In January I broke a molar and went to a dental clinic in East Texas near where I was parked, fully intending to have the tooth pulled. Instead, the dentist talked me into saving the tooth and putting in a crown. After 6 shots of Novocain, the temporary crown was installed and I was scheduled to return in a month for the permanent crown. Budget shot but tooth saved, I looked online for workcamping jobs in the area and was thrilled to be hired for a short-term assignment at Roma Bluffs World of Birding Center in Roma Bluffs, TX.
In exchange for relieving the workcampers already on site by opening and managing the bird center 4 days a week (hardly a chore for this bird lover), I received a free site at nearby Falcon State Park in Falcon Heights, TX and use of a city car for the 14 mile commute.
New to this part of the world, I was pleasantly surprised to find considerable beauty in this strange, thorny place. Falcon State Park is located on the banks of Falcon Reservoir and Falcon Dam. The Rio Grande has been diverted into this man-made known as Falcon Lake, a 155 sq. mile recreation area, hydropower, flood control and water supply; owned and managed by both the United States and Mexico.
While funding cuts in this area have greatly reduced budgets for both the interpretive center at the park and the birding center in town, the volunteer workampers who are also bird aficionados feed the birds daily at the nearby birding hotspot at Salineño, TX, just a stone’s throw away from the international border; as well as the job I took in town, from October through March.
A large, fenced in butterfly garden at the park was uninhabited in February. The recreation center was manned by volunteers, and the highlights of my weeks were the potluck dinners and music jams and sing-alongs. I was easily the youngest in the room, and many snowbirds return here e
At dinner one night I fell into conversation with a man who knew a lot about solar hookups, and was introduced to his wife, a fellow yoga teacher! The three of us had dinner at their site one night and shared stories of the road, life lessons, and made a fast friendship. Another camper brought her mandolin over one afternoon and gave this newbie several great musical tips.
There were 3 main sections to the park. One area with full hookups, one with electric and water and a common dump near headquarters (this is where I was stationed) and a dry camping area nearer to the boat ramp and water. Each site featured a sheltered picnic table, which provided needed shade when the temps topped 95 degrees. I was greeted by a family of javelina which roam the area. Miss Georgia, my kitten, and I were not sure what to make of them at first!
There was no wi-fi but 3 bars of cellular service in the park. The restroom/shower building was close by and clean, but I prefer to utilize my own facilities, so hooked up to return to the dump station every 5 days. My site was curved and slanted towards the road, and after a day of high winds Gypsy slid off her supports, scaring the bejeezus out of me and crushing one of the plastic chocks.
While I enjoyed my job in town and the camaraderie of the park campers, it was tough to get past the 8-10 border patrol and/or state trooper cars on the way to work, plus a large blimp, without an awareness of international problems. Several times while I was at work, there were disruptions at the international bridge two blocks down, with sirens blaring and helicopters hovering over the river bordering the small towns on either side.
When music jam night rolled around, tears welled up in my eyes as we sang the words learned in grade school, which I had admittedly taken for granted until the disparities of life were made so apparent during my travels:
“This land is your land and this land is my land, from California to the New York Island, from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me.”
All of a sudden, awareness of my blessings overflowed my heart – of being free to travel unimpeded from New York to California to the Gulf of Mexico and everywhere in between – of being rich in honest work, nourishing food and friendships, and the opportunity to live life the way I choose – of being literate and educated, able to write and publish my thoughts without censorship. These freedoms are priceless.