Monday, November 30, 2015

Well, there's something you don't see every day...

An empty beach parking lot...

We took some stuff to the animal rescue thrift shop on the island.  Another moderately yucky day (technical meteorological term).  We made a drive by the beach at the county park, then had lunch at Pier 19.  This is the first time I recall not seeing a single car in the beach parking.  Well, at least in a very long time.  Surprisingly, the water coming onto the beach was not terribly churned up.

Not many people out and about.  We found several restaurants were closed.  Between now and Christmas is probably the deadest time on the island... the winter visitors are not here, yet... and when the weather is cold, wet, and windy, the locals don't come out.

This is another typical norther - probably going to be a 3-day event; light rain/drizzle, and daytime highs in the 50s, maybe getting to 60º.  Average daytime highs should be comfortably into the 70s.  Today we had - dare I say it - a "sunbreak": one of those Pacific Northwest phenomenons where the sun shows itself for 30 seconds or so.  It isn't enough.  ;-)

Cyber Monday...

Or, if you live in areas that have the potential for hurricanes: the last day of the hurricane season.  No hurricanes came into our area this season, but we did get the residual effects from hurricanes in the Pacific that came across Mexico.  If fact, we "cocooned" this weekend - marathon movie viewing and cooking in.  The weather was crappy (for the Tropical Tip), with rain and cool temps.  Yes, I wore long pants and a jacket when we went to the grocery store yesterday.

Cyber Monday... or: just another day of on-line shopping.  Must be something to it - my e-mail inbox was busier than usual, with all kinds of offers for things I didn't know I needed.  Most of the brands I like seemed to want to reach out this morning.  Delete, delete, delete...


Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday...

This morning, Joan said, "I'm surprised you're still in bed."  (I'm almost always up before she is.)

"I'm bushed - I got up at 2:00 am to get some Black Friday deals."

"Really?  You were quiet - I didn't hear you," she said.  "Did you get me something?"

"Yes, I did," I said.  "I had to stand in line for 2 hours.  It was worth it for the 3 things I got."

Going along with it, she said, "Three things?  Where'd you go?"

After an appropriate pause, I said, "Well, I don't want to give away the surprise, but... Dollar Tree.  I got two things for 10% off... and one was 25% off!  It was SO worth waiting in line!"

Good thing she has a sense of humor.

We had a nice Thanksgiving.  Started the morning off with a nice visit with Steph on the phone (they are at Dan's folks in the frozen northland.

Instead of marathon cooking, we went out with friends Mike and MJ, to the Thanksgiving Buffet at the Isla Grand Hotel.  They had two seatings: one in the actual dining room, with a view of the pool and the beach; the other in their ballroom.  There was quite a line when we got there... and didn't know if our reservation was for the dining room or the ballroom.  Not that it would make a difference.  When we got to the maitre d' podium, they took us to a very nice table, right at the full wall window - dining with a view...

Good food, plenty of variety, fun conversation, and a view.  And no clean-up.  Downside: no left-overs.  ;-)  That's OK, that means no pumpkin pie that has to be eaten for the next several days.

We left there appropriately stuffed.  Mike and MJ are in the discovery stage of having a home built; before going home, we stopped at their place to look over the plans they had made up.  Looks good... glad it is them.  I don't envy the marathon shopping and decisions.

Oh, and in case you didn't get the joke: no, I wasn't out shopping on Black Friday.

Little Izzy was appropriately thankful for having a good home.  Yes, her cat food yesterday had turkey in it.  She is so sweet...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Here it comes...

The "Holiday Season"... ready or not.

We have done the Black Friday thing a few times - with Steph and Dan, to buy things for the Angel Tree at their school.  Yes, actually got up in the middle of the night to hustle from store to store to get the most for each dollar.  Haven't gone on the hunt for ourselves... and don't intend to.

You can't turn on the TV or radio, or get on the internet, without someone telling you to "Get out there for the big sales!"

I saw a meme the other day: Black Friday - the day for frantic consumerism, with crowds pushing and shoving to get to the deals... the day after we all give thanks for what we have.

Yep, that sums it up.

