12/28 Update

18, 19 Dec: Isla Blanca County P on So. Padre Is. Driving south to this park was a real trial every minute of the way for Cal due to the fiercest wind imaginable. We were assigned a site in front row but that didn't mean we could see the ocean as all sites are behind sand dunes. There isn't even enough firm sand out here at the park to comfortably walk on the beach, but plenty of paved areas to walk and observe the heavy surf. We were impressed by parasailers who were busy coordinating their boards and kites for exciting rides. Especially thrilling to see them rise many feet in the air, turn 360 degrees, land back on water, and ride their boards back out.

19th: A cool front went through last evening and the wind that was blowing out of the south yesterday turned around during the night and is now strong out of the north. The temperature is running around 70 degrees, but we could do without the wind.

After driving inland to Los Fresno to learn that our mail hadn't arrived, we returned to Island and drove north to the end of the road on So. Padre. There was no question as end was marked by 20-foot high wall of sand! Most of the road (Rt. 100) was lined with sand dunes, but occasionally there was an opening where we could see rough surf. There was a huge loader loading four dump trucks with sand that had blown onto the road.

20-22 Dec.: Adolph Thomae County P, Rio Hondo, TX. The overzealous wind abated in early morning hours - what a relief! Perfect day, weather-wise, sun hot although high was 62 degrees, slight breeze.

We're still waiting for mail and Connie isn't a bit fond of Isla Blanca, so we drove 44 miles north to this county park. It's a sleepy little place with 35 sites bordered on the south by the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and on the north by the Arroyo Colorado Cutoff of the Arroyo Colorado River. Everything is lush and green around here with desert plants (Prickly Pear etc.) mixed in.

Connie is much happier here, it's our kind of territory. Most of the sites are right along the water, and we are in one of them. Connie has another water view out the kitchen window.

When we got to this site and were setting up, discovered that the right rear outside dual was flat. Decided to try the Monaco Road service, since it came with the truck, and see what their attitude is. It only took an hour and 45 minutes for service. It's a good 45 minutes out here from Harlengen where the service vehicle originated. The problem with the tire turned out to be a crumby valve stem.

On the 21st, Saturday, we drove back down to Los Fresnos where our mail has still not arrived, so visiting the Texas Air Museum in Rio Hondo seemed like a good idea. It's a tired, little museum where 100 individuals with a common interest have gathered an impressive collection of aviation history including the Eastern Front during WW II, Korea, and Vietnam. Especially interesting are a few aircraft like the largest single engine airplane. It's Russian in origin and is a bi plane. They have the Island off the Iwo Jima carrier on permanent display. They paid $100k, the scrap value of that carrier island, and then had to get it cut up, moved, and re-assembled. They also have the island off the WWII Cabot, but that isn't fit for tours and my guess is it never will be.

23-25 DEC: Paul's RVR, Brownsville, TX. Selecting this park proved to be a winner. Folks here are the friendliest we've met in all of our travels - we were treated like one of their big family from the moment we arrived. One of the first questions was, "Your staying for Christmas, aren't you?"

On Christmas Eve we all lit our luminaries at 6 p.m. and placed them in front of our rigs - the white paper bags with sand and candles were available at the rec hall. The candlelight service at 7 p.m. was perfect, and that was followed by a gift exchange. The gals in the park are very talented and ambitious so the Christmas decorations in the hall were exceptional. Some of the fulltimers in the park had gone all out with lights and decorations making an after-dark walk quite special.

The Christmas turkey/pot luck dinner was delicious and bounteous - there were over 100 of us to enjoy it and the fellowship of new friends. Exercise was in order after that big meal, so we went to the Gladys Porter Zoo in town for an enjoyable visit with the birds and animals. At 6:30 we returned to the rec hall to help with the leftovers.

26DEC: Los Botines RVR, Laredo, TX. We left the green, lush, tropical valley early this morning in rain that lasted for the first couple of hours.

We're happy to have seen portions of the Rio Grande Valley for ourselves. The subtropical climate entices thousands of summer and winter visitors. (One small town we drove through boasts 75 campgrounds.) It's a great destination for birders and other nature-oriented visitors, and there are several wildlife refuges. The fertile farm lands and long growing season result in crops of cotton, sugar cane, sorghum, vegetables, and citrus. As we drove by newly prepared fields that stretched as far as we could see on both sides of the road, it seemed that one of those fields could yield enough carrots to feed the whole USA!

The rainy portion of our trek resulted in both vehicles being covered with mud. The nice lady at the campground said we could wash our vehicles so that's how we wound up the day.

27-28 DEC: American RV R, Del Rio, TX. It was 36 degrees on morning of the 28th but the air is dry, the sun is bright and the sky is clear and blue. The landscape is brown and scrubby, but it begins to feel like the desert and we're delighted to be heading west!

After a trip to the grocery store, we joined our fellow RVers in the rec hall for a chicken BBQ/pot luck dinner - delicious and we met more friends. Tomorrow we'll return for the pancake breakfast.

Our next stop when we leave here is Big Bend National Park. We can make that easily in one day, and since the weather looks good, think we'll depart tomorrow, 29 Dec., and get started on another new adventure

A Very Happy New Year to you all, Cal and Connie