Bentsen Palms Resort, Mission, Texas

The end of June is upon us and we have failed to get this blog going again. I will try to catch up on the highlights of what we have been doing but the time frame will be messed up for a bit.

I’m writing about our slow start traveling this spring because all people living this lifestyle have their stories of woe that delayed trips.

Jim finished his work camper duties in January. We considered starting out but the winter snows and weather was crazy so we decided to stay in our lovely place of palm trees, friends, and activities. After our decision, a weed eater threw a rock into the driver’s side of our window and it was shattered. No problem, everyone did what was necessary to order a replacement, only the outside of the double pane shredded, so we continued enjoying the warm weather, pickle ball, bike rides, visiting with friends, trips to Mexico, etc.

Several weeks later a window arrived. The window guy pulled it out of the giant wood box and said, “This isn’t the right window.” So it was back to the drawing board. Another window was ordered. March came and number two window showed up. That one wasn’t right either. A third try. Everyone was working so hard to get the thing fixed but when that one came our hearts sank. Still wrong. Jim started talking to everyone involved and they knew the right window had been shipped to the correct people. After more research they found they had two windows come in and had sent the wrong one. Window number four was finally correct. By then we were into April. A slow start for our spring travel.

Finally, we were ready to leave. We were one of the few still left in the park. We headed toward Fort Worth to regroup and catch up with family and friends. On our way to San Antonio we hear a bang like a gunshot. We wondered where it came from but we were fine so kept going.

Jim went out the next morning preparing to leave and found a tire had blown. People don’t normally change RV tires themselves. They are huge and heavy, and need to be pulled out of the most difficult places underneath. This travel year was not getting off to a good start. However, the second person he called said he could come right out. He was there in just a few minutes, personally handled that big tire, got it changed, and we were very grateful to be ready to go so easily.

Driving to Fort Worth, and knowing how many miles we were planning to travel this summer, Jim decided new tires should be part of our stop too.

So, hopefully this is the only “fix stuff on the RV” stories we have this year.

Traveling Blessed USA

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Thanksgiving……Hope you had a Happy One.

Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort, Mission, Texas

Marian write,

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

We enjoyed a beautiful seventy-five degree day with a Thanksgiving feast here at the park. Around eighty people gathered to celebrate and get better acquainted. Jim and I thought we should share the theme song for the day.

 

Happy Holidays from Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort

Sung to Winter Wonderland

 

Palm Trees wave, are you listenin’

In the pool, water’s glistenin’

A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight

Livin’ in a Texas wonderland.

 

Gone away is the blizzard

Here to stay is the lizard.

A warm sunny day,

We like it that way

Livin’ in a Texas Wonderland.

 

In the valley we will have a picnic

Palm trees, birds, butterflies and sun

Christmas dinner is an old tradition

Its pinto beans and tacos by the ton.

 

Later on we’ll perspire

As the temp rises higher

A warm sunny day

We like it that way,

Livin’ in a Texas wonderland.

 

Sorry, we couldn’t resist sharing.

We came here to try out being work campers. After waiting two weeks to find out what our job description would be Jim was asked to man the model home at Retama Village three days a week. It was a great fit for him as he enjoys meeting all the people that come through.

His work takes care of our job commitment so I have time to use the craft room, (there is also a woodworking shop) go to exercise classes, and roam the citrus garden to see what is waiting to be harvested. Grapefruit and oranges weigh the branches to the ground right now. So delicious.

The owner of the area takes volunteers and people interested in buying here on a tour. The picture is of the transportation we traveled in. I had been warned not to sit on an outside seat because the mud flies and brushes smack you, so I sat in the first seat in the middle. I still got a branch across the face.

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Mike, the owner, has 2600 acres here. He donated the land for the National Butterfly Sanctuary and the National Bird Sanctuary. He built a city park with ball diamonds, a pond for birds and fishing, etc. There is about twenty miles of bike paths. He also donated land for a veteran cemetery.

