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 the 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.

The 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…..20190415_1813203849102209601832706.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.……Its Not Over Yet…….

I

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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

 

 

 

Trip to New Braunfels to See Scott and Brandy

Several weeks ago, we took a trip up to New Braunfels Tx. Its about 4 hours north. Scott has a time share and had to use his points up or loose them. He decided to book a 3 bedroom unit in New Braunfels in hopes some of the family could get together. We have a niece and her family living their. He had hopes that us and maybe some of Mistys family could all get together. But unfortunately nobody could come but us. School was back in session and everyone was back to work. Scott and Brandy close the bar after the first of the year for 2 weeks so that was the only time to book it. So we went on up and met them and had a very nice time.

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The condo was actually in Gruene right along the Guadalupe River. It is a beautiful river that is actually 230 miles long emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The lower part of the river empties out of the Canyon Dam north of New Braunfels.

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It is full of rapids and some fast moving water at points. It wraps around a very forested area with winding roads and some cabins, fishing areas and restaurants. It is a prime area for fly fishing, kayaking, and tubing. It is just gorgeous. Along the river is Gruene, which is a very cool little touristy area. It is full of antique shops, restaurants, and cafes, and little gift shops.

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This is a beautiful Mansion made into a Bed and Breakfast. Also standing high above the river was the Gruene Town Hall.

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Gruene Hall, built in 1878, is Texas’ oldest continually operating and most famous dance hall. By design, not much has physically changed since the Hall was first built. The 6,000 square foot dance hall with a high pitched tin roof still has the original layout with side flaps for open air dancing, a bar in the front, a small lighted stage in the back and a huge outdoor garden. Advertisement signs from the 1930s and 40s still hang in the old hall and around the stage.

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The interior if very rustic and old and so unique. It is still used for name band entertainment. If you look up on Wikipedia, or their website you will find many many famous singers and entertainers who have played their through the years.

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So we met Scott and Brandy at the Condo and checked. It was a beautiful rustic cedar décor.

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The condo had a master bedroom down stairs with full bath and 2 bedrooms up. It also had a full size washer and dryer which is really convenient. A very nice large kitchen and dinning, living room combo.

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Very nicely decorated with tile and carpeted floors. So we all settled in and immediately made plans to head to San Antonio for the River Walk. Brandy found out it was the last nite of the lights. Misty, Mark, and the kids came by for a short time, and we decided to get together the next day. We have been to the River Walk before several times, but Scott and Brandy has not. We found a place to park and walked down to the River. It is so beautiful. The strings of lights were cascading down all the trees in beautiful colors. They are on just for the Christmas season.

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The walkways were still full of people. We walked a bit and ended up at Rainforest Café for Dinner. After that we went to look for the piano bar, “Howl With the Moon”. We finally found it and got in line to pay cover charge. Wow, who did I see!!!!!! A girl that had worked at Cinemark in Harlingen. Kay was checking IDs, and collecting cover charges. It was so good to see her. She moved up to the BIG CITY life. She took us and stamped our hands, …..NO COVER CHARGE…..”Thank You Kay”. The bar was so full, we went out to the patio.

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It was a little chilly so they had their big overhead heaters on. We could watch the Boat Tours floating by from the balcony.

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They had lights around the perimeter of the boats that just glowed in the water. So pretty. Finally we left the River Walk area. Up on the streets were the beautiful carriages that were for rent. One could take a romantic carriage ride and see the magical streets of San Antonio at nite.

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The horses were so pretty . Their manes were combed, and decorated along with headdresses. We headed home and off to bed. The next morning we had an uninvited guest. Rich and I had been in the kitchen walking around and didn’t notice this….lol..

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OMG. Brandy came down and seen the Scorpion in the middle of the kitchen floor. He wasn’t dead but almost. Rich must have stepped on his tail in his stocking feet. Yuck...Misty, Mark, and the kids came over, and we grilled outside. The next morning, it was time to leave. We had to be back at the park the next day. They were staying till Wed. then on to Pensacola to see Brandy’s mom and brother. They wanted to be home by Sunday....Really.…I seemed to me that was pushing it…..But when they drive, they don’t stop…..Their young, they can do that…..So in their 10 day vacation, they partied in Austin Tx, New Braunfels, New Orleans, Pensacola, and then a friends in Tennessee on the way home. To much traveling for me at a fast pace. Before we left New Braunfels, Rich had found an In-N-Out Burger. Now we have never been to one but Ron and Theresa love them. It has been an ongoing joke about them. So we decided to stop and get them each a sandwich and high tail it 4 hours back home. The menu was rather simple.

