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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Will You Save Money with a Texas State Parks Pass?

bench overlooking lake with text overlay Texas State Parks Annual Pass

Getting a Texas State Parks Pass has been on my list of things to do for a while but I have put it off because the weather has not been very conducive to outdoor activities. We finally have had a few clear days with sunshine so, recently, I went to Estero Llano Grande State Park. I loved this park and knew it was time to make my purchase. I know in the long run, I will save money at Texas State Parks with the annual pass. Day use fees at the more than 90 Texas State Parks usually run $2-$8 per person. Since I know I will visit lots of state parks and visit some of them often, I feel that, even for a single…

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Quinta Mazatlan Celebrates the Monarch Butterfly

orange umbrellas and bougainvillea decorate entryway

I have been anxious to get outside and visit more of the amazing nature areas nearby but the weather has been less than cooperative in that arena. Even on the day that Quinta Mazatlan celebrated the monarch butterfly with their Monarch Festival, there was a 30-40% chance of rain. I decided to risk it and go anyway. It rained on the way there so I was mentally prepared to just find a place to go have breakfast. But the rain finally stopped about 10 miles from McAllen and held off until I was driving home. The colorful entry really brightened up an otherwise pretty gray day. I loved the vibrant orange umbrellas overhead and the striking red bougainvilleas down the walkway. There was lively music…

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Epic 40-day California to Texas RV Itinerary

Photo of covered bridge with title text overlay: Epic 40-day California to Texas RV Itinerary

When I finally pulled away from the home I had lived in for the past four years in Pine Grove, I was both relieved and excited. I knew there were things I would miss but there were also some uncomfortable things going on that I was glad to be leaving behind. The thought of what might lie ahead – whatever that might be – was exciting! I was headed to Texas in my RV, making a lifelong dream come true. I had a general idea of what my California to Texas RV itinerary would be but I also wanted it to be fluid and flexible. To set the stage for this trip for those of you who don’t know, this was my first time ever…

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Award-winning Rum at Desert Diamond Distillery in Kingman

Photo of barrels with title text overlay: Award-winning Rum Desert Diamond Distillery Kingman, AZ

When I finally made it out of California and reached Arizona on my RV trip from California to Texas, I was really looking forward to tasting my first Arizona wine. My original plan was to boondock at Stetson Winery but a delay earlier in the trip meant I arrived on a Monday when the winery was closed. Kingman has a couple of interesting Harvest Hosts boondocking spots and this presented me with the pleasant option of staying at one of the other locations, Desert Diamond Distillery, and learning about rum instead. Desert Diamond Distillery – Rum & Vodka Owners John and Debbie Patt are wonderful hosts and obviously love what they do. John was busy with a tour when I arrived so Debbie gave me…

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Museums and Nature Top the List of Things to do in Harlingen

A sub-tropical climate, with average winter lows in the 50s, means year-round outdoor activities. Museums top the list of indoor things to do in Harlingen. #travel #texas #harlingen #museums #birding

The city of Harlingen is located in the southern tip of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley and is just 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to all the dining and shopping opportunities you’d find in any city of its size, Harlingen has an international airport, a nearby port for transportation of goods, and an international bridge to Mexico. Thanks to the sub-tropical climate, with average winter low temperatures in the 50s, there are year-round outdoor activities. Museums and nature top the list of things to do in Harlingen. Even the museums are partly outdoors. Related: Indoor Activities in Harlingen – When it’s just too hot outside! Texas Travel Information Center I can’t write a post about the best things to do…

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Bucket List Things to do in Texas by Region

Texas is a diverse state with a mind-boggling number of things to do. Bucket list worthy things to do in Texas by region recommended by travel bloggers. #travel #texas #food #wine #hiking

When I moved to Texas a few months ago and started researching where to go and things to do, I was almost overwhelmed. I knew Texas was a BIG state but I didn’t quite realize how much there is to do here and how diverse the state is. My new home base is near the very southern tip of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley (in the South Texas Plains region) where nature and birding are king. I have started exploring this area and plan to slowly work my way north (and the little bit that there is farther south), exploring all the wonders of this amazing state. To help me in my exploration, I asked some fellow bloggers to give me recommendations of their…

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Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas

Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, has more than 1500 animals, representing nearly 400 species, and is known for its success in breeding endangered wildlife.

Zoos may be a controversial issue for some but I absolutely love them and appreciate what they do. I love being able to see animals I would never otherwise see in the wild and that may, in fact, not exist in the wild in the near future. I won’t apologize to anyone who doesn’t agree with me for feeling this way. So, if you feel strongly that animals should only exist in the wild until humans wipe them off the face of the earth, please just pass this post on by. I’m going to tell you about the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, and the important work they do. I grew up in southern California and visited the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park…

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