Texas Border Watch has Unique Vacation Opportunities
Though our border watch is our semi-annual month-long opportunity to bring a focus on the problems of our open borders, there is no rule that we cannot have fun while doing it. Texas' border watch location is the only one in the SW U.S. that is not in a desert. South Texas is semi-tropical, without the daytime heat of the three other southwestern states.
A great deal of time and effort has gone into making this operation vacation-friendly. This has been done because there is substantial cost in time and money associated with attending a border watch. Though what we are doing at a border watch is much more serious than a vacation, your trip should be rewarding and entertaining and worth the time and dollars you spend. The Rio Grande Valley (“The Valley”) will have recreational and amusement opportunities not found at other state’s border watches. Most of this is due to the fact that the South Texas area is urban and populated. The Texas Leadership Team is making every effort to insure your enjoyment while you are here for our border watch. For more information, contact: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org 817-385-1321. Below, you will find numerous entertainment opportunities for your off-duty hours.
There is quite an opportunity for recreation on the water, including the Rio Grande River. However, MCDC–Texas will NOT engage in official or unofficial river patrols. As citizens, you have the opportunity, as any other citizen, to take advantage of this fun recreational activity. So, if you have a boat, please consider bringing it. Fishing is available in the area, on salt and fresh water, with state fishing license. (Note: pay attention to the consumption warnings on fish caught in the Rio Grande) Please be sure to follow all state laws and regulations in regard to boating and fishing. There is a nearby boat ramp (close to Pepe’s, see below) that the U.S. Border Patrol uses daily to launch their river patrols. This public access ramp is at Chimney Park RV Resort 4224 S. Conway St. Mission, TX 78572 (956) 585-5061. There is a $5 fee to launch a boat. This RV park also has a fishing dock and a shaded picnic area. The website link: http://www.chimneyparkrv.com/. This RV park may be used as an overflow facility for our volunteers if we have more than 150 RV and tent campers.
South Padre Island
If you are in the mood for some salt water/beach fun, plan a day or longer trip to South Padre Island. (Note: Padre Island State Park and the Padre Island National Seashore are on North Padre Island, up near Corpus Christi. We are talking about South Padre Island, 150 miles south, near Brownsville.) Link to a helpful South Padre Island website: http://www.sopadre.com
Port Isabel Lighthouse
421 Queen Isabella Blvd. (Hwy. 100) Port Isabel, TX 78578 Phone: (956) 943-7602 Built 1852 and decommissioned 1905. Open to the public-small charge for admission.
Commemorative Air Force (former Confederate Air Force) RGV Wing 955 S. Minnesota Brownsville, TX Phone: (956) 541-8585 Located at Brownsville’s South Padre Island Int’l. Airport Website Link: http://www.rgvwingcaf.com/museum.html
Iwo Jima Memorial and Museum
320 Iwo Jima Blvd. Harlingen, TX 78550 (On the campus of the Marine Military Academy Phone: (956) 412-2207 Website Link: http://www.mma-tx.org/museum.htm
Los Ebanos Ferry
14 miles west of Mission, Tx. on U.S. Hwy 83 then 3 miles south on FM 886. (Los Ebanos means Ebony trees, in Spanish) The only hand-drawn auto and pedestrian ferry between Mexico and the United States. This is probably one of the smallest U.S. government (legal) points of entry along the U.S./Mexico border. Small crossing fee. Open daily 8am to 3pm. Be sure to visit the cantina, Los Ebanos Junction, on the upper bank of the Rio Grande, on OUR SIDE. On the Mexican side, it is about three miles to the nearest town, but please understand that MCDC discourages our volunteers from crossing into Mexico. Website links:
Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park
2800 S. Bentsen Palm Dr. Mission, TX 78572 Phone: (956) 585-1107 This wooded 760 acre state park is known for its 325 species of birds and 250 species of butterflies, many not seen in other parts of the United States. RV sites and a limited number of tent camping sites are available. Website Link: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/parkguide/rgn_stxp_006.phtml
Palo Alto U.S./Mexican War Battlefield
Commemorates the May 8, 1846 Mexican War battle. The Spanish words “palo alto” means tall timber or tall woods, in English. This battle was the first of two major battles on Texas and U.S. soil. Of course, the Mexican government did not recognize the claim based upon the surrender agreement between the Republic of Texas and General Santa Ana at the conclusion of the battle of San Jacinto in 1836. This was an American victory since the losses were much higher for Mexico and due to the fact that the Mexican Army retreated to Resaca Guerrero (refer to Resaca de la Palma, below). Visitors to Palo Alto will find a visitors’ center full of exhibits dedicated to the US/Mexican War, a battlefield overlook station, and a hiking trail on the 3,400 acres. Battlefield park is on U.S. Hwy. 281 (Military Hwy.) in Brownsville. Website links: http://www.nps.gov/paal -and- http://www.nps.gov/paal/naturescience/index.htm
