Seven Days Visiting Family & Friends

I’m back in Harlingen after being away for 10 days. Rich and I left for Illinois and spent 7 days full of visiting and attending my Class Reunion. We decided not to drive because Rich was staying to work harvest again this fall. We love the train, so that is what we decided to do. I bought our tickets on line for $107 each one way, from San Antonio to Bloomington Il. Quite a steal. But it only goes south as far as San Antonio which is 4 hours away. Our friends Marge and Gary took us up the day before. We arrived and checked into our motel. Then we went down to River Walk. It is such a beautiful place.

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It should be on everyone’s bucket list. It is a river that meanders through the city, 1 story below the street level. Every block is a bridge overhead where the city streets are bustling with traffic . Walk down the steps and enter another world where the river is lined with little outside cafe’s with colorful umbrellas, restaurants, and shops. The sidewalks are made of many a variety of materials, bricks, cobblestone, or concrete. They follow the river on both sides and have beautiful mature trees, plantings of flowers and tropical foliage lining the river and sidewalks.

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Every few minutes a Tour boat floats by with the Captain telling his Passengers the history of the River Walk. A new company took over the River Walk boats suppling all new designed boats. Their are Tour Boats, Taxis and also Dinner Cruise Boats, that comprise the fleet of 26 in September of 2017, expecting to peak at 44 boats in the fleet. Every block their is a beautiful arched crossover to get to the other side. We walked and found a little piano bar. It had a/c, how wonderful and refreshing as it was soooooo hot outside. I was a great place to just relax and listen to the piano man play his tunes and sing.

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My Favorite Building on the River Walk…Its an Optical Illusion….The building is triangle shape and looks like it would fall over. NIX Health Hospital

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We had dinner before we went back. Rich ordered this Shrimp Fest. It had 4 different types of Shrimp. Finally it was dark and was time to return to the hotel.

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Beautiful old Oak Tree near the Alamo

We actually walked, so by the time we got back, I don’t know who was more tired Marge or Me. lol. In the morning we got up early and Gary and Marge took us to the Historic Sunset Train Depot at 6:30. We boarded the train by 7am and pulled away soon after. Now to settle down for our 28 hour ride to Illinois. Cameron would be picking us up at Bloomington Il Amtrak Station the next day, Wed. around 11 am. The train is a great way to ride. The seats are fairly comfortable and spacious.

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The bathrooms are down stairs on the lower level. They are very tiny but serve the purpose. You can walk to the Observation Car.

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Their, people visit, play cards, read, or just watch the view out the many windows, as you fly by the country side. Down below is the Café’ that has everything you may need or want including alcohol. The next car is the Diner. It is usually fairly expensive but we usually eat one meal their.

We sat across from a family who couldn’t speak English. A lady several rows ahead helped to interpret to the conductor. It turns out they were from El Salvador. They had a new born and a small boy, maybe 4. They were going to Boston. Now this made me think. Their is no security in the train system. I bought the tickets online. You don’t have to check in at the train station. Board the train, and the conductor comes by and scans your phone. …..Hmmmmmm……So as long as you have your tickets on your phone, anyone can get on…….Something to Think About……After an uneventful restful trip, we arrived on time and Cameron picked us up. First stop as usual, of course....”One Paw’z Pub”…..Brandy had Chicken Fried Steak and mashed potatoes and gravy…..yum…..Tina, Ed and the kids were heading to Wisconsin early Saturday morning for the annual family fishing trip that Eds dad always has. They are sportsmans, loving fishing and hunting. Tina and Ed bought a new beautiful Camper. So we went over to see them before they left.

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It is really beautiful. Love the colors and the interior floor plan. It has a private bedroom and the bunks in the rear for the kids.

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Miley gets the top bunk

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Austin wouldn’t cooperate for a picture, so Aunt Beth got him down…..lol….time to tickle

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Austin and Grandpa Dolder doing what he does best…..Sleep….

It has a beautiful kitchen with a table and couch across in the slide. They left on Saturday for a week of camping, boating, fishing and visiting family. While they were their, “DeeDee” had her “First Birthday”.

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Happy Birthday Dee Dee “1”

So of course She had a Party complete with a Doggy Birthday Cake.

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Austin of course did his share of fishing and caught a 21″ Walleye. Tina said he was so proud. Fishing is his favorite thing to do. He is going to be like his Dad and Grandpa. Saturday nite was the Class Reunion, so Sunday Tammy and I took Carly and Cassidy to Peoria. We visited the Riverfront Museum. They had a showing of Unicorns and Mythical Creatures.

