Port Isabel — What to See and Do in this Charming Bayside Town

View of Port Isabel from Pirate's Landing Fishing Pier

12 Best Things to See and Do in Port Isabel, Texas Port Isabel is a charming town on Laguna Madre on the very southern tip of Texas where you’ll find history, adventure, nature and lots of fun things to see and do. Like many towns, it has had several names over the years, including Point Isabel. The town was incorporated in 1928 and its name was changed to Port Isabel. These 12 things to see and do in Port Isabel are truly in Port Isabel. This list does not include attractions on South Padre Island like some lists of best things to do in Port Isabel. Yes, South Padre Island is just across the causeway but there are plenty of interesting things to see and…

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Alligators Find a New Home at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center

Boardwalk and bird blind

South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center The lower Rio Grande Valley in south Texas is a mecca for birders. Two major flyways converge there and bring an abundance of migrating species. South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center is the easternmost of the nine properties that make up the World Birding Center in the Valley. It is located near the tip of South Padre Island, the longest barrier island in the world. In May, the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center became the new home of some rescued alligators. This was my third World Birding Center to visit and each is very special in its own way. Nothing makes me feel more at peace than being around or on the water and South…

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Freddy Fender Museum is Just One of the Museums of San Benito

Sign at entrance of Museums of San Benito

Moving to Texas has been an eye opener in many ways. For example, I wrote about how surprised I was when I learned the difference between Mexican and Tex-Mex food. And I can’t forget learning that alligators are native wildlife here! A few days ago, I went to the Freddy Fender Museum in San Benito, and besides learning all about Freddy’s life, I learned about a music culture that I didn’t know much about. Although I had heard the music, I knew nothing of its origins or history. I’m talking about the unique style of American folk music called conjunto that was founded in south Texas. I’ll tell you more, but first, some background on the  Museums of San Benito. Related: I Had to Know:…

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Black Chasm Cavern: Amador County Hidden Gem

Entrance to cave at Black Chasm Cavern

UPDATE: This post was originally published on April 18, 2017 and has been updated on May 24, 2019 to reflect the change in ownership and other details for Black Chasm Cavern. The operation was sold in December of 2017 and is currently owned and operated by Gold Country Adventures. Although not a whole lot has changed, the new company’s website is not nearly as informative as that of the previous company and there are very few photos. I hope you find this blog post and the updates in it helpful. If you drive through Pine Grove on Highway 88/104 in Northern California, you will most likely notice the signs for Black Chasm Cavern at Pine Grove-Volcano Road. It’s hard to miss them. I have seen these…

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How to Plan the Perfect Staycation

La Feria Nature Center observation deck across lake

Some people plan a staycation as a special event, but, for me, it’s a perpetual state of being. I am always planning the next adventure in my own backyard and hope to inspire you to do the same. We are often so busy with our daily lives and looking forward to that long vacation away that we forget about the awesome things around us. For the last few years, I have made it my mission to explore every nook and cranny of where I live and I want to help you plan the perfect staycation. What is a Staycation? Simply put, a staycation is a vacation where you stay home and participate in local leisure activities. Wikipedia says a staycation does not involve overnight accommodations…

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I Had to Know: What’s the Difference Between Mexican and Tex Mex Food?

Beans, enchiladas and rice with text overlay: Mexican Food vs. Tex-Mex, What's the Difference?

When I was on my RV trip from California to Texas, one of the things I thought about often was getting some real Tex Mex food. I’m not sure what I thought it was going to be but I was positive it would be something wonderful. Color me confused when I arrived in Texas and had “Mexican food” a couple of times. I was expecting this elusive Tex Mex cuisine and what I got was food I was used to getting in Mexico or some Mexican restaurants in California. Color me shocked when I researched the difference between Mexican and Tex Mex food. I grew up in southern California and ate probably more than my fair share of Mexican food. It is a cuisine I…

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Visit Nuevo Progreso Mexico via the Progreso Texas Border Crossing

Texas Mexico Crossing

I’ve been wanting to visit Mexico since I arrived in Texas in November. A friend here in the park where I live is an American born Hispanic and we have been talking about doing this for weeks. Between the weather and conflicting schedules, we just couldn’t make it happen — until Sunday. There are at least five International border crossings from Texas into Mexico within easy driving distance. We chose the Progreso Texas border crossing which is the closest, about a 20 minute drive. This crossing goes from Progreso, Texas, into Nuevo Progreso, Mexico, where Linda has spent a lot of time. We planned a fun day of manicures, pedicures, a hair cut for me and lots of eating and drinking. Much of what I…

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Estero Llano Grande State Park — My First RGV Birding Experience

Ibis Pond at Estero Llano Grande State Park with text overlay: World-renowned birding

I have always been fascinated with birds. Years ago, while living in Nevada, I took a falconry class and became a licensed falconer. I put brush piles and water all over my property to lure birds to watch from my living room window. When I moved back to California, I volunteered with the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center helping rehab birds and other wildlife. Now that I’m in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) in Texas, one of the foremost birding locations in the world, I wanted to continue learning about birds. Lucky for me, an experienced birding couple lives in my park and agreed to take me under their wing. The first time they took me out birding was to Estero Llano Grande State Park,…

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Dolphin and Bird Watching on Laguna Madre with Fins to Feathers

dolphins in bay with text overlay

One of the drawbacks of traveling solo is that it can be difficult to get into a small tour group. I’ve been trying for several weeks to get into a dolphin watching cruise on a small boat that only takes a maximum of six passengers. That doesn’t sound like a big deal except they also have a minimum of four so they have to fit me in with a group of four or five. It wasn’t working out so, since there is more than one small boat that goes out from Port Isabel, I decided to contact Fins to Feathers about their dolphin watching cruise. Captain Paul followed up with me and got me into a group in just a few days. Getting to Fins…

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25 Extraordinary Things to do in Amador County from a Local

river with white water and text overlay: best things to do in Amador County

Beautiful Amador County, with an elevation range of 250 feet to over 9,000 feet, is in the heart of the Sierra Foothills of California and is one of the 10 counties in the region known as Gold Country. All of Gold Country is often overlooked in favor of northern California coastal city and beach tourist destinations. As a result, you can enjoy activities in Gold Country without the crowds of the coast. I lived in Amador County for four years and did my best to see everything that there is to do, so you can trust me when I say Amador County has a lot to offer. Here are my recommendations of 25 extraordinary things to do in Amador County, in no particular order. Best…

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