We are changing our Thanksgiving Day routine.  Other than when we've been traveling on Thanksgiving Day, Joan has always made a big meal - turkey and all that goes with that, including a couple pies.  Tomorrow, we are dining out with friends, at one of the buffets being offered on the island.  All the usual Thanksgiving meal fare, with no cooking or cleaning.  For full disclosure, I have always stayed out of Joan's way while she does her cooking magic, making everything come out hot and tasty, all at the same time.  I am thankful that she doesn't have to work so hard, when it is generally just the two of us.

Yes, I know someone will be working hard so we get to have that meal.  I will remember that at gratuity time.

Christmas decorations have been in the stores since before Halloween.  No Lighted Boat Parade for us this year, and I won't be decorating the outside of the house, either.  We'll be motorhoming it for Christmas.  I am not being a Scrooge, though - we have picked out a small tree and some tiny decorations for inside the motorhome; some LED rope lights to outline the patio area.  I am child-like in wanting to decorate for Christmas.

On the scooter forum, the current scooter tag is "your scooter with snow."  While I like to decorate, I have absolutely no desire for a white Christmas.  I know it can be chilly in Arizona that time of year, but I am hoping Santa brings a warm season.  I have been a good boy.  Mostly.

The weather here for tomorrow is, according to the weather weasels, supposed to be "the warmest day of the week."  The predicted high locally is supposed to be 78º, mostly cloudy, some breeze.  Should be fine to put a nice shirt with some shorts to go out and say what we are thankful for.  I may miss the leftovers.  Once.

Wishing you safe travels if you are heading over the river and through the woods to be with family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2015


No, I'm not being cautious in what I say.  (That would be "self-editing")

John and Kathy Huggins are full-time RVers, authors, and do a very popular weekly podcast, "Living the RV Dream."  They have done 3 RV related books: "So, You Want To Be An RVer?" "So, You Want To Be A Full-Time RVer?" and "So, You Want To Be A Workamper?"  All good information for those who want more information about the RV lifestyle.  I had done some editing for them previously, and John asked if I'd be interested in doing the same for their newest revision/edition of "So, You Want To Be An RVer?"

Sure.  He let me know there was more information than previous.  If people want to know about picking the RV that is right for their lifestyle (motorhome, 5th wheel, travel trailer, etc); how to buy, finance, insure, and use it; campgrounds, memberships, RV shows, etc, etc - this is a good source to bring you up to speed.  Includes hundreds of internet links for more information.  It was a good read while I did the editing/proof-reading.  I'll be looking forward to seeing the finished version with this new edition.

It was a cool, crisp day in the Tropical Tip - temps in the 50s this morning.  A bit of fall in the air.  The previous couple of days were gray, but we didn't see much precip with this last frontal passage... plenty of wind, though.  It was a good time to dive into a book.

We were out shortly after 9:00 this morning to meet friends Mike and MJ for breakfast at Manuel's; good food and lively conversation.  After breakfast, we came back to the house, where I went back to work on the editing.

Late afternoon, I sent the finished edited file back to John and Kathy.  I worked the kinks out with a walk in the cool weather.  The wind had died down some, beautiful clear sky, with the temperature in the low 60s.  Cool compared to what we've been having, but still nice to be out...

When I got back, the house was full of the smells of fresh baked cornbread... one of my favorites.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The calm...

Yeah, before the storm.  I went for a walk this morning.  It was 73º in the house when I left.  73º outside.  The humidity in the house was 46%.  The humidity outside was about 1,000%.  Yes, I am exaggerating - it was higher than that.  (In reality, the outside humidity was 100%.  I don't know how it can be 100% humidity and not be foggy or raining?)  Not a lick of breeze.  Couldn't get moving fast enough to create my own "apparent wind."  (sailing reference)

The weather weasels are predicting a change to roll in around noon; thunderstorms, with wind gusting to 40 mph.  No boat, so no hatches to batten down.  We did, however, move loose stuff off our deck; brought in the cushions for the chairs; strapped the chairs to the table.

This morning, Joan made cinnamon rolls.  Chili planned for this afternoon.  Yep, we're ready.  ;-)


This weekend was supposed to be the South Texas Balloon Festival - over 20 hot air balloons.  Not good weather for this first time event in Mercedes (in the Rio Grande Valley).

Friday, November 20, 2015

This trend has gone too far...