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Carly wore her Unicorn outfit….

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She was fascinated by the beautiful Pegasus. Then we went over to the Museum side. They had many activities for the kids. Actually adults too. This one was our favorite. You know those things you put your hand in that have all those pins. It makes the shape of your hand when you press the pins to the other side? Well this was “Body size” lol

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We had such fun with this. We all took turn. Cassidy has her eyes close and Carlys Unicorn on her head shows up. Tammy and I did it also, ours is a little “Wider”……lol...After that we went to Steak and Shake on the River Front in East Peoria.

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Love Steak and Shake food. We sat in a booth looking out at the Illinois River with Peoria across from us. After that Tammy took us by OSF Hospital and took us on a tour through her department. She is now a “Floor Charge Nurse”. It was a long day, time for home and some R & R. The next day is Labor Day and off the Toluca’s Labor Day Parade and Carnival with the girls.

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Carly got plenty of candy with her big bag.

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It was so hot, at the end the tank came through spraying water….Felt sooooo Good

This is one Parade that gives away so much candy. Their is so much that they seem to pick and choose after awhile and some candy is never picked up. Then off to the Carnival after the Parade.

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Of course when your young you ride all the rides. That was Carly, she had a blast. Of course you must have Carnival Food right? So Corn Dogs, Lemonade Shake Ups and more. Another day of fun. We were so hot and tired. The next day was Tuesday and my last day. I had talked with the girls from work and we got together at Cabin Fever in Peru after they got off work.

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It was so good to see them all. We spent over and hour, maybe 2 just visiting and catching up. Listening to their story’s made me realize how lucky I am to be retired living the life we are now. So glad I’m not their anymore. Back at Scotts, Tammy was over one day. He has one of those contraptions that you hang upside down and stretch your back ?

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Tammy strapped in her feet. We were dying with laughter. At first she couldn’t get upside down. Then Dad pushed her over and wouldn’t let her come back up.lol…It was so funny. The next day it was time to get back on the train. I was their 7 days. Rich is staying to work harvest again this year. This year he is hauling corn from the Elevator to the terminals on the Illinois River. This then makes space for the new crop of corn being harvested. He’s also hauling some corn from the field to the elevator. We drove back to Bloomington Normal and he put me on the train for my return trip. It was again a nice relaxing ride. I had both seats as we never were full.”

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I ate 1 meal in the Diner. Steak burger Meal…$18…..It was late the next nite when the train arrived in San Antonio. It was 11:15pm. But that didn’t matter. I took a Taxi to Greyhound. My bus left at 2am. I was really tired by then. Finally I boarded the bus. Lets just say, “I was not impressed with the bus”. I curled up and went to sleep. Thank goodness for GPS. I woke up and the driver spoke only Spanish to everyone. We were going through a town. I realized we were already in Harlingen. It was 6:30 am. I had been watching the GPS on the phone for the whole trip. It is a great way to find out on the train where you are. Ron from the park came and picked me up. So glad to get home....First thing on the Agenda “Shower”…..2 nites without…..Not Good….Then Sleep, So tired…..

So here I am back at the Park…..Working Cinemark on the weekends and starting a new project. Painting bathrooms at the halls...….Fun…Fun…Fun…Soon the New Season shall begin…..I’m already planning activities for all those Winter Texans that soon shall be heading south. One by one they will be hitting the road….Heading South for the Sunshine and warmth of the winter. Escaping the Cold Harsh Winters……Yes ….

This is the Life….going on 5 years with no Snow for Us…….lol…Heaven….

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Oklahoma State Capital Tour and Steak and Shake

We were making a small vacation of this delay in Oklahoma City, waiting for the Motor Home to go into the shop.  We had added taking a tour of the State Capital to our list.  Last year we toured the Iowa Capital in Des Moines and was so impressed.  It seems that all Capital buildings are open for either a guided tour or self guided.  We checked out GPS on the phone and found out it was near.  So off we went in search of the State Capital of Oklahoma.  Of course traffic these days around capitals seems to be one way with circular drives around the whole complex.  So if you miss your turnoff, around you go again.  So finally we parked right in front.  After asking questions we were told to park in the designated spots of the House and Senate.  Of course they were out of session.  That seems to be the norm.

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On the approach it also looked very stately with a Dome.  But it was not gold gilded like Iowa State Capital.  We found out later Oklahoma’s capitol was designed 95 years ago to have a dome, but the money ran out and the work was not resumed until 2001. So for all those years.  The building was just flat, looking very stately but no dome.

