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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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”

 

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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The Last Days With Friends…..Randy is Traveling….

 

The Park is almost empty of all the Winter Texans.  We’ve had a few more head north.  On Sunday we went to the Island with Cathy and Bud and Ann, Cathy’s sister.  Ann flew down from Canada to spend the last week with them.  They are all leaving Wednesday.  We ate at Dirty Al’s, at the Pelican Station in Port Isabel.

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It sits right on the Lagoon near the bridge that goes to South Padre Island.  It has a beautiful view through the windows of the bridge.

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You can also see the Dolphin Watching tour boats that are right down the street.  Sometimes you can even see the Dolphins from here swimming and jumping in the water.

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After we eat a wonderful dinner we decided to ask for Dessert…..Oh How SINFULLY Delicious it was. 

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The waiter and waitress were so nice, the took our pictures and had fun with us.  Just look at those yummy desserts.  Key Lime Pie, Cheesecake, Pecan Pie with Ice Cream and chocolate syrup……Yes, We Left Full…..

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Last Friday we took a trip to Progresso which was also Cathy and Buds last for the season.  We walked around the streets and through some of the shops.  Bought some meds….(cheap)….eat dinner and stopped at Ponchos for a drink.  This girl is always on the streets trying to sell her jewelry.  She doesn’t speak English and is slow.  But she knows how to sell.  She know all the regulars and always hangs around.  Her name is Judy, although its spelled different in Spanish.  She calls Cathy and Bud her Mommy and Poppy.  But she also calls Glen her Poppy….I think she must call everyone that.  Last year, she hung around and wanted to carry my Piñata all the way to the border bridge.  Several of us gave her money and she was happy, but she still hangs around till you leave.  The last 2 times we have driven across now.  No more walking across the bridge.  But they get you for parking.   They find you a place and want money for watching your car.  You can also get a hand wash and wax for around $12.   It is a Good Deal.

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We had some fun trying on hats…..They always say…..”What you want Lady? It almost Free”  ……So another 2 days and they will leave for Canada.

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I also want to report on Randy the Reindeer….Remember him from Christmas?….Randy decided to head to Maryland with his Eastgate Parents Alice and Tom.  He has never met his family so he is heading east….He will proudly ride on the dash in his chair and see the sites of this great America.  You realize he has only seen it at nite with Santa, helping to pull the sleigh on Christmas Eve.  So this will be a GREAT EXPERIENCE for him.  We’ve had our first report from him.

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He went out shopping to buy appropriate Beach wear.  He has new sunglasses, swim trunks, even flip flops on his feet.  He has a visor on his head also to protect him.  But he still has that Margarita glass in his hand…..I think his parents will help him control his drinking problem though.  Alice and Tom are good people and they know what’s best for him……lol…

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Here is a really cool picture of him on the Beach.  They are at Galveston Island for April before they start heading north.  So I will be reporting on Randy every time he reports in….. So I will close with several pictures of friends gone north…..Everyone goes North ya know…..We are the most southern point of the USA…….If you look at the map, you will see we are almost in line with KEY WEST FLORIDA

…..You just can’t go any further south…

……..”See You All Next Year”……

Our Ladies Style Show and Super Bowl

We just finished our 1st Style Show at the park with 3 different Awesome stores with 15 of our ladies modeling.  I surely can’t show you all 15, but these were my favorites.  These Ladies modeled from Lionels Western Wear in Weslaco.  They wore their fashions from their head including jewelry, down to her shoes and boots.   Such Beautiful and colorful items.  lionels-1

This all first started when I was invited to another park last year for their Ladies Fashion Show.  Our friends from McNabb, Jan and Bob Shuster are at Paradise park.  I attended with Jan and thought how beautiful it was, but thought Eastgate could never do anything like that, as we are so much smaller, and don’t have that kind of cash flow…..For that matter, nor could I…..I certainly don’t have the experience to know how to put together something so elegant as theirs.  As an Event last year, we went to beautiful Villa De Cortez in Weslaco for lunch.  20170217_150029.jpg

Sandra from Lionels Western Wear, which was one of the stores at Paradise Park,  came and modeled several items.  It was so much fun.  After our lunch several of us went down the street to her store shopping.   We were so Impressed.  I talked with Sandra as how to do a style show at the Villa De Cortez.   She said I should call her this past fall when we all arrived.

