The Trip To Illinois to Take the Kids Home….

The time had come to take the kids home.  It sure did go fast, but I think they were ready. I just wish the weather had been better and Rich was not sick the first few days.   I bought Amtrak tickets for the three of us.  We would leave from San Antonio on Saturday and arrive in Bloomington on Sunday.  I would then return on the train on Wed, arrive San Antonio late Thursday, stay in the motel and head home in the truck on Friday.  Their first day back at school after the holidays was Monday.  While they were down here, their had been lots of rain in Missouri.  I received an E mail several days before, that we would be taken off the train at Little Rock Arkansas and bussed to St. Louis and then return to the train for the rest of the trip.  We left in plenty of time Friday, for San Antonio so that we could arrive during the daylight, find a parking spot for the 6 days the truck would be their, and a motel for the night.  Our train left at 7 am.  Cameron let me drive until we got past the Border Patrol check points.   All the major roads have check points on them.

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Their are illegals from Mexico being caught all the time.  Once we were past that, Cameron drove the rest of the way.  He loves to drive, and he is a good driver, even in the city and on the interstates.  He’s really had a lot of practice on this trip.  He drove through Houston and now also San Antonio.  When we got their, we went down by the Amtrak station.

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It is located next to the sports center, the AlamoDome.  home of the San Antonio Spurs.They were having something special going on.  Their were white tents set up all over the parking lots and park areas.  The hotels were full.  No parking decks to be found.  We finally found a Travelodge that would let me keep the truck their for the 6 days, as long as I booked the room that night and on my return.  So that is what we did.  We went and eat out at a Popeye’s Chicken restaurant, and headed back and went to bed prepared for our early morning wake up.  We had called a cab that took us to the early morning train and ready to board for our 27 hour ride.

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I took this from the internet, but this is what we seen near the entrance to Sunset Station.  The old time locomotive was all decorated in lights for Christmas.  So Festive.  Alamodome tower lights in the background.

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Cassidy was rather excited as this was the first time on a train.  Cameron had went with us to New Mexico before, so he knew what to expect.  They are fun.  If you’ve never been on a train, you must take a trip sometime.  I find it to be so relaxing.  Comfortable seats, plug ins for your electric toys.  A nice glass observation car and a café down below, full of snacks and drinks, even alcohol.  Then their is a diner car that serves full meals.  Of course it is all high priced.  If you want to go first class, you can also buy a bunk in the sleeper car.  We always do the regular seats and sleep in them too.  We had a good ride, and Cassidy enjoyed it.  About 11:30 pm we finally arrived at Little Rock.   We looked out the window to see 4 buses, waiting for us.  3 buses were Little Rock Tours, and the 4th was Champion tours.

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Now that should have been the first warning.  They had the handicap and family’s with children detrain and board the buses first.  This is what we did because we had Cassidy.  We grabbed all our luggage and headed toward the buses.  They sent us to the Champion bus.  It looked good from the outside, but not so good on the inside.  The seats were small and so uncomfortable.  Cameron and Cassidy sat together.  He looked miserable. So many little kids on board.   In front of me were 3 little black kids in 2 seats and across was their mother and a little one in a carrier.  I looked at her and said.  Are they all yours?  Yes, she said.  Wow….Are you traveling alone?  No, I have my 2 older boys in the seat ahead of me.   OHHH Myyyyyy…..So she was traveling to Indianapolis with 6 kids.  Finally we were all loaded and the buses all started moving.  We crept through the parking lot of Amtrak and came across this area with a side concrete Abutment of some sort….All of a Sudden scraaaaaaaattttttttchhh……….Oh My….then KA THUD…..The back tire under me went up…. and ….down……Stop…..Lets back Up Now…………Ka Thud in reverse………Scraaaaaaaaattttchhhhhhhhhh……Gees….I thought he just ripped the tires off….Now our driver looked like they had found him down in the soup kitchen, took him to Goodwill, bought him dress pants to big and put a belt on him to keep them up with his dress shirt that didn’t fit tucked in.  He pulled out into the street, stopped and walked to the back outside in the dark to check it out.  He got back in and never said a word.  Now, what could he see in the dark?  I kept thinking the whole time the tires were going to blow.  Now the black lady with the kids was really nice.  One of the little ones got up a little later and stood  by their mom and said….”I peed my pants”…..lol…Ohhh My….poor lady….She took the little girl to the bath room and cleaned her up.  Finally she was holding the little one that peed her pants as their was no where for her to lay.  The little girl looked like a rag doll trying to sleep. I told the mom to lay her down in the seat next to me as it was empty.  So that was the rest of the 7 hour ride on this bus.  I sat in this seat and held this little girl so she wasn’t falling on the floor.  Poor Cameron was trying to sleep and he looked so miserable.  I finally found a double seat in back, told him to take it.  Finally arrived at St. Louis around 7 am.  Long Long nite.   When I got out of the bus, I looked at the side of the bus.  Their was a huge scrap running clear through the whole luggage door.  At the bottom of the luggage door was a huge hole.  About a 10″ square of the outer skin was missing…..Explain that to your boss, Driver……

