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volume 4                         December  1993                         number 8
From Outdoor Resorts at Port Isabel, Texas

Rio Grande Valley of Texas
�  Potpourri .
�  Campground Update 
�  Good Places to Eat
�  Reflections 
�  Time to Settle Down 
�  This' N That.
�  Signs along the way 
�  Quiz 
We'll be back in your mailbox, some time in January, with more stories on the adventures of Winter Texans nestled in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. And maybe we'll finally have the story on our appearance on Good Morning America.
Allthough we give thanks daily, we are
especially grateful during this Holiday Season for the three   Fs 
We are richly blessed and treasure
 these above all material things. To you, our family and friends (some we  haven't even met yet),we wish a  joyful and meaningful Holiday Season. 

                                                    by Ron
(Please remember that this report was written many years ago and the campgrounds may or may not be in business or as they were.)
This month we have only two campgrounds to report on. That is, if you don't count the 3 nights that we camped next to a service bay at Ancira RV in Boerne, Texas. They did provide electricity and water, but the views were not too good. However, the price was right. Our first campground is one that many of you are familiar with.

Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park, Bandera, Texas, page 412 (CCC). Unlike the Yogi Bear in New Hampshire, this one is friendly and will try to accommodate you, even though they are busy. It is well known in the Coast to Coast system, because they sell memberships CHEAP. Because of this, the park is quite controversial among other CCC parks. Coast to Coast guests are parked in a separate area below the main part of the park. The only difference being no pullthroughs there. All of the sites are narrow and the hook-ups can be distant. We had to add a spare sewer hose in order to reach the outlet. You will enjoy the cowboy town and the lovely hill country. In addition, the park has excellent recreational facilities and activities for seniors. They probably only do the Yogi bit in the summer when the kids are there. Because of the great location and good restaurants nearby, you may want to try this one. We liked it.

Outdoor Resorts, Port Isabel, Texas.  I will report on some of the basics of this beautiful resort---for more see page 5. The park is on the intercostal in view of the bridge that goes out to the south end of South Padre Island. That is where most of the stores, restaurants and accommodations are. The sites are wide with outstanding hook-ups and pads. We only used our jacks to stabilize the motor home as our site is perfectly level. Our monthly cost including electricity is $290 (we treat ourselves once in awhile). A lot of the sites are rented directly by lot owners and they are listed on the bulletin board in the club house. The gate guard will give you a pass to go in and
check. Most are in the $200 range, plus electricity (approx $30). We went through the parks rental office, which gets a commission on the rentals. 

                                          by Ron

In the Coffee Break column last month, Barb mentioned that we were going to get a transmission cooler. I'm surprised that no one wrote to say that we already had one. That's right, the new Ford chassis is factory equipped with a transmission cooler in front of the radiator. I told you that I wasn't 
mechanically inclined.

Some of our readers are a little late in their correspondence. Full-timer Bob Nillis wrote to say that my comment last January about the lack of good restaurants in Livingston, Texas was in error. He pointed out that there are 3 or 4 good seafood and Cajun restaurants and a couple of good Mom and Pop places for breakfast and lunch. I'm glad that he set the record straight.

South Padre Island is a fisherman's delight. We are hearing about daily catches of 40 to 50 whitings (a silvery white fish). Many are surf fishing from shore. They just drive their vehicles out on the beach, wade out a few feet, and they are in business. I may try it. 

There are shrimp boats in the harbor and shrimp is relatively inexpensive here. We like to buy them fresh at B & A Seafood Market and clean them ourselves. After marinating them in terriaki sauce for an hour or so, I grill them outside for several minutes. What a treat.

One of my weekly jobs is to wash the car. It doesn't get dirty, but the salt air leaves a salty mist on the car.

Even though the Mexican town of Metamores is only 30 miles away, we
haven't visited it yet. Can you believe, we haven't had time. Gotta retire again. 

Good Places to Eat
(Remember that this report was written many years ago and the restaurants may or may not be in business or as they were.)

La Jaiba, South Padre Island, Texas. Except for one item (chicken fried steak), listed in very small print at the bottom of the menu, the menu is totally seafood. Shrimp seemed to be their speciality so we both ordered it. The large serving was very tasty and the prices were quite reasonable. But they lose points for not having a non smoking section, for serving the salad on the same plate as the dinner (you must ask ahead of time to get it served separately and before dinner), and poor service. 

