Saturday, October 31, 2015

How do you know?

When we first brought a boat to the Tropical Tip, I had a discussion about the shallow depths with a guy who sold boat stuff... no NOAA charts for the area to be found, but he offered this advice: "If your boat is shoal draft, watch the birds... if there is a long legged bird standing in the water, you might be able to go there... if there is a short legged bird standing in the water, you can't go there."

I thought he was a smartass, but it turned out to be reasonable advice in this shallow water place.

What?  No, we didn't get another boat, yet.  After being home-bound for a day, thanks to Mother Nature, we got out for lunch today; Pier 19 on SPI.  We got in there just before the drizzle and wind kicked up again.  The water was choppy; I was glad to be on land, instead of on the water.  Well, the restaurant is built on a pier out over the water, and there is some movement to the place, depending on wind and waves.

Lunch was good, and Mother Nature stopped with the wind and spitting by the time we were ready to leave.  Looking out across the water, I saw this...

Yeah, that is a long legged bird in the foreground.  There is a bit of its legs showing, so it may still be pretty shallow right there.  ;-)

We decided to drive through Isla Blance Park on the southern tip of the island to see how it fared all the rain the past week or so.  Quite a few RV sites covered in standing water, but the park is pretty unoccupied right now.  Heading towards the beach, we could see a few kite surfers playing.  By the time we got to the beach, we couldn't see the surfers - no, not fog; big dredge pipe and heavy equipment on the beach...

This is not an immediate response to the beach erosion that certainly happened this past week.  No, there is an on-going beach reclamation program: every couple of years, the ship channel gets dredged and the sand/mud from that goes up on the beach.  Then, it is spread around.

South Padre Island has a natural sand beach.  But, Mother Nature giveth and taketh away - storms tend to cause beach erosion.  The extreme high tides we had earlier this week had the water up to the dunes, also take sand off the beach as it recedes.  Every so often, (like when the ship channel needs to be dredged), man gives Mother Nature a hand with getting more sand up on the beach.  Without this "grooming," the beach might be narrower, or more rutted.  Especially in the developed part of the island (the last 4 to 5 miles), the beach is critical to bringing visitors (and their $$$) to the island.

This process generally takes a month or two to complete.  Best done during the shoulder season, when the summer visitors are gone, and the winter visitors have not yet arrived.  Not great for those who want to walk the beach now, but you can go further north and get away from the "construction."  Right now, this is happening in the southern tip of the island, in the county park area.  It will eventually work towards the north.

It is a great beach... just needs some assistance to stay that way, now and then.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Well, here we are again...

Another couple days of rain.  We had some overnight, but it was light.  Today, we were supposed to meet Herb and Wilma for lunch over on South Padre Island.  Mother Nature had other plans... we were planning to leave at 12:15 for our 12:30 lunch date.  Right around noon, an ugly cell rolled in: heavy rain, LOTS of lightning, strong wind.  Joan got out our rain jackets and I was just putting on some shoes I don't mind getting wet, when the phone rang...

"Hi Herb."

"Hi Jim.  Have you left yet?"

"Nope; just gearing up."

"Don't leave.  We'll do it another time - it is really ugly out there."

"Yep.  We'll stay in and cook."

Good to hear from our friends, but this is a quick trip here for them, so we will have to connect later.

By the time I hung up the phone (do you still say that, where there is no place to actually "hang" it?), the alerts were coming on TV for "Flash Flood Warnings in southeast Cameron County."  Yeah, that's us.  Then the announcement that the Brownsville Weather Radar was knocked off-line by lightning.  So... the radar to spot the severe weather was knocked out by severe weather?  Interesting turn.

We had to gear up to roll up the sunscreens on the deck - they were fine 'till the wind kicked up.

Izzy looked out the patio door... "You people are crazy for going out there."  Pretty sure she wouldn't say that if I told her I was going out in that nasty weather to go to the store for cat food.

The thunder and lightning are right overhead - rolling thunder that is going on for a very long time.

I added the red X to show where we are.  All those white "ziggy things" depict lightning.

