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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle @ San Juan, Texas

 Travel is about putting aside preconceptions and learning.  Somehow I got the impression that basilicas are old buildings.  Saint Stanislaw Basilica in Chickopee, Massachusetts and the Cathedral Basilica in Saint Augustine are old.

The Basilica of our Lady of 
San Juan del Valle is a
modern building.

Eric at the top of the
steps leading to the

In 1623 a statue of the
Virgin Mary was put on
the body of a little girl 
who had died while
prayers were said.

The girl came back to life and the story of the miracle spread throughout the area.

The Basilica is set up like an amphitheater.

A hotel, cafeteria and retreat center were built to accommodate the thousands of visitors who visit the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle each year.

The Altar

The church was destroyed in 1970 when a low flying plane hit the building and exploded.  The pilot died.  Everyone on the ground, including fifty priests survived.  Two priests saved the statue of the Virgin Mary.  A new shrine was built and dedicated in 1980.  In 1998 the National Conference of Catholic Bishops designated Our Lady of San Juan del Valle a National ShrinePope John Paul II elevated the church to a minor Basilica.

The Altar of the Blessed
Sacrament Chapel

Statues of Saints on the walls of the Basilica...

Saint Teresa

Visitors kneel before statues and say prayers...

is a martyred saint.

Visitors leave flowers &
candy at the Divine
Child Statue.

Articles about the dedication

Robes that visitors have
brought to the Shrine
for the Blessed Virgin

The Holy Water Font

The Thirteenth Station
of the Cross:
Jesus is taken down 
from the cross.

The building and grounds at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle are beautiful. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Downpour in Harlingen, Texas on January 27, 2018 @ 3:42 pm

The rain started in Harlingen and I didn't think anything of it....  Then it started raining hard....

Several inches
of water covers
the road to
Tropic Winds
RV Resort.

Eric and I lived on top of a mountain for 28 years.  Only once while we lived there did rainwater run across our road.  I have never been in a car, in a rainstorm, in conditions like this before.

Rainwater has
moved past the
roadway, over
the curb &
onto the lawn.

The car in front of us is moving slowly...  It doesn't have much clearance left above the water.

Ripples of
water move
out from the
car & truck
in front of
our Jeep.

I can see the
wake we are
making as we
move through
the water.

Water covers several feet of lawn past the roadway.

I am mezmirized
by what I see.

There's a lot of OH -- MY -- GOD coming out of my mouth.

Water covers
most of the
parking lot
in front of
the Main

A curb lies, unseen, beneath the water.

Our campsite 
is uphill from
the Main Hall
& there is less
water here.

Water is sluicing down the street.  The lawns have large puddles.  A neighbor, with a rain gauge, told me that three inches of rain fell this afternoon.  According to fellow RVers, flooding like this hasn't occurred here before.

People living in low lying areas have challenges that mountain dwellers never think about.  

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Drinks @ Pier 19 on South Padre Island

The Pier 19 Restaurant
& Bar sign is in need
of repair.

Eric & I drive through the
Pier 19.

This would be a great place to camp if we decide to stay on South Padre Island.

This Shark advertises
which sails from
Pier 19.

We are not alone...

Two people are leaving
Pier 19 Restaurant & Bar.

The view from the bar.

The line on the horizon is the
Queen Isabella Causeway.

Eric and I take our Margaritas to walk the length of the pier.

Eric shares his drink with
a thirsty Pirate.

I whisper sweet nothings
in Captain Hook's ear.

 end of the pier is closed.

A view of South Padre
Island from the pier.

Pelicans roost on the
boat slip at the very
end of the pier.

It's time to start our drive west to Tropic Winds RV Resort in Harlingen.

A Drive Along South Padre Island's Beach

During our travels Eric and I developed the habit of visiting area attractions midweek, when there are few people around.  

The Gulf of Mexico stretches out before Eric & me at South Padre Island.

I love watching the
waves roll in.

Zipline platform is just
past the dunes.

bringing sand from the Padre
Boulevard to the dunes.

Seagulls roost on a tiny spit
of land at the ever changing

Eric found a dead

Visitors to South Padre Island leave artwork....

Sand & Seashell

A Permit Fish
points north.

A collection
 of Hard Hats


This Pink
Pipe is

It's so restful here.

This piece of driftwood
reminds me of Champ,

A Great Blue Heron 
surveys its domain.

Fishermen sit & watch
their poles & lines.

Eric stops our Jeep
next to driftwood.

Action shot....

A Great Blue Heron

Our drive on the beach
comes to an end.

Let's check out Pier 19 Restaurant and Bar.

A Day on South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre Island is about an hour east of Harlingen, where Eric and I are staying at at Tropic Winds RV Resort.

The western end of Queen
important signs....

Danger: Stop When Flashing and...  Slower Traffic Keep Right.

The Causeway has a gentle curving approach to South Padre Island.

I like the Island's
colorful sign.

welcomes visitors.

Cloud 9 Smoke Shop

The Beach Club is one of
South Padre's large
Gift Shops.

The South Padre Island
water tower is in the
middle of the business

Driving north on

Sand drifts into the roadway.

has a Zipline.

The roadway is narrowed
by drifting sand.

A Front End Loader scoops
up sand from the roadway &
deposits it on the nearby dunes.

The road ends in
500 feet.

Sand drifts in front of the
roadway barricade.

Let's turn around and find a beachfront access road.

Cameron County maintains
access roads to the beach.

No one is manning the booth midweek, so Eric and I keep the $10.00 Day Use Fee.

The beach access here is
soft sand.

Four wheel drive vehicles
are recommended.

The waters of the Gulf
of Mexico beckon....

The south end of the beach
is blocked off.

We return to Padre Boulevard.

Kiteboarders enjoy the
smooth bayside waters.

As we head west for
Harlingen, I get this
photo of the Port
Isabel Lighthouse

In October 2016 the lighthouse was closed for repairs and restoration. It's Grand Re-Opening was held on January 23, 2018.