Great Wall Chinese Restaurant, South Padre Island, Texas. An article in the local paper caught our attention. The new owner has had other successful restaurants and learned the art of soup making from the Emperor of China's chef. Specializing in Mandarin, Hunan & Szechuan Cuisine there are 148 items on the menu plus combination plates, and 25 diet food offerings ("specially cooked with no fat"). They have a wonderful variety of soups: Egg Flower, Hot & Sour, Wonton, Pickled Vegetable, Sea Weed, Chicken Corn, Three Flavor, Sea Food, Sizzling Rice, and War Wonton. We had Hot & Sour and it was the best we've ever had. Our dinner was excellent too ---very tasty and spicy when it was supposed to be. The service was superb also.

Atrium Room, Outdoor Resorts, Port Isabel, Texas. This place puts out great food at super low prices. Their Mexican Buffet on Tuesday is one you won't want to miss---only $4.99 for all you can eat and it includes everything. 

Reflections of a New Full-timer
by Carol Stewart 
Carol & Dick Stewart are new full-timers (less than one year) originally from California. I thought that some of you would be interested in another's perspective of this lifestyle and Carol has a neat way with words. This is all taken from a recent letter. Hope you like it. 

Most of the summer from June 12 to August 30 was spent making a great circle from Ohio to New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and into Nova Scotia.We were there for about three weeks, went to Newfoundland and Labrador for 13 days and then back to Nova Scotia to go to Prince Edward Island. Now all this time we had only three days of sunshine.  Mostly it was rain, fog and wind. But the warmth of the people made up for "Newfie sunshine" as we called the weather. On to New Brunswick, more rain and then the long trek around Gaspi Peninsula.  It was great, with great flowers, omni-French gourmet food, pastries, and seascapes that would make one think that winter never visits there.  On to Quebec City, north to Lac St Jean for summer festivals, wine, cheese making and a true ghost town of 1930.  Montreal was busy in it's high tourist and vacation time.  Next [on to] to Niagara Falls. It was too early to return to the Vermont area, so we just kept on trucking to Sault St Marie, Traverse city---don't forget Mackinaw Island, then Holland.  Near Detroit we contacted my brother who met us in Port Clinton for holidays on Kelly's Island and Put-In- Bay. 

I'm in the laundry room---the only time I have to write---sometimes I even put more money in the machine of almost dry items so I can write just one more note. 

It's fall now here in Boston; we're headed for the "leaves" to be leaf peepers or foliage freaks whichever the New Englanders wish to call us.  Actually it's the dropping of the "green" as I see it---our money for their leaves.

I look at schools and wonder how the staff at my school is doing---I surely don't miss the stress.

I enjoy seeing all the places I've only read about, meeting all the folks who are living this crazy way of life.

I can't do both, teach and do this, so I choose this.  We stay only two or three days at the most any one place; I would like to stay more, but Dick's on a roll---and Lord love him, he deserves it. So here we go!

From here to New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, on to DC then Myrtle Beach for a rally. It's a real roller coaster!

I've learned to:

  • do laundry often, or leave it go for the great laundromat push. 
  • to keep fresh flowers (sometimes weeds) on our little table.
  • throw away things we aren't using.
  • that a navigational error on my part and Dick's upset does not really make a statement about our love for each other.
  • that having the dog along would have been disastrous for the dog and for us as a couple, particularly with our unwinter like weather and our 15 ferry crossings.

  • that a clean motor home inside and out is important to our mental health, and we must take mornings or afternoons to create that health.
  • that physical health sometimes calls a halt to moving and the partner must wait out the scurvy of the other.
  • that small town haircuts all look the same.
  • that Canadian mail does not arrive through customs for at least three weeks. We still have mail following us.
  • that with patience, the unseeing, unhearing spouse will finally agree 

  • the motor home, car, whatever, does have a problem. We had a bad smell---propane? head? gray water outlets? Finally Dick smelled the smell; it was a foul battery releasing sulphur by bits and whiffs--- then we smelled like the whole sewer of Detroit. But Dick found the battery, and the smell has gone away---Whew
Do we miss home? Not as much as the kids wish we would come home. It's just too far to drive, and too much to fly now. We'll go over the holidays. But the truth is, we're getting into our niche; it isn't a big one, and we want to make it deeper before we leave it. The house is a memory; the dog is still pain.

