Saturday, February 4, 2017

Leaving Home for the Rio Grande Valley, Texas

 We spent most of the fall in our hometown of Lugoff, South Carolina.  We took one trip up to Richmond, Virginia, where our younger daughter and family live, to help with some painting in the home they purchased.  Since our grandchildren, Madeleine and Dane, had never painted a room before we showed them how to use a paint brush and let them at it.

They had fun and were able to keep the paint off their clothes (thank goodness or mother would have been mad).  The blue color was for an accent wall in Dane's room so it was a great place for them to have fun. 

Fall came quickly and the trees in our yard were beautiful.

The Captain wound up getting a boot for his right leg because the doctors thought he had a partially torn peroneal tendon in his foot.  This was from tripping over Desi and stepping off a curb the wrong way while we were in Michigan on our summer trip.  Unfortunately, an MRI showed the tendon was completely torn so this spring he will be having surgery.

Then it was Lucy's turn for a boo-boo.  We noticed her eye was oozing a little and a lump came out on the side of her face so off to the vet we went.  He wasn't sure if it was a tumor or infection so he had to put her asleep to explore the area.  The diagnosis was an infection so he placed a drain in the side of her head that she was supposed to keep in for two weeks.  Right!  He also checked the underside of her eyelid and found a growth that he removed.  This was how she looked when we brought her home from the doctor's office.  She was not a happy girl.  But the drain did the job and everything healed nicely and she's as beautiful as she was before. 

Desi says I don't care as long as I can roll in the grass! 

Our other excitement was over a log!  We have an overflow drain in our lake that takes excess water out of the lake into 25 Mile Creek below the dam.  Several years ago an obstruction drifted into the overflow and slowed the water outage dramatically.  So much so, that the lake flooded onto our yards every year and drowned trees and bushes we had placed near the shore edge.  One of our neighbors, Gary Davis, tried everything he could think of to get the obstruction out.  Since the overflow pipe goes down 30 feet it is hard to get into and remove any obstruction.  Gary figured it was a tree root or tree trunk wedged into the bottom that was causing the problem.  Over the years Brett tried to help several times along with another neighbor, Chuck, but they couldn't get it out.  Gary went so far as to take his floating dock out to the overflow pipe and using a pulley with a jaw clamp tried to pull the obstruction out. Each time there was little success and whatever they had bored into the underwater tree would break from the pressure.  Well finally, this Fall, success was at hand.  With a spike bored into the obstruction, Gary used the pulley to apply pressure.  Each day he would paddle out to the dock and tighten the line a little more.  Then one evening he was out there with Chuck and they noticed the obstruction was moving around inside the overflow pipe.  With Gary cranking the pulley and slowly powering his dock backwards, and Chuck in another boat using his oar as leverage to help get the tree part out of the pipe, they were able to remove the blockage.

And this is the culprit.  Besides this log, which they cut in half after it had been removed, they also found a flattened plastic pot from a shrub, and other debris that had blocked our overflow pipe.  It may not look like much but it weighed a great deal and you can see that it had barely eroded even though it had been stuck under water for several years.  The removal was cause for jubilation and we are all so happy to have it out.  The overflow works great now, as it is supposed to, and Gary purchased a top for the pipe so nothing large can float into it again.  Thanks to Gary (our hero), and his determination to not give up, our lake is flowing nicely again.  

Christmas time came and we had a wonderful year with the kids all home and really nice weather.

Presents under the tree for all.

Daughter, Beth, reading a Christmas card.

Dane excited about another present to open.

Grandson, Lee, handing out all the presents.

Daughter Lynn, and husband, Anthony, wondering how they are going to get all these presents back home to Richmond.

Other granddaughter, Katelyn, also watching the little ones.

Super boy.

Ready for action.

The Captain with his Nerf ball gun showing off his technique for the big battle later in the day.

The Captain couldn't join in because he was wearing a 'boot' so he took position on the deck and shot at them from above. 

While at home we enjoyed a few sunrises over the lake and even a little snow on the deck.

And then it was time to head South.  On January 8th we left for Texas.  The temperature at our house was 18 degrees so we were bundled up to stay warm.  Atlanta had serious ice storms the day before so we headed straight south down to Florida and I-10.
Crossing the Savannah River into Georgia.

The drive was nice for the first two days.  We spent the first night in Lake City, Florida.

Driving through Mobile, Alabama.

One of the Carnival cruise ships at berth in Mobile Bay.  They sure are big boats.
Driving under the Mobile River.

Made it to Mississippi and stayed at Buccaneer State Park, one of our favorite spots.

So far the trip had been good.  On the way through Louisiana, most of the countryside was flat and the winds were gusting quite a bit.  The rig was continually being pushed from the side so it was hard to drive.  We were tired when we got to Baton Rouge and the roads were horrible.  Knowing Baton Rouge is the capitol I had hoped the interstate would be in good shape.  Not a chance.  The roads were terrible, under construction everywhere, and it was a challenge to get through that area. We got into Texas heading toward Beaumont and a traffic tie-up caused another hour delay but we finally got to our RV park for the night.

