and Cathy McArthur on
the Road 2005: 8
Thursday, February 24, was another travel day for Bill after a night of rain and distant thunder in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Kerrville, TX. Bill walked down the highway to eat breakfast at a nearby Inn. He paid $5.98 plus $1 tip for a continental breakfast. The day's trip was a 340 mile drive to Brownsville. Bill solved the riddle of San Antonio by taking the I410 outer loop around to I37 south. The remainder of the trip was on US 77 south. The day was partly cloudy with a nasty crosswind from the east, but driving was easy. Bill arrived at around 2:00 PM. He chose Paul's RV Park which gave cable channels 2 through 78 and wireless Internet in the rig. It was cloudy, 79 degrees, humid, and very windy in Brownsville, but the rig was safe at last from freezing temperatures. Bill talked with Cathy a couple of times during the day; Cathy is still suffering with her cold. She was hoping Tom would let her shovel snow. Baby Rachel has her days and nights reversed, a standard baby trick.
On Friday, it was cool, cloudy, and windy. After talking with Cathy, Bill did the laundry on the early shift; other campers showed up after Bill was in the drying cycle. After the laundry and another phone call to Cathy, Bill took a long walk to Matamoros, Mexico. The round trip was at least 10 miles. Bill tried some shopping at a large store near the border, but most things there seemed to be from China. There is another market about 14 blocks from the border that Bill will try on his next foray into Mexico. The foot and car traffic in and out of Mexico was extremely light compared to the other crossings we've seen. The campground had a Karioke Social scheduled for the evening, but Bill decided to stay in the rig.
It rained most of the night before and all day on Saturday. Bill didn't get much sympathy when talking to Cathy, Alex, and Katie, who knew that Bill's rain would be a rain or snow storm in their area early in the next week. The rain finally slowed down in late afternoon and Bill did some outdoor chores.
On Sunday, true to its name, the sun came out and produced a beautiful day. Bill decided to spend the day outside walking. He did an 18 mile trek which led to the Sabal Palm Grove Bird Sanctuary down by the Rio Grande and then back through some of the major boulevards of Brownsville. Bill did some nasty snacking during and after the walk, but didn't feel guilty about it. He talked with our son Bill in Puerto Rico, standing in line at a Subway, while walking. He talked with Cathy before and after the walk. During the evening, Bill watched the Oscars on TV.
Monday was another beautiful, warm day. Bill walked down to the American side of the border and browsed along several shopping blocks. The shops were typically of the "Dollar Store" type; evidently that is what the Mexicans that cross into the US to shop are looking for. Bill's walk totaled about 12 miles. The hot sun was bothersome at times, but it was hard to complain with a Nor'easter ripping into the Northeast. There were a lot of folks back home that would have been glad to swap locations with Bill. Cathy and Bill decided that Bill should plan to arrive in Doylestown, PA with the rig on Sunday, March 13. She called Al's Plumbing to get them to open the house by then. The current plan has Bill leaving South Padre Island on Thursday, March 10 and, depending on the weather, heading Back East.
On Tuesday morning, Bill walked to the Port of Brownsville, which he couldn't enter because of security. Bill walked a 7 mile loop that took him through a nice area along Vermillion Street where Rivera High School is located. This area has some new housing developments and large shopping centers. During the afternoon, Bill rested his weary legs. Cathy reported that Rachel had a good visit with her doctor, who pronounced her a "calm baby".
Wednesday's weather was threatening all day. There was close to Brownsville to the south, but it never materialized. Bill lifted weights, did a load of laundry, did chores around the campsite, and packed up all of the hoses for the next day's travel. The only walking that Bill did was to a store 1/2 mile away. After dinner, Bill watched "When Harry met Sally" with the commentary on. It was a very interesting discussion of the movie.
Brownsville seems more like a Mexican city than an American one. Many of the cars have broken windshields, faded paint, and belch smoke. The people that one sees are mostly Mexicans with a smattering of Winter Texans, or Cottonheads. Bill has not seen a black person yet. Used car lots are everywhere and so are auto parts stores and tire shops. Many of the clerks in the stores do not speak good English, probably because their typical customers speak Spanish with them. On the other hand, Brownsville seems a better destination for Winter Texans than does Pharr, TX which we experienced last year. The border area has been the subject of warnings by the U.S. Government lately and Americans probably should be wary of crossing over.