This vehicle suits us fine. The Jeep's personality is great and it usually brings kids and fathers for Dick to talk to. But towing any car really beats on it, and we're seeing wear and tear on an exotic rarity being greater than we would like.  It is a tough little vehicle (not a car), so will see if it can last a while---If not, perhaps a Ford Explorer or Cherokee will follow us. Since the Jeep is green and white, we are a sight on the highway and, let's face it---anything for entertainment.

This whole venture could have been done more easily in a 22 foot mini---less money, more maneuverability, just less stuff.  Do we need the stuff? Right now I still feel a need for books, tapes of music, cold weather clothes (I have only 1 dress, so that's bare bones), cooking tools, books, games, hats, and purses. We haven't square danced, so we're sending that stuff (except for one or two outfits) back home (son's house that is) to store. Dick doesn't want to camp out so we could ship that out, too, but maybe there's hope---we just might this spring. BUT we could have left it in
Coarsegold (California).

Wish I had brought a small portable tape player to use outside, a lap top computer and printer so I could say more without getting writer's cramp. 

Wish we exercised more. Here I am sitting again and I've gained a lot of weight. Too many ice cream stops, too many quick sandwiches instead of salads. But the soul needs its food to---HO!

Would I trade, go back? Not on a bet. I love the road, my little kitchen, the road ahead, the folks we meet, the beauty of nature, the technology of this machine, a new grocery every week, the excitement of good prices in a discount mall, and the words, "I've always wanted to come here, and here
we are." Dick and I are closer, and the more space and validation we give each other, the closer we get. He builds me; I build him. The outside world shakes its head and does not validate us---in fact they usually lead to more questioning of our lifestyle. Escapees and folks who empathize come around once in a while and we suck up our OKness. But there is a feeling that we're on our own, okay---we make it or break it---right now we're making it big. It helps, too, to have plans, real ones, to see other folks. Then there will be more talk, catching up on news, sharing ideas with the same sex---more validation. I don't want to get stuck on this, but it is important to me---at least now when I'm not getting it from friends, family and the almighty job, career---the biggie now that school's starting for the first time in 48 years without me; will the institution survive?  We all know the answer, and I'm glad to be free of it for a while.

Time to Settle Down For A Little While
Whew! I don't think that a body is ment to travel ALL THE TIME. Just reading Carol Stewart's reminisces wore me out. And I thought we were moving too much when we moved every week or two. 

We had been moving every week or so since June. Don't get me wrong. It's nice to see all there is to see, but as we neared Texas, I didn't even want to do any more sightseeing for a while. Once or twice a year, we have to set still and catch our breath. And that is exactly what we are doing here at
Outdoor Resorts in Port Isabel, Texas. 

Ron reading the morning paper
This is a little bit of heaven. First of all it is warm and sunny. I never minded the snow and cold up north, but grey days sure had an effect on me after a while. When the sun shines, all is right with the world. Add to that, bright blue skys, the ocean waves pounding the shore, seagulls squawking,
sailboats drifting peacefully, palm trees, tall white hotels creating a sparkling skyline, flowering bushes, quiet beaches dotted with fishermen, and most importantly wonderful friends who are in the mood to play. It is a recipe for fun and relaxation. 

Outdoor Resorts of Port Isabel is not directly on the ocean. It is on Long Island which is only a few short blocks from the causeway linking the mainland to South Padre Island. Since South Padre Island is only one half mile wide at its widest point, the ocean is very near. And there is no congestion. It is only a few minutes drive (with only one stop light) between us and the ocean.

Ron biking on the beach
Eight hundred plus campsites are intricately laid out on 10 canals and along the intercostal. Most of the sites are within a stones throw of the water; others border the 18 hole executive golf course. Besides golf, there's a beautiful tennis court, mineature golf, shuffleboard courts, outdoor swimming pool and spa. Indoors there is another swimming pool, spa, saunas, excercise room, 6 table billiard room, game room, laundry, card room and ballroom. The club house is huge---20,000 square feet.

As soon as we got here, we were presented with the schedule of events and an apology that things weren't in full swing yet. Bridge was offered three times a week, Euchre twice a week, square dancing, potluck, dances, an outing to the dog races, crafts, golf skins and scrambles and so on. And as soon as you participate in any event, you meet people who invite you to do other things. For example, we met Judy and Stan at the Welcome Back Winter Texan Dinner Dance and they invited us to go with them to the Wednesday night crab races at the Radisson Hotel on the island. What fun!

