Tropical Trails – Month Two (February 28 – March 28, 2023)

While much of the U.S. was dealing with extreme cold and snow in early March, we experienced a regular dose of daytime highs in the 80s, with an occasional low-90s, albeit with strong winds.  Although Phil continued to play pickleball most mornings, we spent a lot of time indoors with our air conditioners running.

On Thursday afternoon, March 2nd, we gathered by the pool to listen to live music by Kenny Ray Horton.

On Friday, Phil drove to the Dodge dealer to pick up the rear hubcap he had ordered four weeks earlier.  It had fallen off the Ram during our trip to Kerrville in January.  Since the replacement hubcap cost $225 and attaches with a lot of easily-broken plastic clips, Phil attempted to get the mechanics at the dealership to pop it on.  After two mechanics were afraid to try it and claimed not to have the right tools, they referred him to Discount Tire.  The service rep at Discount Tire popped it on with his bare hand in a few seconds, at no charge.  However, on the drive home, the Ram’s check engine light came on.  Phil called the dealer and, although their service department was booked two weeks out, they suggested he return on Monday to have the service tech check the truck’s computer codes.  On Monday, he returned to the dealership and the computer codes indicated a problem with the emission sensor.  They suspected the wiring may have been chewed on and found rodent tracks under the hood.  It would have been an expensive repair, since accessing the sensor would require removing part of the engine.  Fortunately, they reset the check engine light and it stayed off.  Hopefully, it will remain that way.

On Wednesday, we joined 48 other campers for a tour of the SpaceX Starbase facility at Boca Chica, TX.  Construction had begun in the late 2010s, with the original intent of supporting suborbital launch vehicles.  However, in 2018, SpaceX announced that the site would be used exclusively for their next-generation orbital launch vehicle, Starship, with the ultimate goal of launching spacecraft to Mars.  The focus of the SpaceX program is to make space travel more affordable, by recovering all the components of the launch vehicles.  The launch tower is designed with cranes to lift the rockets onto the launch pad and giant arms that will catch the rocket on its return.  Although most areas of the SpaceX facilities were restricted, we were able to get quite close to the launch facility, the tracking towers, and the rocket farm.  Our guide provided a tremendous amount of information about the program, in much more detail than we could possibly absorb.  Following our tour, we were able to watch videos of several of the previous test launches.  Although several of these launches had successfully lifted off, inverted, and lowered back to the launch pad, they had exploded upon touch down.

Having driven down several miles of gravel roads to reach Rocket Ranch, our car was quite dirty by the time we returned to Brownsville.  We took it through a car wash, which got it very clean but ripped off one of our windshield wipers.  Later that afternoon, we gathered by the pool to listen to live music provided by Madelyn Victoria.

On Thursday, March 10th, we attended our second shrimp boil and listened to Shake N’ Bake, a musical duo who we had seen in 2020. 

On Saturday, we decided to spend some time on the beach at South Padre Island.  We originally intended to use the beach access by Clayton’s but found the parking lot packed solidly with Spring Breakers.  We then drove north in an attempt to find beach access.  We passed several public access entries but refused to pay the $12 parking fee.  We continued to drive several miles north on the county road, until we reached the end of the road.  At that point, we found that we could park for free on the shoulder and climb over the dunes to reach the beach.  This section of the beach was much emptier than the ones closer to town.  We spent an hour sunbathing and watching people riding horses along the shore.  Afterward, we headed to Longboard, where we had dinner and listened to music.

Sunday was the hottest day yet, with a high of 95 degrees.  We found a spot in the shade by the clubhouse for two hours of music by Leslie Blasing.

On Thursday, March 16th, we returned to Nuevo Progresso, Mexico for the day.  We had lunch at Red Snapper, then headed to our regular salon.  Jan got a manicure, while Phil got a haircut and pedicure.  We made a few purchases as we headed out of town.

On Wednesday, March 22nd, Phil participated in a pickleball tournament.  That evening, we headed to The Broken Sprocket with a large contingent from Tropical Trails.  The Broken Sprocket is home to several food trucks and provided live music until 8 pm.  Then, it was time for karaoke.  Jan joined many of the women from Tropical Trails in a rousing rendition of Under the Boardwalk.

On Thursday, we attended Tropical Trails’ Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.  This seemed odd, since the campground has been open for three years.  It appears that the ceremony was related to Tropical Trails joining the Chamber of Commerce.  There were quite a few attendees from the Brownsville and South Padre Island Chambers of Commerce.  Leslie Blasing provided the musical entertainment.

On Friday, we headed to the Riverview Club in Mission, TX and took an hourlong boat ride on the Rio Grande River.  There was a group of 40 from Tropical Trails so we had the boat, the Riverview Dreamer, to ourselves.  The captain did an excellent job of explaining what we were seeing along the way.  Across the river from Mission, TX is the Mexican city of Reynosa, with a population of nearly 1 million.  Much of the Mexican side of the river was lined with privately-owned parks and recreation venues.  The Rio Grande was much wider and deeper than we were used to seeing in Nuevo Progresso, which we learned was due to the Anzalduas Dam.  Along the shoreline on both sides of the river, we could see numerous partially submerged rafts that are used by drug smugglers and human traffickers.  We cruised past a privately-funded border wall.  The captain told us that this wall cost $10 million dollars per mile to construct but is of higher quality than the U.S. government-funded wall, which costs three times as much per mile.  Following our cruise, we had lunch at the Riverview Club.  Jan had the fried shrimp basket; Phil had a pork tenderloin sandwich that was much bigger than the bun.

As we neared the end of our stay at Tropical Trails, we spent the last few days getting ready to travel again.  Phil washed the RV and our vehicles, since we had not stayed in a campground that allowed this for quite a while.

One thought on “Tropical Trails – Month Two (February 28 – March 28, 2023)

  1. It sounds like you’ve been enjoying a fantastic time on your Tropical Trails adventure, with warm weather and a variety of activities to keep you entertained! I’m envious of your daytime highs in the 80s while others are dealing with snow and cold temperatures. The live music by the pool and the tour of the SpaceX Starbase facility must have been incredible experiences. It’s amazing to think about how far space travel has come and the ambitious goals that companies like SpaceX have set.

    I’m glad you were able to find a quieter beach spot on South Padre Island, despite the Spring Break crowds. That’s always a challenge! It’s nice that you could also spend some time sunbathing and enjoying the beach. You’ve certainly had a mix of experiences, from pickleball and live music to car repairs and rocket launches. Your adventures serve as a great reminder that there’s always something new and exciting to discover. Thank you for sharing your experiences, and I hope the rest of your time is just as enjoyable!


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