Fun and Not So Much Fun

Well we have survived the winter storm, so far. I am sure there will be other cooler days before we head home, but for right now, the three days we stayed in the RV was long enough. It is nice to get back outside and experience the sunshine.

As I mentioned in our previous post, Saturday was “go to town” day, and pick up a few groceries.  As we left, we were a little surprised as we approached the Park’s entrance gate. It had been demolished. It was just laying there on the pavement.  There was a detour set up to get you in and out of the Park. We were familiar with this new exit as we had used in the past.  As the entry gate’s roof was only 13 feet high we would have to take our RV into the park via this bypass road.  We had been stuck in the RV for the last 3 days so we weren’t really sure what was going on.  I think it is common knowledge that the Park was undergoing some major renovations and we just thought they were starting with the entrance.

Now that the weather had improved and more people were out and about, we started talking to our neighbours.  Well it turns out that in the middle of the night, someone, who had too much to drink (allegedly), crashed their vehicle into the guard-house.  This caused major damage to the guard-house which resulted the roof collapsing.  The more people we talked to, the more stories we heard.  Some, more detailed than others, but all basically the same.  Wanting to get an unbiased, first hand account of the issue I asked the Google, and came up with this news story from the local TV station.

Today we partook in what is commonly called Beer:30.

It seems that the people in our section of the park, some who have been coming here for years, get together around 4:00 or 4:30, at someones site, to visit and have a beverage. Participation is optional, so is the beverage choice. You just informally gather with your lawn chair and stay as long as you want.  The meetings never seem to last more than an hour or so. Today there were 12 of us, three we knew from last year. Needless to say we met a few of our new neighbours and are still struggling to remember their names and where they are from. It was fun getting out and meeting new people and we think this might be an activity we will participate in more often.

Today was too cold for the beach so we just hung around the RV.  Supper had already been planned out so we didn’t have to hurry back from Beer:30 at Kay’s, who is right across the street from us and one spot down. Once we got home there was some time before supper was ready so I was able to go out and capture a few sunset photos.

If it weren’t for the clouds, there wouldn’t be anything to capture.

Tomorrow is going to be an adventure.  We are planning on going into Brownsville for the day.  There are a few shops we want to visit and we need to pick up a package from the UPS Customer Service Centre.  I will let y’all know how that turns out in our next post.

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Weather Update

That cold snap that they were forecasting earlier in the week has hit us.  And hit us hard.  On Tuesday we were at the beach with a temperature of 85℉. On Wednesday we woke up to rain and wind and cold.  It continued on Thursday as well as Friday.  As forecasted though, Friday afternoon saw a huge decrease in the wind and the sky cleared. But before we got to see the sun we got to see some snow.  Yes, snow.  It was blowing strongly from the north. With the rain stopping and the sky clearing there were more people out walking.  It was nice to see the sun again.

The Days Weather

So we have stayed in for the last three days.  Not venturing out because of the cold and especially the wind. It was reported on the news that a number of beach access points were closed because of the strong wind and high surf.  It funny that all last year the beach warning flag was always red which indicates serious conditions in the water. Just last week we say the flags change on the beach from red to yellow and purple. I really didn’t see much difference in the wave action between when a red flag was flown and the yellow.  Yellow means potentially high surf or dangerous currents, the added purple flag indicates dangerous marine life could be present.  Often we would see jellyfish up on the sand or rolling around in the surf.  The flags didn’t stop me or numerous other people from walking the beach.

While we were indoors, it gave us some time to get caught up on the things not related to being on the beach.  There was some cleaning done, did some baking (those cookies are real good) and watched a few movies. It was really relaxing but we were glad to get out this afternoon.  Tomorrow will be a trip into town for some groceries.

I was thinking about going out yesterday to see how angry the sea was but didn’t because it was still pretty windy and rainy.  It was so windy in fact, the news cautioned anyone travelling over the Queen Isabella Causeway of the very high winds.  I seem to remember gust up to 45 mph.  But I went out today just to see if there were any changes at the beach.  Boy was I surprised. In the picture below you can see the sidewalk and roadway.  From the sidewalk it is normally at least 50 meters to the water’s edge and here you can see the erosion of the dunes on the left hand side.  You can also see where the surf has pushed up sand, vegetation and garbage onto the sidewalk and road.

