We were not sad to see South Padre Island in our rear view mirror (although we don’t actually have a rear view mirror in Ruby). It was starting to get a bit too busy for us on the Island. Happy to roll down Highway 2 through southern Texas heading towards the famous Rio Grande. Who hasn’t heard about the Rio Grande for their entire life? This river is of course, famous for dividing Mexico from the US (Texas). What we didn’t know was that the Rio Grande was part of the reservoir lake called Falcon Lake. For one, lets just say the Rio Grande wasn’t as “grande” as you would think…its just a regular river (half the flow of the Bow and milky greenish, definately not clear like Canada!) I kind of feel like this was a river disappointment.
Regardless, we stayed at the Falcon River State Park campground – once again for a very reasonable price of $96 for the week ($13.50 per day for water and 50 amp electric). How is this so cheap? I digress, we pulled into our site #124 – when we randomly picked our site out online, the campground was 90% empty and somehow we booked a site that was right beside the Park Host… oh goody. How did we book a site next to someone? And secondly how did we book a site that was on the “bird line”? (bird line being where this guy feeds birds and they chirp ALL Day LONG). We later found out that this area of south Texas is famous for “birding”. Sometimes the park host gets other visitors too, like wild boar (also called javelina) and bobcats….
Falcon reservoir in the 1960’s to mid 1990’s was quite the summer camping destination. There are tonnes of campsites and so much fishing, swimming, walking, birding and biking around that it was quite the haven in its day. A lot of “Winter Texans” (who knew that this was even a name for a group of people) would come here and volunteer as camp hosts, run the community centre and even sell burgers and such. The water levels since the mid 1990’s have been drastically reduced due too many reasons – overuse up and down the river and droughts year after year. The last time the water levels were up to max was in 2012 – so its been a solid 10 years of drought and low water levels. Check out this video of us going down to the reservoir: Falcon Reservoir
This entire area along the Rio Grande is basically dry desert and the temperatures drastically increase by at least 10-15 degrees (from South Padre island), which I guess is why so many winter Texans come here – although since covid hit, there is basically us and 8 other campers in the park.
Since we were in this area for a week, we fully setup our campsite (we don’t always do this, depending on the time and location). Our days are filled with biking, walks, time at the beach, fishing, jillaxin, touring and whatever else we want to do.
Here is a video of Todds fishing escapades…..Fishing at Falcon
Spent a few days touring around the small towns, a day trip back to McAllen/San Juan/Mission area. Everything is so Mexican in this area and brought us back to our time in Baja (we are talking the desert, cactuses, housing, architecture, shops/businesses, etc), so this was great! The one thing that is very apparent along this stretch of highway, is the amount of police presence on the roads – from Sheriffs, to State Troopers to Border Patrol – its hard to drive a mile without seeing one or more back to back. We also saw these blimps in the air along the border with infrared camera’s.
One very hot afternoon (34C), we went for a Sunday drive and just off the highway Todd saw this fenced lot, with at least 100 cars and people coming and going out of this Quonset. He slammed on the brakes and said we have to go check this out. So we parked the car, opened the door to the Quonset and it was like stepping in to a whole new world – it was a ghetto casino! We threw $30 into 2 machines and lost it in less than 2 minutes. All the machines were some sort of broken and who knows why we decided too, but it was an interesting 5 minutes!
Had to extend our stay by a couple of days in the Falcon area while waiting for the upholsterer to get our boat cushions recovered. We could have stayed at the state park for a bit longer but found a spot about 20 miles up the road in Zapata, which is at the north end of the reservoir lake. The two reasons people go to Zapata is for bass fishing and chicken fried steak! Another 12 miles up the road was a town call San Ygnacio and there was a very cool historic area there called the Trevino-Uribe Rancho. It started as a fort in the 1830’s and it is still there as well as a bunch of original houses; this historical area is all part of the oldest inhabited town in the US. Here is some of those original buildings…
Our last day in and around the Rio Grande Valley was at the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. Again, as we learned, this area is a super-hotspot for “birding”. We had our bikes with us, so thought well, its a state park and we have a pass, so its free for us – lets just bring our bikes and go for a ride, see if we can see anything. I’m going to say that we were the youngest people in the park and it was 35C, so it was hot and we were dressed in shorts and T’s and everyone else was in “birding gear” (full length pants, full cover hats, long sleeve shirts, binoc’s, maps, camera’s, water and anything else you need that we didn’t have). About 2 minutes in, we saw a couple flocks (is that the right term?) of turkeys. That’s it. The other cool/weird thing about this area, is that is directly at the Mexico border, so the “wall” was right there along the bike path…weird.
We have enjoyed our deserty hot stay in this area, and next up is a week in Laredo at the state park where the average daytime high is 33C and low is 18C – should be a tough week.