Travels have been a bit boring so far, until today. We went over the Pecos mountains, and crossed the Amistad Reservoir.
We hit the road on Monday to start our summer adventures. We did a quick overnight in Laredo, a couple of days in Del Rio and are now in our final stop in Texas - Ft. Stockton, until we head to Roswell, NM on Sunday.
Travels have been a bit boring so far, until today. We went over the Pecos mountains, and crossed the Amistad Reservoir.
We passed two Border Patrol Inspection stations, and had fun going up and down in the mountains. Chacho got up close to his first cactus and didn't like it at all.
What's up ahead? Not a damn thing!
It's National Puppy Day! We never thought we would ever be owned by a puppy again, but fate laughed at us. In honor of National Puppy Day, here is our puppy, Hurricane Luna. She makes us laugh with her antics and definitely keeps us on our toes.
After sitting still for several months, it takes us a little while to get back in the habit of traveling and packing up. We'll be leaving the Rio Grande Valley at the end of this month, so it's time to start getting organized and get into our travel routine again.
We've had the Aqua Hot serviced and we're replacing the steps. We still need to do engine maintenance, such as an oil change. That, we'll do on the road at a nearby Cummings dealer. Dave is still working on a few maintenance projects and should be done by next week. He's cleaned out one outside bay and we'll do the other one next week.
Inside, I've gone through the pantry, closet and several cabinets to bring order back. I still have quite a bit to do, but I still have plenty of time.
After dealing with Good Sam and the steps yesterday, we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening, checking out the places we're going to this season. Making the decision to slow down our traveling seems to have been the right one. We're looking forward to spending a lot of time in New Mexico and Colorado and really getting to see a lot of those states. We've been fortunate enough to find some great campgrounds with beautiful vistas.
So, what else is new this year? Besides the slower travels, we've decided to put Dave's drone to use and will try our hand at videography. There are many places we go to that photography just doesn't do it justice, so we'll try something new this year. Hopefully, we'll be able to share our experiences on here.
We'll finish up our season at the ABQ Balloon Fiesta and spend the winter in Arizona. We have high hopes for our winter home - we'd love to see it become our western area home.
It was another warm day, so we decided to head to South Padre Island and give Luna her first trip to the beach. She loved it! She had no hesitation about running on the sand and she picked up sticks, shells, played with other digs and even chased a little sand crab until it turned to bite her.
I've not seen her smile so big since we got her, and she passed out cold on the way home, exhausted.
The ride home was very quiet...
Luna has been with us for a little over two weeks and she's been growing by leaps and bounds. We're exhaustively proud of the fact that for the last two nights, she's gone to bed and straight to sleep, after many nights of wanting to play as soon as the lights go out.
She's a ham. Anyone that walks by gets loads of attention from her. And she loves to play at the Bark Park. She'll start off chasing the big dogs until they turn around chase her and then she comes crying for Daddy.
She loves her toys. Our living room looks like a daycare exploded toys everywhere. We've never had a dog that loves to play with so many toys, but it's a blast to watch her.
She loves our shoes. We've had to learn to put our shoes up because she'll just grab them and take off with them. I have no idea what we'll do when she's tall enough to reach them.
Chacho still isn't too fond of her, especially when she chases him and nips at his butt. But they're getting better together.
Potty training is still hit and miss. She's learning to walk to the steps to let us know she needs to go out. The difficulty is that she hasn't learned to limit it to potty breaks only and not playtime.
We alternate between exhilaration and exhaustion. She's captured our hearts and made the loss of our precious Sage a little easier to bear. She can't take Sage's place, but that's not why she's here. She's found her own place in our hearts.
We still don't know her genetic makeup, although everyone has an opinion. We'll have to wait and see.
For a variety of reasons, it was time to trade in the truck. We loved the Chevrolet Silverados and decided to stick with that model. We upgraded to a 2016 and are in love with our new wheels. There are so many bells and whistles that it'll take us a month to figure out what all the buttons are for! We're not thrilled with the color - black - but it's used, so we didn't have much of a choice. All in all, though, it's a great truck and will last a very long time.
Sage Monroe - 2007-2019
We had the heartbreaking task of saying goodbye to our beloved Sage today.
Sage has been a part of our lives since we first met her in 2011. She stole my heart the minute I saw her and her Daddy was not far behind.
Through the years, Sage has been at my side through good times and bad. She was there when we expanded our four-legged family, and she was there to say goodbye, as we lost them. She learned how to be a Diva from her sister Brenna. Her big brother, Quincey, always took care of her and she loved to play with him. Oscar was her little buddy and they would sleep together in one bed. Whenever I took her to my mom's house to visit Oscar, she would always perk up.
She drove every piece of machinery we've ever had, from our first motorhome, to our jeep to our second motorhome to our truck and our golf cart. She loved driving the golf cart. She always looked around like she was checking for traffic.
Sage was so patient. She always let me dress her up, whether in costumes or pretty clothes. At one point, she had more clothes than me! No matter where we went, she always stopped traffic.
Chacho and Luna know that something is wrong, but aren't sure what. Sage, we love you so much and will miss you with all our hearts forever. Rest in Peace, my beautiful girl - you've earned it. And please tell your brothers and sisters at the Rainbow Bridge to take care of you. My heart will never be the same.
