RIO GRANDE VALLEY

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Yesterday was again, wet, rainy, windy and bitterly cold. This time I dressed in a T-shirt, hooded sweatshirt, a long-sleeved western shirt, jacket, and scarf. And, I was comfortable with the addition of the sweatshirt. But, hey, we don’t melt. Our first stop was an old 1887 pump-house that pumped water up from the Rio Grande to farm the fertile land. It operated until 1983.

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It was closed Saturday, but the grounds made for interesting inspection.

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A park built around the pump house is a World Birding Center, the only one in the United States. With over 500 species of birds you’d think we could grab a picture of one. Nope! We could hear birds, we saw them flitting about in the trees and bushes, but none stayed still enough for a photo. A butterfly preserve and study center is also located in the valley.

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The pump-house is located in old town Hidalgo and they pay tribute to their birds and butterflies with permanent lighted displays about the park.

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Besides birds and butterflies, the lighted displays contained bikes along the riding trail.

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And as we explored Old Town, more elaborate displays like this one with ballloons. There were dragons and clocks and huge building sized displays for the Municipal court, the newspaper office and other buildings.  We couldn’t find the Town Hall that has a 35 foot killer bee, but if you type Hidalgo Texas Killer Bee into a search engine, you’ll find it. My computer won’t let me do a link this morning.This valley’s fertility and plant life is pretty spectacular.

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There were bougainvillas in bloom along with a plethora of flowering plants I didn’t recognize.

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We passed grapefruit and orange orchards; fields of cabbages, kale, cauliflower, corn and other comestibles. Quite beautiful in their own way.

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At La Lomita Chapel, darn, the gates were closed. And, even walking to it would put us in the mud. It was built in 1865 on a private ranch, a convenient stopping place for a mission, and later willed to the order that built it, the Oblate Fathers Immaculate.  A novitiate was built on the hill above it and trained priests there until the 1950s.

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This is what is left of the novitiate. The older building was obviously better built or had better care.

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We stopped for lunch at El Rodeo Restaurant and enjoyed a couple of itinerant musicians who stepped in and entertained us for awhile and then moved on to another stop.

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Our next stop was the only government licensed hand-pulled ferry on any boundary of the United States. We brought our passports, but it was closed due to high water or maybe the new construction.  The quaint old ferry building that Jim remembered had been replaced by this “after 911” monstrosity.

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We were lucky it was closed because we “trespassed” and followed the old dirt road to the ferry and took our pictures of a friendly, charming landmark.

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The old store is no more.

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The “new” store is more in keeping with the neighborhood leading up to the ferry.

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Old signs on the ground give hope that the state plans to provide a museum of some kind of this historical Los Ebanos Ferry.

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The old road to the ferry is still in place. The new concrete one hasn’t quite connected yet. You can see the pull lines and…

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…the steel cables securing it to an ebony tree. (The tree is over 200 years old.)

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On the way out of Los Ebanos, we saw this handsome goat roaming free next to the road.

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We wondered if he had escaped from a nearby Wildlife Preserve. He seemed pretty tame. If things hadn’t been closed we wouldn’t have returned to the motor home until dark.

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