My Trip Back Home Last August

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Tammy planned a cruise last AugustHer and Cassidy booked a Carnival Cruise from New Orleans La. to Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Cozumel.   I decided to go up and stay with Carly.  Tammy was pretty excited as this was her first cruise.  On a beautiful Friday morning, Tammy and Cassidy hugged Carly goodbye and took off for a long drive from Illinois to New Orleans La. wp-15769844464803958534113140486886.jpg

Now if it was me, it would take me several days, but she always drives straight through.  They spent a day sightseeing in New Orleans, Bourbon St and the Cemeteries. Cemeteries and spooky stuff is her passion.  Finally they boarded their ship and left on Sunday for their 7 days of cruising on the beautiful blue ocean. wp-15769840391337366215909850587441.jpg

I had taken Amtrak up as usual.  Its always an enjoyable 27 hours traveling from San Antonio to Bloomington Normal.  During my time their, the kids had signed up for school.  Now days, they have an evening before school starts to go meet your teacher and drop off your school supplies.  This year Carly is in 1st Grade in the Primary Building in GranvilleAustin is in 2nd and Miley is in 4th in the Elementary School in HennepinTina and I packed up all the kids and their school supplies and headed for Carly’s school. wp-15769845813076714720980536534584.jpg

Carly met her teacher, toured her room, filled out some questionnaires and put away her supplies.  In the hall they had large boxes full of supplies.  Their were boxes where each child would put their Kleenex boxes, Elmer’s glue, Hand Sanitizer and other large items that were on their list.  They only put out one or so of the Kleenex boxes and Hand Sanitizers at a time, so they have a supply to last all year.  Then we loaded up the kids and drove to Hennepin to the Elementary School. wp-1576984663920496244101289706138.jpg

Austin loved his teacher.  He is such a clown.  I was feeling sorry for the teacher.  I was hoping she has a strong back bone….lol…Just Look at the EVIL grin…..He’s already plottingwp-15769846125888428905137926658085.jpg

He loved putting away all his school supplies in his desk.  On down the hall we went to Mileys teacher.

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Did you know, now days you can order all your school supplies from Amazon?  They have prepared boxes you can buy for a particular school and grade.  The cost was about $40 a box.  So you don’t have to go school shopping for supplies, just clothes.  Usually you end up buying items that the teacher didn’t want, so this does make it easier.  After Tina visited with the teacher, we walked down and found the kids lockers.  This year they get real metal lockers instead of the wooden cubbies. wp-15769847800187375129687272307876.jpg

They were playing in the lockers climbing in and closing the door.  When Austin climbed in, we pretended that we left.  Austin got scared and started to cry.   Well, the evil in us made us at laugh at him.  He would have done the same thing. …. lol....He can give it…lol…but he can’t take it……. Finally the first day of school came.  I took Carly to school her first day.

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She was so excited.  She loves school.

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Tina took Miley and Austin to school in Hennepin.  She always takes First day pictures.  During my visit, I called Tricia, my friend from the Hegeler Carus Mansion.  I use to be a Docent for about 4 years and Tricia is head of the Guides. Completed in 1876 for Edward C. Hegeler, a partner in the nearby Matthiessen Hegeler Zinc Company, the mansion was designed in 1874 by noted Chicago architect William W. Boyington for Edward, his wife Camilla, and many children. The mansion is now owned and operated by the Hegeler Carus Foundation, and is open to the public. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2007.

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This was the entrance you would use if you were a family friend or member

Tricia invited Carly and me to come and hang out for the day.  It was so good to be back in the presence of this beautiful home of yesteryear.  Carly enjoyed it so much that we  came back another day also.  Here is some of my favorite pictures of those days.

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This was the main entrance that business affiliates used.  The porch has deteriorated and cannot be walked on safely

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Camilla’s, wife of Edward,  Rock Garden between the formal stairs.

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Gate to Camilla’s Garden

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The reconstructed Gazebo that is now used for Concerts on the lawn.

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A quite moment around the pond

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The commemorative plaques in front of the Mansion, describing the History

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The beautiful Baby Grand in the Formal Parlor

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Checking out the beautiful reflection in the mirror.  Look at that amazing inlaid floor and the original gas chandelier, now electrified.

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The one and only stairway leading up to the bedrooms and beyond.

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Carly in the Family Room, pointing out the original pictures of the family at Christmas time in this room.

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Somewhat a dark picture, but this is the beautiful dinning room.  This Dinning Table has been refurbished and is so beautiful.  It has an inlay of several different woods in a woven ribbon pattern around the edge of the table.  This design is also displayed around the fireplace and serving cabinets around the room.

We had a fun couple of days their.  Tricia loved having Carly.  She listened, and absorbed much of the history that was being told on the tours as we followed them.  She also helped escort some of the ladies to the bathroom, telling them to watch the step so they wouldn’t fall.   She thoroughly enjoyed herself.  During my time their, I also visited with my old friends from Advantage Logistics.  Many of them are still their.  I sure don’t know how they do it but they are younger.  They still have the stamina to put up with physical and mental stress.   Warehouses are sure not a fun place to work.  I spent some good quality time with Tammy after she got back home, talked about all the fun they had and their experiences.  I also visited with some other family members, my sister-in-law and her sister and family, my niece and her daughter.  My brother Pasted Away last Jan.  I have been going through pictures and wanted to make sure they got the ones they should have.

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St. Louis Arch

So finally it was time to go.  I left Bloomington-Normal on Amtrak for my 27hr ride to San Antonio, again passing all the familiar landmarks as we headed south.  I’ll end this post with an interesting picture from Tammy of the beach on one of the stops.  If you notice someone had just caught a fish…..ISN”T IT HUGE”wp-1579710668803332350125195978499.jpg

Part 2….Our Awesome San Diego Trip

The next morning, with Band-Aids on my feet, we took an Uber down to the water front.  Our plans were to ride the Land and Sea Ducks and also take a cruise in San Diego Bay.  We were a little early, so nobody was in line.  We had a very nice conversation with the ticket lady.  She said, “Did you hear the news yesterday about the drug busts  on the open seas?”  She said look over their.  Their was a Coast Guard boat unloading the drugs.wp-15769586124777111124741045428019.jpg

Near the Coast Guard boat was an orange raft type boat with mounted guns slowly circling.  They were unloading the drugs into a truck.  Later they brought in a crane to unload.  Later that night, on the news, we learned the drugs were 13 tons, valued at $353 million, and recovered from mid June to mid July.  That is a lot of drugs.  We were told, after the drugs were cataloged and what ever legal aspects had to be done, the drugs would be incinerated.wp-15769586566098603392769888303597.jpg

Finally we were able to board our Duck.  We had rode them before at the Wisconsin Dells.  We followed the busy road following the water front to the North side of the Bay.  We past beaches,  Harbors filled with beautiful boats, Yacht Clubs full of Gorgeous Sailboats. wp-15769596964927407319474076231515.jpg

We entered a boat launch area and drove into the water.  He then engaged his propeller on the Duck.  The airport is located near the water front.  You could see the planes come in.  The Captain took a nice leisurely drive up the North Coast line out to the fisheries. wp-15769589527691662180525717580092.jpg

By the fisheries there were tons of birds hanging out and seals laying out and sunning them selves. wp-15769598448943096609314344790415.jpg

We went on up toward the Bay opening a little further till we came to Point Loma, the Naval Base home of the Submarines.  Now they were hard to see.  They were all fenced off so we could only go so far.  Finally we turned around and drove back.wp-15769587039694507338894942436937.jpg

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We drove back up on land and past all the beautiful yachts and boats back to the  waterfront park area.  This is the Maritime Museum area.  Their are tall ships,  submarines, Aircraft Carrier USS Midway.wp-15769596655128524538343304192262.jpg

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USS MIDWAY

You can take tours of many of these ships.  Finally it was time to board our boat to cruise the North and South Bays.  It would be a 2 hour ride. wp-1576959029424983058425388891294.jpg

This is the Hornblower.  We boarded and walked to the top deck.  We pulled out and headed south toward the Coronado Bridge.  We drove under and seen many more ships in the dock at the Naval Station Ship yards.

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….Coronado Bridge….

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Navel Base Ship Yards

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Red Cross Ship

We seen the Red Cross Ship, and many more ships in dock. We turned around and went back under the Coronado Bridge to the North Bay.  We went back to some of the areas we had been in the Ducks. wp-15769598869877590588213178951905.jpg

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wp-1576959784558166466167623482252.jpgwp-15769597306536699804314756194092.jpgThe Bay was so Beautiful.  The sky was blue, the wind was gusting softly, the birds were singing in the air and swopping down with the wind.  The waves were just rolling along as we sailed right along passing sail boats and also a Navy Ship coming in from the sea.  Such a beautiful day.  On the way back we seen a speed boat.

