Pet Rescue last year before they were both adopted, and I'm thinking they are probably litter mates.  Freckles spends her summers in Canada, but they can meet up and play each winter here in Texas at our shared doggie park.

The next doggie photo shows Bart, a pooch who isn't as lucky as Tequila and Freckles because he's still at Cinderella waiting for a forever home.  Bart is my special pal when I volunteer twice a week there.  He's smart and loving but is an exhuberant boy who will need lots of exercise.  (If you are interested or know someone who might be, here's a link to Cinderella's web site:  Cinderella Pet Rescue

The next photo is just a pretty dog that came to our doggie park to play this morning -- what a beauty!

And last -- but best -- are my two "kids" playing tug at the doggie park this morning.  They sure have fun together!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Texas Sunset, Texas Snow

Roger here....    We have been experiencing several unusually chilly and rainy days (highs in the fifties and low sixties).  The weather forecast a couple of evenings ago indicated that the rains were over and the temperatures were to rise.   Dianne was cooking dinner while I was lugging the outdoor cushions back outdoors.  Then I looked up.  Wow.  The sky was ablaze.  I ran inside the motor home to get the camera.  I was too late to get a shot of an amazing rainbow, but look at the outrageous shots I did get.  

Even the more subtle colors were awe-inspiring in these vast western skies.

Our friends, Mike and Brenda, and their fluffy white dogs, Lucy and Lucky, wandered down the street while I was taking the sunset pictures.

The next few days were wonderful with sunny temperatures in the mid-seventies and low eighties.  AND THEN IT SNOWED.  It snowed on an eighty degree day --- South Texas style ---- BLACK.  Check out the black snow drift in front of the coach house.  

South Texas snow is a phenomenon that occurs when one of the local farmers burns his sugar cane fields.  It typically occurs at least one time a year, without warning.  The weather app on our cell phone gave us no warning, whatsoever.

The black snow is kind of messy.  However, it is easy to get rid of with a leaf blower.  Thankfully, we kept our leaf blower when we dispensed with most of our other "stuff" after my retirement.

The pet picture of the day was taken a couple of nights ago on Dianne's action-motivated wildlife cam from our back yard.  Say hi to one of our local coyotes.