Monday, March 23, 2015

Cruising on the Rio Grande

It's not as scenic as the Danube, nor as romantic as the Seine.  It's not nearly as busy as the Potomac, but it is the southern border of our nation.  Last Thursday, March 19, we went cruising on the Rio Grande River.

Riverside Restaurant on the U.S. shore of the river offers boat cruises. So we joined about 35 friends from our park and explored part of that winding and historic waterway.

Riverside used to have fierce business competition on the river.  Pepe's Backyard had been in business just up the river for many years and was a very popular gathering place for food, live music and dancing.  But, in 2010, the rains of a hurricane flooded the river so badly that Pepe's was nearly destroyed, and stands as this empty shell.  The narrator of our boat cruise reported that it may have been bought by Mexican money to be renovated.

As we traveled downstream, we were pleasantly surprised at the amount of development that has been done on the Mexican side.  This new house under construction appears to be a large and sturdy structure.

Much of the shore on the Mexican side is occupied by private dwellings

public parks for recreation,

and this rather elegant private party house.

Another public park, larger than the first, offered boat rides and was hosting small crowds of school children as we cruised by.

Because the course of the Rio Grande River is so crooked and serpentine, this very large Mexican park lies north of the park across the river on the U.S. side. Before the flooding in June, 2010, this park hosted hundreds of family picnics on sunny afternoons. Mexican children swimming and their families gathered in palapa-roofed picnic shelters were clearly visible from the U.S. side.

But the hurricane and flooding of 2010 changed many things.  The long peninsula upon which this park was built was torn in half by the raging Rio Grande.  An island of destruction was left unconnected to the main land.  The course of the river was changed so dramatically that we had to sail through Mexican waters to get to our destination downstream.

Anzalduas Dam, seen here in the distance, was as far as we could travel downstream on the river.

This large dam is part of the extensive flood control and irrigation system that keeps the Rio Grande Valley green all year round.

Turning around, our boat headed back upstream, past the dock where we had loaded.  The next crowd of riverboat travelers was waiting for their turn.

On the U.S. side of the river, our next view was of this large number of Border Patrol vehicles parked at the boat launch of the neighboring RV park..  As you may imagine, the Rio Grande River is one of the major areas where the Border Patrol tries to prevent the crossing of Mexican national without papers.  It is a constant effort.

The Chimney Park Resort and RV Park is named for the large brick chimney, part of an early irrigation system, that stands in its midst.

It was an enjoyable little cruise.  As we disembarked and headed for a delicious lunch at the restaurant, the image of the RV park and the Border Patrol vehicles remained in my memory.  They seemed symbolic of life on the Rio Grande River!