Feb 022023
 

We love small town festivals and we’ve been to a lot of them in our travels from coast to coast and border to border. Small town festivals are a lot of fun; we have had a lot of laughs, met many interesting people, and have been amazed at how much talent there is out there in those little communities tucked away on the back roads and byways of America.

We’ve seen Mexican dancers at Verde Valley Days in Camp Verde, Arizona; tapped our toes to bluegrass music at the Tennessee Fall Homecoming in Clinton, Tennessee; watched basket weavers at the Jackson County Apple Festival in Jackson, Ohio; and munched on shortcake at the Baldwin County Strawberry Festival in Loxley, Alabama.

Here are ten festivals and special events you should try to attend this year. And if you can’t get to them this year, put some on your calendar for next year’s travels!

World’s Largest  Rattlesnake  Roundup, March 10, – 12, Sweetwater, Texas. Some people love snakes and others hate them. It might be hard to decide which side the folks in Sweetwater are on, but every year thousands of people come for their annual Rattlesnake Roundup, which includes a carnival, beauty pageant, and more snakes than you can shake a stick at. http://www.rattlesnakeroundup.net/roundup.html

Frozen Dead Guy Days, March 17 – 19, Estes Park, Colorado. This event has to have one of the strangest origins of anything you’ll find anywhere. It’s a twisted tale that began when a Norwegian named Trygve Bauge brought the body of his recently deceased grandfather to Colorado packed in dry ice so it could be stored in liquid nitrogen at a cryonics facility A few years later, when the storage facility closed, Bauge packed Grandpa in dry ice again and brought him to Nederland, Colorado and kept him in a shack behind his mother’s house until the body was discovered. If that’s not a reason to hold a party, what is? Every year thousands of folks come to Nederland to celebrate with events that include coffin races and frozen salmon tosses. So bundle up and head to Colorado to join in all the fun! http://frozendeadguydays.org

Texas SandFest, April 14 – 16, Port Aransas, Texas. The annual Texas Sand Sculpture Festival, also known as the Texas SandFest, is one of the largest beach festivals in Texas. Each year master sculptors from around the world, as well as kids of all ages, come to the beach at Port Aransas to put their creative skills to work to create the most artistic, imaginative sand sculptures you’ll ever see. https://www.texassandfest.org/

Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, May 5-7, 2023, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Immerse yourself in Cajun culture while enjoying over 30 Cajun and Creole bands, sampling crawfish dishes prepared every way imaginable, from fried and boiled to étouffée, bisque, boudin, pie, jambalaya, and crawdogs, along with other Cajun and Creole favorites. The Crawfish Festival includes a parade, crawfish eating contest, Cajun and Zydeco dance contest, crawfish étouffée cook-off, crawfish race, and carnival rides for young and old alike, as well as an arts and crafts fair. https://www.lafayettetravel.com/events/festivals/crawfish-festival/

Tulip Time Festival, May 6 – 14, Holland Michigan. Since 1929, the city of Holland has blossomed with literally hundreds of thousands of tulips that greet visitors to the annual Tulip Time Festival. The event features big name entertainment acts, food, activities for all ages, and one of the largest parades in Michigan. http://www.tuliptime.com

UFO Festival, June 30 – July 2, Roswell, New Mexico. Come to the “UFO Capital of the World” this summer for three days of fun that includes concerts, games, contests, and more, all with an out of this world theme. https://ufofestival.com/

Washington State International Kite Festival, August 21 – 27, Long Beach, Washington. You’ll never think kites are just for kids once you’ve seen hundreds of kites dancing in the sky, performing acrobatics by some of the world’s best pilots. But beware, it can addicting! After one visit, I became the proud owner of several high performance kites! http://kitefestival.com/kite-festival/

Wooden Boat Festival, September 8-10, Port Townsend, Washington. The Wooden Boat Festival is the most popular wooden boat event in the world, featuring more than 300 wooden vessels, dozens of indoor and outdoor presentations and demonstrations, a who’s who of wooden boat experts, and thousands of wooden boat enthusiasts. There’s something to do, someone to meet, or a boat to visit at every turn. https://woodenboat.org/

FantasyFest, October 20 – 29, Key West, Florida. Key West is a party town and there is no bigger party than FantasyFest! This wild event includes food, drink, and fun like the Reddy Ice Fantasy Façade Competition, the Headdress Ball, the Lazy Gecko Redneck Party, Royal Coronation Ball, pirates, wenches, bikinis, body painting and more! http://www.fantasyfest.com/schedule.cfm

National Peanut Festival – November 3 – 12, Dothan, Alabama. Located in the southeast corner of Alabama, Dothan is known as the “Peanut Capital of the World” because the majority of this country’s peanuts come from this small, friendly city. The National Peanut Festival, the nation’s largest peanut festival, is held in Dothan each fall to honor local peanut farmers and to celebrate the harvest season. https://www.nationalpeanutfestival.com/

Thought For The Day – Who knew what time it was when the first clock was made?

Feb 012023
 

Yesterday started off with a visit from my friend TW Robinson , author of the excellent books The Retirement, and How To Self-Publish Your Book For Free And Not Get Conned. Besides being a great guy and fun to hang out with, TW is a retired Tuscaloosa police officer with a lot of stories to tell. He is currently working on a new series, and I can’t wait to read it.

After TW left I spent some time finishing opening boxes and arranging more books on my bookshelves. I’m glad that job is over, and that we have more open floor space that had been filled with boxes. Since we have to go back to Florida for one last load of stuff from our house there, I am putting all of the empty boxes in our cargo trailer to be reused again for that trip.

Later in the afternoon our son Travis and his wife Geli came over and spent a couple of hours helping move all of the stuff that had been piled up in the garage after being unloaded from the U-Haul truck. Some of it went into the house and the rest was carefully stacked to one side so the guys delivering our tornado shelter tomorrow will have room to work. I don’t know what we’d do without all of their help.

I have written before about the hen I call Chicken Little, who the previous owners of our place were not able to catch when they moved the rest of their flock. She has been hanging out alone since then and we were worried that some predator would get her. Though the chickens were all hand-raised, she is an independent little girl and just did not want to cooperate in efforts to catch her.

Travis and Geli have their own flock of chickens and said they would try to corral her and take her home to join their flock, and after it got dark (because according to Travis, chickens can’t see well at night) they commenced to begin what can only be called the Great Chicken Roundup. Trust me, it was worthy of America’s Funniest Home Videos!