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On the top if you look close is an Indian. The Guardian,” his body facing east in an Indian tradition and his face looking south, is 17 feet high but the entire structure, including a spear thrust into the ground at his feet, is 22 feet tall.  “The Guardian” is supposed to reflect Oklahoma’s heritage as the former Indian Territory. Nearly 40 Indian tribes call Oklahoma home, more than any other state.    Upon walking up to the building we realized that we came at the time of a major restoration, inside and out.  Scaffolding was covering a big portion of a wing.  We had boarded walkway to guide us to the entrance which was in the lower level.  Upon entering, of course we went through security and then on to the Visitor Center.  Their was a bunch of high school age kids and their teacher waiting for a tour.  We entered the very nice gift shop and visited with the very nice lady.  We had the option to tour our self or go with the group.  We decided to go with the kids as we might learn more.  A few minutes later our guide came and off we went.  Down the hall and up the stairs, turn, more stairs…..lol….Around the corner and look what we found.

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This is a 9ft.  bronze replica of the statue on guard at the top of the Dome.  On we went with the kids.

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We came to a Beautiful Grand staircase.  We kept going until we came to the rotunda featuring the State Seal.

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It was situated right under the dome.  You could look up through the circular openings in the floors, all the way to the top of the dome.

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It was magnificent.  At the very top is the State Seal and if you look closely you can see different levels that have railings around them.

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We walked up another floor, and looked down at the State Seal.  So impressive with all the granite everywhere.

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Now as we were trailing the kids, the tour guide said, “Don’t you have any questions?…Did you bring your pens and notebooks?”……Of course,  No Response.  They were just their to do the tour and have a fun day out….Notice the railings in the rotunda are all beautiful marble swirled.

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The stair railings were also all marble and wrought iron.  On we went.  The one thing we were disappointed in, was all the paintings or anything decorative and art items had been removed for remodeling.  So the walls were very plain.  But they were remodeling, so that was to be expected.

Oklahoma capitalThis  is what the rotunda looks like with some of the art and paintings on display.  Next we went to the Hall of the Governors.

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This room holds the sculptures of all the Oklahoma State Govenors.

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This painting is my favorite.  It is called “Flight of Spirit”.  The artist is Mike Larsen, who is of Chickasaw decent.  It is just beautiful.

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Here is another painting, depicting the history of Oklahoma.  The colors are so beautiful and vibrant.  Above is a stain glass curved window that lets light in

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Next we went to the Supreme Court.  It doesn’t look quite at large as I thought it would be but it was interesting.  Our guide gave us some good facts that I already forgot….lol…Guess I should have brought my pen and paper.

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‘Then on to the Senate.  The kids all sat at desks of the Senators as the tour guide talked.  You notice the balcony area,  it is open to the public to watch proceedings.  Some of it is glassed of so the noises of the news reporters cameras clicking are not heard.

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Out in the hall we came across another beautiful mural depicting the history of the oil industry.

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Now we entered the House of Representatives.  This time we were at the back of the room.  As you can see the balcony areas wrap all around the room.  If you look close, on the wall are the old fashion black bladed fans that are original and still can be used today.  The ceilings in both houses are stained glass.  At one time, they had been closed and sealed up to  make A/C more economical.  In the last decade, they decided to restore them to original.  They are beautiful.  At this time, it was the end of the guided tour.  We left the group and wandered a little our selves.  We finally left after about an hour and a half.

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Located on more than 100 acres in NE Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma State Capitol is the only capitol in the world surrounded by working oil wells. One is even named Petunia #1, because it was drilled in the middle of a flower bed.   In researching, I found several interesting pictures from the past.

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This one shows the many oil rigs around the capital.  It also shows the capital before the dome was added.  71225-004-CE0ECD1FAnother picture with all the oil rigs.  The capitol building is directly atop the Oklahoma City Oil Field.

Finally we headed back home.  We had 2 more days to enjoy.  I had wanted to go to Oklahoma City Myriad Botanical Gardens & Crystal Bridge.  It would have been so much walking, so we passed on that.  It was really hot so we just enjoyed the a/c, and did caught up on laundry.  We did so some shopping and found a Steak and Shake.

 

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Steak and Shake design of today

 

Now for those of you who don’t know, Steak and Shake started in Normal Illinois in 1934.  I grew up not far from their.  I thought it was only a local or Illinois chain.  They have the best Steak burgers, Chili, Chili Mac, and Chili 3 ways and skinny fries.  They are also famous for their old fashioned shakes…..

