Our Trip to Roatan, Costa Maya, & Cozumel….Part 2

Finally we were heading to sea.  We had went to the Heliport to watch our casting off and now we were moving.  As much as I would have liked to have stayed outside and watched us move out through the channel, it was to cold and windy.  So time to go inside and EXPLORE our ship.  Dinner was at 5:30.  Tonite would be dress casual in the formal dinning room.  We had our luggage, but many people did not.  They said it could take up to 7 pm for the late arrivals to get their delivered to their stateroom.  It pays to be one of the first to board.  So therefore that is why dinner was casual.  Everyone has the option to eat in the formal dinning room assigned or just eat at the Windjammer Café Buffet.  We were assigned to the Michelangelo Restaurant on Deck 3 at table #424.  Their are 3 Formal dining rooms, The Botticelli on Deck 5, The Michelangelo on Deck 4, and The Rembrandt on Deck 3.

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This is the interior of our dinning room on Deck 3.  It is so elegant.  The center of the room is open to display all three areas.  In the center is a Beautiful, Stunning Elegant Chandelier.  It is surrounded by beautiful gold columns extending from the bottom to the top.  Beautiful lights and decorations make you feel like your in an Italian Palace.

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At the far end is an elegant circular staircase joining all 3 dinning rooms together.  At the end of our cruise the cooks and waiters filled the stairways and sang several songs and paraded through all 3 dinning rooms…..It was pretty awesome.  So we found our table and were seated.  Linen table clothes and silverware placed for every course.  We were presented with the Menu.  It was clipped to a board and was changed every meal.  We had choices of Appetizer, Main course and Dessert.  You could choose as many as you wanted.  The waiter brought each course and then as we ate, they would take the finished dish and the proper silverware would be taken and the new silverware arranged appropriately.  We had a head waiter as well as his assistant.  They worked in unison together as they took care of their assigned 4 tables.  So that was 32 people.

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By the 2nd nite they not only new your name, but they also remembered what you drank.  Our favorite was Oral C.  The assistant on the right of the photo.  He was so nice, friendly and did his job meticulously.  He always was ready for a joke or small talk if he had time.  They loved their job obviously.  Finally it was time to explore the ship.

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This is one of the 14 elevators on the ship.  They went from Deck 1 to Deck 14.  It was so cool to ride and look out at the Promenade Deck as you rode up.  20180408_163836.jpg

This is the walkway to the Promenade Area, the main street of the ship on Deck 5 This area is full of shopping from clothes, purses, alcohol, to Fine Watches and Diamonds.  It also had many Pubs, Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream, Sorrentos Pizza, A Cupcake shop and tables and chairs set out to sit, converse and just people watch.  20180408_162729.jpg

On the other end is the Platinum Theater.  The stairways were cascading white marble steps with Brass Handrails…So Elegant…They held a program for us newbies in the Theater to Welcome us to the ship and tell as about upcoming events.20180408_142828.jpg

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This is a beautiful Theater.  It also had a balcony and held 1,300 people.  Every nite they held a fabulous show.  They also had bar service and you could order at your seat.  20180408_201030.jpg

This is another view of the Promenade area from the end areas.  Every floor had a crossover to the other side that was open to the Promenade.  Notice Shrek in the foreground.  This is also a “DreamWorks” Cruise.  Many of the characters were out and about everyday.  20180408_201108.jpg

Another view from the end looking down to the entrance of the Platinum Theater.  I am actually standing on Deck 6 and the bottom of the stairs is Deck 3…..20180408_162818.jpg

Another one of the Characters with Ron on the right.  So now down to Deck 3.  20180408_142531.jpg

We walked through the Casino.  Yes if you were a gambler, you could surely enjoy your time here.  Everything available to you in every type of game.  Their is almost 300 slot machines and 19 gaming tables.  We choose not to enjoy this area of the boat.  I would have a hard time stopping, so better not to play.  Their was a number of bars on this level, including a Piano Bar.  They were small and intimate.  A place to relax.  It had been a long day, so time to head back up to Deck 6 and our new home for a week.  We entered and found that the room steward had been their, Turned down our bed, closed the curtains and left us with the new addition of The Cruise Compass.

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It is the daily schedule of everything going on.  All the dinner schedules, entertainment schedules, time we dock if going into port, or anything we needed to know.  Every evening he brought a new one when he turned down the bed.  Every afternoon while at lunch, he would make our bed and change our linens.  We were so pampered.FB_IMG_1524226692181.jpg

This is our Room Steward, Barrington.  He had knocked at our door the first day and introduced himself.  He is from Jamaica and has worked for Royal Caribbean for 19 years.  They work for 10 months and then have 2 months off.  Difficult way to live I think.  Barrington was just Awesome He was so friendly.  His goal to make sure we had fun and enjoyed everyday.  I mentioned to him one afternoon that my shower was leaking at the bottom.  He said he would take care of it.  The next morning during my shower, I noticed it was fixed.  …..Amazing…..I couldn’t believe it was already fixed, and we didn’t even see anyone.  Barrington knew all our names immediately and made us all feel special.  He always seemed to know when we left so that he could do his duties.  20180411_211939.jpg

Many times during the week, we would come into our room to find an animal made out of towels.  This was my favorite.  He put my sunglasses on the BAT.  So as we got ready for bed, we sat their and realized we could feel the gently rocking of the boat.  It wasn’t much, but Rich could feel it.  He had taken a Dramamine that afternoon, just in case it might bother him.  We could hear the Hang tag in the bathroom gently rocking back and forth.  We slept pretty good, in fact I slept longer than normal.  Their was no daylight to tell you what time it was…..lol…In the morning, we explored the TV channels.  Their was very little outside channels.  Just a couple old movie channels.  They had their own RC TV.  You could watch and see what was happening today.  How to shop for Diamonds and Precious Gems on board as well as when you were in Port.  They showed you different Ships they had and the Trips they had available.  Down stairs you could book you Next Cruise with a discount at a considerable savings.  Also, the most important thing on the TV was you could watch your account daily.  Any credits you might have attained on purchasing your tickets were added on as a credit.  Anytime you purchased on board with your Seapass Card were their immediately, and the Daily Gratuity’s of $14.50 each person were also added.  These tips would be divided between the Room Steward and the Dinning room waiters.  Possibly others but not sure.  So it was your option to give extra if you thought they deserved it.  As I mentioned before, this account is either set up as a cash account before hand, or attached to a card of your choice.  In the morning  we slowly got up and headed for the Windjammer for Breakfast.  What an AWESOME selection.  Anything you could imagine.  20180411_105815.jpgWe found a table by the window and enjoyed watching the sea…..The endless water, the swell of the waves flowing up and down.  They said they were about 6 ft, but it sure didn’t look like it.  We were on Deck 11 looking down.  Their were just small white caps.  Nothing was in the distance except for the sea ending in a haze as it met the sky……So this was our next 2 days.  We would be at sea till Wed.  when we docked at Roatan Honduras, our farthest point…..(Or so we thought)….So now time to explore the top decks…..11-14….Ill start at the front of the ship.  Well not really the front but behind the heliport and the Captains Bridge.  We entered the Solarium.  It is the pool area for the over 18 year olds….Now that would be our area.  20180409_131453.jpgIt was a small but beautiful pool…plenty of lounge chairs all around in the sun or shade.  A bar of course.  Adults always have to have a bar near by…..Or you could order by the pool also.  It also had an easy step entrance.  Love it when you don’t have to climb the ladder to get out.   On either side of the ship were 2 huge beautiful half moon spas, lined with windows.  The sun shinned through from all the glass on top.  20180423_104351.jpg1d46326ca12af59e3a011354e359d4fc--royal-caribbean-cruise-royal-caribbean-ships.jpgThey stuck out 12 over the edge of the boat.  The view was just breath taking.  The strangest part was knowing that their was nothing under you for 11 decks down till the sea at the bottom.  One evening I was in the spa when the jets were off.  As you sat their and enjoyed, you would feel the rocking of the boat.  It would rock to one side and the water would fall into the gutters, and then it would rock the other way and fall away….Back and Forth….Back and Forth…. What a strange sensation.  Now behind this bar are several more pools for family’s.  aox7yq.jpgSeveral hot tubs are also in this area.  You can get poolside service here also for drinks of your choice.  Many of the activities took place in this pool.  Sexiest man competition,   Adult Belly Flop Competition, Concerts and Movies on the Big Screen.20180411_194015.jpgOne nite we went up and watched Star Wars.  This area was always busy….Behind this area is the Childrens Area….20180411_154853.jpgThis is the H2O Zone and Kids Pool.  This is a great place for the little kids to have fun.  If you look at the area above with all the windows, This is on Deck 14.20180411_150739.jpgThere is a very nice bar up their.  This is the view from the windows.  You can see the kids area, past the wall is the regular pools and the Solarium pools more up front.

