Homeward Bound from Albuquerque and Babysitting my Grand Dog Dexter….lol..

Albuquerque is such a beautiful city.  It is situated in a Valley with the Sandia Mountains bordering on the east side.  The scenery, no matter where you drive is just breathtaking.  On Sunday before I left Gino and I went to Sam and Melissa’s house.  Sam is my step brother, Gino,s half brother.  He lives in Bernalillo, which is north of Albuquerque.   Gino wanted to do some drinking, lol, so he invited his friend Anthony to drive us.  They all grew up together and attended the same schools.  So we took off down the freeway and then headed north in the valley shadowing the mountains on the right.  When we got to Bernalillo, we turned west and climbed out of the valley somewhat.  Sams house was located in a development that was overlooking the town.  When we arrived Sam was doing dishes….lol…..The boys were home, both grown now, Sammy G and Issac.  Melissa was outside with her parents from Santa Fe.  I had met them one other time.  Sam made steaks on the grill and we had a great meal.  As we looked out across their back yard I seen…..    “THE RAINBOW”     …..In the sky was a dark rain cloud hovering and moving slowly up the valley between us and the mountains.  The rainbow appeared as we watched.   I can’t imagine sitting in my back yard every day and watching such gorgeous views before me.  We continued to watch it as it slowly headed north up the valley and the rainbow disappeared.  You could just see the rays of the sun playing on the mountains across from us and casting shadows.   A view always changing.

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View from the backyard of Sam and Melissa’s

After a fun evening, which included visiting and watching the NBA finals…lol..in Overtime, I might add, we headed back to Gino’s.  Again the views of Albuquerque at night are stunning.  All the city lights, the strips of lights of moving cars on the freeways’ and the lights of the homes all the way up to the foothills of the mountains

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On Monday I went back to my sister Anna and spent to day.  We went to Applebees for afternoon lunch, and then back to her house. We spent the rest of the day visiting and looking at pictures.  That’s what we always seen to do when we get together…..We love pictures….

Tuesday afternoon, It was time to leave.  After an hour + wait, the train finally left.  It was interesting watching the murals and the graffiti painted as we slowly wove our way up the tracks while we were still in the city….These are only sites to be seen on the train….

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I can only imagine what I missed seeing on the other side of the train.

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As we traveled up the valley towards Santa Fe, we passed one of the Pueblo villages..

At the Lamy stop…(Santa Fe)…I loved the little church up the hill.  Also in front of it was a side track with an old engine and a baggage car with a painted mural.  If you pull the mural up close, you will see the mural matches the name of the locomotive…..Pretty neat…..

We slowly kept heading north up into the mountains…..The train has to travel very slowly on this stretch.  It is very mountainous and rocky.

The scenery and homes nestled in the mountain sides are priceless.  On the way to Raton Colorado, we went through a tunnel at Raton Pass.  Then we passed a sign.  We were traveling the Santa Fe Trail, which traveled through the Ranch of Dick Wooten.

“Uncle Dick’s” real name was Richens Lacy Wootton.  He constructed a toll road through the pass around 1870, cutting several hundred miles off the Santa Fe Trail through the mountains. When the railroad came through they bought the right of way and built the tracks over his toll road.

Uncle Dick’s family moved from England (via Scotland) about 1800. First to Virginia, then to Kentucky. He left home at age 16 and became a “mountain man’, He knew Jim Bridger and Kit Carson. He built the first store in Denver, Colo.

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Now we are back following I 40 heading through a small part of Colorado heading east.

Along the way we came upon an area that had a forest fire.  Dramatic scenery when the sun was setting. Finally we sped up as we were out of the mountains heading for the flat plains of the Midwest.

I love the train.  I slept in the chair, but I didn’t have anyone next to me this time.  lol.  The rocking motion is so peaceful.

I spent some time in the observation car the next day.  It is such a bright and cheerful spot.  The café is downstairs, with soda, sandwiches, snacks, and alcohol, for sale.   The dinner car is next to it, serving 3 full meals a day.  It is expensive, but nice that they offer it.

