Friday, December 30, 2011

Cinderella Pet Rescue, Mission, TX


Pick me, no, pick me!  Aren’t they cute?


A number of people who winter at Bentsen Palm Village are volunteers at Cinderella Pet Rescue, a no-kill shelter just a few miles up the road from the park. Since we decided to stay until March, I thought I would like to volunteer to help with the cats. I went there today for the first time with a couple other volunteers who work with the dogs. I met Cory, the Friday cat volunteer, and she showed me what they do. Not too difficult, just check to see the cats have plenty of dry food and water, give them some canned food and clean the platter after they eat, scoop litter boxes, check the bedding for “accidents” and replace it with clean ones. The most important part of the job is to just spend time playing with and giving attention to the cats. Something I love to do!


I’d like to get Jim to come with me but he has such a soft heart when it comes to cats he’s afraid he’d want to adopt one.


Cat food always tastes better on a silver platter.


There are lots of dogs looking for good homes, too. Here are the volunteers taking the dogs out for a walk and some socialization.


Wouldn’t you like me to come live with you?


There are also horses and chickens. And like all animal shelters they are in need of volunteers, supplies and money.


I’ll be going back on Monday, which will be my regular day, since they had no Monday volunteers. I’m really looking forward to it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Are You An eBookaholic?


I had to share this email exchange Jim had with our friend Debbie who got a Nook a few months ago. They make me laugh! Maybe some of your can relate. I still have bags of paperbacks to get through before I embrace this technology.

Hello, I am Jim and I am an ebookaholic and I can't stop. Please stop me before I download again.
Prior to getting the Kindle I thought I had researched the whole ebook thing but I had no idea there was all this free stuff out there. That book link I sent you to Hurt Machine, just finished it and it was an excellent book, in my opinion.
But I already have so many I am having a hard time keeping track.
I think I like managing my library with Calibre rather than Kindle PC software but not completely sure about that yet.
With the internet, pizza delivery and now this just call me Jabba. Thank God for Gayle or I would only see the  outdoors through the windows and when I have to dump the tanks.

Her reply:

Hi Jim!  I'm Debbie, and I'm an ebookaholic too!  I now have so many books downloaded that I need to live to be 100, or simply devote entire days (several per week) to doing nothing but reading...AND I CONTINUE TO DOWNOAD!!

Having the Nook I don't know anything about the Kindle software, but I do prefer Calibre to the B&N Nook software.

You have Gayle to make you stand up and move, and I have Elliot (that’s her dog) (although he's a bit less bossy - which is said with total love for Gayle).

Gotta go - I need to download Hurt Machine right this very minute!

Jim’s final reply:

Gonna start a 12 step program. Will get back to you, got to download some books on the subject.

So guess where we went the other day? To the wonderful new library in McAllen, where I checked out a couple Spanish books and Jim picked up two DVDs, and also signed up for a library card so he can download more ebooks!


He did get his bike fixed and is so happy to be back on a recumbent. Between reading and riding his bike, it’s gonna be really hard to get him to work on the things around the rig that need taking care of.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Back To Mexico



Jim had his final dental appointment in Nuevo Progreso today, so we put our quarters in the turnstile and hiked across the International Bridge.


It was a beautiful, sunny day in the 70’s, so after his appointment, which went well, we walked the streets and did some shopping. Jim got some Rx sunglasses a couple years ago in Palomas, MX, but after his cataract surgery in March he wasn’t able to use them anymore. He took them to a couple US optical shops but was told they were special order because they were curved lenses, and one shop gave him a price of $300 just for new lenses. Since he only paid $75 for the frames and lenses in Mexico, that was out of the question. The first place we came to today quoted him $45, and they even checked his prescription, which was pretty comical. I ended up trying to explain to the guy in Spanish how to do the exam, as he just would ask Jim if he could see when he put up different lenses. Anyway, he is able to see with them, and they had the lenses made in a half hour. Hard to understand why they couldn’t do it in the US.

We also bought some B&B liqueur for $21 a liter, an amazing price, even after adding another $3.75 that we had to pay to the state of Texas after crossing the border.

While Jim was having his crown put on, I walked the streets and took some pictures. Nuevo Progreso is such a colorful town, and the streets were bustling with tourists, mostly Americans like us.

Lots of pinatas.


New Orleans Pharmacy, just one of many. Not sure what is on the upper floors.



A bar and tattoo parlor right next to a dentist.


Colorful plaza with numerous dental offices just after crossing the border.


The nice thing about Progreso is the town appears to have outlawed begging on the streets, so you don’t get followed or accosted by kids asking for money, which happened in the other border towns we’ve visited. The only place you see them is under the bridge where they call out for change, which is much easier to ignore. Again, we felt perfectly safe, and the Mexicans seem happy to have us there and leave some of our dollars in their country.

