We’ve Been Shot!

 Posted by at 12:37 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 262021
 

They say that it’s always good if a couple have things in common. Miss Terry and I have many things in common, from the type of music we like to the kind of television shows and movies we enjoy, the books we read, traveling, and things like kite flying and fishing. Something else we have in common is that we have both been hit by ricocheting bullets, although that was decades apart and not the topic of today’s blog. Today is going to be about us getting shot together.

No, don’t worry, we’re not engaging in armed robbery or insurrection or anything like that. Yesterday we went out to the Volusia County Fairgrounds and received our first round of Moderna COVID-19 vaccination shots.

I have to say that I was very impressed with the way everything was done compared to what I’m seeing on the news and hearing from friends in a lot of places around the country. The folks here did a good job.

Our appointments were in the 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. time slot yesterday. We arrived at the fairgrounds at 2:38, and they had a very efficient setup, including signage of where to turn in. Someone walked up to the van and greeted us, asked to see our appointment slips, and then directed us to follow a line of vehicles ahead of us. We were stopped a little farther on, where they greeted us again, asked if we had any allergies or if either one of us had had any kind of vaccinations in the last 90 days or had had COVID-19. It was all handled very safely, us wearing our masks and the people working there all masked, too. They would come up to the driver’s window, stay far enough away for safety, ask their questions, and get our answers, and direct us to continue following the vehicles ahead of us.

At the next station, someone asked to see the medical and consent forms I had printed out from the Internet and we had filled out ahead of time, and before long, we were up to one of several shade shelters where they were administering the vaccinations.

The nice lady who was doing ours came to my side first, wiped my shoulder down with an alcohol swab, and I never felt her give me the shot. The next thing I knew, she was putting a Band-Aid on me. Then she went over to Terry’s side of the van, vaccinated her, we were given cards for our follow-up appointments and sent to a parking area to wait at least 15 minutes in case there were any reactions. There were none, and 54 minutes from the time we pulled into the fairgrounds, we were pulling out. I was impressed.

While we’re relieved to get the first vaccinations out of the way, I feel guilty with how easy it was for us, from making the reservation the first time we tried, to getting in and out of the fairgrounds in such a short time and not having any discomfort whatsoever from the shots. I wish it was that quick and easy and comfortable for everybody else.

Since we hadn’t been out of the house in quite a while, we took the long way home, driving down Interstate 4 to Daytona Beach and cruising down International Speedway Boulevard to see what businesses were open or closed. We were surprised that except for one or two small restaurants, everything else seemed to be open and doing well, and our favorite Chinese buffet was open for takeout and delivery orders.

Back at home, my son Travis called to ask how we were feeling and if we had any weird reactions. I said that neither one of us had any pain or discomfort and that the only thing different I had noticed was that my new third nipple was lactating. Travis sometimes regrets asking me questions, and I don’t really blame him.

Thought For The Day – Kisses have germs and should be hated, but you can kiss me because I’m vaccinated.

Busy Creating

 Posted by at 12:21 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 252021
 

I had planned on watering our citrus trees and perennial peanut plants yesterday, but sometime early in the morning, we had a pretty good rain and woke up to big puddles in the street, so that saved me one chore.

However, it gave us another one to deal with. My Bennington pontoon boat has three stowable upright braces that can be set on the deck and then extended into special receptacles in the boat cover. I guess this is supposed to protect the upholstery from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and keep things dry. It seems to do a good job in sun protection, but after the hard rain we had it was sagging under the weight of the water that had accumulated on the cover. So Terry unsnapped the cover at the back of the boat and opened the gate and crawled inside. Then she pushed upward on the cover from the inside, forcing the water off. And there sure was a lot of it!

While we were doing that, our neighbor Jesse Bolton from across the street came over to chat for a few minutes, and when he went back to some project he was working on we went inside. I spent most of the day writing and making corrections in my new book, and printed out several more chapters for Terry to proofread. Then I made corrections to the previous chapters I had received back from Judy Rinehimer and Roberta Jenson, my second and third proofreaders.

While I was busy doing that, Miss Terry was busy creating. She finished three Shetland wool blankets that she wove for our daughter Tiffany and her family. Three blankets down, and three more to go. As many projects as I have seen Terry take off of her loom, I’m still in awe of the beautiful things she makes.

With that done, she packed three turban style headbands she had knitted for daughter Tiffany and a book order to go to the post office today.

Due to the pandemic, we try not to go out very much, just trips to the grocery store and doctors’ appointments when necessary. But today, we will be driving out to the Volusia County Fairgrounds to get our first COVID-19 Moderna vaccines. We are really looking forward to that, and getting the follow-up ones four weeks from now. Of course, that doesn’t mean we are going to start running around without masks, and ignoring social distancing and other common sense precautions. Someone asked me why I’m going to wear a mask if we get a vaccine. Because nothing is foolproof, and we all know that. That’s why our cars have airbags and seatbelts even though they’ve got brakes. As any experienced pilot will tell you, there is safety in redundancy

Congratulations Ronald Zack, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of Big Lake Blizzard, the fourth book in my Big Lake mystery series. This is the last one of the first printing of this book with the original cover. We had 69 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon!

Thought For The Day – I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island but turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

Jan 242021
 

Note: I was busy adding another 7,200 to my new book yesterday and ran out of time to do a blog, so I thought I would share one from 2012 about one of our favorite experiences.

We crossed something off our bucket list yesterday, and made memories that will stay with us forever! For years we have wanted to paddle our kayaks at Three Sister Springs in Crystal River. Every year, manatee come into the river and hang out in the warmer water from mid-November until late March.

We launched our Sea Eagle kayaks from the marina at Pete’s Pier, and paddled about 1/4 mile to the entrance to the channel that led us back to the Springs. There was a pretty stiff wind blowing in King’s Bay, and we had to work hard to get across the open water to the channel. Once we turned into the channel, we were more sheltered and it was a little easier paddling.

We had only gone a few hundred feet down the channel before we saw our first manatee. It passed directly under my PaddleSki, and to be honest, I was apprehensive, wondering what would happen if it surfaced directly under my boat. By the second or third time it happened, there was no worry, only delight at seeing these magnificent animals so close.

When we got back to the entrance to the springs, it was crowded with tour boats, and the water was full of kayakers and people using snorkels. There was a roped-off area with a large number of manatee lounging about in the incredibly clear water. But they weren’t just hiding in the roped-off area, they were everywhere! These huge, gentle animals seem to crave human contact. We saw several people petting them as they swam by, and some of the manatees just stayed motionless, seeming to enjoy the contact.

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Another Sea Eagle owner had told us that the manatee seem to be attracted to the inflatable boats. She said she believed it was because they are gray and almost shaped like the manatee themselves, with their large air chambers. I wasn’t sure about that until it actually happened to us! Several times manatee would swim right up to our boats, and a few would rub against the side, or pass underneath and rub their backs, almost like a cat will rub against your leg. Every time, they were very gentle and didn’t even rock our boats.

