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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tina, Miley and Austin, hamming it up

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Rich and Connie….Brother and Sister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carly wearing her googles

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

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

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Austin was AMAZED at this fish.

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Tammy & The Kids Visit….Part 2

FB_IMG_1516214053865.jpgWe had a fun day in Progresso Mexico and then headed back over to the US side.  We headed for South Padre Island which is about a 45 minute drive.  Rich and Cameron were in our car leading the way, and us girls in Tammy’s Jeep.  We arrived after dark at our motel and settled in.  Now we had a number of things planed,  but the weather was going to cause us a problem.  Cameron wanted to do a Deep Sea fishing Trip in the Gulf.  We also wanted to take the Port of Brownsville  Tour and see the ship yards where they dismantle the decommissioned Navy ships.  The USS Ranger is their and the USS Independence just arrived last May.  The weather has not been stable at all this season.  The forecast changed from the 70s to the 60s with some rain.  We had tickets lined up for both but they were both cancelled because of the weather.  FB_IMG_1515893032735.jpg

Tammy did manage to take several drives up the beach.  The first one she was very excited to finally drive up to the end of the road.  South Padre Island has only one main road down the middle.  It continues north until it turns into sand.  It passes all the beach access points, the hotels, condos, restaurants and bars.  It also passes a Zip Line area.  They also offer horse rides on the beach.  It is the farthest north facility on the island.  Then it turns into sand a ways up the road.  It gets so windy the road is always blowing over.  The plows regularly have to plow and maintain the road.  As you see it was sputtering rain on her windshield, but that didn’t stop her.  She drove back to Access 6 and entered the beach.  She said she drove a number of miles north.  On the way they passes the horses out for a ride.

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It was chilly to be on the beach.  The wind blows in from the ocean constantly.

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But I guess if you love horses and the beach, it doesn’t stop you.   It probably was a dream come true for some of those people.  The weather just didn’t cooperate.

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Along the way Tammy stopped and they looked for shells.  She actually found some large Conch shells.  They probably had washed up from the storm that had just come in a day before.  Carly brought her fish net and loaded it up with all her special shells she found.  They loved ridding on the beach.  Its such an exhilarating feeling as the wind blows and the sea gulls fly and chirp.  The feeling of peace, tranquility and Freedom.  Mother Nature at her best.

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Carly on the upper deck…..It was so Cold and Windy

The next trip we did was the Dolphin Eco Watch.  The boat is a double decker.  It holds quite a few people.  It is around a 2 hour trip in the bay, looking for dolphins.  They also drop a net to the bottom and drag it to catch different types of fish.  It was so cold.  We bundled up in our sweat shirts and jackets and boarded.  The girls had so much fun….Even Tammy.  We seen the dolphins many times just swimming around near us.  They would surface and then go under and come up a ways ahead.  The deck hand had dropped the net and reeled it in.  He had quite a few different variety’s of fish.  He cleaned them out of the net and put them all in a bucket with water.  He took them out 1 by 1 and showed them to the kids and adults.

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He actually caught a Sting Ray.  He explained the danger and how to react when near a Sting Ray.  He also showed a Puffer Fish and several others.  Finally he dropped them all back into the bay.  Then they took the boat clear out past the Jetty’s of Padre.  The wind was blowing, the waves were blowing high and splashing against the Jetty Rocks.

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It was so beautiful to see all the hotels at a distance and the beaches.  We also seen Dolphins clear out here.   Finally after almost 2 hours we went back to the docks.

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Now we were all hungry.  We decided to go to Pier 19.  It is a restaurant out on a dock.  Very cool atmosphere.  Every table is by a window.  It is a long and narrow restaurant as it is built actually on the pier.  We had seen Dolphins near the restaurant when we were on the boat, so decided it would be a great place to eat.

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They had some great food.  I had a Hawaiian Burger.  It was awesome.  I can’t wait to go back.   The next day we decided to go to Brownsville to the Gladys Porter Zoo.  It is situated on 31 acres.  The zoo houses about 400 animal species and over 250 tropical and neo-tropical species and subspecies.

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We didn’t see to many animals as it was still so cold.  But we sure seen Flamingos.  It is such a beautiful unique zoo.  The animals are all housed in areas that are natural to their habitats.  You don’t see many in cages, as they are all in natural out door settings.  But since is was so cold, I think they were mostly brought into their indoor areas to escape the unusual cold weather.  Just Carly, Tammy and I went here and we had a great time.  We also took another side trip out to Boca Chica Beach.  It is on the south side of Port of Brownsville.  It is a desolate beautiful area just a stones throw from the border.  After a 20 mile drive it dead ends into the beach at the Gulf of Mexico.  Several years ago they anounced that Space X had bought some ground for a new Missile launch area.  It is being built now, but we were told it would take another 2 years before the first launch.  That night ate out at Louies Backyard on the Bay sideTammy and Carly stayed at the hotel as they were tired.

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Glen and Kathy from the park came down to spend a nite.  They had spent the afternoon at another Club listening to the singer “Leslie”.  After she was done their, she came to sing at Louies.  We had some good food and fun times.

