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”

 

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

 

 

Back In Harlingen For a Month…

Wow, hard to believe we’ve been back for over a month already.  Back to the everyday life.  So what is that…..

Rich is working on the rental trailers.  When people move out, their is always repairs or updates to be done.  He just finished replacing a floor and drawer area in the bottom of a closet that had rotted.  Now he is working in another that had a water leak in the kitchen.  New plywood and flooring, and also the counter top was so bad, that he is now building a new counter top.  He bought a sheet of laminate from Home Depot and had to cut around it and then glue both sides and glue it down.  It is a process but a huge money savings process on a counter that is an odd size.  In this picture, he had just cut it to size.  He will then take it off, glue the bottom of the laminate, and the top of the base of the counter.  He will then put the dowel rods on top of the base on the glue surface as in the picture.   Then he will lay the glued laminate down on top the dowels. Then starting on one end of the counter, he will take out the dowels one at a time, pressing down the laminate to the counter making sure their are no air bubbles.  Then he will cut a strip and do the edge the same way.  After dry he will use a router on the edge to cut it to a smooth finished edge.

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I am back at the theater, Cinemark 10.  I only work the outside box office.  During the school months the Box Office is only used on weekends.  Otherwise the tickets are sold at the Concession Stand.  I have been getting an average of 20 hrs a week give or take a few.  But the business has lessened during the week because school is beginning soon.  Starting next week during the week the tickets will again be sold at the Concession Stand.  Now I will only be getting weekend hrs.  But that ok, it is still something.  My week days will again be free.  It has been interesting in this job.  I have again met many nice customers.  I enjoy the joking that can be in 30 seconds of contact as you sell a ticket.  Some people are so spontaneous.  But then their are others.  I have been chewed out in Spanish on the Phone.   Box Office is also the switch board per say of the theater.  I answered one day and the man spoke in Spanish.  I said, “Sir I’m sorry I don’t speak Spanish”.  Now usually they change to English at this point.  Did this Guy????…..No….His voice raised and he again ranted in Spanish.  I again repeated  ”I don’t speak Spanish”  I would get a Spanish speaking person on the line.  Well, his voice raised HIGHER and LOUDER…..I can only imagine what he was saying.  So I got a manager and guess what…..He Hung Up…..lol  Oh Well…..        Another lady called one day.  Now keep in mind we have 10 theaters playing 10 or more movies.  She asked me what movies we were playing, what times, and what time did each end.  Now each movie also plays an average of 4 times a day…..Do I have time for that with customers at the window????  Nope…..Tried to be nice, but she was rather abrupt and finally hung up….Everything is online you know….About a half hour later she called again and asked about 1 specific movie.   So much easier to answer that.   Another time nobody was at the window and a customer called.  As I was answering her question, a lady and her husband came to the window and started to order their tickets.  I held up my finger saying, 1 minute please.  She stormed through the theater doors.  I was done with the call and she came out.  I apologized to her and said I was taking to a customer…..She said rather blatantly and rudely,…..”Well, I Am A Customer Too”…..He husband muttered something to her and she said, “Well never mind, Just give me my tickets“.  But most people are very nice.  I have a couple who come at least once a week.  He usually brings several pages of jokes to read.  Also a very odd old man who wears a big straw hat.  He has turned out to be the most pleasant man to talk too.  So many people come regularly because of our prices.  You see we are a discount or second run theater.  Therefore our prices are cheap.  Week ends are the most expensive….$2.79 a ticket.  Tue and Thur….$2.17 a ticket.  Monday….Groups of 3 or more $1.30….Seniors….$1.68……Wed. Discount day for all …. $1.41 for all……Most people are happy about the prices.  But you have no idea, how many people complain….”What, I thought you were the Dollar Theater” …….Go to the big citys…Check their prices…lol20170726_125930

Temperature has been running around 100 degrees.  My Box Office has A/C of course.  The other day it started raining, and it came down in sheets….It was beautiful…The temperature fell.  My windows were fogging up and it became hard to see.  I realized finally, I was getting really cold….Now that’s a new concept…Cold….I went and checked my thermostat and it was set at 61 degrees….Wow…No wonder, so I set it back at 70.  All in all it has been another experience to add to my list. It’s the first time I’ve ever handled a register.  It’s touch screen.  Once you learn it, it’s really easy.  All the employees are really nice.  Of course their mostly kids.  Some will be going off to college soon and some back to high school.

