Friday November 13, 2009
We had a good night at Casa Blanca State Park. Miss GPS led us through Laredo to find the old part of town. The art museum we had hoped to visit did not open until 11 instead of 9 as our travel info said. We are finding that this is not the high tourist season so some things just close down. We visited the Cathedral which was lovely and the Museum of the Republic of Rio Grande. It was very interesting to read about this Republic – it was composed of a sliver of what is now south TX known as “the strip” and some part of northern Mexico. The Republic of Rio Grande only lasted about 3 years from 1840-1843 approximately. The Treaty of Guadalupe between the US and Mexico finally settled on the Rio Grande as the final boundary and the Republic was gone. The museum was in the building that served as the capital of the Republic.
Next door to the museum was the Hotel La Posada – very old and interesting. We were able to walk through their garage to get a good view of the International Bridge and a huge Mexican Flag on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande. The traffic was almost 95% Mexico to US…and the blocks surrounding the old plaza was 100% stores catering to Mexican customers. There is another International Bridge west of town that is probably used for trucks etc. as the traffic on this downtown bridge was mostly cars and small trucks. In fact had we not known we were in USA it appeared as if we were in a foreign country! Most of the advertising was in Spanish with only occasional English signage. We enjoyed the old architecture in the area very much. We found our way back to the Sprinter and began our journey out of Laredo. We found US 83 south and headed toward Mission TX our goal for today.
Museum of Republic of Rio Grande
We passed through agricultural area, ranches, and oil wells. The towns were larger than in west Texas. We drove through the old town part of a couple of the towns. We stopped in Roma at a What-A-Burger for lunch. This is a TX and southwest chain and we felt compelled to eat there at least once. It was a good hamburger and fries. The waitress asked if we wanted a side order of jalapenos. We watched as some of the folks got an order of jalapenos in a small Styrofoam cup which they poured out on papers and ate on their burgers and just popped them like popcorn! I like jalapenos in cooking and on nachos etc but not straight!
What - A - Burger
We continued east listening to our current book – Divine Justice by Baldacci. We finally arrived at the Bensen-Rio Grande State Park and World Birding Center. They had hourly tram rides throughout their multiple acre park for birding. We took the tram out to the Green Jay area and got off to hike the ¼ mile to the next tram pick up location. We viewed several water birds at the first site and then hiked down to a bird blind. Sitting in the blind we viewed and photographed several javalina who were digging and resting near a pond. We also saw green jays come in to feed and fly about in the trees. The Rio Grande Vally is the habitat for this jay. It was striking green with a black head. We also saw lots of chakalaka.
There was a very nice gift store where we did some shopping – in fact bought our first Christmas gift!
Across the street from the park entrance was an RV Resort with WIFI, TV, electricity etc. so we just pulled in to see if they would let someone like us – in a 21 foot conversion van stay along with all the big rigs…I guess our money was just as good as the other folks. Almost all of the folks are staying all winter. While it is an interesting lifestyle; not so sure it would be for us.
We had very good Chicken Pad Thai for dinner if the cook does say so herself. We did not have a cable long enough to reach the cable hook-up so we just tried Ben’s antenna and we have 42 channels to choose from. Last night in Laredo at the state park we also got a choice of several stations…of course half are in Spanish! I hope the WIFI is strong enough to load the blog. There are over 300 sites in this park so it may be too busy.
Maybe tomorrow we will make it to the gulf coast. Weather is great 87 and clear. The temperature tonight should be in the 60’s. You need long sleeves early in the morning and in the evening and short sleeves the rest of the time. We are near the mid point in our trip - time flies by and it is hard to know what day it is when traveling like we are..