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Barriers are erected to the entrance of the deeper springs, to prevent powerboats from going back and disturbing the manatee. It was a tight fit for Miss Terry’s Fast Track 385, but she managed to get through and paddle back to the springs, where the water was crystal clear and she could see all the way to the bottom. Unfortunately, my PaddleSki 435 was a little too wide to fit through the barrier. So I contented myself with hanging out at the entrance of the springs, where there were plenty of manatee and a lot of activity to keep me occupied.

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Terry said the water inside the springs was incredibly clear.

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There were two volunteers on hand to make sure nobody molested the animals by doing something stupid like crawling upon them, feeding them, or anything else that would cause them harm. I talked to the volunteers for a while and commented on how busy it was for a weekday. One of them said “You should have been here the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It was a zoo! There were so many people that you could almost walk across them to shore and never get wet.” I’m glad we missed that circus!

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Can you tell Terry is having a good time?

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We spent about three hours at the springs, seeing everything from huge old cows with scars across their backs from boat propellers, to babies nursing from their mothers. One of the volunteers said this baby is an orphan, and they’re watching it. Sometimes one of the cows will adopt an orphan and allow it to nurse. If that doesn’t happen, authorities will remove it to a refuge where it will be cared for until it can go out on its own.

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On our return trip to the marina the wind had really picked up, and while there were no whitecaps on the water of the bay, it was pretty close, and we got quite a bumpy ride! Terry was very impressed with how her kayak tracked, even with the wind and choppy water. By the time we got back to the marina and pulled our boats out of the water, got them wiped down and deflated, then packed away, we were pretty worn out! But it was worth it to have memories like this.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an autographed copy of Big Lake Blizzard, the fourth book in my Big Lake mystery series. This is the last one of the first printing of this book with the original cover. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening. Note: Due to high the shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – When you stop chasing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch you.

January Q&A

 Posted by at 12:22 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 232021
 

I’m back with more questions from blog readers about RVing, what’s happening in our lives since we hung up the keys, and all kinds of other things. While I try to answer all questions individually, I also share some here occasionally.

Q. We went to the Tampa RV show and I was surprised that in every new high end diesel pusher we looked at, none of the windows open. I asked a salesman why that was, and he said, “Why would you need windows open when you have climate control?” Is this a new thing? Are they all like that these days?

A. I heard that from somebody else, too, but I haven’t been in a new coach in years, so I really couldn’t say if they are all like that or not. As for us, we always liked having the windows open and letting the fresh air in.

Q. Someone said that Florida is no longer letting nonresidents get the COVID-19 vaccine. We are snowbirds who spend the winter in the central part of the state. Do you know if this is true?

A. Things seem to change by the day. I know that Florida is no longer vaccinating nonresidents who just come here for the vaccine. But as I understand it, snowbirds with a receipt showing that they have rented a site for at least 30 days are entitled to get the vaccine.

Q. We’ve been talking about buying an RV and were thinking about a new one, but it seemed like there are a lot of nice used ones coming up on the market all of a sudden. Any idea why this is?

A. There was a big boom in RV sales last year because people thought that was going to be a way to escape COVID-19 or because they couldn’t vacation in their usual ways. Then a lot of those people realized that RVing just isn’t for them or that they didn’t use them as much as they thought they would, and now want to sell them. I think there are probably some good deals to be had out there.

Q. I know you guys are not traveling anymore, and I know you’ve been out of the RV thing for a while, but we’re fairly new to it. In the past, you talked about Passport America several times. Do you still think it’s a good bargain?”

A. Absolutely. The $44 membership fee gives you access to over 1,450 campgrounds at half price. You will save that much the first two or three times you use it.

Q. I don’t appreciate you talking about your dislike for President Trump or that you seem to worship Biden. I don’t come here to see that and I’m asking myself why I read this blog anymore. You tell me, Nick?

A. The great thing about this country is that we are all free to express our opinion and read the blogs we want. We are also free to stop reading the ones we no longer care to. I’m sorry that you disagree, but you can always start your own blog and say anything you want.

Q. We met you at an RV rally in Gillette, Wyoming years ago and sat in on your seminars and have been fans ever since. We miss all of the fun travel stories and interesting places to visit that you wrote about in the Gypsy Journal and wish we had saved all of our back issues. Do you have any back issues still available, and if so, how can I get them?

A. We have fourteen years (2003 – 2017) of the Gypsy Journal available on a USB drive in PDF format. Regular cost is $75, but if any blog readers want one, contact me at [email protected], and I can send you one for $50 for a limited time.

Q. We are wintering at The Great Outdoors in Titusville and would love to get together with you and Terry for dinner sometime, our treat. Possibly at Dixie Crossroads?

A. We love meeting up with friends and readers, but due to the pandemic, we are keeping a low profile and not going out much and have not been in a restaurant since last March. Hopefully we can cross paths again when the virus is under control and will take you up on your offer.

Q. Your fulltiming days are over, but have you and Terry thought about buying a smaller camper for short trips now and then?

A. From time to time we talk about a B van, and though we haven’t been out shopping for one, it does cross our minds. We have no plans to do anything at this point, but you never know.

Q. My brother told me about your blog, and I have been reading it for a while now. His wife and him are buying an RV and going to travel in it fulltime, but I’m worried about them. He is 64 and his wife is a year younger. Isn’t this too late to take on a major life change like that? I would think it’s more for a younger crowd.

A. Many RVers don’t begin to fulltime until they are retired and in their mid-60s or older, and they have many, many years of fun and adventure.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Blizzard, the fourth book in my Big Lake mystery series. This is the last one of the first printing of this book with the original cover. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to high the shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Don’t join dangerous cults, practice safe sects

Jan 222021
 

Seeing the 21 gun salute rendered for outgoing President Trump on Wednesday reminded me of an incident that I can probably talk about now because I’m sure the statute of limitations has run out. At least I hope so!

Many people don’t know that in addition to training officers for the Army, every class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point also includes a number of foreign students from Allied countries. They receive the same training as any other cadet, take the same classes, and live in the same barracks. Everything is the same except that when they graduate they go off to their own country to serve in its military forces.

During my time as a firearms instructor at West Point we had several foreign students, including one that was from some banana republic whose name I don’t remember and that may not even exist anymore for all I know. He arrived in a limousine, and nobody was surprised to learn that his father was some big wig in their government, probably equal to what our vice president would be. As it turned out, he was actually a pretty good kid, and he got over being spoiled pretty quickly. A new cadet, called a plebe during their first year, doesn’t get much love from anybody.

It being West Point we had quite a few dignitaries visit, both from the United States and other countries, and depending on their status, some of them were entitled to a 21 gun salute if requested. I can’t think of any American politician who ever visited who had such an ego that he requested a 21 gun salute, but on occasion it happened, and it was always some foreign VIP who were touring the Academy. At the end of this young cadet’s first summer of training, which is known as Beast Barracks, his father was going to be in Washington for some meetings and then was coming to visit him. And his people let it be known that he wanted a 21 gun salute when he arrived.