While we were in Illinois, Richs’ shed was delivered.  He needed a shed to put in his tools.  So he ordered a shed from Sam’s Club.

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So this was a shed that came in 3 million pieces, with pages of directions and pictures….OMG….so that mess is suppose to make a shed,……and it was so hot….So you work in the morning for awhile and then at nite.  I almost passed out one day, well I felt like it….lol….Finally a week later with several other guys helping he got it done.20170707_150420

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He now has a place for his tools.  We have a washer and dryer inside.  He built 2 work benches, so now he is set.20170616_194014

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Ive finally been spending time at the Pool.  The pool is around 88 degrees.  So so nice.  This is the view as you lay on your back sunning in the pool.  The gorgeous Palm Trees..…They just blow in the wind.  It still doesn’t seem possible that this is my life now.  I can do this everyday if I choose too.  I still think of the people at Advantage where I worked.  They are doing the same ole drag day in and day out…..Their is hope out their….Just takes time……My message again is “SAVE YOUR MONEY….PUT IT IN THE 401K”….After a nice dip in the pool and floating on a noodle,  lol, now time for the Spa/Hot Tub.  Ohhhh just feel those jets pound on the sore muscles.  This is the Life.      Last week we went to South Padre Island.20170716_145340

We drove to Access 6, which is free parking and entrance.  Rich had our chairs and walked up the ramp and down to the beautiful sand beach.  We found our spots in front of the Life Guard.  It was a beautiful day.  Even though it was near 100 in town, it was a wonderful cool and breezy temperature at the beach.

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This was the gorgeous view down the beach towards all the hotels and Beach Clubs.  Many people were out but it wasn’t crowded.  The water was so nice.  Wasn’t cold at all.  You could just step right in.  I walked out till it was up past my waist.  The power of the waves felt so good as they pulled you back to shore and then back out.  When it got to be hard to stand, I decided to go back and sit and just enjoy the sun. 20170728_151000

So many Sea Gulls were their.  They were watching all the picnickers and waiting for free handouts.  Sometimes they just congregated in groups and faced the Gulf and just stood their.  They were fun to watch.  We just sat their and listened to the pounding of the waves….coming in….going out…over and over.  The sounds of the Sea Gulls, and the kids and family’s on the beach.  Laughing and Playing.  Finally time to leave.

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Behind us the Beach Patrol had stopped and was visiting with the Lady Life Guard.  Now we were hungry.

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So we headed to everyone’s favorite…..Louie’s Backyard.  Well lets say one of everyone’s favorites.  Their are so many all the way up and down the beach on both sides of the island.  Louie’s is on the Bayside.  They offer fine dinning, cocktails and entertainment every nite of the week.  They offer an All-You-Can-Eat Seafood and Prime Rib Buffet in the Dinning Room, drinks and snacks on the patios by the Bay or an abbreviated Menu in the Sports Bar.  That was were we went.  They had home made Potato chips on the bar, and the Special of the nite was Barbequed Ribs.  Ohhhh Yes….That’s what we got….They were fall off the bone good, with lots of gooey sweet barbeque sauce….Yummm…..So, the end of another day….We could have stayed for entertainment on the outside patio deck on the bay but,  we were SO FULL….Time to go home.  So Ill close with a picture of a beautiful Plumeria that is growing in our Memorial Garden.

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It as started from another plant in the park.  All you do is cut off the stalk in a long piece and it will root.  Some many have been started.  This Plumeria was planted last Nov. So it hasn’t even been there a year yet.  We have a wonderful gardener in the park that has started it from a cutting and tends to it regularly.  Roberta is such a talented lady. 

She can make anything grow.

