I Have A Title!

 Posted by at 12:29 am  Nick's Blog
May 252011

I have always wanted to be somebody, I just never knew what, since I’ve always been the proverbial round peg trying to fit into a square hole. In school, I was always pretty much an outsider and a loner, so I never fit in with the in crowd. As a young man I had too hot of a temper to be a hippie. As an adult, my choice of living in small towns, and my perpetual state of poverty, prevented me from being a yuppie. And so the story went. But not any more. I now have a title! I’m a gephyrophobiac!

And I never would have known it, if it weren’t for Bob and Sandra Swanson, who called me their favorite gephyrophobiac in an e-mail the other day. I had to look it up to see what the heck they meant! For a second there, I was afraid that they thought I had an STD! 🙂

In  case you’re wondering, a gephyrophobiac is somebody with a fear of bridges. I never knew there was an actual name for my own personal anxiety disorder. I just figured I was weird. Well, okay, I’ve always known I was weird, but now I have a name for my weirdness. How cool is that!

While we are looking forward to spending part of our summer at Thousand Trails campgrounds along the Oregon and Washington coasts, one thing I am not looking forward to is crossing the Columbia River on the Astoria-Megler bridge.  At 4.1 miles, it is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America, and back in the days when I was in the newspaper business in that part of the world, I crossed the bridge on a regular basis. I’ve been over it in cars, pickup trucks, vans, and even on a motorcycle. But the first time we approached it in an RV, I took one look and said “No way!” and drove 50 miles out of my way to cross the river at a shorter, easier bridge at Longview, Washington, and then backtracked another 75 miles back to Long Beach, almost across the river from Astoria, How dumb is that?

Here is a You Tube video of a trip across the bridge from the Oregon side. It probably doesn’t seem like much to most of you, but to those of us with gephyrophobia (man, I LOVE having a title! 🙂 ) it’s terrifying. So what will happen when we come to the bridge this year? Will I tough it out and drive across? Will I wimp out and drive all the way to Longview to cross the river again? Miss Terry tells me she can drive the motorhome across the bridge if I can’t, and I have no doubt she can. (Another reason why both people in an RV should know how to drive the thing! As for you solo RVers, you have more courage than I ever will.) So maybe I’ll just hide in the bedroom until we’re safely across. Time will tell.

I know that the way to overcome our fears is to face them head on, and I’ve done that. There was a time when I was absolutely terrified of public speaking. The first time I was asked to present a seminar at an RV rally, I threw up three times walking from our motorhome to the seminar room. But somehow I got through it, and now I love getting up on stage in front of a crowd and acting like an idiot.

Last year I drove our Winnebago across the Mackinac Bridge, which connects the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan, even though that bridge also scares me to death. So I know I can do it if I really have to. But how far must I push myself? Can’t I just enjoy being a gephyrophobiac for a while?

Okay, I told you mine, now you tell me yours. We’re all afraid of something. What scares you, and how do you handle it? Does it impact your RV lifestyle? Come on, don’t be shy. Inquiring minds want to know.

Unfortunately, nobody holds telethons for gephyrophobiacs, so I still have to work to make a living. I spent part of yesterday contacting several interesting places in Oregon that we want to visit and do stories on while we’re up in that area, including the Evergreen Air & Space Museum, where the Spruce Goose is on display, as well as Sea Lion Caves, and some other attractions I’m looking forward to writing about. We’ll be spending most of June on the Oregon coast, so if you have any suggestions of things to see in that area, please let me know.

I also uploaded two older non-fiction books of mine to the Amazon Kindle program, and they should go live sometime tomorrow. You can read all about that in a new post to my self-publishing blog about my progress in e-book publishing so far.

Thought For The Day – When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

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Nick Russell

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

  35 Responses to “I Have A Title!”

  1. I’m afraid of getting to retirement (in about 7 years), getting our rig paid for and not being able to afford to use it!

