Jan 132009

We spent two nights at Mike and Pam Steffen’s place in Salt Flat, Texas, enjoying their hospitality, scratching their dogs’ ears, and telling lies. It was a nice visit.


We’ve known Mike and Pam ever since we started fulltiming almost ten years ago. In our first month on the road we attended Life on Wheels in Moscow, Idaho, and Mike was an instructor who we really clicked with. By the time the conference had ended, Mike was encouraging me to become an instructor. At the time, I told him there was no way I could ever get up in front of a classroom full of people and talk, and Mike assured me that I could do it. Who knew a few short years later I would be asked to join the Life on Wheels staff?



I actually was sort of drafted into presenting my first RV seminar at an Escapees Club rally in Lancaster, California just a few months later, and I was absolutely terrified. Mike was there, and told me “Just remember, Nick, these people don’t know you, and they don’t know anything about you. To them, you are the expert. They came to learn what you can teach them. Just get up there and be yourself. Hell, I like you, and they will too.” Well, that really helped. I got up on stage and did my thing, and by the time it was over I realized that I was having a great time. The rest, as they say, is history. Thanks for your friendship and support over the years, Mike.

We had a lot of fun with Mike and Pam, but poor Miss Terry didn’t fare as well as the rest of us. Their place is out in the middle of nowhere, about 70 miles east of El Paso, and they have a good sized chunk of land. Mike has a little shooting range on his property made of a dirt berm reinforced with tires as a bullet stop.

Sunday afternoon we were target shooting, and Terry was trying out one of Mike’s .40 semi-automatic pistols. On one of her shots, the bullet nicked the target, richocheted off one of the tires, and came back and hit her in the upper thigh. It had lost most of its velocity by then, and didn’t go through her blue jeans or penetrate the skin, but it did leave an ugly welt that split and a big bruise.

She’s fine, it just left her with a sore leg. It was just one of those freak accidents that happen, and we’re very thankful it was not worse. Mke picked up the bullet,which landed at Terry’s feet, and gave it to her as a souvenier.  

I told Terry that in the last couple of months, she was bitten by a tarpon in the Florida Keys, got dunked in the water in Aransas Pass, Texas, and now shot in the leg. And I’m supposed to be the clumsy one! Her Mom may not let her play with me any more.  

Yesterday we left Salt Flat and drove to El Paso on U.S. Highway 180/62, which is a nice two lane road that had several climbs that left me watching the temperature gauge carefully, but we made it fine. Coming into the El Paso area, we passed several miles of junk yards and run down industrial buildings, then cut across the edge of Fort Bliss (which is undergoing a massive building project) on State Route 375, picked up U.S, Highway 54 and eventually ended up on Interstate 10.

I have never liked El Paso, even when I lived there for a while as a kid, and every time we drive through it I am nervous until we get out of the heavy traffic and cross into New Mexico. There are some cities where the drivers just seem extra aggressive, and El Paso is one of them.


There is a State Welcome Center and rest area just across the state line, and we pulled in to have a sandwich and a short break. A sign at the rest area reminded us that we’re back in the Wild West.


Back on the road, in less than two hours we pulled into the Escapees Dreamcatcher RV Park in Deming. It was only about 1:30 p.m., and we had driven less than four hours. We could have pushed on further, but our next stop will be the Pinal County Fairgrounds in Casa Grande, where we will start getting things together for our Gypsy Gathering rally February 9-13. We will have water and electric hookups, and a dump station, but no sewer. Terry had some laundry she wanted to get caught up on before we get there, so Dreamcatcher makes a good stop. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, we’ll be in Casa Grande tomorrow.


Thought For The Day – How do you tell when you’re out of invisible ink?

Register Now For Our Arizona Gypsy Gathering Rally

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  7 Responses to “Leaving Salt Flat, On To Deming”

  1. Wow… that’s a different way of shooting ones self.

    I once thought I could never get up in front of people as an instructor — then spent the last 23 1/2 years of my career as an instructor at a power plant teaching operators, some who had been there as long or longer than me.

  2. The secret of being a good instructor is thoroughly knowing your subject. Whether it is RVing or operating a power plant, if you know your subject then you are over half way there.

    That was scary about the shooting accident. I’m glad that the bullet hit Terry’s leg and not her eye or throat! It goes to show you that you have to be careful when playing with guns. Your backstop must be able to stop the bullet and not reflect it back toward the shooter or other people. I hope that Mike fixes it before another shot is fired!

  3. Amen to fixing the backstop! We’re so glad Terry was not seriously hurt.

    We’ll wave to you as you pass Benson on I-10 today, then will see you in Casa Grande a couple of days before the rally. We’d like to volunteer to be on the registration table again (Suzy), and to sell 50/50 tickets (both of us), and help take orders for your publications as we did last year.

  4. Nick,

    I checked the police blotter at the Salt Flat, TX PD. No entry for Russell. Surely you reported this gunshot wound. LOL :).

  5. Actually, I am not really laughing at Terry’s misfortune. I am so glad it wasn’t worse, just couldn’t resist the chance to pull your leg a bit (bad visual).

  6. Hi Nick,

    Just catching up on reading your blog. Glad Terry is OK. When I read about her ricochet incident I imediately thought of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ABGIJwiGBc

  7. Hi Nick,

    I’m getting caught up reading your blog, so a little late commenting.

    First I wanted to say I’m glad Terry escaped serious injury. The story caused me to immediately remember a video of a guy shooting a 50 cal sniper rifle and getting nicked with a ricochet. Google 50 caliber ricochet.

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