Chicken Little had been spending her nights on our back deck, so they tried to approach her stealthily from two directions, thinking they would have her trapped between them. But Chicken Little wasn’t having any of that, and she took off across the yard. For a critter that “can’t see well after dark” she had no trouble eluding their best efforts to catch her. Oh, and did I tell you it was cold outside and had started to rain?

Being a seasoned newspaperman, I knew it was not my job to interfere. My professional role in all of this was to stay inside and watch out the windows so I could report on it later. Besides, I told you it was cold outside and had started to rain, right?

Eventually the pursuit moved to the front of the house, and I saw Chicken Little running from one end to the other, with Geli right behind her. Telling Travis to stay there to catch the hen when she came back around, Geli reversed her course and went back in the direction from whence she came, planning to head the renegade bird off at the pass.

Now, I have to tell you, I love Geli like she is my own flesh and blood, but it was a sight that I just could not help laughing at, as suddenly Chicken Little came running back from around the corner of the house, wings outstretched, with Geli right on her tail feathers! They went around the other corner and down the walkway between the house and garage, headed for the backyard again.

By the time I got to the back room I heard Travis saying the chicken was under the raised foundation where we have our kayaks stashed. I figured that was it for the night and they would have to try again on another day. But I forgot that my daughter-in-law is a determined Southern country gal, and once she sets her mind to something, nothing is going to stop her! She got down in the mud and crawled right in after the chicken and grabbed her, ending the Great Chicken Roundup once and for all.

The crazy thing was, as soon as Geli had her cradled in her arms, Chicken Little calmed right down and had no problem letting us pet her. I guess knew she was in loving hands.

They took her home and put her in a coop by herself for the night, and today they will introduce her to their flock of birds. Travis says chickens are naturally social animals, so hopefully she’ll fit right in and make herself at home. Then again, he said chickens can’t see well at night, too. I guess nobody told Chicken Little about that. Or maybe she’s part bat and has built in sonar. Either way, I’m glad she is safe now. Tune in next week for an exciting episode we will call Rooster Wrangling!

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – My goal is to die young, as late as possible.

Making Progress

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 312023
 

Thank you to everybody who has expressed concern for our health and keep asking if we are doing any better. We are, though I am making a faster recovery than Terry. I still cough a bit, but the congestion is mostly gone, and I am not as tired as I was all the time. Poor Terry is still coughing a lot, especially when she reclines her chair in the evening or when she lies down at night, and her energy level has not rebounded as much. But if you know my wife, you know she doesn’t let anything slow her down.

We are making progress getting our house organized, emptying a lot of boxes and putting things away, or at least where they will be for a while. Our living room is huge, 30 by 23 feet, and we still need to get it arranged a little better, but at least everything is not still pushed into one corner.

Terry and I are both bookaholics and we have bookshelves everywhere. Now we just have to finish filling them back up.

But we are making headway. This corner was piled almost as high as the window on the right with boxes of books two days ago.

Our large back room has an abundance of windows that look out on our pasture and barn. Terry and I will have our desks there and share office space, and she plans to put her Louet Spring II loom in there, too. Right now, our desks are still piled high with things waiting to be put away.

Today, son Travis and daughter-in-law Geli are coming over to help me get the garage arranged a bit. The man installing our tornado shelter said he and his helper should be able to get the gun safe out of the way and into the house when they come later in the week. I sure hope so, because it is heavy!

Several readers have asked about Chicken Little, the hen the previous owners of our place could not catch when they rounded up the rest of their flock when moving out. She is still hanging out here, spending her days pecking at the ground and sitting on the deck at night. We have been feeding her, and yesterday she actually ate out of Terry’s hand. I have been worried that some predator will get her or that she will freeze to death on some of our cold nights. Travis and Geli are going to try to catch her and take her to their place and put her in with their flock. I really hope they are successful because she seems lonely.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – If I can make at least one person laugh, or spit out their drink, or maybe pee their pants a little, then my day is not wasted.

Lakefront Property

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 302023
 

I didn’t know when we bought our place here in Alabama that we would be getting lakefront property, but with all the rain that has been falling since we got here, it’s beginning to look that way. Not just on our property but everywhere around here.

A big part of the problem is the heavy clay content in our soil. It is just so dense that the water takes a long time to absorb into the earth. Our son Travis has the same problem at his property, and he has spent a lot of time researching solutions. He and his wife Geli put in a French drain in one area, and he says it helped to a certain degree, but really needs to be wider than what they dug to make a difference.

In my own research, I found that aerating the soil can help a lot with drainage, and I considered buying an aerator from Lowes that is designed to be pulled behind a riding lawnmower. But the more I am learning, the more convinced I am that it is too small and the spikes are not long enough to penetrate as deeply as needed.

The next step would be an aerator big enough and heavy enough, with longer spikes to get down deeper. Now I just have to find one, since the local Kubota dealer does not have any in stock that will fit my small tractor.

Travis keeps asking me if we are having buyer’s remorse due to the nasty weather, and I keep assuring him, not at all. Most of the country is experiencing weather patterns that are far from normal. Then again, with all the climate change going on, maybe this is the new normal. Who knows? At least we kept our kayaks, and now we might be able to paddle them in the back pasture.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.

It’s About Time

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 292023
 

I believe that Terry and I are finally starting to recover from the colds that laid us low for over a week. It’s certainly about time, because feeling sick and miserable while trying to get unpacked and settled into our new home has been no fun at all. We still have some congestion and do some coughing, but nothing like it has been.

Friday, we drove a few miles south to Carrollton, the County Seat of Pickens County, to switch our vehicle registrations from Florida to Alabama. There was almost no wait to get served, and the two ladies at the office that handle that sort of thing were both very friendly and helpful. I was pleased that I was able to get the same personalized Alabama license plate as I had from Florida for the Mustang. The lady doing the paperwork said it will be mailed to me in about four weeks.

We were both wearing masks because even though we’re fairly sure we’re not contagious at this point, we didn’t want to take any chances. While we were there Terry started coughing, so she excused herself and went outside, and one of the workers quickly got a bottle of water and gave it to me to take to her.

When we were done there, we went right across the hall to the tax office with the deed to our new property and filed our homestead exemption. Dave King, the gentleman that handled that, was also very friendly, welcoming us to Pickens County, and we chatted with him for quite a while. Everything here is slow paced and there is no rush or crowds waiting in line at the government offices.

