Nick Russell

We Are Okay

 Posted by at 12:25 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 102022
 

Thank you everybody for your concern for our safety, as well as your comments on yesterday’s blog about managing to pay off our house. They are much appreciated.

The outer bands of Nicole are coming ashore and we have some high winds and rain, but we are okay. The actual eye is supposed to make landfall quite a way south of us and cross the state to the west side before it turns north. We are well out of the cone unless something changes at the last minute. As of the 11 o’clock news last night, they said by noon today we will be through the worst of it and things will start clearing up considerably.

So far we haven’t had any power outages or other issues here at home, but several beachside condominiums in nearby New Smyrna Beach and Daytona Beach have been evacuated because the heavy waves have damaged or washed away the sea walls protecting them and their structural integrity is very possibly damaged, or will be. Much of that damage to the sea walls happened in Hurricane Ian in October and this just exacerbates the problem. Compared to those folks we are doing just fine.

I am going to make this a short blog so I can get it out there and we can get to bed, just in case things do get worse during the night and we have to get up. More than likely, we will just sleep through everything and wake up when it’s all over. That’s my preference anyway.

Thought For The Day – If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine.

Another Goal Achieved

 Posted by at 12:30 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 092022
 

I have always been a big believer in setting goals. Jim Summers, my favorite high school teacher and a dear friend as an adult, always referred to me as his Number One Son. When I was a teenager eager to get my driver’s license and my own car, he told me that I needed to figure out what kind of car I wanted, how much it was going to cost, and how I was going to earn the money to buy it. He said, “Son, there are a million people dreaming about cars as they stand on the sidewalk. If you want be driving by them, decide what you want and how you’re going to get it, and then make it happen.” I shoveled a lot of snow, mowed a lot of grass, and pumped a lot of gas, but by the time I was old enough to get my license, I not only had a car, I had a motorcycle, too!

Later on, a self-made millionaire several times over who advertised in my very first newspaper told me that the key to making money was to spend it on yourself. Then he cautioned me that that didn’t mean going out and blowing every dollar that came in the door. Just as my old high school teacher said, set a goal and then decide what you have to do to achieve that goal. He said it didn’t have to be a big goal, it could be something small, or it could be something big. The secret was to focus on that goal. Not just say, “I want a car” or “I want a boat,” or whatever, but to decide the kind of car or the kind of boat, or whatever it was. Then make a plan for what I had to do more than what I was already doing to be able to make that happen. And then once I achieved that goal, keep doing what I did to get there, and my bottom line would grow every year. And it works!

When we first moved here, I decided I wanted a Bennington pontoon boat, but to be able to afford it, I decided I needed to put out four new books in one year. I made it happen, and I sure like my boat.

I told myself that the first time my book royalties got to $100,000 a year, I was going to buy a new Mustang fastback. I even knew the color I wanted. In 2018 I reached that goal, and that Mustang is sitting in my garage.

Those are pretty big goals, no question about that. But an even bigger goal was set when we bought our house in October of 2016. Even though we had a 12-year loan, I told Terry that we would put away extra money in a bank account every month so we could pay it off in six years. Yesterday Terry wrote a check for the balance we owe on it. You can tell by the smile on her face she’s just as happy about that as I am.

Another very big goal of mine that I set a few years back was to hit one million dollars in accumulated royalties for my books by the time I turned 70. I actually hit that goal ten months ago, last December, and I turned 70 a couple of weeks ago.

I’m not sure what my next goal will be, but I’ll come up with one, big or small.

In other news, a lot of friends and family members are asking us if we are going to stay or evacuate with tropical storm Nicole headed for Florida and predicted to turn into a category one hurricane sometime tomorrow. You may remember the weather map I showed in yesterday’s blog, but one thing about the weather in Florida is you can never predict what’s going to happen, only what it was like after the fact. Last night’s weather map shows a different path, coming in further south of us before it makes its turn, taking the cone further away from us.

Of course, it can change paths again and go further away or come closer. No matter what happens, we’re going to get a lot of wind and rain, but I don’t think it is going to be anywhere near as severe as Hurricane Ian. We plan to ride it out here at home, but if things get ugly, we will head inland 30 or 40 miles, which should be more than sufficient to get us away from any kind of storm surge.

Because I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I don’t know if we are going to lose power or not, and if we do, how long it will be out, I won’t be running a free drawing this week since I won’t be able to monitor and approve entries. But once the sky clears, I’ll be back with a new one next week.

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

Thought For The Day – 99% of the battle is getting yourself into the right state of mind.

