Granddaughter’s Graduation’s…..

Last May we headed back home to Illinois for the 2 Granddaughter’s Graduation’s. Cassidy was graduating 8th grade and little Carly, Kindergarten. We decided to just drive the car and leave the Motor Home in Texas. It would be cheaper. Now what about the cat. He has never been in the car. When we were in Adventureland in Iowa, we took him home in the truck. We almost gave him a heart attack, and that was only 4 hours. Now were talking 24 hours if you drive it straight through. We couldn’t ask anyone to take care of him for several weeks, so we decided Kitty was going on a road trip. Rich said he’s never to old to learn. I bought him a soft sided zip up carrier. I laid it open for several days and he crawled in and laid in it. So maybe it will work??? But he is an old man, set in his ways. He doesn’t like change. So finally the day came.

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We put the back seats down so he had the whole back. Put his kitty litter, food and water in the back on a blanket. His carrier was in the middle so he could see between the seats. He hated when I carried him to the car, he meowed for the first half hour. Finally we went through the Border Check point at Falfurrias. We kept him in until then because you just never know what may happen their. The Border Patrol agents have dogs that sniff every car. Not that we have a reason to worry…..lol…but you never know. Then we unzipped him. He actually did wonderful. He adapted so well to the car. He roamed at first, checking everything out. But he was so good. We pretty much drove straight through stopping only to sleep a few hours. About 2 hours from home in Lincoln Illinois is a Bonanza Restaurant.

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Its an old time favorite of ours. We try to stop if the timing is right. This one is a franchise but they have kept the menu the same. They have a wonderful salad bar.

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I always get my favorite…..Sirloin Tips with grilled mushrooms and onions.….Yum Yum…Theirs nothing like it.

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Finally we arrived and little Carly was so excited to see us. She had her fairy outfit on. She went and posed in the family tree. That nite Austin had a Softball game.

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We went to Granville to watch him play. Of course we also had to visit Scott and Brandy’s bar One Paw’z Pub.

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Scott singing Karaoke

Finally Graduation came for Carly. Her year in Kindergarten is over. On to 1st Grade.

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Carly, 1st row on far right. Jacob, Carly’s cousin in right next to her.

They were using the Auditorium at Putnam Co. High for the kids. Granville has 3 classes of Kindergarten for all of Putnam Co. They were so cute. They sang songs with cute motions. Finally they gave out the diplomas by class.

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After, I gave her a bouquet of flowers. She is now ready for First Grade. Carly is our youngest grandchild. She is sure growing fast. We had a picnic for both girls. Cassidy graduated 8th and will be a Freshman in High School.

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Tammy invited friends and family and had a cake for each. Now Carly was unhappy cause she thought Cassidy’s cake was prettier. She was crying and then she tried to stop but it was so hard for her…..lol…..Finally it was all better.

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They are so cute together…...That is when their not fighting….lol… We have also gotten 2 new grand dogs. Tammy and the Kids got Jazper.

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He is a Silver Lab. Tammy said she can’t even go to the bathroom by herself. Jazper has to come with. lol. Tina, Ed and the kids got Dee Dee last fall.

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She is a small Golden Doodle. She is more laid back that Dexter was. I had a hard time calling her by her name and not Dexter. She looks just like Dex. She loves playing with her kids Miley and Austin. We also have 2 other restaurants that I usually like to eat at when were home…

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Tenderloin…..Smittys Bar in Leonore

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Taco Salad and Homemade Fries…..Igloo, in Peru

I decided to take the kids to Hobby Lobby and buy some fun stuff to do on one of our last days their. Tina said Miley wanted her toes done, so I took her first to the Nail place at the Mall.

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She picked out her polish which was a silver flake. Miley is 9 years old now going on 10. Time to start doing girly stuff with her…..We also went to Bath and Body and picked out some soaps and body splash. We had a good time smelling everything. Then we met Tina with Austin and Carly at Hobby Lobby. We ended up picking up stuff to make Slime and some other things.

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On Monday I went over to spend the day while Tina and Ed worked. We brought all our stuff outside to make the Slime. I’m sure glad we did it outside as it turned out messy with all the glitter. We needed Elmers Glue, Baking Soda, and Contact Lens solution. We also bought glitter. It was fun but the glitter blew everywhere. Before we were done they kept making different batches until the large bottle of Elmers was all gone. And it was the largest bottle they make. Later when Tina came home, we visited for quite awhile. It was very quiet in Mileys room.

