Sunday, January 21, 2018

BOAT TOUR OF THE RIO GRANDE RIVER

Saturday, January 20  – It was a beautiful day here in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. A nice day for a cruise on the Rio Grande River. We met up with friends Louise and Duane who are staying in Harlingen, TX, which is about an hour east of our park in Mission, TX.

The boat, which is a large enclosed pontoon boat, can carry about fifty passengers. The boat is clean and well maintained. The cost is $12 ($10 for seniors). Reservations are advisable. The cruise lasts about one hour. It departs from Riverside Restaurant. They were so busy today that a two additional cruises was added. We departed at 10:30 AM with other cruises at noon and 2 PM. The captain is also the tour guide giving a nice informative and sometimes humorous explanation of the areas along the river. There are beverages and snacks for sale on the boat as well. Note:  All photos had to be take through the window.

Riverside from the water.
Riverside Boat trip

Riverside Boat trip 
Duane and Paul enjoying the ride.
Riverside Boat trip

The Mexico side of the river has new construction of many private entertainment venues used primarily in the summer by residents of nearby Reynosa, the third largest city in Mexico with a population over 700,000 people. Americans and Mexicans are free to use the entire river for fishing and pleasure but are not allowed to land on the other countries shore. The river is 200-300 feet across in this area and averages about 25 feet deep. The USA – Mexico border is actually at the mid-point of the river.

Private entertainment venues in Mexico.
Reynosa

Riverside Boat trip 
The roofs for these picnic shelters are made out of palm leaves. They put the leaves on when they are green.
As they dry the palms shrink and make great covers for buildings and picnic tables.
Riverside Boat trip 
Much of the USA side of the river is a large national wildlife protected area. It is also the area where many illegals cross the river from Mexico. The captain said the border patrol, which has an extremely large presence in the Rio Grande Valley, intercepts an average of 100 illegals crossing into the US in this area per day. Only two of those caught are from Mexico. Eight are from other countries. It is common to see US Custom and Texas Custom gun boats running at high speed up and down this section of the river.

Wildlife Refugee on US side.
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Riverside Boat tour 
There is a sugar cane field that lines part of the river on the US side.
Riverside Boat tour
 
Boarder Patrol lookout.
Riverside Boat tour

Riverside Boat tour
One of the places were illegals cross.
Riverside Boat tour

Our guide told us that the Rio Grande river twists and turns so much that sometimes you will find yourself East or West of the river rather than North. We found ourselves exactly in that situation in the next photo.

Riverside Boat tour

The boat goes East down the river until it reaches the Anzalduas Dam that was built by both countries is a flood-control dam. It is the last dam on the Rio Grande before it reaches the Gulf of Mexico about 80 miles away. On the other side of the dam, the river is very shallow averaging only about five feet deep. At this point the boat turns around and returns back to the departure point.

It is in this area that President Trump wants to build the first sections of his wall. There is currently a levy for helping with river flooding on the US side of the river. The plan is to build the wall on top of this levy all the way to the Gulf. Unfortunately, the levy sits back about 500 or more feet from the river and there are many homes, business, and RV parks along the river which would be cut off. The Riverside Restaurant from which we departed is one of the many business that would be affected.

On the other side of the dame is a 30 ft. waterfall.
Riverside Boat trip

We did see some wildlife. Mostly Blue herons.

Blue herons

Riverside Boat tour

We enjoyed the cruise. We found it both informative and interesting. Remember, if in the area and interested in the cruise, it is a good idea to make reservations. Of course, we had to have lunch after our tour. Another delicious meal.

Duane and Louise
Duane and Louise

Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see y’all back real soon. Have a great day.

Friday, January 19, 2018

GOINGS ON IN MISSION

Friday, January 19 – We are enjoying our time here at Leisure Valley Ranch in Mission, Texas. Like most of the nation the weather has been less than favorable with record setting temperatures down in the 30's. Thankfully, it appears over and temperatures are forecasted to climb back to the customary 70's.

temp

We've enjoyed several social events with friends. There have been happy hours, dances, and card parties. Of course, Marsha, has enjoyed getting together with her lady friends and has picked up a new hobby......wine glass painting. She was so proud of her painting prowess. Like a little girl with her “all – A's” grade card! Now where do we pack those wine glasses, brushes, and paint jars?

