As we were getting ready to leave Sin City, we had a little adventure we’d just as soon NOT repeat. EVER. For a couple evenings, I had been hearing a sort of “scratching” noise, but could not identify a source. And it was windy most days, so the sound COULD HAVE BEEN something rustling outside. Then, one evening the source became clear in terms of location – behind a panel above the oven. It sounded like an animal, and it sounded BIG, so I did not want to just open that panel. Instead, I have a fiberoptic camera that I have used to see plumbing and other mechanical issues in places that are not easily reached and visualize. And what I saw was NOT GOOD.
First a turd or 2. Through the camera, I thought these were bigger than the mouse-variety, but could not be sure. I poked around a bit more, until I finally saw some ears and beady eyes. Still no perspective on size, until I realized I also was seeing what the critter was chewing on – an Ant Poison trap (YUM!).
On the bright side, though…apparently the Ant Poison is tastier than all the electric wires in the space!
Now I KNEW this was a rat, not a mouse!!!! We also looked around the bus and found turds in a few other places, so the un-diagnosed noises were now clearly understood.
What to do???? Here was my plan…
I poked the critter with the camera to “encourage” him to retreat. I opened the compartment just a tad – enuf to put a loaded mouse trap into the space and closed it back up. I was a little worried that the critter was too big for the trap, but at that moment did not have another alternative.
About 30 minutes later we heard… “SNAP” and then “squeal-shuffle-shuffle.” I put the camera back into the space, and realized the Rat was still gasping, but not moving. It appeared that the trap had broken its neck, though the Rat had managed to extricate itself from the actual trap itself. HOWEVER, the damage done was severe, and the Rat expired shortly thereafter, And I was able to relocate it to the trash.
Now, we were actually GLAD Liz had a cold – GLAD we had not left the bus with Rat aboard; we just had to hope that we had only ONE RAT, not ratS.
[ After-the fact note: it has been over a month since this incident, and we have not heard any more noises or seen any more turds. ]
Since we were no longer going to Chicago, we started to think about our plans. We were headed to a Winter Site we had booked on South Padre Island, but now had some time for wandering in between. We decided to attend the Lonestar Bird Rally XMAS Rally in Mineral Wells, Tx. Over the years, we have stopped a couple of times to Rally with these folks – and had a blast doing so, so we were GLAD our schedule was newly freed for such a stop!
On the way to the Lonestar Birds Rally, we had the delightful chance to stop near Tucson and see Anita and Les Sonke – fellow Bluebirdbrains and Permanent Road Folk. Les Cooked a GREAT meal for us, we prepared Margaritas and we chatted the evening away.
We have met a whole cadre of new and diverse people while we have been staying at a whole cadre of new and diverse places. Our life is richer for all of that!
After the Gypsy Soul Experience, we passed thru first New Mexico and Las Cruces, where perhaps the MOST SCENIC Wayside Rest of all is located.
Then, we had to pass thru West Texas (believe me, if THAT could be avoided , we would have done so), stopping in places like Odessa, Midland and the Permian Basin. I gotta tell you , this part of Texas is Flat, Ugly and stinky (sorry if we offend…gotta call it the way we see it!).
Stinky because of vapors coming from the Oil Wells, Fracking sites and all sorts of related environmental insults. Ugly because it is flat and brown, with the vast expanse of nothingness broken only by the aforementioned Oil Infrastructure.
Spoiler alert POLITICS CONTENT: It Is clear that those who expound on the awful environmental impact of Lithium Extraction for Battery technology have never been to West Texas, where the impact of the tech Batteries may replace some day is on full display. Environmental Impact is something that needs to be attended to for both (all) technologies.
After Mineral Wells, we made it to South Padre Island without further insult or assault on our senses. We DID, however, manage to impose ourselves AND our bus on friends and relatives along the way… First there was Amanda and Max Hendrix Near Weatherford, Tx. We parked on their Tarmac next to Max’s Hanger and enjoyed a feast, Amanda’s version of Crack (A sweet, homemade Snack Mix) and I spent some time helping Max afix insulation to his new RV Space attached to the hangar while Liz and Amanda chatted and Liz Shucked Peeeee-cans.
Then we moved onwards to Double Oak Texas, just North of Forth Worth, where Liz’s cousin Bill lives and where said cousin offered us their driveway for a couple nights.
Liz had not really seen Bill for YEARS, and was a little worried they’d not have much to talk about. Instead, Bill’s Wife and I had to amuse ourselves in the background for HOURS while Bill and Liz chatted about growing up, other cousins and who knows what else, all of which foreign to Wendy and me! That wasn’t too hard – Their grandson built us a fire in the backyard and we shared bourbon around under the warm Texas Sky after Bill had BBQd a FINE dinner. WHAT A GREAT VISIT.
Once we made it to SPI, we checked in, anxious for a couple of months of Sunny, warm weather, hikes on the beach, bike rides and EXCELLENT BURRITOS.
Things started off well – we invited Jack and Carole Harriff – Chicago Friends who winter nearby in their RV for a beach walk and BBQ.
Always delightful seeing old friends – the time apart dissolves away in minutes. In the case of the Harriffs – we are given TWO Car Passes as part of our RV Site rental at the country park, so as we did last year, we filled out one for them and one for us. Thus, we expect, and look forward to multiple visits in the coming weeks.