 

Back Home In Illinois

We are back home for a short time.  We’ll be here around 3 weeks total.  Its good to see the kids again.  We left Harlingen on Saturday afternoon and arrived Monday afternoon.  The goal was to make it to Scott and Brandy’s  bar for tacos.  They serve them only on Mondays 5-7.  20170515_174717

They are deep fried, something you can’t get in Texas.  Must be a northern thing.  Brandy puts in the meat filling, inserts toothpick.  Drop them in the fryer and immetiately open and put in lettuce, onions and tomatoes after frying…..mmmmm…..Saturday morning I had an employees meeting before we left.  I work at the Cinemark 10, 2 days a week on the weekends in the box office.  I, of course am the oldest.  Most are all kids or young adults.  It was rather interesting.  The General Manager of the theater held the meeting.  The purpose of course is to update all employees on new programs coming up for the summer, as well as safety issues, fire drill procedures, and many at risk situations.  But the think I find most interesting is the general manager is so good with these kids.  He is firm with rules, but he also builds them up, trying to get them to strive for the very best in life.  He demands respect and yet have fun at the same time.  One of the managers, Miss Ramos, has been taking the steps to climb the ladder in the company.  She has just taken a test and achieved a fabulous score.  The General Manager announced that she was 4th in the nation and is now titled “Assistant General Manager”  Everyone is called Miss or Mr.  In fact, this is something I have noticed here in the Rio Grande Valley.  Their is respect everywhere from little kids to Seniors.  You can be in a grocery store or on the phone, and everyone says, “Thank You Maam”……It is something that is taught from childhood on and still continues.   As soon as I came back home we finished packing. 20170512_145157

This little guy was hanging around on the awning.  There are zillions of these everywhere.  Kinda cute……It was so hot……Sweat was just pouring off Rich.   Finally we took off and had a rather uneventful trip home……but that’s good…

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Kitty enjoyed the ride as usual, sleeping most of the time.  He would of course also sit on his foot stool by his dad and paw at him.  He always wants Rich to pet him while driving.

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Finally crossing the Mississippi we made it into Illinois.  We seen some floods coming across Arkansas.  They were really hit bad on the White River.  The Mississippi was up but nothing out of the ordinary.  Its been so much worse.

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Brandy behind bar

We arrived in McNabb and parked at “One Pawz Pub”.  Brandy was working,  Scott showed up about a half hour later, from driving truck.  This was the first time we had seen the new progress on the bar.  Scott reconstructed a new bar and put stripe designs in it and covered it with epoxy.  This is not a good picture but it is beautiful.

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Patio area….it was getting dark

He has also finished his patio out back.  He made all his own bars and bar stools and painted them different bright colors.  He also made 3 octagon picnic tables and put down grass turf.  They have a Harley Davidson Bag game in the area you can’t see.  He is striving to gain a lot of bikers this summer on their poker runs.

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Tammy, Cassidy and Carly came for Tacos.  Also her boyfriend Bryan and son.  Ed, Tinas Husband showed up with Austin.  Tina was at a softball game with Miley.  Finally Cameron came in.  He was working…….”What a Nice Sound”…..lol….This past year, Cameron has made “HUGE STEPS” in his life.  He accomplished his GED, then went to Truck Driving School, obtained his CDL, and now has a seasonal job at AG Service.  He drives the chemicals out to the fields for the farmers as they plant.  He loves it.  He also has a truck driving job coming up after the season is over.  It will be a roller coaster for him as he is only going to be 19 in June.  Lots of companies can’t or don’t want to hire him because of insurance.  When he is 21 it will get better…..Just have to stay positive….Finally Connie, Richs youngest sister came and Brian.  We had a nice visit eating Tacos.  Finally drove to the house a block away before dark, parked and settled in.

Now time for a “Randy update”.  Randy has been in New Orleans and Galveston having a Grand time.  He went to a museum to check out and learn about alligators and turtles.

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Look at Randy’s COOL NEW PANTS

He’s been to many resturants checking out the hot sauces and peppers…..lol

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But he decided to eat Brownies instead…..Guess he knew it would tear up his stomach.

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So now Randy and his parents are all packed up.  They are heading on their way to Maryland.  Their having such a good time seeing the sites….

Cant wait till we see where Randy’s Adventures take him next…..

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Randy and his Mom in Galveston La.

 

 

Bill Chrastil, An Evening at Eastgate & The Birthday Girl

Bill Chrastil was our Friday nite entertainment at Eastgate.  Every Friday we have a group or person come in to sing and play for us.  Many are from Branson Mo.  They come down for the winter and work the Winter Texan circuit here in the Rio Grande Valley.