I have been accused of having a mullet years ago.  Remember the mullet?  Business in the front, party in the back.  For the record, my hair was long all over... not short in the front.  That (the mullet) was a style choice that didn't stand the test of time.

There is another style choice that we saw a lot of during our summer in the San Juans: the man-bun.  You know, hair pulled to the back and twisted up into a bun.  On a guy.  No, I never had that, either, although I will admit to having a pony tail for a short time.  But, I digress.

The man-bun is not new - it was a style often worn by generals and samurais.  A century or so ago.

Apparently, the ultimate for this style is: the man-bun, with an undercut (hair short or shaved on the sides), and a bushy beard.

As we were crossing the bridge off our island today, Joan got this photo of the man-bun trend officially being a cliche'...


It's Friday, and you know what that means...

Yeah, I'm retired... weekday, weekend, doesn't matter.  Mother Nature turned on the water works again; and more of the same through the weekend, with cooler weather and wind thrown in... just to remind us that it is winter in the rest of the country.

I did get out for a walk this morning, in between the sprinkles.  Now, at noon, it is a steady rain.  I was thinking I might get out on the scoot.  Now, I'm thinking not.

A nice ride yesterday, rode up the the island, beyond the developed part, out as far as the "Adventure Park."  There has been an equistrian concession north of town for years, offering "horseback riding on the beach."  Looks as though they moved north a few miles and added a zip line.

If you haven't been to South Padre Island, it is a long, narrow, flat barrier island.  At its widest, it is about a half mile wide (and 35 miles long).  Only the southern 4 miles or so are developed.  The Adventure Park is well north of that.  I was interested in seeing the zip line.  Yep, up on a raised platform.  Not a lot of distance between where the road ends and the bay begins on that side of the island.  While I am not a zip line riding kinda guy, I would think it would be more of an adventure to go zipping through a forest.  No forests on this island.  Sand dunes.  Oh, well, I'm sure some would consider that an "adventure."

Speaking of Mother Nature and winter, I am aware that parts of the country are getting snow.  We have drifts to contend with here, too...

When I got towards the end of the road, there were two front end loaders moving sand that had drifted onto the road.  Beats shoveling show.  ;-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Last night, we went to the El Paseo Arts Foundation production of "The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical."  My review: a fun, bawdy evening.

It started out with a buffet of "light hors d'oeuvres" that reminded us of a pot luck at the RV park.  While a local production, it was performed with enthusiasm and humor.

My favorite running joke: they were decorating their trailers, hoping to win a contest from "Better Mobile Homes and Gardens magazine."  ;-)  Close second: the breastrauant/pancake house called Stacks.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bond... James Bond...

We went to another movie today - making up for all those months when we didn't.  We are "taking turns": last Friday, we went to see Burnt (Joan's choice).  Today, we took in the newest James Bond offering, Spectre.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie today.  Joan said, "That was definitely a 'guy movie'."

"Yep, and Burnt was more of a 'chick flick,' with all that angst and stuff."

The Bond movies are a formula: big thrilling opening scene, set up the plot, introduce the "Bond girl," a chase scene, Bond whoops up on the bad guys, the bad guy captures Bond, Bond escapes and blows up everything and in the process saves the world, Bond gets the girl.  It is a formula that works - I like it.

I read the Ian Flemming books when I was a kid.  Other kids wanted to be Batman... I wanted to be... Bond... James Bond.  (Cue the music!)

I told Joan today that James Bond was somewhat responsible for me being a guitar player.  No, Bond wasn't a guitar player.  No, it wasn't about the theme music.  When I was a kid, my Mother got me a James Bond 007 race car set for Christmas...

I put it together and... it didn't work.  I took it back to Sears right after Christmas, and they already had the toy department put away - not like these days when the Christmas shopping season starts in mid-September and runs through Ground Hog Day.  But, I digress... they couldn't just replace it, and they could only offer me store credit, not a refund.  Think back to when you were a kid - not much fun to play with a piece of paper that shows you have store credit.