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When I was a teenager, they were drive in restaurants.  They offered curb service with carhops or eat in.  We would go to Peoria and cruise Main St.  Drive in and around Steak and Shake and back out again down Main. 

 

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Steak and Shake of the 50’s and 60’s

 

That’s what everyone did with cool cars.  A place for the guys and the girls to met…lol….Now I have found out they are in over 31 states and International.  They are only offer eat-in or drive-through now.  When Peru Illinois first built theirs, Tina was just 16.  She applied and got her first job their.  She just received her license and drove to Normal to get her training.  She did that several weeks.  I was a little leery but she did well.  She worked their for quite awhile.  They are open 24 hours, so she put in some very late nights.  I can’t believe I let her work till 2 am sometimes.  I wonder if that is even legal today.  So long story short, we went in and had a wonderful dinner.  I had my regular, Frisco Melt with fries covered with cheese.  It is 2 Steak burgers with American and Swiss cheese on buttery Sourdough bread, grilled to perfection with their Sweet and Tangy sauce inside.  Rich had a Triple burger and fries.  Mmmmm Mmm…good food.

We had a nice relaxing time at the campground.  We noticed it was so windy their.  Every day it just blew.  Also right by the office was a huge concrete storm shelter.  Oklahoma has so many tornadoes, they have to be prepared.  I was also planning on going swimming in their indoor pool, but the nite before some little kid made a deposit in the pool…..lol….The manager had to clean and drain it.  So much for that.  Finally Monday morning, we were told to be at the Rush Truck Shop at 8 am.  We drove about a mile and entered the yard and got in line.   Well the 8 am appointment ended up 1 pm.  We finally got in and were out by 2:30.  All that waiting for an hour and a half of service.  Oh Well, finally on the road again and heading south.  Next stop Johnson City Texas.  We have always wanted to tour the LBJ Ranch.   For those of you who are young,  LBJ stands for Lyndon Baines Johnson, our 36th President of the United States.  I was surprised how many do not know that.  Even the kids and grandkids had no idea.  I guess that shows our age.  We lived that chapter of history when President John F Kennedy was assassinated and Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn into office on Air Force One.  We crossed into Texas finally and spent the nite at a campground.  On Tue. we drove on to Johnson City and found another campground.  On the way we had entered Hill Country.  It is the most beautiful area of Texas.

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The trees and landscape were so green.  The road wound up and down and around hills.  Some place you seen what looked like small mountains in the distance.  Such a beautiful area.  After we checked in, we started our touring of LBJs life in Johnson City and the Ranch west of town.   Next Blog……LBJs Boyhood Home and LBJs Ranch on the Perdernales River. Also known as the Western White House during his Presidency 

 

 

Labor Day Over….A Week Home

Labor  Day weekend was the last big FLING at the park for the year.  We worked all 3 days.  I worked doubles being it was the only hours you can have now.  Saturday and Sunday was 10 am. – 10 pm.  It was a long day but the weather was beautiful.  The temperature was high 70’s and low 80’s. “A PERFECT WEEKEND.”   On Labor Day Monday, the park was open 10 am – 7 pm.  The park was full of people.  It was the last day of Adventureland Bay.  The water park will be closed for the season, but the Adventureland park it self will be open weekends till the end of September.  We were busy all day and evening.  It was sad on Saturday evening to look out and realize that we wouldn’t be seeing the lights of the “Monster” in the beautiful park anymore.  The sights and sounds of the park are just magical at nite.  The beautiful colors of the twirling rides, and the reflections of the buildings and lights in the lake by …..Dragon……

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We will be closing earlier now on weekends and it will still be light. We had decided to take off the following week end and head home for a week.  The one problem was the cat.  Kitty has never road in the pickup.  Also he had no place to stay.  Tammy said he could stay their as it was his house, but she has a big dog “Chaos” and a cat “Charlie”.   But that was what we decided to do.  The nite before we went to Dairy Queen and took him for his first ride.  Kitty was curious, but we thought that was all it was.  When Rich opened the door at Dairy Queen, Kitty ran out the door.   OMG.   I panicked, and ran for him.  He went up by the building and under the picnic tables.  He was near the drive-up but their was a railing up that intimidated him.  He could have went through it but he backed away.  Finally we cornered him under the picnic table.  The next day we took off for our 4 hour drive.

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I put his soft harness on.  He again was curious.  He was nervous and kept walking around.  Finally he settled down under Richs feet while he was driving.  Half way into the trip, we decided to stop at a rest stop.  I took him out and hooked up his leash.  I kept walking towards the bushes and fields.  It was really hot and he started panting.   Took him over to the water hydrant and he wanted no part of that.  lol  Finally took him back to the truck, tried to give him some water and he wouldn’t drink.   So we headed on down the road.  …….Poor Kitty…….

