Mosquitoes, & Creepy South Texan Bugs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cameron is “21”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aunt Tina let you drive….lol…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Uncle Scott and Brandy were their to Celebrate with you

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

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

Vacations Over, Everyone is Home…..Part 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“GET IN THE CAR CONNIE”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“GET IN THE CAR CONNIE !!!!!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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Stargate Office

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

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

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

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Dead Jellyfish like the one that stung Mileys leg.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

facebook_15584762163481756897153604411883.jpgDeeDee and the Kids sure Missed each other….so did Mom

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

.……Its Not Over Yet…….

I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tina, Miley and Austin, hamming it up

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Rich and Connie….Brother and Sister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carly wearing her googles

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

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

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Austin was AMAZED at this fish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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View from the patio deck of  “Louies Backyard”

 

Cameron Graduated with an EMT Basic

 

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Official Graduation Picture….Cameron is back row 3rd from left.  Also in his class is his friend Olivia Jesse, front row 3rd from right, and Tina’ high school classmate, good friend and baby sitter, Lauren Calkins, front row, 2nd from right.

Cameron has just achieved a Graduation Certificate for EMT Basic.  It is a lot of hard work.  I certainly takes a special person with compassion and the ability to react to help at a time when needed.  It is certainly not something I could ever even try to achieve.  We are so proud of all his accomplishments the past several years.  Once he had put his mind to it, he is making his path in this world.  He decided he would get his GED as school was difficult for him.  I was worried, as I thought he would never have the drive to push himself.  He has proven us wrong and has done so well.  Cameron enrolled in the GED program at Illinois Valley Community College.  He had to study and pass his prerequisites which took a few months.  Finally he was ready to take the GED, and he passed.  We were all so proud of him.  He got up every day and drove himself to class.  He did all his enrolling all himself.  He was driven to exceed and Pass……And HE DID IT….

Then he wanted to get his CDL.  He was only 18, but Scott said he would help him after he achieved his GED.  So that was the next step.  He enrolled at the Truck Driving School at the College and passed the course.  Now at 18 it is very hard to find a job.  But he has.  He has tried out some seasonal work and is right now hauling sand from a quarry to the train cars.  In June, he will be 21 and will be able to widen his search for the job he really wants.

Since then he has set his goals higher.  He joined the McNabb Fire Dept.  He also decided to join the Bureau Fire Dept.  Bureau gets many more calls, as they are called to a larger city near by. received_309364133074617.jpeg

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He was with Bureau Fire Dept.  fighting this house fire in Princeton.  The man in the house was a hostage stand off.  He held the cops at bay for 9 hours.  During that time he set the house on fire and wouldn’t come out.  He finally surrendered and no one was hurt.  He really enjoys the group from Bureau.  They were all presented with Goody bags.

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Now that’s the way to his heart.  Mountain Dew and Candy.  Its all in a Bureau Fire Dept Boot Coozie

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Check out the metal chair hanging out of the wall….Imagine the anger in him..

McNabb also had a hostage situation.  A male tenant in the Apartment attached to Moreno’s Restaurant went crazy.  He showed his machete and then proceeded trashed the apartment and part of the restaurant.  Everyone in the building and the surrounding buildings were evacuated.  The authorities had the whole town blocked off.  The local , state police departments and several Fire Departments and even SWAT were involved.   Cameron was involved in traffic control on the highway.  That one lasted all day until 10pm when he finally came out…..Doesn’t it just make you wonder what is happening to people these days….All the Anger and Violence that is happening all over.

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Next Cameron decided to become an EMT.  This picture is of the training that is involved to tear a car apart and extricate a trapped person to transport to the hospital.  Their is so much to learn.