Here We Go Again

 Posted by at 12:52 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 082022
 

Hurricane season in Florida is officially from June through November, but in the six years we have lived here on the Central Coast, halfway between Cape Canaveral and Daytona Beach, we have never seen one after mid-October. So, with October in our rearview mirror, we breathed a sigh of relief. But it looks like we may have been premature in doing that.

The weather reports say that subtropical storm Nicole is predicted to be a category 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall tomorrow. As of now it looks like the storm will come ashore south of us sometime Wednesday, come across the central part of the state, then make a sharp U-turn and go up through Georgia and the Carolinas.

However it has a wide cone, so we will have some impact. Most likely a lot of wind and rain and some localized flooding. That is not good for some areas that are still flooded from Hurricane Ian, and for people all over the state who have not been able to repair damage from the last time around.

We don’t plan to evacuate because it doesn’t look like (hopefully) this is going to be a big deal. But today I will fill up all of our gas cans so we can feed our Honda generators, just in case power goes out again. Hopefully if we do lose power, it won’t be for too long. I’m trying to get this book finished and don’t want to lose my momentum.

Life on the coast is always an adventure. But who wants to be bored in their golden years, right? Stimulation like this helps keep us young, and it’s a lot more interesting than bingo and shuffleboard. 😊

It’s getting to be that time of year. Before you start your holiday shopping, maybe you should get yourself a copy of Black Friday to find out how going in search of deals changed one man’s life forever.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was that they honored my ex-wife by naming a street after her!

Thought For The Day – You can’t always control what’s happening, but you can control the way you respond to what’s happening.

Busting Clays

 Posted by at 12:49 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 072022
 

Even though it isn’t politically correct to a lot of people these days, I grew up around guns and was taught to shoot at a very early age. But not before I was taught gun safety. Besides being an excellent shot, my dad was a hard taskmaster when it came to carelessness with firearms, and the first time you did something wrong would be a long time you ever held a gun around him again.

I’ve enjoyed the shooting sports for a long time, everything from formal target shooting to informal plinking to shooting trap. Unfortunately, there aren’t many places to shoot around here except indoor ranges. So when we went to see our son Travis and his wife Geli in Alabama, we took a few shooting irons with us since they live out in the country, and there are plenty of places to do it safely.

Shooting trap has always been one of my favorite sports, and we took a bunch of clay pigeons with us. We stopped at a Walmart and bought a target thrower to use when we were doing it, and at the house, it took Travis and Terry an hour or so to put it together. Yes, some assembly required.

Then we went up to the back 40 and started busting clay pigeons. This was the first time to try out my Charles Daly over and under twelve gauge, and it is definitely a sweet shooting gun.

But it was kind of embarrassing that Travis, who has never had an interest in shooting, busted more clay pigeons with it than I did by a wide margin. Terry said he’s a natural, but my ego demands I think it was beginner’s luck.

The ladies got in on the action, too. This was Geli’s first time shooting a shotgun, but she took right to it.

I bought Terry a Remington Model 1100 semi-automatic twelve gauge at a gun show a while back, but it doesn’t fit her well, so we will be looking for something more suitable before our next shooting session.

Even though the shotgun wasn’t a good match for her, she still smoked a few clay targets. Then she showed that she’s no slouch with a handgun, either, trying out her new Ruger LCP Max .380 pistol.

Unfortunately, the cheap Walmart target thrower broke the second day we used it, so I returned it for a refund. Then when we got back home, I went to see my buddy John at Edgewater Gun Shop and got a good deal on this much heavier, well-built model. It’s sitting in the garage, waiting for our next trip to Alabama.

Congratulations Steven Tiefel, winner of our 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. We had 26 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon. Note: Due to the high 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.

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. Who says librarians don’t have a sense of humor?

Thought For The Day – Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.

Still Not Rich

 Posted by at 12:33 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 062022
 

Well, as you can see, I didn’t win the big Powerball jackpot last night because I am still here spreading joy and sunshine this morning. I did win $7, which is not all that great of a return on the $20 I spent on tickets. But honestly, that’s okay. If I were to become suddenly rich, I would miss my kids and all of my friends. Not enough to give them my new address somewhere on a Caribbean island, but I would miss them.

Since I’m not rich, I am still at it, working on Big Lake Drunk. I got in another 5,000 words yesterday, which is a decent writing day for me. And I have to make a correction. I made a mistake in yesterday’s blog, reporting I had written 7,300 words. It was actually 9,300 words, and I updated the blog to say that. It definitely feels like I am on a roll, making up for lost time.

Did you set your clocks back? The official time was at 2 a.m. today, but Terry did ours before we went to bed last night. An author friend of mine says she doesn’t change the time on her clocks until sometime on Sunday when she watched a stupid TV show or gets hung up in a conversation that is going nowhere. She says she waits to reset them back then to get back that hour of her life that she wasted.

