Jun 292011

Did you ever get into a conversation with somebody, and suddenly realize that no matter what you say, their mind is already made up, and it’s useless to try to confuse them with facts? I seem to feel that way a lot.

After reading yesterday’s blog, about our visit to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum to see Howard Hughes’ famous Spruce Goose airplane, a reader wrote to tell me that he was sure I was wrong, because he had seen the gigantic plane in  Long Beach, California years ago. I replied, telling him that yes, the airplane was in California for many years, but it had been moved to Oregon in 1993, where it is on display at the museum. He shot back a terse reply that said “You’re wrong. You’d better check your facts, Nick. I saw it, and it’s in California!” I guess I can’t believe my eyes. Just because we saw the Spruce Goose, and even went inside it for a tour Monday, apparently that was a mass hallucination shared by myself, Miss Terry, and Greg and Jan White, or the Executive Director of the museum, who gave us the tour.

I’ve also been in an e-mail exchange with a couple who want to sell an older, but nice, bus conversion. They asked me how we managed to sell our MCI bus conversion after we bought our Winnebago, because they have had their bus advertised for well over a year on several websites, on eBay, and Craig’s List, but have not had one bite. They sent me a link to an ad for the bus, but I didn’t even have to look to know why it will never sell. They are asking $100,000 for a bus that is almost 40 years old, has a standard transmission, and no slides.

I told them that their price is way out of line, and they responded that they have $160,000 invested in the bus, including solar panels, a diesel generator, rooftop satellite dish, Corian countertops, and hardwood floors. They said the bus is set up for long term boondocking, and is beautiful inside and out, and they love it. Yes, it is very nice. Maybe not exactly beautiful, but nice. But it’s still almost 40 years old, has a standard transmission, and no slides. Nobody else is going to love it $100,000 worth. I told them that we lost a lot of money when we sold our bus, but something is only worth what somebody else is willing to pay for it. No more, and no less.

We have talked to a lot of people who want to go on the road fulltime, but can’t or won’t, because they cannot sell their home for what they had expected to get out of it. One couple, whom we first met several years ago when we were teaching at Life on Wheels, have since retired and want to become fulltimers. They told me that they are desperate to get their home sold and get out on the road. They told me that they paid $85,000 for their home, have lived in it 13 years, done a lot of remodeling over the years, and ten years ago it was appraised at $155,000. They have had it for sale for two years now, and the best offer they have received is $115,000. They are not willing to lose $40,000 on the house.

Well, no matter what somebody appraised the home for a long time ago, in today’s market, it is apparently worth $115,000. I advised them that if they really want to go fulltime, and that’s the only thing stopping them, they may have to look at the $40,000 “loss” from what somebody told them the place was worth as the cost of buying their freedom. They replied with a long list of reasons why they won’t sell at that price – the house is worth more, the market will improve someday, and “Nobody in their right mind would walk away from $40,000!” 

Back in my small town newspaper days, I used to have a sign hanging on my office wall that said “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It’s a waste of time, and it irritates the pig.” I need to print that out and hang it up someplace, to remind myself that beating one’s head again a wall doesn’t accomplish anything except giving you a headache.

Life is simpler in Big Lake, the mythical Arizona mountain town that is the setting for my mystery novel by the same name. Sure, folks get murdered now and then, but it all seems to work out in the end. Check out my self-publishing blog for an update on my newest Big Lake book.

Thought For The Day – Eventually you reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

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Nick Russell

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

  21 Responses to “I Can’t Believe My Eyes”

  1. Hallucinating again, Nick? What are we going to do with you! You should have asked the “gentleman” if he is still in Long Beach? If not, well——if he can move, so can an airplane. Isn’t that what they are supposed to do—–move from one place to another? He is obviously not an RVer whose plans are written in jello. His life seems to have more of a concrete consistency. Just remember, there are a lot of people out here who love you in spite of your weird little quirks. In fact, several of us love both you and Bad Nick ( and Miss Terry for putting up with both of you!) Just enjoy your journey in life and thanks for letting the rest of us ride along.

  2. Well it appears that the couple with the bus conversion have mistaken money spent on a vehicle as an investment. If it rolls or floats, it just money spent, there is no investment worth speaking of unless you are referring to the comfort or convenience you enjoy as a result of the expenditure.
    Pat and Jim

  3. I love the pig quote, I am still smiling. Thanks for the laugh.

  4. I think that a lot of these people are greedy. They don’t want to loose money on their houses or RV’s etc. Like Nick said, it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay. The sad thing is that if they become too stubborn about it, they will loose their dreams to move on and enjoy life. I guess that’s what separates us all.

  5. Nick, I always heard that, “Never try to teach a pig to sing, it irritates the pig and frustrates the teacher”. I get frustrated too. The guy with the house that is “worth” the elevated price is dreaming. Anything he gets is a profit. After all, he lived in the place for x number of years and only gave a small amount for it. Oh well, remember the pig and don’t get frustrated trying to explain economics 101 to him.

