Traveling Along with Steve & Jan
Out of the Cold and Into the Warmth
We arrived back in Ohio the second week of October to pleasant temperatures. The fall season in Ohio is always beautiful with the changing colors of the leaves. This year the temperatures seemed warmer and the colors came later than in past years.
While in Ohio, we reconnected with many longtime, wonderful friends. We had the pleasure to visit with Jim and Linda Needham, Una Green, and Denise Moore, and, Jerry and June Slone, a couple who maybe retiring in the near future.
We celebrated George and Emma Williams 38th wedding anniversary with dinner and a show. Both the Williams and The Mondls had the good fortune to win tickets to the Carousel Dinner Theater for an evening performance of the musical production “Pump Boys and Dinettes”. This play is a tribute to American life along the highway. It is a musical blend of southern rock, blues, country and gospel. We wish the Williams many more Happy Anniversaries.
Bill and Mona Reuscher gave us a tour of their new home – a beautiful condo with the feel of a large expansive house complete with a terraced garden off the patio. Congratulations, Bill and Mona on your new surroundings.
Splitting tree stumps is hard work but it is a very rewarding task. George and Emma Williams had quite a few trees cut down on their property. They asked if we would help them split the huge – and I mean huge – tree stumps into smaller fireplace logs. I believe there were around 40 stumps; and, we got all but 9 stumps split in two days. Together, we our work yielded around 4 or 5 cords of burnable logs. Good work team Mondl-Williams!
Jim and Barbara Daisher brought us some of their delicious farm grown sweet corn. They cut the corn off the ears and freeze the kernels in bags just the right size for one of our meals. Thanks, Jim and Barbara, for giving us a taste of Ohio while we are away from home.
Before we knew it, the second week of November the temperatures turned downward and the cold winds chilled our bones. It was time to head for south Texas. We packed the Coach with fall/winter clothes and loaded the freezer and refrigerator with plenty of food. We closed up the house and we were off to find warmer weather.
Our first stop was Louisville, Ky. We had an appointment for the Steve, the puppies, and I to have our 2007 Christmas photo taken at the local mall. The photos turned out great. Merry Christmas to All!
The next day, we were off to Nashville were we had our 50,000 mile service work completed by Prevost. While in Nashville, the Davis Family took time out of their busy schedule to visit with us. PJ Davis is the Exceptive Director of the Shalom Project. The Shalom program is a non – profit organization involved in renovating an old high school. After the high school has been renovated, it will house programs designed to educate and support the people living in the surrounding area. PJ asked us if we would help the project by “dialing for dollars”. We did some phone calling and were able to secure some additional funds for the project. All too soon it was time to head further south.
We spent Thanksgiving in Hot Springs, Arkansas taking in the warm mineral baths and doing some sightseeing. The weather was fantastic. Some of the fall leaves were still clinging to the branches of the trees.
By the time we reached Texas, we were ready to have some fun. Who better to clown around with than our friends, Turner and Sara Tabor? They taught us a card game called “Pegs and Jokers” (Steve called it Shoots and Ladders). Although it rained everyday, our spirits were not dampened. The rain gave us a chance to catch up with the happenings in each others lives.
On our way through central Texas, we stopped over night in San Antonio to visit with Jerry and Ellen Hopkins and his family. The Hopkins, who sold their home and live full time in their RV, gave us a tour of their new Coach. We talked about RVing and how traveling our country gives one a whole new perspective on life. They were heading westward to visit Ellen’s family; and then, they were going to New Mexico. Safe travels my friends. Hopefully we will meet-up again soon!
Eighty degree temperature greeted us in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. And, temperatures during the next two weeks stayed warm. We experienced a couple of days when the temperatures were in the mid nineties. Thinking that we were about ready to fry eggs in the parking, we looked to Ohio’s weather for relief. Much to our surprise, Ohioans were getting nothing but cold temperatures with lots of rain and ice. I guess I stay right here in the Valley and quit my complaining about being to hot.
Our volunteer position this winter finds us helping a non – profit foundation called Los Caminos del Rio. The name is translated into “The Roads of the River”. The purpose of the organization is to promote the history and heritage of the lands between US Route 83 to the north of the Rio Grande River and Mexico Route 2 to the south of the river. We will be promoting the area of land between Brownsville, Texas to Laredo, Texas.