  2. I could not help but notice in the You Tube Video that in crossing the Astoria-Megler Bridge not one single LCV (large combination vehicle) or tractor trailer rig was on the bridge. Are commercial vehicles not prohibited, or was this just an oddity that one was not present during this filming?

  3. Crossing high bridges and tunnels also scares the hell out of me but I made across both of the bridges you mention just close your eyes like I tell my wife I am doing lol enjoy the north west it is great

  4. My problem is with Globophobia. It’s real, it’s bad, and I found out a couple years ago that my younger sister suffers from it as well.

  5. Ophidiophobia …. even the little garden variety 🙁

  6. Hoof and Mouth disease, I am afraid I will stick my foot into my mouth so fa that I will not be able to remove it.

  7. I was an Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes). My little sister used to chase me all around our house when I was growing up with the encyclopedia opened to the snakes pics. I was terrified!!! A friend of mine caught a Rosie boa and by handling it I finally got over my fear. Otherwise I would not have been able to visit the Chirichua Museum in Rodeo, NM, which is filled with live rattlesnakes. Also I just visited the 4D Skies Over Texas display in San Antonio, TX which features a huge rattlesnake that comes within inches of your face in a 3D movie. I almost closed my eyes but toughed it out.

  8. I think I have and unnamed phobia of being seen in the company of short fat bearded bald guys. I am deathly afraid of being mistaken for a clan of trolls.

  9. my phobia is of dying in perfect shape. I want to go out of this world the same way I came into it. Bald and Fat!!!! and it is working so far!!

  10. I can age myself and tell you the stories of crossing Astoria-Megler when it was a ferry boat ride over rough water! Being a native Oregonian I would suggest you stay at the Elks in Brookings for a night or two and explore the S. Ore coast. Take a drive up the Chetco River and see the Myrtlewood grove that you will see nowhere else in the US. If the Rhodies and Azeleas are in bloom it will make the trip better yet. Around Newport (if you stay at the TT Park south of Newport) you will have many opportunities for lighthouses and the Oregon State Univ Marine Science center as well as the Newport Aquarium. Farther north at Tillamook (good Elks parking) take in the Air Museum located in the last remaining Blimp hanger in Oregon (aging myself again I can remember the blimps) and the Tillamook creamery for a taste of ice cream (I thing better than DQ)! Do not pass up the Maritime Museum in Astoria. The Tillamook and Astoria parking lots are RV friendly. My wife was born in Aberdeen and you know that area fairly well. One overlooked small museum is in Hoquiam, the Polson Logging Museum. Look up John Larson the Museum Curator and tell him we sent you (my wife Kay’s mother was a Polson and the museum is in Kay’s Great Uncle’s home). A great museum for seeing the logging history of Grays Harbor County. Enjoy your trip, wish we could be there.

  11. Like you I am terrified of bridges, but also enclosed spaces such as closets tunnels etc. this is do to childhood trauma. Mike does fine on bridges, the only one that seem to terrify him was the Mackinaw bridge, we had high wind warnings and traveled at 10mph, Me I just closed my eyes till we were over it,

  12. The whole of Oregon is one awesome place. One place that was truely amazing was the port at Port Orford. Did you know they crain the fishing boats out every morning and in every evening? We didn’t. We went down to the docks about dusk and watched as the fishing boats came in and were crained up onto the dock. So very interesting and the little restaurant on the dock served the best prawns I ever ate. We enjoyed so much about Oregon but it seems we talk about this port more than any other part of that trip.
    Our biggest fear is, running into AL Hesselbart and finding out he really is a clan of trolls!
    Safe travels .

  13. We stayed at Brookings at the Elk’s Lodge. Took our kayaks up the Chetco river to the state park & paddled down to the seashore. Met another couple & he kayaked with us while his wife did the shuttling. Awesome trip.

  14. I had no idea there were prawns native to that part of Oregon. Please tell me more.

  15. When I was teaching my daughter to drive on Houston, Texas-area streets, roads, and freeways, I remember getting nervous when we approached the REALLY high freeway entrance ramps that went up and over two or three other roadways.