This year I was invited to the Show Case in Harlingen.  Each park pays for 4 ticket for their Activity Directors to attend and book their acts for the next season or two.  I wasn’t able to go with my park, as 2 other couples take care of this, but I have gotten to know the person from Schlitterbahn in South Padre Island, who attends.  Rick books for Dinner shows as well as hosting the Winterfest, which is an all day music fest which will be happening Wed.  Jan 25.  We’ll be attending it.  But Rick invited me to attend the Show Case as he had an extra ticket.  Of course I jumped at the opportunity.  We attended at another larger park, Park Place.  All the audience sat in the center.  On each side their were 2 rows of tables from front to back with all the entertainers sitting in their spot.  The stage included 3 different areas at different levels that the entertainers could perform on.  The idea was that as one was performing, others could be setting up to play as their turn came.

We were handed a paper with 36 different entertainers listed.   Each one had 8 minutes to perform.  They were timed with a stop watch.  Their was to be 2 minutes between each performer.  So total of 10 minutes between acts.  After each performance, the performer would go to the other hall.  Then an activity director who would be interested in booking them would go to the other hall and talk business, arranging the date and price and payment options.  It can be for the next year or even 2 years out depending on the popularity of the performer.  The contract can be signed at that time.  Well it was a very interesting day.  Many of the acts were good, some were not organized or ready.  Some weren’t even that talented.  Needless to say, by the end of the day, we were over the time by more than an hour.  I think that was to be expected by most everyone.  One of the performers stood out to me.  I had seen him during the day walking around and waiting his turn.  Finally Bill Chrastil got on stage.  I felt like he SHINNED in his 8 minutes.  He was organized, each song ran into another one, not wasting any time.  He knew his equipment.  A press of a finger and his next song was playing.  He had High Energy, worked the stage and had so much fun with his songsbill-chrastil-32.jpeg

I was excited as I knew he was coming to our park.   Bill Chrastil played at our park last Friday and he was so good.  He pulled into the park about an hour and half early.  His wife and little puppy was with him.  We arrived around a half hour early and got our seat.  He started with songs of Neil Diamond, Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson, and other country songs.  Finally after break he moved on the Tom Jones, and my favorites, Elvis.20170120_204201.jpg

He was good.  He moved across the stage from one side to another.  His music blended from one song to another.  When he sang Elvis he put on a belt, and sunglasses.  20170120_204447.jpg

He did many of Elvis’s moves and worked the audience.  I found out later that he had scope knee surgery on Dec. 16.   Wow.   It sure didn’t stop him.  His wife said he was ready to start the more daring moves that he makes to look like Elvis…….  The splits ……Once he was warmed up in the second half he sang Tom Jones and Elvis, His voice was so Awesome.  The deep deep sound of Elvis and how he could hold it.  It was Great.  He also was a great guitar player.  He changed from 2 different guitars.  He played a guitar solo, Wipe Out from the Ventures, that was just amazing.  He is an accomplished musician playing the guitar, keyboard,  drums, bass guitar, and harmonica.  Finally the time came for the show to be over.

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He was very gracious and took pictures with anyone who wanted it and chatted with them.

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My Friend Alice and Bill Chrastil

 Bill has been a full time musician and entertainment  since 1983.   He is a songwriter and producer as well as an accomplished instrumentalist.  He is from Lincoln Nebraska, as well as performing in Branson Mo.  He has won many awards in Branson including Best Gospel CD of the year,  Best Vocal impressionist of the years, Best Horizon Show of the year.  He’s also been inducted into the Nebraska and South Dakota Country Music Hall of Fame.

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Last year here in the Valley he won the much sought after Male Vocalist of the Year at the Valley Star Awards.  He has been nominated again this year.  So if you ever get a chance to see his show……  DO IT….. He is a great singer and an Accomplished musician.

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Last week was the Birthday of our littlest Granddaughter Carly.  She is now 5.   Its hard to believe she is that old already.  When Tammy found out she was pregnant, she was just in her 2 year of nursing school for her BSN.  She couldn’t afford to take but several days off, so the doctors worked with her and induced Carly’s delivery. Tammy only lost a couple days of school and went back.  She was so devoted to obtaining her BSN.  The next few years were tough, but today she is a very successful nurse in Peoria.  Carly is now in preschool and loving it.fb_img_1484850165611.jpg

She can be such a princess when she wants to be…..HAPPY BIRTHDAY CARLY……

 

 

Happy New Year! Where Did Dec. Go

December is almost over, in fact it might be after I get this posted….lol…We’ve done so much in the park already.  The park is almost full.  Some have driven or flew home for the holidays, including Canadians.  They are starting to return now.  After January 1st, they will all be back.  The ones who don’t come till after the holidays will probably all come by next week.  We’ve been ……BUSY BUSY BUSY…..We scheduled a Downtown Historical Jackson Street walk.

