Friday, February 27, 2015

Messin' With Texas - The Rio Grande

The Rio Grande (Spanish for river grand) flows from south central Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico.  It is 1,896 miles long and is the fourth longest river system in the United States.  The Rio Grande serves as a natural border between the U.S. and Mexico.  Sine the mid-20th century heavy water consumption of farms and cities along with many large hydroelectric dams has left only 20% of its natural discharge to flow into the Gulf of Mexico.  Near the river's mouth is the heavily irrigated Rio Grande Valley which is an important agricultural region.

We took a drive one afternoon and saw acres and acres of crops growing in the fields.  This was a field of cabbages. 

This field was growing green onions.

And this field was filled with a crop as far as the eye could see.  On closer observation we realized it was  broccoli.

   Thousands and thousands of heads of good looking broccoli.  So how come a broccoli head is so expensive in the stores?  It sure looks plentiful  around here.

Driving in McAllen, which is a larger city right next to Mission, TX, we noticed this international taxi bringing someone here from Mexico.  In fact, we saw many cars with Mexican license plates in and around  the cities in the RGV (Rio Grande Valley). Many  Mexican families drive across the U.S. border for shopping, restaurants, and to see the sights.      

This is a Volkswagen truck which I had never seen before.  It was from Mexico and is built in Argentina for South American, Mexican, and European sales.

The RV resort we are staying at offers pontoon boat rides on the Rio Grande so, along with a few friends, we decided to take the trip.

Our boating friends, Greg and Barbara Jones and Dianne and Roger Norris joined us at the boat ramp. 

It was a beautiful sunny day and you can tell we were all excited about going.
The boat was parked in a narrow inlet off the Rio Grande.  Laying in the water was this small alligator.  According to the tour guides, another couple from the RV resort, there is another gator quite a bit bigger that lurks in the area, too.

Turtles were enjoying the sunny vibes all along the banks of the Rio Grande.

A big bird in flight.  Where we are staying at, the U.S. side of the river is mostly uninhabited with a good part of it belonging to the Bentsen  Rio Grande Valley State Park. 

On the Mexican side there were many more buildings.

Some of the homes were very beautiful and children were swimming in the water.

Other buildings seemed to be abandoned  but had one time been used for water sports or family outings.

The bird in the tree is a Crested Caracara looking for a meal in the water.
It's mate was also looking for a meal and the Captain got this great shot right after the bird pulled a fish from the water.

It even posed for us with the fish in its claws while we pontooned past 

and then flew back to its mate with dinner.

Another large Heron taking flight as we past.

There were several other boaters on the water although it was a week day so things were slow.  These Border Patrol men were taking a quiet break.

Along the banks on the U.S. side you could often see rusted out vehicles that ended up in the river after being chased by the Border Patrol.  Or so they say......others tell us the autos are used to prevent erosion along the banks :)  

But there was always the presence of the Border Patrol or the Texas State Police on the water and on the land.  

The Border Patrol are on horseback, in helicopters, on 4 wheel ATVs, in trucks and cars and there are select viewing towers watching for illegal immigrants.  Along with them are the Texas State Police, the National Guard, the county police, the city police and so on.  There were days while we have been here that we saw more police vehicles than Winter Texans!  All the people patrolling are very friendly and everyone seems to co-exist easily.  There have been two incidents where the Border Patrol caught illegals crossing over to the U.S. near where we are staying.  They were arrested and driven back to the border and released in Mexico.  I'm sure they will be trying to cross over again.

But I are more pictures from our boat ride!

In the water near a park was this statue. 

One of the dams that controls the Rio Grande water.

A great deal of water is kept back for the irrigation canals which are vitally important in the Rio Grande Valley.

There are new homes being built on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and they are very beautiful.

This home had a thatch roof but the front side of the roof was filled with moss.
This party boat is very popular on the weekends.  It is parked on the Mexican side but flies a flag for both Mexico and the U.S.  The band plays Mexican music and everyone has a great time. 
More new construction going up on the Mexican side of the river.

So different from the U.S. side of the border.

We had a wonderful three hour tour and really enjoyed cruising on the Rio Grande.  The most exciting part was when we returned to the bay outlet to park the pontoon.  Just as we pulled into the narrow inlet (with the alligator) the motor died on the boat and wouldn't start up again.  We were several hundred feet from the dock and the water was starting to pull us back into the Rio Grande. There was one oar on board but it seemed to move us back into the river instead of toward the dock. Well, what excitement!!!  No one wanted to jump into the water and swim to the side to pull the boat in knowing there was at least one gator in the water, but luckily, there were several expandable aluminum poles on the boat so the Captain and a few others used them to move us through the inlet to the dock.  It was great and we all had a hearty laugh about it.

February is the month to enjoy Mardi Gras so some of our park residents had their own Mardi Gras parade.
There were decorations and pretty beads.
Hey, what can I had to be there.  Peace!

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