Saturday was the annual “Welcome Back” dinner here at the park and I must have had a good time because I never thought about taking any pictures. 🙂 It worked out we sat at a table for 8 with some folks we’ve known a couple years and newbies to the park. A lovely combination to be sure. We mostly stayed off politics — the park has people of widely different ideas just like the country — but all tolerated each other and laughed a lot.
The management of the park is good about making people feel welcome and one of their things is an annual dinner (at the park’s expense) to welcome their guests back. The clubhouse is big enough for a meal for about 200 and the room was pretty well packed to the gills on Saturday. During the winter theres’ a cook who handles the big meals and also Saturday breakfasts. They oversee the Ice Cream socials and Monday Pot Lucks too. Residents help out as volunteers for prep and cleanup and a good time is had by all.
Another tradition is what they call 50/50’s. You buy an arm’s length of raffle tickets (of you choose) for $5.00. Half of the proceeds go into the bank account for the residents association, the other half are given away as a raffle prize — yesterday’s prize was $180.00. The association does a variety of things around the park that the money is used for. A couple years ago they helped pay for the electric gate at the entrance, this year they contributed towards the purchase of a new commercial stove for the kitchen. At the end of the season there are often gifts to local charities and groups — including the Los Fresno EMT’s who make numerous trips here annually. No one comes around asking for money — if you participate in the 50/50’s you are participating in whatever activities the group agrees upon at their all-resident monthly meetings.
One of the things I like about this place is the REAL friendliness of the residents & staff. I’ve said that we shopped other parks over the last 2 visits and we have and to be truthful we’ve never found a park where the friendliness was more real than here. Some places you get fake smiles and half-hearted greetings. Not so much here. And the gang here are not only into being friendly to visitors but also the community. For example, last night there was an announcement about the quilting club that donated 25 throw quilts to local charities last year. The park gave a lot of toys to the Lions Club at Christmas. Some of the residents here usually serve as ushers at the Rodeo in February — there are a lot of ways in which folks here do a lot of good in the local area. And, for people like Peg & I who aren’t big joiners and aren’t large-group people — you can be as active or inactive as you want without feeling put upon. There are folks here who are always doing… a couple of they lads are rebuilding the fence around the pool area right now. They’re the kind of lads who can’t be still and the park benefits by their willingness to do good work, carefully, for the benefit of all. Of course there are the folks (lads and lassies) who sort out the piles and buckets of mail each day. And there are others who are here and do their thing silently in ways no one ever notices. It’s a lovely community of interesting people.
Our table last night was a good example of the diversity of the population. We had a couple from Canada who were renting a park model trailer for the season. Another couple (from Missouri) has a pull behind trailer that they have had here at this park before, but took it home last year thinking they were going to try winter in Florida — a plan that didn’t come off — and so they are back again this year. The third couple have been full timing for 2 years now — they were our neighbors 2 years ago when we were here and we keep in contact through the year. They are still going strong with full timing and they have no idea how long they will continue. And of course you have us who had been full time RV’ers and are getting off the road having purchased this home. As the conversation went around the table we all had very similar takes on the area and this park. I think they are worth commenting on.
Size — every one of us had comments on the way the size of a 200 site park feels for us. It’s not SO BIG that you feel isolated or lost in the crowd, but not so small that there’s nothing to do, or that it’s cliquish. As a result the park doesn’t have to be all things to all people.
Central location — this community of Los Fresnos is ideally located. We are half an hour away from everything: the Gulf, the Island, shopping, refuges, fishing, flea markets, Mexico, you name it. Some of the RV parks further up the Rio Grande Valley — like at Mission — are an hour or an hour and a half from the Gulf.
Ample Lots — Everyone that comes here says the same thing. The lots are huge. And we agree. One of the most notable differences to us when we went park shopping was the fact that RV’s aren’t crowded in here cheek by jowl. You won’t have your neighbor filling up your coffee cup when you hold your arm out your window!
Mixed Population — Out of 200 sites there are some full time residents here — but not a lot. As best we can tell there are less than 15 sites occupied year round. Some of the seasonal residents leave their units in place year round — others bring them down with them yearly. A few rent a unit from the park. There are a small mix of park models and mobile homes (mostly along the outside edge of the park) — most of those are seasonal residents. Most of our residents are from the Midwest — with heavy representation from IL, MO, OH, TX, WI, Ontario, Quebec. Other states are represented as well in lower numbers.
Activities — for those who want things to do, there are group activities. From exercise and line dancing to shuffleboard and cards there’s enough to keep you busy but not frantically so. There are group excursions — this week a group is going dolphin watching — and birthday luncheons and there’s a Red Hat Lady’s group. We aren’t big enough to have a woodworking workshop or anything like that but that doesn’t stop those who are so inclined from filling the air from time to time with the sounds of saws and nail guns.
Considering that when we were actively traveling we didn’t stay at hardly any RV parks I guess it might be surprising that we bought a home in one. For us, I think the pool had a lot to do with our final decision. Access to water is just something I wanted: in pool form, and nearby to what I might call “real” water — the gulf or a river or a lake.