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I walked in and her and Carly were putting makeup all over their faces. Such silly girls. Now I’ve mentioned all the grandkids but Cameron. He is the one that is hard to get a picture of. This is a picture of him and his friend Torri in his boat. One of the toys he bought last year.

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You know how that goes…..Men and their toys??? or is it Boys and their toys??? Its all the same. Here is another purchase. He has finally bought the truck he has always wanted.

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Its a Ford!!!!!.…But Grandpa forgave him. It is pretty. But it wasn’t pretty enough.

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He had to go buy new tires and rims. They are nice…but….I guess live and learn…..He’s Happy, and its his money. Finally it was time to head back to Harlingen. We packed up the car, prepared Kitty’s back end. But now we always bring more back so now the car is really filling up.

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Kitty had to explore all the mountains of stuff in the back of the car. He fell asleep on the mountain…..lol…

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As we traveled he was so good. He liked to sleep on the floor with his head buried under the drivers seat between Rich’s legs. When we stopped to gas up or eat, he would just stay wear he was. He never attempted to get out. We drove almost straight through all the way home. We slept for a couple of hours in the car and made it in around 24 hours. Long Long ways………………While we were in Illinois we also worked at the Summer Camp Festival for 6 days as Security Guards. We did this also last year. My next blog will be about Summer Camp..

…..Another memorable experience….

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Busy January at Eastgate….

January has been a very busy month.  It has been also a very cold month.  Usually we only have a few cold days that reach maybe in the 40s but mostly 50s, 60s, and 70,s.  This year it has been very cold.  Several times it reached into the low 30,s for several days.  We’ve lost many of our flowers.  We had a good frost that killed many.  They say its been the worst in many years.20180211_054906.jpg

We did a tour to the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen.  We have done this before, but I feel it is such an important part of Harlingen to share every year.  This is a private academy that can house up to 200 students. The cost is $20,000 a semester.  An average student will spend only 2 years here because of the cost for the parents.  Those who attend all the grades will almost be guaranteed entrance to a top college in the nation.  The curriculum is military style with a focus on academics.  Sports are also offered but no vocational courses.

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Marching to the Cafeteria

They have a very strict daily plan for the students.  They have a daily dress code and march in units.   They live in barracks and have a counselor family also living in each housing unit to watch over them and take care of their needs.  It is a very impressive place.  We boarded their bus, toured the grounds including the gymnasium, weight room,  library, rec center,  auditorium and and finally the cafeteria.  We ate, watched the kids march in formation and then they bussed us back to the Iwo Jima Museum parking lot.  It is the home of the Original Iwo Jima Memorial.  20180122_125212.jpg

It is the cast that made the Iwo Jima Memorial that sits in Washington DC. at Arlington Cemetery.  It is such an honor that it was installed in Harlingen.  It is across the street from the Academy and the back drop for the Academy’s Dress Parades.  They also have a wonderful Museum on the grounds.  It is also the burial site of Corporal Harlon Block, who was one of the flag raisers who’s picture was captured that fateful day.  He was killed in action several days later.  He was from Weslaco which is only about 10 miles from Harlingen.

Our next event was going to the Border Patrol for a Informational Presentation.   The Canadians had to have papers filled out 2 weeks prior to the date.  They said they use to take people back to the housing areas, but not any more.   We were taken to a large room where they hold their meetings etc.  20180125_111638.jpg

At the front of the room were 4 empty chairs.  They were in Memorial to 4 of the Officers from Harlingen that have been killed.  Their name is engraved and also notice the tree on the side holding a pair of empty boots, a gun holster and a hat.  Very moving.

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They held a slide show and gave us so much factional information.  The hot spot of the Rio Grande Valley is in McAllen.  The amount of family’s, men, women and children that have crossed over is astounding.   They are coming to the Park on March 4 to give their talk again.  Their was so much info and facts.  So many people had wanted to come, and the limit was 30, so I decided to have them come and give the same presentation.   Hopefully I can retain some of the facts to pass on.  It was interesting though, the highest quarter for illegal’s was the quarter just before Trumps election.  They thought they wouldn’t get over after he was in office.

