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.

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”

 

Our Eastgate Catamaran Cruise….

Last Thursday we had our 2nd Catamaran Cruise on Southern Wave. I scheduled one for the end of January. It was so popular, all 40 of the spots were taken in a short time. So we scheduled another for Valentines Day. Ron and Theresa headed up the first one. Their son Jeff was here on vacation and was suppose to go. The winds kicked up to 50 mph+, so we postponed it for 2 weeks. It sailed last week and they had a WONDERFUL TIME. Now it was our turn.

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Port Isabel in the distance and the Causeway bridge that crosses to the Island

Its about a 45 minute trip down to the island, so I usually schedule at least one and a half hour to meet and leave. Its nice to get their early, not at the last minute. Some people know where their going, and some do not. So I copy Google maps for everyone with the address of Longboard Bar and Grill. It certainly helps…..After checking off all 40 people, and everyone who was carpooling, off we went to the Island.

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We all arrived with a half hour to spare. I checked them all off and paid the bill. We got a great rate of $32. $3 of it was for tips. Finally it was time to board. Rich and I went in front. Their were benches all around the front. In the center was a table were the food would be brought. Either side was the netting that you could lay or sit on if you wanted. In this area you could gather all the sunshine you could want on a sunny day.

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In the center of the boat, their was a more sunken area under a canopy. It had many benches with a table for serving food in the center also. The very back of the boat was raised and the cook had an area for his grill with a canopy over head. Their were several seats their also for a few people. We had all 40 onboard placed comfortable around the Catamaran.

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The cook is grilling our shrimp appetizers and beef and chicken Fajitas

We finally cast off our lines and headed out. It was about 75 degrees or warmer and a cloudy day. But it looked promising that the sun would come out. The boat just slowly cruised near the shore and we could see all the beautiful homes, condos, and restaurants along the shore.

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Causeway Bridge on the horizon

These are views you never see from the land. These homes are in private areas that are off the main drag. Also I need to mention that we were in the Laguna Madre, the bay area of the island, certainly not the Gulf side. It would be far to windy out their.

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As we slowly cruised along, a girl sang songs and played guitar. It was so relaxing. You would view the homes imagining spending a summer sitting on the gorgeous decks, watching the sunsets at nite, swimming in the pools…...Ahhhhh……so relaxing....all the while, the music played in the background.

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Very soon, the girl deck hand brought around a tray of Butterscotch Snapps shots…..Ohhhh Yum…..Now I’m not a drinker, but those were so good…..Next she brought out a tray of grilled shrimp. I had one and the flavor was excellent, barbeque with a little kick, but I’m just not a shrimp lover. I’m not fond of the texture when you bite into it.

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Grilled Shrimp

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It doesn’t look like much here, but the dish was deep. It fed all of us in the front, with left overs.

Finally the main course came……What a spread. Corn and Flour Tortillas, beef and chicken, pepper, onions, tomatoes, cheese sourcream, amazing. Everything for Fajitas. We certainly filled up on that. The boat was very sturdy. We even walked across the netting to make our plates. The hardest part I found was to hold your plate in the breeze. The food was wonderful. Finally we were near the end of the homes along the shore.

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The boat turned into an inlet. It was so cool to see all the homes and some business. Many were still closed for the season. They will start opening soon when Spring Break comes and then summer. A few people were their sitting on their balcony’s and decks enjoying the view. We all waved back and forth to. We turned around and came back out, now facing the wind.

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Now the Deck hand girl brought out a Beautiful plate of mixed fruit cut in bite size pieces. Honey Dew, Cantaloupe, Watermelon, Pineapple, Strawberry’s, and Grapes…..Just Awesome…..

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Now we turned into another inlet. It is amazing to see how large these inlets are. It branched off in several areas like a highway. As we made it to the end, we seen a hotel we had stayed at in the past. We knew it was on an inlet, but had no idea how intricate it was. Finally, we turned around and returned back to the bay area. Again it became windy.