Besides all the activities here, we are only 30 minutes from Metamoros (in Mexico) and Brownsville in Texas. More good shopping and the dog races are only 30 minutes northwest of here in Harlingen. 

Fishing is the main sport here and fishing gear can be seen at most sites. Of course most even have their own boats docked right out their back door. But those that don't, have tubes mounted on the front of their trucks to hold the big fishing poles used to surf fish. 

So what do we do all day? We get up at 6:45. I make coffee and when it is done, we drink a cup in bed while watching the first half hour of Good Morning America. Then we don our walking clothes (shorts and tee shirt) and walk a majority of the complex (4 miles = 1 hour). At 8:30 we are back home and we sit out side cooling off by drinking a big glass of ice water. Then it's time for a second cup of coffee. Ron walks the 50 feet to the bank of paper boxes to get the morning paper. Around 9:30 we eat breakfast, and finish reading the paper. Between showers, more of the paper, correspondence or whatever,  the morning disapears and before we know it, it is noon and time for lunch.

After lunch we may go for a ride, go to the beach, get groceries, play golf, tennis or any number of things and before you know it it's dinner time. Don't forget the normal chores that must be done like laundry, car and motorhome washing, house cleaning, and so on. We didn't even get to all the things on our "to do" list like washing the screens, cleaning and oiling the bikes, and so on. At 7 p.m. the games begin (bridge, euchre or whatever). We're home by 10 p.m. and after the local news, it's bed time. 

These people really know how to throw a party. The Welcome Back party included dinner and a live band for dancing. The price was only $7 per person and included hors d'oeuvres. As we entered the ballroom, we were showered with confetti and an interviewer, made sure he announced who we were and where we were from. The band was excellent and every one danced the night away.

All the meals are served here in the most effeicent manner. Long tables are set to serve 18, and each long table has it's own buffet serving table. Thanksgiving dinner was exceptional. Not only was the meal supuburb, It was like one BIG family. Pot lucks are handled very orderly too. The Artium provides the entre' while couples sign up for salad, vegetables or dessert. Again they are served on separate buffet tables. 

Don Slattery is a golf nut from Chicago and a new full-timer who came here two weeks ago. When he retired, all of his friends wondered what he was going to do with his time. He did too, but doesn't any more. After two weeks here, he hasn't even had time to get out on the golf course. He said you wake up on Monday and suddenly it is Friday.

And the longer you are here, the more there is to keep you busy. We would really like to stay longer. Most who come here stay for at least three months. It is a Winter Haven for Winter Texans. We had no idea that this was such a neat place. But we know we will have fun at The Meadows in Mission
which is where we are moving to on December 8. We just wish we could take some of these folks with us.  We have friends in Mission that we haven't seen for a couple of years and there will be more to meet. And we will look forward to returning here someday.

This 'N That
by Barb

I had promised that I would report on Waco in the next newsletter, but we didn't do any touring while there. Unlike vacationers, we never feel that we have to do/see everything in every area. There's always the next time. 

We have to thank Ancira RV in Boerne, Texas, for again taking such good care of us. It was like old home week when we pulled in. We had more warranty work to be done and they did a super job. They are also handling our book so any of you in the San Antonio area can run out there and get one without having to pay shipping. And while you are out there do look at the Safari's. Nice motorhome. I want one someday.

On our way down to the Valley, we stopped in Kingville for a tour of the King Ranch. Mighty impressive! See how you do on the quiz. I intended to do a whole story on the ranch, but I ran out of room. Sometimes I wish I could write a few more pages, but then I'd have to put more postage on each newsletter and raise the price which I won't do. So I just have to keep frustrated.

Our friend Judy Richards had a hysterectomy few weeks ago and is recovering nicely. In fact we just heard from them that they are coming down to visit us at The Meadows in Mission, Texas, for Christmas. It will be great to have them to share the area and the holidays with. 

Just got a nice letter from our friends, the Rydings, with news that she has made reservations for the four of us at a campground in Calgary, Canada next summer (July 7-14). She also made arrangements for us to hike to Skoki Lodge at Lake Louise (good hike) and reservations to stay at the lodge July 21 & 22. We will really have some wonderful adventures to report on next summer. We can hardly wait.