Another alert on the TV: "A foot of water over the road to the Brownsville Airport.  A tornado reported in Willacy County (the next county north of us).  A 10' deep drainage ditch near a middle school in Brownsville is overflowing."


Our friend, Randy, from Weslaco (they also have a place across the street from us), just called: "Looks like you are getting it this time - you two OK?  I heard you had 3 to 4 inches of rain in the last hour, and more coming."

"Yep.  It has let up to just a hard rain, now."

 1:16, and here comes the next round: more lightning and thunder - close and loud!    The rumble shakes your innards.  Counting the seconds between the flash and the thunder clap - real close!

Joan is cooking, and we just lost power.  For a few seconds.  She had just put a cake in the oven... "How long do you think was on the timer?"

"No idea, but it sure smells good!"

Hail now reported having moved through Matamoros and Brownsville, heading towards us.  The rain has picked up again - just a wall of water out there.  Power just went out again... and didn't come back on a few seconds later.

Joan served up some chicken enchiladas just before the power went out.  We aren't going to starve.  With the power out, the cake may not make it, though... I think we can eat it while gooey, and just call it "chocolate sopresa"!  ;-)

Quiet now... the thunder is a distant rumble... the power is still out.  Little Izzy slept through most of it.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

It is National Cat Day...

A day to celebrate the wonderfulness of our feline family members.  To dote on them.  Fuss over them.  Tell them how much we love 'em.

Or, as it is known in our household: everyday.


I just came across this National Cat Day stuff on the internet.  I don't think most cat owners need a special day to fawn over their felines.

I did break the news to Izzy:

"Hey, Iz - it is National Cat Day!"

"I'm cleaning my belly.  You touched it earlier... no telling where your hands have been."

"Come on, Izzy - look here!"

"Seriously - did you not hear?  I'm kinda busy right now."

"It's National Cat Day - I want to get a photo of you."

"Let me finish the detail work on this belly fur... it doesn't clean itself.  OK, fine - I'm ready for my close-up.  I think I'll go for the pensive look."

"Wait!  It has been a while since you posted a profile.  Let me appear to be looking at something more interesting than you, outside.  OK, go for it."

"Thanks - that looks good.  Happy National Cat Day!"

"Yeah.  Whatever.  Remember the extra treats with my supper."


For the record, that is a completely made up conversation.  Well, except the belly-cleaning part.  Little Izzy is actually very sweet.  She rarely looks at me with disdain.  We are both working on better understanding our conversations.

Happy National Cat Day!

Senior wedding...

From my friends on the 5th wheel forum...

Jacob, age 92, and Rebecca, age 89, living in WPB, are all excited  about their decision to

get married.  They go for a stroll to discuss  the wedding, and on the way they pass a drugstore. Jacob suggests they  go in.

Jacob addresses the man behind the counter:

"Are you the owner?"

The pharmacist answers, "Yes."

Jacob: "We're about to get married. Do you sell heart medication?"

Pharmacist: "Of course, we do."

Jacob: "How about medicine for circulation?"

Pharmacist: "All kinds."

Jacob: "Medicine for rheumatism?"

Pharmacist: "Definitely."

Jacob: "How about suppositories?"

Pharmacist: "You bet!"

Jacob: "Medicine for memory problems, arthritis and Alzheimer's?"

Pharmacist: "Yes, a large variety. The Works."

Jacob: "What about vitamins, sleeping pills, Geritol, antidotes for
Parkinson's    disease?"

Pharmacist: "Absolutely."

Jacob: "Everything for heartburn and indigestion?"

Pharmacist: "We sure do."

Jacob: "You sell wheelchairs and walkers and canes?"

Pharmacist: "All speeds and sizes."

Jacob: "Adult diapers?

Pharmacist: "Sure."

Jacob: "We'd like to use this store as our Bridal Registry."



I don't normally re-post jokes.  Maybe it was the fact that I'm heading to the dentist this afternoon to get a crown put back in... that fell out.  My Mother was right: getting old isn't for sissies.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Scooter tag; again...

More like: still.

It is an on-going game.  This afternoon, a tag came up: your scoot by a boat on land.  That is an easy grab for me...

