Monday, February 17, 2014

A busy couple of weeks. We had a visit from Ken and Terry Smelcers.  The Smelcers are a couple we met last year in McKinney State Park in Austin, Texas.  This year they are staying at Goose Neck State Park in Rockport, TX and decided to drive down to Mission for a look at Bentsen and visit with us.

We started their visit with a bike ride through the park.  They brought the neatest bikes in the back seat of their car.  The bikes folded in half, the handle bars collapsed down, and the whole package was the size of one wheel.  Light weight also.  They loved the bird blinds, the car free biking, and even checked out an RV park near by about spending time in Mission next year.  

The next day we wanted to show them Quinta Mazatlan.  Unfortunately, Monday is the day they are closed.  We were able to walk throught the sculpture and cactus gardens before we were asked to leave for safety reason.  Ken and Terry at least got a feeling for this peaceful estate and plan to come back.

The rest of the week was a full one.  On Wednesday Bentsen Park hosted a Mission Winter Texan bike event.  The city of Mission sponsors a different event each month for the Winter Texans who populate the hundreds of RV parks in the Rio Grande Valley.  Starting at 9:00 there were over 300  senior bike riders circling the 3 mile outside loop of the park.  Myself, and another volunteer named Judy Gibbons, were stationed at the Hawk tower water station to cheer on participants and hand out water as needed.  Of course, that morning it was only about 40, so not much water was consumed, but we had a great time talking with riders who stopped to either have a rest or check out the hawk tower.

The next two days, from 7:30 till 2:30, six Bentsen employees and/or volunteers traveled to Edinburg Scenic Wetlands World Birding center where the Coastal Expo was being held for grades 2 through 6 in schools of the Rio Grande Valley.  Marlin, Peggie, and I ran a bird migration game that was fun.  The kids were really interested and involved and, hopefully, learned something about the perils encountered by birds on their north/south trip.

 Marlin and Peggie manning our station before the kids arrive.

Our "Migration Challange" game involved 23 stations, hung from the trees, posing situations real birds encounter on their journey.  Rolling dice at several stations spread out the players and created different endings each time.  I had to warn at the outset that not all birds would make it.  The kids took that in stride.  Some of the cards added a bit of humor by having the kids act out how a flyer might feel after eating bad berries, asked to hold their stomachs and groan while counting to 40 before moving on to the next station. 

Peggy helping at an over populated station.

There were dozens of activities for the kids to do throughout the day.  We only got a quick look at a few.

I think this was the most popular.  There was a small pool where they taught kids how to kayak

Fishing with real fish!  Also, lots of tangled lines because the wind was blowing.

This woman had some live animals, a skunk, an opossum, and a snake.  Lots of interest here.

Great program and opportunity for kids to experience nature.

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