We were both pleased to know that the property taxes on our nearly eight acres, with the house, barn, and other outbuildings is way less than half of what we pay for our house on a lot in Florida. Our automobile insurance is also less than half of what it was in Florida.

I mentioned that Carrollton is the County Seat, and if that name seems familiar to you, it may be because I wrote a blog titled An Alabama Ghost Story about it a while back.

From Carrollton we drove into Tuscaloosa to do some shopping, but we did not have much luck. Terry wants some counter-high swivel back bar stools for the breakfast bar in our kitchen, but we stopped at half a dozen furniture stores and didn’t find anything to our liking. I was also looking for some ankle high rubber muck boots to wear when it’s muddy here, but everything I found was knee high. At least they were on my dwarf portly frame.

I seem to be striking out with a lot of things I am seeking. I have been looking for a new or gently used side-by-side utility vehicle to get around the trails here and for chores around the property. I really want a Honda Pioneer 700 or 1000, or a Kubota Sidekick, or possibly a Kawasaki Mule, but none of the dealers within a couple of hundred miles have any in stock. I even looked at the Axis models on display at Lowes, but the reviews have not been very impressive. All I seem to be able to find are Polaris models, both new and used, but everyone I have talked to who has owned one has said they had a lot of problems with them. Maybe that’s why there are so many available on the used market.

Yesterday we went into Northport to pick up some things at Walmart and Lowes, and Terry did find a pair of low top muck boots that fit me. Both days, by the time we got back home we were more than ready to call it quits for the evening. Obviously, though we are feeling better, our energy levels still have a way to go.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. I guess if any women out there are looking for a boy toy, they are out of luck.

Thought For The Day – Do you remember the last time a heated discussion lead to a good thing?

 

Jan 272023
 

Note: Since I don’t have anything new to tell you about today, here is a blog post from 2018 about a small town with a lot to see and do.

If you enjoy exploring small-town museums as much as we do, make it a point to visit the friendly little town of Wytheville, located in western Virginia at the junctions of Interstates 77 and 81. Here you will find not just one or two interesting little museums that are well worth a visit, but five, with exhibits that are sure to please.

One of our favorites was the Great Lakes to Florida Highway Museum, housed in an old gas station built in 1926. Located at 1095 Tazewell Street, the museum commemorates the old rout known as the Great Lakes to Florida Highway. Before the days of limited access interstate highways it was the main route for travelers going from Ohio to Florida. The original gas station started life as a Texaco station, but in 1934, it switched from selling Texaco products to Esso. Sometime in the1940s the owner also started selling candy and snacks, and by the 1950s the gas station was phased out and it became a small grocery store. Today, displays include artifacts from the old days, newspaper clippings, and exhibits about early-day travel through the region.

The Thomas J. Boyd Museum, located at 295 Tazewell Street, is named after Thomas Jefferson Boyd, known as the Father of Wytheville. Boyd was an attorney, surveyor, built a hotel in town, served as Wytheville’s mayor, and in the Virginia Legislature. During the Civil War a lead mine in the area provided as much as one third of the lead the Confederate Army used for their bullets and Union forces invaded the town twice during the war. The museum’s exhibits focus on local history, the Civil War, and the polio epidemic that devastated Wythe County in 1950. Wytheville was hit hard by the terrible disease. Of the just over 5,500 citizens living there, 184 came down with polio, with 17 of them dying. An iron lung on display at the museum honors those stricken with polio. The museum’s Discovery Corner offers ten interactive stations where children can learn math and science, as well as local history.

The Haller-Gibboney Rock House Museum at 205 E. Tazewell Street was built as the home of Wytheville’s first physician, Dr. John Haller, who served his community as a country doctor, county coroner, and delegate to the Virginia Legislature. The home was put into service as an infirmary and school during the Civil War years, and later as a boarding house when Wytheville became a popular summer resort. Today it is a museum displaying over 1,400 original artifacts and period furnishings that show how life was in the region in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace and Museum, located at 145 E. Main Street, is one of only eight historic sites across the country dedicated to the interpretation of a First Lady. The museum tells the little-known story of the important role President Woodrow Wilson’s wife played in the White House during World War I, her childhood in Wytheville, and how she earned the titles “The Secret President” and “The First Woman President.”

Located at the Wytheville Training School Cultural Center, 410 East Franklin Street, the African American Heritage Museum preserves the buildings and grounds of the historic Wytheville Training School and the adjoining Benjamin McKinney house. Photographs and exhibits focus on African-American education from Civil War days to the present.

All that and a lot more are in Wytheville and the immediate area, including impressive mansions that are open for tours, the Beagle Ridge Herb Farm, Fort Chiswell Animal Park, winery tours, historical sites, and outdoor adventures. As you can see, it would be easy to spend several days playing tourist here and not get bored. Click this link for more information.

Thought For The Day – I wish open minds came with closed mouths.

Alabama Q&A

 Posted by at 12:08 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 262023
 

Since we are still recovering from a nasty bug and have not accomplished much, I thought today I would answer some questions I have received from blog readers about our move to Alabama.

Q. Why didn’t you and Terry hire a moving company instead of doing the job yourselves?

A. I looked into hiring professional movers to handle the job, but the cost was prohibitive and they could not do the move in the time frame we needed.

Q. Instead of hauling everything yourselves, did you consider having a pod delivered to your old place and then transported to the new house in Alabama?

A. Again, the cost was too much for what we would have received. Having enough large pods for everything we moved was not that much less than a moving company.

Q. Now that none of us are no longer spring chickens and healthcare is more important, will you have the medical support you need in Alabama?

A. Yes, Tuscaloosa has a variety of excellent health care providers and a VA hospital, and Birmingham is close by with even more to offer.

Q. You left the land of hurricanes to move to the land of tornadoes. Does your new house have a tornado shelter?

A. In addition to hurricanes, Florida also has tornadoes. In fact, one killed a person in our little Florida subdivision a couple of years before we bought our house there. In answer to your question, our new house does not have a tornado shelter, but we are having one installed within the next two weeks,

Q. Will property taxes on your eight acres and home be significantly more than what you were paying in Florida?

A. Our property taxes here are actually less than what we were paying for our house on a small lot in Florida. Homeowners and automobile insurance are also less here than in Florida. And lower costs for water, electricity, and other utilities.