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They were having a blast.    When we were pulling back in, we looked over at the Coast Guard Boat.  They were done unloading the drugs, had packed up their orange patrol gunboat. wp-15769594094686006744137835195436.jpg

We took another Uber back to the Hotel…..What a fun packed day.   Now time for Dinner.  Their wasn’t much in the area for resturants.  We have been eating most of our meals across the street….Jimmy Carters Mexican Café and Cantina….wp-15769601787685791895819906505451.jpg Rather a strange name.  I tried to figure out the correlation of the name to the ex-President.  Then I met the owner.  “Jimmy Carter” was his name….wp-15769602182476603154394857110835.jpg

Just a white guy running a Mexican restaurant, with no relation to the ex-President.  That was our last nite in San Diego.  We went up to the roof to do some site seeing.  It was another beautiful nite.  It seems like the weather is always perfect….’wp-1576960135730104198315350685211.jpg

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The View to the Bay from our Building top was Beautiful

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The view towards the city.  You can see a plane coming in on the left side.  It descends down through the city buildings on its flight path to the airport.  In the morning it was time to leave.  We packed up and took on last look. wp-15769603866308826957928343364261.jpg

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This is the front.  It is called Inn at the Park.  It is now a Time Share Hotel.  It has a rich history.  It was private apartments as well as a Speak Easy during Prohibition times.  The interior has been preserved with all its rich woods and decor.  Such a Beautiful Building.

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…..So Out The Door We Go….

….Uber to the Airport, Fly to Dallas, transfer to Harlingen, Home by 11:30pm…..

Our Awesome San Diego Trip….Part 1

We just returned from a Fun Filled vacation to San Diego. Scott has a Timeshare and had some points to use up. Last fall he asked us, “Where do you want to go”. So we picked San Diego, no real reason, just because. So he booked it for this past week. We wanted to take the train, but scheduling wasn’t going to work.

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Eastgate Rv Park….Harlingen Tx. from the plane window

We left Harlingen on the plane, transferred in Houston and arrived in San Diego just before midnight. The approach to San Diego was beautiful. You could see all the beautiful lights of a city along the ocean front and some of the ships.

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Coronado Bridge going over to Coronado Island

As we got closer to the city, the building lights were closer and closer. Suddenly we were between the downtown buildings of San Diego. It was a moment of beauty that was so unexpected. The skyscrapers were on either side of us with all their beautiful lights rising above the height of the plane. They kept flying past us as we kept falling. An amazing moment. Then all of a sudden we were out of the buildings and our wheels hit the runway. Just like that it was over…….What about a Rewind???…..Wow….so fast….

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This picture does not do it justice.

It turns out the San Diego has only 1 runway. It is right next to the Bay. It is the busiest Metropolitan Airport in the US that is not a airline hub or secondary hub. It is well know for its close proximity to the skyscrapers and can be difficult for pilots due to its short usable runway and the steep descent over the crest of Bankers Hill. Their are also shifting wind currents just before touch down. The tower is a very busy place, as they are timing the arrivals and departures on the same runway. If you look in the distance at nite you will see 2 and 3 lights of airplanes approaching to land almost all the time. We also found out that the airport has a noise curfew. No planes can depart between 11:30 pm and 6 am. We made it to our hotel around midnite.

In the morning, we were to meet up with my girlfriend from High School. We had graduated in 1968. I seen Linda that late summer and never again. She moved that December and eventually ended in Oregon, Washington areas. She raised her family and has retired recently to Palm Springs Cal. Thanks to FB, Linda and I have been in contact for a number of years. This was the perfect opportunity to see her. Linda and Len drove the 3 hours to see us that morning. We were up early and found a restaurant across the street. Jimmy Carters Mexican Restaurant…..lol…..After a wonderful breakfast, we left to go across the street to 7-11….We were going to get snacks and head back to our room to wait for them. A car pulled out from 7-11 into the street right in front of us, and their they were……Linda and Len…..Wow…..Such a surprise.

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They still needed breakfast so back to Jimmy Carters. We went to our rooms and spent some really fun time reminiscing and catching up from the past. No way can you pack 51 years into an afternoon. It was so much fun. The guys hit it off well to, but finally they wanted to head back because of rush hour. Your talking 8 lanes each way….lol…I can sure understand why. We went up to the rooftop lounge to view the city. It was such a beautiful view looking out to San Diego Bay in the distance.

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The weather was perfect, around 88 or 90, and the sky was blue. We vowed to get together again and not wait 51 years. Ahhhh bet we won’t be here. lol.… We have 2 more classmates that also live fairly close. It would be nice if we could all 4 get together. Finally Linda and Len had to leave. It was sad to see it was over so fast. It was so Awesome that they drove 3 hours each way in awful traffic just to come a visit. ….Thanks Linda and Len….

We visited our Concierge and made plans for the next 2 days.

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We decided to do the 10 stop Trolley Tour the next day. It ran continuously every 20 minutes. It was narrated and you could get off and on at your convenience. We could walk to the nearest Trolley stop to start the Tour. So we decided to walk. The nearest one was in Balboa Park near the zoo. Our hotel was right a cross the street from Balboa Park. We could see some of the 15 museums through the trees. It didn’t look that far…….It was about 6 blocks to the street that led into the zoo. Didn’t seem far…..Ohhhh Myyyy….I was wrong. But it was a beautiful walk. All the buildings, the landscapes, and we walked along the edge of Balboa Park which we were told is bigger than Central Park in New York City, were so pretty. We turned the road and walked down to the bridge. It is a historical bridge that crosses over Interstate 5.

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When you looked overhead, every 2 minutes or less, a plane was coming in for landing. Such a beautiful site with the buildings of down town in the distance. We walked on down the street past some of the very old beautiful architected museums.

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Such beauty and so many. The area was filled with walkways and porticos. So many different gardens through out the park.

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Most of the trees of San Diego have been imported from all over the world. Their are so many different trees. Many I’ve never seen or heard of. We finally made it to the Trolley Stop. We were doing pretty good so far. Finally we boarded the trolley with the first stop being Old Town. It is a unique shopping area full of restaurants, gift shops and a few museums. We stopped here for a while and continued on. We circled back down to the bay area. Driving along the street the driver told us about the Maritime Museum containing 7 different boats including a German captured submarine all the way to a Tall Sailing Ship. Along the way we passed other areas that we did not get out to visit. Gaslight Area, Little Italy, The Convention Center to name a few. We headed for the Coronado Bridge. It is a very high bridge with a curve in it. The tour guide said it is one of the longest bridges, and not only the longest, it was made to be over 2 miles long so they would qualify for federal money.

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On the way over to Coronado, the Tour Guide pointed to the South side of the bay. It is the home of Naval Base San Diego. We could see many ships in the distance. It was built tall and wide enough for all Navy ships to go under except for the large air craft carriers. It is the second largest Surface Ship Base in the U.S. Navy. It is also the Principal Base of the Pacific Fleet, consisting of 50 ships and 190 tenant commands. The total on base population is over 24,000 military personal and 10,000 civilians. Also along the waterfront is the location of General Dynamics NASCCO. It is the largest full service shipyard on the West Coast. It specializes in design and construction of ships for the U.S. Navy and also oil tankers and cargo ships for the commercial market. We finally crossed the bridge and entered into the island of Coronado. This island is actually also home of the Navy Air Station. The North part of the island contains the Naval Airport with a large concentration of military planes of many types that service and maintain the Pacific Fleet. They probably use about 2/3rds of the island but it is on the north side which is not seen as you cross the bridge. As you cross the bridge, you enter into the residential area. It is a very high value Real Estate area. Our Guide told us an average 2 story home cost 1.5 million…….Wow…..

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This island is the home to the largest concentration of Retired ADMIRALS...….Yes they have money……We got out at this stop and ate lunch at one of the cafes. Then we walked up the street to see the Biggest Attraction…..”Hotel Del Coronado”. This beautiful, Historical, Victorian Beachfront Resort was opened in 1888.

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It is the second largest wooden structure in the U.S. It was designated a California Historical Landmark in 1970, and in 1977, it became a National Historical Landmark. It has hosted many presidents, royalty and famous celebrity’s. It has also been featured in many movies and books. The most famous movie that I know is “Some Like it Hot”, starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemon, and Tony Curtis. We walked up to the beautiful portico entrance and into the lobby. It is so rich with beautiful woods. Their is so much to say about this hotel, that I will save it for another blog.