And, my next tag: your scoot by one of those touristy things you put your head through...

And, if that is too specific: your scooter with something pirate(ish).  Arrrrrrrrrgggghhh!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Not the scooters; well, not this time.

On Sunday, the high tide was above the lowest part of our dock...

On Monday, it was blue sky and bright sunshine.  A view down the canal...

Time to get out some of the toys to enjoy the beautiful weather...

Joan mentioned that she wanted to check out a beach cruiser bicycle.  I brought back my folding bike when we were last at the storage unit.  Other than some cobwebs, it was looking good.  In our underneath storage area, I got out our 25 year old mountain bikes... the climate here has taken its toll on these: any metal that isn't aluminum has turned to rust; the plastic and rubber parts are showing their age...

My mountain bike and my folder...

I lubed up all the moving parts on the bikes.  Aired up the tires.  Checked 'em out - not pretty, but they seem safe to ride.  Joan rode her mountain bike, I rode my folder, around the resort.  Check out the "big butt seat" on the folder, compared to the pointy thing on the mountain bike.

We went to Wally World to check out some beach cruisers.  Service in our Wally tends to be a bit sketchy... they actually went out of their way to not sell us a bike.  After looking at one on the rack that appeared to be put together as a joke (really - there were tie-wraps holding some stuff together instead of bolts), Joan asked if they had one in a box and said we'd put it together.  "Oh, yeah, we got that - it might take a few minutes."

We did our other shopping, then checked back.  Nope, it hadn't been brought up from their back stock.  We went to lunch, then came back... "Um... no, we don't have any of those."

"Didn't you look it up in front of us?"  She did, and told us there were a couple in back.  This time, "Umm... no, we checked.  There aren't any."


Today, we drove out to the storage unit - mostly to see if our motorhome was under water.  According to the local weather, they had more rain there than we did on the coast.  It looked like it as we got close - most of the fields had plenty of standing water.  Pulling up to the storage unit, there was standing water in the areas that weren't graveled.  We opened the door and... perfectly dry.  In fact, it was dusty.

We took time to sweep it out.  My buddy Timm would be happy to know that, other than a bunch of daddy-long-legs, there were no other critters.  To make sure it stays that way, we put down some more bug spray...

Relieved (that it was all dry) and tired (that is a lot of square footage to sweep), we headed in to Harlingen to check out the beach cruiser bicycle we saw at Sam's.  (Yes, Wally's cousin)  Joan liked it, we loaded it onto a cart, and checked out.

Late lunch at Panda Express.  Can you believe they don't serve panda?  Pizza Hut sells pizza.  Burger King sells burgers.  Not a single panda item on the menu at Panda Express.  But, I digress.  Back home, and I went to work on assembling Joan's new bicycle...

I wasn't posing for that photo - I was reading the assembly instructions.  This was more assembly required than other bikes I've put together.  A scant two hours later, Joan had a fully assembled bike.  Well, an hour and a half later for the assembly, another half hour for "custom fitting" seat height, angle, and the same for handlebars.  Check it out...

I may have to get her a bell and some streamers.  ;-)  It came with the cup holder, the front basket, and and adjustable rear rack.  One speed... no brake levers, you push back/down on the rearward pedal.  We haven't had a bike without gears since we were kids.  Good thing it is level around here.  Hope I can keep up with her with my folding bike.  ;-)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Yes, I heard...

Speaking of the whale watch boat that went down off the west coast of Vancouver Island (British Columbia, Canada).

I heard about it shortly after it happened yesterday.  No, I don't know the cause, just the fact that there were fatalities and survivors.

I have received e-mails and private messages asking about this - most asking, "How can this happen?"

The operator is Jamie's Whaling Station.  They have two locations: Tofino and Ucluelet.  The boat involved in this is the Leviathan II, a 65' excursion vessel.  As of this morning, there a 5 people confirmed dead, 21 survivors, 1 still missing.  There is speculation as to the cause, but at this time no official cause has been released.  What is known: clear conditions, seas were 3 to 4 meters (approx 9 to 13 feet), not much wind.  The incident occurred near Plover Reefs, west of Vargas Island.