Passing through Katy, Texas outside of Houston.  I'm always amazed at the interchanges in large cities.  Designing these roads is a modern work of art.

We stopped in San Antonio at our favorite RV shop to see if they could fit us in for some needed work.  They were too busy so we made an appointment for the end of our trip and continued on down to Mission and the Rio Grande Valley.  Bentsen Palm RV Resort is one of our favorite places to stay.   Everyone is very friendly and there are tons of dogs in the park. 

How's that for a beautiful Texas sunrise.

The dog park is a large open area where dogs and owners meet several times a day.  Right next to it is a large Brahman cattle farm and the baby calves are fascinated by the dogs so they keep coming over to observe them.  And the dog owners like to observe the calves while the mother cows watch carefully. 

Speaking of dogs......   Each year Bentsen Palms hosts a dog parade to sponsor a local no-kill shelter called Cinderella Pet Rescue. (That's where we got Desi from two years ago). We've attended it the last two years and had a great time.  This year after we arrived we asked what day the pet parade would be on and were told February 11th.  When we asked who was hosting the event no one seemed to know because the person who had handled the two prior years was unable to come down this year. So the Captain immediately volunteered us to take over the position!  Wow!  Everyone was so happy!

For the last few weeks we have been having meetings, signing up volunteers, and going to local businesses for donations.  It's been going very well.  During the event we sell hot dogs and chips, beer and soda, and cookies and brownies.  People pay to have their pets walk in the parade and then other people vote for the best decorated pet.  Each vote, of course, costs a dollar.  We also have drawings for gifts that the local merchants donate, a silent auction for some larger gifts, a 50-50 ticket sale where whoever wins gets half the pot, and any other way we can think of to earn money for the pet rescue.  The Captain even talked his sister, Debra, into flying down here from Charlotte this year for the event.  

We were also able to fit in a kayaking lesson while here.  Sine we are newbies at kayaking they took us to a local lake in Bentsen Palm State Park which is right next to the RV park. 

My first test was figuring out how to put on the life vest.  The Captain had to help me out.

It took me awhile but I learned how to navigate.  Great upper body exercise. 

Nobody fell into the water so our next excursion is going to be kayaking on the Rio Grande.

The local birds were watching us very carefully.
We went biking one day and noticed the sky was a little dark.  About 5 miles from home the rains hit and we got soaked.

But the weather was warm so it was still fun being out in the rain.

One of the best things about RVing is the new friends you meet along the way.  We were lucky enough to meet Annette and Ian Patience who were visiting the Rio Grande for a few weeks from their home near Houston. Ian is originally from Trinidad and Annette from Canada.  What an exciting life they have lived.

We had a wonderful time together and look forward to seeing each other again either here in Texas or possibly in South Carolina.  

Alongside our park is an irrigation canal for all the farms in the area.  Each side of the canal has a dirt road that can be driven or biked on and many people also walk their dogs. 

Each day I take our pups for a 3-4 mile hike so we can get our exercise.  The Captain can't walk too far with his bum foot so he uses his bike as a stationary exercise machine back at the rig.

To the right of the canal is a pipe used to release water if the canal becomes too full.  Below it is the unimproved land that is part of Bentsen Palm State Park.  Depending where you are on the road, it can be a quarter mile to a mile from the Rio Grande which is the border between the U.S. and Mexico.  This expanse of land is one of the sections where illegals come across through Mexico to try and reach the cities of Mission or McAllen. 

Branching off through this 'no-man's land' are roads that are only used by the local farmers or the Border Patrol.

The road is very long and you can walk for miles.  Often, while walking, the Border Patrol vehicles will drive slowly by on the road.

There are several bridges that cross the canal.  This one is blocked off to traffic.
In the distance on one side of the canal is Mission, Texas.

On this side of the canal, a short distance away, is the Rio Grande River and Mexico.

One morning while walking along the canal I noticed a young man coming my way.  He looked as though he was jogging and stopped every few minutes to catch his breath.  I moved with the pups to the side of the road in case he was afraid of dogs but he kept coming right towards me.  When he got closer he stopped and started talking to me in very rapid Spanish.  I noticed he was around 15 years old and neatly dressed, but he was in a panic.  I explained I did not speak Spanish so in broken English he told me his problem.  He and his mother came across the border and she was caught by the 'militaria' and put into the back of a truck.  He was very frightened and asked me where he could go so he could find the military and get back to his mother.  I told him to cross over one of the bridges and he would see the Border Patrol since they have a very large presence in this area.  He thanked me and continued running down the road.  A few minutes later a Border Patrol agent came by in his SUV and I told him what happened and how frightened the young man was.  He told me they would find him and get him back to his mother.

I never felt endangered meeting this young man but I did sense his worry and fear as he tried to tell me his plight.  So many good people just want to try and make a better life for themselves.  How sad.  

No comments:

Post a Comment