We had three 105 mm howitzers that were used for this purpose, and I was on the gun detail. The job really sucked because the guns were packed in heavy cosmoline, which is a very thick grease that prevents them from rusting, and we had to completely unpack the barrels, which was a tedious and messy task. Then they were transported to where they were going to be used, and the firing team, led by a lieutenant, did their thing. Each gun fired seven rounds, and when everything was over they were taken back to their storage yard, cleaned thoroughly, and repacked with cosmoline. When we had a gun salute detail, it was easily a 12 hour day, and sometimes longer.

At any rate, we were told that this man would be arriving at such and such date and time, and we prepped the guns and got them ready. Three hours before the event, we got word that there had been a scheduling mixup and he wouldn’t be there until the next week. So we took the guns back, repacked them, and got ready to do it all over again the next week.

The day he was to arrive, there was no notice of what time it would be, and nobody knew what to do. After several phone calls between the administrative office at West Point and this gentleman’s people, it was determined that he would not be there until the next day. Okay, fine, but it would be nice if they told us before we cleaned the damn guns. At least the lieutenant figured they’d be okay overnight so we didn’t have to repack them, and he dismissed us. Five hours later, the message came that somebody had everything wrong and he was not going to be there for another week. Well, darn. We went back and repacked the guns in cosmoline.

The next morning the official word came down that he had wrapped up his business elsewhere and would be there that afternoon. This was on a Sunday, and soldiers don’t like to have their weekends disturbed if they are off-duty, but we had no choice, so we hurried to get the guns cleaned and ready to go. And then… you guessed it, we got a message saying no, it would not be until the next Sunday. It was like nobody could make up their minds what was happening, and a bunch of frustrated, cussing G.I.s started repacking the guns. About the time we got the first one finished, there was yet another update saying no, we were still on and to prepare the guns. By then, everybody on the gun detail was thoroughly ticked off, including our lieutenant. But we got them ready, and we took them to be positioned for the ceremony, which was supposed to be about midday.

As I recall, we waited, and we waited, and we waited, and it rained for a while, and we all got wet, and we waited some more. It was chilly, so we all were shivering when finally, two hours lateer, we got the word that the man was on the base and it was time for our dog and pony show. Now, being the sergeant of the detail, I was the second man in charge and I swear I knew nothing about what was going to happen. I don’t believe the lieutenant did, either. At least that was his story, and he was sticking to it.

The Corps of Cadets was assembled, all kinds of dignitaries were there with all their fruit salad hanging from their uniforms, a red carpet was in place, and a big limousine pulled up. An aide opened the back door, and the guy got out and was saluted by the Superintendent and the Commandant. Then he began his march down the red carpet, and we started shooting our blank 105 mm howitzer shells. Boom! Boom! And on the third shell, it suddenly started snowing. Except it wasn’t snow, because the snow was on fire. It was little bits of newspaper that had been shoved down the barrel of the third gun. I didn’t know whether to laugh or run.

It created what I guess you would call an international incident, and there were threats that heads would roll. The CID, which is the Army’s investigative service, and the FBI came to talk to us. There were all kinds of rumors about what was going to happen, and I really thought I was going to spend some time in Leavenworth with a cellmate named Sweaty Eddie.

Then the lieutenant, who shall remain nameless, came up with an explanation for what had happened. He said that when we unpacked the guns and got the cosmoline out, we always ran loosely wadded newspapers down the barrels to get the last bits of it out (this was true). Apparently, with all of the last-minute scheduling changes, someone screwed up and forgot to get the newspapers out of the last gun barrel. It was completely accidental, of course. We would never want to pull a prank that would offend one of our foreign allies. I really don’t believe anybody actually bought that story, but it was the best excuse anyone could come up with. Our punishment was that we were all removed from the gun detail, which was supposed to be a very prestigious position. I don’t think any of us ever missed it.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Blizzard, the fourth book in my Big Lake mystery series. This is the last one of the first printing of this book with the original cover. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to high the shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Love your enemies. It really ticks them off!

We Got Lucky! 

 Posted by at 12:00 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 212021
 

I was online as soon as registrations opened for COVID-19 vaccinations at the Volusia County Fairgrounds yesterday morning and managed to get us registered for ours on Monday afternoon. They had openings today and Friday and again on Monday, and you had to choose a one-hour time slot. I clicked on 10 – 11 a.m. today, and the icon just spun, saying Searching. I thought everybody probably wanted to get vaccinated as soon as possible, so I opened a second window and chose Monday from 3-4 p.m. and instantly got confirmed.

There was no way I was going to click on Friday because they have a gun show at the fairgrounds this weekend. Friday is the setup day, so there would be vendors all over the place getting ready for the show. Even though there are different entrances for vendors and vaccinations, you just know somebody was going to screw that up and cause one big traffic jam.

We got the e-mail confirmation for our vaccination appointment, showing me as the person with the registration, but both vaccines were scheduled for Terry at the same time. I sent an e-mail correction, hoping to get that resolved, and I also called the health department about both appointments being in Terry’s name. After being on hold for an hour and 40 minutes, someone finally came on the line and told me not to worry about it, as there were several problems in the system and to just bring our driver’s licenses and the e-mail and it would be okay.

She also asked if we would please have the email confirmation and our drivers licenses out and in hand, and wear short sleeve shirts, if at all possible since it is a drive up vaccination. Apparently, a lot of people get to the front of the line, then have to search for their driver’s license, search for their appointment confirmation paperwork, and then roll their shirtsleeves up, which only makes the process take longer and frustrates the people in line behind them. I assured her we would do that.

A couple of hours later, I got a call from a different person at the health department in response to the e-mail I sent. He basically confirmed everything the woman I had already spoken to told me and reiterated that it was important to be ready when we got there so things keep moving along quickly. This is the Moderna vaccine, and once we get the first shot, we automatically have a reservation made for the same appointment time four weeks down the road. We are so relieved to take this first step toward getting back some semblance of normalcy.

With that out of the way, we watched the inauguration of our new president and vice president. I know there is a lot of discourse in our country about the election, and I know some diehard Trump supporters who still believe it was stolen. I’m not going to waste anybody’s time trying to confuse them with facts when their minds are already made up. When Barack Obama was sworn in for his first term, I was not a fan, and I wrote a blog saying that I thought his would be a failed presidency. He proved me wrong, and I came to have a great deal of respect for him. He wasn’t perfect by any means, but I believe he was a good man who had the country’s best interests at heart. Not only was he a very successful president, he also had some of the highest approval ratings ever when he left office eight years later. I look forward to the Biden presidency and seeing what it can do for our country.

If you like to read mysteries and thrillers, have I got a deal for you! Eighteen best-selling authors have come together in a special boxed set deal titled Dead Silent for just 99¢. That’s right, eighteen thrillers by some of the best authors around, all for less than a buck. How can you miss out on a deal like this? Only by delaying, because it is a limited offer, and if you snooze, you lose. Click this link to order today.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Blizzard, the fourth book in my Big Lake mystery series. This is the last one of the first printing of this book with the original cover. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to high the shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

Will We Get Lucky?

