Ray & Ladona have been wintering here since ’01. Dave & Jeanette stopped by for a week or so last year & decided to spend a month here this year.
So we decided to stop by for a week & see what it was all about.
Saturday afternoon, January 8th, the cell phone rang:
“Where are you?”
“On 281 just entering Pharr, who is this?”
“This is Ray, call me when you get set up.”
When we arrived, I went looking for the bathroom and found Ray in the library working on a jigsaw puzzle. After we checked in, Ray told us we would be picked up in about an hour and were going to dinner.
Sign in the office said something like: “Our volunteers are not paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.”
We had to get badges – to be worn at all times. Ours was plain. Ray’s was fancy with little danglely things.
So we went off to set up and couldn’t stay to enjoy the western band playing in the big room.
This place is big! (Well it is Texas)
Almost a thousand sites. All backins! (at least in “our” area)
Two shots – looking down the street and down the back
We managed the backin in fairly good order. Two passes, no contact.
The neighbors stood and watched and moved vehicles out of our way but didn’t help which was a good thing. They did explain tactfully that “they” don’t like it if your rig hangs off the paved portion of the site, it interferes with grass cutting.
Afterwards we chatted. Once upon a time when we moved into a new neighborhood it was “do you have kids?” Here it was “How long are you going to be here, is this your first time, you’ll stay longer, you’ll be back.”
Everybody had the fancy badges with the danglely things indicating the years they had been here. Cheaper status symbol than customized golf carts.
We were picked up as promised and went to a Mexican Seafood place. Ray & Ladonna, Dave & Jeanette & us. At Ray’s recommendation we had the Shrimp Sombrero; shrimp & other good stuff served with tortillas and rice. Sorta like shrimp fajitas. Good.
After supper we were given a short break before reporting to Friendship Hall. We played a board game in one of the small rooms. There was square dancing going on in the main room. There were two other tables in the room; they were playing “Social Security.” And there was a big game room. Maybe a dozen tables.
When we called it a night, we stacked our chairs, folded our table & put them away.
Ray gave us a handwritten sheet
Monday 6:30 Games
Tuesday 5:00 Soup Night, Entertainment
Thursday 11:40 Ladies Luncheon
Friday IMAS – mealout
Saturday 8:00 Pancake Breakfast
This is a tiny sample of the activities available here. Looking at the schedule, at any time there are at least three things going on. Ray does puzzles, golf and square dancing. Ladonna does square dancing I know and I’m sure other activities. Jeanette was doing Yoga and dragging Dave to Spanish classes. There were about three flavors of Yoga.
We were invited to attend the Catholic Entertainment in the morning and were told to be ready at 9:30. Mass was at 10:30 but we needed to be there 45 minutes early to get a seat.
Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine
I didn’t take a camera. I think I was the only one. It was as impressive inside as outside. It was Standing Room Only. It was the only church that I have been to that sold CDs. Dave’s comment was “This is what you would get if Red Skelton was a priest.” Jeanette said the service contained all of the essential elements. It was certainly an enjoyable and memorable experience.
Off to an all you could eat buffet for the meal of the day.
Dave & I toured the Wal Mart & Camping World for essentials.
Sunday night I went over with Dave & Jeanette to hear Delene. She has a show in Branson and is appearing in the big stadium here in the valley at the end of the month. Meanwhile she is doing shows at places like Texas Trails promoting her show, selling tickets and CDs. It was an enjoyable $3 show. It would have been a disappointing $20 show.
Afterwards we all moved our chairs back to the tables at the side of the room.
I’m getting the impression that this is an institution run by the inmates.
Dave is a grocery store connoisseur. He has been raving about H.E.B.
We like a nice grocery store. Up in Binghamton there was a Wegman’s and Publics is pretty nice.
When we walked in Camille said “shades of Wegmans!” It was nice. We’ll likely be coming back just to go to HEB if for no other reason.
The meat counter was impressive (among other areas of the store).
Dave & I went back to Wal Mart & HEB. Camille & Ladonna went antiquing.
It was Soup Night. We had the chili. It was good. Then the Ice Cream bars, made here. Good.
Didn’t partake in the after dinner entertainment – a Winter Texan group that did barbershop quartet stuff.
Wednesday Flea Market.
Thursday The ladies had a luncheon, the guys went to an RV show followed by lunch at a Mexican Restaurant.
Ray took me to the Broadway Hardware Store on Owassa/Dove & I got the right sized screws to install my BIG level. This has been an ongoing project.
Friday The ladies went to an antique show.
Finished the level installation.
Dave called me on the bubba net. One of my neighbors told me early in the week that he and his buddies kept in contact using their FRS/GMRS radios. So I took one of mine over to Dave. Tuesday he picked up a set. So anyway he called me on the Bubba net & we headed out to the HEB searching for a Mexican lunch. We found Don Juan’s #2 on 23th Street, just down from Dove – which I recognized as the place that the McAllen visitor center lady sent me to in 2001 when I came down for the weekend from Fort Hood. It was great in 2001 & great in 2005!
We had margaritas, chips & salsa and then chili reano plates. Then we went to the HEB & grazed. Took an hour’s break and then started on beers & cheese. Jeanette called to tell Dave that we were to report to their trailer for snacks prior to going out to an Italian Place that Ray wanted us to go to. Groan.
New York Italian or something like that. Across McColl from the HEB. It was good.
Saturday Off to Carrizo Springs.
Will we be back? Probably. If you want to winter somewhere, the Rio Grande Valley is a good place. Fantastic weather, friendly people, good infrastructure (HEB, Wal Mart, Target, good restaurants, medical facilities etc). Lots of land, space so it’s not crowded and traffic isn’t bad. That plus the cheap labor from across the border makes for low cost of living – especially medical care. The people are Hispanic and winter Texans. Winter Texas are at least 10 years younger than Florida snow birds according to Dave – they spent a week in a similar resort in Florida before coming here. Texas Trails is a good place. Everybody we met had been here multiple years. Of course we didn’t meet the ones who found a place they liked better. Texas Trails is well located. Far enough but not too far from everything.