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Now were on the back of the ship.  Their is a rock climbing wall and a basket ball court.

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On the very back is the water slides.   Their are 2 water slides on the left and 1 on the right.  The one on the right is a 2 man raft.  In the center is the Flow Rider, the surfing simulator.  We sat their for a while and watched.  The were giving lessons.  Some people did well, but many wiped out, fell and washed up to the top of the slide.  It looked like fun, but I wouldn’t want everyone watching me make a fool of myself…lol….Also a Mini Golf Course is back here somewhere.  That was something we never came across.  How can something like that be hidden.  There was so many things we really never did see.  It is amazing that all these things are on the top of the ship.  So by Tue. we were excited to be getting close to Roatan Honduras.  We were suppose to dock Wed morning and have all day in town.   Ron had planned trips for all of us.  It was going to be so exciting, some shopping, beach, and tour in the jungle.  Late  that afternoon the Captain made an announcement.  A ship had come into the dock to fast.  Something went wrong and it ran into the dock and destroyed it.  It was the MSC Armonia.  maxresdefault.jpg

It didn’t take long for a video to be on U Tube.  By that evening I think everyone on board had seen the video.  The captain had tried to find another port like maybe Belize.  It just wasn’t going to happen, seems they didn’t have tenders for us.  I believe that is transportation for us from the ship to the village.  So he decided we would just do another day at sea.  We were so disappointed.  So now we would be doing a huge circle until it was time to go to Costa Maya.  Wed evening finally came.  We were going to arrive in the dock at Costa Maya around 7 am Thur. morning and bebark around 8.  Then another announcement.  We suddenly had a medical emergency.  We had to head to Cozumel.  Someone was very ill and they would be taken off the ship.  We would head back north to Cozemel arrive around 2 am. Then head back south to Costa Maya.  So now we will arrive 2 hours late.FB_IMG_1523969851489.jpg

Here is a picture of our tv screen.  We could also always see where we were, how fast we were going and our position.  As you see we were heading to Cozumel after a big circle at sea.  We were traveling over 21 knots which was top speed for the ship.  Our first stop should have been, Roatan Honduras on Wed.  Costa Maya Thur. and Cozumel Fri.  But things change don’t they.  We had another day at sea to enjoy all the activities.  Their was always something to do.  No reason to be bored, just disappointed. We did stop at Cozumel around 2am on Thur. morning, but unless you were awake, you would not have noticed.  We arrived at Costa Maya later Thur morning around 9am.   Ohhhhhh now this will be the best  part of this story….lol….Just a Clue……..“Not everyone Remembers All That Happened This Day”.…..But many of us will NEVER FORGET…..

 

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Our Cruise to Roatan, Costa Maya, & Cozumel….Part 1

We have just returned from our “Cruise of a Lifetime” We went on a 7 day Royal Caribbean cruise, aboard “Liberty of The Seas”  to Roatan Honduras, (well, maybe not), Costa Maya Mexico, and Cozumel.  It was absolutely beautiful, and so much fun.  Definitely a experience to never be forgotten.   So how did this all happen……

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A little over a year ago our friends Ron and Theresa were telling us of this cruise.  Ron has a Travel Agency on the side, “Get Out Their Vacations”, Check out the FB site.  He is always looking for good deals.  This trip was a very good deal.  Better if we all booked early.  He was also signing up friends and family back in his home town in Nebraska.  Rich has always wanted to go on a cruise, so we decided this was the time.  We would be with Ron and Theresa and others, so they could guide us through all the steps.  Ron ended up with 6 couples counting them.  That is 12 people, 8 who were first timers.  So how did we meet Ron and Theresa……

2 years ago we workamped at Adventureland in Des Moines.  Ron was also workamping and worked Rides with Rich.  Theresa works from home for a Computer Company.  We became friends their and I gave them info on Eastgate, and all the fun things to do in the Rio Grande Valley in the winter.  They decided to come down last year and spend the winter.  We’ve become good friends.  Then they came back this year as a Workamper.

So finally after waiting for a year, the time had come.  We all waited patiently for the winter season here at Eastgate to be over.  On Sat. April 7th, Rich and I, Theresa and Ron, packed our car, very tightly I might add, and headed to Galveston.  The day before, 2 cars also packed to the hilt, left Nebraska with 4 couples.  We were all headed for a motel for Saturday nite. Fortunately our trip was only around 7 hours.  We arrived first, and several hours later the other 4 couples arrived.  Now they had left bitter cold and snow.  Ron had promised them sunshine and warm weather……It was cloudy, overcast, and chilly.  Jacket weather.  Darn…..Its gonna get better, I’m sure…..20180408_094809.jpg

We met the couples and alot of visiting was done.  It was like an old friends and family reunion.  We all ate out, did our last shopping for forgotten things and hit the sack.  In the morning, the last minute repacking was done, and then repacked the cars and headed into Galveston.  Ron had also arranged parking, which also supplied the Shuttle to the Ship.  After we unpacked the cars, we practically filled the bus with luggage and people.  We only had 2 medium bags and 1 carry on…..OMG….Some of them had huge bags and many more than us.  But we made it.  20180408_111424.jpg

This was one of our first views of the ship.  It was nice to be with people who had done this before.  We waited for the porter to load up our bags to be checked.  Ron had supplied us with our baggage tags.  20180408_112808.jpg

We then entered the building and were herded like cattle through the maze of paths to the check in area and then the Customs area where all bags are scanned.  Finally we walked up the enclosed walkways and entered the ship.  20180408_121255.jpg

By that time, our luggage had been checked.  Our carryon’s had been x-rayed.  Our Passports had been checked and our Sea Pass cards had been issued.  These look like credit cards.  You buy a lanyard and wear them around your neck.  This is your life line for the rest of the cruise.  This supply’s your name, room number, dinning room and table number, account number and allows you to purchase anything on board.  It is attached to an account that you have set up using a credit card or cash.  You will also have taken a photo that is attached to your account.  Every time you scan that card, your photo will show for identification.  It also has your area to assemble for a life boat drill on the outside deck.  Heaven forbid that is ever needed.  Late in the cruise, we were given some facts about the ship which I’ll share now.  The ship can actually hold almost 4,000 passengers.  The crew amounts to over 1,300 representing over 50 countries around the world.  At the beginning of a 7 day cruise, they load 496,000 lbs. of food on board.  Every day they cook 26,000 meals.  It is amazing.20180413_084329.jpg

Our rooms weren’t ready till 1pm so we went to lunch.  We found the Windjammer Café which has the buffet.  As we entered we met the Washy Washy man.  There were several Purell dispensers.  They are encouraging everyone to Washy Washy your hands so you don’t get Sicky Sicky. He would sing his little jingle over and over.  Everyone loved him, especially the kids.006_Windjammer

We walked past tables and areas of food.  Their were several other resturants on our way to the Windjammer.  Once we arrived, their were islands and islands and so many stations of food to choose.  All the tables in the dinning area were around the outside lining the wall to wall windows.  What a view.  Right now we were still in the Port overlooking Galveston, but I just couldn’t imagine what it is going to look like once at sea.20180408_131400.jpg

We choose our food and drink and sat down to eat.  We watched as a window washer attachment with a worker washed the windows one by one.   We found out they are constantly cleaning on this ship.  Never a dull moment.  Cleanliness and  trying to be germ free are so important to Royal Caribbean. They were constantly cleaning and disinfecting the miles of handrails on the stairways, cleaning all the glass, as well as even the dust that accumulates in the corners.  They are an amazing crew.  Purell dispensers are everywhere.  Finally while eating, the announcement came, our rooms were all ready.  Windjammer Café is on Deck 11 and our rooms were on Deck 6 on the inside.  We have a window overlooking the Promenade. 20180408_132651.jpg

So Ron and Theresa herded us all to the elevators.  They said to expect the elevators to be so busy the first day, and they were right.  Finally we got one, arrived at our floor and walked down the hallway.  Ron had positioned all our rooms together near the center of the ship.  He said it is the best for first timers to see how the movement of the ship might affect them.  I was anxious to see our room, as I had always heard rooms were so small.  I was impressed.  I really was laid out very nice.  King Size bed with rounded corners, a nice L shaped sitting area with coffee table, and a desk area.  20180408_132737.jpg

The window was overlooking the Promenade Deck which is Deck 5.  What an awesome view out the window.  We would be able to watch all the people walking and shopping down below.  So many shop, restaurants, bars and entertainment will be going on in this area.  You can see the other rooms across from us.  So now what about the bathroom.