    Partly to calm her, but also myself, I reminded her, mantra-like, over and over again, “Just keep the car between the yellow and white lines” that defined the main part of the roadway.

    Today, I continue to tell myself the same thing, wherever I might be, knowing that I’m probably safe as long as my car doesn’t stray beyond the lines. (!)

  16. Dale –

    My dictionary doesn’t know about Globophobia. What is it?


  17. If you’re not afraid of boats, do the jet boat ride up the Rogue River in Goldbeach, Oregon. The wildlife and views are fantastic!

  18. Oh, you really have to drive to the Tillamook cheese factory. It’s a little bit inland, but not much and worth the drive.

  19. When we went across the Astoria bridge 2 years ago all of the warning lights on the dash started flashing and the alarms ringing. We had broken one of the water hoses on the engine and no where to pull off. So we crept across with all of the alarms and when we arrived at the other side called the wrecker. That is my story of the Astoria bridge and it is a long way across. drron

  20. We are currently in the Astoria area hosting at Fort Stevens State Park and crossed the bridge yesterday. The WA side is under construction, with one lane traffic for a short bit, dragging out your misery more. The OR side is more breathtaking, in more ways than one.

    Fort Stevens and especially the historic part is worth a stop.

    Adding to what others have mentioned on the OR coast….Depoe Bay is a neat town with the world’s smallest harbor – 30′ wide at its mouth. There’s an overlook by the maritime center where you can watch boats navigate in and out – not for the faint hearted. Also off the north end of the boardwalk is the spout horn – cool to watch (and maybe even get sprayed) if you time the tides right.

    The historic waterfront in Newport is interesting and you may even get to see the sea lions lounging around near the docks if they haven’t gone out to sea for their annual mating dates.

    Astoria has the best bargain – a $1 trolley ride up and down alongside the riverwalk, mainly on weekends but during the week when a cruise ship is in port. The Astoria Column has 360 degree views – even just from the parking lot. Lots of sea lions off the dock – we saw at least 30 of them the other day. Great tuna fish and chips at the Bowpicker (outdoor seating only) near the Maritime Museum. Stop at the Danish Maid Bakery in town for schneckens and other baked treats.

    Be sure to watch the movie at the Maritime Museum in Astoria – it’s amazing to read about the Columbia Sand Bar and what the bar pilots have to do w/each ship.

    The lighthouses at Cape Disappointment State Park in WA near Long Beach are worth a stop.

    Lastly, and we’re going to check this out more, here is a link for a benefit for military veterans with service-related disabilities for OR state parks. From what I read, you don’t have to be a state resident. http://www.oregon.gov/OPRD/PARKS/fee_waivers.shtml

    We’re hoping to use this benefit at our next destination before continuing our travels up north.

  21. I’m afraid of drowning. I envy your ability to go kayaking. We used to canoe but I can’t do it anymore. When I get near water that’s over my head, even in a swimming pool, I have to keep reminding myself I can tread water. But, the panic response is so strong I’m afraid I’ll forget to do so.

    Make an effort to be in Seaside, Oregon, for the 4th of July. People from miles around come out and build bunkers in the sand to huddle in while watching the fireworks. It’s amazing! The next day road graders come out and turn the sand back into beach.

  22. Waldport has an interesting museum on the right hand side going south off the bridge. It is on the ocean. The moose lodge is right there too. Great peoplethere very friendly and the food is all home cooked. My 35 ft fit your probably would. The crab shack just south of Newport has the best seafood. Ate there a couple times a week when there.

  23. Fire terrifies me. When I was a kid we watched a documentary about WW II and they had pictures of soldiers using flamethrowers on the enemy, and pictures of their chared corpses afterward. I have never forgotten it.

  24. My fear is snakes. I’ll run even from a tiny harmless one.

  25. My greatest fear is MissTerryNoCook – The fear that I will never get to sample any of Miss Terry’s wonderful food or desserts!

