Friday, January 25, 2013

It’s All About The Birds


For birders, the Rio Grande Valley of Texas is famous for birds that aren’t  seen anywhere else in the U.S., including some subtropical species of Eastern Mexico that are not found north of the border beyond extreme southern Texas.

Although we are by no means serious birders, we do enjoy watching them. Since this is our second winter here, we’ve become accustomed to the birds which were so exciting to see for the first time last year, like the colorful green jays and kiskadees.



Yesterday morning we took a walk over to Bentsen State Park. Just before we got to the Nature Center, we saw a crowd with cameras and binoculars. There on the ground not far from all the people was a Cooper’s hawk getting a drink and taking a bath in a puddle.



We watched him for a few minutes until someone tried to get closer, and away he flew.


He’s been hanging around the feeders at the state park and in our RV park since he has easy access to little birds for a snack. The volunteer told us he caught 2 birds first thing yesterday morning. Good for him, but not for the birders, since the other birds tend to stay away when they realize he is nearby.

We had also heard that a flock of green parakeets was hanging around Mission, and our friends at Where’s Weaver got some good photos of them a few days ago. We got to K-Mart around 4:40 and when we first pulled in didn’t see or hear any birds. We then drove around the side of the garden center, and there they were, flying down to land on the gutters and the nearby power lines.

You can’t believe how loud they are! It was a pleasure to see them in the wild and not in a cage at a pet store.





And to make it even better we capped off our day with a beer and pizza at BJ’s!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

We’re Still Here



Canal along the Mission Bike Trail.


In our limited free time I just haven’t felt like blogging lately, but we are alive and well in Mission, TX. At least I am, anyway. Jim’s had numerous minor health issues this winter, so he’s spent way too much time in doctor’s offices. I knew I should have married a younger man! The good news is since he finished up the implant in November he hasn’t had any more dental problems.

Workamping is keeping us really busy, but it’s been fun so far. Part of our job in Activities is lining up the entertainment for next season. A couple weeks ago we spent a day in Harlingen at the Rio Grande Valley Entertainers Showcase. Each performer had nine minutes to do their thing. It was like the old Gong Show, if you remember that, except that unfortunately we couldn’t stop them before their nine minutes were up. Some were really bad (like the Elvis impersonator), many were mediocre, and a few were very good. We only signed a couple acts for next year, but the other Activities people went to the second Showcase last week and got a few more signed.

Debbie and I have been volunteering at Cinderella Pet Rescue on Mondays. We try to ride our bikes as much as we can, and have been regularly working out with weights in the fitness center. That is one thing we miss about not having the space for a home gym or a place to work out when we’re on the road. It’s our intention to try harder to find ways to do strength training when we leave here in a couple months.

Kiwi and Tangerine, two of of the Cinderella cats.


Elvis and Sophie have tripled in weight and are beginning to look like real cats. They are getting more mischievous every day, which can be very trying on our patience, but they are so darned cute it’s hard to stay mad at them. They will be old enough to get spayed and neutered in March before we leave, lucky them.

They are exploring everything, especially Sophie. Elvis is a bit slower and waits until she does something bad, then follows her lead.



It’s hard to believe we used this Kleenex box as Elvis’s bed the night we got him.



Bird watching is one of their favorite activities, when they’re not going wild. The seed feeder attracts hoards of red winged black birds.


And the golden-fronted woodpeckers love the peanut butter feeder. Sophie even recognizes their sound and runs to look out the window when she hears it.


Although we didn’t want any more cats, now we can’t imagine what it would be like not to have these two goofballs in our lives.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Phone Service

I have recently purchased a phone and service through this company Do some research on the company as I did and you might be interested. I got the refurbished LG Marquee.
Now, this would mean that no more weekends and nights free, no mobile to mobile free. It is on the Sprint network but roams on Verizon network as well although there is no additional charge for roaming in the U.S. I also understand that it roams on other networks but have seen no list. One user mentioned it roams on U. S. Cellular.
So far I am pleased with the phone although battery life isn't that great. There are ways to reduce battery consumption and, if necessary I can buy an extended battery (fatter battery) which, of course, will make the phone thicker. At this point it is about 1/3 inch thick which is pretty small. Screen resolution is excellent.

Customer service is the best I have ever come across, bar none. Of course, given the level of customer service for cell phone companies that isn’t saying much. So I should say that it is substantially better. For example, I ended up having to make several calls to them. They were answered in 30 seconds or less by someone on the North American continent and that person dealt with my question without being re-routed. Cost per minute is cheaper than what we are paying now. I opted for the plan that is $0 per month. They simply charge you based on your use per the plan. There is a $6 access fee charge per month per phone. No set up fee just the cost of the phone.
One thing to be aware of is that it does not roam for data use. So, if always having data is critical you may not want this. You can, of course, use wifi for data. I most wanted phone service and figure that 3G data is gravy when I have it as I do now. They sell 4G capable phones but you will need to research that for yourself to see how it works. Again, I wasn’t looking for 4G and didn’t want to spend a fortune for a phone. This is technically a pre-paid plan but given that I chose $0 on voice, text and data the only up front charge I had was the $6.00 plus tax on that amount and only after it was activated. The other charges will be determined based on usage month to month and there is no contract.
You can bring your own device but you need to look at that as there aren’t that many on the list currently but they are working on expanding the list.
We have ordered a second Marquee for Gayle although they are backordered. We will end up porting our current VZ number to the second phone when we get it. You will see a Samsung Ultra as a refurb also which is a slider with a keyboard. You can buy newer phones up to the Samsung Galaxy SIII but they do not offer the iphone.
Here is a link to a site that mentions a code. I used that code and got a $50 credit on service. They will apply the credit to a new phone instead but not a refurb phone. I have read that this code will not work after January 15 but did not read it on the Ting site. Their customer service is out of Canada but their corporate office is in Mississippi. The company that owns this owned the Tucows website if you are familiar with that.
The following link will provide you with a $25 credit or discount. In the interest of full disclosure if you use that link it gets us a $25 credit as well so if the other link works by all means use it.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Nature’s Camouflage



How long did it take you to find the screech owl?

A few weeks ago we were walking down the Kiskadee Trail in Bentsen State Park and saw a couple taking pictures and looking through binoculars. When we walked up to them they said they had been watching a screech owl sitting in a hole in a dead tree. It never came out while we were there, so we’ve been back several times looking for it. The other day we walked right past this tree and almost forgot to look. Even with the binoculars I initially thought it was not there, then realized it blended so well it was really difficult to see. Jim did get some good photos, and after about 5 minutes it went back into the hole. Amazing!