Today was our only day of tram runs for this week. With the Visitors Center being closed on January 1 for New Year's Day and on January 2 in honor of the death of President Ford, we have an extra two days off this week.
Of course we did do the canoe trip yesterday on one of our regular days off. And I'm sure we will ultimately donate more of our time than is required. :)
We did our first run at 9:30 without the trailer and we had a full tour. Our volunteer neighbors Jan & Phyllis joined us and brought a couple of friends.
Also, Mike Carlo's wife, two kids, and mother joined us on the morning run. Mike is our "boss" here at the Refuge. Talk about pressure. :)
Our PA system didn't work on the first part of the tour, then Linda got it working at our first stop and it was fine through the end. We did have a couple of elderly folks that wanted to do our two walks and it took a little extra time unloading and loading and keeping the pace slow enough for everyone. We ran over by about 15 minutes. And Mike's mother needed to be at the airport very quickly. Oops. :)
On our second tour, I hitched up the trailer in anticipation of a bigger group. Then the PA system stopped working again and didn't work the rest of the day.
Fortunately, we were able to squeeze everyone into the front and we just had to talk a little louder.
On our second tour, Journal readers Don & Toni joined us. Don & Toni are readers we met at Life On Wheels in Ankeny, Iowa and again in their former hometown of Decorah, Iowa. Since we last saw them in September, their house sold and they are now part of the legion of full-timers spending the winter in South Texas!
We hardly got to talk to them as we had to get focused and ready for the last tram ride of the day. Bummer. Well, maybe another time while we are here. :)
On our last tram run, we had a formally educated naturalist from Wisconsin. It must have been our day for being tested. :)
But we got good feedback from her and most everyone else on our tours for the day. The only part that seems like work is having to be on a schedule. Other than that, we certainly enjoy all of it. :)
As I took one of the vans back out to lock some of the gates, I passed a family on bicycles. Bicycles are allowed to ride the 7 mile tram loop but they are supposed to go one way. Many don't heed that rule because the last mile is on a gravel road that is actually owned by the International Boundary & Water Commission.
But this family was abiding by the rules. Mom was out in front and Dad was pulling his two daughters on those extended bicycle kid seats and he seemed to be struggling on the gravel.
After locking a gate behind them, I pulled along side and asked if he wanted me to give the girls a ride into the Visitors Center so he didn't have to worry about turning the bike over or having them fall on the gravel. He declined - yeah, I'm not sure I would put my two kids in a van with a stranger either. :)
I caught up to the mom and she told me that one of the her daughters was riding her own bike but she had a flat. They left her little bicycle out by the observation tower. So I told her I would fetch it for them.
Now I got the bike into the back of the van, slammed the tailgate and HONK! HONK! HONK! Somehow I set off the car alarm right there in the middle of the Refuge. Of course, just like all of you have done, when the car alarm went off I went into panic mode. That means the first three things you try to turn it off don't work and the thing just keeps blaring. It echoed through the quiet.
Birders were standing all around and looking at me incredulously - "Well Sally, I guess our birding here is over for the day." :)
I finally got it turned off. All I could do was smile, sheepishly apologize, and get the heck out of there. At least there was a mom & dad and a little girl glad to see me when I got back. :)
The weather started out cool in the morning, but it warmed up quickly and was absolutely gorgeous. I wore shorts all day and it was still warm enough after dark. Shorts on New Year's Eve! I've said it often, it doesn't take much to make me happy. :)
Tram drivers Jerry & Nancy organized a little New Year's Eve dinner out for all the volunteers in our compound. We now have ten rigs here and nine out of the ten couples met at a very nice oriental buffet in Weslaco for dinner. None of us had any intention of staying up until midnight. :)
We rode with Jan & Phyllis who insisted on paying for our dinners in return for shuttling them to and from the airport this past week. Of course it wasn't necessary, but we have given up trying to argue. :)
The people we meet are going to do nice things for us that are not necessary whether we want them to or not. It's part of what I now call our "passive moocherism".
We have called ourselves "professional moochers" in jest for the free nights of camping, all the free meals, and many gifts that we have extracted from our readers and fellow RVers. But these have not been from an active or conscious seeking out of such benefits, so I have decided that "passive moochers" is a more accurate term. :)
Passive Moocherism is a great gig. The moochee doesn't feel like he is being mooched and is actually pleased by it. The moocher doesn't have to go through the act of the mooch. :)
Hey, wait a minute! Passive Moocherism sounds sort of like people just being nice to each other out of the goodness of their hearts without any expectations of something in return. What a concept! Maybe we can pass this on to the rest of the world. Wink. :)
After our dinner where we got to know some of our newer volunteer friends a little better, Jan & Phyllis drove us to the little community of Hidalgo where they showed us the town's wonderful Christmas lights. It was a great little tour. :)
As we made our way back home, fireworks were lighting up the night in all directions. Now fireworks are not a New Year's tradition back in Kentucky, so it was interesting to see them going off for miles and miles around us on this perfect evening.
We can only imagine how pretty they must have been later on. You see we were in bed and asleep by 10:00 and we never heard or saw another thing.
I've written about this several times, but for us, these major holidays are just not that major any longer. Life's a celebration! :)
So with that, Happy New Year to all of you! And may 2007 come with lots and lots of "passive moocherism" for you as both moocher and moochee. I think you'll find it brightens your soul. :)