 

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My Friend Cicily Mahoney

This fall, after we all arrived, I realized the Ladies Luncheon was having a hard time come up with entertainment.  So I mentioned to Linda and Cheryl about the Fashion Show.   They were so excited.  So we contacted Sandra and set a date.  Several weeks before, Linda and Cheryl made appointments at all 3 stores for fittings.  We not only had Lionels Western Wear, also Wells of Weslaco and Bec’s of McAllen.  Those 2 girls worked so hard transporting all 15 girls to 3 different stores for fittings.  Each store had 5 ladies model 2 different outfits.  The day of, The stores arrived and set up their close racks in Lila’s mobile trailer right next to the hall.  That become the dressing rooms.  Each store had 1 room for their 5 girls to change.  20170215_193139.jpg

They were all so elegant and full of fun as they modeled.  Nancy was demonstrating her imaginary gun concealed in the pocket built into her purse.  20170203_153659.jpg

Pat was just so cool in her red flowing Poncho with black boots and her Cowboy hat.   20170203_134500.jpg

Of course we had Frances looking so beautiful in a black and white top. Her outfit was from Bec’s in McAllen.   All the ladies wore beautiful exquisite jewelry and shoes.  Sandra’s store is full of gorgeous Jewelry.   The show was just fabulous. lionels-5

A huge Thank You to Linda and Cheryl for all their work and of course the ladies from the 3 stores that traveled to bring this fabulous show to our park…..Many of the ladies are planning  fun shopping days.   20170203_120501.jpg

The hall was decorated in bright bold colors.  The girls made bright paper tissue flowers and suspended them from the ceiling.  They purchased bright colored table clothes and bought flowers from Progresso Mexico as centers pieces.   The luncheon tables were filled with so much awesome food.  Everyone brought a dish to share…..lionels-4

So See We Can Do a Style Show….It May Have Not Been Elegant as Some Are…..But

…….We Did It The Eastgate Way……

And we had a BLAST

It was so much fun and everyone so enjoyed it.  So next event was Super Bowl.  We left the flowers up in the ceiling, but I saved all the tables cloths for our Potato Bake next month.  Finally the Super Bowl was decided.  Falcons and Patriots.   Red and Blue.  My 2 favorite colors.  This year was so much easier to plan.  I wrote notes and saved grocery lists from last year.  I have learned if you write a plan when you begin and a summary when your done of good things and recommendations for change, it is so much easier the following year.  So it was much easier.  The menu this year was Brisket, Lil Smokies, Shrimp, Nachos and Cheese, Crackers, sausage and cheese, Veggies and dip, Soda and half barrel of beer. We asked for everyone to bring a snack to share.   Rich bought the briskets at Sams and found a new caterings service/bar that would smoke and season them.   They were fabulous.  20170205_172621.jpg

I found a cool looking inflatable ice tray for the table in the shape of a football stadium for the shrimp and veggies.  During the season I’ve been collecting things for door prizes.  I ended up with 25 items.

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…..2 white boards with all the prizes listed….my placemats and centerpieces…..

 

Top prize from Joe Shannon was a Garmin Fitness Tracker bracelet.  I had a fishing rod from Johnnys True Value, Yankee Candle for Quips and Quotes, and many many good gift certificates as well as other things.   It was grand.  Of course they went through not only the half barrel but another half of a half barrel.  I made center pieces of footballs from brown paper and Megaphones in Red and Blue.  It really looked nice. 20170205_155141.jpg

………And What A Game…….I don’t understand football but I did watch the last half.  It was sure an exciting game.  I didn’t take to many pictures that night, as it was such a busy evening.  We went up by noon to decorate and set up.  By 8 pm my feet were dead.  We left around 11 when the hall was finally cleaned up again

…..Back to Normal for another DAY…..20170209_082653.jpg

I will finish with a new picture of our pots in place in the Entrance of our Park.  I coated them with couple of coats of concrete sealer in hopes it will protect the pots from the harsh summer months.  The pots came from Progresso Mexico.  Bought them and had a Mexican wheel them across the border, straight to the truck.  He even put them in the back and put down cardboard for protection.  All for $48 for both including a $10 tip.   What a Deal……… So now the girls planted them with petunias, and they are

………BEAUTIFUL…….. 