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The decorating was rather cute and different, with red Palm Trees. On the way out their was a sign in the windows. They were hiring ….

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Wow, look at the pay……$12 an hour…..Now that’s pretty good….I posted on FB, “Look at the pay, …Think well head north and get new jobs…..I can take orders and Rich can flip burgers”.....It was a joke folks….lol...Do you know how many people believed me!!!…The next week, I had people coming in asking me….Its not true is it? Are you leaving....NO, IT WAS A JOKE….We pulled in and delivered our In-N-Out Burgers…..Ron and Theresa were so happy and Very Surprised. They loved them even cold.

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So Another Great Week and a Wonderful visit with Scott and Brandy. Thanks for the Condo, food and the good company…..It was really fun……See you in the summer.

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The Year 2018 is Over….On To 2019

The years are going by faster and faster.  We have just finished up our 4th year of retirement, and also our 4th year of Workamping at Eastgate in Harlingen.  It is a great place to work.  The park is full of wonderful friendly people.  I remember when we first started this, I felt like we were on vacation and it would soon be time to go home and back to work.  At some point I lost that feeling.  Now it is just a good feeling to know that type of working will never happen again.  What a great feeling knowing you NEVER, NEVER, have to put in 40 hours of work again.  Especially if your not happy with your job.  Now the job as Activity Director is lots of fun.  I am pretty much my own boss.  Its so nice to do something that people enjoy and appreciate what you are doing.  Rich also sets his own hours.   Some times he plays men’s pool in the mornings.  Now we are half way through our 5th season.  So the year of 2018 was another good year of firsts and fun times.31689298_1821420474546169_2787616117940551680_o

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After the season was finished last April, we did a Cruise.  That was an item on our bucket list.  We boarded in Galveston and did a 7 day cruise on Royal Caribbean.   Ron, our new manager is also a Tour Director on the side.  He found a great cruise for us all to go on.  We went, Ron and Theresa and 4 couples from their hometown in Nebraska.  We sailed to Roatan, Costa Maya and Cozumel.  The day before we were to arrive in Roatan, another Cruise ship rammed into the docks and destroyed it…..Bummer…..So we didn’t get to port their.  But all in all it was a great trip….We surely will do another one in the future.   We went back home in May and worked Summer Camp again.PRC6490-Edit_Photo-Credit-Keith-Griner_

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It is always fun to people watch and listen to the music.  We were Security Guards again for the 2nd year.  We still carry our Texas Security License Level 2.  That is always a wild and crazy week, but its also a fun way to see the Music fest and get paid for it also.

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While we were home, we also celebrated 2 Graduations.  Cassidy graduated 8th grade and Carly graduated Kindergarten Carly had a really cute Graduation ceremony in Granville.  We celebrated with Tammy having a picnic.20180604_164512.jpg

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Dee Dee’s 1st Birthday

We also got to meet our new Grand Dog, Dee Dee.  She is a Goldendoodle.  She is smaller than Dexter was and a very different personality.  But that is a good thing.  She will develop as her own self.  She was a year this past fall and they had a First Birthday for her.  She even had her own cake……She is loved just as much as Dexter had been.

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Tina and Ed bought a new camper this year.  They all go to Wisconsin for family fishing trips with Ed’s Dad and family.  Now they are going camping more often.  Their having a lot of fun with it.FB_IMG_1548382150177.jpg

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Tammy has her own type  of camping.  She loves tent camping and ruffing it.  She found a small pull trailer and painted it red to match her Jeep.  She packs it all up with her tent and all her supplies, including blow up kayaks.

