As far as I can tell, "the Valley," on the southernmost tip of South Texas just north of the Rio Grande River, includes a number of towns including Brownsville, McAllen, Pharr, Harlingen, Weslaco, Edinburg, Mission, San Juan, and Rio Grande City. According to the Texas State Historical Association:
"What Texans call "the Valley" centers on Starr, Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy counties in the lower Rio Grande Region and extends from the mouth of the Rio Grande up the river for a distance of some 100 miles. The lower Rio Grande contains good agricultural land, the region being a true delta and the soils alluvial, varying from sandy and silty loam through loam to clay...
"The lower Rio Grande Valley became a curious urban and rural combination by the1940s. Intensified agricultural development resulting from irrigation dotted U.S. Highway 83, sometimes called the "Main Street," with communities made up of homes of farm owners and workers and the various stores, processing plants, industries, and marketing agencies that served them. Farms varied in use and character from ranchland to fine citrus land. The Valley bacame a truck garden center for tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, beets, corn, green beans, onions, and minor crops. Cotton and sorghum became important staples early on, but the most important crop in the region is citrus fruit (especially grapefruit [emphasis mine])...
"The year-round mild climate brought an increasing number of vacationers from the North during the winter months. McAllen, Brownsville, and other Valley communities have become winter homes for many northerners; in 1988 Hidalgo County hosted 80,000 of these "snowbirds." Fishing--freshwater, saltwater, and deep-sea--is a great attraction. Access to Mexico also promoted tourism as an important part of the Valley economy."What the Texas State Historical Society did not mention in the way of tourism is birding. Birding is one of the reasons we are visiting the Valley; the other reason is Volksmarching.
The Valley has about six World Birding Centers, including Quinta Mazatlan which we will visit tomorrow, and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park which we will visit on Sunday. Interesting birds live in and pass through the Valley. It is a major migration flyway.
On our southern migration from San Antonio, I realized I forgot to pack my T-shirts for our walks. We stopped at Bass Pro Shops in Harlingen, Texas, and I bought two T-shirts and a polo shirt. Just a minor detour off our route.
We checked into the Inn at Chachalaca Bend Bed & Breakfast at 3:30 p.m. Three years ago we stayed at the same B&B and loved it.
This evening, we have a dinner date at Pirate's Landing in Port Isabel. We headed to Port Isabel at the same time as Friday afternoon rush hour traffic to South Padre Island, a weekend playground on the Gulf of Mexico. We had stop-and-go traffic for the last few miles into Port Isabel.
Dinner was very good. After dinner, we looked at the parrots and cockatoos on display outside the restaurant, and then we walked to the Port Isabel Lighthouse.
|Ahoy, mateys, I found a pirate!|
|Nice sculpture by the Port Isabel Lighthouse|
|Fish carved from a tree trunk|
|Port Isabel Lighthouse, built 1852|
|View of Port Isabel|
|View of Pirate's Landing and South Padre Island|
(in the distance)
|Bridge to South Padre Island|
|Bob climbing up steep steps to top|
|Looking straight down from the top|
|A very steep spiral staircase (it required|
going down backward).
|Not quite so step|
|Me in the lighthouse|
|"Fantasia del Mar"|
Artist: Ralph Ayers
|"Fantasia del Mar"|
|Mural at a wine bar|
|Torch ginger, I believe|
|Inn at Chachalaca Bend patio overlooking the resaca.|
|Another view of the Resaca|
|Bob and I|
Tomorrow: Quinta Mazatlan for a birding tour, and a Volksmarch around McAllen, Texas.