Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Riverside Club

Last year the thing to do on Sunday afternoons in the Valley was to go to Pepe's on the River. It was fun, but extremely crowded, with slow service and poor food. This year, the Riverside, only 1/4 mile from Pepe's opened a new building just for dancing.

It's also located on the Rio Grande, right across the river from Mexico.

My favorite band, the Bottom Line Band, plays there on Sunday afternoons. (Phil and I are the ones dancing with our arms raised.)

The band plays mostly country, but here they are playing a fast Cajun waltz. You WINs may recognize Tom and Mary going by.

Carol found a cute little dance partner.

In addition to air conditioning, the room is cooled by the biggest fan I have ever seen. I wonder who makes it?


In addition to great dancing, the food is excellent, the portions large, and the service is fast.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What I've Learned in the Valley

This year I really wanted to learn Night Club Two Step while down in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. It is a totally different dance (slow, quick, quick), not anything like regular Two Step (quick, quick, slow, slow). It's a little slower than some of the other country dances - good for when you need to rest a little, or as an alternative to a "buckle-polisher."

We took lessons from Bob & Linda Battaglia. I asked a fellow student to film us, but forgot to tell her not to talk. Oh well. This video should give you a pretty good idea of how the dance goes. It's a whole 2 minutes long - a record for me!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Neighborhood Flea Market - Am I in the US?

Right next to our RV park, shown here on the right half of this aerial shot, is a HUGE Mexican flea market, shown on the left half.

Alot of it is inexpensive clothing and jewelry.

These shirts were only $1, and brand new. Notice everything is in Spanish.

I was looking for a Mexican outfit for a theme night at our upcoming Dance Rally, and I managed to find everything I needed. This blouse was just perfect, and cost $5. I probably could have even talked him down, but I didn't.

I also got earrings, a necklace, a flower for my hair, for a total of $3.50. I already had a skirt, belt and boots from a thrift store.

There was a nice assortment of fruits and vegetables, but also some unusual items not usually found in other flea markets in the US.

Lots of different kinds of birds, plus roosters, bunnies, chicks, and even a goat.

Lots of stores had very nice boots, hats and hat bands.

A great selection of pinatas.

Even tombstones and caskets!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Los Ebanos Ferry Crossing

This is how people cross the Rio Grande River into Mexico at the tiny border town of Los Ebanos, a few miles west of Mission, TX. The ferry is hand-pulled, the last one of its kind operating on the US border.

It's located at the site of an ancient river ford used by Spanish explorers, Mexican war troops, smugglers, and Texas Rangers chasing cattle rustlers.

Established in 1950, the ferry is attached to a rope which is anchored to large ebony trees on each side. (Hence the name "Los Ebanos.")

The crossing costs $2.50 for a car and driver, but we walked on for 50 cents round trip. Here we are at the Mexican border. There's nothing here, the town of Diaz Ordaz is 2 miles away.

So we stayed on the boat and rode back to the good ole USA.

The view up the river.

It was kind of a relief to be home.

We had to go through customs, but at least the line was short. The immigration agent was not happy that we didn't have our passports, but the other agent had said, before we went over, that we didn't need them.

This old jail was on the US side.

The only thing in it was a bunch of paper.

Also there was an antique public telephone booth. Remember when we used to use them?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Arizona Comes to Its Senses

In mid-2008, Arizona suddenly jumped the cost of its State Land Permits from $15 per year to $50 per year, thinking they were going to make up a $600,000 deficit. I have a feeling it backfired, and they lost money. I know I didn't buy a $50 permit, and neither did my friends.

Well, good news! The cost is now back down to $15. For this $15, you can camp 14 days on Arizona state land, which is plentiful.

There are many beautiful places on State land, such as this one near the Foothills outside of Yuma, and the one at the top of the page at Florence Junction, outside of Apache Junction.

To find state lands, get an Arizona Delorme map and look for the purple land, or look at the online maps here.

To get a permit, go here and download the application. More information on the permit is here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Quick Trip to Mexico

South of Progreso, TX, you can walk across the bridge over the Rio Grande River and be in Nuevo Progreso, Mexico.

The river here is beautiful.

This large statue welcome you.

Like Algodones (near Yuma, AZ), the town contains a large number of pharmacies where you can buy your prescription medicine for a much lower cost, and without a prescription.

Other stores sell all kinds of Mexican goods.

I really liked these flamingos, but what would I do with them???

Another reason to come to Mexico is for inexpensive manicures and pedicures. And they are not just for the women!

This big biker guy got a Harley Davidson pedicure. (And was nice enough to let me take his picture!)

Time for lunch - and the town has several nice restaurants. We even got serenaded by this duo. (Once again, if this looks black, click on the arrow anyway and it will play.)

After the huge lines in Algodones to get back into the US, this border crossing was a pleasant surprise. The line was about 10 feet long instead of a half mile.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I'm Really Not a Birder, But...

This is an unbelievable area for birding! The other day we went to the Bentsen State Park, part of the World Birding Center, a series of 9 nature sites along the Rio Grande River in south Texas. There are more than 500 species of birds here that are found nowhere else in the US!

This beauty is a Green Jay. Bentsen Park has blinds set up so you can get fairly close to the birds. Volunteers stock feeders several times a day.

Altamire Orioles are bright and colorful.

He turned around so you can see his beautiful back.

Another bird I never heard of is the Great Kiskadee.

Other unique birds are the Golden-fronted Woodpecker,

And the Chachalaca.

There were also some birds there that I recognized, like the Red-Winged Blackbird,

And the Northern Cardinal. (Look out for that squirrel behind you!)

Speaking of which, the squirrels got plenty of food too.

We also saw a few javelinas. This mother was patiently nursing her babies.

This guy was fishing with a net, I think for bait fish.

The land for the park was donated to the State many years ago by Lloyd Bentsen, Sr., father of the US Senator.