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…..

 

 

Randy Reindeer Came to Eastgate

Santa sent Randy to Eastgate as a back up for Christmas Eve if any of the reindeer got tired……Or the Story goes…..lol

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The very end of November Alice and Tom came to me with this really cool idea.  “Lets have a Scavenger Hunt.  They had this cute little reindeer that we named Randy and we decided on this story.  received_1817546911841039-1.jpg

So Alice and Tom would hid him in the evening and text me the clue.  In the morning I would post the clue in both halls and on FaceBook.  Someone would find Randy and bring him to me and get an entry into the drawing on Christmas Day.  Everyone started getting a kick out of Randy.  He would hide in flower carts, peek out tree branches all through the park.  Several weeks back Randy was taken to Port Mansfield which is over an hour away.  They have lots of deer that are very tame.  They come right up to your car.  fb_img_1482978285847.jpg

The group that took him said that Randy wanted to meet his family.  Then they all went bar hopping.  The funny thing was, Alice and Tom were part of the group.  Nobody knew they were hiding him.  lol.  They played the game well.  fb_img_1482974091376.jpg

So Randy started to drink.  He made new friends and I think sucked down beer, Margaritas, and who knows what all.   He was a Very Bad Reindeer.  I didn’t know where he was until the group was posting these pictures on Eastgate FB site.

 

I knew Randy was going to come home with a BAD BAD Hangover.  Finally he came home.  He rested up a bit and later he was dressed up in a new Hat.  He decided to get out his inner tube and throw it in the hot tub.  He wanted to rest up and wake up in the morning floating in the sunshine.  The Clue for the morning was …….

Fun in the Sun before the busy week ahead…..fb_img_1482970704631.jpg

But poor Randy,  he didn’t realize a bad storm came up about 4 in the morning.  It rained and the wind blew hard.  In the morning, I had went up to post the clue and I got a mysterious text.  …… Randy was found in the water, his tube had capsized overnite…….  But he was safe, just water logged.  lol.  I had to towel dry him and use the blow dryer on him.  I feed him soup and tucked him in bed for the rest of the day.  So Randy hid again that nite…….Clue….”Randy has to check out a line for messages.  He will be sending out Daily Messages to Santa this week”….lol…So where do you suppose he was this time?  He was by a Direct Tv Satellite.   After several days, Randy decided he wanted to go to Mexico.

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He hid on the window of our neighbors, Glen and Kathy.  So this time Randy dressed up in his Santa hat, a red coat with fur and a snowflake on the front. He also had a glass in his hand…..He had a sign….’Help!!!  I need a Margarita”…..Now I think he’s turning into an Alcoholic.   So he went to Mexico with Kathy and Glen, Dawn and Rob, their son and girlfriend, who just came and Rich.  Now Rich was designated driver for Kathy and Glen,  and Randy also.

He had his passport and climbed in their back pack.

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He went through the turnstiles and entered Mexico.

It all went down hill from then.  He found the hard liqueur.

And the worst part was all of his chaperones didn’t stop him.  He even sang with Mexican band and they did a Hat Dance with him in the center of the floor in the hat.

