Tuesday, December 17—Kay Is Back, an Even More Amazing Day the the National Butterfly Center, and the Hidalgo Festival of Lights

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I was up and at ‘em early this mooring to wash clothes and clean the RV for Kay’s return to the RGV, finishing just as she phoned from tarmac saying the plane had landed.  She was waiting at the pick-up spot when I arrived.  With both of us hungry, we drove to a restaurant for an early lunch, and from there to BikeMasters to pick up her bicycle—another early Christmas present for her was having her bicycle cleaned, adjusted and tuned, and lubed. 
After our highly successful day yesterday, Lorna and I returned to the NBC, primarily hoping to see the West Coast Lady, but no such luck.  We did see lots of Fritillaries, a few Monarchs, Gray Hairstreaks, etc.  We rode down to the main gardens, and after locking the bikes, visited with a friend of Lorna’s who had been there specifically to see the Blonfild’s Beauty for his year’s list; he had not had success.  Just as we were finishing our conversation, he and I simultaneously spotted the orange upper side wings of the swiftly darting rare butterfly.  We all followed it with our eyes and were joined by a handful of other amateur lepidopterists until the Beauty settled on a nearby tree.  We all got great views and photographs, and lo and behold if it didn’t begin to slowly open up to reveal the rarely seen upper side. 

It gradually opened and remained in that position for several minutes, yielding great photographs of this rarely seen spectacle before it finally flew away.  Walking away amazed at the rare sight, we spotted a large Zebra Haleconian.  Afterwards, we stopped by the office gardens to visit with more of Lorna’s friends—more birding, butterfly, and dragonfly experts who have chosen the RGV as either their permanent or winter place of residence—before hurrying back to the RV resort to leave for the Hidalgo Festival of Lights.

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Kay and I joined 33 other Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort residences for a convoy to the Hidalgo Festival of Lights.  After arriving at the parking area, we enjoyed a roast beef supper, followed by a short walk to view lights at nearby public buildings and private houses, including  a spectacular display of lights at the residence of Ramón Ayala.  He is a Mexican musician, composer, and songwriter of Norteño and Conjunto music. Known as the “King of the Accordion,” Ayala has recorded over 105 albums for which he has received four Grammy Awards.  The lights and many decorations at his house were programmed to Christmas music and was pretty awesome.  Following this short stroll, we listed to a less than good Magic Valley Chorus, a local Sweet Adelines group whose average ages had to be early 80s.  We all then enjoyed a narrated tour of the Hidalgo Festival of Lights; more than 3,000,000 bulbs light up in the largest, award-winning Christmas light display in Texas, and was very impressive!

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