Q. I know that cell phone coverage and internet can be problematic in rural areas. Will that impact your ability to blog or do the research you do for your books?

A. We have anywhere from 3 to 5 bars of cell phone service here, and sometimes even 5G. We got a T-Mobile hotspot device and have fast internet service as well, for less than we were paying for Spectrum internet in Florida.

Q. I know you had a Florida CCW permit. How hard will it be to get one in Alabama?

A. As I understand it, I have to go the county sheriff’s office and pass a background check to get a concealed carry permit. However, as of January 1, 2023, any adult who can legally possess a handgun can carry concealed in the state without the need for a permit.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. I wonder what kind of problems this place has had with long-haired girls in the past.

Thought For The Day – Dear middle finger, thank you for always sticking up for me.

Waking Up Tired

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 252023
 

This cold or flu bug we both have is still kicking our butts. I think the worst of it is over because we no longer have the wracking coughs and sneezing fits that make our ribs ache, but our joints still hurt, and we are both weak as kittens and tired all the time. We are sleeping well, but wake up tired, have a light breakfast, then spend much of the day napping. So though we have a lot to do to get settled into our new house, we’re not getting much of it done and I really don’t have much to tell you about today.

We had planned to go back to Florida to get the last of our stuff from our house there so we can get it listed with a real estate agent, but we are just not up to it. So that’s getting put on the back burner for a while yet. Fortunately, we aren’t making payments on it and don’t have a buyer standing on the sidelines waiting to get in. At least we don’t have that pressure on us.

Between naps yesterday, I spent some time reading the operator’s manual for my new Kubota tractor, trying to familiarize myself with all of the controls and what they do. I also answered quite a few emails, including one from someone who is very upset that my new book, Big Lake Drunk, lists several ways people can abuse alcohol without actually drinking it. The woman said kids can find enough ways to get into trouble without authors suggesting new ideas. My response is that I doubt very many “kids” read my small town mystery books, but if they are looking for information on things like that, it’s not hard to find on Google. I know because that’s where I found it.

In other news, the previous owners of our new place had a flock of chickens, most of which were so tame they would eat out of their hands. They rounded them up when they moved out, except for one white hen that was hiding in the barn sitting on a clutch of eggs. I don’t know what happened to the eggs, but the hen is still hanging out here. Crystal, the former owner, has tried to catch her, but Chicken Little isn’t having any of that. She wanders around, hiding in the brush and pecking at the ground during the day and sits on the deck at night. Terry put out a cardboard box with a cotton rug for her to get into, but she ignores it and sits next to it. I go out and feed her every day, but she won’t let me get too close. Our son Travis says she is probably laying eggs somewhere, but we have not had the energy to go looking for them. Hopefully Travis or Crystal will eventually be able to catch her and reunite her with her flock or put her in with his before a fox or some other predator gets to her.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – When life knocks you down, stay there and take a nap.

Going Orange

 Posted by at 8:33 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 242023
 

Tuscaloosa is the home of the University of Alabama and the school’s formidable Crimson Tide football team. You can’t drive two blocks anywhere around here without seeing the slogan “Roll Tide” emblazoned on billboards, stores, cars, and clothing. When we moved here, my pal DC Stultz sent me a couple of Roll Tide decals for my vehicles so I could blend in. We wouldn’t want the locals to think I’m a spy for some other collegiate team, after all.

Now, please don’t tell any of my new neighbors, but I have absolutely no interest in football or any other organized team sport. I never have. When I was a firearms instructor at West Point, I could have gone to any of the Army football games at Michie Stadium for free and never did. So I guess I won’t be flying any Crimson Tide banners around here.

Instead, I went orange. Kubota orange, that is.

I said in a blog a while back that I was researching small tractors to use here on our acreage and at my son’s place just fifteen minutes away. After looking at the different units on the market, I settled on a Kubota BX2680, a subcompact four-wheel drive workhorse that will handle any chore we need. A week or so before we moved, I contacted a very nice young man named Brad Bosch at Tuscaloosa Tractor, a family-owned business that came highly recommended. I explained my needs to Brad, told him I knew next to nothing about tractors, and he suggested the 2680, the same model I had in mind.

So Friday we went to the shop and I signed the paperwork to purchase the tractor, a front bucket loader, a 60” mower to keep our pasture and trails in good shape, a tiller for our gardens, and a back blade for smoothing out driveways, spreading gravel, and things like that. Here I am taking the tractor for a spin around the parking lot at Tuscaloosa Tractor.

And what kind of father would I be if I didn’t let Travis have some fun, too?

The next day a wonderful man named Willy delivered the tractor and its attachments to our place, and then spent a couple of hours with me, going over the many controls, giving me pointers on maintenance tips, and a crash course on how to get the most out of the machine. I can’t say enough good about our experience at Tuscaloosa Tractors. No pressure whatsoever, the price was very reasonable, Brad and Willy were very patient in answering my many questions, and you can’t beat Kubota’s 0 Down, 0 Interest, 72-month financing.

This thing has more levers and buttons than a small airplane! I will be spending a lot of time studying the owner’s manual and getting familiar with what all they will do.

One of the reasons I chose this tractor is that, even with the loader and tiller attached, it will fit inside our 14-foot cargo trailer. So it won’t be a problem to take it over to Travis’ place to get his gardens ready for all of the crops he is so good at growing. He says it sure didn’t take me long to go completely country. That’s okay, even if I didn’t go crimson.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – At my funeral, take the flowers off the coffin and throw them into the crowd to see who’s next.

Jan 232023
 

Several blog readers have asked why we suddenly decided to leave the central Florida coast to move to rural Alabama and if we are ready to cope with such a dramatic change in our lifestyle.

First of all, this wasn’t a “sudden decision” based on impulse. For quite some time now we had become more and more disillusioned with living in Florida. While it is a great place to go for a vacation, living there proved to be very different for us. Rising insurance rates on our home and cars, even though we never had a claim, were becoming intolerable. The constant development without regard to the infrastructure to support it has resulted in traffic nightmares, crowded schools, flooding with every storm because there is nowhere for the water to go, and higher crime rates. I am allergic to the noseeums, and they ate me alive every time I stepped outside. And while Alabama is also a very red state, Florida’s politics and attitude toward anyone who is not white, straight, and wealthy were something we just could not agree with. So we had been thinking about leaving for a while now, and when this home and acreage became available, we jumped on it. An added advantage is being able to be so close to our son and his wife, who are only fifteen minutes away.