No, I have no familiarity with that particular operator.  The areas we cover are quite a ways apart.  As far as "How can that happen?"... every time we push off from the dock, there is risk.  Rocks and waves (as in the area of Plover Reefs) can be a bad combination.  It is the responsibility of the captain to operate the boat in a safe manner.  The weather and sea conditions can be unpredictable.  Every captain I know puts safety first... but boating in the Pacific Northwest can be harsh.

It is not "Disneyland" (where the "thrill rides" are controlled).  The water is cold.  Year 'round.  Tides mean rocks that were showing a couple hours ago can now be just under the water.  There are no "routes" when the goal is to view wildlife - the animals go where they go, and it is up to the operator to get guests to the good viewing.  For most operators, that means: never the same trip twice.  They may operate in familiar areas, but the ever-changing conditions mean you can't let your guard down.

I have often been told, "You have the best job..."  Yes, it is great to be out on the water; to get to see the spectacular scenery and see some great wildlife in their natural surroundings; to get to meet people from all over who share a similar passion.  That said, the responsibility weighs on you.  It is up to the captain to keep everyone onboard safe, even when they may not take responsibility for their own safety.  I have seen guests onboard do some stupid things... and I have to be "the bad guy" when I tell them not to stand on the seats, or lean over the railings, or let their children run around unsupervised.  The captain has to balance the distance to the wildlife with the conditions, the terrain (that may be just under the water), the regulations, and the respect for the wildlife.  We meticulously maintain the boats.

We check weather before and during every trip.  Weather can change quickly, and forecasts are not always accurate.  We may cover a lot of water, where the conditions can vary.  We have to balance time, distance, schedules.  It is not a "pleasure trip" for the crew - we are charged with the responsibility of keeping everyone onboard safe and comfortable, and getting them the wildlife experience they came to see.  The crew isn't there "to watch the show."  We can do everything right, but the wildlife may not cooperate.  Or, Mother Nature may not cooperate.  There are guest expectations, but those expectations rarely consider the harsh reality of what can happen on the water.

Every captain I know considers those "harsh realities."  We train for all manner of emergency situations... and do our best to insure we never have to use that training.

So, no, I don't know the cause of this tragic situation.  But, I do understand how it can happen.  My heart goes out to the operator, the crew, the passengers, and all their families.

There are days when I feel I do have the best job; and days when I am glad to be back at the dock.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A family of geckos...

On my favorite sailing forum, my friend Timm (after I posted something about the rain here) posted...

"Torrential rains ,flash floods ,hurricanes and spiders big enough to open the screen door themselves . You want us northerners to believe you have it better down there ?
Jim Cantora (sp?) couldn't find Wisconsin with Google Earth. I feel a whole lot safer right where I am thank you."

I posted...

"Every part of the country has something to deal with.  As you are aware, Timm, we wander a lot. Ever hopeful that we will be immersed in that "perfect weather." Not always successful, though.

As a kid, I remember floods on the Big Sioux and Missouri Rivers (on the Iowa/South Dakota border). Filling sand bags. Every spring. It was part of my youth. Oh, and snow drifts up to my waist. As the only male in the family, shoveling the snow was always my job. I really hate shoveling snow.

As the popular bumper-sticker states: I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as soon as I could.

Yeah, crap weather happens. On occasion. What we don't have: an end of the sailing season. The average daytime high in January is 70ยบ. Summers are hot and humid... not so different from my Iowa upbringing.

You don't have to like it here or choose to move here. There are lots of great places in this country. One thing to consider, however: most people don't think about retiring to a place where they can sip a margarita while sitting in a snowbank. "


Yeah, we've had some crap weather the past couple of days.   Not as bad as much of the state.  Living on an island has good points and bad.  In times of big rain, the water has a place to drain off; much of south Texas (mainland) is flat... there is nowhere for the water to go.  And that is what is happening right now.

The wind kicked up yesterday.  The "not a wind event" has been blowing more than the weasels forecast.  No big surprise.  Gusts approaching 40 mph overnight.  We had plans to meet friends Mike and MJ for breakfast on South Padre.

