More fun in south Texas

LOCATION: In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER: Overcast but warm – 80

I was naughty and returned to the shop where we bought our clothes for the recent fashion show. This time, I was successful in buying a swimsuit and a pair of shorts – not easy as the main retail stores say that since it is “winter”, they do not stock these items this time of year. !!!

George has been busy at the woodworking shop. He took out the table that came with the Airstream – a plain, laminated-top table, and replaced it with a nice piece of wood that he cut, glued together, and stained. It looks so much nicer. It is also a bit narrower and shorter, so it will be easier for our taller guests to get in and out of the dining room seats.

Here is the Before….

And the After……

I am trying to accessorize a bit with teal highlights, so here is the table – set for dinner!

We signed up for an RV rally in southern Louisiana for April – a Cajun Fest. It sounds like it will be fun – Cajun food and entertainment. Several couples from Retama are going.

We had dinner with the couples that are going on the barge trip in France. We enjoyed a Moroccon dinner, as one couple just returned from there. We watched slide shows of their Morocco trip as well as a show of the canal trip that one couple did about 10 years ago – to acquaint us with how the boat works, etc.

Making travel plans

LOCATION: In our “tiny house” in Retama Village in Mission, Texas

WEATHER: Really nice.. Sunny High 75

We continue to enjoy our life in Retama Village, home of about 250 households – RV coach houses, porthomes, single-family homes, and tiny houses like ours. I keep busy with exercise and community events. Yesterday, I was feeling virtuous after 3 hours of line-dancing classes followed by an hour of water aerobics. All of that “goodness” was wiped away at a community wine & cheese event in the evening. There are lots of fun things coming up – Mardi Gras party, Leap Year parade, street parties, and book club meetings.

Today I am using the clubhouse’s wifi (we are too cheap to buy it for the tiny house as we are not here that many months), to do some summer trip planning. I just love to plan!

We will tentatively leave here in mid-May. First stop is Big Bend National Park. We want to visit the park again, and also this helps us create a route that avoids big cities like Dallas and Houston, as we leave Texas. Then, on to Minnesota where we used to live. Then, Upper Peninsula, Michigan, a beautiful part of the country. From there, we will head east following a route suggested by our friends Tony and Jenny from Nova Scotia. The route will take us through scenic Ontario. Continuing east, we will stay in northern Vermont for the 4th of July week, and hopefully do some Harvest Host camping in Vermont and Maine. Then, on to Acadia National Park where we already have reservations. Then, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. We were there once before, but it was a whirlwind trip and this time we would like to explore more slowly. We will then meet up with Tony and Jenny at their home in the beautiful Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. For the following 6 weeks or so, we will travel with them to PEI (maybe), Quebec, and Labrador. It will be a long trip! We go our separate ways in Quebec, they – back to Nova Scotia, and we -skidaddle back to Mission, Texas.

This puts us back in Mission in mid-to late- September. Almost immediately, we head to France where we are doing a 14-day canal trip on the Canal du Midi. Three other couples from Retama Village and we are renting a boat and doing the trip on our own. It sounds like a fun adventure…

After a week of travel (not sure where), we will make our way to Athens where we will depart on a 14-day cruise around the Mediterranean – visiting Greece, Cypress, Turkey, and Israel, finishing up back in Athens.

Nothing definite has been scheduled yet for after the Mediterrean cruise. I have applied to a housesitting assignment through for northern Spain for November and December, but don’t know if we will be selected or not.

I will post again when we have fun things to report. Thanks for following this blog!

Big day sightseeing with Nancy!

LOCATION: South Padre Island, Texas
WEATHER: Super windy. Overcast. High 70

Our Minnesota friend Nancy said good-bye to our tiny house and to Retama Village, and then we were off….

Our first destination was Mexico. The only nice Mexican town near us (with shops and safety) is Progreso. With that come a lot of tourists. We have never seen it so busy. Our first stop was the bridge over the Rio Grande with the obligatory photo of Nancy in Mexico and me in the USA

Then, the asault to our senses – people yelling to get us to go to their pharmacy (to buy just about anything you can imagine) or to get a manicure, or eye doctor, or implants at the dentist. People coming up to us to give us their business cards, adults and children trying to sell their wares. Exhausting! So what do you do? Have a margarita in Ponchos, of course

Once recovered, we did some shopping in El Disco, the souvenir shop next to Panchos. I just love the talavera pottery.