 Posted by at 12:46 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 202021
 

Are you going to watch the Presidential Inauguration today? We sure plan to. With all of the craziness that has gone on in our country, I don’t think I will breathe a complete sigh of relief until it’s over. A friend told me yesterday that she thinks the whole world will breathe a sigh of relief that it might change the flow of the tides. And even after today’s events are over, I know it will be a long time before our nation begins to heal again.

Registration opens this morning at 9 a.m. for vaccines for those of us age 65 and over here in Volusia County, Florida. They have 3,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine available and almost 165,000 people in our age group here, so if we get lucky it will be kind of like winning the lottery. Wish us well.

I spent yesterday doing what I have been doing, working on my new book, proofing and making corrections to the last few chapters I wrote, and printing them out for Terry to proofread. It’s getting close, I am at about the 75% mark, give or take. I’m looking forward to getting it finished and seeing how everything will work out in the story.

While I was doing that, Terry was busy with a lot of chores around the house; laundry, mopping, vacuuming, dusting, and the million and one of the things she does to keep our home functioning.

Then she made two delicious homemade pizzas for dinner, a pepperoni for me.

And hers had pepperoni, onions, and sliced olives. Of course, they were delicious, what else would you expect?

It’s supposed to be in the mid to upper 70s for the next two or three days, and come hell or high water, I’m going to get my boat out and do something with it. That’s assuming the wind cooperates. If not, I may put up a mast and sail and make it the only Bennington pontoon boat with a sail in the state of Florida. We’ll see what happens

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. This one from Zephyrhills, Florida, was sent to me by my friend Mac McClellan. It’s always nice to find a place where the whole family can shop, isn’t it?

 Thought For The Day – When you get to be our age, sex is like boating. It takes planning, the conditions need to be right, and everyone has to pee before getting started.

 

Jan 192021
 

We have hitch itch, but since we are not able to travel due to the pandemic, I thought I’d occasionally share some of our previous adventures, such as exploring the back roads of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, one of our favorite places.

This is the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish country, and on every back road we traveled we saw Amish farms, usually with laundry hanging on clotheslines and livestock in their pens.

Amish farm best

Amish farm 2

This swaybacked horse looks like he’s seen better days, and is living out his golden years in retirement.

Swayback horse

We always love wandering around the back roads because we never know what we’ll find around the next bend in the road.

Lancaster County road 2

The Amish are enterprising people, and besides farming, they operate a lot of little cottage industries. We saw signs for fresh produce and flowers, eggs, root beer, handmade quilts, brooms, and furniture.

Brown eggs sign

We saw a lot of horse drawn Amish buggies sharing the road with cars and trucks. The horses amaze me because they don’t seem to be bothered at all by cars speeding past them.

Amish buggy 2

Amish buggy

The Amish also work their fields with horse powered equipment. Isn’t this a handsome team of work animals?

Amish horse team 5

Amish horse team

I didn’t know that the Amish grew tobacco as a cash crop until yesterday.

Tobacco rack

It’s harvest time, and we pulled off the side of the road to watch them cutting and stacking the tobacco on wagons.

Tobacco harvesting 3

Tobacco harvesting man 2

Just a couple of fields away, this fellow was harvesting corn.

Amish farm horse team

We passed several groups of Amish schoolchildren on their way home after a long day of lessons. Almost all of them seemed to be carrying coolers instead of lunch buckets like we did as kids.

Amish schoolkids 4

Amish schoolkids

Amish schoolgirls

This boy seemed to be in a hurry, running past all of his schoolmates. He must have had chores that needed doing.

Amish boy running

I got a chuckle out of some of the names of the towns we visited, including Blue Ball.

Blue Ball sign

If that name makes you uncomfortable, you probably don’t want to know that Intercourse is only a few miles away. How do you spell relief?

Welcome to Intercourse

For years people have been telling us that we needed to check out the Shady Maple Smorgasbord near Blue Ball, and I’m sure glad we did!

Shady Maple sign

Shady Maple

Can you believe that this is the lobby of a buffet restaurant and not a fancy hotel lobby?

Shady Maple lobby 2

Shady Maple lobby

And what a buffet it was! The selection was huge, including both New York Strip and Delmonico steaks, smoked pork chops, fried chicken, shrimp, and at least a half dozen other entrees, and more sides than I could count. Everything was fresh and hot, and the dessert bar was unbelievable.

But if that wasn’t enough, they also had a chocolate fountain where we could dip fresh strawberries, bananas, pretzels, and other goodies. Can you say decadent?

We arrived back at the Thousand Trails campground tired, with our tummies full and with memories we’ll have for a lifetime of our day of exploring.

Thought For The Day – The silence is part of the music.

 

Jan 182021
 

About three books ago, something happened that I can’t explain. For some reason, some of the quotation marks were two straight lines and others were curly. I tried to post examples to show you what I’m talking about in the blog, but here they all come out curly. I’ve gone through the manuscripts and changed them so they are all consistent, but for some reason, they revert back to their original mixed up style.

As if that wasn’t frustrating enough, when I was working on my new book yesterday, there was a new quotation mark quirk. If a paragraph was supposed to read, “I don’t believe that story for a moment,” John Lee said. “He’s lying to us” somehow the quotation mark between John Lee said and He’s lying to us changed and is in the wrong place so it’s now, “I don’t believe that story for a moment,” John Lee said.” He’s lying to us” Note that the quotation mark is right after the word said, is facing the wrong direction, and there is a space between it and the word He’s.

And it’s that way through the whole manuscript. I don’t know how that happened, I don’t know why it happened, I just know it’s a pain in the rear trying to go back in and manually change everything. Somebody tell me again, why are computers our friends?

Even though I was frustrated with the manuscript yesterday, I did manage to fix something here in the house that’s been frustrating both of us for a long time. One of our bathroom doors would not stay in place unless it was completely closed. If it was open, it would move about halfway between the open and closed positions and stay there, and we had to use a small wooden wedge under it to hold it in place to keep it open. So I decided to fix that. Miss Terry was understandably nervous when she saw me walking through the house with a hammer and a punch, and who can blame her, given my history with tools?

But this time I actually knew what I was doing. One at a time, I drove the door’s hinge pins out of place, took them into the garage, set them on the cement floor on the edge of a hammer, and used a handheld sledgehammer to bend them just a bit. Then I took them back to the bathroom, pounded them back into place in their hinges, and repeated the process with the next one until all three were done. Bending the pins just a little bit creates enough friction that now the door stays wherever we set it, all the way open, partway open, wherever we want it to be. And I didn’t even hurt myself or break anything!

We all know that Terry never slows down for a minute, and yesterday she spent some time rearranging things in her office, then she did the same in our third bedroom, which serves as her sewing room.

Yes, she has a sewing room and a weaving room, but I don’t complain because the things she creates are just beautiful. Besides weaving and spinning and all of the other things she does, Terry also loves to knit. The other day she made this twisted knit turban for our daughter Tiffany to keep her ears warm when she takes her daily walk with her dogs at her home in northern Arizona.