The rain has mostly stopped (occasional spits), but the wind is still blowing in the upper 20s.  Some branches down around our neighborhood...

Driving across the causeway, the Laguna Madre is brown and choppy; quite a fetch with the wind coming from the north northwest.  We met Mike and MJ at the restaurant - a good meal and some catching-up conversation.  MJ ordered her breakfast "happy size"...

Yeah, that looks pretty happy!  When we parted company, we decided to take a drive by the beach.  You can see the palm trees blowing in the wind on the way there...

The Gulf is not friendly looking...

There is definitely going to be some beach erosion with this storm - the high tides have the water covering most of the beach.  Back on our side of the causeway, some of the Halloween decorations the city puts up in the parkway on the main drag have not fared well in the wind...

There were a lot of things blown out of the spiderweb; the skeleton leaning on the tree mid photo lost its head; there are a few "bones" scattered here and there.

Coming across the bridge on the way back onto our island, we find the swing bridge a couple feet above level.  Yep, we are feeling the effects of the higher tides.  Here's the boat ramp...

The sidewalk that runs along the right side is starting to go under water.  Well, the water is rising to go above the walkway.  There is normally a couple feet from that walkway to the water.  In our canal, the water is lapping at the lowest level on our dock.  Again, that is generally a couple feet down to the water.  The high tides are expected to be with us for the next several days.

On the bright side, I think the rain is mostly done.  It was in the 60s when we went to breakfast this morning - that's a first since we've been home; the lowest temperature we've seen has been 77ยบ.  Truth be told, the cool feels nice.  The a/c didn't have to run last night.  Since we've been home, there has been about an 8ยบ temperature swing from day to night (moderating effects of living by the water).  We put on long pants, for the first time in a while.

So, "What does any of this have to do with a family of geckos?" you ask.  Thanks for asking.  Geckos are considered a "sign of good luck" around here.  My buddy, Timm, may not like geckos, but they eat bugs.  We don't have a "spider issue" thanks to the family of geckos that lives under our front steps.  Plenty of good luck, though.  They are kinda cute - really aren't a nuisance, other than occasionally trying to sell us insurance.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

A turn...

There's always a turn.  In the road.  Where life takes you.  And, the path of a storm.

Patricia is now a tropical depression, after slamming into the west coast of Mexico as the strongest hurricane on record for the Western Hemisphere.  The mountains in Mexico took the biggest part of the wind out of the storm, but the US (and Texas, in particular) is going to see a LOT of rain from this storm.

Not what we need - a Gulf moisture system has already dumped up to 18" of rain in parts of Texas (mostly north of us).  The path that Patricia was predicted to take put it coming into Texas between Falcon Lake and Laredo, west and north of us.  Movement going northeast.

Yep, a turn.  The middle of the storm is now predicted to come through the Rio Grande Valley, dumping copious amounts of rain along the way.  Wind is down to 35 mph, and way less than that here, currently.

I was up this morning, just before what would have been sunrise.  It wasn't a solid overcast - you could see the bands of the forward part of the storm.  That changed a half hour later, with rain and solid overcast.  The new predictions show the remnants of Patricia impacting our area later today and tomorrow.

Warnings for coastal flooding.  If this storm moves any further south, we are going to have issues with storm surge... combined with already higher than normal tides.  Here's what the radar looks like right now...

We are in the middle of that image.  And this is before the rains from Patricia.

I thought the brunt of this was going to be north of us.  Yep, a turn.


Update at 5:30 pm...

Here it comes! The Gulf moisture that has been raining down on Texas is now being joined by the remnants of Hurricane Patricia. It has been soggy, but a reasonably dry, calm afternoon. Until now. Flash flood warnings, coastal flood warnings. Emergency warning on my phone just went off - that gets your attention. They just broke in during the national news with more local warnings: stay off the roads - don't drive into flooded areas. Over 6" of rain in some local areas just this afternoon. Wind has kicked up from the north. This is the heaviest rain I've seen since we've lived here. Ugly.