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Entrance to Hotel….Concrete tree stumps.  Schlitterbahn has a very rustic appereance.

Next we had the Winterfest Concert in South Padre Island at Schlitterbahn Indoor Water Park.  I sold tickets for this event which qualified Rich and I free entrance.  They also had a 3 day special for a Dinner Show the nite before, Winterfest, and then a Matinee Dinner performance the following day.  All in all, 3 nites at the hotel.  Many went, but Rich and I chose to spend the just 1 nite.  The Dinner Show that nite was “Mirage, Visions of Fleetwood Mac”.  They were based out of L.A.  They were very good.  The next day was the Winterfest.  Live music on stage started at 10 am and continued till 5 pm.  We were also given a Shrimp or Fish Basket from the Shrimp Haus.

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We seen some great performances.  Many people from all over the Valley came to enjoy the entertainment.20180131_103735.jpg

Here is some of our Eastgate group.   I can see about 12 here….It was hard to get everyone.  We were so scattered around.  Total I believe , just from our park was about 24 people.  As we were watching the musical groups, we seen a zip line out of the corner of our eyes.  We walked over and the line was getting longer.  Only $5….Wow….Sure I’ll go.  Many of the people from our park were in line.  I found a partner, Laura from our park.  Rich came over also and went with Gaylon.  It is a zip line that 2 of you sit in 2 seats and are strapped in.  It is called the Soaring Eagle…Soaring-Eagle-Zip-Line-Mooresville-Indiana-6-of-7-1024x683

No place for your feet, just hanging freely.  So the only thing keeping you in is the seat belt.  As I was in line, our friend Ron asked me if I wanted to use his Go Pro camera…..Wow…Sure…He had a short tripod that wraps around your hand.  So finally my turn.  I was excited but also a little scared.  After you are strapped in, it is pulled backwards quite a ways up to the top of a pole.  You stop for about maybe 5 seconds and then start your descent going 30 miles an hour till you get to the end.  Then the brakes are applied and you stop abruptly.  I describe it as a jet landing on an air craft carrier and it is stopped by the hook.  So finally my turn.  Now I didn’t realize that with the camera on my right hand, I also got into the right side.  I now had no place to hang on to.  I also didn’t realize, my seatbelt was not tight.  Their was a lot of play.  Finally we started going backwards up the line…..zip line 2

We were almost to the top and I was feeling like I was going to fall out…All most at the top, it jerked you about 3 or 4 times.  Each time I thought I was falling. ….. OMG…..But the View from the Top was…..ASTONISHING BEAUTIFUL…The island looked so small.   What a View.  I still had the Go Pro wrapped around my right hand with nothing to hold on to.  I tried panning it around to get it on video.  Then all of a sudden we were falling….faster and faster towards the ground.  We came closer and closer and then I could see the end of the line….The platform where we loaded and at the end of the line????  The I-Beam holding up the zip line.  If it did not stop….It would be a DIRECT HIT to the I-Beam….In those last seconds, all my thoughts were, when the brakes went on, I would fly forward and slip out of the seat belt….So at the last minute…The hand with the camera came down and grabbed the seat…..And we stopped really very easy…..lol..lol…OMG….It was a crazy ride.   Many of you have probably seen the Video, It is on FB on my Time Line….So I got out and Rich was next….Him and Gaylon climbed on board and took the ride.  Now he really enjoyed it and wasn’t scared.  He also made them strap him in tight….So Would I do it Again???    Yes I sure would…..It was AWESOME...Now I will show you my Awful picture…..

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….In the corner, you can see the overlay of us at the end near the top of the pole…

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The next day I had to get up early.  We had a SegWay Tour back down at Port Isabel.   We ended up with 2 groups because we had 10 people.  We held one at 10 am and then another at 1 pm.  It was an absolutely Beautiful day.20180201_120705.jpg

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The temperature was in the low 80’s and hardly any wind, and the water and sky was beautiful shades of blue.  2 more weeks and we will be doing SegWay on the Beach at Padre……20180204_175349.jpg

Next affair was the Super Bowl PartyRich and I are in charge of that.  I have a budget to go by.  Rich cooked around 50 lbs. of pork and pulled it.