Finally crossed the Great Mississippi in Fort Madison Iowa, entering Illinois.  This is a double decker bridge.   The cars are on top and the train on the bottom. Finally arrived home…..Rich had been waiting to pick me up……..lol…..Only about 3 hours late….lol…But that’s what happens on a train.  Kids were all glad to have me home again.

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This is Carly and Cassidy.  This tree is in the front yard and it is called the Family Tree….The kids always have their picture taken in it.  Now this week, I am babysitting my Grand Dog, Dexter.  Tina, Ed and the kids are heading to South Dakota for Mileys Gymnastic Nationals.  They will be gone a week.  I will be spending nites with Dexter at his house.

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He is a Golden Doodle and is only 5 months old.   OMG….What a baby…and now a chewer…..He is locked up in the kitchen when no one is home.  They have gates everywhere leading out of the kitchen.  He also has a soft doggy pillow that he lays on in the kitchen.

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First nite, I looked away for 5 to 10 minutes.   “LOOK WHAT HE DID”…..He ripped a hole and was pulling out the stuffing.    An hour later, I was playing ball with him.  I through it to high, and took out one of the lights on Tina’s ceiling fan…….hahahaha…..Oh No……I’m in trouble now.   The next morning he found my new ear buds that came with my new phone I just purchased in Albuquerque.   Grrrrrr……Things have settle down, but he is such a baby and so full of energy.   He circles around and round.  He brings you his toys and wants you to play with him.   Yesterday he destroyed a flyswatter…..He loves plastic…..and Mileys little stuffed animals….I have rescued a little monkey several times.

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Well this week will be over soon……….

Back To Normal……….Hopefully…….

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On the Way to Albuquerque, New Mexico

Gino and I boarded the train at Princeton. When I decided to go, I checked tickets and the Value ticket from Princeton was not available, but it was from Mendota, which was the stop before. I of course bought it from Mendota, lol. I thought about calling Amtrak, but never did. What could they do? My ticket was paid and they just got a little more of my money. When the conductor came around to check tickets, she checked Gino’s and then looked at me. I was looking for my ticket, and she said “I bet your ticket is going to say to board at Mendota isn’t it”. lol I looked at her with a smile and said, ……”Yeeeesss”……She said she knew when she seen 2 of us coming to board, she should have only had 1, and she was short in Mendota…..She was smiling, so she was ok with it, but I guess they really do keep track….


Ive’ always loved train travel, as Rich and I have rode many times. Ahead of us was a younger girl….(20’s). She had on her headphones, and kept singing and dancing in her seat….How annoying….Gino kept mumbling things everytime she would get loud (he had a few beers already)….I   was annoyed with her, but a little worried he would be heard and oh NO………….But fortunately, she got off at Kansas City.  We were in the last car which was a first for me.  We were able to see out the back door.   We seen some water in the fields, but not as bad as I thought it might be, with all the rain we’ve had.  .

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We crossed over the Mighty Mississippi, at Ft. Madison Ia…..what a beautiful river, and so vast and really calm…..

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So much beautiful scenery coming down in to New Mexico.  The train has to slow way down and go slow through the curves…(thank goodness)….The track in one place switches back and forth as it comes down the incline of the mountain….We went through a tunnel and in many places, the hills had been blasted large enough for the train to fit through.

Our last stop before Albuquerque, was Lamy.  People who are going to Santa Fe, get off here and are shuttled to town.  On side was an old car that was now a residence.  A deck was built on the front.   Further down was another one, also a residence.  Finally we got into Albuquerque on time, after around 24 hours on the train.  We pulled in the city and the PA came on….The passenger train coming from the west was almost 4 hours behind and we had to wait for them to stop and unload and reload and also to fuel up and resupply the train…..ONE HOUR LATER…..we pulled ahead one block to the station….lol….But it was a Good day….My step brother Sam met us and took us to Gino’s apt.  I called my sister Anna that nite……”Surprise ….Guess where I’m at”…..lol…

The next day we went and visited her for a short time and made plans for Monday with her.

Yesterday I took Gino’s car and went visiting.  First stop, my ex niece in law…..lol….Lisa was married to my sister Anna’s son, Bill.  Now she lives across town with her sister and one of the daughters, Lee Anna and her little girl Melissa.