The school system wasn’t good in this area so he connected with IDEA schools and there are now thirty-six schools in the area with a waiting list of 18,000. Because the schools have been so successful the public school system decided to make the necessary changes to compete and their test scores have soared.

Anyway, our ride took us along the canal dike; down into the … I’ll call it jungle where he took us through the bushes and we ended on the bank of the Rio Grande River. There is an area where they store the pontoon boat available to the residents. An alligator resides there too.

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Kayaks and bicycles are available to use. Places to plant an organic garden are available plus an outdoor gun range.

Needless to say, we are impressed.

Jim is helping get people set up who want to come see the area so if you want to come by and check it all out let him know. They give free three day RV stays if you’ll take a no pressure tour. Not the owner’s wild ride. But that might be possible too.

Traveling Blessed USA

Carlsbad, New Mexico & Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Traveling the flat brush country of northwest Texas to southwest New Mexico would have been isolated if it weren’t for vultures and hawks zooming down to clean up road kill. But as we got closer to Carlsbad traffic picked up. A harvest of natural resources was being pulled from the earth, and the drillers were after more. New oil or gas wells were popping up across the horizon. White trucks moved up and down the highway like a bunch of ants busily at work. I think they were transporting water. Maybe natural gas. They were too clean to be oil trucks.

Friday evening we stopped at Wal-Mart and found ourselves in the middle of some of Carlsbad’s culture. The store was packed with oil drillers who had come to town to cash their paychecks and buy groceries. We happened to checkout with a manager who was in town to help because that store was so busy. She shared that the men swarm in as they prepare for the weekend. Then Monday morning they’re back to buy frozen food to take out to the field for the week. What a sacrificial job. They reminded me of all the people that have to leave home to do their jobs. Thank God for faithful American workers.

We hadn’t traveled in New Mexico before so I didn’t really know much about the state. But I was quickly reminded that this is the area that reported alien encounters, had the first atomic bomb test, a great Indian heritage, an outstanding hot air balloon festival, and even snow skiing.IMG_0671

Of course, Carlsbad Caverns is one of the great treasures of New Mexico. If you like caves this is said to be the largest in the nation. They advertise eight different ways to enjoy the underground marvels. You can easily take the elevator that drops over seven hundred feet and enjoy a stroll through huge rooms of beauty where non-skid covered paths are wheelchair accessible. Or choose different layers of difficulty including some described extremely strenuous. They’re the ones that are dark with slippery surfaces where ropes, ladders, helmets and headlamps are used. You crawl on your belly for extended periods of time and free climb rock chimneys. We skipped those.

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Guadalupe Mountains National Park is about twenty miles southwest of Carlsbad in Salt Flat, Texas. It’s described as the newest and least visited park. There’s a reason for that reputation.  The campsites have no hook-ups, it is mostly hiking trails, and there are very few roads with only one high clearance vehicle road to explore. So we got a key from the visitor center to open the gate into the land for access to the high clearance road which heads toward a mountain that is noted as Texas’s tallest at over 8,000 feet. The park worker said the drive was bumpy and he knew what he was talking about. The trail ran through what once was Williams Ranch. A house still stands where in 1906 a rancher built a place to bring his bride. He planned to raise cattle in the days when the area was green and had deep rivers running through big gullies. Living there would have been very isolated. The story goes that when his bride arrived she stayed one day and one night and then went back home. He did a good job building a strong house that is still standing although it did seem to lean a bit from the years of southern winds. We had a special treat on the way back. Four javelina (they look like wild boars) were spotted in the field.

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While doing our laundry in town we talked with a lady who was staying near the park. They were boondocking. I had read about people camping on open range in Alaska so I knew the word.

She shared that there are places all over the country where we can park and stay for free. These people were full-timers who had gotten permission to stay on empty government land for fifteen days. They found the information on how to do it through many websites on the subject.