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We had smokies, shrimp, nachos and cheese, veggies and dip, sausage cheese and crackers and a Keg of beer.  I decorated with balloons from the ceiling in team colors, and made megaphones from construction paper for center pieces.  Everyone also brought a snack to share ….

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I had collected 27 door prizes to give away including 2 Director Chairs from the park owner.   They all had a great time…..Most of the beer was gone, and food too…..Everyone was happy.20180209_120500.jpg

Our last event we just had was our Ladies Luncheon with our 2nd Annual Style Show.  Everyone brought a dish for the food table.  Their was so many wonderful homemade dishes.20180209_124311.jpg

The desserts were out of this world.  Everyone filled their plates, and when we were done we still had so much food.  Finally the Style Show portion.  Last year we chose 3 stores that were in different towns.  They were rather elite stores that are a little pricy.  This year, they choose local stores that were more practical in style and price.

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The first one was Cato’s.  They had some really nice items for everyday.  The ladies had so much fun doing this….20180209_133346.jpg

The next store is Quelles Boutique down town Harlingen.  The modeled many items that were so inexpensive and yet so unique.  Its really a great store that I need to go and check out.  She carries new as well as gently used.  It sounds very interesting to see.  So that has been my month….So so busy…..soon it will be almost over……April 1 is officially the end of the season when everyone is going or has gone back north….

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A Beautiful Day in Port Isabel looking over the Bay to South Padre Island

 

 

Hurricane Harvey, 2017

We were very lucky.  “Harvey” missed us.  It came in on shore a little over 200 miles north of us.  It directly hit Rockport, Port Aransas, Victoria, Refugio, and Port Lavaca.  Corpus Christi was just a little south of the eye.

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One thing we realized down here in Texas living near the Gulf is, Hurricane season is taken very seriously.  The weathermen are always reporting on storms coming off the coast of Africa.  We knew this season started in August and ended the first of Nov.  Here is Eastgate we knew that all annuals or anyone who left their camper here for storage, had to anchor their units to the concrete pads.  Now after this past week, I understand why.  438842BA00000578-4818354-Hurricane_Harvey_is_expected_to_become_a_major_storm_once_it_mak-a-80_1503611478314

This storm started a week or two earlier as a depression #91.  As they watched it cross the Atlantic it escalated as it reached the Yucatan Peninsula.  It slowed down over land and then as it crossed into the Gulf of Mexico it started to escalate from a tropical storm to Hurricane.  They initially knew it could come ashore as a Category 3, but the warm waters escaladed it to Category 4, which meant it contained winds of over 125 mph.  It was predicted to land a little more south.  The Rio Grande Valley started to prepare.  Everyone was stocking up.  South Padre Island closed all beaches and they started boarding up windows.  If the winds reached over 45 mph, they would close the bridge to all traffic.  They have an Emergency text system in place for their residents, that you can get this information as it develops.  We took down our screen room, and put in all our awnings.  When Rich put up the shed, one of the requirements was also to anchor it.  So he constructed a wire anchor system that runs through both sides of the shed and is anchored to the concrete.  The park went around putting all the pool chairs and anything loose away.  They also inspected some of the homes of people who were not here and made sure everything was safe as possible.  We were suppose to receive up to 70mph winds at one point.  Also 4″ – 6” of rain.  Well, not a whole lot happened.  I woke up at midnight to hear the pitter patter of the rain.  The wind wasn’t bad.  It was suppose to escalate in the morning.  Nope, we were very lucky.  It came ashore around Port Lavaca, which is a little over 2 hours north on the coast.

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We caught some of the outer wind bands but not fierce.   Up around Corpus Christi, Port Aransas, Victoria and Port Lavaca, it destroyed the towns, hotels, homes, Rv Parks, and Boat Harbor’s.  Some of the smaller towns evacuated.  One of the Winter Texans from last year, said she had workamper friends in one of the parks.  They could not leave until all the guest campers were gone.  Then they could leave.   I don’t know if I like that or not.