I walked around the store, looking for something to buy.  I wasn't interested in clothes... or paint... or chain-link fence.  Hey, it was Sears!  Then, I happened upon their musical instrument department.  Well, more like a short aisle with a few guitars.  I had heard about this band called The Beatles (they hadn't come to the US at this point) - I just knew if I had a guitar, they would want to enlist me as a "Junior Beatle."  I was willing to grow my hair... but, I knew I needed a guitar.  Alas, the only guitar in my store credit budget was one of those "old fashioned looking acoustic guitars"... I really wanted an electric guitar.  No way I could check with my Mother to see if she could "kick in some extra $$$"... we weren't exactly rolling in the dough.  I didn't understand it at the time, but the only way should could afford that race car set for me was to put it on Sears Revolving Charge.  Besides, I had asked for a guitar prior to that and was told, "You cannot live in this house if you ever bring a guitar home!  You'll grow up to be like your Father!"

I was pretty sure she wasn't going to toss an 11 year old kid out of the house... I came home with the least expensive guitar in the Sears "music department."  It was - and this is a technical music term - a piece of crap.  The strings were so far off the neck, I could hardly press them down... playing an actual chord was out of the question.

There was the "I thought I told you about bringing home a guitar" speech, followed by the "But, they didn't have anything else in the whole store" sniveling.  I was allowed to continue living in the house.  Pretty sure she thought it was just a stage.  So far, that "stage" has lasted 51 years.

Lucky for me.  Had that race car set worked, I may have become a race car driver... or a secret agent.  James Bond and I do share the same first name... and last initial.  It's probably too late to take up being a secret agent, now, huh?  ;-)

Every once in a while, Joan will say, "Oh, James."  I'm sure she means it like the Bond girls.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


A lovely day in the Tropical Tip: high around 79º, mostly sunny, breezy.  Things have been pretty quiet on the "scooter tag" thread... the last tag was "your scooter by something positive;" it showed a photo of the scoot in front of a sign that read: Positively no beer or alcoholic beverages on these premises.

The tag went for several days with no action.  So...

That is a battery charger with the positive clip showing.  Sometimes you have to think outside the box.  Or sign.

After getting and posting that photo, we rode around town, getting a good archive of new scooter tag photos ready.  Mostly, it was just to be out and about on the scoots in the nice weather.  Being practical, we also took our SUVs (Scooter Utility Vehicles) to the grocery store.

Nice day to be in the Tropical Tip.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Some people "spring clean."  We spring clean... summer clean... autumn clean... and winter clean.  And by "we", I mean: Joan.  My contribution is trying to stay out of her way, and sorting through my stuff before it gets tossed.

Today was one of those days.

I will admit, I am a packrat, but I think I have been doing better.  Especially since we retired.  When we sold the house up north, we had a full basement - plenty of square footage to hang onto stuff.  Stuff we really didn't need.  And in my case: the boxes for the stuff.  I had boxes for cameras and computers that we no longer had.  The packrats reading here will understand: you need those boxes, in case something needs to be sent in for repair.

Yeah, I get it - when a camera has been worn out and tossed, you are probably safe in throwing the box away, too.  We had a much bigger house in our pre-retirement days... there was plenty of room for my "collection."

Joan placed a bunch of boxes in front of me - "Oh, that was a great camera!"  Key word in that sentence: "was."  I tossed out 3 cameras and their boxes.  Yes, I wear out cameras.  It is less expensive to buy a new one than to try to have an old one repaired that won't focus.  I was feeling pretty good about that tossing, without anxiety pangs.  Then came boxes for cameras I do still have... "Yeah, I don't care if we toss these or not... I'm going to use them 'till I wear them out, too."

A couple laptops... "Well, if compact flash cards ever come back... oh, look - my second ever data card (the way we used to connect to the internet, back in the 'olden days.' "  Buh-bye.

A bag full of caps.  Even though I don't wear caps all the time, I seem to have um... collected a lot of hats again.  Some I kept for nostalgia sake, the rest - toss.

Joan handed me a briefcase.  Really, does anyone carry a briefcase anymore?  This is one I used to use when doing seminars...

If you can't see what I'm holding...

Yeah, that's "BS repellant."  I had to pull that out once in a while during seminars.  A sign from one of the seminars...

Goodness, who is that kid?  A few magazine covers of my work (Northern Light was a professional photographers magazine)...

Speaking of my work - 50 bonus points if anyone knows what this is in this leather case...