  26. Nick, Your little detour will cost you about $80 this year. Can’t wait to see if you are more afraid of the bridge or of spending the money! Bob

  27. Nick, we love Oregon coast also. They say the Elks RV Park at Florence is really nice, it is not at the Elks lodge, seperate location. WE love Winchester Bay, there is a state park & private rv park. Lots to see, lighthouse, sand dunes, Tuna factory, & great sea food. Have a great trip….

  28. JC, It’s a fear of balloons. Ones that are blown up and filled with air. Not the silver, helium inflated ones.


  29. I crossed that bridge from the other side pulling my trailer last summer. I’d been over it in my car a couple of days earlier and wasn’t too happy at the thought of hauling the trailer over it. But miracle of miracles, it was a foggy day & I couldn’t see anything but the road in front of me! Maybe you’ll luck out like I did, Nick!

  30. I developed a fear of bridges after we got our bus. Not all bridges, though, just the ones that don’t have concrete part way up. I hate looking out the side window and seeing nothing but water!

  31. Nick, I have a solution. Just close your eyes and have Miss Terry talk you across.

  32. Do visit the Maritime Museum in Astoria and try to arrange for a docent guide.


  33. The lighthouse at North Head is closed right now for tours because they found damage on the beams that hold up the platforms between the stair flights.
    Also worth a stop, just when leaving Tillamook, keep watch for the Blue Heron Creamery on the right. They make a wonderful oil and vinegar blue cheese salad dressing and have a deli and food shop. It is before Tillamook Creamery.
    I’ve been across the Astora Megler Bridge many times, sometimes pulling my 5th wheel and like today, just in my pickup. It’s really nothing to be afraid of. If you must, let Miss Terry drive…..it’s only a long, straight road. Cleo

  34. I usually spend a couple months on the Oregon coast but unfortunately didn’t make it there this year. One month is in Brookings with three weeks at the Thousand Trails park south of Newport (my VERY FAVORITE place!). One of the commenters talked about eating at the crab shack just south of the Newport bridge. I love to eat there also. It is blue and connected to a small store on your left. I always stop when I spy something funny or odd. I originally stopped there because there is a lighthouse on the roof of their outside building where they have boiling cauldrons — right, it wasn’t the lighthouse it was the UFO beside it!! Be sure to prepare yourself for their homemade sauces. The horseradish one cleans hair out of your nose and ears so I mix it with the red cocktail sauce. I also like to eat at the Newport Cafe on the main highway. I bought one of their t-shirts since their logo is so darn sharp. They serve breakfast all day. The scramble I had was HUGE! The lighthouse I found the most interesting is the one no longer used (the southernmost one). It was built at a bad location where not all ships could see it –thus the one farther north. I haven’t found any restaurants that are very good but everything else makes up for it. The Coast Guard has a major station there. I’ve seen a sign welcoming visitors. That could make a very interesting story due to all their sea rescues. The Newport port is where all the whalers sailed from. Large fishing vessels dock there so you can see them come and go. The Rogue Brewery is also fun to go through and has very good beer (so I’ve been told since I don’t drink it)

    You may want to check with the museum that has the Spruce Goose to see if the space shuttle has arrived yet. They are getting one and have a separate space museum building to put it into. When I was there, they said they welcomed RV’s to overnight in their parking lot.

    Everyone likes the four Thousand Trails parks along the coast. I also like the one south of Bend. Sorry this is so long. Can’t tell I LOVE the area can you? Enjoy!!

  35. PS…Since I’m alone, my husband died, I can’t let myself have fears. The worst thing that could ever happen to me, has, when I lost Bud. I’ve driven my 5th wheel across the country and been park host in many places. The only thing I do fear is fire in my RV. Those small fire extinguishers that go in the refrigerator compartment don’t fit. So….I try to keep the wiring in good shape and pray.
    Because of where I stay now….a tsuamey (sp?) (tidal wave) will probable get me anyway. Cleo

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