Welcome home! We have missed you. Let us hope and pray that the Canadian-US border will be open when our Canadian friends are ready to journey to Sunny South Texas. And has it ever been sunny this summer. Temperatures during the summer months never rose above the hundred mark most of the time staying in the low to mid ninety range. We have not had much rain but when it did rain it seemed to come all at the wrong time for our farmers - raining when it was time to harvest the grain and dumping just enough to interfere with cotton picking - even damaging the cotton bolls that were ready to be picked.
The weather service reports our summer has been the coolest we have had in a long, long time. Even so, swimming pools were a welcome sight to those of us who were here all summer long. The beach also beckoned us to enjoy the warm Gulf waters.
This past month of September seemed to be a time of remembering for the Rio Grande Valley. It was fifty years ago on September 3, 1971, that the Brownsville Gladys Porter Zoo opened to the public. To celebrate that happy occasion the Zoo offered, during the month of September, the same rates as were charged fifty years ago. We are blessed to have such a good zoo in South Texas. Make time to visit the zoo while you are here - especially if you have grandchildren who come to visit you.
Not such happy occasions were also remembered...twenty years ago 9/11 shocked the world. Four days later and shortly after midnight, the Rio Grande Valley suffered a tragedy. An out-of-control barge rammed into the causeway that connects the mainland to South Padre Island. Before any warnings could be posted and traffic alerted, cars crossing the damaged causeway and, not realizing that a mid-section of the causeway was gone, plunged into the waters of the Laguna Madre. Eight lives were lost. At first many wondered if this too was a terrorist attack. That was not the case - the heavy load and miscalculation appear to have led to this major disaster. No doubt it is a challenge for the barge captains to navigate the ship channel especially so when our winds and water currents can be so strong and unpredictable.
Before Thanksgiving of the same year, the causeway had been repaired with new safety measures installed to warn motorists of any problem. Business was back to usual. But for those months as we waited for repairs to be made, the only way to reach the island was by ferry boat. That was an adventure - you could even call it romantic if you were crossing at sunset. I am sure school children and teachers who lived on the island did not consider it romantic nor adventurous. Daily they had to ferry back and forth to attend school in Port Isabel. Those years are now in our memories and business is almost back to usual. So, let's now look forward. It is time to explore and travel as we make new memories.
Coming up soon is the annual International Quilting Festival in Houston scheduled for October 20-27. Many of our Winter Texans are Master Quilters and contribute generously with beautiful, quilted lap throws to shut ins and veterans. Watch for the local quilt show on South Padre Island to be held in mid-February.
Another wonderful experience could be a trip to the King Ranch to enjoy the Ranch Hand Breakfast. Mark November 20 on your calendar and be sure to attend. You can drive up on your own or you can go on an organized tour.
Either way you are sure to enjoy the cowboy breakfast including that famous bread - pan de campo cooked in a Dutch oven over hot coals. Be sure to watch the Texas cutting horse demonstration where King Ranch cowboys demonstrate how their horse will separate a selected animal from the herd for branding, medicating, or castrating. Once the rider indicates to the horse which animal is to be separated, the horse takes over and does the work without any further direction from the cowboy. This is an educational, exciting, and fun day for young and old. Don't miss it!
For your own protection and the protection of others, please be vaccinated and wear a mask.