If you said, "A Hasselblad system!", you win.  A 500CM, an assortment of Zeiss lenses, a spot meter, filter holder, Softar I, II, and III filters.  These were the tools of my trade before digital took over in the imaging business.  Yes, this stuff all retired before I did, but I kept it for sentimental reasons.  Oh, that is an official Hasselblad leather case.  Yep, memories.  No, I can't toss that stuff, even though it has little value in today's world.  That particular Hasselblad was my first - had a bunch of them over the years.  Unlike today's digital cameras, it was darn near impossible to wear out a Hasselblad.  And if you did, they could be rebuilt.

What's in that box?  Goodness, a guitar strap from the 70s.  Joan said, "Does it smell like your band bus?"  I had to sniff it... nope.  For reference, there were 8 or 9 guys traveling on that bus... yes, it had a unique fragrance.  ;-)

I was going through some other stuff when I heard Joan say, "I don't think I can part with this..."  I went into the other room, and she was looking at images on a digital "frame."  This was a popular item around 2006 or 2007, and I had loaded it up with images of our travels (to that point) with the C-Dory.  LOTS of good memories... cruising in Florida with friends Brent and Dixie, lots of images of Molly the boat cat, Desolation Sound, cruising on the Erie Canal, our first travels with the HitchHiker 5th wheel.  Yeah, those images were loaded on there with a smart card, so they can come off the same way... but we both stood there and "reminisced" as each photo came up.  We used to have it out and on when we were home - no idea why we stopped that... I guess there are plenty of more recent fun memories that would be good on there, as well.  Of course, that was pre-blog.  ;-)

The thrift shop on the island will be getting some stuff.  Some didn't make that cut and went into the dumpster... the stuff that is just stuff.  The stuff that makes up the good memories gets to stay.  :-)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday the 13th...

Not the movie.

A gray day here in the Tropical Tip, but not cold.  Mid to upper 70s, breezy.  Joan said, "Let's go to a movie."

I'm in.

Then she added, "You can take me to lunch at Burger Fi."

I'm definitely in.  Consistent, too.  You know those Facebook "Your Memories on Facebook" posts that they send you... a reminder of what you were doing 2 (or more) years ago on this date?  Well, apparently, we were dining at the new Burger Fi on the island.  I'm pleased to report: the burgers are still good.

It wasn't particularly busy, so we had time to take a drive by the beach before heading to the movie - nasty looking water, the color of coffee...

The water is very churned up - this is the Gulf side, so not from the dredging. 

We got to the theater about 10 minutes before the movie was to start... Joan wanted to see Burnt, with Bradley Cooper.  I mostly wanted to sit in the back row and neck.  We didn't have to worry about being in the back row (where no one can kick your seat): we were the only ones in the theater.  By the time the previews started, 5 other people had come in... probably not a profitable run.

The movie was OK; Joan really liked it.

Heading for home, Joan mentioned that she had a package to pick up at the Post Office, and another slip for another package should be waiting for us in our mailbox.  Looking at my watch, it was going to be close: about 20 minutes to get across the causeway, get to our owners lounge (where the mailboxes are), get the next pink slip (to pick up a package at the Post Office), then get to the Post Office before they close.  Adding a bit of drama to the timing: we could see from the causeway that there is a barge coming down the Intracoastal Waterway.

That tug driver will call our swing bridge when he gets to the causeway, at which point they will open our bridge for him.  I knew we would beat it getting onto our island; didn't know if we'd get off the island before the opening.

Good timing - I parked in front of the owners lounge, Joan hopped out and got the pink slip, and we immediately headed back off the island.  Now, we had 8 minutes to get to the Post Office before they close.  Made it.  We knew, for certain, that we would be waiting at our bridge for that barge to pass (usually 15 to 20 minutes).

We were third in line at the bridge.  I shut off the truck and got out to take a photo of the barge passing...

We even got to see a couple dolphins as we were crossing the bridge!

And, still made it home in time for Izzy's 5:00 supper time.  Some people think retired people don't have to deal with schedules.  ;-)  Life in the fast lane.

Look at that face...

I can't help it - that sweet little face just makes me want to take photos of her.

She loves her tower - nice view out the full-length patio windows.  That vantage point puts her well above the canal, so she gets a good view of the birds flying by.  A lot of those birds (pelicans and osprey) are bigger than she is, so I think she appreciates the view from the safety of the indoors.