While walking I could see some good wave action around the breakwater so I headed over to check it out.  This is actually called the Brazos Santiago Pass which allows entry to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and to the Brownsville Ship Channel. There usually is some fairly good waves crashing against the breakwater but this was at a whole new level.

This channel isn’t very wide, but wide enough to get container ships into Brownsville.  The building you see is on the Brazo Island side.  And yes you are right, that is a surfer dude.  There were 3 of them playing in the water.  Remember that thermometer at the top of the post, that was the air temperature.  I can’t imagine what their exposed skin felt like as I was cold just standing there, and I was dry.  I captured a few videos with my camera so you can get a better idea of the action in the water.

Surfer Dude 1                  Surfer Dude 2                   Surfer Dude 3

It is not supposed to get to normal temperatures till later next week. Normal temperatures for this time of year are 74℉.  I think it will be a while before I can forget about wearing shoes.

The Weather

I have tried not to compare the weather here to what is happening back home.  We have been here in south Texas for 2 weeks and the weather has been relatively consistent.  The nights have usually been clear, the days are mostly clear with nasty looking billowing clouds on the horizon over the gulf as well as the bay.  If we saw these clouds at home you would expect a huge thunder-storm.  But here, nothing really materializes in the way of a change of weather.  In fact, I have found that any clouds that would enhance the sunset usually disappear before the sun actually sets.  The daytime temperatures are usually sitting around the 85°F (29°C) with very high humidity.  So humid in fact that it trips the rain sensors on my ceiling vents, turns the fans off and closes the vent. They are forecasting a cold snap here in the middle of next week, with highs around 60°F (15°C).  Oh No!

I have been told that since we have been gone, Saskatoon has seen a dump of snow.  So much that people have had to bring out their snow blowers.  We have also seen the weather hovering around the freezing mark.  Slightly below zero one day and above freezing the next.  I have been told it is hard to keep your car clean in this type of weather.  All in all I think south Texas and Saskatoon have had some pretty good weather for the end of November.

After our usual morning bike ride I bet you can’t guess what we did next.  You would be right if you said we went to the beach because that is exactly what we did.  There were more families out today.  It was enjoyable to see families out enjoying the day.  Oh, and there were more kites flying.

Bev’s kite and line laundry

Bev’s Kite

Bev’s Spinner AKA Line Laundry

There are a few people here from Quebec.  It seems they are in the parking lot every day with their truck camper.  They can be found down in the surf, fishing.  They seem quite good at it as by the end of the afternoon, they always have a stringer of fish ready for the frying pan.  They also have a little dog that is fun to watch.  He will run up and down the beach trying to catch things the owner might have pretended to throw in the water.  I know most dogs like water but I would think the salt water in their eyes and mouth would be uncomfortable.

Although there was enough wind for kite flying, we didn’t see any kite boarders out today.  We did however see a couple of young fellows trying their hands at surfing.  Given the size of the waves, I think they were doing a pretty good job.

Well the ominous clouds I mentioned didn’t disappear tonight so after we were done at the  beach  I grabbed my camera and tripod and went looking for some sunset pictures.  The ones tonight turned out all right but I am still looking for that perfect location that will provide an interesting foreground backlit by a fabulous orange sunset.

I am not sure what tomorrow will bring you will have to stay tuned to find out.

 

Perfect Days

The last few days have been nothing but perfect.  But before I tell you about our last two days, I must report on our oyster experience.

Wednesday happens to be oyster day at Joes Oyster Bar in Port Isabel.  Last week I had been talking with our neighbours Charlie and Dwayne.  We got talking about oysters and I had mentioned that Bev and I had never tried them.  We probably would give them a try if we could get a sampler plate.  I didn’t want to buy a full serving just in case we couldn’t eat more than one, if you know what I mean.