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We walked around back to the beautiful pool area and down to the beach. They had apparently just finished a special event on the beach. They were cleaning up the tables and chairs set with white linen tablecloths and decorations. All the umbrellas on the beach were in the red color of the Hotel towers and roofs. It was just so breath taking to try to take in this whole view. Before us was the opening to the Bay of San Diego. In the distance was Point Loma that curved around on the other side of the North Bay. The sky was beautiful blue with a light haze in the distance. The wind was gently blowing and you could smell the ocean and hear the voices of all the people and the kids playing and enjoying the huge beautiful beach before you. We sat down for a while to take this all in, and also to rest……..Our feet were starting to wear down. Rich’s knees were starting to hurt. Finally we headed back to the Trolley stop. We were walking slower and slower. We passed so many beautiful trees that had been imported from other country’s and some beautiful flowers.

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This plant really impressed and surprised me. It is a succulent and I used to have one. It’s common name is a Pencil Plant. At least that’s what I called it. This plant was over 6ft. tall. Mine sat on a window ledge. When you break off a leaf that is round like a pencil, it has white milky substance in it. I believe I heard it was poisonous to animals.

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Here is a HUGE Black Bird of Paradise. It was at the Hotel. I bet it was 20 ft tall. Their were many of them around the area. All the trees and foliage were many, many years old. The property was full of beautiful mature tropical plants.

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Finally we hopped back on the Trolley ready to head back home. We knew the Trolley would cross the street where we would be near our hotel. I asked the nice driver if he could leave us off their…...He kindly said…..”NO”.….He couldn’t do that because of insurance purposes. So we finally arrived back at Balboa Park and slowly, slowly walked back through the park back to 6th street, and headed down about another 6 streets to our hotel…….WE WERE DEAD.….I soon discovered I had blisters on both feet. Oh boy…..We had another day to go....So I sent Rich to 7-11 for a box of bandaids…..Yes….That will do the trick for tomorrow. So I checked my phone…..almost 15,000 steps which logged as around 5 miles…… no wonder I had blisters…..

So what’s on the agenda for tomorrow???……..

Land and Sea Duck ride on the Bay…….

Scenic 2 hour boat ride of North and South Bay.

Mosquitoes, & Creepy South Texan Bugs

Their are so many different species of bugs. They all have their place in this world to be beneficial in the chain of life and preservation of our ecosystem. They are useful as food in the food chain, they pollinate flowering plants, some produce useful substances like honey, wax, and silk. They also help as decomposers, and help create top soils full of nutrients…….Yes….That’s True…..Having pointed all that out….It doesn’t mean I have to like them……Yuck….I Hate Them……They are ugly, some are aggressive and some just want to be left alone…..I still Don’t like them.

Living in Illinois, I grew up with our bugs. Mosquitoes, ants, spiders, bees, wasps and all those nuisance bugs. Now down here in Texas I have learned all about the bugs that are common in this area.

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The first bug I experienced was the awful…..”Palmetto Bug”…..Alias, Cockroach. I found out they are everywhere. We,ve had them in the trailer, in the hall. Their everywhere. I grew up thinking if you had Cockroaches, it was because you were a bad housekeeper, to say it politely. Not down here. It turns out they love the hot tropical climate. They like to hang out in Palm trees, (hence their nick name) wood, and composting leaf areas. They are really an American cockroach. The can grow up to 1 1/2” long……They are gross. Everyone down here sprays their trailers once or twice a year. The park has the bug man come every month. They still get in and die. My first experience was late at nite. I was home alone watching tv in the MH with only the TV on and suddenly one swiftly crawled across my neck. I was terrified and scared cause I didn’t know what it was at first. They also like to hide in dark places like shoes. One morning, I put on my Sketchers. I didnt notice anything all day but, upon taking them off, I seen BIG dark flakes on the bottom of my socks. Ohhhh, did it STINK….. A Cockroach had died in my shoe. I had walked and squished him all day. ….Ewwww…So GROSS….So now I always turn my shoes upside down before putting them on. They usually come out at nite. The best thing about them is they die after a few days inside……

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The only good cockroach is a DEAD COCKROACH…..They always die upside down. The bug man told me, as they start to die, their legs get weak. They give out and flip over and finish dying legs up…….Its true….I’ve seen them upside down and still moving their legs…..TOO BAD.So what is the purpose of a Cockroach….They help with composting of leafy materials and top soil. They add nutrients to the soil with their waste. They are also a food source for small reptiles and mammals…...Now that’s a good thing. The more cockroaches that are eaten, the happier I’ll be….lol

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The next yucky one is the Hairy Tarantula. I have only seen one alive. They come out at nite apparently. So now I think I shouldn’t be walking around with flip flops at nite. People talk about seeing them in the park. A year ago, they were delivering a new printer in my office. The serviceman bent down in the corner and found a dead Tarantula. He said it was dead about a month. He said it was so big he wanted to take it home to show his wife. Fortunately I wasn’t their that day. When I heard that, I made the cleaning guy come in a clean all the corners of the room. I was so paranoid their was another one.

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About a month ago, Marge opened up the main office, first thing in the morning and their was a live one in the middle of the floor. She called somebody to come and get it….I would have freaked out…..They look so black and hairy and creepy. Their body is from 1 to 4 inches. Their leg span can be from 3 to 12 inches……People say they won’t bother you. Just leave them be…..”Not in my Office” So what is their purpose…..Tarantulas eat bugs, including crickets and Cockroaches..Yesssssssss…..

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The next freaky creature is the Scorpion. Now this one was in New Braunfels. Scott and Brandy had a reserved a beautiful 3 bedroom complex with his Time Share. This Scorpion was in the middle of the kitchen floor one morning……Sooooo Gross…..So I don’t know if they are in the more desolate areas or not, but I haven’t heard of any in the park. I think they are the scarcest of creatures. They have 8 legs, a set of pinchers, a narrow segmented tail that curves over its back, with a venomous stinger on the end. They are poisonous but not deadly. They prefer deserts and semi arid regions. Most hide under logs, rocks, boards and clutter. So what ever is the purpose of this disgusting creature...….It also eats insects and small vertebrae.

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Now this little cute guy is a GECKO…..Upon looking this guy up, he is actually called a lizard, proper name Brown Anole. They grow as long as 9 inches long. These guys love the heat. You don’t see them so much in the winter, but in the summer, they are everywhere. They just flutter around and crawl up everything in site. They have sticky toe pads.

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I came out the back door one day this one was just sitting their watching me. The orange flap of skin extends and then retracts. It is called a Dewlap. It is used to mark their territory or to attract their mate.

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I walked into my office about a month ago and seen something out of the corner of my. I seen this little guy jump up on my printer. lol. I didn’t mind him like I did the Tarantula. I left him their and closed the door. Their was plenty of room under the door for him to escape. The last bug is the awful Mosquitos. They are everywhere. Especially since we had a heavy rain. I can’t even walk outside cause they will take you away.

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About a month or more ago, the City of Harlingen, along with the school started a study on Mosquitoes. They will be looking for Zika and the West Nile Virus carriers. Out of the 10 buckets placed through out the park, we are fortunate to have one put in our yard.

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They came at first once a week. Now they are coming 2 or more times a week according to the life stages of the mosquito. They check each bucket for mosquitoes. The take a black sticky ring out of the top and examine it closely

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The spread it out and collect a sampling of mosquitoes and attach it to a paper with grids. They can look at these with their naked eye and know exactly if it is the type that carries the Zika Virus or any other virus.

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In asking about the Zika carriers, they showed me the small vials. They said they now have to put the virus carriers in these vials and isolate them. He’s even found them at my house….. I do want to make it clear. They have not found the virus, just the type of mosquitos that can carry it.……They can look close with their naked eye and tell the difference in the mosquitoes…..Right now, they are collecting eggs. This will be going on for the next year.

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Facts from Wikipedia.…..Did you know Mosquito is Spanish for “Small Fly”….Their are 3500 species. These little pests have been documented to have been around 226 million years ago. Their are 4 stages of their life cycle, Egg, Larva, Pupa, and Adult. The first 3 stages take place in standing water or lakes and marshes. Each stage last 5 to 14 days. We all know about the adult stage. The male lives typically 5 to 7 days. The female lives up to 14 days. The female after obtaining a full blood sucking meal….WHICH IS US….will rest while the blood is digested and the eggs are developed. Then the female will lay the eggs, (100 to 200). Then this cycle which is only several days will be repeated. A mosquito can produce up to 1000 or more eggs in a life time……WOW, no wonder their are so many of these little nuisance bugs…..So what is the lesson here. Dump out all standing water after a rain. Don’t let them breed. Every time you kill a blood sucking bug on your arm, you have saved yourself up to 1000 bugs in your neighborhood….lol…

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So what is the purpose of a mosquito.….I didn’t think of them as useful. But they are. The fish, frogs, birds and bats eat the eggs in the water. They are a food source. I guess their is a use and a reason for all of Gods creatures on the earth…..I just don’t like some of them…..