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It was very close but also very efficient…Plenty of room for all your essentioals, and the shower was just a capsule,  lol,  but it was fine also.  We had brought 2 medium sized suitcases, so we unpacked quickly, hung up everything we could, and placed everything else on the shelves in the closet.  Just enough space for us.  I really don’t know how the others with their huge suitcases did it.  We had everything in our closet.  They also had a safe for valuables, and of course a TV.  Now we had the announcement that at 3:30, we all had to go to our designated spot on Deck 4 on the outside for Safety training.  Another words…...If an Emergency and the ship is sinking….How to save yourself in a Life Boat…..lol….TITANIC???  lol  That’s what came to my mind…..  We all gathered in our designated areas.  Everyone had to check in by our Sea Pass cards being scanned.  It would begin after all had arrived.  Training was quick and easy.  Finally it was approaching 4pm.  That was the time to leave.  Ron and Theresa lead us up to the Heliport in the front of the ship.  It was a great place to watch our departure.  It was freezing and so windy.  Also in the dock was a Carnival ship that was leaving at the same time.  FB_IMG_1524147818568.jpg

He had told us about the Port Webcams.  I sent the link to the kids.  Tammy was watching as we left the dock area.  We were on the deck right below the little white windows.  After Carnival left, we cast off our lines and we started our adventure.

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Also in the Port was the TALL SHIPS.  They were so small compared to us, but so impressive.  They were so beautiful with their tall sails and many flags waving in the wind.  20180408_155025.jpg

So here we sat on the benches around the front of the ship.  The wind was blowing, we were freezing.  Remember we just came from the Rio Grande Valley, 80 and 90 degrees.  It was only in the 50s.  I guess we are wimps now.  We were now embarking on an Adventure.  We were a floating ship as big as a city.  Everything was aboard that we would need for the next 7 days.  So as we were leaving Ron knew where the different cameras were in the distance.  He was watching the camera feed on the website also.  He told us when to wave….20180419_082814.png

AND WE DID…….Tammy caught this shot of us on the Web Cam……I’m of course the short one, Rich is next to me.  Ron I believe is on the edge of the Photo…….Pretty amazing isn’t it…….So this is the beginning of our Adventure for the 7 days.  So much to learn now about the ship, so much to see, ……SO MUCH UNKNOWN YET……For many of you, I’m sure you’ve been on cruises, but for us its a “CRUISE OF A LIFETIME”  This is actually Ron’s Quote, and he’s so Right.  This is Just the Beginning…..

 

Tour of CBS Channel 4 and other Things

The local CBS TV Station is located in Harlingen.  I have tried to contact them for a tour but I could never seem to connect.  The Red Hats managed to get a date and I was invited.  I was so excited.  I’ve always wanted to see the inside of a TV Station.  When we arrived they first took us into the room where they make commercials.

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They showed us how they make commercials by layering different ribbons of information.  They started with the basic video and added telephone numbers and pictures and anything that keeps the attention of the audience.  They are working with seconds of time on a graph, adding where to stop and start.  It was very interesting.

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Next they took us in a room where the main feed comes in from the network.  All the local cameras either in the building or out in the community are fed into this room.  All the timing and switching the feed between cameras to the online network, are done in this room.

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Then we entered the last room.  This was the studio where all the newscasts take place.  As you looked around, you seen all the different sets that you see on tv, all in one room.  This was March Madness Week.  So no news at noon.  The room was empty so were able to wander around and try out all the sets.

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This is the monitor that they read from.  It is sitting right by the camera in front of the staging area.  We all gathered around the Lifestyles set.

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The lighting was bright but so perfect.  We were all so colorful in our red and purple.

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Next we went to the weather screen.  lol  I was pretending to do the weather.  As you see the back wall is green, but looking in the monitor, the blue background and Channel 4 logo has been applied.  When they do the weather, they have to watch these monitors to be able to point at the map.  Their is the one by the screen as well as in front of them near the camera.  Quit interesting.  FB_IMG_1522972708827.jpg

We moved over to the News Center.  You can see the monitor in the table.  We took turns taking our group pictures 20180316_121518.jpg

Our guide was right next door at the Storm tracker Center.  You see all the monitors in the back ground.  This was really a fun trip.  I talked to the guide to set up a tour for next fall.  Today the station was empty, but generally they would have been busier at this time.  We would have been able to see the news cast.  So next fall I will set up a tour and well see what happens that day.  I was so grateful for the Red Hats for inviting me and lending me a Red Hat to wear.  FB_IMG_1521899879641.jpg

Last Friday, we had our Farewell Potato Bake that is supplied by the owner.  We had over 150 people sign up.  We ordered huge Texas size potatoes from the Veggie Man.  We supplied sour cream and butter, and everyone brought a condiment to share at their table.  20180323_172707.jpg

From the Super Bowl, we had left over Pulled Pork for a potato topper, and Nachos and Cheese.  I prepared Veggies and dip for Happy Hour.  Rich and his crew started cooking and preparing the potatoes in the morning and by 4pm Happy Hour began.  5 pm we Ate.  After the potato, we served Ice Cream from the Activity Board.  Finally I showed my Seasonal Video.  I take all the pictures of the season and put them together and make a slide show to music.  This year I had 157 pictures, a number of short videos that we took at some occasions, and added 4 songs, making it 20 minutes long.  The evening was finished off with drawings.  The prizes were restaurant cards that can be used for their trip home. Applebees, I-Hop, Burger King, etc.  6 cards totaling $100. Finally it has come time to say good bye.  So many are pulling out and heading back north.  The park is empting out.  But……..The weather is bad up their.  They are all giving up 80 degree weather for snow and 30s.  They are also having an unusual winter.  More snow is forecast.  But away they go…………..

Since April was on the 1st, I pulled rank and said I would not be handling Easter this year.  My contract is technically done the end of March.  We needed a break.   They had to figure out who was going to cook hams for Easter.  They did succeed and around 60 people signed up.  We went to Padre with several friends.  It ended up being 9 of us. 20180401_132055.jpg

After dinner Theresa and Ron and us, went to the beach.  It was beautiful down by the beach.  The water was chilly, as it was only around 74, but it is warming up every day.20180401_202842.jpg

I went wading in the waves on the beach.  It was a little cold, but you grew accustomed to it.  Their were so many families enjoying the weather and the water.

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Kids making sand castles, and kids playing ball in the water.  It was a perfect relaxing way to spend Easter.  Finally time to do a little shopping, and then DQ, and head home.  So nice that this whole atmosphere is only 45 minutes away.   Anytime we desire, we can just hop in the car and drive to the beach.  Everyday can be a Vacation…..Retirement is Grand….20180401_210229.jpg

Next week is going to be an Exciting Week.  We are doing something that we have never done before.   Its another 1st……….Another bucket list check off…..Stay Tuned for the next Blog……

Catching Up on This Seasons Events

The Winter Season is now over as of April 1st.  What a fast year.  This blog will contain some of the activities we did in Feb and March.  Time for catch up.  We took a wonderful trip from South Padre Island by boat down to the Port of Brownsville.

1553_1518750428081.jpeg I was surprised at the amount of people.  We had over 40 people sign up and we all carpooled to the Island.  It was a Beautiful day.  We were in for a 4 hour ride with all the free beer you could drink.  I sure don’t know why they never ran out.  A few of our guys, (not mentioning any names)….lol…drank their share and many many more.  In fact coolers went home fuller than they were before.  The weather was perfect.  When we went down into the port, we entered the Shrimp Basin where many shrimp boats were docked.  20180215_141650.jpgThese shrimp boats were dry docked for repairs.  Down farther we entered the actual Port of Brownsville that is protected by Home Land Security.  These are the ship yards were ships are dismantled and sold for scrap.  It takes up to 2 years to scrap a ship.

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This is what remains of the USS Constitution.  So sad to see these great ships that served and protected our country, being torn apart.  Also the USS Forrester is still their.  This is a very large Port containing 4 different Scrap Companys.  20180215_132120.jpg

We finally turned around and headed back.  It was a gorgeous day to be out on the water.  This was the upper deck of the boat.  It held around 100 people.  Most of the people were our Eastgate folks, but they also had some others on board.

Our friend Glen also had his Birthday.  Now he is just a spoiled little boy at heart.  He kept waiting for a birthday cake every day, starting the 1st of they month.  He would post on FB….”NO CAKE TODAY”.….Kathy was going to have a small surprise party for him, but surprises never seem to work out.  Last year our good friends Cathy and Bud were here from Canada.  20170219_175548.jpg

We had bought this pretty confetti cake.  We were at my camper just around the corner from Glen and Kathy, trying to light the candles and surprise him.  Cathy turned around and the cake flew off the board....OMG....We laughed till our sides hurt.  Finally we scrapped it up, put it back on the board and delivered it to Glen singing Happy Birthday.