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Carly 7

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Austin 8

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Miley 10

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Cassidy 14

Carly turned 6 last January and just now turned 7, Cassidy was 14 in March, and Cameron was 20 in June.  In November, Miley turned 10 and Austin was 8.  They are all growing up fast.20190124_204922.jpg

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Carly, Austin and Miley all go to the same school system now.  Tina has Carly a lot because of Tammy, her mom’s work schedule at the hospital.  They all took some cute school pictures. Cameron is now working full time and learning about life and what it cost to live, and to buy the things you want…or need. Soon he will be 21…..Wow how the years have gone by. He was born the year I started at Advantage Logistics. IMG_4368

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Class of 1968, Toluca High School, Toluca Illinois

Labor Day we had my 50 Class Reunion Can you imagine that?  We drove back and met in Toluca Illinois at Mona’s Italian Restaurant.   It is definitely a landmark to attend a 50th.  The majority of our classmates are still alive.  We have only lost 4.  It was good to see them all.  Some of them I hadn’t seen since we graduated in 1968,  The next day we took Carly and Cassidy to the Carnival in Toluca.  That is the traditional time that they Celebrate since I was a child.  So many memories of the carnivals and the parades through the years growing up.  The girls had fun on the rides, and of course theirs always the carny food. 20180903_152702.jpg

Rich stayed in McNabb at Scotts and Brandy’s and worked the Harvest season.  This year he work out of the elevator, hauling to the river and the Ethanol plant.   Scott started his own project last fall.  He had no outside buildings so he finally built a pole barn.

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It is a nice large shed to house his semi when necessary and all his toys.  Rich was able to help some while he was their.  He enjoyed watching it go up.  Scott put in hot water heat under the concrete floor. FB_IMG_1548386177512.jpg

It required tubes looped on the base of the floor so far apart.  They had to be tied off under and over to the grids.  The ends all ran to a center manifold where the water will be heated.  Rich helped Scott do this just before he left for Texas. FB_IMG_1548386181072.jpg

Scott was finally able to pour the concrete.  Our nephew from Chillicothe, Jonathan has a crew that does this.  So they all came up and did the pour.  Finally at Christmas it was dry enough to park on.  Well its a good thing, because the weather has turned bad.  He has parked almost everything in it that he could just so he wouldn’t have to clean the ice and snow off the windows…….not the tandem, no room for it….but all the rest of the toys.  Here is a before picture and an after picture…

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Before

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After

Something tells me he wish’s it was bigger.  Now Brandy can park in the house garage for the first time in 8 years.  

So Rich finally returned back down to Tx and our season started at the park.  Lots of planning began.  We had taken on the Entertainment this year.  We have a Show every Friday nite.  We went to 2 Showcases last January to pick out our performers.  Now it is checking with each one to make sure we are all on the same page.  Making sure we get all our posters for advertising in the park.  Also getting all our schedules for Entertainment, Dances, and Church Services sent in to all the papers.  It is more work than I thought, but we are having fun.  We asked Ron and Theresa to help, so Rich and Ron sell popcorn, soda, water, and Ice Cream bars.  We also added Dreamcycles.  Theresa and I sell tickets at the door.  So it has been a learning curve to accomplish all this in a timely manner and also count all the money and figure up their percent and pay them before they leave.  It is a good time seeing all the talent that comes down from Nashville, and Branson areas.  They do the Winter Texan, Rio Grande Circuit for 1 to 3 months putting on a show up to 5 and 6 times a week.

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This is one of the Performers we booked….“Lawless and Mae”….They were such an amazing couple.  So friendly and down to earth…Just regular folk.  Ohhhh how talented.  They are from Nashville and are also recording artists.  They stayed 2 nites, had breakfast at the hall Saturday morning and sang at the church services Sunday morning.  They were so nice and are really enjoying the Rio Grande Valley.  Many of these performers leave the north because of the winter.  Branson pretty much shuts down.  They all go to Florida, Arizona or Texas. 

2018 is now over and we are pushing forward in 2019.