Cameron is “21”

My Letter To Cameron On His “21” Birthday….

Cameron turned “21” on June 11 2019. What does turning that all important birthday mean? When you are young, you can’t wait. It seems that, that is when the whole world opens up to you. You are old enough to do as you please. You don’t have to do anything your parents want you to. You can go wherever you want and buy anything. You are FREE to explore anything, anywhere. You can now legally drink, gamble, smoke, rent a room in a hotel and rent a car…..The World is Now Yours…….You are “ETERNAL”

Now, what does it really mean….lol….Your now an Adult. You are legally of age…..yes…but you are legally responsible for everything you do. Your parents aren’t responsible for you anymore. They don’t have to pay your way. You have to work and pay your own bills. At first its really cool, but eventually you learn that the money sure doesn’t stretch when you have to support yourself. Yes life begins to get real. You can buy any vehicle you want, but now your also responsible for payments and insurance and repairs.

Yes Cameron, that is where you are now. You have come so far in the last several years. You are now becoming that man. Life can be tuff. But…..Remember, it can be 2 steps forward, but at any time it may be 1 step backwards. Learn from your mistakes. Take ownership of them. Treat each one as a learning experience. Look at each one without blinders and learn. Then take the 2 steps forward again. Life can be harsh at times, but keep trying to find your niche in life. You will with time...…………..But how did it all begin?

You were born the morning of June 11, 1998. Your were our first grandchild. I remember your mom came home from her doctors appointment and announced she was in labor….lol…she was so excited. She didn’t feel the contractions yet. She wanted to go to Mendota to Plano Molding where we all worked and tell everyone, which she did. She came home all excited. We went to the Spring Valley Hospital late at nite on June 10. They put your mom in the labor/delivery room. At first she was really in a good mood and happy, as they let her get out of bed to walk around. Then we had a crabby nurse that made her stay in bed. At that point it became harder. She wanted to walk and the nasty nurse said no…:Stay in bed”….The early morning hours went by. Early in the morning I went down to the end of the hall to make a phone call. After the call I came out to the hall and I thought I heard a baby crying. I seen the nurse at the other end motioning to me to hurry. Here it was your mom screaming for me…..“Mom…..Mom”….lol….You finally came into the world around 9:30 am. I forget how much you weighed, but you were perfect….and bald….lol….Seems like all our baby’s start bald….Its that blonde hair.

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We all took turns taking care of you as we all worked. Tina and your mom had a lot of fun dressing you up. You and your mom lived with us a number of years. Your first birthday came and we had big Birthday Party.

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Your mom bought you your first Harley.…A handmade Motorcycle rocking horse…..Your Grandma and Grandpa on your dads side came also. Ruth and Steve Rydz.

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They surely enjoyed being their and celebrating with us. It wasn’t soon after, they got sick and couldn’t travel out of LaSalle anymore. During this time you were just a skinny peanut, still with barely any blonde hair.

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We took so many cool pictures of you. You finally started growing the blondest hair. Christmas time was really fun. We all spoiled you, and Santa was “ALIVE” in our house again.

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Aunt Tina let you drive….lol…

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Santa came to visit on Christmas…..“You Really Believed in him”.…It was really grandpa. He went downstairs and dressed up in his newly purchased Santa Suit. He went out the back basement door carrying some bells. I waited near the front door and heard Santa coming shaking the bells. He came in with his bag of toys. You sat on the chair with him. He gave you the toys and when it was time to leave, you had to kiss him good bye. It was all so sweet. Then Santa went out the front door, went around back and in the basement door. Grandpa then came upstairs and found out he missed Santa…..lol….It was so much fun. Grandpa played Santa even after you moved. I remember in Depue sitting a block away in the car at 5am waiting for Santa to come back from bringing in the toys. Your mom had woken you up and had you peek through the crack in the door. She told you to be very quite so Santa wouldn’t know you were peeking. You watched as Santa came in and left the toys under the tree. As soon as Santa left, you called us and said Santa had come. You were so excited and wanted us to come over. Well we showed up about 10 minutes later even though it was a half hour drive from our house in McNabb……lol…I don’t think you ever knew for years….It was funny to be sitting at the end of the block in the car at 5am, and see Grandpa dressed as Santa walking down the street on Christmas morning, with a full bag. Cars would come by and slow and just look at him…..Hilarious…..

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This was probably one of my most remembered birthdays when you were young. Grandpa bought you a battery powered motorcycle. You also received a jacket and hat and looked so cool…..Like a real Harley Dude…..You loved to wear those sun glasses and run all over in the yard.

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During that time we also had a parakeet. Tweety was a “Awesome” bird. We let him fly all over the house. He would take baths in the sink, eat off our plates, drink from our glasses, sit on our heads and crawl all over us. He was so much fun.

You and your mom moved to Granville for awhile and managed some apartments and then to Depue. That is where you started School.

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You played Summer Soccer for only one Summer…..This was not going to be your sport of choice

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You had a best friend Larry. He was about 2 years younger than you. He lived 2 houses away. You both played a lot together. Most of the kids in town were Mexicans, and you were both little white boys. You really formed a bond with Larry. Unfortunately, Larry had Asthma. He had an attack one evening and was rushed to the hospital. Unfortunately he passed away. He was probably only about 10. This hit you hard. I took you to the wake, not so sure if you went to the funeral but I think you did. I remember, on the way to the wake, we seen a rainbow in the sky. I told you it was a Rainbow for Larry to enter Heaven. You wanted to visit the cemetery, and we did several times after that. You saved his picture and remembered and talked about him through the years. This year Larry would have graduated High School. The class had an empty chair at the ceremony in remembrance of him, and you even went to graduation…...You never forgot your Childhood friend.

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During the years in Depue, Cassidy was born. You were a good Brother. You were a big help to your mom with getting diapers and holding her bottle. As you grew older, you started to go on vacations with us. You were such a hyper little boy, but we put you in the car and you settled down and loved traveling. We took you to Albuquerque several times to visit family. My dad had remarried Grace my step mom. So now I had 4 Step brothers 1 step sister and 1 half brother. Grace was an Awesome lady and always made us feel at home and part of her family.

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On the way we stopped at the Cadillac Ranch on the west side of Amarillo Tx. A number of Cadillacs are buried nose down in the dirt. Everyone stops and spray paints their name or a saying. We found some cans laying around so we painted also. Of course a favorite stop on these trips was McDonalds.

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My favorite picture of your family was when Scott and Tasha were married. We took group pictures in the church. Gosh, you all looked so nice in your dress up clothes. You were in a Tux because you were the ring bearer. So Handsome.

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Cassidy and you did a lot of fighting as brothers and sisters do, but you also had some fun times together also. Your Mom moved you all to Spring Valley. It was so much more convenient for work, shopping and much better driving conditions in the winter. Grandpa always spoiled you. He always bought you the fun things that cost money….lol…

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He bought you a real 4 wheeler. You loved your 4 wheeler. You rode it all around the yard and up and down the edge of the field in back. Probably in it also….lol…

Sometime during this time I decided to take you out for a driving lesson. We were over by Granville, Hennepin area. You were a big boy for 12, you looked 16 behind the seat. I had you start to drive around the Florid area. You started off slow, and you did so well. It was hard to believe you had never driven before. You definitely had the knack to drive and felt comfortable. I let you drive all the black top roads back to McNabb and all the way home……Then I told you mom what we did…..OMG….She was so mad…”What were you thinking” she said. I laughed at her…..He had to learn, and he was a natural.

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Grandpa turned 60 and had a party at Steweys Bar in the Valley. It was a surprise party. This picture was early in the evening. Later Scott was still their after we left and others. He became the life of the party and was on the bar…..minus a Shirt…..OMG...I do have pictures. Carly was born in the Valley and you gained another sister.

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Your mom was in Nursing School about that time. She depended on all of us to help with her including you. You were again a good brother. In fact you have been so good with her that she looks up you as a father figure. You are so patient with her, and share so much of your time.

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You graduated 8th Grade from JFK Elementary in Spring Valley. We all came including Aunt Tina, and Uncle Scott.

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You then attended Hall High School and tried out for football. You only played one year and decided it wasn’t for you. but at least you tried.

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You were invited to a school dance with Maddie Dose. She is the daughter of one of your moms very good friends, Jamie. You and Maddie were born around the same time. Jamie and your mom were very close in your early years and you both grew up spending much time with each other. You were both attending different schools. You both looked so nice. You picked out that special hat to wear with your suit. You went on to attend St. Bedes Academy, but eventually earned your GED.