20170219_181233.jpg Oh what a riot it was.  Everyone just cracked up laughing.  He had plenty other cakes but everyone even ate that one.  No one cared.  Well this year, Cathy and Bud couldn’t make it, so Cathy wanted me to get a cupcake, smash it upside down and give it to him…..20180217_172427.jpg

So here it is.  I put a sparkler in it and some ribbons.  We all had a good laugh, but sure missed Cathy and Bud.  Its something how people come for a season and you all become fast friends.  Cathy and Bud was one of those.  Somebody who was such fun and such good friends.

The Rotary Club of Harlingen has adopted us this year.  They bought the Veterans in our park breakfast last year and this year for Veterans Day.  They want to give back and show appreciation for all the Winter Texans do in the Community.  The have also started a flag program.  On the appropriate holidays of the year, flags will be placed in front of the park for the day.  Each flag is a donation of $50 for the year.  It will be assigned to a certain Veteran to Commemorate their service.  When Landon, the president of the Rotary explained the program, we had the service men start to challenge each other to purchase a flag.  By the time we were done, we had 20 flags purchase (even 1 Canadian Flag) to fly the first time on Flag Day.  20180219_103804.jpg

The local paper came and wrote an article for their paper and took pictures.  This is Landon and his 2 girls, who each sang a solo for our Veterans.  Also a few of our VeteransIt was a proud day.  Seeing those flags fly and hear the breeze blow was so inspiring.  20180219_082818.jpg

Next we had our first Luau.  One of the lady’s went to a Luau at another park and wanted to have one.  We set the date and away she went with planning.

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By the time she was done.  Her and her committee put on a fabulous Luau.  We had a regular sit down dinner serving pork or chicken cooked with authentic Hawaiian recipes.  At the beginning a Pigs Head was placed on a cart and pushed around the room.  Steve was dressed in a Hula skirt, while the Emcee and him exchanged a dialog about the pigs head.20180304_172816.jpg

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They called him …”HENRY”……He was surrounded in flowers with an apple in his mouth.  It was a riot.  People were roaring in laughter.  We also found some authentic Hula Girls over in McAllen.  20180304_181628.jpg

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They were just awesome.   They had several changes of costume.  The performance lasted around 45 minutes.  Then they had some men come up.  …….So so Funny……

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The men good naturedly, took their place on stage and was dressed in coconut shells and hula skirts.  They were a riot.  They were taught a dance and had to perform it.  It was a fabulous evening.  It was well planned, the Committee did a Wonderful Job…..

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We also went to Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville.  It is a wonderful zoo that has their animals all in natural settings.  We got the VIP Behind the Scenes Tour.  We were taken in some of the back areas to see how the animals are feed and taken care of.  We walked the first half of the zoo and passed by many animals.  We seen so many different monkeys, birds, rhinoceros, etc.

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We were taken into the Galapagos Turtle area.  They love celery like we like candy.  Everyone got to feed them.  20180308_111931.jpg

This guy is around 50 years old.  He is huge and weighs a lot.  We were told to watch our toes, cause if they stepped on our toes it would hurt….lol….We then went inside a building to where the Kangaroos were.  20180308_104843.jpg

We were take down in small groups to where there inside house was.  They like to eat certain tree branches and bushes.  She told us how far they can jump.  If they had a larger area, they could run and jump up easily to where I was taking this picture.  She also said to move slowly, no sudden moves, as they can really punch and kick.  You could be injured.  20180308_110448.jpg

As we left they all lined up.  Now it almost looked scary as if they were plotting a massacre.  Finally after more walking we boarded the train.

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We were able to ride to the Giraffes.  This was a cool little train that went through the park passing so many animals.  Tigers, Lions, Camels, Gazelles, Zebras, Elephants, etc.

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Finally we made it to the giraffes.  They also ate the leaves on branches.  They would bend their head down to us to take the branch.  They finished the tour by giving us a nice lunch.  They brought in a Parrot and a little turtle to touch and hold after we ate.  It was really a great tour.  So this is just a few more things we did with more to come.  Ill finish with a cute picture…….Remember our “Beautiful Pot Hole Tree”?   On Valentines Day a Beautiful Heart showed up in the Pot Hole…..

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Such a Beautiful Remembrance……lol..   It too, did not last…..Someone took it away…..

 

Busy January at Eastgate….

January has been a very busy month.  It has been also a very cold month.  Usually we only have a few cold days that reach maybe in the 40s but mostly 50s, 60s, and 70,s.  This year it has been very cold.  Several times it reached into the low 30,s for several days.  We’ve lost many of our flowers.  We had a good frost that killed many.  They say its been the worst in many years.20180211_054906.jpg

We did a tour to the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen.  We have done this before, but I feel it is such an important part of Harlingen to share every year.  This is a private academy that can house up to 200 students. The cost is $20,000 a semester.  An average student will spend only 2 years here because of the cost for the parents.  Those who attend all the grades will almost be guaranteed entrance to a top college in the nation.  The curriculum is military style with a focus on academics.  Sports are also offered but no vocational courses.

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Marching to the Cafeteria

They have a very strict daily plan for the students.  They have a daily dress code and march in units.   They live in barracks and have a counselor family also living in each housing unit to watch over them and take care of their needs.  It is a very impressive place.  We boarded their bus, toured the grounds including the gymnasium, weight room,  library, rec center,  auditorium and and finally the cafeteria.  We ate, watched the kids march in formation and then they bussed us back to the Iwo Jima Museum parking lot.  It is the home of the Original Iwo Jima Memorial.  20180122_125212.jpg

It is the cast that made the Iwo Jima Memorial that sits in Washington DC. at Arlington Cemetery.  It is such an honor that it was installed in Harlingen.  It is across the street from the Academy and the back drop for the Academy’s Dress Parades.  They also have a wonderful Museum on the grounds.  It is also the burial site of Corporal Harlon Block, who was one of the flag raisers who’s picture was captured that fateful day.  He was killed in action several days later.  He was from Weslaco which is only about 10 miles from Harlingen.

Our next event was going to the Border Patrol for a Informational Presentation.   The Canadians had to have papers filled out 2 weeks prior to the date.  They said they use to take people back to the housing areas, but not any more.   We were taken to a large room where they hold their meetings etc.  20180125_111638.jpg

At the front of the room were 4 empty chairs.  They were in Memorial to 4 of the Officers from Harlingen that have been killed.  Their name is engraved and also notice the tree on the side holding a pair of empty boots, a gun holster and a hat.  Very moving.

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They held a slide show and gave us so much factional information.  The hot spot of the Rio Grande Valley is in McAllen.  The amount of family’s, men, women and children that have crossed over is astounding.   They are coming to the Park on March 4 to give their talk again.  Their was so much info and facts.  So many people had wanted to come, and the limit was 30, so I decided to have them come and give the same presentation.   Hopefully I can retain some of the facts to pass on.  It was interesting though, the highest quarter for illegal’s was the quarter just before Trumps election.  They thought they wouldn’t get over after he was in office.

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Entrance to Hotel….Concrete tree stumps.  Schlitterbahn has a very rustic appereance.

Next we had the Winterfest Concert in South Padre Island at Schlitterbahn Indoor Water Park.  I sold tickets for this event which qualified Rich and I free entrance.  They also had a 3 day special for a Dinner Show the nite before, Winterfest, and then a Matinee Dinner performance the following day.  All in all, 3 nites at the hotel.  Many went, but Rich and I chose to spend the just 1 nite.  The Dinner Show that nite was “Mirage, Visions of Fleetwood Mac”.  They were based out of L.A.  They were very good.  The next day was the Winterfest.  Live music on stage started at 10 am and continued till 5 pm.  We were also given a Shrimp or Fish Basket from the Shrimp Haus.