She is only 3 and is so tiny and cute.  Had a FABULOUS visit with Lisa….We talked about our kids, and told many storys of the past…..Had some great laughs with the memories from the past.  So enjoyed our visit.  Finally I left and was to head to my friend who I graduated with,  Randy and his lovely wife Sharon.  We attended the same school most of our childhood life, and even graduated in the same class…..The whole 36 of us…..lol….. and had never seen each other again till last year.  He came to Illinois to visit family.  We had found each other on fb several years ago and was astonished as he had settled in Albuquerque.  He was living on the east side in the foothills of Sandia Mountains, near the Tramway.

Being I was early, I decided to buzz up to the Tram way……I’ve been their many times before…The clouds were coming and going….some rain…some sun…..

The Sandia Peak Tramway consists of 2 cable cars that are suspended with only 2 towers between the 2 terminals.  From bottom to top, it is 2.7 miles long and takes 15 minutes to ascend 4000 ft.  Each tramcar is capable of carrying 50 passengers or 10,000 pounds up the mountain at a maximum rate of 200 passengers per hour  On the average, the tram makes 10,500 trips per year.  On the top is a beautiful Restaurant and miles and miles of hiking trails…..A ski slope goes down the other side of the mountain. The Tramway is now 48 years old.

I have been up the Tram many times but just can’t miss an opportunity to visit.  The views are breath taking and it never , never gets old……

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It was rather cloudy and sprinkled a little while I was their.  As I was leaving, I looked out and seen Albuquerque.   What a beautiful site to see the city nestled down in the valley….Their were some storm clouds and you could see the rain coming.

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So on down the road to Randy and Sharon’s.  It wasn’t far at all.  I was amazed as to how close they lived.

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Their view from there courtyard was beautiful.  As we sat their and visited, one just couldn’t take your eyes away from the amazing site before you.  We had such a nice visit, remembering old times, and   catching up from the past.  Finally we went to dinner, to a really cool Mexican Restaurant.  It was decorated true to the Mexican culture.   Of course leftovers were taken home……Back to their house for more visiting.  Before we knew it, it was time to go…….We went out the court yard, and right before my eyes was the breath taking view of the mountains at dusk.

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On the top you could see the lites of the visitor center at the Crest….and over to the right, was the lights of the top Of the tramway.  As we watched, all of a sudden you could see the 2 lights of the cable cars traveling up the mountain.   One going up…..On going down……”Magical”……I could have watched for hours.   But time to leave ….another beautiful site……

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                …………..Driving down into the valley of “Albuquerque” at night…………..

Miley’s Kindergarten Graduation

Last Monday was Mileys Kindergarten Graduation.  Wow .  Where have the years gone.   First Grade, here we come…….We met at Tina’s at 12;15 and went over to the school together.  Tina, Ed, and Austin, Aunt Beth, Rich and I and Gino.  Miley attends Kindergarten at the Granville Primary School, and the Graduation was held across the street in the Auditorium at the High School.  As we parked the cars, all the little Graduates were walking across the street to the High School.  I don’t think I have been in this school since Scott Graduated, back in 2001.  Well nothing really changed.  It still looks the same, just new faces.

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Austin and Dad, waiting for Graduation to begin

We found our seats in the auditorium as many more parents and grandparents came filing in.  As I sat their, I remembered the days when Tammy and Tina were going to school here.  Tammy helped and attended lots of the Theater Productions here and spent many hours in this Auditorium.  Scott also graduated Kindergarten on this same stage.  Finally it began, all the little kids filed out onto the stage.

Some were shy, some were looking for their parents, some were just waving wildly at everyone.  They were so excited.  Kindergarten was comprised of 3 class’s.  They sang some really cute songs, some with alphabet letters, ….The last one was “The Eye of the Tiger”.   They were so into it….GREAT JOB…The time came for the presentation of the Diplomas.

Each teacher handed out her own.  Each child had answered the question….What do you want to do when you grow up……So Miley was introduced as the “Future Tumbling Coach”lol…. some were so cute…..There were teachers, doctors, hairdressers, and moms….even a future robot…..lol…but one of the cutest was, ……”A fixer of anything broken”…..lol…Finally it was over.  The kids met up with us out in the lobby.