And if that wasn’t enough, she made an absolutely amazing dinner of parmesan scampi scallops over linguine. To say it was delicious would be an understatement.

Every night after dinner, we relax for a couple of hours watching television, and last night was the second episode of All Creatures Great And Small on Masterpiece Theater. We liked it just as much as the first episode. We also watched the premiere of The Wild Life Of Dr. Ole on Nat Geo. Doctor Ole Alcumbrac runs a veterinary practice in the White Mountains where we used to live in northern Arizona, as well as working for the Arizona Game and Fish Department on special projects, and he’s involved in a lot of other activities. Terry and I both know him and like him, and highly respect him. He is an amazing guy, and I’m glad to see him getting some of the recognition he deserves. Do yourself a favor and check out both shows. I think you’ll like them.

Congratulations Tom Westerfield, winner of our drawing an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. We had 40 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – It turns out that being an adult is mostly just Googling how to do stuff.

We Feel So Loved!

 Posted by at 12:15 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 172021
 

Thank you to everybody who posted comments on Facebook and the blog or sent e-mail messages from the blog wishing us a happy anniversary. You all make us feel so loved.

In spite of yesterday being our anniversary, it was kind of a frustrating day because somehow during the transfer of the blog domain away from Go Daddy, our Gypsy Journal.net e-mail got lost. David tried to re-forward it to our Go Daddy accounts, and it was sporadic. Sometimes we would get the e-mail forwarded to Go Daddy, and sometimes we wouldn’t. My son sent me three or four test e-mails, and none of them would show up anywhere, but Terry got one he sent her, along with some other e-mails.

And then I also got a bunch of e-mails dating back to 2008 that I read a long time ago. I have no idea where those came from. After working on it for most of the day and having me check and recheck as he tweaked things, David finally reset something to where it is going to our original Gypsy Journal.net account. That’s the last thing I have with Go Daddy, and though it doesn’t really hold anything, it’s paid through 2022, so we will get e-mail sent there for a while as we figure out some other way to handle it.

Sometime in the afternoon, while I was on the phone with someone, Terry heard a crashing noise and said something fell off the top of the house. I went outside, and it was the 25-foot tall conduit mast for the over the air antenna that was here when we moved in. Fortunately, it missed the Explorer and boat as it came down. We use Spectrum for TV and internet, so there was no reason for it to be there, and I kept saying someday I was going to pull it down. The strap holding it to the side of the house apparently rusted through, and Mother Nature did the rest for me with just a little bit of a breeze.

Speaking of breeze, it’s been breezy and chilly here. I honestly don’t think that same Mother Nature I just mentioned wants me to get my boat in the water. Every time I think we’re going to have a good day, something happens. The next few days look like they’re going to be more of the same, so I’ll just sit tight and wait for better weather. Meanwhile, I’ve got plenty of writing to do, and Terry’s got several projects she’s working on to keep her busy, so it’s not like we’ll get bored. Then again, we never do.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – What happens to nitrogen when the sun comes up? Does it become daytrogen?

Jan 162021
 

Can you believe this beautiful woman has been putting up with me for 23 years now? Don’t ask me why, because I have no idea. We all know she could do so much better.

Here’s proof, here we are on our wedding day. Things have changed a bit since then. Her hair is a lot longer, while  I have less, and it’s white.

But she’s just as beautiful as the first time I ever laid eyes on her. And even though I don’t think it’s possible to love her more than I do right this minute, I know that when I wake up tomorrow morning, I will love her even more.

As soon as the judge pronounced us man and wife, I made sure we signed that marriage license. I wanted something in writing in case she ever woke up and wondered what the hell she had gotten herself into!

Because we both ran businesses that we couldn’t get away from for long, we had a short honeymoon on the California coast. Here we are at Big Sur. It was a magical time.

So what do we do that makes us fall in love more and more with each other every day? We make the effort. We truly are best friends. In fact, we were friends long before romance ever entered into the picture, and that friendship, just like our love, has grown stronger over the years. We make time for each other. No matter how tired we are or what kind of day we’ve had, when we go to bed at night, we hold each other and cuddle for at least a half-hour or so, and the last thing we say to each other before we close our eyes is “I love you.” And when we wake up the next morning, that’s the first thing we say to each other. Then, no matter how busy our day is going to be, we always try to have that little cuddle time, that 15 or 20 minutes just enjoying being close to each other.

Somebody once accused us of being codependent. Maybe we are, I don’t know. But we love to be together, and it’s very seldom you’ll see one of us without the other right there. A lot of people have mentioned the fact that we are always holding hands, and when we go someplace, I always open doors for Terry. My dad told me a long time ago that, whether it’s your first date with a woman or your 50th anniversary, always treat her like you did on that very first date. My old man had some pretty good advice, don’t you think?

Happy anniversary Terry. I know that all I am, that anything I have accomplished in life, is all because of you. I love you with all my heart, darling.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.

Dry Eyes And YouTube

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 152021
 

I didn’t get any writing done Wednesday because Terry had an appointment with her eye doctor down in Titusville to replace the plugs that they do every four months or so for her dry eyes. She’s been having more and more of a problem with it, and even expensive eyedrops haven’t helped, so he gave her some samples of prescription drops to try. She said they burn her eyes quite a bit when she first puts them in, but hopefully, they will help resolve the problem.

I made up for not working on Wednesday by cranking out 6,000 words in my new John Lee Quarrels book yesterday. I never know what the exact word count is going to be on a book until I’m done, but I am somewhere around two-thirds of the way into it now and I’m still hoping to have it out by the end of the month or else very early in February. Once that’s done I’ll start on my third Tinder Street book for all of you who keep demanding another one in that series, which is quickly becoming my favorite of all of my work.

The other day I mentioned that I couldn’t get the Samsung Smart TV in our living room to connect to the internet when I wanted to show Terry a movie on YouTube. Like anything else, whenever you have a technological problem, ask a kid. In this case, the kid was my son, who is in his 40s and isn’t a kid anymore. He told me that all I had to do was go to YouTube on my phone, select the video or movie I wanted, and then push an icon on the phone’s screen to share it on the TV. I did, and it worked great. Thanks. Travis!

We are still trying to get our COVID-19 vaccinations, and things are beginning to move at least a little bit here in Volusia County, Florida, but not nearly fast enough. Instead of making senior citizens sit in their cars overnight for a chance at the vaccine on a first-come, first-served basis, now they are doing it by reservation. Of course, when you try to call or go online to make a reservation, they are already booked up immediately. They have also started doing vaccinations at some of the Publix grocery stores in our area. I don’t care where we get the darn thing, I’d just really like us to get it, and then the follow-up dose.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you that our daughter-in-law, Geli, got the vaccine, and then on Tuesday of this week, she got the second dose. She said that except for a bit of soreness in her arm, she felt fine after both of them. Since Geli is a frontline medical worker dealing with COVID patients all the time, it’s a big comfort to us to know that she’s got it.