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We seen some great performances.  Many people from all over the Valley came to enjoy the entertainment.20180131_103735.jpg

Here is some of our Eastgate group.   I can see about 12 here….It was hard to get everyone.  We were so scattered around.  Total I believe , just from our park was about 24 people.  As we were watching the musical groups, we seen a zip line out of the corner of our eyes.  We walked over and the line was getting longer.  Only $5….Wow….Sure I’ll go.  Many of the people from our park were in line.  I found a partner, Laura from our park.  Rich came over also and went with Gaylon.  It is a zip line that 2 of you sit in 2 seats and are strapped in.  It is called the Soaring Eagle…Soaring-Eagle-Zip-Line-Mooresville-Indiana-6-of-7-1024x683

No place for your feet, just hanging freely.  So the only thing keeping you in is the seat belt.  As I was in line, our friend Ron asked me if I wanted to use his Go Pro camera…..Wow…Sure…He had a short tripod that wraps around your hand.  So finally my turn.  I was excited but also a little scared.  After you are strapped in, it is pulled backwards quite a ways up to the top of a pole.  You stop for about maybe 5 seconds and then start your descent going 30 miles an hour till you get to the end.  Then the brakes are applied and you stop abruptly.  I describe it as a jet landing on an air craft carrier and it is stopped by the hook.  So finally my turn.  Now I didn’t realize that with the camera on my right hand, I also got into the right side.  I now had no place to hang on to.  I also didn’t realize, my seatbelt was not tight.  Their was a lot of play.  Finally we started going backwards up the line…..zip line 2

We were almost to the top and I was feeling like I was going to fall out…All most at the top, it jerked you about 3 or 4 times.  Each time I thought I was falling. ….. OMG…..But the View from the Top was…..ASTONISHING BEAUTIFUL…The island looked so small.   What a View.  I still had the Go Pro wrapped around my right hand with nothing to hold on to.  I tried panning it around to get it on video.  Then all of a sudden we were falling….faster and faster towards the ground.  We came closer and closer and then I could see the end of the line….The platform where we loaded and at the end of the line????  The I-Beam holding up the zip line.  If it did not stop….It would be a DIRECT HIT to the I-Beam….In those last seconds, all my thoughts were, when the brakes went on, I would fly forward and slip out of the seat belt….So at the last minute…The hand with the camera came down and grabbed the seat…..And we stopped really very easy…..lol..lol…OMG….It was a crazy ride.   Many of you have probably seen the Video, It is on FB on my Time Line….So I got out and Rich was next….Him and Gaylon climbed on board and took the ride.  Now he really enjoyed it and wasn’t scared.  He also made them strap him in tight….So Would I do it Again???    Yes I sure would…..It was AWESOME...Now I will show you my Awful picture…..

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….In the corner, you can see the overlay of us at the end near the top of the pole…

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The next day I had to get up early.  We had a SegWay Tour back down at Port Isabel.   We ended up with 2 groups because we had 10 people.  We held one at 10 am and then another at 1 pm.  It was an absolutely Beautiful day.20180201_120705.jpg

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The temperature was in the low 80’s and hardly any wind, and the water and sky was beautiful shades of blue.  2 more weeks and we will be doing SegWay on the Beach at Padre……20180204_175349.jpg

Next affair was the Super Bowl PartyRich and I are in charge of that.  I have a budget to go by.  Rich cooked around 50 lbs. of pork and pulled it.

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We had smokies, shrimp, nachos and cheese, veggies and dip, sausage cheese and crackers and a Keg of beer.  I decorated with balloons from the ceiling in team colors, and made megaphones from construction paper for center pieces.  Everyone also brought a snack to share ….

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I had collected 27 door prizes to give away including 2 Director Chairs from the park owner.   They all had a great time…..Most of the beer was gone, and food too…..Everyone was happy.20180209_120500.jpg

Our last event we just had was our Ladies Luncheon with our 2nd Annual Style Show.  Everyone brought a dish for the food table.  Their was so many wonderful homemade dishes.20180209_124311.jpg

The desserts were out of this world.  Everyone filled their plates, and when we were done we still had so much food.  Finally the Style Show portion.  Last year we chose 3 stores that were in different towns.  They were rather elite stores that are a little pricy.  This year, they choose local stores that were more practical in style and price.

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The first one was Cato’s.  They had some really nice items for everyday.  The ladies had so much fun doing this….20180209_133346.jpg

The next store is Quelles Boutique down town Harlingen.  The modeled many items that were so inexpensive and yet so unique.  Its really a great store that I need to go and check out.  She carries new as well as gently used.  It sounds very interesting to see.  So that has been my month….So so busy…..soon it will be almost over……April 1 is officially the end of the season when everyone is going or has gone back north….

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A Beautiful Day in Port Isabel looking over the Bay to South Padre Island

 

 

Tammy & The Kids Visit….Part 2

FB_IMG_1516214053865.jpgWe had a fun day in Progresso Mexico and then headed back over to the US side.  We headed for South Padre Island which is about a 45 minute drive.  Rich and Cameron were in our car leading the way, and us girls in Tammy’s Jeep.  We arrived after dark at our motel and settled in.  Now we had a number of things planed,  but the weather was going to cause us a problem.  Cameron wanted to do a Deep Sea fishing Trip in the Gulf.  We also wanted to take the Port of Brownsville  Tour and see the ship yards where they dismantle the decommissioned Navy ships.  The USS Ranger is their and the USS Independence just arrived last May.  The weather has not been stable at all this season.  The forecast changed from the 70s to the 60s with some rain.  We had tickets lined up for both but they were both cancelled because of the weather.  FB_IMG_1515893032735.jpg

Tammy did manage to take several drives up the beach.  The first one she was very excited to finally drive up to the end of the road.  South Padre Island has only one main road down the middle.  It continues north until it turns into sand.  It passes all the beach access points, the hotels, condos, restaurants and bars.  It also passes a Zip Line area.  They also offer horse rides on the beach.  It is the farthest north facility on the island.  Then it turns into sand a ways up the road.  It gets so windy the road is always blowing over.  The plows regularly have to plow and maintain the road.  As you see it was sputtering rain on her windshield, but that didn’t stop her.  She drove back to Access 6 and entered the beach.  She said she drove a number of miles north.  On the way they passes the horses out for a ride.

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It was chilly to be on the beach.  The wind blows in from the ocean constantly.

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But I guess if you love horses and the beach, it doesn’t stop you.   It probably was a dream come true for some of those people.  The weather just didn’t cooperate.

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Along the way Tammy stopped and they looked for shells.  She actually found some large Conch shells.  They probably had washed up from the storm that had just come in a day before.  Carly brought her fish net and loaded it up with all her special shells she found.  They loved ridding on the beach.  Its such an exhilarating feeling as the wind blows and the sea gulls fly and chirp.  The feeling of peace, tranquility and Freedom.  Mother Nature at her best.

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Carly on the upper deck…..It was so Cold and Windy

The next trip we did was the Dolphin Eco Watch.  The boat is a double decker.  It holds quite a few people.  It is around a 2 hour trip in the bay, looking for dolphins.  They also drop a net to the bottom and drag it to catch different types of fish.  It was so cold.  We bundled up in our sweat shirts and jackets and boarded.  The girls had so much fun….Even Tammy.  We seen the dolphins many times just swimming around near us.  They would surface and then go under and come up a ways ahead.  The deck hand had dropped the net and reeled it in.  He had quite a few different variety’s of fish.  He cleaned them out of the net and put them all in a bucket with water.  He took them out 1 by 1 and showed them to the kids and adults.

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He actually caught a Sting Ray.  He explained the danger and how to react when near a Sting Ray.  He also showed a Puffer Fish and several others.  Finally he dropped them all back into the bay.  Then they took the boat clear out past the Jetty’s of Padre.  The wind was blowing, the waves were blowing high and splashing against the Jetty Rocks.

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It was so beautiful to see all the hotels at a distance and the beaches.  We also seen Dolphins clear out here.   Finally after almost 2 hours we went back to the docks.

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Now we were all hungry.  We decided to go to Pier 19.  It is a restaurant out on a dock.  Very cool atmosphere.  Every table is by a window.  It is a long and narrow restaurant as it is built actually on the pier.  We had seen Dolphins near the restaurant when we were on the boat, so decided it would be a great place to eat.

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They had some great food.  I had a Hawaiian Burger.  It was awesome.  I can’t wait to go back.   The next day we decided to go to Brownsville to the Gladys Porter Zoo.  It is situated on 31 acres.  The zoo houses about 400 animal species and over 250 tropical and neo-tropical species and subspecies.

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We didn’t see to many animals as it was still so cold.  But we sure seen Flamingos.  It is such a beautiful unique zoo.  The animals are all housed in areas that are natural to their habitats.  You don’t see many in cages, as they are all in natural out door settings.  But since is was so cold, I think they were mostly brought into their indoor areas to escape the unusual cold weather.  Just Carly, Tammy and I went here and we had a great time.  We also took another side trip out to Boca Chica Beach.  It is on the south side of Port of Brownsville.  It is a desolate beautiful area just a stones throw from the border.  After a 20 mile drive it dead ends into the beach at the Gulf of Mexico.  Several years ago they anounced that Space X had bought some ground for a new Missile launch area.  It is being built now, but we were told it would take another 2 years before the first launch.  That night ate out at Louies Backyard on the Bay sideTammy and Carly stayed at the hotel as they were tired.