It was a beautiful day.  Harlingen offers this tour every Saturday to the public free of charge.  Over 20 murals to see, and so much history.  We did this as an Eastgate tour.  Its so nice for everyone to be together.  Lunch after of course.  20161216_092729

Racheal from SegValley Tours came for Coffee and Donuts and brought one Segway.  After her demonstration, she invited everyone to try it out in the parking lot.

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Margene who is 84 and her daughter Kathlynn, and Rachael, owner of SegValley Tours

So much fun was had by all.  This was their chance to fulfill their bucket list.  Next we had our Annual Golf Cart Christmas Parade and after was Ice Cream and Singing Carols.

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The carts were all decked out in Christmas lights and decorations.  A group of ladys walked ahead of the carts dressed as the Reindeer and sang Christmas Carols.  They traveled all over the park ending at the hall for the rest of the party.  Of Course Santa was their too….fb_img_1482885997722

We had our Christmas Dinner, with platters of ham and everyone bringing a dish or two to serve at their table.  Also the table decorating contest.  fb_img_1482885968815

They all out did themselves this year.  The tables were beautiful, from fun and festive, to beautiful and elegant.  This was the first place winner.  Great group of people who put so much effort into their Gingerbread Truck and Camper.  The hill was also lite up with lights.  Awesome Job.  mistys-family

Rich’s brother John came down from Illinois to be with his daughter and family from New Braunfels Tx.  Its about 5 or 6 hours away.  They met down on South Padre Island for Christmas.  We went down the following day and spent the nite.  Misty, Mark and the kids had a great time on the beach. mistys-family2

They enjoyed fishing on the jetty.  The fog was pretty thick that morning.

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You could see it just come in and blow through the island.  It was hanging pretty low.  This was an awesome picture of the fog covering the lower part of the hotel.  The top part just appeared out of the fog like a ghost.  20161227_140444

Also the  Pirate Ship cruise went by.  It was rather spooky too with the fog that was present.  They offer games and pirates fighting.  A very authentic feeling of a pirate ship.  After Mistys family went back home, John and Glenda came by and spent 2 nites.  We took them to Progresso Mexico for their first time every.20161230_140634.jpg

They had a great time.  It is quite an experience for anyone.  We sat down at the Red Panty Bar on the tables on the street.20161230_151341.jpg

Ordered a few drinks and Glenda took it all in.  Street musicians playing drums and trumpet as well as a man playing guitar behind us. 20161230_162333.jpg

Now this is what every women loves including me of course…lol…..Shopping for jewelry from the street vendors. 20161230_143754.jpg

Now this was in a store for sale.   Beautiful isn’t it. The price on it is $250.  I love it.  Now if I had a house, …..lol….and a little extra money, I would certainly remodel my bathroom around this toilet.  They also have sinks…..lol.. The following day we went to the 77 Flea Mkt.  It is so big you can’t see it all in one day.20170101_001557.jpg

Rich did find a new pal.  This is for Scott and Brandy at the bar.  Were not sure if its a “Sally or Sam”….lol….Scott already has “Bones and Trixie”, so this will be a nice addition to the family.  We spent New Years Eve with a group of friends.

We spent the nite with a fire pit and Tom smoked a brisket…..At midnite the fireworks in town were huge.   They went off in all directions.  The next day we heard a lot of people woke up because of all the noise.  Happy 201720161221_183321

Some of the lights of our park.  This is 2 Mesquite Trees.  The owners have them decorated so beautifully.  They are near the entrance and give the park a great impression when you pull in…..20161221_183704

This camper is in the RV section.  It is beautiful and complete with music as you drive by.

“Happy New Year 2017”

……May it be everything You Want it to Be…..