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South Padre Island.…We rented this Jeep, Grandpa let you drive it on the beach

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You decided that a GED was the route to take and you proceeded ahead to prove to yourself and all of us that you were serious. You then enrolled in CDL Truck Driving School at College. With the help of Scott, you graduated and obtained your CDL license ……Quite a feat for an 18 year old. You started Volunteering for McNabb Fire Dept. around 2 years ago and recently, Bureau Fire Dept.

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You have also just graduated after much hard work with your EMT Basic. This took a lot of hard work, and now your working on getting your probation hours in so you can continue in this area for a career.

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Uncle Scott and Brandy were their to Celebrate with you

So continue on Cameron. “21” years old. You have accomplished a lot. I know you have learned a lot also. So keep striving forward. Remember, for every 2 steps forward, you may take a step back…..take ownership, examine, learn from it, and proceed forward. You WILL find your niche in life…….

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Just Follow Your Dream……Life Can Take You Where Ever You Want it To Go…..Its a lot of hard work, but …..Anything Is Possible…..

Vacations Over, Everyone is Home…..Part 5

Tina and the kids returned home just before Easter. Is really funny how much kids pick up. The are so impressionable. The day after they return home, Tina walked into the kitchen.

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Their was Austin wiping his shoes. Tina asked him “What are you doing”. He said “I’m shinning my shoes. That’s what all the little Mexican boys do.”…..lol…..Can you imagine of all things, that is what he picked up in Mexico. He watched the little Mexican boys walking the streets with their box of shoe shine products and a stool, trying to make a dollar. Easter was the following weekend. Tina went shopping and amongst all the things she bought for Easter….Guess What….

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Shoe Shine Kit….Everything he needs to wash, wax, buff and shine shoes….What a nut…lol…Look how excited he is.

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So he proceeded to shine Mileys shoes and then the boots. He is such a character. They went camping out at Fish and Fun, and he got to do what he loves best…..

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He’s a Fisherman. This is what he loves to do…..Like Father….Like Son….He is a true Dolder.. He loves fishing, hunting, and the great outdoors. Ed and Grandpa Dan are teaching him well. Now Miley had an assignment at school to write a paragraph using contractions for English.20190616_2054356957540398378968055.jpg

She fell in “LOVE” with Texas……This is what it says……………….

“I’m hoping I can go back to Texas to see family. My mom loves it there. She’ll say yes. We’re gonna have such a fun time. I can’t wait. My dad hates heat so he’s not gonna go. Isn’t it fun in Texas? Aren’t you gonna answer me? Anyway won’t Texas be Fun.”

I hope they do come back soon. We Will Have A Fun Time.

Now Carly came home from school one day and wrote a story. Her First grade class was learning about Authors. Carly had picked out Gail Rollo, my friend here at the Park, as she met her the last time they were here. Gail Rollo wrote and published her book Gorilla of My Dreams. In fact her 2nd book in the series has just been released for sale on Amazon. Tammy made a video of Carly reading her story.

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It was a full page, front and back. It was so cute. She really did good. I sent the video to Gail, and she was so happy that she used her imagination. Meeting Gail and learning about Authors had allowed Carly to unleash her imagination a write a story. Something she probably never thought about before.

Tammy decided to order some T Shirts to remember the trip. Her and Connie had some ……Quality…… Time …..lol….. in the car on the way down, and on the way back…..The official saying that became a JOKE was…..“Get in the Car Connie”…..

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So these cool shirts finally came in. Tammy surprised Connie with hers. They all had a good laugh.

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So Texas Mexico “2019” is now OFFICIALLY OVER…….Hopefully they all come back again. But I bet it will be separately next time…..lol…..

“GET IN THE CAR CONNIE”

Connie, Tammy and the Kids Last Days of Vacation…….Part 4

Now that Tina and the kids had left, things quieted down a bit.  I took a day to take Connie site seeing and shopping.  Our first stop was the Museum of Arts and Heritage.  It contains the actual house belonging to the founder of Harlingen, Lon C Hill.  Also their was the first Hospital of Harlingen and the Stage Coach Stop that was moved in from several miles out in the country.  Then on to the Iwo Jima Memorial.20190418_1158548738467382576573432.jpg

This is such an impressive site to see.  It is the original first sculpture.  It is the clay cast that was made to mold the bronze Memorial in Arlington Cemetery, Washington DC.  It was a picture that was taken by an AP news photographer, of 4 soldiers raising the flag of the United States at the battle of Iwo Jima against the Japanese in WW II.  It was later in years made into a sculpture to honor our soldiers in battle. 20190418_1159311359531357824814867.jpg

One of the flag raisers was Corporal Harlon H Block, just a young man from  a little town west of here, Weslaco Texas.  He is buried at this site.  20190418_1208047820625982269052270.jpg

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Little did he know he would be killed in battle 3 days later.  This sculpture was given to the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen for several reasons.  1.  The Marine Military Academy was across the street.  2.  The street in between was already called Iwo Jima Blvd.  3.  Harlon Block was a home town boy.  It arrived on 10 semi flat beds in 1981 and was reconstructed.  In between the sculpture and the Military Academy lies a beautiful parade grounds used by the Academy for Military Parades.  Many visitors from Harlingen as well as far away including the students families come to view the Parades.  Nearby is a small but wonderful Museum filled with a wealth of historical memorabilia from World War II.  Also we seen a 32 minute black and white slide show, many actual shots of the Battle of Iwo Jima.  I never get tired of watching it.  It is so impressive and informative as to the reality of the war.

We drove across the street and slowly drove thru the Marine Military Academy.  I showed Connie the dorms, Gymnasium, Cafeteria, Class rooms and many others.  The school is a private college preparatory academy for classes 7th – 12th.  It is extremely expensive to attend therefore I have been told the average stay for a student is 2 years.  If the student attends all 6 years, they will likely graduate with an entrance into West Point or any other High ranking college, graduating with a very high rank.  Next we went shopping.  Amongst others Connie wanted to do Burlington Coat Factory.  First time for me.  We seen lots of bargain stuff.  I bought Carly an outfit.20190418_1711324737293413788877434.jpg

Of course we found something else.  This cool unicorn trunk to put stuff in.  We also went back to the Island to the new Sea Turtle Inc.  They rescue and treat the injured and keep the ones that cannot be rereleased in the waters.  It is a new building with a number of huge tanks for the ones that have found their forever home.20190419_1307384700962464836390273.jpg

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This one is Gerry.….Hes been here since 1980 and was on Johnny Carson.

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This one is Allison, she arrived in 2005 and has rudder attached to her back.  She is missing 3 of her 4 flippers. 20190419_1340591719390303973342248.jpg

Their was a very interesting display on the garbage that is found in the ocean waters and how dangerous it is to animals.  So much plastic is thrown overboard or washed out to sea.  The turtles think it is food and take bites.  It is so dangerous for them to ingest.

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The girls found a tank with a bubble in the bottom.  They crawled in from underneath.  It looked like they were in the tanks.  From their we went to the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center.20190419_1437415067563501753533916.jpg

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It is a beautiful place full of birds, butterflies, and some alligators.  Its trails are all boardwalks that are built above the ground.  The birds, gators and wildlife have so much area to roam and be free and we are above them and…..SAFE…..20190419_1458192968984700477143471.jpg

This was a sleeping Alligator.  Or at least he looked like it.  He never moved.

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This was a beautiful walk out to the pier.  This was all shallow water full of crab, fish snails and ducks. 20190419_1515471042480478050570140.jpg

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Such a beautiful view of the bridge coming from Port of Isabel to the island in the distance.  On the walk we seen several turtles.  They loved to dig in the mud. 20190419_1552485231534597102920834.jpg

Many bird watchers were their with their binoculars.  The area was full of lush foliage that was a home and haven for birds and wildlife.  We came across 1 more pier and found another sleeping alligator.  He was right next to the post and never moved.  He was much smaller than the other one.20190419_1603116609505219380753557.jpg

Finally after a full day, time to head home.  The next day we took off to Boca Chica Beach again.  Tammy loves that place because she can drive down the beach in her jeep.  We went through Brownsville and past the Border Patrol check point, past Space X again and right down to the beach entrance.  I wouldn’t let her go south as that was Mexico.  So we went north on the beach.  It was such a beautiful day.  I had also checked the Tide report.  I certainly didn’t want to be marooned on the beach.  We drove 4 or 5 miles on the beach, watched the ocean waves beside us, passing  vehicles fishing and grilling out.  Just enjoying a fun day of sun and water.  We approached the end and found ourselves in front of the Port Of Brownsville inlet.  Just across from us was South padre Island.