Well Charlie mentioned that we would have to go to Joes Oyster Bar and give them a try. Sure enough, he took us this week.  Charlie and his wife Sylvia from Ontario, Dwayne and his wife Pat from Missouri and Bev and I made our way over the Queen Isabella Causeway to Port Isabel and found Joes on E Maxan street.

If I didn’t know better I would think we were entering a fish market.  The front of the building is full of fresh fish and seafood you can purchase along with various spices and rubs. The restaurant in located in the back.  While discussing the menu it was suggested by the other four we should get the Nathan’s Special.  More on that later.

Before we knew it, two dozen oysters in the ½ shell were at the table. Sylvia is allergic to oysters so one platter was shared by Dwayne and Pat. The other was for Charlie, Bev and I.  Charlie took the lead and showed us the ropes.  First he mixed horse radish into some sort of sea food sauce that came in the middle of the platter.  Next he removed the oyster from the shell and placed it on a cracker (saltine).  On top of the oyster a small amount of the sauce was place and down the hatch it went. I had a couple and Bev had one on a cracker and one right out of the shell (no sauce).  It was an experience.  Dwayne had mentioned earlier that you either really love oysters or you really hate them. We both came a way not loving them but not really hating them either.  There wasn’t a lot of flavour except for the horse-radish.

I don’t think we will be ordering oysters, at least raw ones, anytime soon.  But I think we will be  back to Joes for the other items on their menu. We ordered the Nathan Special we grilled and lightly seasoned.  It included shrimp, crab cake, flounder, coleslaw and french fries.  Bev really enjoyed the crab cake and I really liked the flounder.  The shrimp were huge and the ketchup had some sort of zing to it.  All in all the meal was delicious.

Well that was our dining experience. Now on to the beach.

Thursday was a beach day.  We decided that we wanted to see some different sand so drove out of Isla Blanca Park and headed up island to Andy Bowie County Park. There were a lot fewer people on the beach.  It was like we had the whole place to ourselves. We stayed all afternoon.

It was quite a walk to the beach from Andy Bowie so today we decided to stay at the beach just behind the RV.  As we were getting our chairs and umbrella set up two couples took residence just down from us and before we could get settled, they were starting to fly kites.  I think they had 8 or nine in the air before I could get our little kite out and flying.  I think I mentioned before that kites are a thing here on the island.  I was able to capture a few pictures.

The sky was mostly cloudless and there was a slight breeze off the water to keep us cool.  We stay all afternoon.  When we got back to the RV I notices clouds on the horizon that would make the sunset amazing.  I quickly got our beach stuff put away and grabbed my camera and headed over to the boat launch. In that short time the clouds had mostly disappeared but I was able to get a sunset photo.

Tomorrow’s weather is going to be the same as today.  I don’t think it could get any better.

 

Everyone’s Fishing

We spent today on the beach.  It was really relaxing and it seemed like everyone wanted to fish.

There were 6 or 8 fishing rods sticking out of the sand right in front of us. I don’t really know how this works but the fishers certainly do.  The poles are long, probably about 12 feet.  On the end of the line are 2 small hooks that have been loaded with bait.  At the end is a heavy lead weight.  The fisher will walk out into the surf, almost to their waist, then casts the line out as far as he can.  He then walks back to shore and puts his pole in a holder that is stuck in the sand and waits.  I am not sure how you know when you have caught something but we would see them running to their poles, pulling them out of the holder and winding in the line like crazy.  They were catching little fish, 10 to 12 inches long.  In the later afternoon the catch was cleaned and prepared for the BBQ right there on the beach.

Not only were there two-legged fishers, there were also the two-winged variety.  While watching the activity on the shore we noticed a large number of small white birds circling and diving into the water.  Following these birds were the brown pelicans. There must have been a school of fish making their way down the beach. Unlike the white pelicans we see in Saskatoon who dip their huge bills into the water looking for lunch, the brown pelicans are divers.  If you have never seen it before, it is crazy to watch.

The pelicans circle around, quite high above the water, head down, looking for their target.  All of a sudden they pull their wings back and start their dive.  It’s fun to watch.