…….Another good Year……

I’ve Been Slackin………lol

I’ve been away from this blog WAY, Way way …to long…..So What’s Happening here at Eastgate Rv & Mh  Park.    Our Winter Texan season began officially November 1.  It is also the beginning of our 5th season here at the park.  Wow, how time has flown.  Just imagine…..5 years since we left the regular work life of 9 to 5 and retired.  We left Illinois and arrived here our first season on Dec 1 2014.  I worked in the office and Rich in maintenance.  I now have been Event Coordinator….fancy name for Activity Director, …..lol…. since the winter season of November 2015….This is a busy but fun job.  I plan all the outside activities as well as keep the activities with in the park on a schedule.  Our first Holiday was Veterans Day.  We offer all the Vets free breakfasts.  Then we have a short program, and our 2 little girls that have been coming for 3 years, sing for us.  Launa 6, and Pearl 4, sing solos, and handed out a copy of a Veterans Poem.  This year they brought cupcakes for the Veterans.  They are so precious.  They usually sing God Bless America and Our National Anthem.received_2217440528532628-1.jpeg

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We also have had Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners, serving around 120 people.  The Wednesday before Christmas we hold a Golf Cart Christmas Parade.  Golf Carts are decorated up with lights and decorations.  Santa was on a float this year.  They parade around the park and even threw out candy.  They end up back at the hall and we have free ice cream and sit with Santa if the so desire….lol….A great evening of fun.20181219_183818.jpg

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Also during the Christmas season, we enjoyed the Sam Houston Elementary School Choir.  Around 50 kids came and sang Christmas Carols.  Now it wouldn’t be Christmas with out Santa showing up.   The kids were really surprised.  Santa gave each one a bag with 2 cookies, 2 pencils, 2 erasers, and a chocolate as they filed back out to the bus.  Its so nice to see kids in the park….(sometimes….lol…).20181213_102428.jpg

But what Rich and I will have fun with this year is Entertainment.  We volunteered last year to take on Friday Night Entertainment.  We went to the 2 Showcases and picked out our Entertainers for this year.  We have to sign them to a contract for the date, time, ticket price, and Percent.  Our shows began the first Friday of December.20190102_184900.jpg

Our first performer was The Castaway.  Do you remember way back in the 60s?   The group was “The Castaways”,  they sang beach type music.  Their claim to fame was “Liar Liar”.   Well now it is just Dennis,  so he is just The Castaway.  lol.  But he is awesome.  He brings a Beach Hut Umbrella,  and has numerous drums including a steel kettle drum.  He also brought a fellow drummer along.  They did a FANTASTIC version of “WIPE OUT”.…I think we all know that one.  Ohhhhh could he play the drums along with his drummer.  Our next entertainer was Janelle.  She is from Rockport Tx, trying to break into the Valley.  She has a beautiful voice and could really sing.  We will now continue our Entertainers this Friday with the Nashville Recording Artist, “Lawless and Mae”  They have been voted favorite “Country Duo of the Year”.  It will be a really fun evening.received_228318288060948.jpeg

We also have our friends Ron and Theresa (Park Managers) help us.  Theresa and I take care of tickets sales, and Rich and Ron run the Concessions.  Theresa’s daughter has a T Shirt business, so Theresa designed these really cool shirts for us to wear.20190103_112243.jpg

Our good friends from Canada, Kathy and Glen have decided to sell everything and head back to Canada.  For the Canadians, it is very expensive for them to come down.  Their Health Insurance is free when they are in the country.  We they leave, they have to purchase it.  It can cost several thousands of dollars for each, for a winter season.  Glen and Kathy both some health issues so they decided it was best to sell their fifth wheel and maybe come back in several years in hopes that things were better.  They have been here for 4 years every winter season.  We were all neighbors.  They always had Happy Hours, not just at 4 pm but anytime of the day.  Needed a drink or company???  Go to Kathy and Glen.…They’ll fix you up.  Always good times on Kathy and Glens pad……We all went to Mexico for one last time.20181124_120459.jpg

Rich and them decided to get 1 last tattoo together.  So we all went down the narrow alley like hall to the Tattoo shop.  Glen picked a neat one.

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It is really a good choice as Glen is full blooded Indian.

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Now Kathy fell in love with the 2 Palm Trees making a heart.   My favorite though is the one on her upper arm….