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He was such a mess.  When I didn’t hear from him by late afternoon, I knew he was …..”WASTED”…..They finally got him home around 8:30 that nite.  Rich was fine…But then their was ….”Glenn”….He had a good time.  But he probably doesn’t remember.  So Randy took the nite off cause of a hangover.  He stayed in bed most of the next day.  The last days Randy was good and hid every nite, entertaining all of us.  Christmas morning Pastor Squire even invited him to church.  Pastor gave him a front row seat and announced they had a visitor for the services.  We all hoped he would listen to the sermon and see the error of his ways.  Later that day was our Christmas Dinner.  He sat proudly in front on the stage and helped us pick our ……Winner of the contest……..fb_img_1483062421563.jpg

…..Ursula Randall…..She was presented with a Gift Certificate at a local Mexican Restaurant  and Reindeer Ears.  lol….We then announced our wonderful Owners of Randy and who had been  hiding him all this time.  No one ever suspected Alice and Tom.  Every nite they would ride around waiting for people to go to bed so they could hid him.  Kudos to them for doing this for almost 24 days.  They only took several days off when they got sick with the Texas Crud….lol…The Park had so much fun.  Some were waiting everyday to see the clue.  Some enjoyed just reading about him and laughing and trying to figure where he could be.  Never the less,  Randy made a HUGE difference in the park this year.  Now will Randy come back next December?received_1827312584197805.jpeg

It all depends on what Santa decides.  He never used him for Christmas Eve.  So was it because he couldn’t trust him, or did he just not need him.  We’ll never know.  I did hear he was thinking of sending him to AA meetings.   He might go to Rehab for the Summer.  Randy had promised to stay in the Park, so he broke many rules.   So for now Randy is sitting in the Activity Office in the Park.    Just waiting for Santa’s decision…..

……………Poor Randy………..

 

 

 

Home With The Family

We were home about 3 weeks.  We parked in the drive of our house, which of course is Tammy’s now.  They were all so happy to see us.  That weekend Scott and Brandy had Karaoke at the bar, One Paw’z Pub.  We went up and had a good time.  They had a nice crowd.

20160422_225117.jpg  Scott usually sings one song and he did again.  Brandy and Scott surely enjoy a good party. During this time, he also finished pouring concrete for his new patio out back.  His back room is also finished and he has finally installed his 4 slot machines.  You can already hear the sounds of “Ching ching ching”……

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Slots are all run by the wonderful State of Illinois Government of course.  The following weekend was McNabb Garage Sale day on Saturday.  We, or I should say Tammy cleaned out more of our stuff from the garage.  She did most of the work…lol..

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.She included lots of her stuff, kids clothes and all.  We had a pretty good day.  Sun was out, sprinkled a bit but not bad.

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On Mothers Day, we all got together and finally we Hung up the Piñata from Mexico…..SPIDERMAN…. We bought him in Progresso Mexico.  Can you see us carrying him all the way across the border?….lol…He rode in the bedroom all the way home.  He was to big to put under the bed….lol…Every morning, you woke up to those 2 eyes looking at you from the corner…..We bought all kinds of Mexican candy.  It turned out some of it wasn’t that good but the grandkids had a great time.  They kept going into the bedroom and ask…”Is the candy in him yet?”….

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After we ate, we filled him with candy and hung him from the tree.

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All the little ones had several turns.  Poor Spiderman lost his legs first, and one by one his hands came off…..Finally all the candy came out flying to the ground.  They kids flew to the ground and started gathering the candy.  They made the strangest faces after they ate it….Some candy was good,  some was not so good.  We couldn’t really read the wrappers….lol…

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Miley 7

 

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Austin 5

 

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Cassidy 12

 

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Carly 4

 

We also brought back some fun hats and bracelets for the girls, and a kite for Austin

20160425_170921.jpg.  Cameron, who is almost 18 doesn’t like his picture taken.  He managed to stay out of the way.  lol.  Until it came time to take pictures in the family tree.  This is a tree right in front of the house.  A perfect tree to climb when your a little kid.  We started taking pictures with the kids, and they named it “The Family Tree”.

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These are the grandkids today, even Cameron.  Poor little Carly was crying and trying to be still….She was saying  “Please, would somebody take my picture”….Poor little thing.  She didn’t have any shoes on….Now if you notice, Austin was running around all day in his underware….He hates his pants and shorts…It was a good fun filled day…..Also while we were here, Tammys family had all their eyes tested.  Cameron got contacts this time and Cassidy got her first pair of glasses.