Adios for now.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas


I was hoping to have some great photos from our pontoon boat trip on the Rio Grande that we were scheduled to take yesterday. Unfortunately after a beautiful, sunny day in the 70s on Thursday, the clouds rolled in and yesterday our little thermometer never got above 51 so they cancelled the trip. We were actually supposed to go last week but the prop broke on the boat. Hope it works out for next week.

Our new binoculars are great and we’re enjoying watching the birds. We walked on a trail in the state park we haven’t done before but didn’t see much.


One of the many oddly shaped mesquite trees.


We’ve been hoping to see some javelinas, but the park was damaged by a flood a year ago and it apparently killed most of them.

A kiskadee and woodpecker were happily sharing this feeder.


In the spirit of the holidays we decided to give bingo another try last night. One of the work campers seated next to us had a thermos sitting on the table and offered us some of his ‘coffee”. It had dark rum in it, and was certainly a good drink to warm us up and make bingo a little more fun. We lost again so I doubt we’ll go back.

Tonight is a Christmas Eve social, everyone is to bring a desert. We are definitely going to attend that, but we’re skipping the turkey dinner tomorrow. We’re just planning on a quiet day with another pizza for dinner.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Toys



So Jim loves his Kindle Touch and has over 100 books on it already. And he hasn’t paid a penny for any of them. Isn’t the internet wonderful? Now if I will just let him have more time to read them all…

The binoculars arrived a couple days ago. This is the first time we’ve actually bought any, as the other 3 pair we’ve owned were given to us by my dad. After retirement he worked in a sporting goods store and could never pass up a bargain, which he passed on to us. We’ve donated 2 pair to Goodwill as they were not suitable for bird watching, and the last pair recently fell apart . So much for bargains. We had no idea binoculars could be so expensive, but after reading reviews from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, we chose these “budget priced” Bushnell Nature View 8X42, at $99. After one walk to the state park to check out the birds, we are very impressed with the clarity, although they are a bit heavy. Nothing a few more dollars and a different carrying strap won’t take care of.


There must be at least 8 people with recumbent trikes and other recumbent bikes around here, so Jim has been very envious since we arrived. After we committed to staying through February, and his back has been bothering him riding the upright bike, he decided to look for a used recumbent, and found one north of Austin, TX. The guy agreed to meet us in Pleasanton yesterday, about 215 miles north of Mission, and they swapped bikes. Jim got rid of his old bike, and now has a Rans V-Rex, with no money changing hands. Other than the long drive, it couldn’t have been an easier deal.


We got back yesterday just in time to get some Texas red grapefruit and a bunch of other fresh veggies from the produce vendor that comes to the park on Tuesday afternoon. Then Jim wanted to ride his bike some before dark. He noticed some chain noise, and with about 2 miles to go on the way back, he shifted and somehow the chain jammed up. While trying to get it fixed, one of the idlers that guides the super long chain broke, so I had to ride back and get the car. He called the guy he bought it from and he happened to have a spare idler, which he is supposed to send today. So now Jim is without a bike until the part arrives. I think it will be fine once he gets it repaired as otherwise it seems to be in good shape, but he is disappointed that he won’t be able to ride for a few days.

Quincy even got a present this year, a cat warming pad, which I’m hoping will replace the box that he’s been sleeping in on the couch now for months. It just arrived yesterday and so far he seems to like it, but then I could set a newspaper on the couch and he would lay on it for days.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

We Moved But Didn’t Go Far



In fact, we’re just 12 sites away from our first site here at Bentsen Palm Village in Mission, TX. Last week we decided to ask about staying another month or two, but were told there was a waiting list. They left us with the impression that there wouldn’t be a chance of getting a site. After talking to several people, they suggested we make pests of ourselves in a nice way and go to the office often to check for cancellations. They took our name a few days ago, and then yesterday said they had a site for us for January and February. We thought we’d be moving the first of January but since the site is open now they said it would be easier for their record keeping if we just went ahead and moved now, which we did.

A Texas Tortoise.


It’s funny since we usually avoid private RV parks, but we really, really like it here. We just feel very comfortable and are enjoying the new experience of getting involved in activities and meeting people. Now we understand why many people leave the cold northern states and Canada and stay 4 to 6 months in the same park every year. We are already thinking we’ll come back next year.

Finally got a not very good picture of a Kiskadee.