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The towns were really tore up.  The rain was horrible.  They said that some areas around Houston could receive 50″ before it was over.  Just imagine that much rain and it comes ashore at 125mph.  “Harvey” came ashore and hovered for awhile.  It actually moved like it was a drunken soldier on shore.  It was downgraded finally to a tropical storm, but the tail end was still feeding the bands over the Gulf with water.  It continued to rain.  Houston started to flood.  Houston is a very low city.  It is only 50 feet above sea level.  It was built on flat marshy ground. It is prone to flood but nobody expected it to flood this much.  Reports started to come on tv of all the rescues.

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The interstates started filling up.  Some of the drivers just didn’t understand.  They continue to think they are almighty and can drive right through, including semis.  We seen reports of so many people just walking through the water to safety.  Abandoning their vehicles or homes.  The 911 calls were coming in.  People were beginning to be trapped in their homes.  The water kept rising.  Some were in their attics with nowhere else to go.  They were advised to bring an axe with them so they could chop a whole in the roof if needed.  …….”Get out of your house”…..”Stand on your roof”….  “Bring a piece of material with you that you can wave to draw attention”.  The calls kept coming in.  The people were told they were on the list.  But the Emergency people couldn’t help until daybreak, and even then, it was still impossible in many places.  Finally you seen boats coming down the streets.

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Individuals were going out with their own boats, canoes, airboats, even jet skis.  They were going out into the neighborhoods and picking up people and bringing them to high ground.  The local Convention Center opened up for the victims.  They kept running short of cots for them to sleep on.  Some people slept the night on the floor.  But at least they were safe and dry.  This flood had overwhelmed everyone.

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The news showed so many people being rescued with dump trucks.   Many times they used ladders to help the people get in and out.  So many people, young and old were carried through the water.  In one case, Nursing home residents were trapped and needed someone to come get them.  No one came.  Finally the nursing home owners were so devastated and helpless, they took a picture of all these poor people sitting in chairs and the couches waist deep in water looking so forlorn.

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I can’t even imagine their thoughts.  I’m sure they thought they were at deaths door.  She sent the picture to her daughter for help.  Her daughter put it out on Social Media and the news.  In less than 2 hours, Help Arrived.  Here’s all those people today smiling, happy, warm and dry.  So Happy to be Alive.  How awful for them.

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The National Guard was called out.  National Guard brought in around 30 helicopters for air rescue.   The US Coast Guard also brought in their helicopters Every available resource, was called in.  Fema, Red Cross, so many agency’s arrived, their was help arriving from all over the US.  Even the Border Patrol from the Rio Grande Valley came with over 30 different types of boats.  Of course all the news people arrived.   The reports and pictures on tv were constant the first 2 days.  It was ongoing for so long.  The storm stagnated in the Houston area, then went back out over the Gulf.  It reentered east of Houston around the Beaumont area and headed north west, slowly dissipating, but did much more damage and dropped a lot of rain in the Beaumont area.  They faced so many dangerous issues.

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Now they also had floating islands of Red Fire Ants.  They had come out of the ground and attach themselves to each other and become a floating colony.  You certainly don’t want to get into a nest of them.  Also, now the bayous had filled up and the city had to release some of the water in the reservoirs so they wouldn’t break.  Now Alligators were also swimming in the water along with Snakes Sewage and Chemicals had been leaked into the waters by now.  It was so dangerous to be in the water, but many had no choice.  Now here it is a week after “Harvey” landed, and the city still has water.  They said it may take weeks in some areas to totally empty.  Another occurrence they may find is floating caskets.

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With the ground being so saturated, some caskets may just surface and float.  How awful it would be to come across a casket.  The latest count of deaths was 39, which I thought was pretty good.

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Through all of this their is always “HERO’S” that give selflessly of themselves and their money.  In Houston Jim “Mattress Mack” Mcingvale has 2 very large furniture stores called “Gallery Furniture”.

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He opened his doors to anyone who needed shelter.  They made his new furniture their home.  A place to rest and sleep.  He fed them, and donations of all sort came in.  He even gave out his cell number for anyone who needed help and couldn’t get it.

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He not only let the flood victims sleep in his beds, he also let the National Guard rest.  “What a hero”.  He also did this for Hurricane Katrina.  He wants to help and share all he has to the people who need his help.  It was said he was losing $30,000 a day.