Here I Come

You Get The One On The Right, I’ll Get The One On The Left

One Dive After Another

I can See Lunch

It was a little warmer today.  There was also a bit more wind.  More wind means more kite boarders.  Our neighbour from Ontario, boards up island but on the bay side, I think it is because there are fewer waves.  But there always seems to be a few on the gulf side.  Today was no exception.

Of course, when you are out on the ocean and are battling the wind, there are ample opportunities for disaster.  Especially if you are new to the sport.  Often we will see a boarder lose his footing and end up in the water.  But once he gets his feet back in the stirrups, off he goes again.  There is also the situation where the kite will actually come down in the water.  Most of these times the boarder is able to get the kite back in the air while staying at the end of his lines.  Today we witnessed a situation where the boarder had to swim to shore with his kite and board.  Reaching the beach totally exhausted, he gathered up his equipment and walked down the beach, probably to where his car was parked.  It was probably the end of his day.

Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day.  Well actually, supper is what is going to be exciting.  Sylvia and Charlie, next door, are taking us to Joes Oyster Bar.  Neither one of us has had oysters and Charlie says Joes is the best.  So we might be brave and give them a try, or maybe just a sample.  We will let you know in our next post.

 

What a Week

We have had such a great week, weather-wise, that it has been hard to find time to sit down and put words into a blog post.  We have been out and about most days and have taken a few pictures and I think it’s about time I show them to you and try to remember what was going on.

We have had some windy weather.  Sometimes so windy we don’t get out for a bicycle ride or to the beach.  But it is sunny enough we can still sit around the RV and read or visit with the neighbours.

The Gulf is Angry

The wind normally calms after sunset and we experience extremely clear night skies and stunning sunsets.  The sky is full of stars and I am looking forward to trying some star trail pictures during our stay.  With those clear nights the moon is always very bright.

The other morning I went out for a walk.  I ended up walking down the beach towards the jetty. This man-made structure extends quite far into the ocean and protects the Brownsville shipping channel.  There were a lot of fishers out on the jetty trying their luck, probably a 100 or so.  Some with rods, hooks and bait and others with throw nets.  I didn’t see much action from the crowd with fishing poles but those with throw nets were doing all right.  There was one older fisherman with a throw net I noticed was successful on every throw. He would wait and wait, for just the right moment and then toss his net out only to retrieve a dozen or so fish.  He must have been able to see the fish in the water as his signal as to when and were to toss his net.  The winds were much calmer as you looked down the beach.

From the jetty I walked over to the boat launch.  There is usually lots of activity with birds and boats to watch.

From the boat launch I walked around the park and headed back to the beach and our RV spot.  I was quite a ways from the beach when I noticed something in the sky.  If you look out from the beach you will almost always see kite boarders flying back and forth, but these were different.  As I got closer I could se they were kites.  I noticed the two fellows that were flying these colourful kites were from B&S Kites, a local kite store.  When we were here last year, there were always kites on the beach.  We think it is a big thing.

Well today there wasn’t much wind.  This was a bonus as we were able to get out on our bikes and take two laps around the park.  That is all our leg muscles will allow right now.  Maybe by the end of the week we will be biking into town for a coffee or an ice cream. After our bike ride we ended up on the beach for the afternoon.  This is our first afternoon by the water.  It was really relaxing, a gentle breeze, the sound of the surf and the warmth of the sun.  By the way, there was enough wind for me to fly my kite which is much smaller than those shown above.

There was a lot of activity on the beach.  Lots of people walking. Some bicycle riders and dog walkers, some people looking for shells.  Of course there are always the shore birds and the gulls.  For some reason Bev likes to feed the birds.  Here are a few shots of the afternoons activities.

I See You

Out For A Walk

Hurry Up and Throw That Stick

Well Are You Going To Throw It Or Not

Darn Wind

Thanks For The Snack

The weatherman tells us tomorrow its going to be much the same as we experienced today, except a little warmer.  With that said, we have tomorrows lunch ready.  The beach chairs, blanket, umbrella and kite are already packed in the truck.  All we will need to do is pack the food and beverages and we will be off.