After spending the past three winters in southern New Mexico, Arizona, and California, we came to realize it isn’t very warm in those states during the winter. Plus we were tired of the wind and blowing dust in the southwest, although we love the desert scenery and mountains. So it was south Florida or south Texas, and here we are. The Rio Grande Valley isn’t very scenic, but we are in a great location for walking and biking, the park is lovely, the people are friendly, and it is a mainly younger, active group of people staying here. And yes it gets windy here, too, but at least you can go outside without eating dirt.

The other day when we thought we’d have to leave on January 1st, we drove around the valley looking at other RV parks with fitness centers. We found two that were okay but more expensive, but most of them were awful in our opinion. So we’re happy to be here awhile, and hope to use the down time to get some things done.

The serious birders have some big lenses on their cameras.


Lots of Christmas lights at our neighbors across the street.


Santa already brought Jim a Kindle and I’m getting new binoculars. And we’re wearing shorts in December! We’re happy campers.

Friday, December 9, 2011




Staying in one place for awhile always gives us (well, me, anyway) the urge to get some projects done. I’ve been trying to get Jim to build a clothes drying rack out of PVC to hang on the ladder for a couple years now. He even got a copy of a plan from a fellow RVer we met ages ago, but whenever I mention it or come across the paper with the plans on it, he always has some excuse why he doesn’t want to attempt it. Might have something to do with his lack of confidence in his ability to do things like that, since they usually take much longer than anticipated, and involve some sort of bodily injury.
Fortunately, the drying rack turned out to be an easy project. After looking at several here at the park, we decided how much PVC and how many elbows we’d need, went to Home Depot, got our pass for the woodshop (after signing a release), and got to work. They have a wonderful woodshop here at Bentsen Palm which anyone can use, and it is supervised by volunteers so if you need help with any of the equipment, someone is always available.

The finished project, no fingers were lost, not even a scratch (with those power tools, you never know!)


I forgot to mention last month when we were in Pensacola, I finally got Jim to install a small computer fan in the refrigerator. We’ve been using a fan from Camping World but it didn’t blow much air, and we’ve gone through lots of D batteries the past few years. He was apprehensive about doing it since he had to wire it into the light. He drove our friend Don crazy emailing him with questions about how he installed his, since he kept thinking when the door was closed the fan would shut off, just like the light does. Don finally told him to just do it and see what happens. Well, to Jim’s surprise the fan stays on, and it blows much more air than the one we had. And no more buying batteries. He just zip tied it to the top rack above the light so it’s not in the way.


They also have a nice craft room here, and a sewing machine for anyone to use, so I bought some fabric to make new kitchen curtains. May as well take advantage of everything we can, but that project is on hold for a rainy day.

On our walk last evening in the state park, a birder was looking at something through his scope, so we walked over to see what it was. There was a beautiful red-shouldered hawk in a nearby tree. He let us look at it in the scope, which was great. Unfortunately our little 18x zoom didn’t do a great job.


Time to go see if I can find something else for Jim to do. Since he’s saving so much money on his tooth, he ordered a Kindle. Once that gets here I will probably have a hard time getting him to do anything!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nuevo Progreso, Mexico



We had an uneventful trip to Mexico this morning, 35 miles to the International Bridge which connects Progreso,TX to Nuevo Progreso, Mexico. Parking on the Texas side is $2 and there is a 25 cent fee to get through the turnstiles both entering and leaving Mexico.

The Rio Grande from the very impressive covered pedestrian bridge.


Entering town.


We had to walk about a block and a half to the dental office of Dr. Mustre, passing probably a dozen other dentists, pharmacies, shops and street vendors along the way, all trying to lure us into their place of business. When we walked in we were surprised to see a nearly full waiting room. I counted 25 chairs and there were only a few vacant seats. Jim struck up a conversation with the woman next to him, whose husband was having his teeth cleaned. They have been going there for years and were very pleased, which made Jim feel less apprehensive.

As it turned out, all went well, Jim’s tooth was prepped and a temporary crown put on, and he has to go back on Dec 27 for the permanent one. They said if it comes in sooner they will call, but as busy as they are he doubts that will happen. While he was being worked on, I went next door to the orthodontist and got a new upper retainer made, which I picked up 45 minutes later.

It was a very cold (barely 50), gray, windy day, so we just walked up and down a couple blocks and looked around in some shops. I love the colorful Mexican pottery and glassware they sell, but it’s heavy, breakable, and we have nowhere to put it. Jim’s mouth was still numb, and the few restaurants we passed didn’t have anything on the menu we would eat anyway, so we didn’t spend much time. If the weather is better when we go back we will do a bit more exploring. Nuevo Progreso is definitely the cleanest and nicest border town we’ve been to and we felt perfectly safe.

