Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Visiting San Antonio

I am sorry to be so slow updating you on our travels. As many of you know my sister, who lives in Montreal, is very ill. As a result we decided to rearrange our travel plans, skip over some of the places we were planning to visit - Big Bend National Park in Texas, Roswell, NM,  and Silver Sands National Park in NM - and head to Phoenix where we parked while I flew to Montreal for a short visit. Thus the tardiness. I am now back in Phoenix and as we plan to move on westward I will publish several blogs telling you about January's travel adventures. 

On our way to Phoenix we did stop for a quick visit to San Antonio - The Alamo was on Arch's bucket list and I wanted to check out The Riverwalk.

One fact that became quickly obvious to us when we arrived in Texas is that Texans are different than other Americans. In many ways Texas is to the United States as Quebec is to Canada. The first state park we stopped at we asked if the America the Beautiful pass would qualify us for a discount (we understand it does in some states).  "Not a chance" said the woman checking us it "as a matter of fact we shouldn't even be a part of the United States". Oh, OK!

No where is this sense of independence more obvious than at The Alamo, a "Shrine to Texas Liberty". It would take a very long blog to explain the historic value of The Alamo to Texans. Sufficient to say that the battle for the Alamo (in which its defenders all died) was the start of a long battle for Texas' freedom from Mexican rule. You can read a detail description of the Alamo's history here.

Today the relationship between Texas and Mexico seems to be much improved. As you approach The Alamo you cannot miss this red sculpture:
The Torch of Friendship
The "Torch of Friendship" was given to San Antonio by the Mexican Consulate as a sign of friendship and to represent the roots many Texans share with Mexico.
The contemporary steel sculpture was made in Mexico and shipped to San Antonio in six pieces. It stands 65 feet tall and weighs 50 tons.
It was commissioned to commemorate the relationship between the United States and Mexico and the two countries' increasing commercial ties.

As we were there on Jan 2nd and 3rd the Christmas decorations were still in place. I loved this Christmas tree at the entrance to Alamo Plaza:
The Alamo site itself sits in a city square surrounded be the usual schlocky tourist attractions. It reminded us of Niagara Falls.
This building is actually the church from the mission:
It serves as the entrance to The Alamo grounds. Once inside there are several displays and a museum telling you about the history of The Alamo from it's early days as a Spanish Mission to today. And the story of the Battle of the Alamo is told in 3 ways - in a short movie, by a storyteller and by re-enactors
The soldier above was explaining how the guns used in the battle worked.

As we wanted to see the Riverwalk wearing it Christmas lights we visited there in the late afternoon. It is a very beautiful and well done attraction that draws millions to downtown San Antonio each year. Hopefully the following pictures will give you a feel for its beauty.

First, in the late afternoon:

At dusk:

And after dark:
We walked the entire area but noticed that there were two other ways to take in the Riverwalk

By water taxi:
And by tour boat:
So we decided to have a bite to eat in this restaurant:
And take in the Christmas lights from the tour boat:

All in all it was a very pleasant visit.

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Meeting up With Fellow RV Bloggers

When Arch and I started this RV adventure one of our main goals was (and is) to learn as much as we can about the USA and Canada and, more importantly, to get to know interesting people along the way.

We are not loners and enjoy everyone we meet. From people living in poverty, trying to recouperate from the devestation of hurricane Katrina, to people suffering dehibiliting diseases but enjoying life on the road anyway, to folks just like us who are travelling and enjoying the scenery, people, etc to the folks who have more money than we can imagine driving the biggest motorhome or pulling the largest 5th wheel with the most fancy truck (some even have semi truck cabs) possible.

But our favoutite experience is to meet up with fellow bloggers and facebook friends whom we know only through an internet connection.

Last year Elaine MacAskill Cochrane and I connected on Facebook and when I shared a photo that she had shared on Facebook I won a 6 month stay at The Glades RV Resort in Florida. We met in person, Arch and Elaine's husband Rick hit it of and this year we spent two days two in their yard in Moncton NB before heading out together for our winter destinations. We parted in PA when Elaine and Rich headed south and we headed west.
It was a chilly and bright morning the day we left Elaine and Rick's
As we headed down the Natchez Trace Parkway last fall I noticed that a blogger I follow and am a facebook friend with, Daryl Cheney White (Dee) and her husband, Michael, were close behind us. Then I lost track of them for a while and then, while we were at Bentsen Palms Village RV Resort Dee contacted me to say they were just down the road and lets get together for a visit. She also mentioned that another blogger, Ruth Garside was staying at Bentsen Palms as well. So one afternoon between Christmas and New Years the 6 of us got together at our RV site for coffee and conversation. 
From left: Me, Ruth Michael (with timbit) Arch and Ken (with Jackson)
Thanks Dee for the great photo.