Sometimes, she will pick interesting places to sit or lay - in this case it is on a table by the wall that doesn't have a solid shelf where she is sitting...

Pretty stealthy there.  And so darn cute.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Honey, I want to do something different in the bedroom...

"Let me show you what I have been looking at on the internet."

Yep, that's what she said.  Made my ears perk up... "You have my attention."

Turns out, she was talking about different furniture.  "What do you think about this color for a cabinet?"

Bait and switch?  I rate shopping for furniture right up there with getting a root canal.  OK, maybe worse, because a root canal is usually over in one visit.


Thank you, Veterans!  Today is Veterans Day.  Mike and MJ asked if we wanted to go see Leslie (a singer) at a Veterans Day program on the island.

Sure.  We made a lunch date first, then rode with them to the program.  Leslie is a local favorite - she entertains all over the Valley.

The program started with an Honor Guard from the Fire Department...

Recognizing Vets in the audience.  A talk from the Mayor and past Mayor, the Leslie did her program - songs from wartimes through the years, from the Civil War to the War on Terrorism.  Certainly more upbeat than that description would seem.  Our first time seeing her - she is a good singer and entertainer.

A full house...

Mostly our age and older, although Leslie did introduce a young man who just came back from Afghanistan.

A moving program, an enjoyable afternoon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Two nation vacation...

That's the way advertisers used to promote a visit to South Padre Island, since Mexico is so close.  Then, things on the other side of the border got a little scary - as in: dangerous.  Of course, there are people who will poo-poo the risk.  The last time we went to Progreso (Mexico), there was a machine gun nest, behind sandbags on the Mexico side of the bridge... that didn't inspire much confidence in the "pleasure" of visiting Mexico.  We used to get there a couple times a month - sometimes to get a good price on pharmaceuticals, sometimes just for lunch or tequila.

Progreso is a much friendlier place to cross, compared to Matamoros (across from Brownsville).  It takes just over an hour to get there, so we took it off our "let's go visit" list.  It isn't fun when you are feeling like you need to be constantly looking over your shoulder.  We haven't been back for a couple years.

Friends Mike and MJ were planning to go there for Mike to get some dental work done (there are scads of dentists in Progreso).  Time to give it another go.  Our passport renewals came back sooner than expected, so we should be able to get back in the country.  ;-)

We met Mike and MJ on the US side of the border.  Paid our toll for the bridge and headed over.  The Rio Grande River...

Nothing much had changed since our last time here - still scads of people hawking trinkets, drinks, drugs (the pharmaceutical type), dentists, jewelry, hats, pop-up window shades.  There wasn't much of a crowd there (the winter visitors haven't shown up in big numbers, yet), we had the pleasure of saying, "No, gracias," a lot more than I recall.

We did some shopping...

Well, more looking than buying.  We shopped several pharmacies - yes, the prices vary quite a bit, then met Mike and MJ's friends (and now ours, too) Gary and Shirley for lunch.  Nice restaurant; waiters in jackets, white table cloths, and excellent service.  The prices weren't much of a savings from our side of the border, but Joan and MJ seemed to quite enjoy the margaritas.

If you notice a Diet Coke bottle on the table, Mike and I are the designated drivers - we let the ladies enjoy the adult beverages.

In fact, after lunch I walked Mike to his dentist's office, then met the ladies and Gary at a liquor store.  Before heading in, Joan stopped for a shoe shine...

MJ asked about sampling several different tequilas...

I'm guessing that one was strong!  ;-)

With purchases in hand, we said our good-byes - we headed for the border, MJ went back to the dentist's office.

Apparently, the new passports passed inspection, and we were allowed back into the good ol' USA.  The fastest route back to our part of the Tropical Tip takes us right along the border, the "fence" and a look at the non-freeway life.  There are nice homes and shacks; old border towns and new businesses.  This place is a Transmigrante...

No, they don't sell cats.  That is just the name.  Transmigrantes buy and ship stuff to Latin America.  We pass several border crossings on this road, none as welcoming for visitors as Progreso.  Good places to bring truck loads (or train loads) of goods into and out of Mexico, though.

Back home, safe and sound.

Monday, November 9, 2015

I want what I want when I want it...

Again, not me - Isabella.