We lost our minds today after the Pet Parade and started looking at pictures of rescue dogs in the area. I fell in love with one, named Aggie, who was supposed to be a chihuahua mix.
We compounded our insanity by driving to the shelter "just to look at her". I'm sure everyone knows how this ends.
The shelter, the only one left in Hidalgo County must have housed over 800 dogs and cats. Most of the kennels, covering over five acres, were outside and with the cold snap we just had, it tore us up to see all the dogs shivering. In some kennels were litters of puppies, laying on the concrete floor, with no covering to warm them. Our hearts broke at the sight and once we actually saw Aggie, we knew we couldn't rescue them all, but we could rescue one. Aggie was the smallest puppy in her kennel. The other puppies she shared the kennel with were not part of her litter, and she was terrified.
Please welcome Luna, our newest family member. First, she's not a chihuahua. At three months, she's laready six pounds and has some fairly large paws. We figure she'll probably get to about 35 pounds. All the way home Dave held her and she vaccilated between fear and exhaustion.
Of course, we stopped at Petsmart for the essentials - food, bed, leash etc., as well as puppy shampoo because she reeks of the shelter. We got her home and first was a bath. She then crawled into her bed and passed out. After an hour's nap she woke up, ate, pooped and started exploring her new home.
It looks like she'll settle in just fine. She's been running all over the place, playing with Daddy and just being a goofball. In some ways she reminds me of Quincey with her goofy antics.
Sage and Chacho? They're not too thrilled. At this point, they're just ignoring her, maybe hoping she'll just go away. In the meantime, Dave is relearning how quickly a puppy pees after drinking. I have a feeling she'll keep him on his toes!
Today was the annual Pet Parade fundraiser to benefit Princess Paws Pet Rescue. Although the weather didn't cooperate well, having dropped over 40 degrees from the day before, we still managed to raise over $5,000 which will be matched with a $10,000 grant, totaling over $15,000 raised for the Rescue!
Activities included pet photos, auction items, food and beer, although hot chocolate might have been more appropriate for the cold weather. The rescue also had several dogs available for adoption.
I attended a briefing by the local Border Patrol station yesterday and came away with many nuggets of useful information.
The briefing was given by the local Border Patrol Community Liaison, who dispelled many myths people had taken as fact.
There are 21 Sections of Border Patrol in the US. The McAllen Station, that we're in, is comprised of 9 stations in our one section. The McAllen Station is the largest in the country for capturing illegals. It has roughly 650 agents in its station. Tucson is the largest station for capturing illegal drugs.
He noted that yesterday, over 600 illegals were caught in the McAllen area over the last 24 hours. Over 400 of these were family units and as usual, there were no drugs captured.
The top three countries of illegals in the U.S. are El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Most of those are family units fleeing for a better life.
The number of illegals captured in 2017: 137, 000
The number of illegals captured in 2018: 162,000
The Border Patrol is responsible for detaining and processing only. Claims of amnesty or other issues are confirmed by ICE or Immigration judges. Many refugees, who are released are given a summons by ICE to appear in front of an Immigration Judge.
The role of the National Guard: Most people are not aware that the National Guard has no detaining or arrest authority. Therefore, their roles are all support, from monitoring activity screens to feeding agents to cutting brush back. That is all they're allowed to do.
When it comes to smuggling, whether drugs or people, most are juveniles because the cartels know they're liable to get in less trouble than adults, although that mindset is changing in our law enforcement system.
Does the wall really lessen the influx of illegals? According to our presenter, it has its role in the grand scheme of capturing illegals, but here are a few facts to add: In the McAllen area, which is mostly river boundary, the wall doesn't sit on the border. Rather, it's set back, so agents still have to patrol in front of the wall. In addition, the Station has thousands of ladders sitting outside from illegals who simply climbed the wall.
What is the most effective method of capturing illegals? The trifecta of personnel, technology and resources. Technology, such as extremely sophisticated cameras, night vision goggles, "Blimps" and other resources are the most important weapon used to find illegals and detain them. Resources, such as helicopters and horses are also important. They can get where a truck can't get to. Of course, these resources wouln't be very effective without the trained personnel.
The Border Patrol is always hiring and its entry standards are very high. After an eleven-step process of being hired, which include polygraph and rigorous interviewing to see how the candidate stands up under pressure, the selected agents then spend six months at the Border Patrol Academy in New Mexico. Men and women have the same physical and mental standards. After the six month academy, many Border Patrol Agents move on to more extensive training, whether it's border crossing, K-9, horseback patrol, helicopter or intelligence.
The pay is generous and goes up quikcly in the first five years. Straight out of the Academy, an agent can expect to make roughly $50,000 annually. Within five years, this typically goes up to around $90,000. Our presenter, who is three years from retirement, makes about $115,000 annually.
Our presenter was very careful not to express any opinions, rather, sticking to facts. And my takeaway is that a wall is not enough to deter any illegals. Rather, it's that trifecta that makes a difference. And until ICE stops just issuing summons, the number of illegals won't go down.