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Hotels and Motels all over are filled.  Some people left before the storm and some left after and found a place to go.  I believe Fema or the Red Cross is paying for the rooms for most of this month to give the families time and everyone to make plans for the future.  They are located all over Texas and probably Louisiana.  I do know that here in the Rio Grande Valley, we have many families that are in our motels.  All across the valley, the school systems are going motel to motel, enrolling the children in school.  All they want is the child’s name and info.  Their not requiring Birth Cert.  or papers.  They just want them in school so their life can continue as normal.  Country Suites here in Harlingen posted on FB the other day, the items they needed.  It contained from a Wheelchair and cane, on to clothes and personal care items and food.  They alone have 22 families.  We have at least 6 motels full.  Before you knew it, the word got out.  They have so many contributions that they are sharing across the Valley.  One person thought it was important to give the families a Cook out on Monday for Labor Day.  So many people have volunteered to help to put on a Celebration.  H-E-B is a huge chain grocery store in Texas.  In fact in the valley, their is no other.  …..No Krogers, Hyvee, Albertsons, just H-E-B…..  They deployed a convoy of 15 vehicles including 2 Mobile Kitchens, water and fuel tankers and H‑E‑B trailers, that will deliver much‑needed relief supplies and services to the communities in the affected hurricane area

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The H‑E‑B Mobile Kitchens, are two 45‑foot‑long food preparation facilities that are each designed to serve up to 2,500 meals per hour, will set up and serve hot meals to first responders and storm victims.  Also H‑E‑B’s DRUs that are fully equipped with an H‑E‑B Pharmacy and Mobile Business Services unit, which allows displaced residents to fill prescriptions, cash checks and pay bills, as well as provide access to an ATM.  One of the kitchens stopped in the Victoria area.  The other went on north to Houston.  Another fact to mention is the pets.  Anyone who had a pet, it was rescued with them.

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Pets have become a family member and they were treated as so.  The shelters have included them.  Their were pictures and stories of all the pet rescues.  So many people came out of their homes with their cats and dogs in carriers.  The ones that are found without owners have been taken to shelters.  Some are being shipped out of state to no kill shelters to find new homes.  Our shelter in Harlingen has made several trips up to take homeless animals.  They are all asking for donations of food, blankets and money.  The animals are being taken care of which is wonderful.  They all need a home.

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A week later, everything is still in turmoil but they are getting a handle on it.  Their were 3 large shelters open in Houston, but they are back down to one.  Their were actually around 142 shelters open around the area.  Over 100,000 homes are affected with flooding in Texas alone.  Over 300,000 homes were without power.  A state of disaster was declared in 50 county’s.  The discussion has been ongoing…..Should the mayor have evacuated Houston???.   It had happened in the past for another Hurricane that never happened after all.  Their was traffic jams and people died in the heat.  The mayor didn’t evacuate do to that reason.   I do agree with him.  Houston is the 4th largest city in the US.  How do you evacuate a whole city.   Where do they go.  If you’ve ever been through Houston in rush hour, you would know how bad it is.  That is only a small portion of the people.  To my understanding he made the right decision.  When you realize only 39 lives were lost, that is a small percent considering the population.  Some of those lives were lost in vehicles trying to escape the flood.  Some of those did not use common sense when traveling in flooded waters.  So many near fatal accidents happened that we seen on video.  It is sad that anyone died but you have to pick the best scenario for all.  I believe they were so fortunate that only 39 lives were lost so far.  It could have been much worse.  But I’m sure it may go up as they continue the search.

 

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White Caps on the Houston Interstates

 

Now we start watching the weather forecast…..Another storm coming off the coast of Africa.  Already a massive Hurricane.……IRMA…..Of course their are many storm tracks.  This one they think,  will follow up the East Coast of the US…..So we Wait and Watch

 

 

Our Riverside Dreamer Cruise in Mission

Last year we rode this boat with Larry and Cici. They offer an hour ride and a 2 hour ride.  I wanted to try this as a group activity but I was worried because it is almost an hour away.  We always have to car pool.  So I booked a cruise for afternoon from 1pm to 3pm.   Hoping to get 25 so we could still go, I hung up the sign up sheet…..Would you believe, I filled the boat for 45 people.  Put up another sign up sheet for standby.  Over 50 signed up the 2nd time.  Amazing.  Never believed they would be all that excited.  The cruise was $19.  They have a nice restaurant with seating indoors or patio areas outside amongst the tropical settings of plants and patio areas.  So last Tuesday we all met at the parking lot and made the drive to Mission to the Riverside Club on the Rio Grande River.  It was a beautiful day.  We all took our time and enjoyed ordering from the menu.  Some ate inside and others outside.20170110_114529.jpg