In terms of real estate, the value for the dollar here is so much more than in Florida. Our son and his wife bought a beautiful three-bedroom two bath home on nine acres for the same price that our neighbor in Florida just paid for a new doublewide mobile home on a very small lot.

As for the lifestyle, Terry and I have both lived in cities, small towns, and out in the country. I’ll take a view like this out my back window on a foggy morning over seeing my neighbor’s place just a few feet away. Not to mention the peacefulness. It’s so quiet that we notice when a car goes past our place a few times a day. And when they do, the neighbor always takes the time to wave or beep their horn if they see you outside. As I said in yesterday’s blog, we had neighbors stopping over to help us unload our U-Haul truck and trailer, and others have come by just to introduce themselves and welcome us to the neighborhood.

While we are “out in the country” in terms of rural ambiance, and the small town of Gordo doesn’t have much more than a dollar store, a small Piggly Wiggly grocery, a Subway sandwich shop, a post office, and a garage, we are only twenty minutes away from Northport, which has a Lowes, a Super Walmart, Publix, all kinds of restaurants and services, and it abuts Tuscaloosa. With all of the traffic in Florida, it took us that long to drive to the nearest Walmart. Tuscaloosa has just about every kind of retail store and medical service one could ever need, and if you can’t find it there, Birmingham is an hour away.

And best of all, when our running around is done, we get to come home to this welcoming sight. So yes, while it is a lifestyle change, it is a tradeoff we are happy to make.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – One of the happiest moments in life is when you make the decision to let go of what you cannot change.

Jan 222023
 

It’s taken longer to get internet service at our new place in Alabama than we expected, but we finally did, and I wanted to post a blog to let you all know we are still alive and kicking, even if barely. I say barely because Terry and I have both come down with nasty colds that are kicking our butts. But the good news is, we’re here and we are slowly getting settled in.

In my last blog post, from a week ago today, I said that I would be driving the 26-foot U-Haul truck pulling a car hauler with my Mustang on it and that Terry would be driving our Ram pickup pulling the 14-foot cargo trailer. In that blog I said we would probably stop in Dothan, Alabama for the night and go on to Gordo the next day, but that didn’t happen.

I have ridden in Army tanks that offered a better ride than that U-Haul, and it about shook my teeth loose every mile of the trip. We stopped at the Flying J in Saint Augustine to fill the fuel tanks on both trucks, which turned out to be a pain because the guy at one of the RV fuel islands that accommodate larger vehicles was inside and hung around there for a long time before he finally came out with some food that he apparently ordered and put it inside his pickup. Then he began to fill his tank. I was in the opposite lane and was able to fill the U-Haul and then pulled to the other side of the parking lot to wait for Terry, who was stuck behind him.

Flying J has several lanes that are specified for RV parking and they were pretty busy, but I found one open spot. There would have been more except for the clowns in this RV, who parked their car next to their motorhome so nobody could get into the space next to them. I think they probably didn’t want somebody to hit their slide-out, but if they had faced the opposite direction, they would have been over a small island and somebody else could have used the space next to them. I call people like this OPOPs because they seem to think that they are the only people on the planet.

Once Terry was finally able to fill the truck, she found a parking spot and we went inside for a pit stop, then got back on the road. About 25 miles north I suddenly saw her behind me, flashing the headlights off and on. I pulled onto the shoulder of Interstate 95, wondering what was wrong, and she came to me shaking and said that somehow she had left her phone in the bathroom at the truck stop. Terry never does things like that, but with the trip ahead of us and then having to wait so long at the fuel island, she was flustered. I called Terry’s phone and a Flying J employee answered and said it had been turned in and was at the front counter. Fortunately, there was an exit just ahead of us and we took it, crossed over the highway and backtracked to Flying J to get Terry’s phone. We lost a little bit of time, but it’s all just part of the adventure, right? I kept telling Terry I wasn’t mad at her, but it didn’t matter, because she was mad enough at herself.

The U-Haul was a dog, and it was all I could do to keep it on the road at 55 mph. Between that and the time lost going back to Flying J for the phone, we didn’t make it to Dothan as planned. Instead, we stopped at the Hampton Inn in Quincy, Florida for the night. It was right off the Interstate, and they had a large grass parking lot next to the hotel where we could park both rigs.

There were no restaurants open close by, and we did not want to unhook the cargo trailer to go find one, so we settled for frozen dinners from the hotel. Not exactly fine dining, but it kept us going. Terry more so than me, as she was up several times during the night.

We were back on the road bright and early the next morning, crossing into the Central Time Zone, and then entering Alabama on US Highway 231. We followed it north through Dothan and Troy to the Montgomery area, where we eventually got onto 82 and followed it west to Tuscaloosa. We arrived at our house in Gordo sometime mid-afternoon, and I sure was happy to climb out of that damn U-Haul!

Our son Travis and his wife Geli greeted us with lots of hugs, and then they got busy helping unload the cargo trailer. We managed to get it about three-quarters emptied before darkness fell.

That was our 25th anniversary, but since there’s not much of anything in the way of restaurants in Gordo, and even fewer choices after 6 PM, we settled for Subway sandwiches. What a way to celebrate our big day! But as somebody said, it’s not about the meal, it’s about the person sitting across the table from you, and I am so much in love with this lady who’s been sitting across from me all these years, through good times and bad.

The kids were back early Tuesday morning to help us, and then a bunch of folks showed up around lunch time – friends of Manara Payne, our real estate agent, and people who go to her church, some young people from the local high school, and some neighbors. I will tell you something; I’ve moved around a lot in my life and have lived all over this great land of ours, and I have never experienced a reception like we got here. Talk about small-town southern hospitality, we experienced it firsthand! By the time it was all said and done, it only took a few hours to get everything unloaded and into the house, with boxes stacked up in every room. Thank you, everybody. We appreciate you all so much.

Actually, we didn’t get everything inside the house. It had been raining for a couple of days, and with so many people going back and forth across our yard, it had become a sea of mud. We managed to get my gun safe out of the U-Haul and into the garage, but at 675 pounds, there was no way it was going to make it through that mud to the front porch, even with the help of our heavy-duty appliance dolly. So it will sit in the garage for a few days while we recover from the trip and our colds, and then we’ll figure out how we’re going to get it where it needs to be in the house.