A radar update...

The black arrow is pointing at us.  Those green "cones" show the direction of movement of the various cells.  Apparently, we are some kind of magnet for those storm cells?!?

Friday, October 23, 2015

This is not gonna be pretty...

The weather is the big topic on our local news: we are in for a major rain event.

Hurricane Patricia is going to make landfall in western Mexico today.  No, that is not near us; but this is an historical storm - the strongest hurricane to ever hit North America.  Texas and much of the southeast US is going to feel the remnants of this storm.  Combined with precipitation being pushed up from the Gulf of Mexico, this is what we're in for...

Predictions for widespread flooding for many areas in Texas.  Along with that, we are going to have higher than normal tides, causing coastal flooding.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Timing (again)...

We had been planning to make a run to the storage unit - we discussed the impending rain.  Well, it wasn't "impending" - it rained and the wind howled last night.  I don't remember anything in the weather weasel forecasts about strong wind.  On the local news/weather this morning, they were saying the wind had been gusting above 40 mph.

Today was supposed to be the least chance of rain for the next three to four days - we decided to get our running done.  I put on a rain jacket to get Joan's rain boots out of the cargo trailer... the warm humid air was like being slapped with a hot wet towel.  On the bright side, we didn't need the rain jackets, boots, or umbrella when we went to the truck a short time later - the rain had let up to barely a sprinkle.

It picked up again on the way to the storage unit; lots of standing water on the roads.  Then, let up again.  By the time we got to the storage unit, no rain.  Good timing.

We picked up a few things, left off a few things, and got back in the truck.  I had to use windshield wipers on the way to our next stop: Sam's Club.  I topped off the truck at their gas station and parked reasonably close to the entrance... the rain had stopped.

Shopping in Sam's, we heard a couple claps of thunder, then the pounding rain on the roof.  Thinking that we will be hunkering down the next couple days, we bought some "comfort food."  By the time we headed to the truck, the rain had, once again, stopped.

Next few stops, more of the same.  I'm thinking we must be living right.  We stopped for a late lunch, and the rain started up again as we went from the truck to the restaurant; Joan grabbed her umbrella, but didn't need it.  Pounding rain while we ate - people coming in were soaked.  As we got ready to leave, we could see it was letting up again.  A few sprinkles on the way to the truck.  For most of the way home, I had the wipers on constant; for a while, even putting the wipers on High couldn't keep up with the downpour - I had to slow down.  Coming back into town, it was down to a sprinkle... close to home, the roads were mostly dry.

I shoulda stopped to get a lottery ticket.  ;-)

The predicted high tides are showing up - the canals in our resort are touching or covering the steps on many of the docks.  The swing bridge (floating) is definitely higher than typical.  And the really high tides aren't supposed to happen until Sunday.  Joan asked about the bridge: "You said when the water gets to a certain height, the bridge will come open, whether it is planned or not."


"Good thing we stocked up on food."



The local news is calling for flooding in low-lying areas due to the rain.  One of the flood warning "boxes" is where our storage unit is.  The continuing east winds are bringing 9+ foot waves onto the beach on South Padre Island.  No doubt, some of that surge is why our canals and swing bridge are seeing such high water.  Warnings to NOT bring a vehicle onto the beach (that is allowed north of town), saying that the Gulf water will be at or beyond the dunes along the shoreline.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

RIP Cory Wells...

Cory Wells passed today.  He was one of the lead singers for the band Three Dog Night.  I still play some Three Dog Night songs.  Their music was definitely an influence for me.

I saw them for the first time in 1969 in Dallas.  Wells sang "Try a Little Tenderness," a version that took my breath away.  Side note: it was also the very first song Joan and I danced to.

Three Dog Night had three lead singers, great harmonies, and soulful melodies.  During the late 60s and into the 70s, they had 21 Top 40 hits; by any measure, a real force in the music industry.  Because they didn't write most of their songs, some critics didn't give them much credence (they have not been inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame).

We saw them a few times in the 80s... smaller venues, same great music.

RIP Cory Wells.

Them changes...