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Glen and Kathy from the park came down to spend a nite.  They had spent the afternoon at another Club listening to the singer “Leslie”.  After she was done their, she came to sing at Louies.  We had some good food and fun times.

The next morning, Tammy wanted to go for another drive on the beach.  Rich and I and Cameron stayed in the room.   Awhile later, Tammy called…….”Dad do you have a tow rope in your car?“……lol….Oh no…..They had driven into Access 6 again and drove for miles up the beach as it was low tide.  They had a great time until they came back and tried to get back through the Access area.  In these areas the sand accumulates into drifts.  If not cleaned out regularly with a plow, it is like snow drifts up north.  You simply get stuck and end up bottoming out if you keep trying.  Well that’s what happened.   The other thing was, all this time she thought she was in 4 wheel drive.  Cameron had showed her to put the switch in 4 wheel but neglected to show her the other part of the process.  She was lucky she never got stuck earlier.  Well “Dad” didn’t have a tow rope…….Rich and Cameron drove out their and their was a whole crowd helping her.  She had of course bottomed out trying to get out.  Several vehicles tried pulling her but to no avail.   Finally another Jeep hooked up and pulled her right out.  She was so excited that she never took any pictures.  She was disappointed when she realized others were taking pictures but she didn’t get any.  So another Adventure for her to talk about…..lol….But no pictures.   Later she had to wash the Jeep as she was so full of sand.

Our stay at the island was coming to an end.  We had nice rooms.  Cameron stayed with us in ours so the girls could have their room to them selves.  Our room was obviously quieter.  When you went into Tammy’s room it was a disaster.  Clothes all over, and Carly always had her little toys out on the table playing with them.  She always has to have play time with her little toys.  We had a great Breakfast every morning down in the Lobby.  All the cold cereal, donuts, bagels, and toast as well as eggs, potatoes, waffles and juices.  Anything you could want for breakfast.

We left the Island to go home, but Tammy was still staying another day or two.  We both drove and headed for Brownsville,   77 Flea Mkt.  This turned out to be a beautiful day.  The Flea Mkt is huge.  Rich and Cameron took off and us girls started to slowly make our way through.  The girls had fun, even Cassidy.  We found a cheap stroller to put Carly in.  She would have never walked the whole thing.  20171230_133504.jpg

Cassidy found quite a few things.  Several pairs of slacks, make up brushes, and her best item was a blue tooth speaker with disco lites on wheels.  It was made like a rolling suitcase.  Great for taking to her friends or wherever she wants to go.  Tammy found a rolling suitcase for herself, and many other things and food items.  We were half we through and I was tired.  I mentioned, are you getting tired yet, but…… NO…..she wasn’t…..So we finally did the WHOLE FLEA MARKET.   I don’t think I ever walked the whole thing before…..Now we were very hungry.  We ate at a Chinese Buffet.  Good Food.  So we finally went back to Harlingen and Tammy went back to Padre.  That nite they decided to go fishing by the Causeway.  FB_IMG_1515891798874.jpg

Would you believe Cameron caught a Sting Ray.  It was being chased by a Puffer Fish.

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He finally pulled it on the dock.  A Mexican who didn’t speak much English helped Cameron get it off the hook and finally sent it back in.  FB_IMG_1515891839792.jpg

Now that is something you sure can’t catch in Illinois.  More memories were made.  The next morning they decided it was time to leave.  The kids wanted to go home.  They arrived back at our camper around 11:30.  Tammy come flying in and said….”Dad, Dad, take me to Mexico one last time….Please?”  Cameron said ” No, you don’t need to go”…..Tammy looked at Cameron and said….“I’m the mom your the kid…..You can’t tell me what to do”…..Then she looked at Dad and said ” Please Please, I want to go back one more time”.….So of course, Tammy, Cameron and Dad went back to Mexico…..I took Cassidy and Carly and went to Mr Gatti’s.  Its a Pizza Buffet.   It also has Pasta, Mac and Cheese, Baked Potatoes and the fixings and a great Salad Bar.  We went back to the park and I had 2 more things to do with the kids.  My friend Gail Rollo has written a Children’s book.  She is selling it in certain book stores and on Amazon.  She has been doing some book signings also.20171210_124501.jpg

Its a wonderful book of a dream that she had when she was a child.  After all these years, she has written the book and Published it.  Were all so proud of her Accomplishment.

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I wanted Gail to sign one for Carly so we stopped at her house.  Gail read the book to her and then signed her very own book.  Carly loved it.  She held the book with 2 hands against her chest when we left.  It was very special to her.

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Our next stop was Roberta’s.  Roberta and Ken have 2 Parrots.  Maui is a Beautiful Red and Blue Parrot.  20171231_133908.jpg

Cassidy met her 2 years ago.  At that time Maui was the only one she had.  Since then, Roberta has been given Benny.  His owners had passed away and he desperately need a family.   20171231_134030.jpg

Benny is a beautiful blue and yellow Parrot.  Roberta is so good with birds, animals of any kind and has a wonderful green thumb.  She can grow anything.  So Carly poised for this picture with her doll and they had their matching dresses on, that they bought in Mexico.  Finally Rich, Tammy and Cameron came back around 5.  They drove across this time.  Tammy had to walk almost the whole length of the shopping area that we stick to in Progresso.  She shopped and shopped and made sure she had her Margarita.  She loved it.  20171231_173423.jpg

But now it was time to head out.  I thought they would be to tired to drive, but they wanted to go.  The kids sleep at nite and travel better.  So around 5:30 the left.  I figured they would stop and sleep.  It is a very long drive.  But with Cameron and her driving, they made it straight through in 22 hours.  They pulled into home in Illinois before 4 pm the next afternoon. …. OMG….No way.
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It was a great time having Tammy and the kids here.  We didn’t get to do everything we wanted but we did a lot.   We never had a dull moment.  It was so nice after going on 4 years that one of the kids have finally came down and seen where we live in the winter.  Their is so much to offer in the Rio Grande Valley.  It is such a different life style than back home.  Harlingen area has so much to offer.  So much to see and do.  It never gets old.  Much history and many things I’m sure I haven’t discovered yet.  It is a life style that is so unique, and so hard to describe to anyone up north.  It is an area the Winter Texans come back to every year to enjoy the warmth of the weather, the beach, and the culture of the Southern Texans……It is so nice to think, the beach and the ocean are just a short drive away.   

…….We Made So Many Wonderful Memories…..

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Tammy and The Kids Were Here for Christmas….Chapter 1

This was the first time any of the kids have been down.  Cameron and Cassidy, the grandkids were down 2 years ago, but this time they all planned on coming down for Christmas.  It was really nice to have them here.  They drove down in Tammy’s  Jeep.  I brought over our little table top tree to the trailer they stayed in.  I put it on the coffee table and decorated with some garland.  I also brought over one of our tomato cage Christmas trees and put in the screen porch.  We wanted it to look festive cause Santa was coming for Carly……She is only 5, of course she believes.   They left on Thursday and stopped in Arkansas at Tammy’s friends, Char, Joy and Pamela.  Then they continued straight through all the way down.  They stopped in Port Mansfield which is about an hour away on Saturday.  They wanted to see the GulfPort Mansfield is right on the Gulf and is a good place to fish.  They bought a fishing license and did a little fishing.

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They caught a really cool fish in about a half hour.   Of course they had no choice but to throw it back.  In Port Mansfield their is a herd of deer that roam the town.

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They come right up to the car and you can feed them.  They fed them corn curls….They finally arrived Saturday afternoon very tired.  The next day was Christmas Eve DayTammy decided to take Carly over to the Hugh Ramsey Nature Preserve.

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It is only a block away.   Every Friday they have guided nature walks or bird walks.  The paths take you all the way down to the Arroyo as they call it.  For us, we call it River…..

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Its so full of beautiful cactus’s and beautiful trees.   This area is a major bird watching area.  Rio Grande Valley is on the major bird migration route.  Many of them come up from South America, and this is the first areas of land they come to.  They stop in this area and spend time resting and eating so they can eventually proceed north.  Their are so many bird watchers here in the area.  Many different Nature preserves for the birds and all the wildlife.

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Its amazing that their is so much beauty right near our park.  All the different cactus’s and different textures of plants.  Since it was Christmas Eve, they held church services in the hall.  I went up around 5 after services were over and had them set up tables for Christmas Dinner the next day.  Then back home and it was time for supper……By that time they were all sitting around for a late Happy Hour…..It just happens when ever you want it…..lol…Even Cameron joined…..