Jim didn’t think that was anything we would be interested in. He likes to plug in to electricity and water when we get someplace. But it is a good option if you just need to pull off the road and sleep overnight. I’m not sure about safety but they didn’t have any stories of being in danger. You know, like a bison butting the door. Many years ago my grandparents had bear scratches on their trailer while in Yellowstone. She was cooking something he thought smelled good enough to eat and wanted in. As far as I know they never tried to remove the souvenir paw print on their door.

Anyway, the electricity wasn’t a problem for this couple. They pull a fifth-wheel and have added solar panels across the roof to produce power to recharge batteries, so their generator is only needed if it rains.

 

Alamo, Texas

The Rio Grande Valley in south Texas is said to be a one hundred mile strip of rich river soil with a 340-day growing season where a new crop is harvested every month. We saw the onion and broccoli fields ready for harvest and new plantings of other vegetables growing quickly. They also grow delicious oranges and grapefruit.

Our reason for choosing Alamo was our friend Bill and Ali. This was their first winter as Chaplains in an RV park. We had a great time experiencing the life of the Winter Texans. They’re people from the frigid northern states and Canada who have the time and means to escape the cold. We’ve met retired folks, those who are still working but can live anywhere, farmers who can’t till the ground until spring, and others who add to their income by working at the RV parks, or even state and national parks. Their interesting stories are one of the favorite parts of our experience.

Our friends took us across the border into Mexico. They said the Progreso Bridge was safe. (We learned a man we saw at lunch a few days later owns that bridge.) We’ve heard stories of senior citizens crossing the border to buy medicine and this was a medical mecca. Offices for doctors, surgeons, dentists, and pharmacies needing no prescriptions were everywhere. We questioned the safety of it all but were assured the people were U.S. trained and the drugs were the same as we get at home. Amazing. People get their teeth cleaned for $25.00 and we had the best pedicure I’ve ever had for $12.00. Gotta love these cultural experiences.

We were told we needed to check out the flea market in town. Next day we went exploring but hoped we didn’t find anything we couldn’t live without. After all, we just got rid of so much stuff. Jim had wanted to get a haircut but you know finding someone new can be scary. As we walked through the flea market there was a barber shop. We stepped inside and the Spanish man was finishing up a beautiful haircut on a handsome young boy. We knew Jim was in good hands. Price $8.00. We had hoped to find the citrus fruit available and lugged out delicious oranges, grapefruit, and onions.

No trip to the Rio Grande Valley is complete without a trip to the outlet mall in Mercedes, Texas. We had been there before and this time we went with a mission to find just one thing we needed. And it was a perfect setup as we had connected with some RV friends that were in the area and worked out a lunch meeting right at Mercedes. I love it when a plan comes together. But more about the Mercedes friends later.

Moving forward is a stop in Del Rio, Texas on the way to Big Bend National Park and some more adventure.

San Antonio, Texas

We passed through San Antonio as we traveled south.  Home of the Alamo, Sea World, the River Walk, and all the things big cities have to offer. This time we stayed near The Trail of Missions so decided we should check them out. We learned they are part of the National Park system for those of you filling your books with National Park stamps.

There are still five missions that were built along the San Antonio River only a few miles apart. The Alamo is the furthest north and is now in a busy part of town. To stand on that hallowed ground where 170 people gave their lives was humbling.

Spain and the Catholic Church established each community in the mid-seventeen hundreds. The info said they trained the natives to be good citizens of the crown and to protect them as they took over their country.

The buildings are still beautiful. Here are pictures. I paused to imagine the land I stood on was Mexico belonging to Spain at the time the places and people prospered with fertile soil, many skills, and God in the center of their society.

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For a young state Texas has been under the flag of six different countries.

For those who are tracking our movement we are leaving San Antonio to head south to the Rio Grande Valley and spend some time with friends at Alamo, TX. From there we are off to Big Bend National Park and points west.