 

 

No Blog In a Month?…..What Have I Been Doing…

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“MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR

Where has the time gone.  My last blog was Nov. 22, the anniversary of President Kennedys assassination.  We have been so busy at Eastgate.  So much to catch up on.   Soooo……….Lets get started.  I do think it will take several blogs…lol…

We have been so busy, and the weather has been great, up until last week.  The temps have been from the 70s to the 90s.  Plenty of sunshine.  Rich is busy everyday.  He plays pool in the mornings and then begins his day.  Always plenty of repairs.  Eastgate has more workampers this year, so the work is getting done at a faster rate, but theirs always things breaking and many things to replace.  Always water breaks….When the park has a leak that requires the water to be shut off,  Victor, the maintenance man rides the golf cart around, blowing the siren.  That means the water will be shut off in 15 minutes……lol…Guess what,  that even broke….lol…someone had to ride around in the golf cart shouting……”Water Shut Off”…..Water Shut Off”….Funny…I guess you had to be their to hear it…..Now we have a New Siren too….

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The Craft classes have been very busy.   We have made Sparkleballs from Christmas lights and Solo cups.  They have been so popular, that we keep making them over and over.  We will be making some more after the rest of the people come for the winter.

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If your interested in making them the web site is,  sparkleball.com.

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SOME OF OUR CUTE SNOWMEN, ALL BUNDLED FOR WINTER

We also have made log snowmen.  We bought 7′ posts and cut them into 1′ sections.  painted them and dressed them with hats and scarfs.   They turned out so awesome.  Everyone had different ideas on how to paint faces and dress them with the hats and scarfs.

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OUR SPINDLE SNOWMEN IN PROGRESS. WE PAINTED HIS HAT BLACK, GAVE HIM A FACE AND BUTTONS AND A LITTLE SCARF FOR HIS NECK

The 3rd item we made, was snowmen from railing spindles.  I had over 20 the garage for years that came used from an auction.  I seen a picture on Pinterest that would be easy to do.  We cut them to length, and added the hat to the top and painted them.  A hole was drilled in the bottom and rebar was inserted.

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OUR MAGNIFICENT COOKS, RICH, CAROL AND LARRY, SUZI AND BOB ……I CUT UP THE ONIONS….LOL….

Thanksgiving and Christmas have come and gone.  For Thanksgiving, we cooked 7 Turkeys, dressing and gravy.  The rest was supplied by the residents.  Each table has a card table at the end.  Each table holds 8 people.  They bring a dish to pass for their table only.  It is put on the card table.  One person from each table goes up to the kitchen counter and receives a plate of turkey, dressing and gravy.  That is also put on their card table.  Each table therefore acts as the family unit, as they pass their food from the card table.  It saves time, and everyone can almost eat at the same time.  If it was served as potluck fashion, many of the best dishes would be empty before everyone was served.  It has worked out so well.

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OUR CHRISTMAS COOKS…LARRY, RICH, CAROL…AND THE YUMMY SPIRAL HAM……X 7

For Christmas, we served Ham and glaze.  7 hams were purchased and almost nothing left.  We had 15 tables for Christmas.  The table decorating contest was a Great success.

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THE WINNING TABLE DECORATING CONTEST…..NOTICE THE CRAYONS AND THE COLORING TABLE CLOTH….VERY ORIGINAL…AND THEY CALL THEMSELVES SENIORS?

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……..THE CRAZY, JUVENILE WINNERS…..

Our neighbors, decorated their table in a very pretty, entertaining, and JUVENILE manner…..lol…They had a kids coloring table cloth with crayons and all.  They colored through dinner and guys wore silly hats.  They won a bottle of wine…as if they needed it.   They are a riot whether you see them around the park, or at the dinner table…..

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BARB….WINNER OF THE UGLY SWEATER CONTEST…..A HOMEMADE BADGE FROM EASTGATE WITH “UGLY SWEATER WINNER 2015” AND RIBBON

The hall was decorated so festive.  Many of the residents got together one Friday morning and got out all the decorations and the tree.  We turned on Christmas music and turned it up and away we all went.  It was so much fun to be a part of it and watch them enjoy the Christmas Spirit in the Air.

Another craft project we did for both halls, was to make paper snowflakes.  I seen it on Pinterest, and made one.  It was so easy.  That after noon we made many more.   I takes 30 sheets of computer paper.  5 sheets for each point.  The reasoning is to make it thick enough to hang and not rip.  They ended up well over 12″ in diameter.

I have also scheduled some activity’s that we have done.  We have had several Segway tours of downtown Harlingen.

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Their is so much history in this town and the art work of hand painted murals are all over town, depicting to history.  One of the most magnificent pieces is in a park.