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Rich fired up the grill and we cooked supper and set up 2 tables on the pad next to us that was still empty…..So this is Christmas Eve Texas Style…..No snow…..No Winter coats….No snow shovels…..we did have jackets on as it was getting a little chilly….But the day had been a beautiful day…..So Now it was time for bed for Carly……Santa was coming in the morning……

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We went over at 7 in the morning.  Carly was so excited.  Santa managed to find her in Texas…..20171225_073731.jpg

She got some cool toys….If your wondering about Cameron and Cassidy……they are here….lol…but neither one really likes their picture taken…..Cassidy is hooked up to her headphones and phone all the time and doesn’t like to do the things Carly does.  Typical Teen…..Cameron hangs around Grandpa…   After they opened presents, I went up to make sure the Volunteer cooks were doing ok with the hams.   Dinner was at 1pm.  They cooked 7 spiral hams for the residents.  Eveyone brought a dish to pass for our tables.  We also had a table decorating contest….20171225_124219.jpg

This was the winner. What an imagination.  This snowman was cut out of Styrofoam.  Then he had everyone Autograph it….He had it set at the end of the table and then took it down to eat.  20171225_161537.jpg

Now we all know what Christmas Day is….Rich’s Birthday….He had been wanting a Birthday Cake.   About a week before Glen and Kathy, our neighbors, took the picture of his bike down to the grocery store and ordered this cake…..We surprised him and brought it in….

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They did a beautiful job.  Rich is now…..’’68”……He is now older than me for 8 months….lol…One of the lady’s in the park played some Christmas Carols and then we cleaned up, did dishes, move tables back and all was done by 3pm…..The rest of the day was a lazy day (another Happy Hour).  So now our plans were, leave in the morning and head for Progresso Mexico.  The weather was still ok, but the forecast wasn’t looking good for the rest of the week.  Tammy had a hotel rented on South Padre Island for the rest of the week.  We also booked a room for 3 days.  So plans were to pack up in the morning and head to Mexico, spend the day and then down to SPI and check in.   We finally left the park by around 11.  We drove two cars to Progresso.  Its only about a half hour or a little more.  We parked on the American side and walked over.

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This is the middle of the bridge.  Underneath is the Rio Grande River, which is the dividing line between the US and Mexico.  20171226_125206.jpg

It really isn’t that far to walk.  As soon as you walk off the bridge on the other side, the town of Progresso begins.  When you look over the side, you can see all the women and children begging for money, pennies or quarters.  When you get to the other side where the ground meets the bridge, they are shoving their baseball hats threw the holes asking for money.  20171226_125547.jpg

The kids all were really excited about going over.  Tammy had gotten her passports in the mail, just weeks earlier.   This picture of Cassidy is right at the end of the bridge.  You can see the Mexican government security gates that you have to go through when driving.  We do drive over also sometimes.  They don’t bother you going in to Mexico, but coming back into the US on the US side,  you of course have to show your passports and they ask questions about what you are bring back.  They can be very thorough.  Many times we’ve seen them pull a car over and pull everything out to search.  They use mirrors, cameras and dogs.

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Here is a favorite place to take a photo.  This is what you see as you get ready to go through their gates.  So the adventure began.  The kids kept walking past all the sidewalk vendors.  We kept a tight hold on Carly.  Everyone of course was approaching us with their dental cards and everything else for business.  We finally went in a little shop area.  This guy spray paints pictures.  He uses only aerosol cans and little pieces of cardboard.

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He painted this picture while we watched.   He only charged $15.  Great souvenir.   Our next stop was a restaurant.  We went to Arturo’s.  Its one of our favorites to eat at.  Very clean and nice.  20171226_140455.jpg

We ordered off the menu and had some drinks.  They don’t care about ages so Cameron had beer or two. … lol. … Cassidy tried her moms Margarita.   Finally we went on.  We looked at the street vendors and the shops.  We went to our favorite Pharmacy and I introduced Tammy to Jasmine,  who also works with the Dentist in the adjoining office.  They are the ones who made my upper plate.  Her sister and husband are the Dentists, and Jasmine is the interpreter.  I believe she also runs the Pharmacy.  Next after a few purchases, we went to their department stores…..

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well not really but they are full of pills, souvenir’s, piñata, pots, candy, clothes and anything you can think of.20171226_132455.jpg

Their is so much traditional Mexican clothing and hats for sale.  Cassidy found some cute shoes and Carly found a matching dress for her and her doll.

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Finally it was time to head back over to the USProgresso is the only city that is advised to crossover over.  All the others they say to stay out of.  Matamoros by Brownsville use to be a favorite.  They say the Cartel is strong in these border towns and its unsafe.  In Progresso we feel really safe.  As long as you leave late afternoon before dusk, your fine.  So many people go over for dental work and pharmacy.  Some even come to Southern Texas just to go across and get dental work done.  It is a lot of fun their.  Theirs many street bars and singing entertainment all the time.  But of course they are always asking for money and your always approached on the street to buy something from even the smallest of kids.  They learn as soon as they walk, how to beg.  The Winter Texans are a Major source for their income, so they do seem to watch out for us.  They need our business.  Finally after a walk over the bridge and through customs, we were back in our parking lot.  We showed our passports and today was an easy day.  They didn’t even ask what was in our sacks.  I even think I detected a smile…..Now that’s Unusual….

So I got in with the girls and Cameron rode with Grandpa and off to South Padre Island to check into our Hotel………..The Next Chapter…..lol…

 

 

 

 

Rich Has Been Home a Month…..Time to Catch Up

Rich finally made it home from Illinois, right after Thanksgiving.  Three months of living at Scott and Brandys and driving truck, hauling grain to the elevator, was enough.  He was ready to leave.  The weather had continually deteriorated.  It seemed like it rained almost every week.  Then it would take a day or two for the fields to dry to get the equipment in.  The temperature dropped.  Even time for a winter coat.  It was a very late harvest this year compared to the norm.  We weren’t prepared for that.  But at last, their last day was just before Thanksgiving.   He had Thanksgiving with the kids and finished up a few things and took off.

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They all enjoyed having him home I’m sure.  The house was full of all the kids and their familys and some other friends.  Now if you look close in the corner, you’ll see the Christmas tree up already.  It is sitting on top of what was the dog kennel for Chaos…..Carly decorated it for Christmas.

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Tammy bought little wooden house kits.  Carly painted and assembled them.  Then they used Christmas drape for the ground, gems, my old Christmas village people and animals and assembled a village.  Then she sprayed snow on the buildings and hung little lights from the top.  It is just adorable.  It is big enough, Carly can actually get in….lol….She loves to do artistic things.  She definitely has a great imagination.

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The one thing I don’t miss is the mess of the kitchen…This is what it looked like every holiday after the meal.  Such a mess…..Now its Tammy’s Mess……lol….

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But they did have a good time and the kids and Aunt Connie, Uncle Brian, Cousin Ashley, Matt and their 2 little girls, Vivian and Adalyn, and of course Aunt Beth.  They had a house full.

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He was also able to enjoy Halloween at the bar.  Scott and Brandy really decorate the bar up good.  They hang all the Ghosts and Goblins  from the ceilings and lights.

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It looks really cool.  And Here is some of the patrons on Halloween…..

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Yes, they do have fun.  Usually he has Karaoke or a band on Fridays or Holidays.  IMG_20170928_143930003

So Rich was in Illinois about 3 months working the Harvest for Corn and Soy Beans.  He has worked for this farmer now for several years.  He drives the semi after its loaded from the field to the elevator.  The farmer farms around 4,000 acres in corn and soybeans.  The acreage is spread around several counties, some as far as 40 miles away.  So it takes a lot of road time to get the crops to the elavater to the field. When they were at their farthest, they had 3 trucks on the road making rounds.

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This is the combine with the bean head on it.  They were combining the soy beans here.

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Then the combine dumps into the wagon that is being pulled by a tractor.

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Next the tractor and wagon drives up to the truck and trailer which is sitting along side the road.  The tractor then dumps his load into the trailer behind the semi.  When the semi is full, it is driven to the elevator to dump.

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Here is McNabb Elevator from the park.  They seem to add another bin every year.  When we first moved to town in 1978 most of these weren’t here.

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This was the old office.  It looks so small now being surrounded by the grain bins.  When we first moved to town in 1978, we were just a few houses from here.  This office was then a very busy place.  The truck scales were right were the green Artic Cat boxes are.  It was sold and now artic cat snowmobiles, golf carts, and 4 wheelers are now sold their.