Several people have asked what’s going on with Terry’s AeroGarden, so here’s a picture I took yesterday. Things are really growing, and she has already harvested some of the basil, chives, and cilantro. If you look carefully, there’s one red strawberry, and I’m licking my chops waiting for it to get ripe. There are some smaller strawberries on there as well, and now the cherry tomato plants are starting to bud up and should be producing fruit. Overall, Terry is thrilled with her little home garden.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I once had a hen that could count her own eggs. She was a mathemachicken.

Jan 142021
 

We love getting off the interstate highways and taking the two-lane roads whenever we can. As I have said many times before, a Denny’s or a chain hotel at an interstate exit in Kansas is no different than one in Michigan or California. But the two-lane roads will take you to the real America. Small towns where you can sit in a diner on Main Street, where the waitress will call you honey or dear, and by the time you finish your lunch, you will know who is cheating on who, who just bought a new pickup truck, and who’s out of work. You will meet friendly people, see things you never imagined, and learn a lot about history in these small town gems scattered from border to border and coast to coast.

One of our favorite small towns is Inverness, Florida, located halfway between Interstate 75 and the Gulf Coast. With a population that hovers around 7,500 people, Inverness is a reminder of Old Florida, with its handsome 100 year old courthouse, quaint shops on the Square, and live oak trees draped with Spanish moss.

Located on the Tsala Apopka chain of lakes, which are popular with boaters and fisherman, Inverness and the surrounding area is laid back and friendly. A lot of snowbirds have found it to be a very affordable place to winter, and many who came for a one time visit have bought small homes or mobiles as their winter headquarters. While the community is small, it has everything you could want or need, from restaurants to a WalMart Supercenter, Lowes, a good hospital, and easy access to larger communities like Orlando and Tampa.

Built in 1912, the old Citrus County Courthouse is unique in that the building sits on a square lot at a 45 degree angle. Built in 1912, the building features a copper cupola topped with a belvedere, and if it looks familiar to you, it may be because the courtroom scenes from the 1961 Elvis Presley movie Follow That Dream were filmed there. The superstar and his entourage, including boat, RV, and Cadillac, spent six weeks in sleepy little Inverness.

Today County business takes place at a new courthouse a block away, and the old courthouse is the headquarters for the Citrus County Historical Society, which has an impressive local history collection. People here are proud of their history, and many of the old commercial buildings on the square have brass tablets that tell the history of the buildings and what businesses were housed there over the years.

We found an interesting little shop called Old Inverness Antiques tucked away in an alley behind the square and spent some time looking at all of the old treasures on display. Am I dating myself when I say that they had stuff for sale there that I remember using or having as a kid? Does that make me an antique, too?

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. – Benjamin Franklin

Success (I Think)

 Posted by at 12:41 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 132021
 

David Carr from Carr Communications has been busy the last few days moving my blog from Go Daddy to a new host, and I think he’s been successful. There were several times during the day yesterday when people couldn’t get to the blog, or if they could, there were no photos or something like that wrong, which was all part of the migration process. But I think that’s all behind us now. I’m looking forward to being able to not having to argue with Go Daddy on an almost weekly basis and being able to focus on the things I really need to get done.

So what did I do yesterday, besides standing by and talking to David by Instant Messenger as he was doing things? Well, I wrote another chapter in my new John Lee Quarrels book, proofed it, and then researched a couple of things to make sure I had them correct. As it turned out, I had one right and one wrong, so I had to go back and make some changes to the chapter to remedy that.

One of the great things about living on the Atlantic coast is that we get lots of seafood. Of course, we have not been going to restaurants since we got back from Arizona in March, but there is plenty of fresh seafood to be purchased at the local grocery stores and at Gary’s, our favorite meat market. The last time we were there, Terry got some nice cod fillets, and that’s what she made for dinner yesterday. They were the best I’ve ever had anywhere in my life.

After dinner, while Terry was doing the dishes (I keep offering to help her, and she keeps telling me no), I read over the chapter I wrote earlier to see if there was anything else that needed to be corrected, then we retired to the living room to watch TV. Two of our favorite shows were on, Finding Your Roots and This Is Us, and both were excellent episodes. I would love to sit down with Henry Louis Gates Jr., the host of Finding Your Roots, some time and spend an afternoon talking to him. Actually, listening to him. He has a brilliant mind.

Speaking of television, Sunday night, we watched the premiere of All Creatures Great And Small on Masterpiece Theatre. If you are familiar with James Herriot and his books about life as a veterinarian in rural England, you’re going to love this remake of the 1970s TV series. We are hooked and have it set to record automatically.

We have Samsung smart TVs in our living room and bedroom, and I was trying to access YouTube on the living room TV last night to show something to Terry, and for some reason, I couldn’t get it to open. In fact, I couldn’t do much with it at all. There was a message on the screen saying I needed to update our web browser, but every time I tried to update it, I got a message saying the update failed, or else that there was no update available. I don’t know what that’s all about, but I’ll have to do some research and figure out what I’m doing wrong. I tried the same thing with our bedroom TV and had no problem at all.

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. This one is courtesy of my friend Jim Harper.

Thought For The Day – During my recent colonoscopy, I had my doctor write a note to my wife telling her that my head is not up there!

Boats And Birds

 Posted by at 12:38 am  Uncategorized
Jan 122021
 

Well, I still haven’t gotten my pontoon boat in the water yet, but yesterday we did go down to our private fishing pier and spent some time soaking up the fresh air coming off the Intracoastal Waterway. It is one of my favorite places to be, and I can feel my whole body de-stressing just sitting there.

Though we didn’t have our boat out, there were quite a few on the water. Everything from pontoon boats to small center console fishing boats to this beautiful cruiser that would be fun to live on for a short time.

The folks in this Hobie-Craft were having a good time, using both the sail and the peddle drive to zip right along.

There were also lots of birds to keep us company. This pelican greeted us when we first came down to the pier. If you’ve never seen a pelican splash down in the water going after a fish, it’s a sight to see. Unfortunately, I was never quick enough to take a picture of one in action.

But at least I did get a few pictures of birds in flight.

Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to be a bird and be afraid of heights.

There were lots of terns. This guy was quite noisy and apparently didn’t appreciate us interrupting his afternoon.

It was breezy and somewhere in the upper 60s, but not bad for a while. But after an hour or so we decided that was enough for one day, so we came home. We are still hoping to get the boat out on the water soon.

Speaking of things that live in the water, a story from Channel 6 News in Orlando about somebody scratching Trump’s name into a manatee’s back really pissed me off. If I caught somebody abusing an animal like this, one of us would not walk away from the confrontation!

Of course, there are other critters in the world, too. My pal Carol Ann Newsome, who writes the excellent Dog Park mystery series, just released her latest book, Swamp Monster, to the delight of her many fans. You can order it on Amazon at this link.

I mentioned the other day that I finally found someone who can move the blog away from Go Daddy to another server. His name is David Carr and he has been busy working on it. After the many weeks I spent trying to get the missing passwords I needed from Go Daddy, David was able to do it in a heartbeat. He told me yesterday that most of the prior blogs and photos have been transferred over to a temporary holding spot on the new site, and sometime today he will probably migrate everything else over. You should be able to just use the link you do now and be directed to it, but if not, or if you have a subscription to the daily blog and you don’t get it, you may have to type in the blog address to access it and save a new link.