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McNabb Community Center...Home of the Fire Dept, Ambulance Service, and Events

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After many months of training and testing, he passed his tests and practical’s. When graduation finally came, It was unfortunate that Tammy, his mom had already planned her vacation. But he had back up…..lol…FB_IMG_1556239715766

Uncle Scott and Brandy were their to support and Celebrate with him.  Also Beth, Tina’s Sister in Law attended and took many of these pictures.  She is very supportive of Cameron, as she is an ex police officer also EMT trained.  Beth’s father, Brad Acuncius  was one of the original founders of the Putnam Co Ambulance Service.   He truly believed in making this service available to the community and worked hard to make it efficient and affordable as possible.  FB_IMG_1556239694412

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It looks like it was a very nice ceremony that he will remember and be proud to be part of.  Now he has to finish his ride time with the Ambulance and then take his state test.  Last nite he was on duty and a call came in.   They answered a call for a person in cardiac arrest.  He bagged them and got the support equipment ready for the Paramedics.                     Kudos to you Cameron. FB_IMG_1556239648340

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We are so “PROUD” of your accomplishments.  Just remember……It is great to take 2 steps forward, but as we go through life we also take a step backwards sometimes.  But that is part of life.  Keep striving and you will again take another 2 steps forward or more.  Take each defeat as a lesson in life.  Learn from it and proceed ahead.  You will eventually find your niche in life.  Everything you do builds character into what you will be some day.

FB_IMG_1556239710272 Next step………Pass that State Exam….You will then be a Certified EMT Basic…..

“AWESOME……Welcome to Putnam County EMS”

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Our Eastgate Catamaran Cruise….

Last Thursday we had our 2nd Catamaran Cruise on Southern Wave. I scheduled one for the end of January. It was so popular, all 40 of the spots were taken in a short time. So we scheduled another for Valentines Day. Ron and Theresa headed up the first one. Their son Jeff was here on vacation and was suppose to go. The winds kicked up to 50 mph+, so we postponed it for 2 weeks. It sailed last week and they had a WONDERFUL TIME. Now it was our turn.

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Port Isabel in the distance and the Causeway bridge that crosses to the Island

Its about a 45 minute trip down to the island, so I usually schedule at least one and a half hour to meet and leave. Its nice to get their early, not at the last minute. Some people know where their going, and some do not. So I copy Google maps for everyone with the address of Longboard Bar and Grill. It certainly helps…..After checking off all 40 people, and everyone who was carpooling, off we went to the Island.

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We all arrived with a half hour to spare. I checked them all off and paid the bill. We got a great rate of $32. $3 of it was for tips. Finally it was time to board. Rich and I went in front. Their were benches all around the front. In the center was a table were the food would be brought. Either side was the netting that you could lay or sit on if you wanted. In this area you could gather all the sunshine you could want on a sunny day.

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In the center of the boat, their was a more sunken area under a canopy. It had many benches with a table for serving food in the center also. The very back of the boat was raised and the cook had an area for his grill with a canopy over head. Their were several seats their also for a few people. We had all 40 onboard placed comfortable around the Catamaran.

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The cook is grilling our shrimp appetizers and beef and chicken Fajitas

We finally cast off our lines and headed out. It was about 75 degrees or warmer and a cloudy day. But it looked promising that the sun would come out. The boat just slowly cruised near the shore and we could see all the beautiful homes, condos, and restaurants along the shore.

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Causeway Bridge on the horizon

These are views you never see from the land. These homes are in private areas that are off the main drag. Also I need to mention that we were in the Laguna Madre, the bay area of the island, certainly not the Gulf side. It would be far to windy out their.

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As we slowly cruised along, a girl sang songs and played guitar. It was so relaxing. You would view the homes imagining spending a summer sitting on the gorgeous decks, watching the sunsets at nite, swimming in the pools…...Ahhhhh……so relaxing....all the while, the music played in the background.

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Very soon, the girl deck hand brought around a tray of Butterscotch Snapps shots…..Ohhhh Yum…..Now I’m not a drinker, but those were so good…..Next she brought out a tray of grilled shrimp. I had one and the flavor was excellent, barbeque with a little kick, but I’m just not a shrimp lover. I’m not fond of the texture when you bite into it.

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Grilled Shrimp

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It doesn’t look like much here, but the dish was deep. It fed all of us in the front, with left overs.

Finally the main course came……What a spread. Corn and Flour Tortillas, beef and chicken, pepper, onions, tomatoes, cheese sourcream, amazing. Everything for Fajitas. We certainly filled up on that. The boat was very sturdy. We even walked across the netting to make our plates. The hardest part I found was to hold your plate in the breeze. The food was wonderful. Finally we were near the end of the homes along the shore.

