Pun Of The Week

Last Sunday morning Betty & I attended the church service at Chapel By The Sea on South Padre Island, as has become our custom here in paradise. After we were seated and without warning, a line of about 30 people appeared from the back of the sanctuary, marched to the front, and lined up facing the congregation in 3 rows. Betty & I looked at each other quizzically for a second, until Betty quietly proclaimed: “Oh, it’s a choir!” Not being accustomed to seeing a group of singers at the front of the church, I replied: “Well I guess it’s an a-choir-ed taste!”   OK, I can hear our kids groaning over the Internet all the way from Winnipeg. Get over it… LOL

Our Encounter With The Bard

Who says Shakespeare is dead? Last night Betty & I attended the Reduced Shakespeare Company (RSC) production of “William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged)” at the South Padre Island Convention Centre. What a hoot!

In about 2 hours of high intensity acting, three performers played 46 roles from The Bard’s 37 plays, combining them into a hilarious presentation which came with the following “Warning: This show is a high-speed, roller-coaster type condensation of William Shakespeare’s massive first play and is not recommended for people with heart ailments, back problems, English degrees, inner ear disorders, people inclined to motion sickness, and/or the humor-impaired. The Reduced Shakespeare Company cannot be held responsible for expectant mothers.”

In addition to all the outlandish impersonations of such characters as Hamlet, King Lear, Lady MacBeth, Ariel and Puck, the show was full of familiar quotes that were twisted into punny expressions that those with a twisted mind like mine could truly appreciate. In re-telling, I cannot do justice to the “Friends, Romans, countrymen…” speech that ends with the death of a Caesar salad; or the comic portrayal of Macbeth’s 3 witches as they stir the pot with “double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble…”. “To be, or not to be…” is compared with Frank Sanatra’s “do be do be do”, and one of the characters pulls out a joint for “doobie, or not doobie…”

At one point one of the actors challenges the statement that all Disney movies are based on themes established by Shakespeare in his plays. In answer, the actors quickly describe elements of Disney movies, with another giving Shakespeare’s earlier take on the theme. Hilarious and amazing that Teddy Spencer, Austin Tichenor, and Marco Antonio Vega are able to remember so many parts from so many plays, and present them so flawlessly!

No pictures were allowed in the theatre, so I must end this post with a pic of the flowers I picked up today for my sweetie, in celebration of Valentine’s Day next week. Cheers!

Adolfe Thomae, Jr. County Park, Texas

This week Betty & I continued our adventures in wonderland by exploring Adolfe Thomae Jr County Park, about an hour’s drive north of South Padre Island. Part of the Cameron County Parks group, this beautiful but rather isolated spot is on the banks of the Arroyo Colorado in Laguna Atascoso
National Wildlife Refuge. On the way, we passed through a few small communities, but mainly farmland, including a number of large wind farms. There were very few other vehicles on the well-maintained road, and we had little or no expectation of what we would find when we reached the end of the road. Fortunately, our park pass for Isla Blanca Park also activated the gate at Adolfe Thomae, and we were able to go exploring.

The park was alive with unique (to us) flora, fauna, and wildlife, and I had to smile as I thought of camping trips as a kid where my mom never left home without her little books describing the plants and animals we would be seeing. My apologies to the readers of this post who see some of the pics taken along the way that don’t adequately identify the bird beside the pelican, for instance, or the type of cactus, or the flower on top of the palm… Well, with the mix of sun and shadow, they all made good shots anyway!

The few RV sites located in the park are large attractive full-service spaces, nearly all backing onto the river. While there is a small children’s playground, the main activity of campers was fishing, with both a large boat ramp and adjacent parking area, and a number of wharfs jutting into the river. While we don’t fish, Betty & I agreed that this isolated spot would be ideal for anyone seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.

