Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Montana Keeps on Rolling, Travels for 2007, February 27, 2007, Roadside Cemetery

We decided to drive to the zoo along Route 281, which runs from Hidalgo to Brownsville along the Rio Grande River. On one stretch of the road we found about 5 or 6 small cemeteries. What fascinated us was the fact that several of them were right along the road, in fact, the front boundary of the cemetery laid right next to the road, no right of way or shoulder for the roadway. We stopped at one, just to have a look. Here is an overall view of part of this cemetery. By the way, the Rio Grande River and Mexico are just beyond that line of trees in the back of the photo. It was very well kept considering how old it was.

Below:This stone is one of the most unusual I have seen. It marks the burial place of at least 4 or 5 family members, of the Torres family. The shape is very unusual, the surface appears to be some form of tiles. It is very handsome indeed.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Montana Keeps on Rolling, Travels for 2007, February 27, 2007, The Zoo

There is a fabulous zoo in Brownsville Texas, the Gladys Porter Zoo. I have been wanting to go visit for a couple of years, and somehow it never happened, so this year we made it happen. We picked a day we hoped would not be too hot (funny after all the cool and wet weather we have been having, eh??). We were thrilled that when we got to the zoo it was slightly overcast. It was a great photo day, no sun glare to deal with. They had a number of animals that we had not seen before, the animals were displayed in natural settings, some of the viewing areas were behind glass and we were quite delighted with how close we actually were to the animals, sometimes only a few feet seperated us from wild cats. Between 3 couples we took well over 500 photos! Yep, it was quite the photo op!

Click here for the slide show for the Gladys Porter Zoo, there are 25 photos, of the most unusual animals, or animals that we enjoyed being close to, or that had babies.I have tried to identify each photo, and on some I have information on the animal, such as land of origin.

Google took away slide shows in 2016, I have added the photos right here, ALL 25 of em!

Greater Flamingos, other wise known as Caribbean, about 4 foot tall, brilliant in color.

Mother and baby Gorilla, she kept her baby back (as in away) from other Gorillas and humans!  Photos were difficult to get.

We enjoyed the landscaping, it was very well done.

More pretty landscaping.

Stanley Crane, AKA Blue Crane or Paradise Crane, from South Africa.

This guy, like many other animals in the zoo was taking a siesta. Sun Bear, from Asian Rain Forest.

Baby Camel, in the Petting Zoo area, his birthday was not posted, but he look awfully wobbly on his legs.

Bornean Bearded Hog, from the Indonesian island of Borneo, just north of Sulawesi.

Saddle-Billed Stork, Tropical Africa.

Tiger Siesta, you can see the glare of the glass in the bottom right.  About 6 foot from us, could have cared less!

Bongo, African Forest Antelope.

Grey Crowned Crane, from Africa.

Giraffe, they have quite a crowd, eh?

African Serval Cat. There is glass between this cat and the public. When we walked up to this exhibit, a bird was on the public side of the glass and the cat was trying to catch it!

Mandrill Monkey, from Africa. Red nose and blue cheeks, he was something to look at!

A lion siesta.  There was glass between us and these big cats, however, if you were to measure the actual distance, they were about 4 feet away from us.

Pigmy Hippopotamus.

Mamma Baboon grooming her baby.

Black Swan, the official bird of Western Australia


We thought the rock formations were interesting and well done, we particularly liked the turquoise blue veins.

Mandarin Duck, Asian species, this is a male, the female is pretty much plain brown.

Scarlet Ibis, from South America.

This is a Colombian black spider monkey with an infant, she, like the mamma gorilla, was reluctant to let us get a good photo.

Spider monkey swinging from 2 ropes, tail on one, arms and legs on the other. Habitat is the coastal forests of Mexico, Central America, and of South America.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Montana Keeps on Rolling, Travels for 2007, February 18, 2007, Shopping for Lumber

Al has been making a few improvements to Montana, they can be found here. Another improvement I have asking for (do you hear him groaning?? you should! HA HA), is a shelf that runs about 10 to 12 foot long, mounted above the slides. There has been a lot of talk and measuring and buying lumber and taking it back. Here are some photos from ONE of the shopping trips.

Above:  John and Al explaining and discussing the project to Carol. OK, even I was thinking hard about this. John observing the process, seriously, but of course.

John and Al checking for warped lumber, this takes a while.

Al and John study the lumber, Marge, Donna and Carol waiting and waiting and waiting, (snicker). Thanks John and Donna for sharing this photo, as well as the other two.

No photos of the finished project, YET, as this lumber actually went back to Lowe's and Al is into part "Q" of the planning process. We will let cha know when this project gets accomplished. The finished product can be viewed here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Montana Keeps on Rolling, Travels for 2007, February 10, 2007, and they went square dancing

So, you may ask, what else have you been doing, since the weather has been less than desirable?