David tells me that one of the problems that should go away is that many readers have problems accessing the most current blog post. Sometimes I can open a new blog immediately after I post it, but Terry, who uses the same Wi-Fi in the same house, can’t get it for at least a day, and sometimes two. It’s the same with comments left by readers. I can see them, but many times other readers can’t for a day or two. Hopefully, that will take care of that issue, too. Meanwhile, please be patient with us as we make this transition because there is always the possibility of an unexpected glitch along the way.

Thought For The Day – My ancestors navigated their way across the ocean using stars, and here I am missing my exit with a GPS.

To Be A Kid Again

 Posted by at 12:17 am  Uncategorized
Jan 112021
 

I’m getting hitch itch, but since we are staying home and away from people as much as possible, the only trips I am currently taking are down memory lane. I hope you will enjoy this story from our past travels.

They say that inside every senior citizen is a kid asking, “What the heck happened?” I think that’s probably true, and I know it is in my case! A perfect place to take that inner child is the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys, which is housed in the wonderful old 1899 Pearce-McAllister cottage, just two miles from downtown.

This is a place that will take you back to your childhood, with its collection of more than 10,000 items, some dating back to the 1700s. Displays include toys ranging from dolls to board games,  a model train layout, puppets, and Hot Wheels.

But the museum’s claim to fame is its collection of exquisitely crafted miniature houses, which are perfect in every detail, down to the plumbing pipes under the kitchen counters!

Some of the houses took more than 10,000 hours to complete, and they are all true works of art. Even the cups and plates are handcrafted, as well as woven rugs on the floors! Inspiration for a creation like this can come from something as simple as a single tiny accessory or the memory of a favorite house one admired from childhood.

Some miniaturists begin with a favorite piece of furniture that sets the tone for a room, like a roll-top desk that they design a den or office around, or a dry sink that is the starting point for a country kitchen, and the rest of the house grows up around that.

And the creations are not just dollhouses! The Southwest Adobe Gift Shop contains stunning tiny examples of Indian arts and crafts, from silver and turquoise jewelry to Kachina dolls, baskets, and pottery. Everything is authentic; the clay pots are painted with authentic Indian designs and colors, with paints made from local plants. The woolen rugs are examples of the unique art called pictorial weaving, in which the weaver draws inspiration from their environment instead of traditional geometric designs.

The museum’s three-walled brass 19th century German grocery shop came from the collection of the Toy Museum of Munich, Germany, and is perfect in every detail. The cupboards, drawers, worn carpet, utensils, scale, and glass containers are all original. The shop is complete with merchandise, counter, oil lamps, porcelain plates, and brass pots. This was an educational toy designed to introduce young boys to the business world.

The ground floor also has a collection of Japanese dolls that were a part of the Friendship Doll Program, inspired by missionary Dr. Sidney L. Gulick, who spent 25 years in Japan.

Concerned about rising tensions between the United States and Japan before World War II, Dr. Gulick felt that dolls could serve as goodwill ambassadors from the children of America to Japanese children. With his encouragement, each state collected hundreds of dolls to send overseas, a total of 12,739. In return, the children of Japan sent 58 Ichimatsu dolls made by Japan’s leading doll artists. The dolls were 32” tall and elaborately dressed, and often came with their own furniture and tea sets. Each state was given a doll, and the rest were placed on exhibit in museums.

With the outbreak of war, many of the dolls were removed from museums and placed in storage. Over the years, many were lost, forgotten, or damaged. Today an organization called Japanese American Doll Enthusiasts (JADE) is working with museums and collectors to find and identify all of the dolls from the Friendship Doll Program.

The second floor has displays of old time toys, dolls, and teddy bears, including Big Ben, the largest articulated teddy bear in the United States, at 6’6” tall.

There is also a huge miniature circus layout created by Charles Hendrickson, a South Dakota man who grew up in the circus and worked as a tightrope walker. He spent over seventeen years creating and hand painting hundreds of items that included not only circus performers and animals, but also a circus train, cars and trucks, employee showers, dining facilities, and more. After Hendrickson died in 2003, his family searched for a new home for his circus and chose the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys. Damaged in storage and shipping, the layout required thousands of hours of dedicated volunteer labor by skilled miniaturists before it was ready for display.

While touring the museum is delightful, the house that holds the museum is fascinating in itself. Designed by Denver architect Frederick J. Sterner for prominent citizens Harold V. Pearce and his wife Cara, the gambrel-roofed home was designed to reflect a colonial cottage that would be at home in any small New England town. Preserved much like it was when the Pearce’s lived there, it is a good example of the lifestyle of upper middle class families from 1890 through World War I and into the Roaring Twenties.

The next time you’re in Denver, do yourself and that inner child a favor and tour the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys. You will be glad you did.

Located at 1880 Gaylord Street, just west of City Park, the museum is open Friday – Saturday from10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 1 – 4 p.m. It is closed for all major holidays. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors age 62 and over, $4 for children ages 5-16, and children under 5 are free. Due to the COVID pandemic, admission is currently by appointment.

There is no parking lot, but visitors can park on the street while they tour the museum. Streets in the neighborhood are too narrow for large RVs to navigate easily.

The first floor of the museum is fully handicapped accessible, and a ramp at the side of the house allows access for wheelchairs. There is no elevator, so the second floor is not accessible. For more information, call (303) 322-1053 or visit the museum’s website at http://www.dmmdt.org.

Congratulations Tim Miller, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Free Ride, the thirteenth book in my pal Ben Rehder’s popular Blanco County mystery series. We had 42 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – Today I plan to be as useless as the “G” in lasagna.

Back At It

 Posted by at 12:35 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 102021
 

The events of the last few days have occupied a lot of my time, and I will admit that I have been rather snippy with some folks who believe that the insurrection we saw happening on Wednesday is all a plot by far left liberals or that COVID-19 is all a hoax. I just don’t have the patience for any of that nonsense anymore, and I spent some time deleting and blocking quite a few of them on Facebook. They have a right to their misguided opinion, but I don’t have an obligation to listen to it.

One person who disagreed with me and claims that this is all a plot by former President Obama, Kamala Harris, and Nancy Pelosi, said that she will never buy one of my books again. Damn, I guess I need to sell my Mustang and start looking into selling blood plasma so we can make ends meet.

I decided yesterday that I needed to push all of that to the background because it’s not doing any good dwelling on it, and I spent the day making some corrections to previous chapters in my new John Lee Quarrels book, Fresh Out Of Mojo. Then I wrote another chapter and proofread it. I’m more than halfway through now, and every time I think I know how things are going to turn out, those darn characters throw me a curveball and take off in a different direction. Talk about an independent bunch of cretins.

Speaking of books, the print edition of Big Lake Hoarder is now available on Amazon, and you can order it at this link.

Meanwhile, Terry was busy with all the things that keep her from relaxing, from doing laundry to making a delicious batch of dark chocolate pecan fudge and making shrimp chimichangas with homemade red enchilada sauce for dinner, and all of it was delicious, of course.