Austin gave Miley a Pink and Red Rose.  I gave her a yellow rose and balloon.   She started getting really shy and didn’t want her picture taken, but finally success…..lol…..

We took her picture with her teacher, Mrs. Serafini, and with her favorite friend Paige.  Finally we left the school and headed into Spring Valley.  Tina had left a cake and balloons at the Gold Mine Restaurant, where Connie works.  So we had a little party.

Everyone came, and eat dinner. Miley got new birthstone earrings from her mom and dad.   So Ed put them in.  …lol…Finally it was time to leave.

Here is some more cute photos of Miley, Mom, Dad, Austin, and of course we must not forget DEXTER…lol…

Tonight is the last nite before Gino goes home…..We have done so many things that I have not even touched on.

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We went to Galesburg to see our other brother  (my full brother).

Went back to Springdale Cemetery in Peoria.  We spent 2 more hours their…lol….Love that Cemetery…

Went down to Magnolia and found old Cumberland Cemetery and I showed Gino, our dads old fishing area at the Big Sandy Creek, right near the Cemetery.

This is such a beautiful secluded spot……Great spot for partying and parking….lol….lol…How would I know?…..We did so many things while Gino was here, many things i’ve never mentioned …….and lots of stuff left for next year….So train leaves tomorrow…..

Guess Who else is going…….

“ME………For a Week……lol….Another Vacation…..Wow….

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Gino and Tammys day in Chicago, and the Hegler Carus Mansion

When Gino arrived, I asked him what things did he want to do…..Chicago…..Big on his list…He  has been to LA and Las Vegas and everywhere else in California, but never Chicago.   Tammy jumped at that.  She loves Chicago, but I hate going their.  Its been many years since ive been their and I’d rather leave it that way.  Tammy use to drive for First Student, and she would take the kids on field trips right down town to the LOOP….Upon checking train schedules and prices, they decided to take the train in from Mendota and back.  It arrives at Union Station, right down town.  They arrived around 10:30 am.  and headed to Willis Tower (Sears Tower).

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They had a 45 min wait in line.

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Just to stand on a GLASS SHELVE?…..lol…Not on my life.  But they thought it was Grand.  After that, they walked back to Union Station and got on the Water Taxi.  They took the Architectural Tour of the buildings by Taxi.

That must have been so interesting.  Now I’m starting to wish that I WAS their after all.

They seen Merchandise Mart, Marina Towers, Trump Building, Boeing, and Opera House, just to name a few.

Then off to Navy Pier. Wow…Lets ride the Ferris Wheel……That’s not for me either….To far up their.

They did take some nice pictures though.  After that they went through the  green house area.

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While on top of the Ferris Wheel, Gino spied Hard Rock Café…..That’s were they went to eat.

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This is the drink Tammy ordered….Lol….This is for the person who doen’t know what they want…..A sampler of many drinks……lol…At that point, they had to hustle to meet the train, so they just got a taxi to Union Station.  They arrived back in Mendota around 7:30…..They both came in the house just bubbling about all the fun they had.  It was a super exciting day for both of them……

And what did I do all day?????    Of course, I volunteered to watch the kids…..And do laundry….lol…But it was worth it.  They had a GREAT TIME…..that’s what its all about.

Now a day or so later, we went to town and I decided to go by Hegeler Carus Mansion.  Trish was their.   She is a Super Sweet Girl and is the Head of Volunteers.  As I am a Tour Guide their….(non practicing right now)….I asked Tricia if I could give Gino a tour.   lol.  Of course we did.

The mansion is a historical, beautiful mansion full of history.  Seven floors full of past memorabilia ….A historical gem of the Illinois Valley.  It was listed  as a National Historical Landmark in the early 2000’s  If your ever in the area,  (crossroads of I-80 and I-39) in Illinois, you must take the time to stop.   Well I really tired Gino out on that one.  The rest of the day was a lazy day.

Here is  a picture of Cameron, Me and Rich…….and Cameron and his friend Andrew…..

.Why are they their…….?????…

..Gino made HOME MADE ENCHILADAS……..YUM…..