The next morning, Tammy wanted to go for another drive on the beach.  Rich and I and Cameron stayed in the room.   Awhile later, Tammy called…….”Dad do you have a tow rope in your car?“……lol….Oh no…..They had driven into Access 6 again and drove for miles up the beach as it was low tide.  They had a great time until they came back and tried to get back through the Access area.  In these areas the sand accumulates into drifts.  If not cleaned out regularly with a plow, it is like snow drifts up north.  You simply get stuck and end up bottoming out if you keep trying.  Well that’s what happened.   The other thing was, all this time she thought she was in 4 wheel drive.  Cameron had showed her to put the switch in 4 wheel but neglected to show her the other part of the process.  She was lucky she never got stuck earlier.  Well “Dad” didn’t have a tow rope…….Rich and Cameron drove out their and their was a whole crowd helping her.  She had of course bottomed out trying to get out.  Several vehicles tried pulling her but to no avail.   Finally another Jeep hooked up and pulled her right out.  She was so excited that she never took any pictures.  She was disappointed when she realized others were taking pictures but she didn’t get any.  So another Adventure for her to talk about…..lol….But no pictures.   Later she had to wash the Jeep as she was so full of sand.

Our stay at the island was coming to an end.  We had nice rooms.  Cameron stayed with us in ours so the girls could have their room to them selves.  Our room was obviously quieter.  When you went into Tammy’s room it was a disaster.  Clothes all over, and Carly always had her little toys out on the table playing with them.  She always has to have play time with her little toys.  We had a great Breakfast every morning down in the Lobby.  All the cold cereal, donuts, bagels, and toast as well as eggs, potatoes, waffles and juices.  Anything you could want for breakfast.

We left the Island to go home, but Tammy was still staying another day or two.  We both drove and headed for Brownsville,   77 Flea Mkt.  This turned out to be a beautiful day.  The Flea Mkt is huge.  Rich and Cameron took off and us girls started to slowly make our way through.  The girls had fun, even Cassidy.  We found a cheap stroller to put Carly in.  She would have never walked the whole thing.  20171230_133504.jpg

Cassidy found quite a few things.  Several pairs of slacks, make up brushes, and her best item was a blue tooth speaker with disco lites on wheels.  It was made like a rolling suitcase.  Great for taking to her friends or wherever she wants to go.  Tammy found a rolling suitcase for herself, and many other things and food items.  We were half we through and I was tired.  I mentioned, are you getting tired yet, but…… NO…..she wasn’t…..So we finally did the WHOLE FLEA MARKET.   I don’t think I ever walked the whole thing before…..Now we were very hungry.  We ate at a Chinese Buffet.  Good Food.  So we finally went back to Harlingen and Tammy went back to Padre.  That nite they decided to go fishing by the Causeway.  FB_IMG_1515891798874.jpg

Would you believe Cameron caught a Sting Ray.  It was being chased by a Puffer Fish.

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He finally pulled it on the dock.  A Mexican who didn’t speak much English helped Cameron get it off the hook and finally sent it back in.  FB_IMG_1515891839792.jpg

Now that is something you sure can’t catch in Illinois.  More memories were made.  The next morning they decided it was time to leave.  The kids wanted to go home.  They arrived back at our camper around 11:30.  Tammy come flying in and said….”Dad, Dad, take me to Mexico one last time….Please?”  Cameron said ” No, you don’t need to go”…..Tammy looked at Cameron and said….“I’m the mom your the kid…..You can’t tell me what to do”…..Then she looked at Dad and said ” Please Please, I want to go back one more time”.….So of course, Tammy, Cameron and Dad went back to Mexico…..I took Cassidy and Carly and went to Mr Gatti’s.  Its a Pizza Buffet.   It also has Pasta, Mac and Cheese, Baked Potatoes and the fixings and a great Salad Bar.  We went back to the park and I had 2 more things to do with the kids.  My friend Gail Rollo has written a Children’s book.  She is selling it in certain book stores and on Amazon.  She has been doing some book signings also.20171210_124501.jpg

Its a wonderful book of a dream that she had when she was a child.  After all these years, she has written the book and Published it.  Were all so proud of her Accomplishment.

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I wanted Gail to sign one for Carly so we stopped at her house.  Gail read the book to her and then signed her very own book.  Carly loved it.  She held the book with 2 hands against her chest when we left.  It was very special to her.

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Our next stop was Roberta’s.  Roberta and Ken have 2 Parrots.  Maui is a Beautiful Red and Blue Parrot.  20171231_133908.jpg

Cassidy met her 2 years ago.  At that time Maui was the only one she had.  Since then, Roberta has been given Benny.  His owners had passed away and he desperately need a family.   20171231_134030.jpg

Benny is a beautiful blue and yellow Parrot.  Roberta is so good with birds, animals of any kind and has a wonderful green thumb.  She can grow anything.  So Carly poised for this picture with her doll and they had their matching dresses on, that they bought in Mexico.  Finally Rich, Tammy and Cameron came back around 5.  They drove across this time.  Tammy had to walk almost the whole length of the shopping area that we stick to in Progresso.  She shopped and shopped and made sure she had her Margarita.  She loved it.  20171231_173423.jpg

But now it was time to head out.  I thought they would be to tired to drive, but they wanted to go.  The kids sleep at nite and travel better.  So around 5:30 the left.  I figured they would stop and sleep.  It is a very long drive.  But with Cameron and her driving, they made it straight through in 22 hours.  They pulled into home in Illinois before 4 pm the next afternoon. …. OMG….No way.
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It was a great time having Tammy and the kids here.  We didn’t get to do everything we wanted but we did a lot.   We never had a dull moment.  It was so nice after going on 4 years that one of the kids have finally came down and seen where we live in the winter.  Their is so much to offer in the Rio Grande Valley.  It is such a different life style than back home.  Harlingen area has so much to offer.  So much to see and do.  It never gets old.  Much history and many things I’m sure I haven’t discovered yet.  It is a life style that is so unique, and so hard to describe to anyone up north.  It is an area the Winter Texans come back to every year to enjoy the warmth of the weather, the beach, and the culture of the Southern Texans……It is so nice to think, the beach and the ocean are just a short drive away.   

…….We Made So Many Wonderful Memories…..

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