We've almost finished decorating for Christmas, and what fun we had! Below are some pictures of the decorations. In the near future, I'll also take some video of the outside lights and golf cart. I think we outdid ourselves this year!
We've settled into our winter home here in Mission, in the beautiful Rio Grande Valley. We're already starting to feel very much at home here, and are enjoying meeting our new neighbors.
Yesterday we rode the tram through the beautiful Rio Grande Valley State Park. Our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. Right off the bat we saw another javelina and so many spectacular birds, including the vibrant Green Jay. Hawks were also plentiful.
We continued our wildlife trek today with a Pontoon Boat ride down (up?) the Rio Grande. Right before we left for the cruise, we followed a truck that had TN plates. The owner, Cheryl, is from Chattanooga, and it turned out that she was also going on the Boat ride, so we had a very pleasant chat about home.
The other couple that joined us on the boat cruise are avid birders, so we learned how to spot birds and also learn a few of the species that fly around here.
As we rode, we learned a little about the river that joins the U.S. and Mexico, right in the middle. We saw numerous parks on the Mexican side, as well as some houses, to include one very nice mansion that had been confiscated by the Mexican government because the owner is serving time for dealing drugs. Although we saw several Border Patrol vehicles on the U.S. side, there were only a few people on the Mexican side, mostly doing construction work. Our guides pointed out bright plastic along the shore line, that were rafts used to cross over to the U.S.
The ride was very enjoyable, although a bit chilly. In addition, I neglected to bring my bigger camera, so the bird pictures I took today were not the best. In addition, it was very overcast and gray and made it harder to get quality pictures. Next time we go, I'll be sure to bring my other camera to see these flying beauties up close.
My mom and I bought Dave a cute little Christmas cactus when we were at the Weinachtsmarkt in New Braunfels. This morning, it bloomed - two blossoms! So pretty!
We're here in Mission, in the Rio Grande Valley. In our first few hours here, we've already seen a javelina, rooting in the farmland across from our campground, and, just now, a spider as big as a dinner plate right outside our door. Welcome, I guess.
This morning, I found out that a dog, up early for a run on the agility course in the dog park was bitten by a rattlesnake.
Yes, I'm learning to watch where I walk before moving.
One of my favorite things to do is dress up my little Sage in her costumes. I have three favorites: This one is a blast from the past.
Next is her Lady Liberty look:
But yesterday, I got her my ultimate costume - a German dirndl, complete with braids and hat. She wasn't happy, and Chacho kept sniffing her to see if this was his sister.
We made the trek to Fredericksburg yesterday to enjoy a nice dinner and the annual lighting of the Christmas Tree and Christmas Pyramid. Being German, I've always had a Christmas pyramid as part of my decor, but I've never seen a life-sized one, until now.
When we arrived in Fredericksburg, I quickly realized that this event was a bigger deal than I had thought. Main Street was jam-packed with people walking everywhere. Main Street was very charming with lots of small specialty shoppes and restaurants, all decorated with lights.
We began our evening at the Silver Creek Saloon and Restaurant, where we enjoyed the outside ambiance. The schnitzel was good, although the noise was a little extreme.
After dinner, we strolled towards the Marktplatz to see the live entertainment, as well as Santa flipping the switch to turn on all the Christmas lights. There were probably a couple of thousand people in the market square, waiting for Santa. We managed to find a bench to wait. After the magical lighting of the the entire square, we waited a few minutes for most of the crowd to dissipate and worked our way up to the Pyramid. It was truly beautiful - something I won't forget.
Enjoying a little German in our Christmas festivities made it just a little more special.
Mom and I spent yesterday downtown. We started the day at La Villita, a historical Mexican village that offers shops, restaurants and historic markers. We enjoyed walking around and seeing all the historic cottages as well as the artisan crafts. And I had some great breakfast tacos.
From La Villita, we walked straight over into the Riverwalk area. A riverbarge ride, walking through all the lush foliage and dinner riverside, consisting of chicken tortilla soup and a Texas-sized brownie finished our day. By the time we got home, we were beat, but it was a great day!
I took mom to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Safari yesterday, a return trip for me. It was just as much fun as the first time! We had quite a few brave souls who not just waited in the middle of the road for us, if we weren't quick enough, they would just stick their head into the car window to get their treats.
We drove up to New Braunfels yesterday to see the Weinachtsmarkt they had this weekend in the local Convention Center. The Weinachtsmarkt, or, Christmas market is an annual event to raise funds for the Sophienburg Museum. It's filled with vendors of all genres, to include jewelry, food, wine, clothing, and, of course, Christmas items.
We had a delightful couple of hours, wandering through and trying different things. They had my chocolate popcorn, so that went into my bag, as well as a Texas cowboy boot Christmas ornament to celebrate our holiday in this great state.
We also lucked out and found a Weinacht Stollen, a German Christmas cake, filled with fruits, almonds and powdered sugar. We tried a piece and it was delicious! I think it may make the Thanksgiving table - I don't know if I can make it till Christmas.
We'd worked up quite an appetite, so it was off to the Alpine Haus for a delicious lunch. The Alpine Haus is a very small old house. It's family owned and operated and the owner/chef was an Executive Chef for over thirty years before opening his own restaurant. It seems to be very popular because reservations are strongly recommended.
The house was a beautiful century old house that saw the transition to restaurant very easily. The rooms seemed to flow into each other and everywhere were touches of the Old World, from walking canes and hats to a cuckoo clock.
I started with a great glass of Spaetlese and some wonderful German bread, a marbled rye bread. Dave ordered his usual Jaeger schnitzel and home fries. By his silence, I knew his meal was delicious. Mom and I ordered the Sauerbraten and spaetzle. It was good except that the gravy was a little too vinegary and seeped into the pasta. By the time we left, all I could taste was vinegar. But, the atmosphere made up for it.
Before I forget, we started our adventure that morning in San Antonio at Total Wine - one of the largest liquor stores I'd ever seen. Dave found it on the web and we were interested because of all the European wines and beers.
The only word I could come up with was wow. Although it was a full liquor store, it felt like a Toys R Us for winos. After a box full of wines and two bags of beer, we finally headed out.
My mom finally made it here last night after several detours, re-routes and missed connections. At least the weather has welcomed her today. The sun is shining brightly and the temps are in the high 60s. After lunch and a trip to Wally World, she's down at the pool, enjoying the sun and the hot tub.
Since this town and part of the area is so strongly encased in the Alsatian history and culture, we thought we'd take her to the Alsatian Restaurant for lunch. The food was ok, not fantastic, but the ambiance was incredible. The house the restaurant is in dates back at least a century, if not more. The rafters on the ceiling were hand hewn and the entire place embraced its rich history.