Nancy bought a few souvenirs, and then we we went in search of some food. We like to get away from the crowds, so we headed farther down the street. (The farther you go from the border the less crowded it is). We found an outdoor taco stand right on the street. Since they don’t speak English, we were the only gringos. Just love it!

We ordered a platter of fajita tacos, for $5. (Much better than the prices at Ponchos and the meat was cut from the twirling spit). We ordered beers, and they yelled to a guy standing on the sidewalk who took our order for El Indio beers, and ran to a market to buy us some. Fun!

We made our way back toward the border. This stand was selling pretty Mexican clothes. Sadly – note the beggar woman in the bottom right corner.

From Progreso, we continued east to South Padre Island. We wanted to show Nancy a little different style of South Texas.

She enjoyed walking on the beach, even though it was not a great beach weather day.

Of course, we checked out a few sand castles.

We stayed overnight at the Ramada. Interesting that a lot of Winter Texans stay there the whole winter season.

DINNER: At a beachside restaurant. We shared a Caesar salad topped with blackened chicken. Very nice.

This was a great, last day for our houseguest Nancy. It has been a fun week.

Hot tamales!

LOCATION: In our tiny house in Retama Village, Mission, Texas
WEATHER: Very nice. Sunny. High 72

Another day being a tour guide in the Rio Grande Valley – which is fun to do! Our houseguest Nancy and I did a line dancing class, then she and George went on a tram tour of the state park/world bird center across the street. They saw lots of beautiful birds and learned about the history of our area from the guide.

Then, off to lunch at Delia’s Tamales, which is world famous. Truly – they ship tamales around the world. Check it out at ….

We split a half-dozen of chicken tamales cooked in a green sauce. Other customers put us to shame, by eating a dozen each! I thought I didn’t like tamales until I tasted the ones at Delia’s!

After ordering, you go to their condiments bar, and load up on spicy green sauce, diced jalapenos, diced onions, tomatoes, limes, and lettuce to top off your tamales

George ordered menudo – a very popular tripe stew. Like Delia”s, most restaurants only offer menudo on the weekends.

Almost every table ordered a bowl or two. With the menudo come tortillas made right in the restaurant –

Duly fortified, we took a drive around the river, showing Nancy two of the dive bars (one aptly called the Junk Yard) that are very popular, especially on Sunday afternoons. We also pointed out the cute little mission church, founded by the Spanish settlers many years ago, that might be on the chopping block when the WALL comes through here. Their fiesty priest is fighting it.

Back at Retama Village, Nancy took advantage of the sun and warmth, and took a dip in the pool.

Then, we went to one of our favorite upscale restaurants and had vino on their patio. A perfect late afternoon among tropical plants and beautiful birds.

DINNER: Shrimp taco casserole. I layered sauteed shrimp, onions, bell peppers, and poblano peppers on top of tortilla strips. Seasoned with chili powder and cumin. Then, a layer of taco sauce, followed by shredded cheese Served with cilantro, tomatoes, and lettuce. Quite tasty – and easier to eat than tacos!

BOOK: “Messenger of Truth” by Jacqueline Winspear. Part of a series about a British female private investigator in the early 1900s. 4 out of 5 stars

Fashion Show!

LOCATION: At our tiny house in Retama Village, Mission, Texas
WEATHER: A bit cool. Partly cloudy. High 68

We continue enjoying showing my childhood friend Nancy around our area, and participating in events around our village. She and I started the day with a good stretch at chair yoga. Then, internet time and Photo Club at the clubhouse. We squeezed in a little laundry time, too.

Then, the fun began…..The Retama Village Annual Fashion Show and Tea Party. Two shops in the area participate. We models, about 15 of us, had gone to the two stores to choose our outfits and to get fitted – clothes, accessories, and shoes.

The owner of the shop that I had gone to got us organized.

Here we are, lined up to strut our stuff!

I modeled three different outfits.

The other shop featured western wear. Here is my friend Gayle modeling a fun western outfit

The ladies enjoyed tea and pastries made by a bunch of volunteers.

It was a lot of fun, and more than $1000 was raised. The money will go to a school near us that has a lot of children who need clothes and shoes.

DINNER: We went to a real Texas BBQ. Nothing fancy, BYOB, and good ribs and brisket.