For a change we aren’t 20 miles away from a grocery store! I thought today I’d chat a little about what we like about this neck of Texas. I mean, everyone’s gotta be somewhere, so why should we seem to favor the Rio Grande Valley? For one thing we’re told (we haven’t counted them ourselves) that there are close to 500 RV parks in the area between Mission Texas and Brownsville Texas. There is no lack of places to stay here. And with that sheer number of parks a person ought to be able to find SOME PLACE that holds at least some appeal. Assuming that you’re good with the weather and the social climate.
I mentioned last time we were here that this is not a particularly diverse area. about 84% of the resident population is hispanic. If you can get along with hispanics you’re in good shape — but I have to tell you that the local population is great about getting along with Snowbirds. From our one year limited experience of Florida I never got the feeling that we were as welcomed there as we are here.
The Rio Grande Valley, as an entity, is a booming part of Texas. With a population of 1,300,000 you can find most anything you want — except perhaps an Apple Store — which we discovered two years ago. (the nearest is San Antonio!) Rather than one big city, however, it’s a string of smaller communities strung together by the lifeline of Interstate 2.
A couple years ago Walmart put in a new Supercenter in Los Fresnos — so we are within 2 miles of a full sized grocery and whatever kind of store you call Walmart. In addition the two cities of Brownsville (pop. 181,000) and Harlingen (pop. 65,000) are both within 15 miles from our doorstep and a host of goods and services along with them.
This is all flat country. There aren’t any hills. Well, not unless you count the roofs of the houses being built nearby — they sort of look like hills on the horizon! The vegetation is scrub — not many tall trees, not much lush grass — this is all arid land watered by the natural blessing of the Rio Grande River — which looks pretty sick by the time it reaches the Gulf at Brownsville. Water management projects sap off an awful lot of the fresh water before it get here but water is the lifeline for a huge produce production zone that sends fruits and vegetables north to cities and rural markets across the nation.
Of the 18 federal wildlife refuges in Texas, three of them are within 50 miles of us. In addition there are multiple stations of the Texas Birding Trail, several Texas state parks, and plenty of nature to be seen. We have plenty to look at, plenty to visit; boredom is not a problem here.
If you’re into Flea Markets — you’re almost in heaven — because there are a bunch of them to be found, and they pull in huge crowds — more than I care to spend much time among.
I really think that of all the places we have RV’d in our 5 years on the road — now in our 6th year — that this is the most convenience we’ve seen, and the reason we have returned for a second winter.
That said — it’s not the greatest place to have RV problems. There aren’t a lot of large RV dealerships here. You can find RV services if you look; and there are a few mobile services available, but sometimes you have to look for them. Last time here we were having Norcold refrigerator problems, we got them fixed, but not without a little difficulty. Another RV’er here in the park just had his leveling jack fixed but he had to call to get the part ordered, and then take the RV back several weeks later after the factory built a new jack to order (the problem with older RV’s for which parts are out of stock).
I’m told that the healthcare facilities here are pretty good. That’s one of those things you hear about from patients that have had to use them. We haven’t (thankfully), but who knows — when you spend the winter in a 55+ RV park you are guaranteed to see the local EMT’s coming through the park a few times. It happens in every RV park around the country; get used to it — you’re getting older. 🙂
I’m sure we’ll do a little touring around this year. Last time we made a couple trips to San Antonio, Wimberly, Lockhart and that area. This year Kathryn is looking to visit us with a pickup @ Austin — so we’ll probably get a chance to tour around the Austin/Northern Hill Country area. But our primary goal is to BE. Here, right where we are. There remain a lot of sites we haven’t visited, or to which we just made cursory (and wet) scouting visions.
Each year is a little different. As one ages things like what-you-feel-comfortable-doing change. As does how-long-it-takes-to-acclimate-to-the-climate! It’s something we all deal with in our own ways; and perhaps that we deal with for the first time and find ourselves confused by not being able to do what once we did. I remember last time here at the end of the season I was struggling with what probably was a case of pneumonia that I was too proud to see a doctor about. The last few weeks of our visit here were more than a little uncomfortable; and yet we returned. Why? Because I realized I had judged the place wrongly when the problem had been my stubbornness.