Fall is in the air! Yes, it is that time of year. The mornings are beautiful, the air is crisp and dry....and cool. It's time to take a walk. After all these months of “Shelter in Place,” a morning walk sounds quite refreshing. Your walk may be just around the neighborhood or perhaps you would like to journey a little further afield. No matter what part of our beautiful Rio Grande Valley you may call home, there are many wonderful places to explore. So, put on your walking shoes and let's go.
Let's start with South Padre Island. As you walk on the hard-packed sand, be calmed by the rhythmic breaking of the waves as you contemplate the universe. You might even prefer to visit the South Padre Island Birding Center with a boardwalk extending over the marsh land. Here you can watch the alligators or admire the shore birds overhead. Perhaps a tour at Sea Turtle Inc might be to your liking. It will entertain both young and old.
In the Brownsville area, you could choose Gladys Porter Zoo, the Museum District or even the Old City Cemetery where many original settlers are buried. Bird watchers love the nearby Rabb Plantation. These attractions are all available to those who love nature, art or history.
Certainly, a part of our Valley History is Fort Brown, established in the mid 1800’s. The Fort now serves as a modern-day institution of higher learning and covers so much territory that a drive through is recommended. The architects have done such a good job of matching the design of the new buildings to the old, that at times it will be difficult to distinguish the old from the new.
Nature lovers will really enjoy a walk through Hugh Ramsey Park in Harlingen where native plants line the walkways. Is this how Harlingen looked to the early settlers? If so, we have to admire them for clearing the land and turning the Valley into the paradise we have today.
If you are wanting something a little more open, take a walk through Pendleton Park in Harlingen and perhaps relax on the banks of the man-made pond as you watch the ducks enjoying their own private pool.
For sure you need to remember our mid-Valley opportunities at Weslaco Birding Center and the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge near Donna. These two areas are kept as much as possible in their natural state. Interpretive centers and narrated trolley tours are available for those who might find walking a little difficult. If you prefer the trolley tour to a walk, then be sure to call and check the schedule for the tours before your visit.
The Firemen’s Park in McAllen invites you to enjoy their wide-open space and Town Lake. Or drive out to La Lomita Mission for a mini hike to visit the little mission church where the Oblate Priests visited and celebrated Mass for the local farmers.
Continuing up the Valley to Roma and Rio Grande City, you could explore these two towns that flourished in the mid 1800's. The older historic homes are principally brick originally constructed by German brick masons. Although closed to traffic, Roma has one of the very few suspension bridges remaining in the United States.
Many of these attractions will be offered by tour companies later in the Winter Texan Season. In the meantime, venture out on your own. We have been cooped up a long time. I hope you enjoy getting out to explore our Rio Grande Valley. Local tour companies will soon be offering many of these tours that will be led by local historians - another great way to learn more about our Valley. Just remember - especially if you do your exploring in an enclosed area - wear your mask.