Tuesday through Friday, March 4-7—Can’t Get a Weather Break

Mardi Gras, aka Fat Tuesday, was cool and wet, prohibiting most outdoor activities, even though temperatures did make it up to the mid-50s.  The crud is trying its best to take advantage of me, but a ZiCam tablet every 3 hours is helping to minimize adverse affects.  Still, I stayed in out of the weather and caught up on computer “stuff” all day and evening.  Before lunch, Kay and the other “girls” took advantage of a full hour’s massage.  Upon returning to the RV, she began a new Swedish weaving project.  BPVRV Resort has quietened down considerable since the mass exodus last Saturday, but one table of bridge players, including Kay, showed up at the Activities Center and played until 9 PM. 
Wednesday WAS supposed to be relative clear with temperatures rising to the mid 60s—not a chance as it began misting on the front nine at Meadow Creek Country Club, and along with cool temperatures, continued throughout the round; Al and I can’t get a weather break with respect to golf!  It has been unseasonably cool and windy this winter in the Rio Grande Valley, with more moisture than normal, but we are hesitant to complain given the weather in other parts of the country, and the wide-spread drought occurring here in South Texas.  Kay, being the always busy housewife, washed, dried, and folded laundry, and continued working on her new Swedish weaving project.  We left the palapa happy hour early, and hosted next door neighbors, Lorna and Paul, for dinner at  The Republic of the Rio Grande restaurant in McAllen.  Lorna has been my go-to person for bird and butterfly identification, and Paul has been Kay’s segmented bowl instructor/mentor; we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude for all they have done for us, and besides, they are darn good neighbors.

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Jerry and Karen Smith picked me up early Thursday morning for the long drive to Laredo to see the Slaty-backed Gull.   We arrived mid-morning, wandered around Lake Casa Blanca State Park, before finally stopping at a picnic area to wait for the gull.  While there, we saw a Merlin perched in a nearby tree (photo on the left), two Ospreys flying overhead, several species of shorebirds, the usual array of birds flitting from tree to tree, a couple Snowy Egrets (first photo below), and lots of gulls.  Finally, after 12 noon, gulls began arriving to the lake from feeding at the landfill, and we spotted the rare Slaty-backed Gull.  By this time, we had been joined by another birder from the Dallas area and a father and son from Georgia.  According to Waite’s Birds, the Slaty-backed Gull breeds in northeastern Eurasia, and winters from the Bering Sea and Kamchatka south to Japan and the coast of eastern China.  It regularly wanders to the Aleutian Islands and the coast of western Alaska.  Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, After sighting the gull, we drove to Creek where it enters the Rio Grande River for viewing the White-collared Seedeater (second photo below).  We saw three of these birds, and they remained in the general area for the duration of our visit.  Additionally, we saw a Black-chinned Hummingbird (third photo below).  Jerry and Karen picked up 4 new birds for this year’s Texas list, and I picked up several life birds.  Needless to say, it was a great trip.
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Kay had planned on s shopping trip with the “girls”, but found a flat tire on the car when she went out to leave.  After airing the tire, she drove to a nearby tire dealer, followed by a neighbor, and got the flat fixed.  Consequently, she missed the shopping trip.  I returned via a 3-hour drive from Laredo, took a quick shower, and we were off to Buchanan’s in Palmview for an evening of dancing with Wayne and Bessie.  This was a clean, spacious restaurant/bar, but as with most places in South Texas, they allowed smoking.  At first, it bothered us, but as the night wore on, it became less of a problem.  Country Roland Jr. played, and we had a great time.  Best of all, the dance was over at 9 PM, allowing an early bedtime.
Al, my golfing partner, bridge player, and good friend volunteered to take several of the ladies from Circle 3 to a few nearby several ropas on Friday.  A ropa is a place where new and/or used clothes are sold by the bale or pound (e.g. $0.35 per pound), and may be in huge, tall piles which buyers must climb and dig through.  Of course, after purchasing clothes by the pound, washing is absolutely required and de-licing may be desired!  Kay only bought one item and immediately sent it to be washed with another lady who bought lots of clothes for her granddaughter.  I made an end-of-season visit to Costco to have the new hearing aids cleaned and obtain enough spare parts to last until next winter, though I can pick them up at any Costco.  The short trip to Costco was followed by work around the RV, cleaning the inside, sanitizing the tank, and beginning reorganizing and packing for our return to Arkansas in a few days.  In the process of sanitizing the freshwater tank, I spilled bleach water in the pump compartment, necessitating flooding it to keep the bleach from staining the compartment carpet.  And then, shortly before Kay returned, the electricity went out, then was off and on several times.  Apparently, there was a surge in the whole resort, and our surge protector prevented the surge from entering the RV.  A call to the office yielded a visit from one of the work campers, followed by an electric company technician who reset the voltage coming into the whole park.  We watched a lot of recorded television in the evening, whittling down the build-up of shows occurring during the Olympics.

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