Saturday, February 28, 2009

Out with the Camera

It seems like about every other day I have some complaint about the wind.  I’m sure you are tired of hearing it by now.  So I’m only going to make one comment today.  The wind woke me up at 3 AM, we have had gusts over 40 mph today, and we have discussed where we could move that would be wind free.  It that really the same as three comments?  Oh well, it’s windy!

On an entirely different subject that I have spoken about before—I rarely go anywhere without my camera.  Each day when I post photos, I try to select the best and only use those which pertain to the discussion of the day.  Others that I’d really like to share go in a special folder to await a really boring day in the life of the Curps.  Today is one of those days in which we stayed inside except for grocery and laundry.  So, here are those photos.

There are several flowering shrubs which is pretty cool considering it is only February.  There are two or three taken on our tour of the missions yesterday.  Then there is my favorite—hay bale art.  Clearly, somebody had time on their hands.

Training wheels?

Tomorrow, we hikers are going hiking.  Now that’s a switch.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Last Look at Big Bend

This is our last day at Big Bend.  It is unlike any other place we have ever been.

I cannot leave without giving equal time to the mountain section of the park.  The Chisos Mountains are located roughly in the middle of the park and rise to a height of over 7800 feet.  The highest concentration of foot trails are in the mountains rather than the desert.  Our hike to the window was from the Chisos Basin, a “bowl” in the middle of the mountains.  There is only one 6-mile road that goes into this mountain area.  Most of these photos were taken from that road.  The others were made from the main road through the park or from the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.

The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive ends at the Santa Elena Canyon.  From here, canoeists and rafters put in for a float down the Rio Grande River to Rio Grande Village on the eastern side of the park.  There are camps along this nearly 100 mile stretch.  You could actually take out at almost any of the camps since they can be reached by 4-wheel drive vehicles. In Terlinqua and Study Butte there are several river outfitters who are happy to rent canoes, rafts, guides, supplies, and transportation services.

We have really enjoyed our visit to Big Bend.  However, it is time to leave now.  We are anxious to get out of the heat and wind of south Texas.  Today, we have spent preparing to move tomorrow and resting a bit.  We have been on the go since we got here.

Tomorrow, we start our run for New Mexico and Carlsbad Caverns.  We will stop for the night tomorrow at the small town of Alpine so that we can visit Fort Davis National Historic Site.  Hopefully, internet access will be better there.

San Antonio Missions

Our goal for today, after picking up the camera, was to visit some of the missions included in the National Park Service unit.  The Visitor Center is located at the San Jose Mission—the most elaborate of the 4 missions in the National Park Service.  We, of course, watched the film and toured the grounds.  We were able to get in the ranger guided tour which was very informative.  We like the ranger led tours.  Some are better than others, but today’s ranger was very knowledgeable.

In the early 1700s a series of missions were established along the San Antonio River.  These missions were an attempt by the Spanish to push their stronghold further and further north as well as to spread the Catholic faith to the Native Americans living in the area.
Espada Mission

Portion of Espada Aquaduct

These Native Americans were hunter/gatherers and had been living on the land for thousands of years.  In the early 1700s, the Apache and Comanche began raiding villages and the missions offered sanctuary to the tribes of South Texas.  Families lived in apartments along the perimeter of the mission and learned the skills needed to help support the community.
San Jose Mission

Priest quarters behind the archway

One of the skilled these hunter/gatherer tribes learned was agriculture.  A dam was built and an extensive aqueduct system was built to supply not only water for the mission, but also to irrigate the crops.  Parts of that aqueduct system still exist today.
Within the archway

We visited three of these missions today—San Jose, Espada, and San Juan.  The Alamo is also one in the series of missions, but it is not operated by the National Park Service.  The fourth mission, Concepcion, we will visit on another day.  It is located closer into downtown and the River Walk.
San Juan Mission

I made over a hundred pictures today.  It was hard for me to decide which to include in this post.  I’ll try to include the rest in the next few days.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

D'Hanis, Texas

It was nice to get a slow start this morning.  Even though I got up at my normal 5 AM, I still had my pajamas on at 8 having enjoyed a blessed 3 hours of coffee sipping, reading, and an hour of the Today show.  I did manage to get myself dressed before going out for our morning walk.  Today turned out to be another hot one in the mid 80s and very humid.  Even as early as 8:30 the humidity was hanging in the air.