On the way back home to SPI, we passed groves of orange and grapefruit
trees, with some heavily laden fruit trees adjacent to the highway right-of-way. We were tempted to reach out and pick them, as we had done on a trip to Florida when we were young and foolish, when we saw a hand-written sign “Grapefruit for sale”. We turned down a farmer’s lane and arrived at a stand in the orchard, with grapefruit in various sizes of bags. On the stand was a jar full of cash, and the sign invited us to put in our money and take our fruit. We chose a bag of about 30 grapefruit for $8., left our payment and drove off, never seeing the vendor. While we’re still not sure what we’ll do with 30 grapefruit — it seems all our neighbouring campers have their own — these grapefruit are sweet and juicy, and we are enjoying them with almost every meal.

For those who are familiar with my famous margarita: Yes, fresh grapefruit is a key ingredient. Unfortunately, this happy drink only comes out when the temperature is stinkin’ hot for a number of days running. We have been experiencing one or two days a week with the temp. over 80f (26c), but not enough sustained heat to put together the necessary fresh ingredients for the perfect drink. So we have to settle for wine instead. Does it sound like I am whining? Life is so tough here on the island! LOL.

If you’re looking for a unique campground, far from the madding crowd, consider Adolfe Thomae Jr County Park. It makes for another great adventure in wonderland. Cheers!

Sun, Sand, Seagulls, Skycraft and Steak

All the “S”s have come together this weekend to create a great experience in paradise!  While the sun has been rather elusive in south Texas for the past 3 weeks, today is a beautiful sunny beach day, with the current temp of 80f (27c) and a light breeze blowing down the shoreline. (Reported high of 90f (32c) while we were at the beach!) Apparently we can expect more of the same in our final three weeks here, although the forecast continues to be unpredictable.

Betty, Charlie & I have just made the 2 minute walk from South Padre Island’s fabulous sandy beach, back to our motorhome. Charlie has had an outdoor shower to rinse off some of the excess sand, and I have cracked open a chilled bottle of Walmart’s finest Pinot Grigio as we relax on our little patio.

There’s a lot to see and do in south Texas. This week we drove to the end of the road looking for Boca Chica State Park and found ourselves on a totally undeveloped sand beach. Apparently the area was declared a State Park in order to protect it from development, with the closest sign of civilization being a curious Elon Musk SpaceX installation near the end of the road…

As we drove also to the north end of the road on SPI we were reminded of driving in Canadian winters, where the wind swirls and sweeps snow drifts across the highway. Except for us this week it was warm, fine-grained sand being swirled and swept across the road: Much more enjoyable!

Yesterday we drove to the large sand flats just north of SPI’s convention centre and met up with a large flock of seagulls that seemed as interested in us as we were in them. Here is a picture of them standing quietly on the sand, just before Betty dropped a handful of trailmix outside our Smart car window. If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Birds” you will get the sense of our experience next, as we attempted to outrun the seagulls before they picked up our little car and carried us away! Total mayhem!! LOL

Our main reason for going to the sand
flats was to see a free exhibit of the most amazing sky craft ever! Kites of all colours, shapes and sizes hovered over us, and we witnessed a fascinating ballet in the sky, as individual and group kite flyers danced their kites in front and above us to music. We have no idea how 8 – 12 flyers could choreograph such tight, exacting moves in the air without getting their kite lines all tangled. The attached pictures do not do justice to the deft skill of the experienced flyers. Simply amazing!

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I must end another post with the final “S” of our title. For my birthday this week Betty took me to a Fleetwood Mac tribute concert where some great surf ‘n turf was served: lobster tails and bacon-wrapped filet minion – very tasty. However, last night’s bbq offering was also a mouth-watering delight. Attached is a pic of our steak, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, and baked potatoes on the barbie, paired nicely with a Valpolicella.

This weekend’s experience of sun, sand, seagulls, sky craft, and steak again  reminds us of why we came to paradise!


Still Working Towards Effective Communication

“Say what??”

It’s fun to hear all the variations on the English language in south Texas. On South Padre Island we see license plates, and meet people, from all over North America. It’s fascinating to listen to the colloquial phrases that are common expressions for one area of the continent, but not familiar in other areas. Of course, English isn’t the only language spoken – most of the over-the-air television stations in our campground are in Spanish, and bilingualism is common in stores and on the streets – just not the French/English bilingualism we are used to…

Not to say there isn’t a significant Quebec contingent here. Our good neigbours from our last site were French Canadians. Johnny (Jeanny) loves to fish and brought us a great supply of fresh wild shrimp which we are still enjoying. We hope to get a further supply before we leave next month.