There is a change in the weather coming: rain for tomorrow (Thursday); heavy rain forecast for Friday and Saturday; tapering off on Sunday.

We had some errands to run, decided it would be best to do them on the scoots, since they may not see any action for a few days.  Coming out of Wally World, the sky looked pretty gray to the east (the direction of the Gulf)... we were going to go out for lunch, but decided to take the scoots back home, put stuff away, and swap for the truck before heading out again.  A few sneaky sprinkles got us a block or so from home; didn't amount to anything.  Well, it did add to the humidity.

Heading past our Event Center, we saw this on the sign...

Across the causeway, the wind had kicked up - white caps on the Laguna.  There is a new Wing Stop on the island - about 4 times the size of the one in Port Isabel.  Yep, lunch.

After lunch, a drive by the beach...

The sky has gotten grayer.  The wind is snapping those warning flags.  The tide is already up - the beach generally goes out a lot further than this.  No desire to walk the beach, unless you are into being sand-blasted.

I think we'll be hunkering down the next few days.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

If I have to...

Today's scooter tag:

Your scoot by an ice cream shop.  A hardship, but I am willing to sacrifice for the sake of the game.


If you look like your passport photo...

... you're probably too sick to travel.

It's an old joke.  I'm an old guy.

Time to renew our passports.  That 10 years went by fast!  We renewed our passports just before we retired.  Did I mention something about that time going by fast??  Our previous passport photos looked pretty darn good... for passport photos.  I took Joan's, she took mine.

This time, we went to Walgreens.  The kid pulled out the cheapest digital camera I've seen in quite a while.  He took us in front of the cosmetics, then pulled down a white screen.  We used to call that a projector screen.  Maybe they still do; there are digital projectors.

He said, "Are you ready?"


Click.  Then had me stand in the same place.  Joan asked "Can we see them before you print them?"

He mumbled something then messed with the camera to bring the image up on the back.  Joan looked at it.  I could barely see it over her shoulder... crappy lighting from the overhead fluorescents.  Greenish.  No, we weren't allowed to retouch passport photos back in "the day," but we did light them and position the client to get the best image possible.  None of that here.

He put the card into the printer, pressed a button that said "passport", and that was it.  I was interested to see if it would size the image properly.  I asked about the density, since the images looked badly exposed on the printer screen.  He mumbled something again.

A few minutes later, we had our passport photos.  Yep, they were not flattering, but they will probably meet the requirements for the government.  Joan's hair looked nice and blonde; mine had a lovely green tint to it (fluorescent lighting).  "Raccoon eyes" with enhanced bags (again, thanks to the overhead fluorescent lighting).  That may be how we'll actually look... in 10 years when these are about to expire.  ;-)

Sunday, October 18, 2015


This afternoon, I got a call from my cousin, Dennis - he's in the Valley and wanted to know if we could get together for supper.  Yeah, last minute, but that's how I usually hear from Dennis.  He is a character, but a good guy; and I enjoy our infrequent visits.  We decided to meet on the island for supper at 7:00.

On the way, we were treated to a lovely sunset...

That was taken while crossing our bridge.  By the time we got across the causeway, the sun was disappearing fast...

Supper turned out to be with 7 of us.  The conversation was lively.  Good to see my cuz.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sure is pretty...

No, they weren't talking about me.

I went after getting the motorhome washed this morning; right after I got up.  I wanted to get as much done as possible before the sun came up.  In the process, a couple neighbors came by and told me how nice the motorhome looks.  And, of course, they offered to bring their cars by, since I was doing such a good job.  I smiled.  Wanted to smack 'em with my scrub brush, but I contained myself.

In the end, the little coach shined up nicely...

I was a complete sweat-ball when done.  Into the house, a soak and clean up in the jacuzzi tub, and we are off to the storage unit.

We keep the RV in a storage unit inland a ways - it keeps our stuff out of the salt air.  Plus, it is the only storage unit we've found that is insulated and on a solid concrete pad.

Well, it took a while to get off our island to head to the storage unit: the bridge had just gone out when I pulled up to it...