The morning was filled with a few chores and internet surfing.  After lunch we hopped in the truck to tour D’Hanis, Texas.  This campground has a mailing address of Hondo which is about 8 miles east of here.  D’Hanis is only about a mile to the west. Go figure.  Anyway, it seemed worthy of a tour so we went.  Downtown D’Hanis is only 1 block long along its only street.  Well, actually only on one side of the street.  It consists entirely of a bank, a grocery, city offices, two restaurants (one out of business), and a Bed and Breakfast.  We also drove back about 2 blocks in the residential area and found the old brick factory still in operation.

Old brick kiln at the brick plant

D’Hanis was established in 1847 by Alsatian immigrants.   Besides growing cotton and raising cattle for market the community also had a brick plant. That plant is still in operation today.  We just had to go in the general store where we found a hardware section, gift shop, small restaurant, and great looking fresh meats.  The best thing about it, however, were the screened doors complete with a Rainbow bread advertisement.  The old Koch Hotel which opened in 1906 is now a Bed and Breakfast.
Koch Hotel

Real screen doors

We asked in the grocery about historic buildings in town and one of the customers suggested we go out to the Holy Cross Cemetery where there are the remnants of the old church.  We went, but were unable to locate the old church walls.

By this time we had worked up a pretty good thirst so stopped in the only open saloon in town—Bill and Rosa’s.  It was a pretty old building (maybe early 1900s) but not so special inside.  If it was ever a real saloon, the original bar is gone.  After a couple tall iced teas, we moseyed on home.

My camera is ready to be picked up so we have a plan for tomorrow—the San Antonio Missions.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Alamo

We made our way into San Antonio this morning and with very little traffic and no difficulty what so ever we found our way to the camera repair shop.  It was easy to get back on the interstate and get back downtown for our visit to the Alamo.  We got off at the appropriate exit and followed the signs to the Alamo.  We had to head around the block again for parking and it just so happened that we pulled into a Central Parking lot within sight of the Alamo on the right hand side of the street.  Later in the day, when we went back to the truck to get our picnic lunch we noticed that there was a Central Parking lot directly across the street from where we had parked which was charging $10/day.  Our parking lot was only $5 for the day.  How lucky was that!

I know you haven’t forgotten that it was just a mere 173 years ago on this very day that the Texians and Mexicans were fighting for control of the area of San Antonio de Bexar and the Alamo Mission.  Things didn’t go so well for the Texians and they were defeated by the Mexican army led personally by Santa Anna himself.  However, the battle of the Alamo (perhaps the most famous battle of the Texas Revolution) was a contributing factor in the final outcome of the Revolution in which Santa Anna was captured and forced to relinquish control of what became the Republic of Texas.
Gift Shop

The Alamo was originally named Mision San Antonio de Valero, a Roman Catholic mission erected by the Spanish for the conversion and education of local Native Americans. Soldiers of various armies (including the Confederate Army during the Civil War) occupied the compound from the early 1800s.  It is now run by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas who obtained ownership in 1905.

Today, the Alamo is considered hallowed ground and is the Shrine of Texas Liberty.
The long barrack
After touring the Alamo and having our picnic in a small park across the street, we walked along a portion of the River Walk.  We are planning to return on Friday to complete that walk and I will have a complete report afterwards.

Our feet were finally sufficiently tired to demand heading to the truck.  Getting back on the interstate heading toward Hondo was not as easy as the inbound trip had been.  We needed to go south on I-37, but there was no entrance ramp from where we were.  We decided to go north and connect with I-35 south which would bring us around to US 90 in a relatively short time.  We got onto I-35 but got confused when I-10 split off.  We ended up going west on I-10 when we should have stayed on I-35 south.  We managed to find our way onto I-410, along with the rest of the afternoon rush hour commuters, and eventually looped around to US 90.  You might think that this would have been a great way to get an overview of the city, but Gene had his eyes on the car in front and I had my eyes on the map.