I sure would like to meet Robin and Victoria Jenkinsen [ a regular letter writer] someday soon. Just heard from Robin again and discovered that Victoria is a fantastic artist (he sent a post card sample of her work). She was just commissioned to do a painting of a cat by it's owner in Boston. Also discovered that their daughter lives in the US and that is how they got their green cards so speedily. But the house has not sold yet. Do any of you want a lovely manor house in France?

We have met the neatest people here. For example, Carl and Lois Sprague and their friends Bernie and Betty Pohlmann are from New Mexico and have been coming here for years. They say that when "the group" is all here, they number about 30 and they have the "best fun" together. 

Carl Sprague has been coaching me on why the weather has been acting up and I think I understand. It's not El Nino, but the volcano that erupted in the Philippines a couple of years ago. He said, "We're gonna get a freeze like you've never seen before." He also said that the change in the weather will continue for another year or so. I hope he is wrong. By the way, Carl worked on the Manhattan project (atomic bomb). And in high school (in the east) was the cockswane on the rowing teams the year his school won 4 national championships. 

We've become close friends with are Jim and Linda Butner, new full-timers from Missouri. They spend the summers in up state New York traveling from fair/festival/event selling their famous BBQ. They have a Jayco 5th wheel and in the summer pull their BBQ wagon, making a 65 foot long unit. WOW!

Another couple we struck up a friendship with are Wally and Lucy Marroy from Louisiana. They are also new full-timers and we met playing euchre. Funny how you just seem to click with certain people.

There's a great ad in the local papers. The heading is "Daddy, will you help me build a BIG sand castle?" It continues, "Go ahead, tell him that you haven't a clue on where to start. Then pick up the phone and call Sandy Feet at 761-6222 to set up an appointment for a private sand castle lesson." Very enterprising don't you think? For $25, you'll get an hour of "professional and personalized" instruction for your group of 10 or less, on the beach of your choice. Neat!

It has been so nice to go to bed at night with the windows wide open. I sure like this kind of weather. I dislike the kind of weather that makes us use either the air conditioning or furnace and close windows.

It is getting to look a lot like Christmas here. Everyone decorates. This Saturday we will watch the boat parade and get a treat for our eyes.

We have been in our Bounder one year exactly and it still seems new. It is so nice to have so much room and all the comforts that we have. I still wonder at how we ever lived 3 ½ years in the Mallard. 

I am still waiting for your help to some of the other questions in last month's Coffee Break. Can any of you offer help on flea markets, what single women should RV in or about precautions to take in towing---to keep from slipping into gear?

We still haven't heard from Good Morning America, but did hear from the Oklahoman. They did a story on us that swamped Publication Services. And then the Kalamazoo Gazette and Grand Rapids Press picked up on the story that ran in the Flint Journal last summer (they are Gannett Papers). All that has nearly depleted our book supply so it's off to the printers again. There will be no revision, but a second printing of the revised edition. 

This is a good time to remind you that we think our book will make a very nice Christmas gift to anyone---yes, even those who never intend to travel as we do. And if you call the 800 number (using your credit card), you'll have the book in just a few days. 

Laura, at Publication Services, handles books for many authors, but she says that our customers are the nicest and a joy to work with. 

She has been getting several orders from libraries so if you mentioned our book to your local library, thanks and if you didn't maybe you could put that on your list of things to do. The libraries really appreciate having a book like ours and don't know about it unless we tell them. Since we can't be everywhere, we need you. Thanks again.

Signs Along The Way

Bumper Sticker seen in Outdoor Resorts
Don't steal 
The government hates competition

A sign out in front of the Henly, Texas, Fire Department
Don't make an ash of yourself

King Ranch Trivia

1.  How large is the King Ranch at present time?

  a)85,000 acres     b)825,000 acres       c)467,000 acres 

2.  There are approximately _________ miles of fencing on the ranch.

 a) 750  b) 1,500   c) 2,000The running W is the King Ranch brand

3.  The ranch is home to_________ head of Santa Gertrudis cattle.
 a) 25,000  b) 75,000     c)  60,000

4.  There are _______ oil and gas wells on the ranch.
 a) under 30   b) 2,700   c) 600

5.  The King ranch is also famous for its registered quarter horses. 
    How many might be found on the ranch at any one time?
 a) 300-500    b) 50-125    c) 700-900

1. b) 825,000
2. c) 2,000
3. c) 60,000
4. b) 2,700
5. a) 300-500


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