  6. I am quite sure that you could not sell your Winnebago for what you paid for it and you have updated it to fit the lifestyle that you and Terry want to live. I am always astonished at the people that say “I got my purchase price for the trade in for the new RV.” I would be willing to say that the new RV is much more expensive than the old one. Any excuse will do to be able to have an excuse to complain why life is not fair.

  7. We put our house up for sale, bought our dream RV so we could go full timing and the market tanked. After two years we hired a new real estate agent who set the price on our home for what it was worth at that time. We sold the home in 3 months and took off in our RV to follow our dream. No, we didn’t get what the house was appraised for in the height of the housing boom but we would still be sitting there instead of out here enjoying our new life on the road. The market has only gone down further since then, we weren’t going to get what it was worth in the height of the boom. We lost a lot more than $40,000 but it was never real money, it was only paper. Are we happy, you bet. We made the right decision.

  8. Nick, you are so right!! The plane has left Long Beach many years ago and I am so glad to know where it is at. This man surely doesn’t live or visit So Cal very often or he would know it is not there. I guess he is one not singing!!!

  9. Believe what you saw, Nick — we were there in McMinnville a few years back and that old wooden plane was sitting there just as big as life!

  10. And the Market HAS CRASHED>>>>My $200K house is on the market today for $69.9K And I hope I can find a buyer soon. What are those fellows carry’ing on about… Come on California cash investers, here is a great rental for you.
    Look out Pahrump,Nv. Here I come…..The RV is already over there……

  11. It sure is frustrating to confuse people with facts, isn’t it? My Beautiful Bride took me on our 1st date to the Queen Mary in Long Beach back in 1983. I’m a pilot and was building my own airplane (a VariEze) at the time, so she wanted to surprise me and show me what was next door: the Spruce Goose (the most awesome plane I had ever seen). That was 26 years ago. We ended up being married on the Queen Mary and last year we went back to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. We can corroborate (not necessary, but still) that the Spruce Goose is no longer in Long Beach next to the QM and was moved just as you said. In fact we also saw it again ourselves when visiting Oregon. Thanks for the memories!

  12. Thank you, Nick.

    Thank you for telling us these tales that make us shake our heads right along with you.

    You have to wonder what is wrong with a man who will call you a liar — right after your personal tour of the inside of the plane with the executive director of the museum. It really boggles the mind that someone would argue with you about that.

    (shaking head yet again!)

    I’m no economist, but I do know enough that the monetary value of something is what someone else is willing to pay for it. And, it is really easy to over-improve something so as to be unable to get all your money out of it when you sell it.

    Keep on writing, Nick…and keep on sharing your life with us. And, when needed, I’ll continue to shake my head in disbelief, in unison with you, about some of the things you write!

  13. You are right as usual Nick. I remember watching the move of the Spruce Goose from, Long Beach, it was a big news item, they had to close down the freeway while the semi’s pulled onto to it because of its size. Some folks I guess still live in the past and will not see the truth staring them in the face,They are always right no matter how much they are told or see it. As for the folks selling their house, they need to reevaluate just how much the want the freedom of full timing or sit and complain about it. Times are hard for everyone and money is tight.

  14. First off I am not the person who insisted it is still in Long Beach. It has been gone from that location MANY years ago.I just looked it up on the Internet and it was moved in 1992. What an idiot!!

    Like I commented in your “Spruce Goose” blog I did see it in Long Beach, CA many years ago where it was nestled next to the Queen Mary. But at the same time it was disassembled in 1992 and moved to it’s present location.

    Anyone familiar with the Long Beach area should know that. It is amazing how some people insist on pushing their lack of knowledge onto you as the truth.

  15. I think you’re supposed to put lipstick on a pig.

  16. So the guy that lived in the house for 13 years thinks it should have cost him nothing to do so? I hope he never lives somewhere he has to pay rent. Even RV parks make you pay for your site. Even if he sold his house now for what he paid for it way back then he’d have had 13 years of living rent free. How greedy can one person get?

  17. Nick, as you well know, it is ok to talk with someone who is ignorant because they don’t know any better. But talking to someone who is stupid is a waste of time because they will never know any better. PLEASE keep up your education program though.

  18. It would be smart to sell at $115,000 because next year it will probably be worth less. I do not think they will live long enough to see the house appreciate $40,000.

    We sold our home at a small loss. In the past two years the value of that house has dropped about 15%. And the house is in a very desireable location with low taxes and top-rated schools.

  19. We have a contract on our 6 year old town home. Sold it for $100k less than we paid for it. Real money too, not paper/appreciation. Yes, it’s a hit, but ya take it and ya move on. Building our dream home in TN – can’t wait for it to be done and be in our next chapter of life. Life’s too short to hold onto hopes (real or false) that the market will come back such that one can get out of a home (or an RV), what they feel it’s work. My 2 cents anyway.

  20. RE: The Spruce Goose – Apparently a picture is not worth 10,000 words. Even in Nebraska in 1992 it was a big story that they were moving the plane. It’s amazing how tightly a mind can be closed!

  21. It will probably be 10 years before property recovers even a little of the value that evaporated 3 years ago….if they wait that long they’ll be pushing up daisies by the time their “profit” returns.

    I, too, have seen the Spruce Goose in its new location….I also saw it when it was in Long Beach.

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