Mexico Bound - Winter 2007 travel blog

cleaning the roof

Banana used to look empty


Winter has finally left the Rio Grande Valley. We enjoyed clear blue skies and temperatures in the 70's while the friends we left behind in Illinois are shivering in below zero weather. Sadly it's time for us to move on as well. The day began with one more breakfast bike ride where we rode with sixty other geezers to a restaurant in downtown Pharr (such as it is) for a high cholesterol meal hardly mitigated by the four mile ride. I have written frequently about how thrifty Winter Texans who come from the rural midwest seem to be. But today we ate breakfast with a couple from Kansas City who can hardly spend their money fast enough. The phone company is paying them rent to set up a cell tower on their property. Every year this earns them an extra and unexpected $24,000. The only downside to this is that they are at the point where they have more property and house than they want to manage, but that extra 24G is hard for them to walk away from.

Then it was back to our home away from home where we cleaned and packed and tried to get things ready for our departure tomorrow. We are only going about ten miles to the campground where our Mexico caravan is assembling. After a month in one spot we have pulled so many belongings out of the basement (the under carriage of our rig) and unfastened so many things inside, that it will take us a while to batten down the hatches and get ready to bump on down the road. Ken has been waiting all month for a day warm enough to clean our roof, a water logged activity. At home the trailer sits in a forest under mature trees and the detritus they shed make the roof look more like the forest floor than the white rubber underneath. Today working with the hose was almost a pleasure.

Clean up and packing chores left time for a quick swing through the campground golf course, where our performance was as dismal as the first time we played on it. The three weeks of bad weather we endured prevented us from practicing as much as we had planned, but it's clear that this is a complex game that we should have started learning in our youth. When we got back to the rig the banana sign was posed in the middle of our street and it was time to go to a last banana party. Recently a number of new campers have arrived on Banana and we found ourselves feeling like veterans. Everyone brought treats both sweet and salty, and I'm hoping I will get away without cooking dinner tonight.

Overall we have enjoyed this campground more than the one we stayed at in San Benito in the eastern end of the valley two winters ago. There have been more energetic activity choices and people have been friendly, especially on Banana. Pharr is a few miles from McAllen which offers all the amenities we are used to in the Chicago suburbs. When Ken got a flat tire on his bike, a repair store was nearby. Ditto when he broke a string on his tennis racket. When he repaired our water purifier, two warehouse sized hardware stores were a fifteen minute drive away and we visited them repeatedly. Large grocery stores offered a wide selection and I could cook as much or little as I wanted since restaurants were plentiful as well. When the weather was bad, there were about forty movie screens within driving distance and we almost feel ready to watch the Academy Awards next month. Our previous campground had 1500 sites and Tropic Star has about 1200 which seems to have meant that the entertainers at our park were a cut below in terms of talent and fame. But with so many campgrounds in the valley, it is easy to drive to another park to see someone special. Although many of the people we meet are warm and friendly, they are from rural America and we generally don't have much in common with them in terms of a more lengthy relationship. For many of the folks we have met at the Tropic Star, this is the perfect spot. Some have been enjoying winter here for the last twenty years. Next winter it may be time to try another part of the country in our ongoing quest for that perfect spot.

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