Resaca de la Palma U.S./Mexican War Battlefield
Site was originally called Resaca Guerrero but changed after the battle. Commemorates one of two important battles fought on U.S. soil, of the 1846 Mexican War. After the American victory at Palo Alto, Mexican General Santa Ana retreated to this spot and fought the last of two battles on U.S. soil. The victory at Resaca de la Palma forced the Mexican Army to retreat into Mexico where the U.S. Army followed to the conclusion of the war in Mexico City. The site is located on Paredes Line Rd. between Price Road and Coffee Port Rd. Website Link: http://www.nps.gov/paal/historyculture/resacadelapalma.htm
Resaca de la Palma State Park
1,700 acres of bird watching/hiking opportunities. NOTE: this is NOT the site of the battlefield. “Resaca” is the Spanish word for dry riverbed or more correctly, an "oxbow lake", a now-isolated former bend in the river. Resaca de la Palma would translate into English as “old river bend of palms”. There is a map link on the below website. Website Link: http://www.worldbirdingcenter.org/sites/brownsville/
Established 1845 as “Fort Texas” but later changed name to Fort Taylor (after Gen. Zachary Taylor, the U.S. commander in early 1846). Renamed Fort Brown in honor of Major Jacob Brown who was fatally wounded on May 9, 1846 when the fort was besieged by Mexican troops from Matamoros. Fort Brown, a National Historic Landmark, is located at the southern edge of Brownsville, at 600 International Blvd. The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College now administer and occupy many of Fort Brown's historic buildings. Call 210-542-3367 for further information. Directions: Take U.S. Hwy. 83 to Brownsville Take the International Blvd. Exit and turn right. The Fort is near the Rio Grande River. Web Link: http://www.cr.nps.gov/seac/brownsville/english/index.htm
Palmito Ranch (Palmito Hill) Civil War Battlefield
Commemorates the last battle of the Civil War. This battle, a Confederate victory due to the retreat of Federal (U.S.) forces after the battle, took place about a month after General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomatox. Due to the slow forms of communications in those days, this battle took place without that knowledge. Site is located near Fort Brown, the Mexican War U.S. Army Headquarters. Marker is found on State Hwy. 4 (Boca Chica Hwy.) about twelve miles east of Brownsville. Website Links: http://www.wnpa.org/freepubs/PAAL/Battle_Palmito_Ranch.pdf -and- http://www.civilwaralbum.com/misc5/palmito1.htm
Hiking & Biking
There are many hiking and biking opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley. Bird watching (“birding”) is a popular activity in conjunction with hiking and biking. Links to hiking sites:
Cinemark Tinseltown 2422 East Expressway 83 Mission, TX, 78572
Cine El Rey 311 S. 17th St. McAllen, TX (800) 275-5868
McAllen/Mission Area Restaurants
There are literally thousands of restaurants in the Mission/McAllen area. Anything that you could possibly want may be found on either Hwy. 83, or Business Hwy. 83, just to the south and running parallel. All the chains have their restaurants on one of these two main roads. Below, find some outstanding/unique restaurants:
Costa Messa Restaurant – 1621 N. 11th St. McAllen, Tx Phone: (956) 618-5449
Listed in Texas Monthly Magazine as having the 42nd ranked of “The 63 Tacos You Must Eat Before You Die” (Dec. ’06 issue). This is a white tablecloth and napkin place and is more expensive than the usual Tex-Mex restaurant, but one of the very best. The taco that the magazine liked is called the “Pork Tacos de Trompo” and comes five to a plate with rice and beans.
Pepe’s On the River Bar & Grill – 2601 South Conway Avenue Mission, TX 78572 Phone: 956-583-3092
Pepe’s is a unique place. It is part bar (well, a big part bar) and restaurant and dance hall. They have live entertainment nearly every night. Their prices for food and beverage are moderate and you cannot beat Pepe’s for nightlife, especially in the winter when it is packed with "snowbirds". This restaurant is right on the (northern) bank of the Rio Grande River. There is a large outdoor patio right on the riverbank where you can eat or drink to your hearts content, all the while looking across the 80 yards or so of river to Mexico. Be aware that Pepe’s has two owners, one whom is Hispanic and against the Minutemen and one Anglo who is neutral at worst. I encourage you to give Pepe’s your off-duty business because the food is good and I suspect that they hire illegal aliens. If anyone asks you, the “Minutemen” are at Pepe’s because it is an (unofficial) “watch post on our lines to monitor suspicious behavior”. Warning: remember SOP #2. Do NOT drink alcoholic beverages and report for duty. You will be in violation of SOP and this could result in severe penalties notwithstanding the criminal penalties you would incur if stopped by the local law enforcement officials and you were found to be driving while intoxicated. Some police officers would love, absolutely l-o-v-e, to lock up a Minuteman!