I mentioned a couple of days ago that we are supposed to have some coastal storms this coming week, and as saturated as the ground still is in some areas from Hurricane Ian, there will almost certainly be more flooding. Between the storms and all of the building going on around here, displacing so many critters, people are seeing all kinds of wildlife in areas where you don’t expect them. I told you about the water moccasin the Spectrum repairman and I saw in the canal next to our house a week or so after the hurricane, and yesterday somebody sent me this picture of an Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake seen not far from our place. They have to go somewhere, but when they are that close to homes and kids, it’s not a good thing.

Today is your last day 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 US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

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

Thought For The Day – It’s ironic that the two o’s in cooperate insisted on having their own separate sounds.

A Good Writing Day

 Posted by at 12:33 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 052022
 

I have been busy trying to make up for lost time, and I hit the ground running yesterday and didn’t stop until about 7:30, when Terry couldn’t hold dinner any longer. But it was worth it because it was a good writing day for me.

After a light breakfast of an asiago cheese bagel and a glass of milk, I spent some time answering the morning’s complement of e-mail. Then I made Terry’s corrections to three chapters and sent them off to Judy and Roberta to proofread.

I took a break to make a couple of phone calls and then started writing, only stopping for a couple of bathroom breaks. Things in the story are moving right along, and by the end of the day, I had another 9,300 words done. That puts me close to 60,000 words total and closing in on the end of the book. If I can keep this momentum up, I’ll be happy.

After dinner, we watched TV for a while, and I got an e-mail from Judy returning the chapters I had sent her to proofread earlier in the day. We are supposed to have the possibility of some bad weather coming in by Monday, with lots of wind and rain and waves as high as twelve feet. It sounds like a good time to stay home and write.

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 US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

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

Thought For The Day – Stop saying you don’t have the time. Start admitting you didn’t make the time.

They’re Coming!

 Posted by at 12:43 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 042022
 

You can tell winter is on the way here in Florida when the colors of the license plates start to change. That’s right, the snowbirds are coming.

About this time every year I hear from RVers who are going into a panic because they can’t find a campground here in the Sunshine State. Especially any campgrounds on or near the coast. No, you’re probably not going to find anything if you waited this long until you start making reservations. Many campgrounds are booked up months ahead of time, so if you want to spend your winter listening to the surf, you need to make reservations no later than sometime in the early spring. And the Keys? Forget it. If you start making calls now, you may be lucky enough to find something for next winter. You’re not going to just pull into a place with no reservations and find open spots waiting for you.

However, all is not lost. There are many small mom and pop RV parks in central Florida that you might be able to get a reservation for. And the great thing about Florida is that the state is not all that wide. So no matter where you are, you can get to either coast on a day trip.

Speaking of Florida, it seems like the crazy housing boom of just a few months ago is starting to go bust. Interest rates are going up, and some of the high prices are dropping. Real estate agents say that they don’t have shoppers getting into bidding wars like they did not long ago.

That doesn’t surprise me, because things got pretty crazy around here and it wasn’t sustainable. Someone put a new double-wide manufactured home across the canal from our house about a year ago. He only lived there for a short time before moving out, and it sold to someone else for $240,000. That’s a lot of money for a manufactured home on a very small lot. Our son and daughter-in-law paid about the same for their nine acres and a three bedroom house, with a pole barn and other outbuildings in Alabama. And while it’s true that they are not close to the ocean like we are, I still wouldn’t pay that kind of money for any place in our little community.

In other news, I’ve spent the last couple of days working on Big Lake Drunk, my new book, and have three more chapters under my belt. Terry edited and proofed two of them yesterday and will do the third one today, and then I will send them off to my other proofreaders to do their thing.

I will be back at it again today, and hopefully, I will knock out another chapter or two. It’s nice to be home and writing again!

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. Who knew you could get fined for putting trash in a dumpster?

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 US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Why were we taught to fear witches and not the people who burned them alive?

Nov 032022
 

Note: This is a repost of a blog from our days as fulltime RVers.

In the small west Texas town of Pecos, we toured the West of the Pecos Museum, a place I’ve wanted to visit for years, and I’m glad we finally made the time to do so. Housed in the old Orient Hotel, originally built in 1896, the museum tells the story of the people and events of west Texas, with three floors of displays and artifacts.

west-of-the-pecos-museum

Former Texas Ranger R. S. Johnson built the two story red sandstone building, which had a saloon on the first floor and bedrooms upstairs. In 1904, the three-story Orient Hotel was built next door.

The Orient was constructed of crude, but durable, concrete blocks, produced with hand-operated molding machines. Today both buildings are incorporated into the museum.