Many of us ordered their good ole Midwestern tenderloin.  It was only $8.99.  Not a bad price.  You can’t hardly find one done here so this was a real treat.  It was huge, the size of the plate.  Rich made a face on his.  …..Ketchup and Mayo face…..20170110_173038.jpg

Finally we were all done.  I paid for the tickets and handed out 45 boarding passes for our very own private cruise.  We all went outside and wandered the grounds and lined up.  The boat came in from its 1 hour cruise.  Everyone debarked and we all boarded.  20170110_172934.jpg

Usually the boat goes down river for the 1 hour cruise to the Anzalduas Dam and then back.   The 2 hour cruise goes up river as far as it can go before turning around.  Since this was our own  cruise we were given the option to go down to the dam and then up river as far as we could go.  So that is what we decided.  We hadn’t been to the dam before.  It was a nice ride.20170110_133055.jpg

We cruised up near the dam so we could see over.  On the other side the captain said occasionally the water gets shallow enough that one can walk over to the other side.

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The flood gates were huge.  You can see how far up the gates can go to keep the water from flowing down river and flooding the low lands.  Their was a lot of flooding and damage along the river back in 2010 when Hurricane Alex came inland.  Also note the American and Mexican flag flying overhead.  We turned around and went back past the Riverside Club up stream.  20170110_171633.jpg

We passed Chimney Park boat ramp.  You can see the police lookout up in the area.  These are all over on the boarder areas, even at shopping malls and busy areas in the city’s.  They have a great visual to watch for migrants or crime.  You can also see all the border patrol trucks parked.  20170110_171507.jpg

Right past the ramp is the actual Chimney Park Rv Resort and the Chimney of the original lift station that was started in 1907.  The brick was made by hand in the small town of Madero not to far away.  They chimney is 106 ft tall, and 6 ft in diameter.  The boilers were started in 1907, and the lift station started pumping water for irrigation.  The station was used for irrigation until 1952-53 droughts.  After that Falcon and Anzalduas Dams were constructed and the pump wasn’t needed anymore.  In the 1960’s it opened as a fishing area and eventually became the Chimney Park Resort.  20170110_173338.jpg

We passed one area on the Mexican side which was a resort.  They had sheep grazing on the grounds.  riverside-club-6

On down the river was beautiful home with an Infinity Pool out front.  Just Beautiful.  All this area right now is deserted as its off season.  I would love to see these areas in the summer.  On the Mexican side we passed several resorts.  Some were classy with boat docks and beautiful buildings with large ground areas.  One was damaged in  Hurricane Alex in 2010, and has never really been rebuilt.  On the American side it, other than Chimney Rock, it was mainly Sugar Cane fields.  Bentsen State Park also boarders on the Rio Grande as well as The Butterfly Gardens by Mission Tx.  .20170110_141832.jpg

We also seen the Border Patrol speed by…..and then another one….Along the river, we also seen the Border Conservation Police tied up on the American side.  Eventually after an absolutely beautiful day, we turned back.  The Captain told us many facts on his PA system as we rode.  Also mentioned that a wall would take 40 years to build partly because of land that would have to be take by imminent domain.  Its true. There is so many homes and business all over the banks of the Rio Grande River.  Also the sugar cane fields go all the way the the Rio……

So I guess Time Will Tell……What Will Trump Do…….

So back to the dock and we all headed home after a gorgeous day on the river.  While I was their I booked a 3rd trip.  We’ll see how this goes.  I’m collecting money right now for our next one on Feb 9th.  Already have 20 paid.  Will stop at 40 and start collecting for the 3rd trip on Feb 23.  Who would have ever thought.   I was only hoping for at least 25 so we could send out the boat…..