I always get depressed when we go to Mexico because years ago I was fairly fluent in Spanish. Now I barely understand a few words when I eavesdrop on conversations. They speak way too fast!

Hasta luego….

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Immersion in Bentsen Palm


Our backyard.


So we’re here at Bentsen Palm RV Park, might as well act like a Winter Texan and get involved. Yesterday morning I helped decorate the clubhouse for Christmas. I always liked decorating our house and yard, but now it takes me about 3 minutes to put up the few things we have room for. I had fun and met some nice people.

Last night we played card bingo at the clubhouse. We met some more nice people but probably won’t be doing that again. The woman sitting beside me  was pretty funny. She said next week she was going to drink more before she came! I had to agree with her. Maybe if we had won it would have been more fun, but it was pretty boring and it cost us $4.50.

Tonight was pizza night. We sat with some of the people we played bingo with last night, and met some others on our walk home. It’s a friendly bunch that stays here in the winter and we are really enjoying ourselves.

We got the Lazy Daze washed, which always makes me glad we don’t have a bigger rig. Worked out a couple times in the fitness center, which felt good. Also been doing some biking. Rode around the state park yesterday and the 5 mile paved Mission hike/bike trail today. For all we’ve done it feels like we’ve been here a lot longer than 5 days. And looking at the national weather, we are glad to be here. It’s been in the low 80s and not too humid. Perfect shorts weather, which makes Jim happy. And Quincy is always happy, just too big for his new favorite box.


More bird pics from yesterday. Female golden-fronted woodpecker. Thanks to Judy and Martha for identifying it.



Love the green jays, they’re everywhere.


Finally got a good look at a couple of Altamira Orioles, such beautiful birds.


Tuesday we’ll be driving to Nuevo Progreso for a Mexican adventure. Jim found a dentist there who came highly recommended by other RVers, so he is having his broken crown replaced for $170. Sure beats the $1,050 our old dentist in Pensacola was going to charge. He figures how bad can it be? The crown that cracked was put on by a Palm Desert, CA dentist 10 months before it broke. Can the dental care in Mexico be any worse? Guess he’ll find out soon.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort, Mission, TX



We got off to a late start yesterday due to someone leaving a dishpan full of water in the sink, which went all over the kitchen, including into the converter, when Jim pulled away to hook up the car. After turning on the generator and using the hair dryer to dry things off, everything seems to be working properly.

That was our third water event in three days, the first being when our old camera (with the broken zoom) fell out of my jacket pocket and into the toilet at the Padre Island Visitor Center. Luckily there was only water in the bowl when it fell in, so I took out the battery and SD card and after a couple days it seems to be working. Funny thing, the zoom is now working again!

The next day on the boardwalk at the birding center, Jim took the new camera out of it’s case and dropped the case in the water. Since it’s neoprene and floats, Jim laid down on the boardwalk to try and get it but he couldn’t quite reach. He found a stick and since my arms are longer I finally was able to get it with the stick, and managed not to fall into the water myself. Hope that was the last of our water adventures.

It was almost four by the time we arrived at Bensten Palm Village RV Resort in Mission, TX. When we checked in we were told Wednesday was Margarita night, and to stop by the clubhouse at five for a drink. We were sure ready for one, and spent a nice hour chatting with some of the work campers and park manager. They told us about all the activities going on in the park and things to do in the area. So far we are very glad we decided to come here. Thanks to our friend Pam for telling us about it.

Although the sites are close, they are more spacious than many RV parks we’ve stayed at, and the landscaping is very nice. We have a huge field behind us, which was full of cattle yesterday, but they were nowhere to be seen today. We’re paying $560 for the month, plus electric. Not inexpensive but one of the nicest private RV parks we’ve stayed at next to Jojoba Hills, the Escapees park in CA.

Today we washed the car, tomorrow we do the rig. They allow you to wash your RV and car once when you arrive and again before you leave.

This afternoon we got our free pass from Guest Services and took a walk to Bensten-Rio Grande Valley State Park and the headquarters of the World Birding Center, right next door. What a great place to walk, bike and bird watch.


We got to see several birds we’ve never seen before, like these Plain Chachalacas. They are as big as chickens.


We saw quite a few Great Kiskadees but they wouldn’t pose. These beautiful Green Jays were more cooperative.




Not a bird, but fun to watch anyway.


I’m sure we’ll be spending lots of time in the state park while we’re here.

When we got back our neighbors from Ontario invited us for a beer, since Jim helped him fix a flat on his bike this morning. We had a nice time talking with them and look forward to meeting some of the other people staying here. Maybe at bingo Saturday night. We’ve decided to come out of our shells and join in while we’re here. We’ll see how that goes!