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Very  pretty, Cassidy

Also Miley learned to ride her bike.   She has been making her dad go round, round and around the block in the evening…..lol..

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She is so Happy….Her wings are spreading farther….During this time, I did alittle babysitting and Rich drove the sand truck for Scott a couple of days and the grain truck for the neighbor across the street.  I was able to visit with a number of friends in Toluca, and had dinner in town with some of my favorite work friends.  We also had dinner with 2 of our favorite couples from our FMCA camping club.  I was fun to visit everyone again.

The last affair we had was my niece Ashley’s Baby Shower.

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This is Connie, my sister in law, Rich’s youngest sister, and her daughter Ashley.  This is Ashley’s first baby and the first Grandchild for Connie and Brian. and also for Matts parents.  They are all so excited.  Connie planned this fabulous shower and found out she is a really crafty person.  She made so many things.   The Theme was” Cute as a Button”

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This was the Spring Valley Boat Club.  All fresh flowers on the tables.  Burlap pieces were placed down the center of the tables with buttons on them. All place settings had little cups and a little diaper filled with nuts and mints.  So Pretty

 

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The Head Table….The cutest  baby scale with a Giraffe sitting on it….

 

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Connie took twigs from her trees and hung little baby socks, headbands on the little trees.  So so cute…These were the center pieces on each table.

 

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Tina made this Awesome Harley Davidson motorcycle made out of disposable diapers.  More fresh flowers and baby blocks glued together

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Just look at all this detail.   Connie was at the florist, and glued buttons in the center of each flower.  Not one flower was left “Unbuttoned”….lol…

 

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Amazing amount of presents….On the other wall, it was full of diapers…

 

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Desserts galore…..Matts Mom planned most of the food……And I might add the food table was so full of so much wonderful foods, we could have easily served 200.  No one left hungry or without having their sweet tooth fulfilled that day.

 

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So so creative.  I must say, it was probably the most beautiful Baby Shower I have ever attended.  Connie has Discovered “PINTERST”   Look out Brian, your house has been taken over….lol…

So now, Ashley and Matt just play the waiting game.  Their little baby girl, is due in June.  That is NOT FAR AWAY…..but for Mommy and Daddy and Grandmas and Grandpas, it will be an “ETERNITY”…..

 

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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Progresso Mexico,….A Day After A Shooting…Double Murder on the Side Street

 

Rich and I planned to go to go over to Progresso Mexico on Sunday to refill his Meds.   Some really great deals on them if you don’t mind buying their brand.  They have the Mexican name and then also the American name on the bottles.  You can save a whole lot of money and get most of your regulars meds with out prescriptions.  We were going to go on Saturday but plans were changed and we went Sunday.  Sunday morning we heard their had been a shooting and murder the day before.  Rich had coffee with our friend from McNabb, Bob  (Staying at Paradise Park) and he pulled the news article up.  Apparently the shooting happened just a block or 2 over from the International Bridge.  It went on for about a half hour and 2 people ended up dead.  The shooting occurred early, around 6 am.  No reports on if it was domestic or cartel related.  There is a lot of drug and cartel activity going on, but Progresso is viewed as a safe town to cross.  Matamoros Mexico is just across from Brownsville, and the US Consulate recommends that US citizens do not cross their.  It is to dangerous. We decided to go anyway.  It wasn’t the greatest weather, rather cloudy almost damp but not quite drizzly.  We needed jackets as it was a little chilly.  We made the half hour drive to the border and parked in the parking lot by the bridge.  They charge $2 to park your car in the lot.  From their you walk over the bridge.  It is 50 cents to walk over and 30 cents to come back.  On the berm of the Rio Grande River was a Border Patrol SUV.  Other than that we did not see any extra guards or policemen patrolling.  We really felt safe.  If we had not heard the reports of the shooting, we would have never known.  So we crossed over under the covered walk way to do our shopping.