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The boat turned into an inlet. It was so cool to see all the homes and some business. Many were still closed for the season. They will start opening soon when Spring Break comes and then summer. A few people were their sitting on their balcony’s and decks enjoying the view. We all waved back and forth to. We turned around and came back out, now facing the wind.

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Now the Deck hand girl brought out a Beautiful plate of mixed fruit cut in bite size pieces. Honey Dew, Cantaloupe, Watermelon, Pineapple, Strawberry’s, and Grapes…..Just Awesome…..

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Now we turned into another inlet. It is amazing to see how large these inlets are. It branched off in several areas like a highway. As we made it to the end, we seen a hotel we had stayed at in the past. We knew it was on an inlet, but had no idea how intricate it was. Finally, we turned around and returned back to the bay area. Again it became windy.

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Everyone was just enjoying the scenery, the sea gulls, the wind blowing through your hair, the sun that finally came out, and above all….friendship….

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On our way back, we seen 3 Wind Surfers. It was so cool to see them out their, just flying across the water in the wind. They went really fast to. I’m sure the wind was in their favor that day. They made it look so easy to just jump up on their board, hold their sail and take off in the wind. If only I was younger……and thinner….lol…

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Hard to see, but this condo had an Infinity Pool

We floated back past all the homes and condos. Many with pools and even seen 2 with Infinity pools. You could see the water gently cascading over the edge. We passed many boat docks, another Catamaran, Laguna Bobs, which is a great bar and entertainment club. Next was Louies Backyard.

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It is a huge restaurant with large patio areas, indoor dinning and a bar. They offer a rather extensive menu and entertainment. Its one of the Islands favorite places to go. Finally we arrived back at Longboard Bar and Grill. We docked and had to leave this beautiful Catamaran. They had 2 more trips to prepare for that day. Everyone had such a good time. Definitely a great trip worth every dime….

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Longboard Bar and Grill was just purchased this past summer and is remodeling. They have made vast improvements, and is continuing to do so. The have an indoor area as well as a vast outdoor area, filled with several layers of decks filled with tables and chairs. Their is an outdoor horse shoe bar to service everyone, and also a gorgeous stage out by the water for their everyday entertainment.

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The Southern Wave Catamaran docks at the edge of the patio. The new owners are really making it a great place to come and spend the afternoon or evening for fun, food and entertainment.

Longboard Bar and Grill in the Evening….

Winter……So Glad I’m South…

Today was a rainy chilly day.  A cold front came through yesterday and dropped our 80 degree weather down to the low 40s last nite.  Today is only the high of 49.  For us that’s rather cold.  Winter coat weather.  “Brrrrrrrr”.    The weather has been hard to predict this winter.  We would have cold days and then it would heat up to gorgeous days.  But we have had more than the normal of chilly days.  FB_IMG_1549751855665.jpg

Back home in Illinois and the whole north has had very bad record breaking weather.  The snow storm dropped a record breaking amount of snow,  I believe 10″ at home.  Then a week or 2 later the temperature dropped to an all time low.  -25 degrees.…..FB_IMG_1549752368218.jpg

Now that is so so cold.  In a 2 week period the kids only went to school several days.  Most all the business’s were closed.  Even the Putnam County Court house where Tina works.  Many of the Post Offices were letting their postmen even stay home on the very coldest day.  Cameron, who drives semi from the gravel pit also did not work.  Tammy, of course, being a Nurse had to work.  She drove in to Peoria which is 45 mins away.  I thought she should have just stayed there.  Would have been so much easier.  I just can’t imagine cars even starting at -25 degrees.  The only places that worked were a few of the DC’s in the area…..Of Course my Former Employer was open..….Advantage Logistics….  I’m sure everyone was expected to try to make it to work…..“Really”…..They preach about safety, but they want you to risk your life just to come to work.  If you break down on the road, the time for frostbite at -25, is a very few minutes…..No one should be out in that weather unless it is an emergency.  Is it really worth risking your life?  Is it really that important that the trucks at the DCs are loaded just so the retail stores get their product?  I sure don’t think so…….But they push their employees by making them feel guilty or giving points for absenteeism for not coming in.  The people fear loosing their jobs, especially the ones with families.   I guess that’s why I am retired now.  My attitude towards life has changed.  No Longer do we fear that Corporate attitude that they brainwash you with when your younger.  Were some of the few who have been able to retire and enjoy life after work………lol…..FB_IMG_1549752479359.jpg

This is what you see on the highways.  Its really a scary and unsafe place to be in a storm. They had so much snow and wind, that the roads were so drifted the plows couldn’t keep up.