So tomorrow I have Segway in Bentsen State Park.  This will be an awesome ride.  I’ve never been their before.  Again this is a park event.  Wednesday nite, Us, Cici and Larry, Alice and Tom are all going to see the Oak Ridge Boys.  Now that will be a fun evening.  Busy days ahead.  Oh gees, that means we eat out AGAIN…..lol

Two Hour Trip Down Rio Grande, Fun Fun

We took a trip down the Rio Grande, which is the dividing line between Mexico and United States.  Mexico was on one side, while the US. was on the other.  This was located in Mission Tx. which is about an hour drive.  We went with our friends, Cici and Larry.  They had went before and so enjoyed it, they wanted to go back.riverside_club

 

We drove to the Riverside Club and first had lunch.  Our reservations were for 1 pm.  We had about 45 mins.  The restaurant was rather touristy….A fun place.  They actually had down home deep fried tenderloins, the huuuuge ones.  Of course that’s what we had.  It was really a neat place.  They have seating inside, outside or under the canopy by the boat dock.  Such a pretty comfortable setting.FFFFFF 02-05-10 007

 

After we ate, we boarded Riverside Dreamer, which is a 55 ft. pontoon boat, which is enclosed and has A/C, heat, bathrooms and cushioned seating for 49 people.  We finally took off for our trip.  It was strange, knowing the Mexican border was the other side of the river.

 

The first place we passed was an RV Park on the US. side.  It was located at Chimney Rock.  It was the place of an old irrigation pump and the Chimney was still left.

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The Campground was really nice, but right by the boat launch was a police tower.

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They telescope up so the Border Patrol can watch for Illegals crossing the river.  The river was so peaceful and calm that day.  The sky so beautiful blue.  Now on the Mexican side we seem some beautiful homes.

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This one had been possibly been connected to the Cartel at one time.  Who knows, made it still is…..lol..

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They had a beautiful flower garden by one side.

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On the rivers edge was a glass front building, with tinted glass.  It was full of exercise equipment.

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Another home was also very lavish in design.  At the end of the white arches was a waterfall.

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But on the other hand, their was a lot of run down places in disrepair.

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This place had been a resort at one time.  It is hard to see in the pictures, how large it was at one time and elaborate.  In 2010, Hurricane Alex came in and destroyed much of the land.  The river rose and everything was under water about a month.  Their are several lakes up river that had to open their flood gates because of excess water.  This resort and several others, were never repaired again.  So they now just sit here falling into disrepair.

Now on the US. side, we seen many sugar cane fields.  Theirs also The Bentsen State Park that covers many acres all the way to the river.

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Also their are many homes along the river.

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We seen lots of wild life, these Egrets, some turtles, ducks, even some cows on the rivers edge drinking the water.  Finally after an hour and fifteen minutes, we turned around for the trip back.

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This is a border patrol boat.

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Now this was on the Mexican side also.  It is a really cool area to have a party.  And the boat was down below docked ready for action.  Now as I looked around I wondered what is to keep the Mexicans from coming across.  There were many desolate areas on both sides where it would be easy for anyone to cross and not be seen. I finally asked the boat Capitan.  He said the river current is bad, and some die, but he said it is nothing to see everyday a boat go up river with only 1 and come back loaded…..a jet ski go up river and come back with another person.  He said if you stay in the valley after you cross, you have a 90 percent chance of making it and staying.  Many of these illegals have been living in the valley for generations. We also seen a fisherman on the US side.   I asked what the rules were for them.  Mexicans and US citizens can freely fish in a boat in the river.  It is only illegal if they dock on the other side.  Now it is so desolate in some areas, nobody would see if they brought anyone over to the other side and docked.  He said that their is over 400 miles of fence.  We have seen a lot of it, but thousands of other miles that still need fence.  He said it would take years to build one complete fence from the Pacific to the Gulf.  It would be so costly, and their are so many property owners, they would have to take much of the property by eminent domain.  It would be tied up in the courts for along time.   Just with what we seen, it would affect the Riverside Club and the Rv Park as well as many homes.  We finally arrived back at our dock.   What a Wonderful trip it had been.  Beautiful weather, and the river was so pretty and serene.  The sky was blue and the breeze gently blew….Perfect….We walked around awhile, and also seen another huge building here at the Riverside Club.  They have entertainment many nights of the week.  I think this could be a great car pool road trip for Eastgate next year.

……..Diner, Boat Trip and Entertainment…….

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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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