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Rich chose another Skeleton.  His has a lot of color in it.  They were fast.  We were probably only in their a little over an hour.  I don’t do tattoos…..I’m not a lover of pain.….lol….By then we were all hungry so we ate a Angels.  It is restaurant on the top floor of a building, right in the middle of Progresso Mexico.  They have a musician playing the keyboard for background music.20181124_145336.jpg

Looking out the window, we are around 4 stories up.  You can see the main street of town.  This is actually one of the main intersections.  It is always so congested.  Its a free for all on the streets.  You drive slowly as cars just pull out in front of you.  This is the line backed up to the bridge waiting to cross back over.  See all the little street vendors,….They are lined up on both sides of the main street.20181124_144655.jpg

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This is looking towards the bridge over the Rio Grande River.  It is the official border of US and Mexico.  You can see the Mexican customs booths.  It was waiting in line traffic that day.  When we finally got in line, it was a 2 hour wait to get across the bridge to American Customs booth.  Obviously their is no worries here in Progresso about the Caravan.   Their is also no Mexican Military presence either.  Their are armed guards at the gates sometimes and a vehicle or 2 near the bridge, but no more than normal.   We seen more last year.  Occasionally several armed military Jeeps would drive down Main Street.  So far this year, none.20181118_154814.jpg

The only evidence we seen of tightening security is the gates they put up on the middle of the bridge.  Their are swing gates to close off the drive part of the bridge, and also swing gates under the canopy to close off the walkway of the bridge.  Nothing else……Business as usual…..We feel very safe here.  Even with all the hipe about safety, Cartel and the CaravanProgresso is still a safe town to cross over to shop.  We stay on the main street, and only drive around a block to turn around to come back.  The Americans are what makes the Economy of Progresso thrive.  The Winter Texans go over for Dentistry, and Pharmaceuticals.  Where else can you get a denture for $300-$500. The prices of their drugs are far less than in the Unites States.  You also need no prescription.  They also shop at all the many street vendors and stores for many interesting items that you can’t buy in the US.  But one of the Favorite things of the Winter Texans do is eat at their restaurants, listen to live entertainment and have a drink at a bar whether it is inside or street side.  It is such a different, fun atmosphere.  A whole different way of life.

We had one last fun nite with Kathy and Glen at Stefanos Italian Restaurant.  The were already attending Happy Hour all day that day when they decided to go out.

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This is what happens when  you take them to a public place.  They found Santa’s Sleigh and Kathy beheaded Rudolph. …… lol…...You just can’t take them anywhere!!!!!   So finally Kathy and Glen were off, back to Canada after selling everything.  It was sad to see them go, but hopefully with time they will be back.  We will ALL MISS THE GOOD TIMES…..SO So so Many Memories have been made…..

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Book Reviews: 3 Books of Anne Frank, Family, & Holocaust

Several weeks ago I attended the stage play of The Diary of Anne Frank in Harlingen at the Community Theatre. I read this book as a teenager, but had wanted to reread it. About a year ago I had downloaded it on my Kindle, but had neglected to read it. This play was an extraordinary production, which moved my soul and all those who attended. At that point I knew I would reread the book again. The Frank family were of the Jewish faith living in Vienna. Hitler came to power in 1933, and blamed the Jews for many of the country’s problems. He stepped up the persecution of the Jews and implemented a highly organized strategy of persecution, murder, and genocide aimed at ethnically “purifying” Germany. During the Holocaust, he was responsible for murdering 6,000,000 Jews (1.5 million of these being children) and the destruction of 5,000 Jewish communities. These deaths represented two-thirds of European Jews and one-third of all world Jews. He built Concentration Camps with Crematoriums, including the most famous Auschwitz. The Jews would arrive in trains of cattle cars and many would be marched in and gassed immediately. The Holocaust is one of the most notorious acts of genocide in modern history. Today the Holocaust is viewed as the emblematic manifestation of absolute evil.

Otto Frank moved his family to Amsterdam in The Netherlands from Vienna in 1933. He was trying to obtain Visa’s to leave Europe. His family and many others felt safe until 1942. The Germans invaded The Netherlands also as well as many country’s across Europe. After much planning, Otto took his family into hiding in the second and third floor rooms at the back of his Amsterdam company. During the next 2 years they would live together with 4 others, never to leave these rooms. Anne was given a Diary for her 13th Birthday just before they went into hiding. She was passionate about writing and wanted to eventually be an Author. Little did she know that some day her Diary would be published. The whole world would know her story. I also downloaded and read 2 more books to tell the story of Anne Frank and her family.