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Everyone was just enjoying the scenery, the sea gulls, the wind blowing through your hair, the sun that finally came out, and above all….friendship….

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On our way back, we seen 3 Wind Surfers. It was so cool to see them out their, just flying across the water in the wind. They went really fast to. I’m sure the wind was in their favor that day. They made it look so easy to just jump up on their board, hold their sail and take off in the wind. If only I was younger……and thinner….lol…

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Hard to see, but this condo had an Infinity Pool

We floated back past all the homes and condos. Many with pools and even seen 2 with Infinity pools. You could see the water gently cascading over the edge. We passed many boat docks, another Catamaran, Laguna Bobs, which is a great bar and entertainment club. Next was Louies Backyard.

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It is a huge restaurant with large patio areas, indoor dinning and a bar. They offer a rather extensive menu and entertainment. Its one of the Islands favorite places to go. Finally we arrived back at Longboard Bar and Grill. We docked and had to leave this beautiful Catamaran. They had 2 more trips to prepare for that day. Everyone had such a good time. Definitely a great trip worth every dime….

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Longboard Bar and Grill was just purchased this past summer and is remodeling. They have made vast improvements, and is continuing to do so. The have an indoor area as well as a vast outdoor area, filled with several layers of decks filled with tables and chairs. Their is an outdoor horse shoe bar to service everyone, and also a gorgeous stage out by the water for their everyday entertainment.

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The Southern Wave Catamaran docks at the edge of the patio. The new owners are really making it a great place to come and spend the afternoon or evening for fun, food and entertainment.

Longboard Bar and Grill in the Evening….

Winter……So Glad I’m South…

Today was a rainy chilly day.  A cold front came through yesterday and dropped our 80 degree weather down to the low 40s last nite.  Today is only the high of 49.  For us that’s rather cold.  Winter coat weather.  “Brrrrrrrr”.    The weather has been hard to predict this winter.  We would have cold days and then it would heat up to gorgeous days.  But we have had more than the normal of chilly days.  FB_IMG_1549751855665.jpg

Back home in Illinois and the whole north has had very bad record breaking weather.  The snow storm dropped a record breaking amount of snow,  I believe 10″ at home.  Then a week or 2 later the temperature dropped to an all time low.  -25 degrees.…..FB_IMG_1549752368218.jpg

Now that is so so cold.  In a 2 week period the kids only went to school several days.  Most all the business’s were closed.  Even the Putnam County Court house where Tina works.  Many of the Post Offices were letting their postmen even stay home on the very coldest day.  Cameron, who drives semi from the gravel pit also did not work.  Tammy, of course, being a Nurse had to work.  She drove in to Peoria which is 45 mins away.  I thought she should have just stayed there.  Would have been so much easier.  I just can’t imagine cars even starting at -25 degrees.  The only places that worked were a few of the DC’s in the area…..Of Course my Former Employer was open..….Advantage Logistics….  I’m sure everyone was expected to try to make it to work…..“Really”…..They preach about safety, but they want you to risk your life just to come to work.  If you break down on the road, the time for frostbite at -25, is a very few minutes…..No one should be out in that weather unless it is an emergency.  Is it really worth risking your life?  Is it really that important that the trucks at the DCs are loaded just so the retail stores get their product?  I sure don’t think so…….But they push their employees by making them feel guilty or giving points for absenteeism for not coming in.  The people fear loosing their jobs, especially the ones with families.   I guess that’s why I am retired now.  My attitude towards life has changed.  No Longer do we fear that Corporate attitude that they brainwash you with when your younger.  Were some of the few who have been able to retire and enjoy life after work………lol…..FB_IMG_1549752479359.jpg

This is what you see on the highways.  Its really a scary and unsafe place to be in a storm. They had so much snow and wind, that the roads were so drifted the plows couldn’t keep up.

