Wednesday, February 16 – After our morning exercise routines, we toured the National Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle. There is a well-written history of the shrine on the website.
For centuries Christians have made pilgrimages with a spiritual purpose to holy places. Here in the Rio Grande Valley, hundreds are drawn to the shrine dedicated to Our Lady of San Juan Del Valle, and the number of pilgrims continues growing. Averaging more than one million visitors a year (20,000 a weekend), it is one of the most visited shrines in the United States.
This beautiful Catholic church has an architectural design approaching a dome. It is quite large and seats 3,500 worshipers. It has a minimalist feel compared to the many ornate churches we've seen.
One of the unique architectural features we observed is the altar. From the seating area of the church one doesn't see that the rear of the altar begins one story below the floor of the actual worship area. Accessed by ramps on both sides of the altar is the candle lighting area and prayer rail. An interesting feature.
As we were leaving, the Father was about to bless those who came.
Outside the church is a paved walk of about a mile with life-size bronze statues of the Stations of the Cross. It appears the minimalist theme is repeated here in that the statues are simply done and don't seem to express the suffering Christ endured in other artistic impressions of the Crucifixion we have seen in other areas of the country.
To see all the Stations of the Cross, please click here.
There is a large area where people can fill jugs of Holy Water for free.
The Shrine also has a large bookstore housed in a separate building on the Church grounds.
We spent the remainder of the day talking with our neighbor, Mike. Marsha decided to do two things at one time…something she is very good at doing…she talked and worked on her basket. It is looking really good.
Thursday, February 17 - One of the criticisms of the RGV one must endure while staying here is the relentless WIND! Last evening and overnight was one of our worst nights. It just blows, and blows, and blows. Never stops. The awnings over the slideouts continuously flap in this wind making sleeping difficult. Unfortunately, the forecast does not show any let up in the foreseeable future....YIKES! The 80 degree temperatures are wonderful, but the gusting wind makes enjoying it difficult.
Marsha's computer is on it's last leg.....she needs to “re-boot” constantly, the lid has nearly fell off, and other fatal signs has spurred her to think about a new computer. So with the wind squelching enjoying the sun and 80 degree temps, we went to town shopping. After comparing similar computers at several stores, of course, we returned to the first store, Office Depot, and purchased an HP Computer. Now Marsha has to spend several days getting it ready to use (Editorial: that's insane....spend several hundred dollars on a new computer and it's not ready to use out of the box......JEESH! ....and she needs to spend another $100 or so on software that she has on her old computer and uses on a regular basis, but it can't be transferred to the new computer.....CRAZY!).
Saturday, February 19 – Just saw on the news that diesel fuel in California is at $3.99/gallon and rising. It is predicted that the price of unleaded gasoline will be over $4/gallon this summer and diesel fuel prices will approach $5/gallon. That's not good news for someone hauling their house around the country. We've already curtailed driving plans once for this summer and may have to reconsider our adjusted plans. We originally planned on touring the Pacific Northwest (Washington and Oregon) but cut that idea and decided on South Dakota (Mount Rushmore) area instead. Now with the threat of fuel prices reaching five dollars we may need to re-think those travel plans.
We are investigating work camping as an alternative to traveling. We would work or volunteer in exchange for a camping site. The research we've done thus far shows most couples work about twenty hours per week. We are going over to friends (and work campers), Jay and Betty's, on Sunday to discuss ideas with them. Hopefully, we'll come up with some ideas.
Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you back real soon. Have a great day!