After a nice comfortable ride back on the train, we finally arrived in Bloomington around 11 am.  Their was Tammy and Little Carly waiting for her sissy and brother.  She missed them so much.  I was good to get back to McNabb for a few days.  It was chilly, in the 30’s, but not bad.  As soon as we got home, the kids opened their presents under the tree.20160103_132756

That nite, Tina and Miley and Austin came over and we had meatloaf.  We had a nice fun evening, and finally went to bed.  I was soooo tired.  Sure was good to sleep in a bed.  I met my new Grand Dog Chaos.   Perfect name for him.20160103_133416

He can reach for anything he wants.  Now I should have know better, but this is the next story.  Tammy and I were in the living room.  We didn’t pay any attention to the dog until we heard a …CRUNCH… CRUNCH….CRUNCH…Tammy Screamed…..”OMG…MY TEETH….Not Again”…..and then a little shiver went down my spine as a thought came into my head……”Could they be MINE?”   We both jumped up and …….Yes… they were mine….My Heart Fell…I had left them in the bathroom on the back of the sink, but he reached and got them anyway.  All we found was pieces.  Nothing to even glue together.  I know he ate some too.    All I can say I Hope it hurt when they came out the other end.  We sat their in shock at first, and finally started laughing about it.  How crazy is that.  Tammy said, I would never forget that sound.  You see she has already lost 1 and a half sets to Chaos.   He got her uppers and chewed them.  She was able to take them to the dentist and they were glued.  Then the dog got them again.  All she has now is the front section, and she glues them in.  After I calmed down….lol…I called down to Eastgate to Debby…..”Help”…. I need a dentist in Progresso Mexico as soon as I get back.  Finally that afternoon, I got names and numbers.  I finally found out, the Mexican dentists are all walk ins.  Ok.  That’s good.  So I made plans that I would go straight to the Mexican border and meet Rich with my pass port.  I refused to go to Cassidy’s first volley ball game….sorry Cassidy…also never got my hair cut.  I didn’t want people to see me.  I arrived on Sunday, lost my teeth on Tuesday, and Tammy took me back on the train on Wed.  Now the return trip with the bus again.  We got to St. Louis, and their we found only 3 Little Rock busses.  No Champion buss.  Probably in the shop with the driver fired….These busses were still small seating, but more comfortable.  I fell asleep and woke up to shouting and cussing.  Here a man was so drunk….He was calling people Mother F….r….the driver was yelling back….SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP….The driver never cussed, but for the next 2 hours, it was a shouting match.  The drunk was not making sense most of the time but the driver and him kept yelling as we drove down the road.  How did he ever keep control of that wheel, I don’t know.  I bet he had a sore throat later.  Finally after 2 hours, we pulled into a gas station .  We pulled right up to the door with the other 2 busses parked near the back.  The other drivers and Amtrak personal on the busses came and the drunk got of the bus after much more cursing.

Their was almost a fight as you could tell the driver was so angry.  They took him in the store and tried to keep them separated.  Finally the cops came, and we drove away with the drunk sitting on the curb after almost falling, his luggage by the building, and talking to a cop.20160106_224039

The rest of the trip was uneventful.  Made it back to San Antonio, spent the nite at the hotel, got into the truck at 6 am and headed south.  I arrived at the border by 10:30 and beat Rich.  He arrived with a bunch from the park about 15 minutes later.  We went across and went looking for dentist.  I knew the most popular one would cost $500 and take 2 weeks.  We were looking for another and couldn’t find him.  I bet theirs 10 or more dentist on every block, and I’m not exaggerating.  As we were walking back, a guy stopped us, like they all do, and said, come on in and check our prices.

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My Dentist and interpreter Jasmine……They can’t speak English

I finally did…….$300 and 1 week…..Yes, I liked that.  So they made impressions, an hour later, he did the bite impressions.  No money down….Pay when I came back………Good Deal…..They do all the same procedures, but don’t have the fancy expensive equipment.  I felt pretty good about them.  It is just a narrow office with 2 treatment rooms straight back.  The dentist and his wife can’t speak English nor can the kid that was the assistant.  They have an interpreter, Jasmine,  that is present at all times.  They also have a pharmacy that has an adjoining door with a street door also.  This is common practice.  Many of these business, have doors on the inside in the back to another business.  They all have workers standing outside trying to get customers.  “Lady Lady, come in come in….I give you good price.  Lowest prices.  Come on in”….You hear this over and over…..

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Our Canadian Friends

So after a tough long day, we had Pina Coladas at the bar and ate at a Mexican restaurant.

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Check out the brick ovens covered with mosaic….Beautiful

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As we were waiting, we looked up at the streets and 3 Mexican Army trucks went by with men in full uniform with their guns ready and waiting…..hhmmmm…now what’s that all about….

So its been a tough, embarrassing week, but I’ve survived.  I had several events that I couldn’t hide from, so I decided to just accept and deal with it……I told my story and watched people just cringe…..some laughed…some were in shock….some wanted to shoot the dog….but ya know, things happen…Chaos is really good with the kids.  Gotta laugh at yourself.   Its just the way of life….so Yesterday was my day to go back….I have NEW BEAUTIFUL TEETH….Every bit as good as my $5000 dollar teeth….all for just $300 as a walk in….

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

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

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View from the backyard of Sam and Melissa’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Well this week will be over soon……….

Back To Normal……….Hopefully…….