Have you gotten your stimulus check yet? A couple of friends had theirs direct deposited into their bank accounts last week, and ours arrived in the form of a check. I know that for some people it’s going to be very helpful, but for far too many of our fellow Americans, it’s not nearly enough to help them through these difficult times.

Nobody seems to know what’s going on as far as the COVID vaccine here in Volusia County, Florida. As I wrote before, a couple of times they have had senior citizens waiting in their cars overnight in temperatures that dipped down in the low 40s, just to hopefully be among the first come, first served of 1,000 to get a shot. Now there’s talk that the county is going to be administering the vaccines on an appointment basis, but nobody really seems to know when or how that’s going to happen. We are sitting tight and don’t go out much, so we’ll wait until our turn comes. It’s comforting to us knowing that our daughter-in-law, Geli, who is a frontline healthcare worker, will get her second dose of the vaccine on Tuesday. We have been worried about her for so long because she deals with COVID patients every day.

I keep hoping we’ll be able to get the pontoon boat out on the water, but it’s either been windy, or else my back was acting up, or Miss Terry wasn’t feeling well, so I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen. I told her the other day that we either need to use it or sell it, because there’s no use having it take up space in the garage if we’re not going to get any use out of it. I am hoping for better weather soon so we can get out on the water. I am absolutely craving that as much as I do food or oxygen.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Free Ride, the thirteenth book in my pal Ben Rehder’s popular Blanco County mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening. Note: Due to high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Contrary to popular opinion, Shepherd’s Pie does not actually contain shepherds.

 

Jan 092021
 

Note: This is an updated repost of a blog from January, 2013.

I thought we’d start your weekend off with a chuckle or two about what you may see in a campsite near you one of these days.

We’ve seen some oddball RVs in our travels around the country, and if you’ve spent much time on the road you probably have, too. Sometimes I’ve just had to scratch my head and ask “Why” but I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Here are some we’ve seen and others that readers have sent us.

This might be a good choice if you prefer a smaller campsite.

Caddy trailer

And this must be what happens when you breed a Volkswagen with a Winnebago.
vw camper bug

Actually, I think this truck conversion looks pretty cool.Carolyn hatch utah

I can’t say the same thing for this thing.

Chandler, Oklahoma fifth wheel horse from Carolyn

Apparently putting campers on trailers is popular with a lot of people.

fiver fair oaks, indiana Steve Clarke

Flatbed camper Dan Karen Silverwood Sugar Creek Ohio

Or, you could put one on top of your truck.

truck camper

Some of the bus converters can get pretty creative.

School bus with roof deck 3

I don’t think this bus Jim Aslin sent us has moved in a very long time.

Jim Aslin Bus

You know that old saying about keeping the shiny side up and the greasy side down? Whoever made this thing that Joyce Space photographed in Albuquerque apparently never heard it.

two sided bus joyce space albuquerque

I wonder if the guy with the two-sided bus tows this behind him?

2 way car CR Markham Hwy 11 western virginia

Sometimes smaller is better.

Whit Mather tiny RV

Have you seen some strange looking RVs? If so, send me a picture. If we get enough I’ll run a sequel to this blog one of these days.

Be sure to enter our latest new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Free Ride, the thirteenth book in my pal Ben Rehder’s popular Blanco County mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I’d drink more water if it was frozen and surrounded by bourbon.

A New Day

 Posted by at 12:24 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 082021
 

I know that a lot of us are numb from yesterday’s events in Washington DC, and I think we will be for a while yet. But it’s a new day, and while we should never forget the treacherous activities of the mob of terrorists who attacked the Capitol, let’s try to focus on some other things.

But before we do that, let me say something. Most people were very supportive of yesterday’s blog, My Heart Hurts, but not everybody. And that’s all right, people have the right to voice their opinion just like I did mine. Or to unsubscribe from the blog, like a few people did yesterday. What’s not all right is to make veiled or outright threats of violence. Somebody chose to do that in a blog comment yesterday, and I’ll tell him right here what I did in my response, bring it on. It’s this kind of crap that got us where we were yesterday and I will not be intimidated by a foolish keyboard commando.

Now, let’s move on to new business. After several months of trying to move the blog from GoDaddy with no success, yesterday I talked to a professional tech person who was referred to me by Chris Guld from Geeks on Tour. It looks like I will be entering into an agreement for him to handle that and other Internet-related issues for me. I’m looking forward to that.

While things may be tense in our country right now, Miss Terry knows how to make life worth living. Look at these delicious blueberry muffins she made the other day. I guarantee you, there’s not a bakery in the country that could make anything more delicious. We had them for breakfast a couple of days in a row because they were that good.

And this is a loaf of Japanese milk bread she made to go along with her spicy red lentil dal. She is amazing.

I had to chuckle the other day when somebody asked me if I knew of a gig they could do from their RV to support their fulltime lifestyle. He said he doesn’t want to work more than 20 hours a week, and is not interested in anything like workamping or something like that. Hell, if I could get a gig like that I’d keep it to myself!

Before I close, several people have asked why I included a disclaimer about the weekly drawings only being open to US addresses and email addresses. As I said, the cost of shipping books to Canada or other countries is too high, and the audiobooks apparently can’t be claimed by Canadian email addresses because the last two Canadians who won were not able to download them. In both cases, I paid for a physical copy of the book to be sent to them from Amazon. But I cannot continue to do that, either. I’m sorry, I have absolutely nothing against our wonderful Canadian neighbors, it’s just reality.

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.

Be sure to enter our latest new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Free Ride, the thirteenth book in my pal Ben Rehder’s popular Blanco County mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – We are all a little broken, but the last time I checked, broken crayons still color.

My Heart Hurts

 Posted by at 12:48 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 072021
 

Like millions of other Americans, my heart hurts for our nation following the violence at the U.S. Capitol yesterday. My heart hurts and I am ashamed of the country I fought and bled for.

The right to peacefully protest is protected by the Constitution of the United States, but nowhere does it allow damaging and storming a federal building, assaulting officers of the law, or interfering with the due process of government. What we saw yesterday was not a peaceful protest. It was anarchy.

To see one of the most sacred bastions of our democracy invaded by thugs, and that’s what they were, thugs, is both sad and infuriating. This went from a protest to an attempted coup, and the people taking part in it, as well as those who encouraged them, are traitors and criminals.

And don’t even start with the nonsense about what other protesters did somewhere else. John Dillinger robbed banks, that doesn’t give you or me an excuse to do the same thing.

The pictures of armed security personnel ready to use deadly force to protect our duly elected congressional representatives, of thugs swarming the Capitol, will go down in history, just like pictures of the Twin Towers falling, the dead students at Kent State University, and the attack on Pearl Harbor. They will define us in this place and time. The only difference is that what happened yesterday was not an attack by enemies from outside our country, it was by enemies from right here at home.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Free Ride, the thirteenth book in my pal Ben Rehder’s popular Blanco County mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge. – Isaac Asimov