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It was so pretty.  We parked the Jeep and climbed up the big concrete/stone retaining wall.  Right in front of us was South Padre Island and one of the Dolphin Watch Cruises.

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It was windy but so pretty.  Behind us was a number of houses on a hill.

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These houses do not have any utilities to them.  They are all owned by private owners.  All water has to be trucked in from Brownsville.  They all require generators for power.  We are told when you take the Dolphin tours that if these houses are ever demolished in a hurricane, the government will not let them be rebuilt.  They don’t want them their.  So far they seem to be fine.  What a great Vacation home away from civilization.  But I bet the weather is brutal at times.  It gets the direct wind and rain from the Gulf.  We turned around and started driving back slowly.  Tammy, Connie and Carly started walking the beach while I drove the Jeep.

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It was so beautiful watching them walk, listening to the waves roll in from the ocean.  The wind blew and the sea gulls swooped and fly from the shore line to up in the air, chasing anything that looked like food. 20190419_1911514184852462720873849.jpg

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I came upon a log that had been washed to shore.  It had apparently been submerged for a long time.  It was full of barnacles that had attached to it.  I had never seen them before.  Pretty interesting. 20190419_191923165950046638024157.jpg

It was nearing time to go.  We still had to go over and visit my friend Gail Rollo.  She has written a series of Childrens books.  I bought Carly one last year and now her and Tammy wanted to purchase one for her First grade Class.

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Gail was so Happy to see us and Carly Gail dedicated a book to the first grade class.  Carly was so excited.  She read the whole book to Gail and all of us.

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She really reads well for only first grade.  Gail has just released her 2nd book in the series.  Its called …..”Gorilla of My Dreams”……Its a dream she had as a little girl and has never forgotten it.  She has self published her books and they are available on Amazon as well as many book stores.  She is an ….”Awesome”….. lady.  You can also check her out on Facebook as well as Amazon.  Finally it was Easter Sunday and time for them to go.  We went to Golden Corral for Breakfast.  When we came home guess who had been their…The Easter Bunny…

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Carly was so happy.  She thought the Easter Bunny might miss her.  She got her bag and started collecting all her eggs and surprises.  The Easter Bunny left Cassidy her new hair iron that she has been wanting.  Now they had to pack.  You  would never believe all the stuff they had to pack.  The little trailer was so loaded down.  They had bought so much, including bags of fruit.  They also brought back the things Tina had bought that she couldn’t put on the plane. 20190421_1251364733610969203983122.jpg

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Finally it was time for them to leave.  Their was just enough room the kids to sit.  After Hugs and Good Byes they took off loaded to the hilt.  24 hours later they pulled into home again.  I can’t imagine driving with her,  packed in tight like the kids were, but it is what they do.….lol….. and Connie survived….

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“GET IN THE CAR CONNIE !!!!!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tammy & Tina, Their Trip Down Boca Chica Beach…..Part 3

We packed up all our stuff from our fun day at SPI Beach, our shells, towels, beach chair, and tent, etc. Rich, Connie, Cassidy and I went home. We were tired. The girls and the 3 little ones decided to go for a drive on the beach in Tammy’s 4 wheel drive Jeep. Last year Tammy found Beach Access 6, and drove on the beach for miles. On the trip back she got stuck in the sand trying to exit the access. She had to get help to pull her out. So now they want to do this again.…..Crazy…..Tammy drove all the way north on the main and only road passing the last of the hotels and restaurants, horse back ridding, Zip Line and all the beach Accesses.

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Eventually the rode ends, and it becomes just sand. Because of the winds, the road blows over and covers with sand. The plows have to plow every so often to keep it open. They found beach Access 6 and found they are charging now to gain access with your vehicle. So they decided against that. But of course their is another place to drive on the Beach. Boca Chica Beach is further south, the other side of Brownsville on the Mexican Border. It is probably about a 45 minute drive from Padre. They have to drive around the Port of Brownsville which is a 17 mile man made deep water sea port. This takes you into Brownsville to get to the other side. Then you follow the Port on the south side all the way back out to the Gulf. This area is very large wildlife refuge, full of Wildlife, Dunes and secluded beaches. Their is 1 small Village, Boca Chica Village that was built in the 70’s. It consists of 1 street with a boulevard of Palm trees down the middle. The ranch houses on each side are falling in a state of disrepair.

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A hurricane came through many years ago, and destroyed all their utilities. Now the homes that are occupied have generators and water tanks. It is quite a unique little village that is simply standing still with time…………...until now.

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Stargate Office

Right next door we have a new development. Space X, owned by Elan Musk. Several years ago we heard of the possibility of this being a Space Launch site. Finally this past year they have started building. Their are 2 sites. The first one is just west of the Village.

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The Launch site is further east past the Village and almost to the Beach. They have been building what they call a Hopper. It is not the actual rocket ship, but a test vehicle to test the engines. It is tethered at all times. Last January we had severe winds and the tethers broke and it fell over. Really rather funny I thought. The nose cone was broken. Several weeks before the girls came they started testing. They fire up the engines and keep it tethered to the ground, running their tests. When this happens the road coming out of Brownsville (the only road) is closed to all traffic.

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Right past the Launch site is the opening to the beach. The road just dead ends on the beach on the other side of the dunes……Absolutely beautiful……Now Tammy was on the beach. She decided to head south…..Oh No…..What is south????,………Mexico, mouth of the Rio Grande River. I‘m not sure if they thought of that at first. On the way down they stopped and the kids collected shells.

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Dead Jellyfish like the one that stung Mileys leg.

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Kids had a great time. Finally they arrived at a point where the beach ended. They looked across the river area and seen cars and people walking around. It didn’t register with them yet that they were at the mouth of the river and Mexico was on the other side.

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As they sat their watching, a car drove up and parked in front of them. Suddenly they seen a boat appear on the shore. 2 women got out and got in the car……OMG….It suddenly hit them…….They just witnessed 2 illegals crossing the river to the US. They better get out of their. They turned around and high tailed it back up the beach. Suddenly the car was right behind them. They were worried as to what their intentions were. Tammy got over to one side and the car flew by them up the beach…..Whooow….They were safe. They drove all the way back towards Brownsville. Several miles before you enter Brownsville, their is a Border Check point. As they approached they seen the car stopped. They stopped for the officers to check them. They seen one of the ladies being escorted into the office. The girls told the agents what they had just seen. The officer asked, “Was their just one lady?” They said “No their was 2 that got out of a boat”.….the agent said……“Ohhhhhh, Thank You, Have a Nice Day” Away they drove back into Brownsville and civilization and back home.

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Now theirs 2 reasons I would not have done this. First the obvious one is the Illegals. They were crazy to be near that desolate area, …..ESPECIALLY IN THE EVENING AND OUT OF STATE PLATES...….and a pretty red Jeep with 2 women and kids in it…..Who knows what could have happened to them. Secondly, …...THE TIDE….If you look at those beach pictures, when the tide comes up, their is no where to go as their are high sand dunes. They had no idea when the high tide comes in. It is around 5 miles or so down the beach to the Rio Grande. They could have been marooned.

They finally returned home after dark. The kids came in whimpering. Suddenly they realized they have gotten sunburned. As the moms took off their shirts, the whimpers became crying…..lol….Then out came the lotion and spray. The crying escalated into some screaming……lol….Miley took it pretty well but Carly was really hurting. They were so red. They all slept in the living room on the sofa recliners. In the morning the lotion and spraying process was repeated. Poor Carly’s ears looked like Dr. Spock. They had a huge blister on the top of each ear. We decided to keep them home for the next 2 days. We broke out the Adult Coloring books and pencils. They played Airport in the bedroom. I walked in and Miley was selling tickets to Austin. He bought a ticket, and Miley told him to enter and board the plane.….So Cute…..

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The kids spent lots of time in Grandpas new Man Cave watching TV. I stayed home with the kids while the girls went to Walmart, the outlet mall, and several flea mkts. Rich went back to Progresso with them, and Tina bought several MK purses for her friend. We finally let them go back into the Spa. They sure heal fast.

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Austin sporting his new Deer Head…..Crazy Kid….

Back home Tina is a member of her local Rotary Club. I contacted our local Rotary that has adopted our park for the Flag Sponsorship Program and arranged for her to attend a meeting as a visiting Rotarian.

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She brought a flag from her Club and a Flag exchange was done at the meeting. I was invited along, and found it very interesting to be present. Thanks to the North Harlingen Rotary Club, Landon Jennings for inviting us. Finally Tina and the kids week was over. She was flying out on Wednesday. It was such a fast week. Tammy was staying until Sunday.