A special area has been constructed for it.  It is a collection of 905 mosaic tiles that tell the history of Mexico.  It is stunning and beautiful.

 

One of my favorites…This mural covers almost a half block area on a wooden fence.   If was painted black and then painted with dots….Its magnificent.. The artists are Benjamin P. Varelo, and Celeste De Luna. During the Segway tours, we visited these murals, and many others and are given the history of the town.  It also takes us to Grimsells which I have written about before.  It a fabulous garden Center that is over 100 years old, situated almost in the middle of down town.

They have the tallest flag pole in town, so if your looking for its location, just look up over the buildings and look for the waving flag of the United States of America, and you can make your way to Grimsells.  This last time we were their, they had their larger birds out.

So so cool.

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About a week ago, 16 people from the park, carpooled downtown for the 1 1/2 walking tour.  It was a fun time.  We had 2 guides that walked us through the downtown area using a megaphone to tell us the story.  After we had lunch at a local Café.  We learned a lot more history as well as we found many more cool stores and boutiques to shop at.  One never gets tired of shopping do they?  lol…..These are just a few of the things we have been doing……

Next blog….Guess who came down for Christmas….The 2 older Grandkids….Cameron and Cassidy…..

Gate 15 Officially Closed….Just In Time….

Last Wed. was our last day at the gate.  On Tue morning Rich went in, and we had hopes it would be the last, but no.   Now the maintainer (road grader) broke down.  The had brought in several loads of rock to spread around the valve area and the ranchers gate.  The maintainer broke down in the middle of the ranchers gate.  They managed to back it up behind the gate to lock it.  The operator waited all afternoon for the mechanic to come, but, no avail.  Theirs always tomorrow.  So Rich came home and told me Wed was my day to close.    lol.  So Wed morning I went to the gate at 6:30 as usual.  The guys started coming in by 7 am.  They finally all drove out around 7:30 to begin to dismantle my gate and replace it with a tall fence to match the existing fence.

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They had to take off the 2 – 8, sections of aluminum swing gate and replace it with 8′ rolled fencing.  Finally around 8 am. or so the mechanic came in and fixed the maintainer.  They began to finish their spreading and grading of the gravel.  Now they had around 7 guys to help with this gate.   How hard is it?

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After quite awhile they finally had it up, laced the new piece on to the existing poles.  Then they had to put in the 2 metal poles…….Lets back up the truck, put the shortest guy up, standing on the top edge of the bed, and have him pound in the poles with the pounder….lol….The rest just stood around and watched…….AND THAT IS HOW THE WHOLE MORNING WENT……LOL….

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My Gate ……….2  8′ swing aluminum sections…..

Finally at 1:05 Pm.  The gate was FINALLY OFFICIALLY CLOSED…….

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My Gate after closing………took almost 6 hrs. and 7 men……lol….and this is what they were doing as I left………….sitting…..nothing…..lol..

This has been quit and experience for us.   Will we do it again?    OF COURSE….next spring we plan on being available in April.   It has definitely been challenging at times.  Learning how to sleep at the 24 hour gate, learning how to handle 100 degree heat, the attack of the crickets in Carrizo Springs….and now we are infested with ants in the RV, because of where we were staying in our FREE spot.   It was good as it was free, with all hook-ups, but it was not mowed.  Basically it was the back of a service yard that was tall dead critter infested weeds, with tires etc.  stuff people had thrown out and was never cleaned up.  The ground was all rutted with tire marks.  When it rains, the soil turns to a horrible mud.  So glad we got out when we did as the remnants of Hurricane Patricia are now upon us.  We left Wed. afternoon late, and stopped at Walmart and bought 2 back tires for the pickup and Thur. we arrived at East Gate in Harlingen.  ……OH HAPPY DAYS..…Glad to be back…..Of course it started raining, we left last spring in the rain, so I guess it should rain when we arrive.  lol.   Now the last 2 days it has been pouring because of Hurricane Patricia.  We only got around 2-3″ yesterday, but up north, parts of Texas including where we were, are getting 10″ – 12″ or more.  It is so good to be back, just like coming home.  Everyone is so glad to see you and we are to see them…….  Familiar Faces……Friends……Already went and played pool with the girls yesterday, and Rich is playing with the guys this morning…….OLD TIMES……Rain doesn’t stop anyone here.  One good thing that I love, which most people hate………..were back with the Planes, Trains, and Automobiles……lol…In the desert it was total silence…..Nothing….but here we are only a mile from the airport and on the flight path.  I have always loved watching the planes in the air.  At home in Illinois we are around 90 miles from Chicago, but on the flight path for O’Hare and Midway.  The planes are already descending.  Sometimes you can tell the color as to who the airlines is.  Right behind the park there is a train track.  Many times a freight train comes through.  We are also on the main drag in town and less than a half a block from the main road to turn to the airport.  So in the evening, you hear the sirens of the police and ambulance.  But here in the park we are secluded in our own little world…….Love It…..