Our Heroes are the Policemen, Firemen, Ambulance Personnel and the Highway workers.  They have to be out their in full force just to take care of people who are out their.  They all risk their lives for us all.  The Hospitals must have a medical staff to take care of their patients’.  Doctors and nurses risk their lives to go to work.  Then their are the ones like my Son in Law Ed.  They work for a company that has to maintain their plants in order to keep them operational.  It is risky but necessary to keep them up and running.   These are our HEROS…...We owe them all if nothing else…..A HEART FELT THANK YOU”……For doing their daily job….FB_IMG_1549751893612.jpg

This was just west of Spring Valley on Rt. 6..…After its plowed, you can see how deep the drifts were.   I’m just glad I’m not their.  The temperature has now warmed up to a balmy 25.  So the worst is over for them.

Here at the Park we’ve been busy.  Winterfest Music Festival was held at Schlitterbahn in Jan.  Rich and I went down to South Padre Island and stayed over nite at the hotel.  We attended The “ABBAFAB” Dinner Show the nite before.20190129_210114.jpg

They are an ABBA Tribute Group…  They sang a great “Dancing Queen”.   Very talented.  The little blonde singer was the 4th runner up in American Idol the year Jordan Sparks won.  The next day was the Winterfest Music Festival.  They had groups playing all day with 45 minute time slots.  This was our Favorite.20190130_145709.jpg

Lobo Del Mar is a huge family group.  Mostly men play instruments and sing.  Some dress in kilts.  They play the Scottish bag pipes.  Now the girls are beautiful dancers.  They have lived all over the world including Hawaii and have incorporated all the different types of music into their repertoire.  Now they live on the island and have bought a restaurant.  We intend on going soon.  After listening most of the day, we decided to leave it was really getting chilly with the wind coming in off of the gulf. 20190203_172237.jpg

The following Sunday was the Super Bowl.  Now I know nothing about football.  I wanted teams to win according to color.  It is easier to decorate that way.  So 2 blue teams won.  …….Bummer...…So I hung balloons from the ceiling in the blue, white, yellow, and red colors.  I used plastic table cloths cut in 4s for table runners.  I asked for empty water bottles and received 58 in one day.  I bought 8 lbs of Pinto Beans and filled each bottle with 1/3 cup of beans.  Taped a strip of blue construction paper around the middle and decorated the tops in curly ribbon in yellow and red.  We scattered them around the tables and they were used for noise makers.   …..And they did use them…..

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Rich cooked 6 pork shoulder butts and made pulled pork.  We also supplied little weinies, and nachos and cheese.20190203_165244.jpg

Of course we always have shrimp.  Its nice to provide a luxury item.  We usually get 10 lbs of fresh frozen shrimp.  Its all gone by the end of the nite. 20190203_165308.jpg

Also of course veggies and dip, cheese and crackers and…… a half barrel of beer……I also went out and collected 32 items for door prizes. 20190203_165511.jpg

The 1st prize was donated by the owner.  It was a collapsible canvas wagon and 2 bag chairs.  The rest were many restaurant gift coupons, South Padre Boat tickets, and many other things.  All the food was provided by the owner also…..They all had a good time except they weren’t happy about who won….but….That’s out of our control.…Thur we have a Catamaran trip down at the Island scheduled.  It is a 2 hour cruise.  It includes Butterscotch Snapps, Shrimp appetizers, shrimp, beef, and chicken fajita’s, and fruit plates.  They cook on the Catamaran, and a musician is softly playing background music.  So far the weather is looking like 83 degrees……

…….Hoping It Stays Warm for the Trip…….

Illinois Poem

 

 

 

Tour of CBS Channel 4 and other Things

The local CBS TV Station is located in Harlingen.  I have tried to contact them for a tour but I could never seem to connect.  The Red Hats managed to get a date and I was invited.  I was so excited.  I’ve always wanted to see the inside of a TV Station.  When we arrived they first took us into the room where they make commercials.

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They showed us how they make commercials by layering different ribbons of information.  They started with the basic video and added telephone numbers and pictures and anything that keeps the attention of the audience.  They are working with seconds of time on a graph, adding where to stop and start.  It was very interesting.

