Our first RVing winter was going to be spent in Mission Texas, which is located in the Rio Grande Valley, just north of the Rio Grande River and the Mexican border, practically due south of San Antonio. On the map, Mission is the little blue pushbutton at the bottom of Texas, a stones throw from the Gulf of Mexico. We were going to be here for 4 months, January through April, and then set off for Ontario to celebrate our granddaughter's first birthday in June.
This would be our first opportunity to settle down and evaluate how we have the rig set up, what we need to keep, what needs to be put into storage and what needs to be disposed off. Fortuitously, the residents the village have an annual community Garage Sale that draws a crowd from the town.
The RV village is right beside the Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park with its bike trails and birding center. After a few rides through the park, we both came to the same conclusion that we needed new bikes. The trail bikes that we bought/used back in Scituate were really not suitable to our 15 years older bodies. So we started perusing the local bike shops and added our bikes to the list of items destined for the garage sale. The park also has a 'palapa' down by the river where various events are held, a fund raiser for the local animal shelter was one that we attended. Part of the entertainment was watching the Border Patrol boats zoom back and forth along the river and the helicopter fly low along the river//border on patrol. All of our Winter 2011 photos are available for viewing at our online gallery.
Where we were parked, we were between a nice Class A and a Alpha 5th Wheel pulled by a truly massive Volvo. On our left was a Class A with Bob, Cathy and Shilo. On our right, a 5th Wheel with Bob and Linda, so to keep conversations clear, it was A-Bob and 5-Bob. There was enough space on the back of the Volvo, to park 5-Bob's Kia and then hitch up the Alpha.
This winter seemed to be much warmer and humid than normal, at least that’s what the long term residents said, but either way, normal or not, having the living room air conditioner break down was not a good thing. The local Camping World store was a Dometic Authorized Repair depot, so a call to them had a technician make a service call to diagnose the problems. Turned out that the refrigerant had leaked out, but with the way that things are made these days, you don’t fix it, you replace it. So a new unit was ordered and installed and we were back to normal, sort of.
With the heat and humidity, the shortcomings of this model of the Dometic Penguin AC became very apparent, too noisy and inefficient. When our rig was constructed, the new model of the Penguins was supposed to be installed, but the factory was behind on production, so the older model was installed. We knew that we would have to stop by the factory on the way north to get them replaced as we knew we would not be able to survive an Ontario summer without going insane.
One of the other requirements of the New Horizons purchase order was the wiring of the 4 solar panels, that were supposed to have been wired series/parallel, to double the voltage getting to the controller, from 21 to 42 volts ( more efficient with less voltage drop). I finally had the opportunity to crawl into the basement, check out the solar wiring and get a volt meter onto the controller. The voltage coming down to the controller was only 21 volts. To confirm the problem, I went up onto the roof to look at the wiring of the panels. Once I opened the box, I realized there were two problems, the first I confirmed that the wiring was wrong, strictly parallel and the other, the box was not sealed properly as it was full of water and all the connectors were rusted. A call to the service manager at New Horizons resulted in a new box and connectors getting sent down to us. Once back on the roof, I rewired the panels into a series/parallel configuration to double up the voltage, as well as installed the new box with new connectors, and made sure it was properly sealed against the elements.
There were some personal tasks that also needed attention. My pension and 401k at work needed to be rolled over to a brokerage where I would have more control of the investments. We also had to plan for our trip to Ontario and closing down our RRSP’s (aka IRAs) that were from our previous Canadian life). As we made progress on the US rollovers, we had a debate about how to invest. Do we do it ourselves or take advantage of the investment professionals available at Merrill Lynch (one of my retiree benefits available). We started investigating possible investment choices and also set up an appointment in San Antonio for on our way north. We needed to stop off an the Merrill offices anyway, to deposit the rollover checks.
One of the attractions of the area was the butterfly migrations which pass through the area and some species that winter in the region. The National Butterfly Center is located within walking distance of the RV park and the Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park. During one of the BBQ events down by the river, there was an up close and personal moment with a lovely specimen.
There are a number of bicycle specialty shops in the Mission/McAllen area as well as the usual big box sports stores. We finally settled on Trek. Lynn liked their ‘women's specific design’ bicycles with a pedal forward design that was very comfortable for her to sit on and pedal.
Lynn found herself a new doctor and found us a new dentist. I ended up going to the same doctor for my annual physical.
As I had mentioned, one of the takeaways from the rally in Florida was a maintenance schedule, which needed customizing for our Majestic. So over the winter, I spent a lot of time going through all of the user manuals and consolidating all of the maintenance tasks.
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|First Winter in Texas (2011-2012)|
|Second Winter in Texas|
|Third Winter in Texas|
|Fourth Winter in Texas|