See you on the beach.

They Let Us In

Well actually the Border Patrol Officer was really nice.  She didn’t ask us any questions that got us in trouble and actually wished us a good trip and warm winter.  It was nice to hear the personnel comments as you often only get “Business” from them.

We left Saskatoon on Monday morning, November 13 and finally pulled into our winter spot around lunchtime yesterday Sunday, November 19.  It was a long 7 days.  You don’t really get to see much when travelling on the Interstate Highway System.  Basically there are lots of lanes going through the major cities often accompanied by construction which slows everything down.

Here is a synopsis of what we encountered on each day of our trip.  If you want to see the locations we stopped at, head on over to our “Where We Are” page. Here you can click the box for the year you are interested in and see our progress.

Day 1:

Left Saskatoon around 9:30 AM and stopped at the Manitoba Welcome Centre about 6 hours later.  The road conditions were good except between Regina and White City.  Here it was foggy which seemed to make the road damp. Temperature was +4.

Day 2:

Left the Visitor Centre around 9:00 AM with the temperature at +1.  There was melting ice on the windshield which makes me think there was more fog during the night.  As we entered North Dakota the fog returned.  At times we think the visibility was down to ½ KM. It was an overcast dreary day with the temperature varying between -4 and +4. We stopped for the night around 5:00 PM at Elm River Visitor Centre, just north of Fargo ND.

Day 3:

The south half of North Dakota has no snow in the fields.  In South Dakota the farmers are out in their fields harvesting corn.  This is corn country.  It is everywhere.  Some of the other fields and some of the ditches are green.  We had a gusty tail wind today which helped with the fuel economy and the temperature was -5.  Last night wasn’t very restful as we had semi tractors on each side of us with their engines running all night long.  We also ran out of propane last night.  We woke up to +3 in the camper instead of +13.  I quickly went out and switched propane tanks and went back to bed for an hour until everything warmed up.  We are in Sioux City for the night and then will be heading west.  The wildlife has been sparse and fields have turned to rolling hills with cows everywhere.

Incredible sunsets

Day 4:

Got on the road about 8:30 this morning and passed through Omaha and then headed west.  There seems to be more traffic east/west than we experienced north/south.  We turned south near York and stopped for the night just north of McPherson Kansas after about 8 hours driving.  The temperature ranged from -3 to +16 and we had a slight head wind. Still lots of cows and corn. The fields are green and the Department of Transport is out mowing the ditches.  We must be south enough the farmers are getting two crops per year.

Day 5:

Travelled through Kansas and Oklahoma today.  The soil has turned a red colour.  Much like a red fired brick. We are in oil country as you can see the oil pumps in the fields. We had a head wind today and started the day out at +16. We have stopped in the north part of Texas. A little short of where we wanted to end up.  This is because I like to travel in the right (slow) lane and the exit to go around Oklahoma city is on the left.  With the amount of traffic, I was unable to switch over 3 lanes in time to make the exit.  This added about an hour as we snaked back around the various exits and entrances on the Interstate so we were heading in the right direction again.  We saw a couple of bad car accidents and our first cotton field. This morning was cloudy, the afternoon was clear blue skies.

Welcome to Texas

Texas Tail Wind

Day 6:

More accidents in the ditch and on the road today which slowed us down.  No ambulances were seen so luckily it was only a loss of property.  We saw the results of a crash going north at Fort Worth where the 4 lanes of traffic stopped, for at least 10 miles. There was a lot of construction in Austin, slowed us again.  We started at +16 and when we stopped it was +29.

Day 7:

Started the day at +13 and pulled into the park around 12:30 with +20 degrees.  We had sunny skies and a strong tail wind.  As we approached Harlingen it started to get cloudy with a cool breeze.  Today was all about Palm trees, Prickly pear, sand and butterflies.

The total distance of our journey was 3890 KMs and if you add 22¢ to the american dollars we spent, the average fuel cost was 92.9 ¢/l.