Escape from Winter - 2012 travel blog


We’ve been enjoying ourselves here in the warmth, but we haven’t done anything new that inspired me to write. When I asked Ken for a blog topic, he suggested the weather. From my perspective people discuss the weather when they have nothing else to talk about - kind of a desperate, last ditch effort. But for Ken the weather has always been a sacred topic. Early in our relationship I got him a membership to the Harry Volkman (noted Chicago weatherman) fan club. He loved it! These days whenever we watch WGN to find out what we’re missing at home, I am not allowed to speak during Tom Skilling’s (another noted Chicago weatherman) forecast.

Whether we are at home or here in the Rio Grande Valley, the forecasters struggle mightily to make accurate predictions. At home they blame the Great Lakes which interfere with the flow of weather from west to east and allow warm winds from the Gulf of Mexico to interrupt. We are here to enjoy outdoor activities and watch the weather before we make our plans. The forecasts can vary greatly depending on which channel we watch. And the weather sense we have at home - when it’s very humid and the sky is gray and heavy it will rain soon - doesn’t work at all. We haven’t had a day of rain since we arrived here even though the clouds were thick and ominous for three days in a row. And those forecasters predicted rain every day, perhaps from a wishful desperation. Texas has suffered drought for the last year or more. Meteorologists are right up there with economists when their predictions are evaluated for accuracy.

What we can count on here is the wind. I don’t understand why it always is so windy, but locals tells us that this is the case year round. In summer it makes the heat a bit more tolerable, but it can wreck havoc with our athletic activities. Our meagre golf skills cannot cope with the strong gusts that never seem to be at our backs. The weekly twenty mile bike rides leave at 8am (much too early in our opinion) so we can get in at least an hour of riding before the wind picks up. The route the leader chooses is always determined by the wind forecast. Although the tennis courts are curtained with wind screens, any shot higher than a net skimmer can be picked up by a gust and taken far from its intended goal. I love to sit outside and read, but have to restrict my reading to materials on the Ipad, since newspapers and magazines can take off unexpectedly. No wonder the kite festival on Padre Island is such a big deal here.

What we have had is weather much warmer than usual. I’m wishing I brought more shorts and left that pile of sweaters at home. And this seems to have been the case up north, too. Our sister and brother-in-law have been amazed to find themselves golfing in January, an activity made even more enjoyable because there is no one there to collect greens fees. Tom Skilling told us that the day after a significant snowfall, Chicago had thunderstorms with lightening. We can’t remember that ever happening. Slightly north and east of us people have suffered from tornados, something that typically happens much later in the spring. Is it global warming? Better watch Tom Skilling to find out.

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