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We drove them to the airport and let them off at the door after hugs and goodbyes. They had had such a good time. The kids didn’t want to go. Tina was hoping the plane was overbooked and she could take a voucher. The week before she heard they were offering $1000 Vouchers..But no such luck….The Plane was full but not overly full. We drove back home and Tina said the kids wanted us to take a picture of their plane. We are only a mile away so we patiently waited and their they went…….

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Back in Chicago with Ed picking them up….and of course, DEE DEE

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Now we have a few more days of fun with Tammy, Cassidy, Carly and Aunt Connie.

.……Its Not Over Yet…….

I

Tammy, Aunt Connie, and the Kids Finally Arrived….Part 2….

Tammy, Cassidy, Carly and Aunt Connie arrived on Friday nite around 6pm. They had left northern Illinois the nite before around 6pm. ….. Ohhhhh what a ride.…24 hours in the car, over 1,200 miles nonstop, except for food and gas. Connie had worked that day, and the girls had school. Tammy worked the nite before and had tried to sleep that afternoon. Tammy picked up the girls and last was Connie. Uncle Brian was their to see them off.

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Tammy and the kids had been here before, but this would be Connie’s‘ first time. She was very excited and if you know Connie, you would realize she had to bless the car for the trip.

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She has oils and things…lol...really not sure what all...but after they were all blest and the car was safe, away they went pulling Tammy’s new Camper. She was so excited to bring it. She wanted to set it up just like she was camping. Her and Carly were going to sleep in it.

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It is a little teardrop camper. She has graduated from tent camping to this. You can’t stand in it but it sleeps 2 and has a tv inside. The back end opens into an outside kitchenette, complete with her much needed coffee pot. The former owner also threw in a large screen tent that encompasses the back end into a screen room. Tammy drove for 24 hours, only stopping for gas, coffee and food. She tried to sleep once but after a short time they took off again. Connie of course stayed awake, and made sure Tammy was alert at all times. All I can say….”Glad I wasn’t in that car”….lol….Those 2 together when their both tired is not a good thing.

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But after 24 hours they pulled in extremely tired. Tammy insisted on setting up her camper. The cousins were glad to be back together.

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We spent an evening of eating, touring the park, taking Connie up to her trailer that she was sharing with Tina, and discussed our plans for the next day. But they were so tired they went to bed early….

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The kids decided to try out the Spa right by us. The next day was a very busy one. We decided to head to Progresso Mexico. Now this past month has been full of news of the US Government threatening to shut down the borders. The illegals, from many different countries, are coming up through Mexico in the thousands and crossing. The Border Patrol has been so busy trying to stop them, and processing the ones that make it across. Their are so many escaping from their countries from poverty and the threat of harm and murder of their families. Most are just looking for a better life. But also their are the criminals, drug runners for the Cartel and many other not so nice people. The government has put up miles of coiled barbed wire, and also new gates on the bridges. At Progresso, their are now swing gates installed in the middle of the bridge for the car lanes as well as the walk lane. They can now totally close down the bridge if they wish. Around 300 Agents were taken from our area to help other areas with processing of the illegals. Now Progresso bridge is running with a skeleton shift. We usually drive across and the wait time has been around 1 hour to get back in the USA. We decided to walk across as their were 2 cars of us. Everyone had passports but Connie. We had verified she could use her Birth Certificate and Drivers License for ID. We parked our cars and started the walk. Now it isn’t really far. The parking lots are right by the bridge and after you cross the bridge you are already in the town of Progresso. We stopped in the middle of the bridge over the Rio Grande River where the plaque is….The official Border.

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Tina, Miley and Austin, hamming it up

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Rich and Connie….Brother and Sister

Everyone stops to take these traditional pictures…..Finally walking across to the other side of the bridge the kids seen the hats being shoved through the bridge railings. On the other side was Mexicans begging for money. If you looked down below you would see at least 10 to 15 people begging…..”Hey lady, Quarter, Quarter Quarter”….They would be sitting or roaming around waiting for people to throw change over the railing. Finally we entered into Progresso, went through the turnstyles depositing 4 quarters and we started shopping. We held on to the kids hands and warned them to always stay close. Our first stop was at a small plaza that Tammy had been to last year.

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Their was another Artist spray painter their. Cassidy picked out a picture and had him paint it on a dish. It is so cool to watch them paint. It looks so easy. We stopped for a drink at Poncho’s Bar inside one of the stores.

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Connie looks drunk doesn’t she?……lol…But she’s not. We headed down to our Pharmacy and introduced Connie to our girl……Its like a candy store. The prices are so cheap and all stacked like Walmart. It is just so hard to understand why Mexico can sell these drugs so cheap compared to the US. No wonder the US citizens flock to Mexico to buy their meds. United States government and Drug Company’s are raping the US citizens for their meds to sustain their live’s. Many people go without because they can’t afford to pay the price. Even dental work is cheap. Theirs a dozen dentists every block. Many are trained and licensed in the US. You can get a set of dentures anywhere from $350 up. You can get them in a couple of days depending on when the dental lab is open. We actually have people come and stay at the park just so they can get all their dental work done in Mexico.

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We shopped some more, Tina was looking at all the MK purses, Austin found a deer head with antlers that he wanted. Finally we decided it was time to head back. We made our way through all the people back to the bridge. The car lanes were full. They were in line at least 4 blocks back. At intersections cars butted in. Very frustrating when your driving. A 4 hour wait in a car is common these days. Our Pharmacy girl told us several days before they were backed up to 1 am in the morning. Some even ran out of gas.

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We deposited our 2 quarters to go through the turnsyles. We started walking the bridge, and near the middle it slowed down. Their are 2 Border Patrol at the gates near the middle checking Passports. On this side (Mexican Side), was a number of illegals sitting or laying, waiting to be able to pass over.

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Now normally the would only check your passport on the other side of the bridge. This is a new procedure. Their were so many people that now if you have a scannable passport, you may proceed ahead to the other side where the main Border agents were. All others that would be a manual check like Connie would have to wait in the other line. Her line was backed up. We sent Tammy and Tina and the kids on home and waited for Connie. It was at least an hour for her to get through the first gate in the middle. We then went on to the other end and waited for her their. Finally after over 2 hours of waiting, she finally came out. She had no problems other than the line was so long. We finally arrived back home after an exhausting but fun day. Sunday we headed to South Padre Island. We reserved tickets for the Original Dolphin Watch.

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This is the company I usually use for the park tours. We get discount and their very nice. I was told that the boat we usual use was booked. It is in the back ground and its a double decker. They were putting us on the Diver 1.…It is usually used for Scuba Divers. Well, it was ok but I will never put the park people on it. The kids had fun and that’s what counts. This boat had a large fully enclosed cabin, with a smaller deck on top. We took off towards the Laguna Madre at first to do the Ecology part of the trip first. They throw their nets over board and drag the bottom for 15 minutes. Then they bring them up, sift through the seaweed and debris to see the sea life they found.

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The kids all gathered around. They didn’t bring up to much today, just squid and some other small things. Then we headed out to the jetties, which is the opening to the Gulf of Mexico. We were off to see the Dolphins.

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We stayed down below but the kids mostly stayed on top. It was way to crowded for us. They were able to see the dolphins. Tina managed to get some nice video of them swimming near the boat. The kids really enjoyed it. Finally, time to go back to the dock for our next adventure. We stopped at a souvenir shop first.

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Austin spied this one and wanted to walk into Jaws.…lol..This was the store entrance. We shopped for beach towels, sand toys, and anything fun for the beach. That was were we were headed next…...But where’s DAD?

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LoL……He got bored with all the girls shopping. He went back to the car, got out his chair and hat, got a drink and began people watching……We all laughed at him. Finally after all our purchases, off we were to the beach. We went to a small bar that also had beach access. Boomerang Billy’s had food, drink and our favorite singer, Leslie Blasing. It would be a good place for the adults to enjoy and the kids could go down to the beach. After eating, I went down to beach and brought my newly purchase shade tent. Its big enough to put 2 lawn chairs inside.

But it was really windy and somewhat chilly. It was so peaceful to hear the ocean waves and the seagulls in the air. The kids had a great time playing in the water and building sand castles with their new toys.

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Carly wearing her googles

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The girls had put sun block on them but we didn’t realize at the time what was happening…...They were getting …..”FRIED”….After several hours, we packed up and left. Rich, Connie, Cassidy and I were in our car, and Tammy, Tina, and the 3 little ones in Tammy’s car. We were tired and decided to head home. The girls had other plans. Tammy wanted to ride the beach in her Jeep. She had done that the year before and got stuck. We left them to their own demise. lol If you get stuck, We will be far away, Don’t call us. These girls are way to adventurous.