Wrong turn not withstanding, we had a great day.  We will stick pretty close to home tomorrow and head back to San Antonio again on Friday.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lone Star Corral, Hondo, Texas

We have arrived at our campground from which we will explore the San Antonio area.  Lone Star Corral is an Escapees park.  However, it is different from the Escapee Rainbow Parks, two of which we have stayed in recently—Rainbow’s End in Livingston, TX and Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale, AL.  This is a co-op park in which all sites are owned by Escapee members.  Each site consists of a gravel pad for an RV, a gravel yard (some have been landscaped better than others), and a small building at the back of the site.  The building is more than a storage shed; they are about 8 X 20 maybe and most have a screened in porch area.  If the owner is away, the site may be rented on a nightly basis to other Escapee members traveling in the area.  That is how we happened to be here and are planning to stay a week.  The price is similar to the other Escapee parks--$18. per night plus electricity.  There is also a nice clubhouse where there are activities going on much of the time including crafts, quilting, singing, cards, exercise, and line dancing.  They offer a few meals during the week.  We got here just in time for hamburgers today.  We pulled in the park at 11:20, got registered, drove to our site, parked, leveled, hooked up the electricity, put the slides out, turned on the air conditioner, and threw the cat inside in time to get to the clubhouse for hamburgers at noon.  Of course, there is the afternoon social hour at 4 and ice cream social on Sunday evening.  Very typical of all the Escapee parks.

Our drive this morning was more of the same of South Texas.  I took a few photos out the window so that you might see that it is really nothing special.  At least, not to an old Tennessee gal who loves the mountains and trees.  Notice the blue sky and imagine the warmth.  That is what it is all about for most winter Texans.

Tomorrow we plan to head into San Antonio.  The first thing on my agenda is to put the camera in for cleaning.  Gene called this afternoon and they promise to have it ready by Friday.  That’s much better than I expected.  After the camera shop we will probably go to the Alamo, but it may depend on where the camera shop is located.  We’ll see.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mathis, Texas

This afternoon we find ourselves in the small town of Mathis, Texas, population about 5000.  It is located about 140 northwest of Harlingen and about 40 miles west of Corpus Christi.  Long gone is the resort campground were we spent the past three weeks.  Our campground for tonight is officially called “Adventure Texas RV Resort” and it is rated in RV Campground Reviews under that name, but if are searching for it on Mapquest, it is listed as Maximum RV.  That is because it is located and operated by Maximum RV Center, a very small dealership just off I-37 on the edge of town.  There are about 60 sites here, all pull-thrus with full hook-ups, cable TV, and free Wi-Fi.  It may become “resort” status when the rest of the campground is finished.  They are currently working on what looks to be another 60 sites and there is a brand new structure which appears to be a clubhouse (not open at this time).  There is a propane filling station—that’s convenient.  It seems to have everything you might want except drinking water.  The water is from a well which hasn’t yet had the blessings of the Texas Health Department.  However, for $18 per night, it is great for a one-night stand on our way to Hondo.  We picked up a couple gallons of drinking water in the RV store.
Shopping opportunity in downtown Mathis
Our run from Harlingen was uneventful.  We got away about 8:30, traffic was very light all along US 77 to its intersection with I-37, and surprisingly, the road surface was in very good condition.  The only stop we made was about 60 north of Harlingen at a Border Patrol Check Point.  The guard asked a few questions and we were on our way.
Gene's favorite store--Dollar General

After we unhitched, set up for the night, and downed a quick ham sandwich, we set out in search for diesel fuel and ice cream.  We found the fuel for $1.99/gal which we think is still a very good price.  However, we had seen it at several stations along Rt. 77 for 1.96.  A couple turns later we spotted the Dairy Queen.  Gene has been craving a blizzard for several days now.  It was only a matter of time until the cravings got the better of him.  Since we were already there, I decided I might as well have my favorite—chocolate shake.  We picked up a loaf of bread at the Dollar General next door to Dairy Queen then went looking for downtown Mathis.  I guess we found it.  At least we found a street with a school, a city hall, a grocery, and a Chevy dealer.  If that wasn’t it, then there is no downtown Mathis.

There is still wind here.  We were lucky this morning not to have any significant wind for our drive.  This afternoon it has picked up some.  We are parked perpendicular to the wind and I had some difficulty getting the Montana door open.  Birding opportunities still abound.  We spotted this Eastern Meadowlark, along with 4 or 5 of his buddies, out in our front yard.

Thank you, Lord, for another glorious, safe, and fun-filled day.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Rio Grande Valley--A Last Impression

This is our last day in Harlingen and the Rio Grande Valley.  We have been here for three weeks and have developed an opinion about the area.  I want to share with you what we found, but of course, our opinions will be biased based on our personalities, needs and style of travel.  So I think I want to do this in three parts—pros and cons based on our observations and conversations with others, our opinion of the area based on our travel style, and a comparison to what we have seen in Summerdale, AL, Livingston, TX, and Corpus Christi.

