Monday, February 25, 2013
Friday, February 22, 2013
Perhaps a large reason we enjoyed the Brownsville zoo, besides the fact that it has a large variety of animals, and birds on display, is the fact that it is a beautiful park. On its 28 acres there are natural enclosures for the animals as large rocks and cave-like structures, and it also has flowing streams and tumbling water-falls. Not to also mention the fact Brownsville lies on sub-tropic land where there are tall swaying palms, blooming hibiscus and bougainvillea, as well as many desert shrubs and cacti. Pictured below is a napping sun bear whose home is Southeast Asia. The picture should give you a small idea of the natural beauty of the zoo.
There is a lot to be seen in the town of Brownsville, we do hope to make at least one more trip there. It is located about 60 miles south of McAllen. Our main goal Thursday in traveling to Brownsville was to visit the zoo. One resident of the zoo has been making the news lately, and she is the one who prompted us to make the trip there yesterday. I am referring here to a female gorilla born about nine weeks ago. Apparently her mother did not have adequate maternal skills so the baby is being sent to the Cincinnati zoo on Friday where there is a surrogate mother available for her. At the Porter zoo there is no lactating mom for her, but the greater issue is that her mom came from the Cincinnati zoo. She was considered an outsider at the Porter zoo, and her baby would also be shunned by the female gorillas.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
This just seems like a good day to get another posting out. It is windy and overcast, and a bit chilly. Thank goodness, however, that down here in the valley we can always count on the weather turning around for the better in another day or so! John and I have certainly taken on a different life style in the past months since we have arrived here. There are many social activities in the valley available for Winter Texans. I joined a swimming aerobics class here in the park, and both John and I have joined a biking club. I have mentioned before that we joined the Texas Chorus. We had rehearsals and performances to attend for that in the past month. We had our last concert, with the Winter Texas Orchestra, last evening here in the park. I am sorry that it has come to an end. Speaking of making music, we attended the Rio Grande Valley Music Festival yesterday. Our sister-in-law Mary Jo has been attending many rehearsals for that. Her Dulcimer Group had a couple of performances for the festival. In that group there are about 22 mountain and hammer dulcimer players. Their concert was very well done with some good toe-tapping music! In the picture below Mary Jo can be seen on seen on the stage, she is the woman on the right with a bright pink blouse.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
As I said in my last posting, we did see many dolphins on our boat ride from the Bazos Santiago Harbor to the Gulf of Mexico. However, they were diving up and out of the sea so rapidly there was no possibility I could get a picture of them. Also, we may see them come up out of the water, or at least show their fins, but there was no guarantee that where we saw them last was where they were going to come out of the water again! They may travel a distance under the water before they surface again. Shortly after starting our trip out on the water a deck hand dropped a net into the sea with the purpose of showing us some of the creatures of the deep. That was about as fascinating for me as watching the dolphins. His net brought in puffer and inkfish, as well as flounder, a variety of snails, one spider, one white shrimp and many starfish. The deck hand who talked to us about the different fish seemed very knowledgeable about them, he said that prior to his present job he had been a fisherman for 20 years.
My sister Julia was brave enough to hold one of the pufferfish, which is also know as "blowfish". It puffed up with air the minute it was picked up out of the tub into which it and the other fish had been placed into. Pufferfish have an extremely elastic stomach which can be filled with either water or air as a deterrent to any predator who may entertain the idea of consuming the inflated fish. Pufferfish are used in making sushi, however, parts of its body are poisonous. Chefs who prepare the delicacy have to know how to prepare the fish for human consumption. When placed back into the water the pufferfish could only lay on its side until it deflated, then it flipped over and swam away, blowing bubbles out of its mouth in the process. What a fascinating fish!
We also examined several starfish closely. They have an eye spot on each of its arms. If injured the arms grow back. Its many tube feet are very tiny and filled with sea water, which allow the fish to move about on the ocean floor. Both sides of the starfish can be seen in the picture below.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Since we are located fairly close to the Gulf of Mexico, we have been anxious to get in some beach time. However, since we knew that my sister Julia also enjoys the beach a lot, we waited until she visited us before driving over to South Padre Island. Unfortunately, Saturday was not the best of days for such a trip. It started out overcast, but still fairly warm. While waiting to board a dolphin boat we did experience a brief shower. In the long run, however, we had a great day. The dolphin docks are at the base of the Queen Isabel Causeway, which links the town of Port Isabel to South Padre Island. In the former town is Old Point Isabel Lighthouse, and it was at the top of that lighthouse where I took a picture of the causeway and harbor.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Friday, February 1, 2013
Our only stop in San Juan Thursday was at the Basilica of our Lady of San Juan del Valle National Shrine. The history of this shrine goes back to the time of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Spanish missionaries placed a small image of the Immaculate Conception in the church of San Juan de los Largus,Mexico. A miracle of healing happened later at that shrine in 1623, and devotion to Our Lady grew throughout Mexico. In 1942 a priest serving in San Juan, Texas was convinced that fostering a devotion to our Lady of San Juan would benefit the people of the town and draw the community together. The first church/shrine was built in the 1950s, but 16 years later was burned down by a small low-flying airplane. A new church was built in 1976, and it was later designated Our Lady of San Juan del Valle national shrine. In 1999 Pope John Paul named it as a minor basilica. Today the church is one of the most visited shrines in the United States.