Our Heroes are the Policemen, Firemen, Ambulance Personnel and the Highway workers.  They have to be out their in full force just to take care of people who are out their.  They all risk their lives for us all.  The Hospitals must have a medical staff to take care of their patients’.  Doctors and nurses risk their lives to go to work.  Then their are the ones like my Son in Law Ed.  They work for a company that has to maintain their plants in order to keep them operational.  It is risky but necessary to keep them up and running.   These are our HEROS…...We owe them all if nothing else…..A HEART FELT THANK YOU”……For doing their daily job….FB_IMG_1549751893612.jpg

This was just west of Spring Valley on Rt. 6..…After its plowed, you can see how deep the drifts were.   I’m just glad I’m not their.  The temperature has now warmed up to a balmy 25.  So the worst is over for them.

Here at the Park we’ve been busy.  Winterfest Music Festival was held at Schlitterbahn in Jan.  Rich and I went down to South Padre Island and stayed over nite at the hotel.  We attended The “ABBAFAB” Dinner Show the nite before.20190129_210114.jpg

They are an ABBA Tribute Group…  They sang a great “Dancing Queen”.   Very talented.  The little blonde singer was the 4th runner up in American Idol the year Jordan Sparks won.  The next day was the Winterfest Music Festival.  They had groups playing all day with 45 minute time slots.  This was our Favorite.20190130_145709.jpg

Lobo Del Mar is a huge family group.  Mostly men play instruments and sing.  Some dress in kilts.  They play the Scottish bag pipes.  Now the girls are beautiful dancers.  They have lived all over the world including Hawaii and have incorporated all the different types of music into their repertoire.  Now they live on the island and have bought a restaurant.  We intend on going soon.  After listening most of the day, we decided to leave it was really getting chilly with the wind coming in off of the gulf. 20190203_172237.jpg

The following Sunday was the Super Bowl.  Now I know nothing about football.  I wanted teams to win according to color.  It is easier to decorate that way.  So 2 blue teams won.  …….Bummer...…So I hung balloons from the ceiling in the blue, white, yellow, and red colors.  I used plastic table cloths cut in 4s for table runners.  I asked for empty water bottles and received 58 in one day.  I bought 8 lbs of Pinto Beans and filled each bottle with 1/3 cup of beans.  Taped a strip of blue construction paper around the middle and decorated the tops in curly ribbon in yellow and red.  We scattered them around the tables and they were used for noise makers.   …..And they did use them…..

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Rich cooked 6 pork shoulder butts and made pulled pork.  We also supplied little weinies, and nachos and cheese.20190203_165244.jpg

Of course we always have shrimp.  Its nice to provide a luxury item.  We usually get 10 lbs of fresh frozen shrimp.  Its all gone by the end of the nite. 20190203_165308.jpg

Also of course veggies and dip, cheese and crackers and…… a half barrel of beer……I also went out and collected 32 items for door prizes. 20190203_165511.jpg

The 1st prize was donated by the owner.  It was a collapsible canvas wagon and 2 bag chairs.  The rest were many restaurant gift coupons, South Padre Boat tickets, and many other things.  All the food was provided by the owner also…..They all had a good time except they weren’t happy about who won….but….That’s out of our control.…Thur we have a Catamaran trip down at the Island scheduled.  It is a 2 hour cruise.  It includes Butterscotch Snapps, Shrimp appetizers, shrimp, beef, and chicken fajita’s, and fruit plates.  They cook on the Catamaran, and a musician is softly playing background music.  So far the weather is looking like 83 degrees……

…….Hoping It Stays Warm for the Trip…….

Illinois Poem