We have a lot more going on than I have room to tell you about today, but I’ll be back tomorrow with more to share with you.

Thought For The Day – A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

Jan 152023
 

The last few days brought home to us the words of the old Beatles song With A Little Help From My Friends, except that we have received a lot of help from our friends! We picked up the U-Haul truck and car transporter trailer Friday morning and have been working long hours getting everything we could boxed up and crammed into it.

Unfortunately, my back has limited what I can do, so most of the load has fallen on Miss Terry and our friends Jesse Bolton, Dennis Williamson, and Scott Giddings. They all have done an amazing job helping with this backbreaking labor. Here are Scott and Jesse loading the top half of my rolltop desk into the truck. I think it says a lot about me as a person and as a neighbor that so many guys will spend the weekend away from their jobs doing all this just to make damn sure I really leave. 😊

As you can see, there’s not much left in the house at this point. With our bed packed away, Terry and I spent Friday and Saturday night at the local Best Western. This morning we have a few things left to put in the U Haul and the pickup, then we have to reconnect the car hauler to the U Haul, load my Mustang onto it, hitch the cargo trailer to the back of the pickup and hit the road. Hopefully we can have the wheels rolling by noon. It won’t be a fast trip, and we will probably stop in Dothan, Alabama for the night and go on to Gordo the next day.

We still need to return to Florida in a week or so to disassemble Terry’s two big Glamakra looms and pick up anything else that did not make it this trip. And I am sure it will take us a long time to get everything put away and get settled into our new home. But we are sure looking forward to it!

I don’t know if I will be able to update the blog much in the next few days, but I will try.

Thought For The Day – Smiling doesn’t always mean you’re happy. Sometimes it just means you’re strong.

It’s Here!

 Posted by at 12:15 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 132023
 

Our big moving weekend is here, and I have no idea how it arrived so fast. We still have so much to do, but we’ve made a lot of progress.

We finally finished getting the cargo trailer loaded yesterday, except for a few little spaces that we can poke some lightweight stuff into. As I said before, I’m amazed at how much we can cram into a 14-foot trailer. This trip will include one of Terry’s looms, our two Sea Eagle kayaks, boxes of books and small appliances and housewares, several military-style ammo cans full of various calibers of ammunition, a queen-size mattress, 7 or 8 oak bookcases, and a whole bunch more that I can’t even remember at this point.

We will be picking up the 26-foot U Haul truck this morning, and our friend Jesse Bolton is going to help us get it loaded. That will include our washer and dryer, my Champion gun safe, my roll-top desk, Terry’s desk, the bulk of our furniture, a couple of antique cabinet radios, and whatever else we can get in there. Jesse has several years of experience in moving and delivering furniture and appliances, and we will defer to him on how to load the truck.

I had hoped that we would be able to get everything on this trip except for Terry’s two big Glamakra looms, which we have to take apart, but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen or not. We know we have to come back in a week or two to pick up her Chrysler Pacifica and whatever is left, as well as get the house ready to sell. I had hoped not to have to bring the cargo trailer all the way back again just because it cuts our truck’s fuel mileage so badly, but I don’t think we’re going to be able to avoid it. Oh well, it is what it is.

Several people have asked why we didn’t hire some help for the loading process or hire a moving company. I looked into that, and the quotes I was getting from the moving companies were ridiculous. As far as hiring some day labor to help with the loading, good luck with that. A friend of ours is also moving from Florida, up to Tennessee in their case. U Haul told them they could supply the names of people to do the heavy lifting, but not one person was available. They also posted several ads online locally and called a day labor company. They were offering $25 an hour and there were no takers. They went so far as to approach homeless people standing on street corners with signs asking for money, and again nobody was willing to come and do any work and get paid in cash. So it’s up to us old farts to tote that barge and lift that bale.

Depending on how much we get accomplished today, we may be able to hit the road tomorrow, but more likely, it will be Sunday. It will take us a couple of days to get to our new place in Alabama, with me driving the U Haul and towing the Mustang on a car hauler and Terry driving the Ram, and towing the cargo trailer. If you don’t hear from us for a day or two and I’m not able to post a blog, don’t worry. We just have a lot to get done and may not be able to get online. But I will check in when possible.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – The comeback is always stronger than the setback.

Slowly But Surely

 Posted by at 12:29 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 122023
 

We are making progress on our upcoming move, getting things packed and loaded into the cargo trailer slowly but surely. As I said in the blog the other day, it’s like the only way you can eat an elephant, one bite at a time.

I’m amazed at how much we are able to cram into our 14-foot Spartan cargo trailer. It’s rated to hold about 5,000 pounds, though we are nowhere near that limit. Most of what we have been putting in there are big bulky items.

So far for this trip, I have our two inflatable Sea Eagle kayaks in the nose, along with some boxes of books and weaving supplies, and Terry’s Baby Wolf folding loom. I told her it must be one of the most traveled looms in history since it crossed the country back and forth with us several times in our motorhome when we were still fulltime RVers.

We had four upright metal storage racks in the garage that measured 4 feet wide by 6 feet high by two feet deep. We put two on each side of the trailer and secured them to the trailer’s tie downs. We have been stacking boxes of things on the shelves, paying careful attention to weight so it’s distributed correctly in the trailer. We still have quite a bit of room on the shelves to go, and we also put two 6-foot tall bookcases on one side of the center aisle, Once everything is secured down, they will help keep the things on the shelves in place as we go down the road. We will do the same on the other side, too.

Terry is very good at packing and figuring out what will go into which boxes and where they should go in the trailer so that the things we will need first will be most accessible once we get to our new home in Alabama. One of the things she will be packing is her Aladdin lamps. We’re both a little apprehensive about those because of the large glass globes on them, but we’re going to be very careful with them, and I’m sure they will make the trip fine by the time she is done padding them with bubble wrap.

We didn’t get quite as much done yesterday as we have in previous days because Terry had an appointment with her eye doctor down in Titusville. Every few months, she has to get plugs put into her tear ducts, which help contain tears because she has a severe dry eye condition. While she was there for that, he also did Yag procedures on both of her eyes as a follow-up to the cataract surgery she had a while back.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been researching small tractors online, and since we were going right by the Kubota dealer in Titusville, we stopped to check out what they had. I’m not looking for a big farm-type tractor but rather a small sub-compact, which isn’t much bigger than a riding lawn mower but has a lot more power and can use implements like tillers and bucket loaders and such. It will come in handy for both our place and our son’s once we get moved and settled in.