Carol has been active in the Genealogy Class here at the park, what fun to watch newbies understand, and to share my hard earned "insider information" with them. It is very rewarding to watch them bloom and grow.

We attend some of the entertainment here at the park, they have had some great entertainers this year. Usually cost around $3.00 each for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hour of entertainment. We walk over to the clubhouse, sit, enjoy, walk home, kinda relaxing.

We also take in some of the "food" opportunities, usually the coffee and donuts on Saturday mornings. The chatting is fun too!

Taking care of the dogs and housework take up a lot of time. The grass in the dog play area is better this year (as in more grass, less burrs, etc.), so we have taken the "kids" in there a few times. I still have to do an hours worth of grooming when we come out of there, grass still gets tangled in their coats. Sorta weaves in. Nasty to get out. The last time we took them, I came home and cut poor Gallagher's leg hair ALL off, he looks very silly right now, but it will grow back. He squawks so when I hit a knot of hair and grass, and well, we were all tired of that silliness.

We also took some square dancing lessons. Yes, indeed we did! No kidding! And, yes, I have photographic proof! SEE::::::

See, we really did do some square dancing. We went with John and Donna. John and Marge came along a couple of times, and Marge had her camera ready and willing. Thanks Marge for sharing your photos.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Montana Keeps on Rolling, Travels for 2007, February 4, 2007, South Padre Island & burnt sugar cane

A trip to South Padre Island is a "have to do it" activity while we are here in South Texas. This year Skip, Mary, John, Donna, John, Marge, Al and Carol all went together and visited Jim and Sue, other Montana owners. We had a great meal, and then went to the shore, where Jim fed the sea gulls, while John watches

Jim still feeding those sea gulls, Carol (in the purple, but of course) and Sue are trying to stay warm and chat. Yes, those are ear muffs on my head (thanks to some Wild friends of mine who gifted me with them).

Here in the Rio Grande Valley, sugar cane is a huge product. Part of the process of harvesting is burning off the unusable portions of the cane. This puts out a large cloud of dark gray soot. In the cloud are hunks of leaves that were burnt enough to turn sooty and black. This soot dumps all over the surrounding lands, even several miles from the "burn". Below is a photo of a hunk of sugar cane soot that landed in the campground one day. This piece was about 5 inches long.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Montana Keeps on Rolling, Travels for 2007, January 26, 2007, Citrus Festival

On yet another one of the few good weather days we had in January, Al and I drove into town to see what the Citrus Festival had to offer. It had a tent full of local citrus products, goodness, we discovered there are quite a number of variety of oranges. More than we ever realized.

This is also a Texas style BBQ cookoff affair. There must have been 10 or 15 (maybe more?) HUGE Texas style cookers. These babies are large enough that they have wheels and are drug in behind a pickup truck. They cook with a lot of mesquite, the results are flavorful and tender.

Click here to take you to a short slide show, including Al and the roasted corn! Ya have to see it to believe it!

In 2016 Google took away the slide shows.  So, here are the photos:

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Montana Keeps on Rolling, Travels for 2007, January 23, 2007, Monterrey Mexico

On January 23rd, Carol took a day trip to Monterrey, Mexico. Sadly, the weather was lousy to say the least, as it was very low visibility. They tell me Monterrey is a city surrounded by hills and mountains, I could verify that there were hills, but I could see little more than the first several rows of homes built up the side.

Monterrey also has some terrific monuments and parks. We had lunch at the Radison Hotel, and it was marvelous, great food. After lunch, because of the weather conditions, we could not do some of the activities normally planned for the trip, so instead they took us to the Mexican Museum of History. This is a top notch facility, sadly our time was very limited, they have college aged docents who will take a tour around, they speak very good English, very worth the stop.

After the museum, they took us to a Canyon nearby, I did not get the name, but I won't forget it, even with the low cloud cover.

Click here to see a short slide show.

In 2016 Google discontinued the slide show.  Here are the photos.

Canyon, near Monterrey, sorry, I did not get the name.

Abandoned home built in the canyon wall, first step must have been a killer, it is a LONG way down!

Low clouds engulf the canyon wall tops.

Canyon, photos do not show the size, barely show the beauty. This must be spectacular on a day with some visibility.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Montana Keeps on Rolling, Travels for 2007, January 21, 2007, Drizzle & Birds

We are in our Winter Home, Mission, Texas. But, weather-wise, we are confused, are we still in lower Michigan?? YIKES. The temps in Mission for the first 3 weeks we are here, are not much better than in lower Michigan, only about 10 degrees warmer, and it is wet here.