Riverside Club – 214 E. Chimney Rd. Mission, TX 78572 Phone: (956) 581-1033 (Down the road to the east of Pepe’s)
This was the location that Pres. Bush used in 2006 to make a speech about “border security”. The most interesting aspect of this restaurant/bar is that the owner has a river boat, the “Riverside Dreamer” tied up to the river dock and offers one hour and two hour river tours every day except Wednesdays and Saturdays. The owner and captain of the boat, Johnny Hart, is friendly to our cause. He tells me that he often sees illegal crossing while running his tour boat. Canadians, he says, think it’s funny (Texans find no humor in it). River tours link: http://www.ontheriver.net/tours.html The home page of their website: http://www.ontheriver.net/
Texas Operations Headquarters (HQ)
Our Texas Border Operations Base is Mission Gardens RV Resort in Mission, Texas. The RV park has a large outdoor pool, a hot tub, a laundry room, and shower/restroom facilities. The huge recreation room, with free “wifi” internet service has an adjoining kitchen for group meal preparation. There is also an adjoining billards room. We have rented a mobile home at the RV park. This mobile home is our Operations HQ and the RV park, itself, will be called “Base”. The mobile home’s living room will house the “Comm. Center” (radio shack) and the large covered front porch will be our “Admin. Center"
(registration/administration). The HQ Administration Center desk is the first place you should visit AFTER you check in with the RV park office. You will need your MCDC ID card and a photo ID when you come to sign in at HQ, not for the RV park. At HQ, you will be registered, given a Texas Operations ID to wear, a vehicle pass, and asked to sign the liability release. The Admin. Center is where the operations bulletin board, announcing our schedule, etc., will be located. Check it often during the day and be sure to sign up for the next shift(s).
There are literally thousands of hotel/motel rooms in the immediate area of our operations. Of course, any facilities in Mission, Texas would be closer to our operation HQ, so please consider the city of Mission, first for lodging. McAllen (20 miles) would be the next closest city with Edinburg, Pharr, San Juan, Alamo, Donna, Weslaco, Mercedes, Harlingen (40 miles), San Benito, and Brownsville (70 miles), in distance order. For those who stay in town, away from HQ: understand that if something changes at HQ you may not be notified. Always understand that things may change without prior notice. Therefore, it will be your responsibility to check the HQ bulletin board regularly or to call HQ to confirm meeting times, etc. The HQ phone number will be available beginning Sept. 28th).
MCDC-Texas will make no attempt to find rides or roommates for volunteers. Please attend your local chapter activities and meet your fellow MCDC volunteers in order to find suitable "border buddies".
Here is a short list of Mission area hotels/motels:
Comfort Inn 203 N. Shary Road Mission, TX 78572 (956) 583-0333 Outdoor Pool; Microwave ovens & refrigerators in every room; Free Continental breakfast; Website: http://www.choicehotels.com/ires/en-US/html/HotelInfo?hotel=TX472&sid=ZU58g.S5710ggHP.2&sarea=20352&sname=Mission&sstate=TX&scountry=US&sradius=40.23&slat=26.2156&slon=-98.3250&schain=CI&exp=&scity=Mission&sort=&nadult=1&nchild=0
Hawthorn Suites 3700 Plantation Grove Blvd. Mission, TX (866) 519-9696 Free Hot Breakfast; Free High Speed Internet; Swimming Pool & Hot Tub; Pet Friendly; Website: http://www.hawthorn.com/reservations/cityselect.asp
Best Western “Las Palmas Inn” 609 E. Expwy. 83 Mission, TX 78572 (956) 583-9290 Microwave ovens & refrigerators in every room; Free Continental Breakfast; Pet Friendly;
There are many other hotels/motels, but are too numerous to list. Please contact the Mission Chamber of Commerce for more information. Phone: (956) 585-2727 E-Mail: mailto:email@example.com Website Link: http://www.missionchamber.com/
Mission Gardens RV Resort (our Ops Base) will have a number of MCDC Special tent camping sites on RV spaces where the trees are sufficient to provide shade to the tents. Tent spaces without electricity at the RV park rent for $5 per day (price subject to change). The RV park has full restroom facilities, including showers. Also, there is an outdoor pool an adjoining Jacuzzi, a recreation room with kitchen and, are you ready for this? A billiards room. Tent camping was never so good.
Miller International Airport (MFE) in McAllen. This is the closest commercial airport to Mission, Texas, about twenty (20) miles east from our Ops HQ. Contact the Operations Info Center: (956) 682-9101 Website Link: http://www.mcallenairport.com/index.aspx
Rio Grande Valley International Airport (VIA) in Harlingen. This is the 2nd closest commercial airport to Mission, Texas, about forty (40) miles east of Mission. Website Link: http://www.flythevalley.com/
South Padre Island International Airport (BRO) in Brownsville. Brownsville’s airport is the largest in the "Valley" since the city it serves is the largest in the Rio Grande Valley. Brownsville’s airport is about seventy (70) miles southeast of Mission.
Website Link: http://iflybrownsville.com/default.asp
All three listed airports have taxi service and/or rent automobiles. We also have access to a small, private airstrip near Perezville, west of Mission. Pilots with a light aircraft of any type may use it or Miller for our operations. Please contact the state director, Clark Kirby, for more information: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org . Please be aware that all costs associated with aircraft must be borne by the owner/pilot, as it is the case with every other volunteer who brings equipment.