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He was so tired and exhausted.  I think he was actually dehydrated and exhausted by the time we got home.  I carried him in the house and he ran for the bedroom and went under the bed.  That was the end of him for several hours.  I got his food, water and litter pan all set up and we closed the door  so he could rest alone.  I stayed at Tammys and took her bedroom that night.  He climbed in bed and was much better by morning.  In the morning we were all in the living room and Chaos ran down the hallway.

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He is part Lab and Pit Bull.  I was worried about him hurting Kitty.  Tammy ran down the hall as the dog started running and barking.  She SCREAMED…..”Mom, come get Kitty, he just got TWICE THE SIZE that he was…..lol..lol…She was worried about the dog and she was afraid Kitty of sink his claws in her dog.   Well poor Kitty just set the dog straight…..He said,  “I am BOSS, this was my house first.  Stay away from me”…..It was really funny.  Later we let her cat up from the basement.

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His name is “Charlie”.  He is a beautiful Persian.  Now Charlie was curious and wanted to play, but soon found out, Kitty does NOT PLAY.   He is an OLD MAN.  They had a few scrapes but managed to be respectful.  I kept seeing Charlie staring at him around corners and across the room.  By the time we left, Kitty was walking fairly freely through the house.  I was really amazed.

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This is “Dexter”, Tina and Ed and the kids dog.  He is a Golden Doodle who is going on 2 years old.  He is a very loveable and active dog.  He is almost like another “son”  in the house.  lol.

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Now Brandy and Scott have 2 house cats.  Both came as strays.  The yellow is “Seymour”, and the gray is “Clyde”.  lol.   Seymour has finally become lovable, but Clyde really likes to hiss at you.  So these are all the animal cousins…..lol…..

One day, Tammy went to work and forgot some papers, so Carly and I went to Peoria.  We got to tour the Kindred Hospital and seen where her momma works.   Carly loved that.  Then we went to Steak and Shake.

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Tammy said she would know just what she wanted by the pictures and she did.  We had to sit by the window by the Illinois River.  I had gotten some stuffed animals at the park for the kids so we gathered them together to give them out.  Cassidy didn’t make it, as she had went to her friends.

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They had fun.  Carly is far left, Austin, and then Miley.  Around their necks, you can see a stuffed snake.  I got Cameron a huge snake.  He has wanted to buy a real Python in an aquarium for his room.  I told him if he ever did that, I wouldn’t go in the house again.  So “Here is your snake”…..lol…..The only one I allow.

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He is a hard one to get a nice picture, but I managed to get this one uptown.  He’s doing what he does best…..driving….lol…Rich had his own agenda of fixing things.   Theirs always things to fix when we go home.  He also goes through the garage putting tools and things BACK WHERE THEY BELONG….Hmmmmm….Now why is that…..I also got a Biker Bear for Scott for the Bar.

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He was so big.  I looked at him for a long time, hanging in one of the games.   Finally I bought him.

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He was so BIG, he had to sit in the passenger seat with Rich.  I sat in the back and held him up.

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So here he is in his new home.  “One Paw’z Pub”…..McNabb, Illinois.   He’s going to be nothing but a BARFLY….lol…That weekend was also “ONE PAW’Z PUB’s”Pre Harvest Hoe Down.  Scott and the local Car Club had the Main Street blocked off.  He had a Band staged on his flat bed truck trailer.  Around 70 cars showed up for the Car Show.   Some Beauty’s’  That will be the next blog.   We left to go back on Wed. so we could have 2 days off before the weekend.  Groceries were needed and laundry to do.   And ya know we don’t have to move fast anymore, so 2 days to rest up is Wonderful.   I went back to Tammy’s that morning as we have been staying at Scotts, and put Kitty’s harness on and carried him to the car.  He was such a trooper all the way home.  I think he now realized it was ok.  He slept, although his space was not to big, but he didn’t get upset or anything.  He was fine.  We were all glad to get home.  Kitty walked in just like he was glad to be home from his vacation.   So Poor Kitty at 16 is still learning new things.  He learned how to ride in a pick up.  He learned how to live in his old house for 8 days with a dog and cat that had invaded his house.

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This is his new thing to learn.   How to go outside in a pen and not wander.  Now this is a problem.  He doesn’t understand yet.  He walks in circles and thinks he should be out under the motorhome……Not a Good Place for Him……