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This is the new office that was built a number of years ago.  Theirs nothing like living in a farming community.  In the fall you can hear the dryers running day and nite, drying the crops…..You will find a layer of red corn dust over your vehicles as it flies through the air.  Its on the sidewalks and porch’s and can track in the house.  Yes, nothing like living in town and enjoying the farm life…..

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Some of the fields were on the other side of the  Illinois River.  This is a cool shot of the River with the Railroad bridge.  Rich is on I 39 heading north.

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One day he seen Tammy and he picked up Carly for a ride back to McNabb.  She loved it.

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Rich took this picture of an arial picture hanging in the elevator.  Its a pretty cool picture of McNabb.  The elevator and office are in the foreground.  Main st. looks very short.  You can see Scotts Bar on the corner.  The town actually extends about 2 blocks north in the picture.  That would be to the left.  This is what a town of 350 people look like.

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So finally the harvest season was done.  This was a really nice picture Rich took.  He made a nice little nest egg, and he bought a new to us car.  Now i’m living in luxury.

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Electric seats and windows and even an automatic transmission.  I don’t have to drive the farmer truck anymore…..lol….It has crank windows, manual seat and manual transmision.  So Their it is.  A Chevy Equinox.  It the grayish one.  It is sleet raining at Scotts house.  Finally Rich was ready to leave.  He decided that he wanted to bring down his custom bike.

Richs custumHe built it a number of years ago.  It is made from scratch, piece by piece. He even molded the fenders to fit.  It took several years to put together due to the cost of course.  It sure doesn’t come cheap.  It has a lot of really cool detail to it.   It has been sitting down in Scotts basement for 3 years now.  So he rented a U-Haul to bring it down.

20171204_091754.jpg  He left on Sat. and arrived Sunday evening.  Its a long way to drive for one person.  He was tired.  Well when he arrived it was warm.  A cold front came in the next day and GUESS WHAT…….IT SNOWED

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It was the first time since 2004.  We couldn’t believe it.

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When you walked out side, I smelled that old familiar cold crisp smell.  Even after not having snow for 3 winters I realized after 5 minutes, it was enough….lol….

The schools were starting late due to winter warnings…..lol…They were all excited.  The newscasters were loving it.  They kept quoting the history of the last snow falls.  But…..Now the Winter Texans….That’s a different story….We were not happy about it….

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This was my drive up to the office.  It actually accumulated on the window and it was still snowing.  The palm trees and all the tropical plants had snow on them….

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It was pretty though…But the funniest thing to see was …..People in the Hot Tub….These teens in the tub were from Wisconsin visiting their Grandma Debbie.  Nothing stopped them.  If you notice their was a fog coming off the pool area……Fortunately it didn’t last long.  It melted later that day.  So Rich unloaded the bike, the next day we took the trailer to U-Haul…..He was glad to be back in the warmth…..Well, he had to wait a few more days…..hahaha…..

Now it was only several weeks till Christmas.  Tammy, Cameron, Cassidy and Carly came for Christmas.  We had a lot of fun and was busy every day.  We didn’t get to do everything we wanted because of the weather, but they had fun.  That will be the next blog….

All about Tammy and the kids and us at South Padre Island for Christmas.

 

Austin is “7” What Happened the Day You Were Born

The day Austin was born was really a quiet day, compared to Mileys birth.  When it came close to the time for Austin to be born, Tina didn’t let Ed do any fun things….lol…No going out to the farm and riding 4 wheelers….Nothing dangerous….Nothing that the guys would do for fun.  She didn’t want a repeat accident like when Miley was born.  The doctors set the date Dec 1 for the C-Section.  This was going to be an easy one compared to Miley.

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Tina was having a hard time bending over to put on her shoes…..lol…

The morning of Dec. 1, I went over to their house to take care of Miley.  Ed and Tina were going in to hospital to prepare for the C-Section.  As she was getting ready, we laughed at her cause she could hardly reach her feet to put on her socks.  Finally they left.

Tina and Ed told Miley they were going to the hospital to go get Austin.  Can you imagine what a child thinks.  One day theirs no baby and the next their is.  They see moms belly get big and are told the baby is in their.  Then all of a sudden it’s out????  Its a shame we can’t remember our thoughts as children.

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We waited for quite a while at home and then Miley and I went on to Illinois Valley Community Hospital  (IVCH) in Peru.

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Tina was all settled in her bed.  Miley climbed in with her.  She was very curious about of this.

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“What This Do Mom”

Then she decided to check out the bed and push the buttons.  After she was done playing with the buttons, she crawled back up to her mom.

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Then she examined her moms stomach.  She checked out the heart monitor on Tinas stomach.  Tina asked her “Where’s Austin”?  of course Miley pointed to her stomach.

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Ed was given his hospital robe as he was going in with Tina.

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Finally the time came.  Tammy was their, and her and Miley had went to get a drink.  They came back just in time.  ……Here comes the chariot…..

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Miley watched as they transferred her Mom on it.  Tina and Ed told her not to worry.  She would be back with Austin

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So on down the hall they went.

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Ed didn’t get to go right away.  They wanted to get Tina all ready first and then they would come for him.  So what do you do while waiting…..Even a 2 year old can operate a phone….lol….Finally they came for Ed…..Away he went to the Operating room….

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Finally , here he is…..Austin Danallen Bergen…..7′ 13″lb.    20″ long.  He was just a nice size little baby Boy.  Now Austin’s middle name is the combination of both Grandpas.  Ed’s dad is Dan….Rich’s middle name is Allen.  So it has a nice ring to it…..

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Miley was really glad to see her little new brother….

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I remember those first years, all she wanted to do was pick him up.  She just didn’t understand why she couldn’t just do that…She has always loved her brother.  They really are quite close. IMG_0557

They don’t fight like some siblings do.  After a day or so, they went home.  It was a nice quiet peaceful birth.  All went as expected….The first months all he did is sleep…and eat…He became a butterball.  I remember picking him up in his carrier from the sitters.  It took 2 hands to carry him to the car…..OMG…He became a chunk….Sometimes I even took the carrier out first and then brought him out.

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Here’s his 1st Birthday.  He had a big round face and not much neck….But he was a very happy baby. 198679_1924001265315_5443043_nFrom early on, he learned to go fishing with his dad and Grandpa Dolder…..

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Always the ham…..He has always been so happy…..smiles all the time….

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The older he got the more he thinned out and grew…..He also did what he wanted….If he had to pee, he did.   OMG.  Right in the old flower bed at Easter…..

 

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Love this one….Tina works for the Circuit Court in Putnam County….

 

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Miley 2016

Austin Dexter and Miley

 

Austin and Miley have always been close.  The’ve taken some great family pictures together. 15107194_10207556031886583_6404340002077889388_n

What a fine young man Austin is becoming…..But just look at those eyes…..Full of Mischief.  You know when he’s smiling at you—–Theirs trouble brewing…….Yes, he’s all BOY…..24174146_10210956730139819_4522011087848789427_n

This is Austin and their new Puppy Dee Dee….He is going to give Tina and Ed a Run for their money…..Well I think he already is.

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This is his school picture for 2017-18…..You never know what lurks behind that Smile…..

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUSTIN  ” 7 “

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Another Miracle: Mourning Flowers for Our Beautiful Tree…….

As You all know, our Beautiful Pot Hole Tree lost its life after 12 hours this week.  Its beauty shined brightly during its short life…..It life was feed by the abundance of water in the Pot Hole.  It had reached under the blacktop and the roots had attached to the dirt down below breathing in life……. The cars slowed down during the night as their lites were directed to the shinning beauty of the tree decorated in blue tinsel and tin foil.

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Then the powers that be, decided to cut it life short after 12 hours.

  It Crossed over the Rainbow Bridge…..

This morning, what should appear???  Beautiful Mourning Flowers.  Red Roses and little white flowers, growing from the Pot Hole…..This Pot Hole holds the Miracle of Life…..No Matter what they do…..Something else grows…..

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Another Miracle of Life……They are blooming in all their glory in Memory of the Beautiful Tree, that lost its life……Do you suppose they will be allowed to live????  They’ve made it over 12 hours already!!!!   They are in between the orange cones!!!!   That is considered safe “Right”???  I think so……..The cars are again slowing done.   Everyone is mourning the Beautiful tree.  They are paying their respects in Memory of the Beautiful Tree that crossed Over the Rainbow Bridge.

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Just look at how pretty the Mourning flowers are…..They add such a Beautiful touch to our park.  Where else can you find flowers growing out of Pot Holes…….

Only at Eastgate….

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Grow Beautiful Flowers Grow from your Pot Hole………Shine your Beauty across the Rainbow Bridge…..Let your Beauty Shine in Memory of our Beautiful Tree