Book 1….. Anne Frank, The Diary Of a Young Girl

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This book is written in Diary form, starting with her first entries on her 13th Birthday, before they went into hiding. She describes her life as a 13 year old going to school and her family and friends. They went into hiding shortly after. During the next 2 years, Anne writes of their daily lives, sickness, food and hunger, her feelings, and loneliness. She describes her inner heart and soul, and her body changes as she matures into puberty. Their are so many daily struggles to just survive, and not be caught. They cannot move during the day because of the business down stairs. No running of water, and no flushing of the toilet during the day. Only a handful of workers downstairs know they are their. After business hours, they can then move around, fix their meals and visit. Their caretakers deliver food and all their needs daily. They enter the upstairs by sliding the bookcase from over the hidden stairway.

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In those 2 years, Anne develops from a 13 year old young girl to a 15 year old wise in maturity. Her thoughts and desires as she writes them down are of a grown women. She struggles with getting along with her mom as many teens do. The whole family and the 4 others in the house struggle also with the daily life of being together. They watch the trees change from season to season behind the blackout curtains. Meip Gies, one of the caretakers visits them daily and gives them the news of the war. They have so many hopes that Hitler and Germany will be defeated soon. They dream about their future after the war is over. During this time Anne’s thought processes become so deep, so intimate. She is such an intelligent girl. The last entry into the diary is just before the Nazi troops arrived. In August of 1944, they were taken into custody. The were taken into a camp in Holland for awhile. Unfortunately, they were put on the last train back into Germany. They were then split up. The sisters stayed together and went to Auschwitz, then Bergen-Belson. They both died of Typhus in March 1945, just before the Liberation. Edith also died as well as all the other 4, including Peter her teenage friend, hiding in their building. Otto was the only survivor. He returned to Amsterdam. After confirming that Anne was not coming back, Meip Gies, gave the diary to Otto. After the Nazi troops had taken the family that day, Meip went upstairs and found the diary and saved it for Anne, for when she returned. Anne had spoken many times about wanting to be an author. Otto took this diary, although heartbroken and started editing it for publication. The original version was altered. He took out some of the entries of the description of her changing body. He also took out some of the passages of Anne not getting along with her mother. He felt they were just to personal at that time. The first book was published in 1947. Eventually it was published in over 67 different languages. After Otto’s death in 1980, the book was republished and some of the original passages reinserted. This book has been made into stage plays and films. In 1960, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam became a Museum under the guidance of Otto Frank.

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Anne Frank Museum…The sight of the Hidden Annex

The Diary of Anne Frank remains one of the most moving and widely read firsthand accounts of the Jewish experience during the Holocaust. On Feb 3 1944 she wrote ” I’ve reached the point where I hardly care if I live or die, The world will keep on turning without me, and I can’t do anything to change events anyway”. She reached so many points of despair. But then on April 5 1944 she wrote ” When I write, I can shake off all my cares”. Anne’s diary is a story of faith, hope and love in the face of hate.

Book 2……Anne Frank Remembered, The Story of the Woman Who Helped Hide the Frank Family…..By Miep Gies