As you see, according to the sign, Mexicans really do appreciate and depend on the Winter Texans.  Most of their sales are at this time of the year.  They even host Winter Texan Festivals.   When we got on the bridge, we looked out over the river.  No one was on the US side, but on the Mexican side, you could see a few people walking the river edge.  Their was also several campfires going.  The closer we got, you can look through the cracks on the side rails and see people sitting, standing, or just camped out asking for a nickel or dime.  The would have their little kids or babies with them in strollers.  The closer you got the hats would be held through the cracks for us to through in change.

The shopping begins as soon as you cross the bridge.  It seems people only go about 3 blocks in and stay on the main street.  I don’t think it is wise to venture down the side streets.

The sidewalks are lined with vendors and many Pharmacias and dentists on every block.  We walked down to the Pharmacia that Cheryl, our friend from Illinois, had taken us to in Dec.  We made our purchases, and then shopped all the way back.  I bought 2 little plastic mesh shopping bags for 50 cents each….lol…cheap enough…..I needed one more to put my wood carving stuff in.   Then we went in another store to shop.  I noticed on the entry way stone floor, it was called a supper center.   I chuckled to my self,…..really……I of course was visualizing “Walmart”….lol…..We went in and started wandering, and ….wow…..it really was sort of a SUPER CENTER…..It was really several store fronts and went really deep into the back. It also had an upstairs that we never went to.  Their was the Pharmacy dept., the candy, soap, household items dept.

Then if you looked up, the ceiling was lined with HUGE PINATAS…..

I think that we will be buying a large one to take home……This summer we will have a big Birthday Party for all the Grandkids…..They all love Pinatas….

In the back, you could purchase a saddle for your horse and deck yourself out with a huge colorful Sombrero.  They had so many Mexican blankets of different quality.  Ponchos, dresses and blouses.

Now if you were in the market for a beautiful Mexican fiesta dress, they had so many to chose from.

Another interesting section was all the hammered silver section.   You could buy so many different plates and accessories, but the Harley emblems were very impressive….

Walking by the children’s games, I seen the Mexican version of Bingo ….and Chutes and Ladders….It read “Serpientes and Escaleras …..Now upon Goggling it, I found out it is called Snakes and Ladders.  Really don’t know if it is a child’s or adult board game.  But interesting.

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Walking back up front was a restaurant bar.  They had an entertainer singing and playing keyboard and guitar…..

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Then we started looking at the ceramic pots and figurines.   Most were all the traditional ones you would see and then we seen a really awesome one…..This huge vase was fabulous, it was 3 dimensional on the outside.

Then we seen the really cool skeleton on a tricycle and the lady skeleton in her evening dress….lol…

Beside the Skeleton on the trike was this beautiful big black Dog.   Looking up in the air was many eagles flying over head……lol….They were really fascinating to see, and very expensive.   I don’t remember the prices but were out of my range.   Finally we were done….Crossed over the other side and walked back to the Bridge.   Payed our 30 cents to cross over, and then had to go into the building to line up.   Their is guards their that check your passports and ask what you have bought.  After that you proceed to another small building on the way to declare the alcohol you have bought.  That is another thing for sale, many different kinds of Tequila and alcohol.  Many people go over just to purchase it.  But you have to pay tax on it on the US side, and their is also a limit.  So I really don’t know if it is any cheaper buying it in Mexico.

We returned back to the truck and headed back home.  Stopped at a newly remodeled restaurant in Harlingen that Rich had heard being advertised on the radio.   They served Mex and Amer.  food.  It was as usual very colorful.  The outside was painted in reds, pinks greens and blues….lol…as well as the inside.  That’s what I like about down in the south west, the colors are beautiful…..Up north, everything is beige and neutral….No life….just dull….lol……Well guess what I ordered,….After I looked at the menu, and all the things that I don’t understand and all look alike anyway when they are served, ……….I ordered a cheeseburger and fries……..lol….and It was so SO GOOD….I would go back again….So back home we went.   Rich sat down and started getting all his little pills organized for next week.  He has to split some of them, and then we sat down for TV Time…..

TV Time is getting better Again………WED …...SURVIVER…. is back……….FRI…..AMAZING RACE…..

OUR FAVORITES….