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Next they took us in a room where the main feed comes in from the network.  All the local cameras either in the building or out in the community are fed into this room.  All the timing and switching the feed between cameras to the online network, are done in this room.

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Then we entered the last room.  This was the studio where all the newscasts take place.  As you looked around, you seen all the different sets that you see on tv, all in one room.  This was March Madness Week.  So no news at noon.  The room was empty so were able to wander around and try out all the sets.

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This is the monitor that they read from.  It is sitting right by the camera in front of the staging area.  We all gathered around the Lifestyles set.

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The lighting was bright but so perfect.  We were all so colorful in our red and purple.

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Next we went to the weather screen.  lol  I was pretending to do the weather.  As you see the back wall is green, but looking in the monitor, the blue background and Channel 4 logo has been applied.  When they do the weather, they have to watch these monitors to be able to point at the map.  Their is the one by the screen as well as in front of them near the camera.  Quit interesting.  FB_IMG_1522972708827.jpg

We moved over to the News Center.  You can see the monitor in the table.  We took turns taking our group pictures 20180316_121518.jpg

Our guide was right next door at the Storm tracker Center.  You see all the monitors in the back ground.  This was really a fun trip.  I talked to the guide to set up a tour for next fall.  Today the station was empty, but generally they would have been busier at this time.  We would have been able to see the news cast.  So next fall I will set up a tour and well see what happens that day.  I was so grateful for the Red Hats for inviting me and lending me a Red Hat to wear.  FB_IMG_1521899879641.jpg

Last Friday, we had our Farewell Potato Bake that is supplied by the owner.  We had over 150 people sign up.  We ordered huge Texas size potatoes from the Veggie Man.  We supplied sour cream and butter, and everyone brought a condiment to share at their table.  20180323_172707.jpg

From the Super Bowl, we had left over Pulled Pork for a potato topper, and Nachos and Cheese.  I prepared Veggies and dip for Happy Hour.  Rich and his crew started cooking and preparing the potatoes in the morning and by 4pm Happy Hour began.  5 pm we Ate.  After the potato, we served Ice Cream from the Activity Board.  Finally I showed my Seasonal Video.  I take all the pictures of the season and put them together and make a slide show to music.  This year I had 157 pictures, a number of short videos that we took at some occasions, and added 4 songs, making it 20 minutes long.  The evening was finished off with drawings.  The prizes were restaurant cards that can be used for their trip home. Applebees, I-Hop, Burger King, etc.  6 cards totaling $100. Finally it has come time to say good bye.  So many are pulling out and heading back north.  The park is empting out.  But……..The weather is bad up their.  They are all giving up 80 degree weather for snow and 30s.  They are also having an unusual winter.  More snow is forecast.  But away they go…………..

Since April was on the 1st, I pulled rank and said I would not be handling Easter this year.  My contract is technically done the end of March.  We needed a break.   They had to figure out who was going to cook hams for Easter.  They did succeed and around 60 people signed up.  We went to Padre with several friends.  It ended up being 9 of us. 20180401_132055.jpg

After dinner Theresa and Ron and us, went to the beach.  It was beautiful down by the beach.  The water was chilly, as it was only around 74, but it is warming up every day.20180401_202842.jpg

I went wading in the waves on the beach.  It was a little cold, but you grew accustomed to it.  Their were so many families enjoying the weather and the water.

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Kids making sand castles, and kids playing ball in the water.  It was a perfect relaxing way to spend Easter.  Finally time to do a little shopping, and then DQ, and head home.  So nice that this whole atmosphere is only 45 minutes away.   Anytime we desire, we can just hop in the car and drive to the beach.  Everyday can be a Vacation…..Retirement is Grand….20180401_210229.jpg

Next week is going to be an Exciting Week.  We are doing something that we have never done before.   Its another 1st……….Another bucket list check off…..Stay Tuned for the next Blog……

Busy January at Eastgate….

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

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

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Marching to the Cafeteria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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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Hurricane Harvey, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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White Caps on the Houston Interstates

 

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

 

 

Back In Harlingen For a Month…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She can make anything grow.

