Sunday, April 28, 2013

Choke Canyon State Park

The first stop on the Rosenberger summer tour for 2013 was Choke Canyon State Park near Three Rivers, Texas.  Three Rivers is the location of an enormous oil refinery and the countryside around it is full of oil drilling activity.  The oil transport trucks seem to have no speed limit and they present a real highway challenge on the two lane road leading into the park.

We hadn't seen rain for months in the Rio Grande Valley, but on this, our first travel day in over half a year, it rained the entire day as we trekked north. 

We usually travel alone, but on this trip we had the pleasure of company. Willis and Rebecca Coombs and Ken and Lee Marks were our traveling companions.  We all own the same make of fifth-wheels, New Horizons.  So we traveled in caravan heading for a New Horizons' RV rally.  We were fortunate enough to get sites near to each other at the campground at Choke Canyon campground.  In the picture above, you can see the Rosenberger ride in the distance, the Coombs' coach on the left, and the Marks' moto-mansion on the right.

The park, like all Texas state parks, is lovely.  The drought has taken its toll on the level of the lake, but fishermen continue to come to try their luck.

All of our traveling companions enjoy exercise walking, as we do.  So, several times a day some of us would go strolling down the road to enjoy the sights and sounds of our surroundings. 
 The "gobble, gobble" of the wild turkeys filled the evening air.
 The deer dashed gracefully across the road in the morning hours.
An armadillo wandered here and there at any hour of the day as if he had lost his way.

Birds were everywhere, filling the air with their sweet songs and their lively colors.  This blue heron seemed discouraged, too, at finding the waters of the lake so low.

Doves of various kinds, flycatchers, kiskadees, buzzards and birds we couldn't identify, delighted us on every walk. 

That delight was nearly canceled out by the swarms of biting insects, most of them too small to be visible to the human eye! They seemed to feed on our insect repellant!  Especially in the evening hours, those sneaky little unseen attackers quickly made us feel like human pin cushions.  Comparing sizes and numbers of welts became a frequent pasttime!

We survived the biting bugs, however, and had a lovely and restful two days before we headed farther north toward the RV rally.

Stay tuned for the next stop along our way!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

D[eparture] Day

D-day has come; there’ll be no more delay.

Whatever’s not packed will just have to stay.

The truck and the trailer are clean inside and out.

In ten minutes they’ll be filthy again, no doubt!

The shed is now empty; the RV basement’s full

With too much stuff for our truck to pull.

The slides are pulled in, the bicycles stowed.

When we climb aboard there’ll be overload!

We’d planned to leave half an hour ago,

But we had to linger for hugs, don’t you know.

Those hugs and good wishes speed us on our way;

More precious than fuel, and much less to pay!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Our Polyglot World

We had gone to the city to do a little shopping. Everywhere we went we were wafted along on waves of conversations in Spanish. We eavesdropped (inconspicuously, of course) and enjoyed the lilting sound of words we didn’t understand.

After shopping, we went to a favorite restaurant for lunch. Waiting for our order to be brought, we entertained ourselves by trying to read the Vietnamese words on the menu describing the various dishes. Again, we understood almost none of the words on the page before us. We found it interesting, however, to observe ways in which that language was different from – and similar to – our own.

Returning home on a warm sunny day, I decided to tone up my tan beside the pool. I settled myself comfortably on a chaise lounge in full sun and pulled my broad-brimmed hat over my face to protect my eyes from the Texas glare.

As the solar heat-treatment baked some of the aches out of my muscles and cooked all useful thoughts out of my mind, I began to listen to the sounds around me. I was hearing snatches of various conversations around the pool. Many were in English, others in French, one or two in German, and another in Holland-Dutch.

I realized then that we live in a polyglot neighborhood, a multilingual community! Living side by side, we all manage to communicate with each other even though we come from many different language groups! Some of us try to learn a few words of greeting in our neighbor’s language or ask about varying customs or social attitudes in their countries. Occasionally, the entire community is invited to share in some culinary delicacy of a distant land we may never be able to visit.

Flags of several different countries flutter in the same Texas breeze in our park. They remind us – and all who visit – how boring life would be if we were all alike, as individuals and as nations.

Now, I’ll admit that all is not peace and harmony around here all the time! We’ve had several interpersonal squabbles in our winter retreat of many languages. But, in each case, the conflict arose between people of the same mother tongue! It was people – not different languages – that created the problem.

I wish that the broader world might learn what we are experiencing. If only we could replace our suspicion with respect for one who speaks a different tongue, we might expand our horizons and learn exciting things about our world. If we were able to celebrate what people share in common rather than to fear the ways we are different, we could discover that it’s fun to live in a world of many languages! Could we learn to enjoy it so much that we’d want to study a second language and become polyglots ourselves?