My Brother From New Mexico/Our First Adventure

My brother from Albuquerque  New Mexico, arrived last Wed. on Amtrak.  This is his first visit and his first time east of Texas.  Amazing isn’t it.  He grew up on Albuquerque, has visited and lived in California many times, been all over west but never east.   So its Adventure time……..Time to show him how us mid westerners live.


As many of you don’t know, I have an older sister and brother.  My brother lives in Galesburg, and my sister is south of Albuquerque.  My parents split when I was in third grade.  My dad moved to Albuquerque, as his parents lived their.  He grew up around Burlington Ia. area, but his parents moved out west due to health reasons.  My dad met Grace, who was Mexican and already had 3 boys and a girl.  They married and Gino was born.  So Gino is my half brother, and is 13 years younger.  Grace was a wonderful lady, a wonderful wife to my dad, and a wonderful step mom that always made us feel so welcome, when we came to visit.  She was Mexican and cooked all the traditional Mexican foods.  Rich loved it…..I ate KFC……lol…..My dad died around 1991, and Grace died just 5 years ago, a month after her 80th birthday.  We had went down to celebrate her birthday with all her family.  We were so glad we did.

So this week is going to be filled with visiting the past and new adventures for Gino.  Our first trip was to Toluca.  Gino wants to see and find out about our dads life before he went to New Mexico.  We moved to Toluca when I was around 5 from a little town called Cameron.  Our dad worked for O’Dea Cleaners and was transferred to Toluca from Monmouth.  My dad left when I was in 3rd grade.  This was his town for around 3 or 4 years.

We drove all around town explaining where we had lived and the schools we attended.  The restaurants and bars he visited, and the church Rich and I was married in.  I shared the stories I remembered growing up.  Then we drove over to the Jumbo Park.  I explained about the history of the coal mine.

We loved the peacefulness and serenity of the park.  A freight train came by.  This use to be the Santa Fe main passenger line.  You could board the train here and go all the way to Albuquerque.  Now it is the main freight line to Chicago.  We decided to climb up the Jumbo.  I had wanted to climb the Jumbo several weeks ago when I was here with Cassidy, but I only had sandals on.  So now I was prepared with tennis shoes.

It didn’t look far, but we stopped many times………..hufffff    pufffff….we were out of breath…..but we made it……..”WHAT A VIEW”……You could see for miles.   Nothing but farm land dotted with farm buildings.   Every mile was a square section of a different color, depending on what was planted or not planted.  Some land was fresh plowed and black, others were different shades of green for corn as it was just breaking the ground. We sat down on the picnic table that sat on top of the Jumbo, and just enjoyed the site and the gorgeous weather.  It was a Perfect day.  I hadn’t climbed the Jumbo since I was maybe early 20s …..Finally we slowly climbed down, next stop Caseys……Restroom and refreshments…….We headed for Peoria, which  was about 30 to 45 mins.   We eat at Longhorn Steak House.  I think it was a well deserved meal.  Next Stop, Springdale Cemetery in Peoria……

If you like Cemetery’s, this is a must see.  Springdale Cemetery, was originally established in 1854 a mile from Peoria City limits.  It is now in the middle of Peoria.  War Memorial drive, a major road runs over the northern portion of it.  It is nestled in the rolling hills and valleys near the river and hidden from view.

It is now the site of over 70,000 burials with room for more.  It is comprised of 239 acres, and has over 6 miles of winding hilly roads.  It also has many nature trails through the park and is also a wild life preserve.  Last year I rode through near dusk and seen at least 6 deer grazing.  I believe it is one of Peoria’s most hidden historical treasures.  The park is not only used for burial, but also for hiking, and at any time of the day, you will find people walking and jogging on the roads.

It has many small mausoleums situated along the bottom of hillsides in the thick of the trees.  Beautiful, but “erie” at the same time.

Family Plot

Here some really strange stones.

Finally after over 2 hours of driving and roaming the cemetery, and feeling exhausted…..we left……..

But……….Determined to come again…….We didn’t even see it all….


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