But the silence of the desert is a good thing also.   We would spend around 12 hours everyday for 6 weeks, just sitting.  Many times we spent hours before someone would come or go to sign.  So we would sit their and become in tune with the area.  What we thought was a horrible desert with nothing but cactus, mesquite trees and nothing, became a beautiful area full of nature.  I have wrote about the turkeys, the Mexican ground squirrels, the quail, deer, but not the Road Runners.

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Now we seen many of them.  They are so cool to watch.  They are not as personable as the ground squirrels, but they are not afraid of us either.  They would run with their head forward and I would say, “Hey Mr. Road Runner”.  They stop and look around, and then continue their mission.  Always looking up the road and around for a bug or food item.  As they run, they hold their lean frames nearly parallel to the ground and rudder with their long tails. Roadrunners eat poisonous prey, including venomous lizards and scorpions, with no ill effect, although they’re careful to swallow horned lizards head-first with the horns pointed away from vital organs. Roadrunners can also kill and eat rattlesnakes, often in tandem with another roadrunner: as one distracts the snake by jumping and flapping, the other sneaks up and pins its head, then bashes the snake against a rock. If it’s is too long to swallow all at once, a roadrunner will walk around with a length of snake still protruding from its bill, swallowing it a little at a time as the snake digests.  Did you know they can our run a Human?

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Roadrunners reach two feet from sturdy bill to white tail tip, with a bushy blue-black crest and mottled plumage that blends well with dusty shrubs.  They are really a beautiful bird.

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The first weeks we were their, they would be climbing on our truck.  They would hop on the hood and peck at the window.  He would also try pecking at the windshield wipers.  Then he would hop to the back of the truck and peck at the back window.  We had the windows down all the time, and thought he might hop inside.  He would hop on the outside mirror and then in the window but never inside.  He would do it over and over.   Quite an interesting bird, but always with a goal in mind……running…..stop…..look…….run again…..

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Another animal that is prevalent here is the Javelina…pronounced with an H…..We seen several of them dead on the road from being hit.  I only seen them once.  I was going to the gate on the gravel road, and came over a rise and right in front of me was a small herd of them.  I don’t think they are too smart as they didn’t seem to know what to do.   I had thought about it, I would have been able to take their picture.  They are a medium sized animal that resemble a pig.  Its eyes are too small for its head.  They are a social animal and run in herds. They are 2′ – 4′ in length and are 20lb – 40lbs.

As we sat their everyday, I began to realize, the oil and gas company’s that come in and dig up the land, really don’t do that much harm.   Yes they do destroy some of the habitats, but they strive to put it back as is was.  After an area is done, the rancher has contracted what he wants done with the land.  It is seeded with native grasses, and it then becomes a great grazing area for the cattle.  The ranchers that have deer, set up their feeders in the clearing.  Then it is a great spot for there blinds for hunting season.  All the little animals and birds adapt during the construction process.  Have you ever just sat outside in the woods are fields, or even in your back yards?   Do it sometimes……Listen to the sounds of nature……..As we sat their, I would close my eyes……

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I would hear the birds overhead in the trees….even flocks of geese going south…..

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I heard the turkeys in the brush about a block ahead of me……

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then from behind, a little soft sound of peeps….the quail were coming out and going across the road.  and the my little ground squirrels….

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.Their high pitch chatter….to the left………then to the right in the cactus patch far away…..they were communicating…..I was sitting in their environment……This is their daily life…..Now the gate is closed…….We said Good bye to all the Ralphs…….lol…..

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Our first Ralph was sitting by his hole the day before we left, just observing again……Now he can return to his life without humans…..lol….

………Life goes on in the desert……