It was getting close to Izzy's lunch time; Joan and I were getting ready for a bike (bicycle) ride.  Before heading out, Joan took out the garbage while I put my sneakers on.  Little Isabella was obviously concerned that I was going to leave before feeding her...

"Hey!  You can't leave - I haven't been fed yet!  Seriously - you need to get over there and get my food!"

"I'm not leaving right now - I will get your food before I go!"

"You better - it's almost time!  I have a schedule to maintain, you know!"


I did get plenty of leg rubbing while getting her food... "You're my favorite - you really know how to do the food just the way I like it."


It is a beautiful sunny day.  The high is supposed to be around 79º; still some breeze: northeast at 16 mph.  We decided to bike to the Post Office... it is north northeast of our house.  Yes, that means pedaling into the wind all the way there.  Unlike sailing, tacking on the bike isn't practical.  One of us wanted a beach cruiser without gears... I am very happy with my folding bike, with 6 speeds.  Yes, I was making more "revolutions per minute" than the babe on the beach cruiser, but in a lower gear.

Joan dropped off the letter... yep, snail mail.  Then, the ride home.  With a tail wind.  I like a tail wind.  The bridge was out when we got back to our island...

The bridge wasn't out long - one small fishing boat going through on the hour.  We stopped to check mail on the way home - I thought for sure there'd be a pink slip in our box (meaning another trip to the Post Office), but no.

Back home, I did some fine-tuning on Joan's handlebars and went over the bike to make sure all the nuts and bolts were tight.  She is enjoying her beach cruiser.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

May be something to that El Niño stuff...

We have been home just over 3 weeks now... and each weekend has had some rainy weather.  If you have seen the national weather, the previous two weekends were heavy rain... a lot of south Texas experienced flooding.  Some areas are still experiencing that flooding; not because of the newest rain, with water hasn't drained off.

I got out on the paddleboard early yesterday.  We took the scoots out for a late breakfast.  This newest round of wind and a little rain blew in late yesterday.  Guess we'll be "cocooning" today.  Movies and chili.  A nap.  Some guitar time.

Into the afternoon, the sky is looking less gray, the wind is down to about 22 mph out of the northeast, and the weasels are saying the precip has moved on.  Too blustery still for me to want to get out there, but we can have the door open, for a change.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Everything's coming up roses...

No, I have not gotten into flower gardening.

We were feeling the need to get out of town... well, Joan said, "How about Texas Roadhouse for lunch today?" and I was all over that.  Besides, there is a new Dick's Sporting Goods in Brownsville, and we haven't been to Brownsville since we've been home.

A warm, mostly sunny day... the a/c in the truck felt good as we made our way on Hwy 48, past the Port of Brownsville.  Looks like things are booming there: drilling rigs being built, ships being dismantled.

I pulled up the whereabouts of the new Dick's store on my Apple Watch - it is in the Sunrise Mall.  Pretty impressive - they have an entrance on both sides of the mall.  Most of the Dick's we have been in are two-story stores - this one is single story, really high ceilings, and they built the store over the top of what used to be stores on either side of the enclosed mall... big... it is a nice addition to the community and the mall.

Nothing we particularly needed, but I did find a couple things.  Looking around, we had interaction with several store staff - everyone was friendly and knowledgeable.  That isn't always the case when we're shopping in Brownsville.  OK, not just Brownsville.  Before heading back to the truck, Joan saw a new shoe store and decided to look around in there.  Same thing: friendly, helpful people; huge selection.

We both commented about this refreshing change.  On to Texas Roadhouse... the parking lot was packed!  We drove around and found the last available parking spot.  I was dreading what I expected to be a lengthy wait... at 2:00 in the afternoon... really, I expected the place to be empty.  The restaurant was just as packed as the parking lot, but... there was no wait!  Our waiter could not have been friendlier or more efficient.  The food was good.  And plentiful.

This may not seem "discussion worthy"... it really isn't what we've come to expect with past experience.

The drivers didn't seem to be crazy aggressive.  This is a really big deal.  Maybe it is a change of weather?  Mid-80s, but it was dry while we were in Brownsville... and rained at home while we were out of town.  Must be my clean livin'.  They are predicting a "cool down" for the weekend... a good chance of rain (not the poundings of the last two weekends), with a high a high around 70º for Sunday.  One of the TV weather weasels said, "You may need to get out your sweaters and winter wear for this weekend..."