I think I’ve decided on the Kubota B-Series 2680. It’s more than capable of doing everything we will need and small enough that it will fit in our cargo trailer when we need to take it over to the kids’ house. We won’t be buying it here in Florida because there is a large and well-respected Kubota dealer in Tuscaloosa, and it only stands to reason to buy it from the dealer who will be servicing it if we need something.

A blog reader told me the other day that people with bad backs like I have may find spending a lot of time on a tractor to be uncomfortable. If I know my son and my wife as well as I think I do, that probably won’t be an issue because they will spend so much time on it that I will have to fight them to be able to get in the seat and play with it myself.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. I guess after they started making us use those self-checkouts at Walmart, we should have known this was coming.

Thought For The Day – Don’t let the past make your decisions for today.

Jan 112023
 

Note: Since all we have done the last few days is fill boxes in preparation for our move to Alabama, I thought I’d repost a blog about how far technology has come since we became fulltime RVers way back in 1999. No, we didn’t always have WiFi and cell phones that work as hotspots, and wireless modems. Life was really hard back in the “good old days.”

When we started out, cell phones were few and far between and access plans were expensive, and outside of big cities, getting a signal was sometimes impossible. E-mail? We would carry our laptop computer to the campground office, pay $1 to get online long enough to download our e-mail, and read it offline. Then we’d write our replies and wait our turn to get back in line to send them out.

I remember our first wireless modem, an air card type thing called the Ace of Spades that was slower than dial-up when it worked at all. But imagine logging onto America Online right from our motorhome! Who’d have thought something like that was even possible?

Then we got a nifty device called PocketMail, which allowed us to hold it against a regular telephone to download and send e-mail. No attachments, but still a big step forward. We were “with it!”

The next step forward was the huge dishes that offered high-speed satellite internet. You could pay many thousands of dollars for an automatic rooftop dish or a couple thousand for a tripod-mounted dish that you pointed manually.

Some of the folks who sold the expensive automatic units spread all sorts of outlandish rumors about the rooftop dishes. They claimed that they were illegal and dangerous in the hands of anybody except a certified installer. They said that if you aimed one wrong, you could “knock an airplane out of the sky.” I always said that was nonsense, because if that were true, every wacko kid and homegrown terrorist would be out in the backyard shooting down airliners. One rumor claimed that a gentleman in an RV park walked by an improperly pointed tripod dish, and it blew the ink pen he had in his shirt pocket clear through his heart! There were stories of SWAT teams from the Federal Communications Commission swarming down on RV parks and rallies, seizing illegal dishes and the RVs of their owners. Yeah, I know that really sounds crazy, but we heard all of those stories and more!

Here’s a fun story about the days of satellite internet dishes. We had a hybrid, a tripod unit that we mounted to a special folding mast on top of our MCI bus conversion. In transit, the LNB arm was removed and stored inside the bus. When we were stopped, I would boost Terry up through the emergency escape hatch in the roof over our bed, and she was so good at aiming the dish that we were usually online as fast as somebody with an automatic dish could deploy theirs.

direcway dish

Once we were at Elkhart Campground in Indiana and I started to boost Terry through the roof, but she had me stop because she forgot the written coordinates to aim the dish and needed to retrieve them. I started to boost her again, and she had me stop again because she needed the wrench she used to tighten the LNB. Finally we were ready again, and it was one, two three, and up through the hatch. Terry was setting the dish up when the man in the RV parked next to us came outside and said, “I’m so glad to see you!” Assuming it was one of our readers, Terry said she was glad to see him, too. The man told her, “I was sitting there having my coffee, and I saw this head coming up through the roof of your bus, and I told my wife to look at it, and when she did, it was gone. Then it came back again! She said that whatever the heck was going on over there was none of our business!” I’m glad we cleared that up for him. Yeah, we’ve come a long way, baby!

Thought For The Day – To be old and wise, one first has to be young and stupid.

One Bite At A Time

 Posted by at 12:15 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 102023
 

Moving is always a hassle, no matter how old you are or how large or small of a home you have. And I can tell you right now that the older you get, the harder it is. Terry and I are amazed at how much we have accumulated in the six years we have been in this house after living a minimalist lifestyle in a 320-square-foot motorhome for 18+ years. We keep reminding ourselves that it’s just like the old thing about how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And that’s what we’re doing, taking it one bite at a time.

We have been sticking to our new schedule of waking up earlier, which has helped us get a lot accomplished, even if our bodies object to it every step of the way.

One of the biggest chores for both of us has been packing up all of our books. Terry and I are both bookaholics, and while we couldn’t carry nearly as many as we wanted to in the motorhome due to weight considerations, that hasn’t been an issue here. Pretty much all I did yesterday was fill more boxes with books. I’ve been asked more than once why I have so many books and if I have read them all. No, I haven’t read them all, but I love having them around me. Someone the other day said that having books you don’t read is like a wine connoisseur having bottles that he is saving for a special occasion. We feel the same way about our books. We moved around a lot when I was a kid, and I recall that once somebody who was helping us complained about how many books I had. I remember my dad telling him that someday books were going to change my life in many ways, and they have, including me becoming a successful author. I think my dad was a lot smarter than I gave him credit for when I was a youngster.

And, of course, if you have books, you have bookcases. We emptied several of them yesterday and brought them out to the garage staging area, ready to be loaded when we make the big move.

While I was dealing with books, Terry was packing lots of other things, from kitchenware and small appliances to pictures, to you name it. The stack of filled boxes is growing bigger in the garage all the time.

Meanwhile, my office is starting to look very bare. But that’s only because you aren’t seeing the other side, where I still have my desk and a lot of other stuff.

Besides filling boxes and carrying them out to the garage yesterday, we did a few other things, too. I spent some time arranging to take over the security system that’s in our new house and signing the contract online, we called our doctor here to get all of our prescriptions renewed so we will be covered for a while until we can find new doctors in Alabama, and the real estate agent who is going to be listing our house here stopped by to get some pictures for upcoming advertising.