And, we also visited their spot in Alamo – about an hour west and with MULTIPLE USEFUL AMENITIES, such as inexpensive Laundry Facilities!
Speaking of Amenities, SPI Has a Few…
An ADEQUATE Brewery (well, to be fully descriptive… EXCELLENT Food and Adequate beer),
Good Burritos and
GREAT Beaches to walk.
On the way to Alamo, one passes multiple Border crossing opportunities, including Matamoros (Just across from Brownsville) and Reynosa (Just across from McAllen). You also get to drive along the border – and see the ABSURDITY that is the Southern Border Wall.
And, that is an APOLITICAL STATEMENT, believe it or not!
There are sections of the “new” wall clearly visible. But, there are also gaps – indeed entire miles-long sections with no barrier. And sections of actual wall with 30’ openings every 100 yards or so. It is TOTALLY CLEAR that one could cross, pick lettuce all day and be home to Mexico for Dinner. And, also without judgement, I am TOTALLY CERTAIN that this is how a lot of lettuce gets picked!
Meanwhile, the politicians visit the ONE PHOTOGENIC Border Crossing (Near Del Rio) to bloviate about being tough on “illegals,” primping and posing for the narrow-view of a camera, next to a single section of completed wall.
One of the border crossings, near a little Mexican Town called “Nuevo Progresso,” was of particular interest to us, as it offered us the opportunity to become Medical Tourists. This town is one of several along the border FAMOUS for Dentistry. With all of our efforts to get to Chicago cancelled or postponed, I decided to get my teeth cleaned and examined there. Looking up dentists, I found MANY – and I endeavored to pick the Highest Google-rated one until I found one advertising as “Dr. Dan.” How could THAT be a bad choice, I thought!!
Instead, we learned that our RV Neighbors at South Padre had been going to one of the Dentistry Offices for several years, for all sorts of treatments (from cleaning to Root Canals and Bridges). They spoke highly of their dentist and so we decided I would go to THAT one.
What we discovered upon arrival was an absolute shrine to Medical Tourism – especially to Canadian Snowbird-tourists. You park (for $2) on the US side, pay $2 to walk across the bridge, and are immediately presented with at least 200 Dentistas and at least as many Farmacias. Dr. Mustre was easy to find, and I went to check in – no appointment, first-come-first served. We were early, there was no line, and I was done in 45 minutes. When Liz saw that I had survived, she decided to go, too, and was done in another 45 minutes. For ¼ the cost we had been paying for years.
More than just cost, there are other benefits to Medical Tourism. For example, there are DOZENS of Taco Stands and other eateries along the main street. We stopped for a Taco or 2, and while we were sitting there, our neighbors walked past (the ones that had recommended Dr. Mustre).
Debbie was getting some Dental Work done, and Steve knew of a place where AWESOME MARGARITAS may be had – across from Dr. Mustre.
We decided to wait for Debbie there – never been in a Dental Waiting Room serving any kind of Margaritas, never mind freshly squoze ones. Then, we decided to have lunch. All in all, a really fun day.
While in Nuevo Progresso, Steve bought a couple bottles of Booze, Including a Tequila recommended to us years ago by a business Colleague from Mexico City. ½ US Price, though you do have to pay the Texas Liquor tax after crossing back – $3.75 or pay a $1k fine! Graciously, Steve has been sharing that with us.
Once they had plyed us with Tequila, they suggested maybe we’d like to join them at a Comedy Club one evening. They cautioned that it can get “a little raunchy…” and the hostess, before seating us said the same.
I thought she was going to make us sign a Raunchiness Waiver (and possibly have it notarized!) !!!
And “Raunchy” was kind of an understatement…the comedians frequently told jokes in Spanish or Spanglish. Or anglo Street Slang. But then kindly translated “For the White Folks in the room.”(The jokes were often ABOUT the white folks in the room, too! Not PC and definitely not Woke, but mostly HILARIOUS. Anyway, the price was right…the Cover charge for the room was paid by one of the fishing charter businesses, hoping we’d engage them for that.
While in SPI, we planned to take a trip to Spokane to take in a Gonzaga Home Game. This became the first leg of a 3-leg trip to include Chicago for the postponed Doc (though we no longer needed Dentista) appointments. Once again, though, one of us woke up with a sniffle – this time a couple days in advance of travel, so a COVID test was arranged, administered and was again NEGATIVE. So, we embarked, worried about all the Air Travel disruption in recent weeks.
Our experience was reasonably good – the first leg from Harlingen left on time, and we were upgraded to First Class. The second (longer) leg also left DFW on time, but was possibly the WORST Air Trip, comfort-wise, I have ever experienced! Seat pitch LESS THAN the length of my Femur, for sure. Air Temp WAY TOO WARM, but I was afraid to ask the Flight Attendant for remediation, fearing she’d think I was COVID-feverish and would eject me from the plane at altitude. Anyway, we arrived in Spokane on time for all planned festivities.
As for information on those festivities – you’ll have to wait for the NEXT post!!! (Hint: the #2 Zags acquitted themselves quite nicely against non-chump competition!) And, Chet graciously signed some stuff for me. Probably because I was holding hostage a Tin of cookies baked for him by his sister.