Wednesday, November 4, 2015

You have fish breath...

You would think that is something I say to Izzy.  You would be right.  Except for today.

Not often I eat fish.  Well, maybe a bite or two when Joan orders it.  But today, I surprised the Blonde and ordered my own.  Apparently, I surprised Izzy, too.  ;-)

Joan wanted some "water ambiance" for lunch today.  Here's the view...

With the gray sky, it looks like it should be cold out there... it is 82º.  One of the local weather weasels was calling it "between muggy and very humid."  Seems like those are the same thing; well, at least to me.

Humid enough that when you come out of the air conditioned restaurant, your sunglasses fog up.  We drove to the beach.  Got out and walked to the jetties to check out the dredging operation... not pumping any dredged material, yet; it takes a while to get everything in place.

The wind was blowing in the mid-teens... enough that there were some kite surfers plying the water...

The red flags are up (for strong current), but they are almost always up...

The water actually looked pretty friendly.

In spite of the humidity, we came home for some time on the deck, of course with little Izzy.  I don't mind the humidity when the temp is low 80s (or less).

Looks like there will be some rain for the weekend, again.  They had a lot of rain here this summer, while we were gone.  Right now, this area is 20" above the normal rainfall for the year.  Temps may be in the 70s when that front moves in.  Nice.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


We were out riding on the scoots.  The tag was: your scooter by something "left" (as in southpaw).  While looking for a "Left Turn Only" sign, we stopped to take in the view along the shoreline of the Laguna Madre.  I pulled out the phone to see if anyone had gotten the tag... yep.  New tag: your scoot with an ambulance.

Joan suggested we ride by the Police Station on the way home (which also has a bay for the ambulance).  A couple blocks later, we came across an ambulance pulling into the HEB (Texas grocery store chain) parking lot.  No lights flashing, they didn't seem to be in a hurry... but, they did park on the street.  Made my tag easy...

New Tag: your scoot with a bi-lingual sign...

Easy to get around here.

Another beautiful day; got to 81º, mostly sunny.  We managed to find some streets in town that we haven't been on before.

Monday, November 2, 2015

I could be in a Tampax ad...

Paddleboarding, biking, sailing... the only thing missing is horseback riding, and that is not on the agenda.

Friends (they have a place across the street from us) Randy and Cindy invited us out sailing.  Joan had stuff to get done, but my schedule was wide open.  They have a 36' MacGregor catamaran - plenty of room for the 3 of us, and Bentley, their big mean dog.

Randy said, "I brought fried chicken."  Chicken and sailing.  This has the makings of a great afternoon.  We made our way out of our canals, Randy at the tiller...

We motored out to the turning basin, where I got a close up look at the drilling platform and pipeline ship that are there...

They were rolling pipeline onto that big reel in the middle - amazing to watch.

Down the ship channel, heading to the Gulf.  The rest of the crew: Cindy...

And Bentley, the wonder dog...

The best part of the day, for me: the first dolphin sightings...

Then, more of them...

I missed these playful mammals.  Bentley took to the bow to keep an eye on them...

Not a lot of wind today, but beautifully flat water.  We made our way through the jetties and into the Gulf...

That is South Padre Island in the background, from the Gulf side.  Not far into the Gulf, you could see the line between the blue water and the greenish water near shore...

Not much traffic today - we were passed in the opposite direction by a Coast Guard boat and a shrimper.  Yep, feels like home.

Coming back into the jetties, we saw a group of pelicans, flying low, heading the other way...

I passed up photos of the dredging operation that will soon be putting more sand on the beach (from a post a few days ago), in favor of getting more dolphin photos...

Like the Orcas in the PNW, the marks/nicks on their dorsal fin make it possible to distinguish the different dolphins.  Unlike in the PNW, there is no rule to stay 200 yards away.  In fact, they frequently come right up to the boat...

After spending the summer viewing the Orcas, these dolphins look so tiny!  Nice to get to spend some time watching them, though.  I took the helm for a bit while Randy and Cindy raised the sails, but I have to say it was really nice being a passenger, getting to watch all that was going on around us.

Great day on the water!