Monday, February 4, 2013

Mission, Tx - Winter Texans

We left Goose Island and headed down toward Mission, Texas.  On the way, we saw Corpus Christi in the distance and some mighty flat landscape where the wind seems to always blow.

Corpus Christi from the interstate with the Gulf water nestled in front. 

Heading inland.  Can't say the wind doesn't blow in Texas.

Our first view of the Rio Grande River was not what we expected.  It  wasn't nearly as wide as we thought it would be.

We stayed at the Ratama Village which is an RV community rather than an RV park. The lots are owned by the residents. People traveling to south Texas for the winter are called Winter Texans rather than snowbirds. The area has dozens of RV parks and communities and tens of thousands of retirees enjoying the nice weather. Mission is a few miles from McAllen and there is no shortage of places to shop, restaurants, and things to do. 

The entrance to Ratama Village. We stayed as guests for five nights and really had a great time.

This was our spot with a coach house behind us that we thought was used as a storage shed.

The landscaping was gorgeous with plenty of plants in bloom. The weather reached into the 80's each day but it was a dry climate with a cooling wind. The Winter Texans said the weather was about ten degrees higher than normal.

We parked on Lark Street which turned out to be party central for the area.

One of our neighbors on Lark Street was Greg and Barbara Jones and Brett has been following their blog for the past several years. He let them know we were coming so they came over and greeted us the first day. Our timing was right because the next day was the annual Retama Village open house where people can come in and view the community. Many of the residents have gone to extremes decorating their coach houses and we have some pictures to show you thanks to Greg and Barbara.

This is an RV lot with a decorated coach house in the background.

The inside of one of the coach houses after completion.

Most have kitchens, bathrooms, and washer/dryers in them.

The creativity was exceptional and we liked all that we saw.

The RV community also has casitas which are houses with ports to store your RV.

And for those who want to permanently settle down they had some very beautiful upscale homes.

The community has something for everyone and maybe when the Captain and I no longer have the wanderlust we'll settle down in one of these lovely communities. During our stay we met other neighbors and enjoyed several gatherings. Everyone was very friendly and made us feel at home.

One of the days we were there we drove to a palapa on the Rio Grande River.  The property is owned by the RV community where we stayed so members can drive over and use it whenever they want.  It took a little effort to find the palapa because you had to drive along a canal on a gravel road to reach the decline that goes down to it.  There were several roads that led toward the river but this particular one had a 'No Trespassing - Border Patrol' sign on it so I wouldn't let the Captain drive down.  Instead, we found another decline that I suggested he follow.  Long story short, we wound up on dirt roads that took us to a dead end and had to work our way back.

Ultimately we arrived at the  palapa after driving along the Rio (which we couldn't see through the brush) and it was the original decline with the no trepassing sign.  The Captain thinks I have an issue with obeying rules :)  Did I mention he  was a little miffed? Of course, not at me :)

Our next adventure was on Sunday when Greg and Barbara spent the day with us and we went to  Progreso, Mexico.  It is about a 40 minute drive from Mission to Pregreso. On the way, Greg stopped at an RV park which was literally right on the Rio Grande River.  He was telling us that sometimes the Border Patrol gets in high speed chases with vehicles trying to smuggle drugs into Texas.

This ramp into the Rio Grande River is one of the escape routes the smugglers use if they are being chased by the Border Patrol.  They will drive their vehicle into the water, grab as much contraband as they can, and swim to the other side.  The Border Patrol will try to catch them but will not shoot at them.  If the illegal makes it to the middle of the river he is safe. We asked what the people in the RV park do when this is going on and Greg said they just get out of the way.

While in Mission, we saw Border Patrol officers on ATVs dressed head to foot in camouflage gear, Border Patrol helicopters, and many, many officers in vehicles trying to keep immigrants out.  But I have to admit, although we were there only five days, we never saw anything out of the ordinary going on and people just went about their business.

We stopped in Hildago which is on the American side of the Rio Grande and saw this park built around an old pump station. The pumphouse was established in 1909 to irrigate the Hildago County fields.

The new gringos in town. 

It was a beautiful park......

with flowers and butterflies.........

and the old swimming hole which once was filled with water from the pump station.
Right next to it was the Rio Grande River and this is the fence that has been built to keep illegals out.  We had expected a much higher, more solid looking wall instead of this.

The pitch is much deeper on the other side going down to the river but has not kept the people from coming over.  No one could tell us why there were only sections to the wall.
Our journey continued on to the checkpoint between the US and Mexico.

I thought it looked kind of like going into Disney World.

The Rio Grande River as we crossed the border.

The Smiths on the border.  Finally, we get to use our passports.

Crossing the river, on the Mexican side, were young children at the fence begging for quarters.

Welcome to Progreso, Mexico.

The main street of Pregreso just waiting for tourists.

Lots of people everywhere even on a Sunday morning.

Plenty of traffic, too.

We were stunned at the number of pharmacies all in one area.  You could buy almost any drug you wanted without a prescription.  Viagra was a big seller!

This colorful section housed dentists and other physicians.  Very popular with the Americans because the prices are so reasonable and the care is said to be excellent.

We stopped at the Red Panty Bar for margaritas.  Little did we know that the drinks came in large, white styrofoam cups.  I watched the bartender making the drinks and he went through almost two full bottles of tequila for six drinks......along with some other stuff he dumped in the cups.  Wow! They were good.  Then the Captain heard someone say 'let's have another drink' and he thought it was one of us so he ordered another round.  

Barbara Jones sitting with me at a bar on the main strip where we enjoyed our margaritas..

The four of us enjoying our drinks and everyone loved the new hair styles sported by the Captain and Greg.

After our margaritas, Barbara and I went jewelry shopping.  We sure didn't want to miss out on any deals. 

Beautiful children were everywhere.

The vendors stopped you every few feet as you walked the strip.

Greg stopped to get his sandals polished.

This vendor was making new key chains for the Smiths.

After some extensive shopping I wound up with several sets of earrings, three bracelets, and an ankle bracelet. I've always wanted an ankle bracelet but heard (years ago) that only skanks wore them so I made sure I got a big honking one for everyone to see.  After we completed our shopping we stopped  at the Red Snapper for lunch.

Barbara and I showing off all our new purchases.

Lunch was fajitas for four that weren't the best but sure were filling.  They also had two for one margaritas so we had to imbibe.
Heading back to the border the vendors hated to see us depart.

Cowboy boots were everywhere.......

and so were liquor stores.

The Captain made a new friend.

Going back into the US is where you have to show your passport.

And any purchases.  Greg made sure his purchase was in clear view.

I took a quick picture of the dog as the border patrol inspected vehicles.  They yelled, 'no pictures' when they saw me.

Back in the states we had one more stop on the agenda.  Several couples from our RV community were meeting up at a local hangout outside of Mission, TX.

It was a local bar called Crazy Joe's and they had a live band going.

Three o'clock on a Sunday afternoon and the place was jumping.

The band was rocking.....

people were dancing and.........
everyone was drinking beer and having a good time.

Some of the great people we met at Ratama Village.  Kathy and Dennis.

Bob and Vicki.

Bonnie and Gale.

None of us were under 55 and nobody cared.

We had a great time in Mission and a very special 'Thanks' to Greg and Barbara Jones for showing us such a great time. We definitely want to cross paths with you again.  Now on to Austin to check out another beautiful city.  Boy, Texas sure has a lot of neat places to see.  Peace! 



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