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This book is written by Miep Gies. She was an employee of the business. This gives you the perspective of what was happening on the outside of the staircase. Meip explains her history and how she managed to evade the Nazis. After she married her husband Jan, she become a trusted employee and friend who was in the confidence of Otto Frank and a few others. She tells of how the few office workers protected and fed the 8 people upstairs. Those helping, each had specific duties including her husband. Hers was to grocery shop. She would visit the shops daily being careful to not draw attention. As food became more scarce, she would start to travel farther on her bicycle. Finally she had to travel into the country and be back by curfew. All of this was under the terror of the Nazis as they watched. She would bring her food daily to the family’s upstairs and also news of the Nazi Occupation. She would supply them with library books and enroll them in correspondence classes, all under her name. She also became a friend of Anne, learning of her desires and needs. She grew very fond of her family upstairs. During this time, the business had to be run as normal every day. She tells of the day the Gestapo came. The earthshattering moments filled with terror. She was in the office and made to stay at her desk. She heard their footsteps as they were lead away through the halls and outside. Her husband hid outside and watched as they all were herded into the truck and drove away. To this day they never found out who told on the Franks. They believe it was someone from within the business. Their was a reward given for anyone giving information on the location of a Jew. For days they worked in terror, with their hearts broken, thinking the Gestapo would be back. Several of the workers were arrested also for helping hide them. Meip went upstairs and found the rooms had been ransacked. She found Anne’s Diary and pages that she wrote. strewn on the floor. They were all collected and hidden for when Anne came back. The following year, the Liberation began. The war was over. Hitler was dead. Otto returned to Amsterdam a broken and sick man. They found out everyone was dead including and Anne and Margot. They died of Typhus in Bergen-Belson just before the Liberation. Otto, upon reading the Diary, learned of a different girl than he knew. Her thoughts ran so deep at times. Exploring areas one would not have thought a 13 year old had went. It was a story he knew he had to share for his daughter. He started editing and vowed to Publish the book which was Anne’s hopes and desires. Miep’s story is a story filled with love of her family upstairs, her desire to help them and support them. The terror of the times and what it was like to try to just live your life under Nazi control, but to also give all you have and more, to risk your life for others.

Book 3……After Auschwitz, The Story of Heartbreak and Survival by the Step Sister of Anne Frank. By Eva Schloss

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Now this book really surprised me. This was a story I had never heard of before. So Anne had a Step Sister?…..So this is Eva’s Story…Eva grew up with her parents and her older brother. They also had left Germany and went to Amsterdam Holland to live. As children, Eva and Anne had attended the same school and played together. Eva had met Anne’s parents, Otto and Edith Frank. Eva also went into hiding but not as a family. Her and her mother were given a room in an apartment in town. Her father and brother lived in the country. They did managed to visit several times. Their was some moving around as the places became to dangerous. They were finally turned in by the lady who was boarding her father and brother. She had been raising their rent again, and again, and finally turned them into the Nazis. The whole family was moved to Auschwitz. She was able to stay with her mother. Her father and brother was separated. They were close to death many times, but always seemed to get that break that allowed them to live. She tells of the horrible events and living conditions. It was strictly survival. Eva seen her father several times as he was marching past. They were able to talk a little. Eva and her mother survived until the Liberation of the Concentration Camps. They searched and searched but couldn’t find her father and brother. They found out they died later as the Germans marched them farther into Germany on the last days of the war. Eva and her mom finally returned to Amsterdam. It also was a long horrendous journey. On the way they ran into Otto Frank. He was thin, forlorn and very sad. When they returned, they went to a friends house and were welcomed with open arms. Days later, the door bell rang, and their was Otto Frank. His family was also friends of these people. Later, Eva and her mom went to their old apartment. It was still locked. Upon opening it, they found it just like they left it. Eva and her moved back in and eventually invited Otto to rent a room. For the next years, Eva’s mom became close to Otto, and helped him with Anne’s Diary. After it was published she went on to help him with correspondence. They started traveling and helped with the writing and direction of the stage plays and films. Eva eventually was married and started her family. A year later, in November 1953, Otto and Eva’s mother was married. They continued to live a very happy life together, working side by side with the Diary of Anne Frank. They traveled all over the world telling her story. Eva eventually started to attend lectures and talk about her story. It became a healing process for her. She had never talked about the atrocities of the Holocaust, what it did to her and her family. Finally her story was told. By this time she had 3 children and was now a grandmother. Otto became very happy as a husband, stepfather and now a grandfather. But they all worked together to continue to tell the Story Of Anne Frank.

Their are so many books on the subject of the Holocaust. So many stories to tell. But can you imagine the untold story’s? The ones that never made it out of the Camps. 6,000,000 Jews died. So Many innocent people…..Only because of their Faith……These 3 books are such an enlightenment of what went on because of one man…..Adolph Hitler.…These story’s must always be remembered. We must never let evil again reign down on our earth……Again, this is only the story’s of a few people, what about the other 6 million….