 

Winterfest at South Padre Island on The Gulf

Winterfest is held every year on the island.  It is an all day music festival of 5 musical groups that are playing in the Valley for the winter.  Last year we went and the weather was so cold.  They had it in the indoor water park at Schlitterbahn.  It was still cold   They had patio heaters running but it didn’t help.  I usually get a pair of tickets free as its one of the perks with the job.  Rick from Schlitterbahn came up and gave me my bundle of tickets to sell in the park.  He is the manager or chairperson for Winterfest.  As the date came closer we realized it would be warmer weather.  We decided to spend the nite at Schlitterbahn.  They were running a special of $59  for a nite.   Great way to spend the evening.  Finally the day came and the weather turned out to be beautiful.  It was a little chilly but sunshine blue sky and no clouds.  We met some friends their.  Ron and Theresa Fisher our friends from AdventurelandS met us their, and Alice and Tom met us also.  20170125_115012.jpg

We enjoyed watching and listening to the bands at the Outdoor Water Park.  It was a beautiful outdoor Tropical setting.  We were served a Shrimp or Chicken Basket from Shrimp Haus.  Then we decided to take a walk to the crossover bridge that took us to the beach on the Gulf.20170125_115134.jpg

This is the bridge view from the concert area.  The water park of course is drained right now for the winter.  We took a walk up the stairs behind the stage area to get to the bridge.

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From the top of the stairs we had a great view of the Concert area.  Onward we went, all 5 of us, as Tom stayed back.  He can’t walk that far.   We crossed over the bridge and the boardwalk extended a long distance ahead stopping at the beach with the ocean lapping on the sand…..20170125_133033.jpg

What a beautiful view it was.  Left to Right.  Alice from Maryland, Theresa and Ron from Nebraska, and Rich.  Were all Eastgate folks…..lol….We headed on down the boardwalk to the Gulf.  20170125_133548.jpg

It was a beautiful day, a little windy and beautiful blue sky.  The sand was so pretty and the sea gulls were flying around enjoying the wind and the waves.

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The view up the beach to the hotels was so beautiful.  The haze in the air made the hotels look so magical.  People were just walking and enjoying the sun, water and the sounds of the waves lapping on the beach.  Rich found a chair that someone carried down from the Water Park….lol….received_1354518004569754.jpeg

Theresa snapped this picture.  One of the few pictures that I allow of me…..lol….

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We walked back up to the Concert   This is the view from the top of the bridge over the drained Water Park.  20170125_115045.jpg

We went back to our seats by Tom.  This was the view of Schlitterbahn Water Park from our table.   We stayed for the rest of the performances.  20170207_075654.jpg

This is John Sager.  He is a performer from Branson.  Very Popular in the Valley.  He is an Awesome singer and has won many Awards.  The last performers were the Port Isabel Mariachi Band.   They were awesome also.  Wonderful musicians and singers and only High School.  They played last year also.  We all finally left, and stopped at the Schlitterbahn Resort to check in.  Alice and Tom and us were staying the nite, and Theresa and Ron heading home.  But not before we had supper together.  We headed to Louie’s Backyard.

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Its a really cool restaurant on the Bay side of the Island.  Most everyone had the Sea Food Buffet.  Of course I don’t like fish so I had Prime Rib.  After a great dinner and conversation we all left.20170125_182519.jpg

Outside was a Catamaran taking off with a party group.  The music was blaring and laughter in the air.  Such a beautiful Sunset.  The lights on the boat were so pretty as it went floating by.  Finally we said goodbye to Theresa and Ron as they were driving back to Harlingen.  Tom and Alice and us went back to the hotel to enjoy a peaceful evening in our hotel room.  In the morning we headed back to Harlingen 20170124_140710.jpg

We have been doing crafts on Tues.  This is our latest one.   I’ve been trying to do things cheaply and using recycle.  These are water bottle made into Whirlygigs.  They are colored with permanent markers.

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This is the finished product.  Really easy and very cute.  Great project for kids….lol

or Seniors????