Unless you get here by boat, this bridge is the only way on or off our island.  It crosses the Intracoastal Waterway - opens for commercial traffic on demand; recreational traffic on the hour... except on weekends, then that is on demand, too.  Yep, its a weekend.

No big deal, I was sitting in air conditioned comfort in the motorhome; Joan was behind me in the truck.  The bridge was out longer than usual, when a sailboat called them as they were just starting to close... and didn't really hurry to get through.

In town, I got behind a stupid woman who basically sat through two green lights.  Good think we aren't on a schedule.

It was a pleasant drive to the storage unit, mostly back roads.  We passed more than a few motorcycles going the other way - this weekend, there is a motorcycle rally on South Padre Island.  Not even close to the numbers we used to see for the Sturgis Rally.  ;-)

At the storage unit, I pulled the motorhome in, shut down the 12v power, and locked it up...

It has been home sweet home for most of the past 9 months (since we got it in February)... now, it gets a rest while we become house dwellers for a while.

Another "birthday lunch" before heading home: steak and ribs... pretty sure I won't need supper this evening.

On the way home, we talked about... "So, how do you want to do our traveling/towing this winter."  Yep, already planning the next outing.  :-)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Going "big city"...

I thought it was pretty cool when our little town got an HEB store.  A few years after that, they closed up the small, old Walmart and built a Super Walmart.  Yep, living large.

And now, soon to open...

That is a Murphy USA gas station, going up in the parking lot of our Super Walmart.  I think that will qualify it now as a Super Duper Walmart.

Oh, say what you want about Wally World, they are usually competitive with their gas stations.  HEB kept the other gas stations in town in check when they first opened.  That changed.  This may help.  Looks like they will have diesel, too.  I know - I'm excited, too.  ;-)


You have heard me talk about the Tropical Tip.  This part of Texas is at latitude 26, making it sub-tropical.  Yeah, we have palm trees.  Warm weather.

This morning on the local weather, the weather weasel called for "drops"...

He said, "It may be just a few drops - won't amount to much of anything."

About 10 seconds later, the sky opened up and it poured...

I thought the pounding rain in the canal would show up better than that.  Nope.

The rain lasted about 10 minutes.  Comfortable out there on the deck - the temp dropped a bit.  I'm guessing it is going to be humid when the sun comes back out.

Today is a special day.  Someone of the Blonde persuasion has a birthday.  We celebrated when we were in Phoenix and Ft. Worth, so it will be fairly low-key today.  She asked to go out for lunch to our favorite local Italian place... didn't have to twist my arm.

Happy Birthday, my dear - I love you.  I talked about "growing old" with you, but you don't seem to be aging.  Try to keep up.  ;-)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Waiting for the fat lady to sing...

Almost done.  The motorhome has been emptied, the house is all opened up, stuff is reasonably stowed, the scoots are unstrapped and their cargo trailer has been converted to "driveway mode."  The patio furniture is out, the roller sun-shades are unstrapped.  We are pretty close to just livin'.

The motorhome needs a thorough scrubbing, but we are still on water restrictions, so that won't happen until Saturday.  Probably a good thing I didn't wash it yesterday: besides the fact that I was exhausted, it sprinkled for about 2 minutes this morning.  Not enough to get the pavement wet... but, plenty enough to water spot the the formerly shiny red truck.

Little Izzy has completely settled in.  She loves her cat tower by the glass door that looks out on the deck.  And the couch.  And room to run when it is really important to get from the bedroom to the kitchen as fast as possible.

I'm still adjusting.  The toilets in the house don't have a foot pedal to flush.  ;-)


After cleaning up (you do your outside work early, 'cause you're going to need a bath or shower afterwards, anyway), we decided to take in a movie.  Kind of a big deal, since we haven't been to a movie since before we went to Friday Harbor.  "The Intern," with Robert De Niro and Ann Hathaway... it was a good show.  Not fast moving, but it held your attention in a feel-good way.

The theater is on SPI, across the causeway from us.  Two and a half miles over the water.  The water is what originally brought us here; it is what brings us back...

That is the Laguna Madre, the bay between the mainland and South Padre Island, as seen from the causeway.