One of our goals for this winter has been to survey some of the areas which attract “snowbirds”—Northerners trying to escape the harsh winter weather.  South Texas is a popular “snowbird roost” for very good reasons.  You can get far enough south in Texas to be pretty much guaranteed no freezing temperatures.  That is not to say it won’t get cold from time to time, but still the coldest nights are almost never below 30. Our nights have been generally in the 50s and 60s for the month of February.  Last night was the lowest at 43.  The daytime temperatures are very pleasant 70s and 80s.  A couple days last week was in the 90s.  For birders, the Rio Grande Valley is world class.  There are about 6 large birding areas (refuges, sanctuaries, etc) for the enjoyment of the birding enthusiasts.  Deep sea fishing is also handy in the Gulf as well as along the inter-coastal waterway between Padre Island and the mainland.  For shopping, there is a small outlet mall about 10 miles west of Harlingen on Highway 83 and we certainly wouldn’t want to omit the bargains available at both Don-Wes flea market and Nuevo Progreso, Mexico.  Speaking of Mexico, many go there for discounted dental work and prescription drugs.  Besides the warm weather, perhaps the biggest advantage of South Texas is the low prices for goods and services.  Of those we have talked to, they all agree, this is the cheapest place (of Florida, Arizona, California) to spend the winter.  The RGV is a very economically depressed area and the winter Texans (snowbirds) pump a tremendous amount of money into the local economy.  The permanent residents and business owners recognize this and are delighted to have us here.  It seems to be a very friendly place to be.  The primary disadvantage is the constant wind.  A “no wind” day seems to be about 10 mph.  We have had several days with winds of 20-25 with gusts up to 35.  It’s brutal.  Many owners of rigs with slide-out covers have taken precautions to keep those awnings stable.  There are a few large awnings out, but they are well secured to the ground and have additional cross supports installed.  Having said that about the wind, let me hasten to add that this same wind keeps the bugs away.  It’s blown them all over to Florida, I guess.

As far as we are concerned, we have not been too enthusiastic about the RGV.  Our biggest complaint is the wind, as you might imagine.  Some days it really gets on my nerves.  That wind is also blowing the top soil around and other trash (like plastic grocery bags) which eventually ends up in the trees, fences, and just about everywhere.  Generally, we find the area somewhat dirty.  Because it is an economically depressed area, many buildings look run down and in various states of disrepair.  We are not birders, fishermen, nor shoppers.  We like to hike, visit museums and historic buildings, and tour National Parks none of which are in the Rio Grande Valley with the exception of Palo Alto Battlefield.

Tropic Winds RV Resort compares favorably with Ransom Rd just north of Corpus Christi.  Ransom Rd was much smaller with only about 50 sites compared to the over 500 here, but much the same in size and degree of maintenance.  These sites are not as large as those in Summerdale, AL (Gulf Shores) but here (and at Ransom Rd) there is a concrete patio area.  Summerdale and Livingston, TX will get cold in winter, but they enjoy more warm than cold.  I liked the beach at Gulf Shores better than the beaches here or at Corpus Christi.  So far, my choice for a winter roost (if I really wanted one) would be Corpus Christi.

Although, we wanted to scout out south Texas with an eye on a place to spend winters, we are not yet ready to park for the season.  We are still in “travel mode” and what to see what we can in an area then move on.  Most of the winter Texans are here for 3 or 4 months and they come here every year.  They have made friends with others over the years and are perfectly content to stay within the campground for that length of time.  This campground, as does many in the RVG, provides many activities for the residents from ice cream social, live entertainment, craft classes, to weekly meals.  If your primary goal is to spend the winter where it is warm, this is a very good place if you don’t mind the wind.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Annual King Cake Party

Some years ago (15, 16, 17 something like that) a small group of my fellow-teachers and I decided we would start a book club.  That worked out great and we got together about every other month to discuss the book we were reading and, of course, eat.  One winter a couple of three years after we started the book club, somebody had the idea of having a King Cake party.

King Cakes have been around for a long time in many different countries, but our focus was on Mardi Gras and the New Orleans tradition of the King Cake.  This is a cake in which a small plastic figure--the King, or “baby Jesus”, hidden inside is served to guests.  The lucky guest receiving the “baby Jesus” in their serving got the prize.  King Cake parties are held during Mardi Gras. That sounded like fun.