Well something did happen. The story of the sunburn kids and their latest adventure will be the next blog……All I can say, ……Glad I wasn’t with them…..

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Austin was AMAZED at this fish.

Kids are Coming….Tina & The Kids Flew in First…….Part 1

Several weeks ago, a number of the family came down.  It was a Fabulous 10 days We crammed so much into such a short time.  Last fall Tammy and Tina decided to come down during Spring Break.  Tammy brought Cassidy and CarlyCameron had to work and he also Graduated from EMT Basic.  He is an adult now, so adult rules apply….lol… Tina brought Miley and Austin.  Ed had to work.  Aunt Connie (Rich’s Sister), decided to come with Tammy.  We waited a long time for this.  Tina and the kids and Connie had never been here before.facebook_15568880698765066574729503143414.jpg

Tina arrived on Wed.  Her and the Kids flew into the Valley International Airport which is only a mile from us.  Frontier Airlines started flying nonstop from Chicago O’hare  last fall.  Tina was able to by 3 round trip tickets, for around $400.  That includes an extra charge for the seats, so they could all sit together.  The drawback was no carry on, only a small back pack.  Everything else would be an extra charge.  So they all layered up their clothes….That is a Phenomenal price….Especially for non stop…

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The kids hadn’t flown before so they were so excited.   Aunt Beth (Ed’s Sister), drove them to Chicago.  Its probably at least a 2 hour + ride.  Beth and Ed will be babysitting poor little DeeDee.  It will be the first time her mom and kids leave her for a week.  The flight down was only a little over 3 hours.  We watched the plane on the Flight App on the phone.  Pretty cool.  You can tell exactly where they are, when they land.  We went to the Airport just before they landed.  They have just remodeled  the airport and it is really beautiful.  Small but very nice and easy to get around.  They arrived right on time.   From cold weather to 85 degrees in 3 hours.

They were so excited to be here.  We left and came straight home so they could take off some of their layers of clothes….We put them in a rental for the week where they would have space.  The trailer is a 2 bed, 2 bath.  Tina and the kids would have one bedroom and Connie would have the other one when they came.20190504_0735472891828742097800470.jpg

We gave them a tour of the park.  Of course the kids had to take turns driving the golf cart.  We went past the pool and spa’s, and then went and ate supper at a Mexican Restaurant, Vegas Café, and stopped at the Dollar Store to pick up some essentials on the way back home. facebook_15568885783095479797923792054485.jpg

Of course we had to enjoy the spa that is about 20 feet from us across the fence.  After a nice relaxing evening, sitting out, we all went to bed.  Thursday we went to Progresso Mexico.  This would also be a first for Tina.  In recent weeks, their has been news articles that President Trump would close all borders.  All the illegals are crossing in the thousands and looking for asylum.  This particular border at Progresso really doesn’t have that much of a problem.  That is more west and in California.  Many of them are crossing the river here to sneak across, not at the bridges.  Here at the Progresso crossing they have installed large gates in the middle of the bridge for the cars as well as the Pedestrian traffic.  I was told they were for closing if the Caravans decided to rush the bridge all at one time.  But this illegal activity to the west is calling for more Border Patrol in other areas.  We were told they have taken around 300 agents and transferred them to other areas to help patrol and processing of illegals.  Now this is starting to cause a back up time coming back into the US.  So far we have only ever had a 2 hour wait to cross back.  Walking is usually fairly fast.  Maybe only a half hour.  facebook_15568884663625614373645679982511.jpg

After only a half hour drive from Harlingen, we crossed over in the car.  We always drive over anymore as we are getting to lazy to walk like many do.  lol…….We started shopping at all the little shops on the street.  The kids were very observant as to what they seen.  Many little kids were trying to sell items on the street.  Old men and women were sitting on the sidewalks shaking their cups for money.  We kept the kids close and held hands.  What we didn’t realize was that Austin was watching the little boys approaching people with their shoe shine kits.  They wanted to shine peoples shoes for a dollar or two.  This is causing an impression on him that i’ll write about later.  We came upon the man who paints pictures with spray cans.

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Austin was fascinated with him.  He painted a picture for him.  It was really amazing to watch how he painted.  The best part was watching Austin’s face.facebook_15568881788396038366823087900328.jpg

Of course Tina had to buy it.  It was only $20 which wasn’t to bad of a price.  Miley picked one out also.  The painter gave Tina a good deal on the 2nd one.facebook_15568881914266153448500970549651.jpg

We walked down to our favorite Pharmacy and introduced Jasmine the owner, to Tina.  It is amazing to a first timer to see all the different meds that are sold over the counter.  They are so cheap.  Many people including us buy all their meds in Mexico because of the price.   Its just like shopping at Walmart. facebook_15568882056764633303189266670436.jpg

We went to one of our favorite restaurants to eat lunch “Arturo’s”…..Its a very nice clean place to eat.  The waiters are all dressed up and prices are very reasonable.  So after much shopping and Tina looking at MK purses, we decided to leave and head for South Padre Island.  The wait line in the car to get out of Mexico wasn’t to bad at that time.  Maybe a hour to hour and a half.  After about a 45 minute drive, we finally arrived at Port Isabel…..queen-isabella-causeway-2874046372562694780.jpg

Now for the beautiful 2 mile long Queen Isabella Bridge crossing to South Padre Island.…It is the only crossing to get to the Island.  The Island isn’t very wide.  It has 1 main street lined with touristy shops and restaurants and a street on either side.  The side streets have either Bay or Gulf property and are lined with Condos, Hotels and Restaurants.  First we stopped at the Visitor Center to see the huge Sand Castle.   facebook_15568882516748162135186682069756.jpg

We headed to the beach for some fun.  Miley and Austin were having a blast.  We hadn’t intended on them getting wet, but they of course did anyway.  They were running up and down the beach.

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All of a sudden, Austin came running towards us.  Miley was behind but not running as fast.  More like a fast walk.  Austin said Miley got stung.  As Miley came up to us, she was crying.  She said she got stung by a Jellyfish.  It wrapped around her leg.  She felt something on her leg and thought it was seaweed.  She grabbed it and it felt like jelly.  As she squeezed it to pull it off, it started to sting her leg all the way around to the back.  She of course panicked as I would have also, and pulled it off and ran.

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As I looked down the beach a Beach Patrol truck was coming.  I stopped them and they checked out Mileys leg.  The said it was either a Moon Jellyfish or a Portuguese Man Of War.   …..Oh Yuck…..The life guard had some spray to help diminish the sting, but it would probably take up to 4 hours to go away.  Do NOT wash it with fresh water, only sea water.  If you use fresh water it could open up any of the poison cells that may still be attached to the leg.

That was the end of the beach for the day.  We went to Louies Backkyard to eat.  It is located on the Bay side of the Island.  We sat on the Patio area and enjoyed the evening as the sun started to set. facebook_15568883633436535587075356408699.jpg

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The view from their is so pretty.  The Catamaran “Southern Wave” had taken off for a sunset trip.  We had a great relaxing dinner and finally decided to head home…..
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It was really a long day.  Miley was feeling better but she could still feel the sting.  We did so much in one day.  Normally we would never do Mexico and the Island in one day.  The next day was Friday.  Now we would be waiting for Tammy, Connie and the kids to get here.  They left on Thursday after school was out.  Tammy believes in driving straight through which is almost 24 hours.  I think she is crazy, cause she probably wouldn’t let Connie drive and I was right.  Friday, we spent the day staying in touch with them during their drive.  We did some shopping and then it was pool time.  Tina wanted to start on her tan…..We went to the pool around 2pm.  Probably wasn’t the best time as that is the time set for the residents to congregate together and solve all the problems of the park.  As we approached with the kids, I could tell what they were thinking as they stared at us.  So I kept them in the shallow end while Tina laid in the sun.  I was talking with one of the lady’s and the others were looking toward the kids and getting excited.  They said, “look what they are doing”..….lol….I turned around and all they were doing was clearing out the box of noodles that we all use to float.  I told them to put them back…..Only 1 apiece….Some people seem to forget they were kids once, but it is a 55+ park….lol… Finally evening came, and sure enough less than 24 hours after leaving Illinois, Tammy, Connie and the kids pulled in…...So that’s a continuing story for the next blog….20190504_1110198368004227238005493.jpg

Look who’s here…...Carly and Cassidy..Tammy is pulling her new little teardrop camper with her red Jeep.….Here’s just a few more beautiful pictures from the island….

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Southern Wave” returning with their mast lights all lite up…..

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View from the patio deck of  “Louies Backyard”