Archive for December, 2008

Pre-Christmas in the Arctic

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

As luck would have it, Rick forgot to bring a jacket along as we headed to the Dallas area for Christmas with family.  Thank goodness that Rick’s son Marc had a jacket he could use because it is freezing here.  It will start warming up for Christmas Day.

We’re imposing on Marc and bumming the use of his house for the visit.  You can see that he is a staunch supporter of PETA.


There are trophies around the entire living room.



We were pleased to supervise Ayden and Maddi, two of our granddaughters, while their fathers were working this week.  They have been wonderful, even when we traveled the 90 miles to Weatherford for a doctor appointment.

Here, the girls busied themselves working on each other’s projects while Papa focused on the computer.


We were victorious in tiring them out enough for them to nod off while watching a DVD.


Today we’re getting them ready for Christmas Eve activities at Grandma Nola’s house.

We wish everyone a wonderful Christmas holiday.

Keeping with the living room theme, we leave you with these final thoughts.


and finally


Out Of The Dark Ages

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Anyone that has traveled the Texas highways has probably made two observations.

 1.  The Texas highway system is pretty good and generally in excellent repair.

2.  The Texas rest areas are throwbacks to the 1950’s.

If you remember going to the restroom and noting that, not only are there no doors on the stalls,  but there is a two-foot open air gap between the restroom walls and the ceiling.  This is not very conducive to privacy, relaxation and comfort.  On really cold days, how would you like to sit on a 30 degree toilet seat?

Well, luckily those days will eventually come to an end.  As we pulled into the rest area between Austin and Salado, on Interstate 35, (Bell County Northbound) to our surprise, we were greeted with what will be the new version of the Texas rest area.


The picnic area was spotless and they even had a  play area for the kids.


Inside we found the clean, modern, and climate controlled, restrooms.  The vending machines are indoors and you don’t have to reach through steel fencing to use them.  This particular location has a mock up of a grist mill that doubles as an historical information display.


The display features an interactive computer that shows videos on several local historical topics.


It appears that the Texas Safety Rest Area Program is making some pretty good headway.  The red stars on the map below show remodeled rest areas.  Now, all Texas rest areas have free Wi-Fi Internet.  The theme for the rest areas varies by location and local history.


I guess it’s sad when a bathroom is the highlight of the day.  As we get older, those days come more frequently.

Back to Mexico —- Briefly

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Yesterday we took a trip to Nuevo Progreso, about 20 miles south of our park.

You may have read recent reports about the danger along the border towns in Mexico related to drug trafficing.  Nuevo Progreso is a town just south of Weslaco, Texas.  Nuevo Progreso is considered to be safe for tourists.  We did, however, notice military presence just south of the border.


The military had several sand bag, machine gun, bunkers just past the entrance to the town.  These bunkers and all of the military vehicles were all facing south.

Nuevo Progreso is where we will generally have our dental work done.  We’ve been coming here even while we lived in the Fort Worth area.  The town has not changed much.  The main street is very busy and lined with dental offices, drug stores, and craft stores.


As expected, this time of year we found some shops dedicated to peñata sales.


We had lunch at the Red Snapper Restaurant, one of the many fine restaurants in the area. As you can see, it was filled with a wide selection of “old people”.


One block to the west of the main street we found the plaza.


You might think that you were in a different city.  The plaza and the street were nearly deserted.

The temperature was around 80 degrees, but the relative humidity was approaching 100%.  When we arrived, about noon, the sidewalks were wet from the damp air.  The sun began to dry them off as the day marched on.

After lunch and a stop at a drug store, we made it back across the border and were home by about 2:30 PM.

Tomorrow we’re off to Dallas to spend Christmas with family.

If the sun shines, it’s windy!!

Friday, December 19th, 2008

We’ve had some interesting weather.  In general it has been great.  Many days in the 80’s, however, about 2 days a week we get a cold front through and the temperature drops considerably.  This is unlike our experience last year in Mexico where every day was beautiful with a high around 85 and lows around 65.  The wind also blows about 20 MPH most of the time when the sun is out here in South Texas.  The flag in the photo below is usually standing out straight in one direction or another.a-wind.jpg

The other day we were playing petanque (a French game kind of like boccie ball) when the temperature went from 82 degrees to 50 degrees in a matter of 2 minutes.

As mentioned in an earlier entry, time finally arrived when one of our recliners approached the unusable status that all recliners finally reach.  You might guess that it was Rick’s.   Anyway, we  replaced both chairs from a merchant at the flea market with some nice wall-huggers.

We’ll give the one usable chair away but we needed to get rid of the bad one.  So off to the dump we went.  We scaled what must be the highest point in the valley, the Hidalgo County landfill.  It is amazing how much plastic gets tossed out.  They have installed fences just to catch the bags as they blow around.


From up on top of the landfill, we had a nice view of the orange grove below.  I’m not sure that I want fruit with this run-off.


The citrus trees are really full and picking is in high gear.  We’ve seen both orange and grapefruit trees.  Below are some Texas Ruby Red’s.


Happy Birthday, Tinka and Leftovers from Rockport

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Happy Birthday, Tinka 


Looking good for 65!!!

Hurricane Ike had interrupted us from a few reports.


As the storm approached, we were heading out of town.  That weekend was scheduled to be the annual hummingbird festival in Rockport.  In late August and early September, this place is lousy with the critters.


Our next door neighbor had two feeders set up and we saw as many as thirty birds swarming the feeders at one time.


Flying, sitting in the trees and on the feeder, there are no fewer than 13 birds in the photo below.


Sand Dollars 

The elusive sand dollars were plentiful on a recent visit to the Padre Island National Seashore.  Something that we had not seen before were LIVE sand dollars.


The difference between live ones and dead ones is the color.  Usually you will find white sand dollars.  These have been dead for a while and tumbled smooth in the surf.  Here are examples of live and dead sand dollars.


The live ones are a little fuzzy and we’re told that you can’t bleach and polish them yourself to make them look white.  It’s just something that nature needs to take care of.