And I picture I took so you know what Dee looks like:
Dee, Michael, Arch, Ken and Ruth
What a great afternoon getting to know fellow bloggers. I just love Facebook and the internet.

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To contact me click here 
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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bentsen Palms Village RV Resort

We loved Bentsen Palms Village RV Resort in Mission, Texas. When we left after a 1 month stay Arch said it felt a lot like we were leaving home. We met so many nice people there and had a great time despite some abnormal cold and wet weather.

To start at the beginning:

By the time we arrived at South Padre Island on Dec 1st we were exhausted and tired of traveling and so decided to park it for 1 month. We spent two days looking for a suitable RV park. What is suitable you ask? Well let me tell you

The first thing we look for is a park with more Motorhomes and 5th Wheels in it than permanent “park models”. As we learned last year in Florida, permanent residents tend to view us transients as interlopers who use their facilities and interfere with their life. Despite the fact that we pay the lion's share of the bills. In one park we were handed 8 pages of rules. Bentsen Palms Village had a sister resort with separate facilities next door for their permanent residents and site owners:

Then we check out the neighbourhood – no nearby train tracks, nightclubs, busy highways, etc. Our neighbours at Bentsen Palms were The National Butterfly Center, Bentsen - Rio Grande Valley State Park and the US/Mexico Border – which added a little excitement.

Then we check in at the office, a friendly greeting is always encouraging. And a price that fits our budget is a must - $600/month + electric or less is what we prefer. Any higher cuts into our play money.
Then a drive through the park. Do people wave? Are there lots of dogs? (Our Tara is no longer with us but dog lovers are usually good people). Are the sites spacious, clean? level? landscaped but not shaded. Are the laundry facilities adequate and well cared for, is there a community centre, etc., etc

Bentsen Palms Village RV Resort looked perfect so we chose a spot and moved in the next day.
What a great decision.

It was a very friendly park - the perfect spot to spend the Christmas period. On Christmas eve our neighbours Vick and Sue dropped in with these little treats, which they made and were sharing with their neighbours:
On Christmas morning these little guys got dressed up and came to visit:
Bonus #1 – Workcampers – Bentsen Palms had a lot of them. In the office, helping us check in and get set up, in the woodworking shop, in the crafts shop and most importantly – the activities committee:
From left: Jeff, Gene, Randy, Holly, Santa, Darla and Bret 
What a great job they did organizing golf outings, margarita nights, card bingo, Christmas events including a Christmas Eve gathering, Christmas Dinner and a New Year's Eve party (which we missed because Arch was sick). Plus many more. These are just the ones we participated in. Every resort should have workcampers, Randy and Holly are thinking about coming to the Glades RV Resort in Florida (where we are planning to stay next year) next winter, They would make great workcampers for the resort.

Bonus #2 - The woodshop – Arch took advantage of this wonderful facility to remove our old microwave (which had in interesting habit of starting in the middle of the night) and build a new shelf to house a smaller more efficient one. With extra room for the coffee perk.

Out with the old

In with the new

Bonus #3 – youthful Rvers – I do not mean in age necessarily but in attitude. I've never seen so many healthy retirees in one spot before. Everyone seemed to walk, bike, swim etc. A lot of them were younger in age as well. We were likely among the older folks there. But it was good for us. It kept us moving.

Bonus #4 – golfers - lots of them. Some for me to play with and some for Arch. And, much to Arch's horror, they walked all 18 holes. But he caught up fast and likely gained a few walking muscles in the process.

Bonus #5 - park wildlife – The first day Arch played golf his partners told him that behind one of the RV sites was a Black Widow spider living on a drain pipe. Arch was anxious to see it so they said they would find out where it was. And guess what? It was behind the Adventure Bus. We only got to see one of its legs though. It lives back in the hole and only comes out to enjoy the sun on nice days. And we forgot to check on the days when the sun came out.

And then one night Becky and Lonny, who were in a site just up the way from us,were returning to their motorhome after dark. Becky opened the door and as she stepped back she heard a rattle and saw this guy at her feet.
Needless to say she screamed and jumped into the motorhome. The rattlesnake just missed her as it struck the step where she was standing. Everyone came to look. The park office was called and someone came with a cooler. The rattlesnake was placed in a cooler (after this picture was taken) and the next morning they released it about a mile from the park.

I could go on and on. We loved this park. If you are looking for a spot in Texas for the winter you won't do better than Bentsen Palms Village RV Resort.

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You can follow more of our adventures on our facebook page
To contact me click here 
We enjoy and appreciate your comments. To comment simply click on the comments link below.