But back to the English language issue at Isla Blanca County Park (pronounced issla — the ‘s’ isn’t silent – which makes me wonder about John Donne’s “No Man Is An Issland…” or “Treasure Issland”. We stopped at the local Walmart to pick up a cable to connect my MacBook to our TV, and I asked the Electronics Department staff what they had. He asked me if our computer and TV had ashdemmy connections, and I said no, not as far as I know. After walking away, I noticed a rack of HDMI cables, which work just great!

Of course struggling with effective communication isn’t always with someone from a different part of the continent. This morning Betty & Charlie came home from a long walk on the beach. I was just getting up, so asked her what I should wear. “Is it a shorts day?” She looked at me quizzically and said “No, it’s not a short stay. You know we’re here for another month!” LOL

Real news, as opposed to the fake stuff, appears hard to come by here. But the other day we heard there was going to be a feature story coming up about homeless vets in South Texas, and Betty wondered why veterinarians aren’t paid enough in this state in order to afford a home. Everybody here seems to have pets! “Oh, you mean those vets…!”
Anyway, every day is a treat, and our new well-treed campsite is surrounded by friendly neigbours from all over. There is a real sense of community in this part of the park, with many seasonal campers, and we are looking forward to hearing the dialects and learning the unique phrases that help us all communicate more effectively with each other!


Gavin’s ongoing adventure

We are here!   The best part is we get to stay here for the next six weeks. We will have to change sites once but that’s ok. We’ll be closer to the beach. I got to take off my hat to let the sea breeze blow over my head. Don’t worry Joanna lots of sunscreen applied!

Betty and Charlie are going for long walks along the beach in the early mornings while Graham and I get our beauty sleep. This must be paradise!

We’re Almost Out Of Home Brew!

One might get the inaccurate impression from reading this blog that Betty & I are heavy drinkers. Nay, nay! (I doth protest too much. LOL) But we do like to pair a fine wine with a fine meal, and my understanding is that doctors claim it is good for our digestion. Well I’m going with that, whether they claim it or not…

When Betty retired for the first time, she informed me that making her own wine was on her bucket list. I inwardly cringed, as I’ve tasted a lot of homemade plonk over the years. But she prevailed and I believe her years of experience as a nurse lead to her overwhelming success: She thoroughly sterilized all components, and she followed the instructions to a T. She hasn’t produced a bad batch yet!

As most people realize, downsizing to a motorhome has its limitations. The custom wine rack I installed only has the capacity for 12 bottles. Another 15 can live under one of the seats, and of course there should always be a few chilling in the fridge. But when you’re used to bottling 60 every couple of months, one can see where our style is somewhat cramped!

While Betty developed expertise in the brewing, my skill in labeling was continuously honed. Thanks to a recommendation from our son, Andrew, I invested in a Dymo label maker, and enjoyed customizing the labels for each batch brewed. They involve pictures I took around our home in Winnipeg, or on previous motorhome trips. I’ve attached some of the recent efforts to this post, but the reader must recognize that the Dymo is a thermal printer that doesn’t use ink, so only produces a black & white image. That limits the subject matter, but I think my technique is still improving, if I ever have the chance for more practice.

In any event, now that we are without our home brew supply we must rely on others. Thankfully, we have found wine retailing to be far less regulated in some states south of the 49th. Right now Texas is particularly interesting as Walmart carries a larger selection than most government liquor stores in Manitoba, and with prices under $3 who can go wrong? We call it “Wally Wine”, and much of it isn’t that bad! Really! Costco here also has a generous selection, and so do some of the Dollar Stores, but we haven’t been reduced to Dollar Store wine just yet…

OK, so we’re having another great meal with fresh local ingredients tonight. I think its time we follow
the doctor’s orders and liquid(ate) our digestive systems! Cheers!