We had been in the Valley a couple of weeks when a series of public meetings were announced by Department of Homeland Security to discuss the construction of a Border Wall to stop people from illegally entering the United States. We knew that on any given day hundreds maybe thousands of illegals waded across of the Rio Grande River and run inland. Most are looking for paying jobs. We also know some are carrying drugs and could be dangerous if confronted. But, most of the illegals we saw crossing the River (last year when we volunteered in Roma) were trying not to draw attention to them.
We attended two public hearings on the Border Wall. The McAllen’s meeting had less than 500 people in attendance and the meeting in Rio Grande City attracted less then 100 people. I believe there were more security personnel standing around than concerned citizens. The public hearing was a chance of local citizens to make their wishes know about building a noncontiguous wall on US soil along the River. The Border Wall would be constructed in varying lengths totaling 700 feet. This Border Wall would be 15 to 18 feet high and would be built to prevent illegals from attempting to climb over the structure.
We listened as speaker after speaker took the stage to proclaim their outrage at the proposal. The issues included the environmental impact on wildlife and the huge cost to the taxpayer to build this structure. In the hearing room, Steve and I recorded our thoughts on the proposal. Will the Border Wall be constructed? At this point unless Washington receives some overwhelming reason to curtail construction, we believe the Border Wall will be built.
Right before Christmas, Jerry and Ellen Hopkins arrived in their motorhome to visit with us for three weeks. Together, the four of us toured the lower Rio Grande Valley. We shopped, we ate, and we volunteered our time in the community.
We visited Nuevo Progresso to have our teeth cleaned and buy some souvenirs. We rode a hand drawn ferry across the Rio Grande River and ate lunch in a small Mexican town about five miles from the border. We took an educational and relaxfull pontoon boat ride on the Rio Grande River. Wanting to purchase some Valley Citrus for gifts and personal use, we shopped at Klement’s Citrus Grove for some tree ripened grapefruits and oranges.
We all enjoy eating and the Valley offers some excellent cuisine. In the US, two such restaurants are Ray’s All You Can Eat BBQ in McAllen and Rio Café offering home-style cooking in Rio Grande City. While in Nuevo Progresso, we dined at the Arizona and Arturos.
Yet, we did more than just tour and shop in the Valley. Together, we volunteered for the first McCanalEnburg Bike Race and Ride. Los Caminos del Rio helped sponsor this event which allowed 130 bike riders the opportunity to ride 23 miles along a levee from McAllen to Edinburg. Levees were once used by farmers to provide water for their crops. Today, the levees are used for irrigation but also for flood control.
The Hopkins helped with repainting the playground at the church where we were parked. Steve and Jerry power washed the equipment and we scrapped all of the old paint off of the wood. The wood was so dry the new paint soaked right in. After the Hopkins left, we applied a second coat of paint to the wood making the equipment apealing to the eye. We had lots of fun touring and working with The Hopkins. We hope they enjoyed their visit to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
We took one afternoon to tour a very beautiful estate called Quinta Mazatlan. Quinta is one of the largest remaining adobe homes built in the state of Texas. Construction of the house began in 1935 by Jason Matthews and his wife Marcia. An unusual feature of the house is the aluminum sulfate paint on the inside and out to prevent radar waves from penetrating the building. Quinta is located in McAllen, Texas; and, today the property is part of the World Birding Center project. Over 100 species of birds and over 100 species of exotic trees, flowers, and plants have been identified on this eight acre estate.
In addition to the main house, there stands on the grounds of Quinta Mazatlan, a cottage. Together, the cottage and the main house comprise over 10,000 square feet of living area. The patio area contains a 25 x 55 foot adobe block bathing pool. Also, on the grounds there stands a 1,450 square foot greenhouse. The greenhouse was where Mr. Matthews tried many agricultural experiments, including the study of hydroponics. Today, this structure is in the process of being remodeling into an outdoor classroom.
In the Rio Grande Valley, Mexican Folk Music is performed by Mariachi musical groups. We had the opportunity to attend the University of Texas Pan Am Mariachi band in concert. The music was vibrant. Dance students from the college, dressed in native Mexican attire, awed us with the twirling of their skirts and their fast foot work. Listening to Mariachi song lyrics gives one a greater appreciation of the Mexican culture. We really enjoy listening to the music of a Mariachi band.
We are going to leave you with some pictures we took while enjoying the Mariachi music at University of Texas Pan Am.
Happy New Years!
Take care and thanks for Traveling Along with Steve & Jan!