Thanks to Cookie for sharing her supplies and techniques.
wine glass painting

Marsha in deep concentration.
wine glass painting

She never starts out simple.
wine glass painting

Side 1
wine glass painting

Side 2. Marsha said she ran out of time and didn’t get to finish this side like she wanted to.
wine glass painting

We've also enjoyed meeting up with old friends over lunch. We meet our friend, John, for lunch at Riverside Restaurant located on the Rio Grande River. We originally met John many years ago via his blog. We catchup every other year during our visit here to the Rio Grande Valley. Angie and Rick have joined us the last couple visit with John. John and Paul always enjoy the huge pork tenderloin sandwich. Great time with great friends.

This is the actual size of the sandwich.
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L-R: Rick, Paul, John, Marsha, Angie
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We've always wanted to take the river cruise that leaves Riverside Restaurant and have plans to do that in the very near future. Check back and share our adventure.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see y’all back real soon. Have a great day.

Monday, January 15, 2018

BENTSEN STATE PARK—WORLD BIRDING CENTER

Monday, January 15 - With a cold front predicted to blow into the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in the next several days, we took advantage of today's beautiful weather to ride our bikes and do a little bird watching in Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and World Birding Center. With our Texas State Senior Passes we received 50% of admission to all Texas State Parks. It only amounted to $2 but every little bit helps.

Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park is a perfect park for biking. This is our forth time visiting the park. In the past, we hiked the roads throughout the park. This year, we decided to take our bikes and join the numerous bikers in the park. They do have a tram that travels through the park on an hourly route, but it seems most visitors ride bikes between the various birding areas.

Bentson State Park

As we entered the park, the gate house is located at perhaps the busiest or most bird visited feeding location in the park. We always linger here to see the many birds that visit the feeders. This year was a special treat because not only were many birds in the area but a bobcat stopped to snatch breakfast of an unsuspecting dove. He was too fast to get a picture, but Paul did see him as he headed back into the nearby brush to consume his meal. Of course the other birds in the area high-tailed it out of there for awhile. They soon returned but so did the bobcat. The birds were a little more careful this time, and the cat returned to the brush for a little nap.

We talked for sometime with the ranger working the gate house. He said the bobcat is a frequent visitor to the feeding area and at times even climbs the tree to nap. He showed us a picture that a visitor gave the ranger of the bobcat heading to the brush with breakfast in his mouth. What an amazing animal.

We watch many Orioles, Jays, Chachalaca, Cardinals, Sparrows, and other birds feeding in the area. Many of these birds travel out of Mexico no further North than the Birding Center. There are four other birding centers in the area that visitors can take advantage of to view birds in this region.

Great Kiskadee.
Great Kiskadee

The famous Green Jay.
The famous Green Jay.

The entertaining Plain Chachalaca.
Chachalaca

Chachalaca

Northern Cardinal.
Northern Cardinal

Golden-fronted Woodpecker.
Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Altamira Oriole.
Altamira Oriole

We also visited several bird blinds setup in different areas of the park but didn't find any as busy as this first station. We also visited the two-story high hawk tower near the back of the park. On one of our previous visits, hawks were migrating through the area and a count was taking place at the tower. We didn't see any hawks on today's visit.

hawk tower

We rode and checked-out areas throughout the park and completed our circular tour of the park in about two hours. It sure is significantly easier riding our bikes than walking as he did in the past. We enjoyed our visit and will definitely visit again if in the area.

bike riding

Lots of beauty along the bike path.
bike trail

Right across the river is a Mexican park.
Mexico park

survey marker

Marsha loves how the wind turns the trees into works of art.
trees

Marsha and trees

By the way, if you stay in the RV section of Bentsen-Rio State Park located next door, admission to all five Birding Centers in the Rio Grande Valley is free. We've driven through the campground and often thought it would be a nice place to stay.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see y’all back real soon. Have a great day!