There is no way to describe the term "Drizzle" until you have experienced it. There is light drizzle, that is rather like living in a cloud, heavy fog, maybe? Then there is drizzle, which is not enough wet coming down to call it rain, but it is still wet, very wet. Add a wind and you have sideways drizzle. How's this for a description: YUCKY!

For the first 6 or more weeks of our stay here in Mission we have, well, CRUMMY weather! Some friends that have been coming here for over 12 years say they have never seen anything this bad. We are in a subtropical climate here, they grow ficus trees IN the ground, just like I might grow a maple at home in Michigan. I have heard that this is the worst cold/wet/nasty winter season here, like ever??

And, nasty it was. We even had several nights where it was almost to the freezing mark. We had one particularly memorable (?) day when the wind chill was 30 according to the local weather, only, when I put the numbers into a wind chill chart I came up with about 5 above. My fingers hurt, even with gloves on.

Anyway, it is not what is expected for weather here in extreme southern Texas. There were some really bad cases of cabin fever, after 6 days in a row of wet, windy, gray, cold days closeted in less than 400 square feet of rolling homes, there were a LOT of cases of cabin fever around the Rio Grande Valley.

Once in a while the sun would pop out for a day, January 21st, for example! And, it was warm enough to ride bikes. Al and I grabbed the camera and headed for the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park on our bikes.

Click here to see a small slide show of photos taken at the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park.  This is an Altamira Oriole.

We of course, have been attending activities here at the park, Saturday mornings, usually finds us in the clubhouse for coffee and donuts. There have been several different entertainers here at the park, one was a local high school group, singing tunes from the WWII era. We of course, visit with our MOC friends, and had one gathering in January and another in February. We have attended one high school performance, at the LaJoya district, they did a performance of Show Tunes. That was a great way to spend a wet gray afternoon, they are so talented and energetic we all left feeling better about the day.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Montana Keeps on Rolling, Travels for 2007, January 15, 2007, Trip to Texas and a New Cousin

Well, I am a bit behind in sharing our travels of 2007, ok, so I am two months plus behind. Some of the delay is due to being lazy, some is due to computer difficulties, some is due to being lazy (Ohhh, I said that, didn't I?) and some is due to not taking the time cause we have been busy doing other stuff. Shame on me. Anyone want some swamp land I have for sale??

Nuff silliness, lets get down to business here. After spending a wonderful Christmas holiday with our children and the twins, and Al's mother, we turned our thoughts and energies to packing and getting out of Dodge (err, home). We packed and organized, winterized the house and left there about 3 PM on the 27th of December. We only drove a little over 100 miles to Aurora, Indiana where we have discovered a campground that is open all year around. The weather was particularly mild, had been wet, the campground was kinda muddy, as was to be expected. We pulled in before dark (this is a VERY GOOD THING), and got all set up for the evening. We rested and decided this was a good plan, the not driving very far the first day.

Next day on to Illinois, it was so warm and mild and no forecasts for freezing weather, so, we put water in Montana and enjoyed!

However, the weather reports for the 2 days of our trip were looking a little snarly, serious rain and wind was forecast for day 4 of our trip, so, we did a bit of rearranging and on day 3 we only drove to Caruthersville, Missouri. There is a casino, we decided to stop there. The rates were very reasonable for 50 AMP service, full hookups, free cable and free wifi. About $16.00 a night plus taxes. Course, we gambled a bit, about $10.00, aren't we the last of the big spenders?? HA HA. Made a great place for a layover, they had a restaurant, and it was fairly quiet. We were basically parked on the banks of the Great Mississippi, a nice stop.

On day 5, we left Caruthersville and drove to Ore City, Texas. A LONG day. But, when we drove through Arkansas, we were more than pleased with our decision to stay put in Missouri while the torrential rains and wind blew through Arkansas. There was water everywhere, farmer's fields were flooded, the ditches along I-40 were 30 foot or more of water in width.

We stayed with friends and now, distant cousins, David and Shirley in Ore City Texas. We arrived just in time to get set up before dark. Shirley had prepared a wonderful meal for us, as she did for the next day and a half. This gal can cook and loves to do so. David and I discovered that we are distantly related, and had a great time discussing family history. We spend New Years Eve and Day with them. What a great visit we had.

Two Montana's. Left is our rig, right is David & Shirley's. Note bikes on front of Big Butt (our GMC towing machine, pass anything on the road, cept a gas station!) How's this for a great campground??

Right, Carol and her new cousin, David, and his lovely wife, Shirley. Nothing more fun than finding a good friend who just happens to be a cousin as well. Thanks Shirley for feeding us and thanks to both of you for a great visit.

After our wonderful visit with David and Shirley, we headed on down the hard road to Schulenburg, Texas and the next day on into Mission. We arrived on January 3rd, in a cool misty drizzle of rain. This was a taste of what we would have, weather-wise, for the next 6 weeks, give or take.