That first year we went all out and ordered a genuine King Cake from a bakery in New Orleans.  Kathy hosted the party that year and prepared a delicious authentic Cajun style meal.  We cut the King Cake with the rule that whoever got the “baby Jesus” would host the party the following year.  That first party was a blast and we loved every minute of it.

Now, if you are a teacher or have a friend or family member who is, you will know that teachers are generally very creative and will often make up their own rules.  Although we kept the “BJ” as he came to be called, gave him a bath and stored him in a safe place to await the next Mardi Gras season (we even sent him through school mail a few times until we decided it might be unconstitutional), our “kings” began to change.  We’ve had several kings over these few years (14, 15, 16 something like that).  Elvis was king, and King Tut, King Kong, BB King, and King of the Jungle just to name a few.  We soon did away with ordering the traditional cake and made our own, often in the shape which represented the named king.   Of course, we always dressed up (some may think we’ve dressed down).

This year “Bling is King” and the party is tonight at the home of my former team mate, Karen.  Since I have been away from Nashville for the past several years, I have been unable to attend the festivities and I miss being there.  This year, when my invitation came in the mail I determined to be there in spirit.

I made my own king cake, sans the BJ, and have dug around for some antique bling.  The party starts at 6 PM and I am calling in to say “hi” to all my friends.  It won’t be the same as being there, but it will be a whole lot better than not participating at all.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Stay at Home Day

Wow!  What a productive day!  We each had several things on our chore lists for today so we put our noses to the grindstone and “got ‘er done”.

Gene got to spend some quality time (maybe I should say quantity time) at the local Ford dealership this morning.  It was time for an oil change and tire rotation.  He was out the door early to be somewhere near the front of the line for service.  He reported when he got home that he was either 30 minutes too early leaving or 30 minutes too late.  He left the house a few minutes past 7:30 and hit every school zone all the way across town.  By the time he got there all the early birds had filled up the service bays.  If he had waited a half hour he would have gotten there as these birds were leaving, putting him at the head of the second wave.  He only had to wait about an hour and a half anyway, which was not long in the scheme of things.

I spent my morning getting my Rio Grande Valley photos labeled, in chronological order and then copied to disk.  This task, which I can describe in a single sentence, took about 4 hours.  Our photos tell the story of our journey and later when we recount these travel years, they will be invaluable in supplying the details our minds will have forgotten.  However, to keep this record in a form that makes some sense later on is very time consuming.  After taking the photos for a day’s outing, I usually spend at least an hour downloading then deleting those which are undesirable.  Some days I get the photos labeled the day they are taken; more often I don’t.  So I keep all kinds of brochures or even just pieces of paper to help me remember all the details.  At least once a week, I have to take a few hours to label and organize or else it becomes almost overwhelming.  I like to copy everything to disk often to avoid the risk of loosing photos.

After lunch, we did our usual 2 mile walk around the campground.  We have finally gotten back in the habit of a daily walk and this is about the 10th day in a row for this little ritual.

Just as a precaution, Gene decided to check the air pressure in his tires.  He had asked the technician to air up the tires according to the label on the door—60 lbs in the front and 75 in the back.  He had to get irritated when he discovered that there was 75 in the front tires and 60 in the rear.  They either ignored his request to air up the tires or they did it backwards.  Whichever, it was wrong, so he got out the air compressor and did it himself.  This wouldn’t have been so irritating if this were the only time it had happened.  However, it happens more often than not.

I got the Montana sparkling inside by vacuuming, dusting, mopping floors, cleaning the bathroom, and washing the windows and mirrors inside.  I also made a cake, but more on that tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nuevo Progreso, Mexico

The last thing on our list of things to do while in the Rio Grande Valley was a trip to Mexico.  We were somewhat reluctant to venture across this border based on the tall tales we had heard regarding Mexico these days.  However, we wanted to go and didn’t want to be deterred by the unfounded fears of others.  So we asked around.
International Bridge over the Rio Grande

We happened to be at the campground clubhouse one morning when a representative from a local travel agency was promoting her company’s tours to Mexico.  We listened as she explained what to expect when traveling in that country.  She did caution that border towns were a bit risky due to the drug trafficking and high crime problems along the border. We had also heard from the staff in the campground office that there have been riots and demonstrations in some of the border towns.  We talked to several folks in the campground who had been across the border and everyone recommended Nuevo Progreso as a destination.  After talking to these travelers, we were eager to go.