I’ve also been researching small tractors. We will definitely be getting a riding lawn mower for our new place, but we also think we want a small tractor for bush-hogging the trails through the trees to keep them open, tilling gardens at our place and our son’s, and chores like that. I know absolutely nothing about tractors, but I’ve been doing some research and I am getting a lot of very good feedback on the Kubota compact tractor models. I’ve got a lot more to learn before I make a decision about that.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – Your mind is where you stay most of the time. Make sure it’s a good place to be.

Jan 092023
 

Life is all about boxes, isn’t it? We live and work in boxes made of wood, stone, concrete, or metal; we box up our memories, good and bad, in our brains; we check off boxes every time we fill out a form (which will eventually go into a box somewhere), and we are told to think outside the box. Unless we think too far outside of it, then we get criticized.

Lately, boxes have taken over our home as we prepare for our move to Alabama. We have boxes everywhere! Some boxes are filled with small appliances and kitchenware and are ready to go.

I have a lot of boxes filled with books. These are only part of them. We took a load up on our trip last week. And Terry has lots of books that still have to be put in boxes!

At first, it was hard to find boxes, and friends were bringing them home from stores or anywhere else they could find them. We also bought some from U-Haul. Did you know that if you buy boxes from U-Haul and don’t use them, and they still have the little folded tabs on them, you can return them for a refund? We didn’t until now.

I think we have enough boxes now. There is a big pile of them in the garage, but they do get filled pretty rapidly. Our new neighbors in Alabama might think we are alcoholics because I found that liquor stores are good places to get boxes. Some of them even have partitions for bottles, which are good for glassware and such when we are packing.

So that’s what we did most of yesterday, pack boxes. We still have a lot more boxes and a lot more things to put in them, but we keep plugging away at it.

Even though our house and garage are full of boxes, our big concrete parking apron in front of the house is getting emptier, because yesterday I sold my scissor trailer, which we used to use for putting the pontoon boat in and out of the garage. I also found a home for our homemade kayak trailer, which we won’t need now because if we want to go kayaking in Alabama, we will just throw them in the back of the cargo trailer.

All this activity of boxing up stuff takes up a lot of energy and helps work up an appetite. Miss Terry took care of that problem last night with an amazing dinner of her delicious shrimp and grits. The only problem is, I ate so much that I don’t want to move now. Does anybody want to come over and fill some boxes for me?

Thought For The Day – The most dangerous risk we take is not living our lives the way we want to, believing that if you work long enough, you will eventually be able to buy the freedom to do it later.

Jan 082023
 

When I mentioned in my blog a few weeks ago that we were going to be making a major change in our lives, I didn’t want to jinx the deal by telling everybody what was happening until we were sure everything was going to go through and we would actually close on our house in Alabama. I have to admit that it’s been interesting to see some of the things people thought the big announcement was going to be about.

Because I had mentioned that we had been back and forth to Alabama several times, at least seven or eight people thought we had been going to the Tiffin factory in Red Bay, Alabama because we were going to buy a new motorhome and go back to fulltime RVing. No, that part of our life is over, and while we enjoyed the 18+ years that we were fulltiming, neither one of us has any desire to go back to it.

Probably as many people thought the announcement was that I had a movie or television deal for one of my book series. While I was approached by a studio a year or so ago about the Big Lake series, and there have been a couple of other overtures, nothing has panned out in that respect. While the money offered would have been nice to have, I turned down the deal for the Big Lake series because they basically wanted to own me and control everything I would be doing for the next couple of years.

Along with people thinking that we were going to go back to RVing, a couple of people thought the announcement was going to be that we were going to at least be holding another RV rally. Wrong again. Our last rally was in Celina, Ohio, back in 2012, and while they were a lot of fun, they were also a tremendous amount of work. We have been out of the RV lifestyle for so long now that I don’t know that we would have anything to contribute to the new crop of RVers out there.

I was surprised by how many readers were afraid that the announcement was that I was retiring from writing my books. As long as my mental faculties hold up and people keep wanting to read them, I have no intention of ever retiring. I may slow down a little bit as time goes on, but I have too many stories to tell to ever stop.

Terry and I both got a big laugh out of one person who thought the announcement was that we were having a baby. Really? At our age? No, the only diapers that will get changed in our household in the future are going to be the ones I may be wearing someday. That Depends. 😊

Of course, quite a few people did suspect that we were buying a house in Alabama near our son and daughter-in-law. I guess you get the prize.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – Being a baby must be traumatizing at times. Imagine going to sleep in your house and you wake up at Target.

Jan 072023
 

We were up at 7:30 again yesterday morning and were on the road before 9 o’clock. When we arrived at the Best Western Plus in Madison, Florida the night before, the only place to park was between a couple of 18-wheelers in a back corner of their lot, and the only way Terry could get into it was to pull straight forward, which meant we would have to back out in the morning.

I was a bit apprehensive about that because, as I’ve said before, my trailer towing skills are not great, and my backing up skills are even worse. Whenever we took the pontoon boat down to the water, my buddy Jesse Bolton would back it in for me so we could all go fishing. But we got lucky, and with Terry directing me I was able to back it up a couple of hundred feet through the parking lot until I could get to an exit and pull forward to leave.

Getting on Interstate 10, there wasn’t a lot of traffic and we stayed in the right lane running about 62 to 65 mph until we got to the Interstate 295 loop around the west side of Jacksonville to connect with Interstate 95. Then it was a straight shot south past St. Augustine and Daytona Beach to New Smyrna Beach, and then on to Edgewater. We pulled into our place here about 12:30.

I should not have felt too cocky about how easy it was to back the truck and trailer out of the motel parking lot, because it it took me a lot of backing up and pulling forward and jockeying the steering wheel around to be able to back it up to our garage once we got home. But we finally got it done.

We had not bothered with breakfast, so by then we were both more than hungry. After unhooking the trailer and unloading the truck, we went to Stavros Pizza for a late lunch or early dinner, depending on how you want to look at it. Either way, it was delicious as always.

Back at home, I waded through a big pile of e-mails and dealt with them while Terry did some laundry and caught up on her own e-mails and such. We were both too tired to do much of anything else.

And now the real work begins! We will load the cargo trailer up again, and then move it off to the side, while we pack boxes full of things and get them ready to pack into the U-Haul truck when we pick it up next Friday. We also have some lab work and a couple of doctor appointments to get out of the way while all that is going on. It’s going to be a busy week for us.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – Dear middle finger, thank you for always sticking up for me.