We arrived here at Tropic Winds RV Resort in Harlingen, TX on January 2nd. This will be our Rio Grande Valley "Winter Texan" home base for the next three months. Last year was our first extended stay here and we couldn’t think of any reason not to do it again. Ralph’s continuing battles with the gout and arthritis makes it more difficult to move every two to three weeks. Besides, we enjoy being part of the community and this park has more activities than we could possibly participate in. Pat, once again is taking Spanish classes. In-fact she’s doing well enough that she was hired for one class to assist the instructor in starting another class in a neighboring resort.
The site next to us is occupied by a very nice couple, Peter & Janet from Manitoba, Canada. They are the only people we have ever met who drove their motorhome all the way to Central America and back and they did it alone. Peter doesn’t recommend taking this trip, much too tense and too often scary. Janet presented us with sticky-buns fresh out of the oven one day. A few days later she found out Ralph is a diabetic so she presented us with a loaf of her fresh baked bread.
Harlingen is in the Rio Grande Valley of the southern part of Texas, about 30 miles from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and about 10 miles north of the Mexican border. The current population is about 80,000 of which 72% of the residents are Hispanic or Latino of any race; most are of Mexican descent due to the proximity of the international border. It is the city with the least expensive cost of living in the United States. Coldest month is January with a 70.7 F average temp, but this year we’re sure we were well below average. We even wore our winter coats a couple of days. Average January precipitation is 1.06 inches, so the one storm we had that dumped about 5 to 6 inches of rain in an hour or so was unusual to say the least.
South Padre Island (SPI) is about 35 miles east of us. We visited it a couple of times since we have been here. The SPI visitors’ center has several elaborate sand castles displayed. The day we were there they were repairing them. One was damaged by visitors poking at it and another was taken over by fire ants. Check out the pictures, these are not your kids sand castles.
On another visit we went to attend the SPI Kite-Fest only to find out we were a day late. It wasn’t much of a problem since there were a bunch of kites flying. We had the opportunity to talk with some of the Kite-Fest participants which was as interesting as the kites. We were impressed with the four string butterfly shaped sport kites and considered upgrading our two string sport kites to the four string version. We learned that some of the folks we were watching were professional instructors teaching students how to fly the four string sport kites at a cost of $80/hr. The average four string kite costs $500 and the string runs about $100 per side. The pro we were talking to said we should plan on $1,000 per kite. Guess what, we like our cheap two string sport kites. The dragon kite in the picture and the octopus kite in another picture cost about $5,000 each. These are serious kite flying folks.
The RV Park books traveling entertainment acts to perform here in the resort. The acts are usually musical or comedy and are normally family acts. Most of the acts have either played in Branson or are regulars there. We get good entertainment very inexpensively.
This year we saw a husband and wife team who were on tour separately, Keith Allynn has the Neil Diamond Tribute show and Diana Lynn has The Carpenters Once More show. They sold their theater in Branson last year after a 12 year successful run and decided to go on tour. Great shows even if you are not a big fan of either Karen Carpenter or Neil Diamond.
Wendy, Derek, Mikaela and Logan Pausewang, collectively known as Southern Anthem, bring a fresh sound to longtime country, bluegrass and gospel favorites. From church auditions, fairs and festivals, to Branson, national television appearances, and requests from Nashville and beyond, the demand for their unique family harmony now has them traveling across the US. Twelve year old Logan steals the show with his outstanding talent on the fiddle.
Goldwing Express, composed of three Native American Creek Indians and their Irish father, bring their special type of entertainment to Winter Texans across the Valley. This family music show comes from Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Now the family resides in Branson, Missouri producing their own music show along with many appearances throughout the United States and into Canada.
This year has been colder and wetter than last year but it sure beats the weather in the rest of the country. Expect to spend the summer back in Newark, NY if our son and daughter-in-law will have us.
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