Taking their advice and parking our truck at the large parking area just north of the bridge, we walked across into Mexico with a steady stream of other Americans looking for the bargains to be had in this tourist town.  For the tourist, Nuevo Progreso is essentially one street which extends about 3 blocks.  On either side of the road are shops, dentist offices, and pharmacies.  There is a sidewalk, but street vendors have taken up residence on the street side of the sidewalk creating a “tunnel”.  We crossed the bridge with a throng of people and were swept along through the tunnel.  As we passed along, vendors would shove a sample of their wares in your face to tempt you to buy.  We investigated a couple stores and only found a small green gecko (the shop owner assured me it was handmade from tin) and a bottle of tequila to bring home.

About half way down the street we found our lunch spot for today—Red Snapper Restaurant.  The place was packed (that was a good sign) and we had to wait several minutes to be seated.  We each had the fried shrimp which was excellent.  We couldn’t pass up the $1 margaritas, either.  Back out on the street, we continued in our slow stroll, crossed to the other side and worked our way back to the bridge.  With passports we were able to reenter the USA without even answering a single question.

Tomorrow, Gene is taking the truck for an oil change and I will be spending some time getting my photos of the Rio Grande Valley organized.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Brownsville, Texas

First, to catch up a little bit since I didn’t post yesterday.

We had a good visit with Fred and Jo Wishnie Monday evening in which we discussed (among other things) the pros and cons of winter in the Rio Grande Valley.  It seems like the wind tops everyone’s list of disadvantages.  On the plus side, it seems to be the most economical place to spend the winter and it is definitely warm.  It has also been pointed out to us that the wind might be a disadvantage in and of itself, but to its credit, it keeps the bugs away.  Besides the camaraderie and conversation, we did a number on a pan of brownies.
City Hall

Central Fire Station
Yesterday, after some heavy duty grocery shopping and lunch, we headed over to Mercedes to visit with our friend Gordon.  He has been home alone this week while his “dear wife”, Juanita, has been away for a much needed grandchildren fix.  Gordon and Juanita just purchased a new Carriage 5th wheel and we enjoyed the grand tour.  I’m going to have to stay out of the dealerships for a while until I can forget about that side-by-side, frost-free refrigerator.  There were several other features that were quite appealing, as well.  We enjoyed meeting the dog, Bodie, and having another good visit with Gordon.  Hopefully, our travel paths will cross again later in the year as we make our way around Oregon.
Southern Pacific Railroad Depot now Brownsville Museum
Today, we drove the 25 miles or so south to Brownsville.  We had a walking tour brochure and had planned to wander around on foot to see the featured sites.  We parked in front of the Stillman House Museum and from there walked west on Washington to City Hall.  Built in the early 1850s it seems to now be the local transit main terminal.  A few more steps and we were at Immaculate Conception Cathedral which was built by French missionaries.  It now serves as the Cathedral for the Diocese of Brownsville.  We were a little nervous about the look of the neighborhood we found ourselves in so we quickly made our way back to Washington.  This seemed to be the main street in the area with lots of traffic and people along the sidewalks.  We decided it was best to drive the 10 blocks or so up to the Historic Museum of Brownsville.

This museum is housed in the Southern Pacific Depot.  I found the building itself (Spanish Colonial Revival built in 1928) much more interesting than the artifacts on display.  After looking at everything and reading most of the plaques, we sat on a bench out front to have our picnic lunch.  Refreshed, we were on to our next stop—Old Brownsville City Cemetery.  I like old cemeteries; I don’t know why.  We got out of the truck to make a few pictures.  As we were walking around, a gentleman approached and asked were we were from.  He and Gene got into a conversation.  It turned out that he was a volunteer with the Brownsville Historical Society and was out with a friend to do some repairs at the cemetery.  He took Gene under his wing and assumed the role of personal tour guide.  He knew the history of several of the city residents buried there and also explained some of the restoration efforts underway.  How lucky.  We just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

Overall, we were not impressed with the historic center of Brownsville.  Many buildings are in need of repair and there are several businesses closed.  The 2 square blocks around Washington and 13th Street were busy, but farther away caused us to be too uncomfortable to walk on the street alone.  As in other towns we have visited in the Valley, it was dirty and rundown.  
Old City Cemetery
We have a relaxing evening planned and tomorrow.....well, we don’t know yet.