For its time and place, the Orient offered comfortable lodgings. Each room had a rug, an iron bedstead, two chairs, a washstand with a large white bowl and pitcher, and a dresser with a mirror. A wash room was on the ground floor, and the second and third floors each had a large, complete bathroom. Water was supplied by an artesian well behind the hotel. The Orient Hotel was in use until the mid-1950s.

Today, visitors can tour the old saloon and the hotel, with room after room filled with Old West artifacts and exhibits on small town life.

The first floor includes the hotel lobby, furnished in period items, and the old saloon, where gunfighter Barney Riggs killed two men in a shootout in 1896. Riggs walked on both sides of the law; for a while he was a Pecos County deputy, but he wasn’t above rustling the occasional steer or horse either. In fact, his own brother-in-law, Sheriff Bud Frazer, arrested him in the next county for rustling, public drunkenness, and assault, charges that were eventually dropped.

barroom-overhead-shot

Two hard cases, John Denson and Bill Earhart were overheard making threats against Riggs in Fort Stockton, and when they set out for Pecos, a friend telegraphed a warning to Riggs. On the morning of March 3rd, Riggs was helping out a friend by filling in as a bartender in Johnson’s Saloon. He was alone when Earhart and Denson stormed into the saloon and opened fire.

One of Earhart’s shots grazed Riggs, but didn’t stop him from drawing his own gun and firing back, killing Earhart. Riggs and Denson had a brief struggle, before the assailant attempted to flee. Riggs wasn’t ready to end the battle, and as Denson was running away, he shot him in the back of his head, killing him on the spot. Riggs was charged with murder in the shootout, but was acquitted when the case went to trial.

Brass plaques in the saloon’s floor mark where Denson and Earhart fell, and bullet holes from the gunfight can still be seen in the walls. The saloon also contains its original stairway to the upper bedroom, along with the “Bedroom” sign.

The Railroad Room, adjacent to the saloon, contains Texas & Pacific Railroad items from the 1881 era, plus 1890 period items from the Santa Fe Railroad, and 1909 artifacts of the Pecos Valley Southern Railroad.

railroad-ticket-window

The two upper floors of the museum include rooms dedicated to area ranchers and cowboys, local doctors, military veterans, the Indians who once called this land home, and exhibits of early home appliances and tools. Younger visitors will enjoy the Pecos Bill Room, and the stories of the larger than life folk hero of west Texas. The Saddle Room holds an impressive collection of period saddles, tack and barbed wire.

saddles-2

There are also rooms with exhibits on rodeos, a large collection of rocks, Native American artifacts, and the E. B. Kiser Room, which contains a collection of early Sheriff’s items and arrowheads. And what would a classy hotel like the Orient be without a bridal suite? Other rooms on the second floor are dedicated to growing up in Pecos, and local churches.

colt-45

The third floor is home to a variety of exhibits ranging from the early days of the oil and gas industry, to washtubs, washboards, flatirons, and other household tools used by pioneering women in the area.

The Wynn Hamilton room showcases an assortment of mercantile items found in a typical early Texas general store.

Rooms on the third floor cover the Mexicans, Native Americans, and African Americans who lived in the region, as well as local war veterans.

After you tour the museum, step outside to explore exhibits of farming and ranching equipment, and a replica of Judge Roy Bean’s Jersey Lilly saloon and courtroom.

judge-roy-bean

Barney Riggs wasn’t the only Old West gunfighter who spent time in Pecos. Another familiar figure was Clay Allison, who “never killed a man that did not need killing.” Allison’s grave is located on the museum grounds, near the Jersey Lilly.

clay-allison-grave-6

We always enjoy small town museums, and the West of the Pecos Museum is one of the best we have found. The next time you are traveling through west Texas, make time to stop and check it out. The first floor of the museum is handicapped accessible.

The museum is located at the corner of First and Cedar Streets in Pecos. There is a parking lot across the street from the museum, as well as curbside parking. We saw a couple of motorhomes parked nearby. There is free RV parking at First and Oak Streets, next to the Museum’s Chuck Wagon Display.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information, call the West of the Pecos Museum at (432) 445-5076, or visit their website at www.westofthepecosmuseum.org

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 US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Nov 022022
 

My dad used to always tell me that you should try to learn something new every day, and he said you know that you have really accomplished something in life when you reach the age that your children can teach you something new. I guess I’m there, because while we were visiting my son Travis and his wife Geli in Alabama, I learned all kinds of new things.

As I’ve told you before, they bought nine acres west of Tuscaloosa near the small town of Gordo, and they absolutely love it there. They are both kind of mother earth, back to the land people, and they have made fantastic progress since they bought the place in May.

My father died when Travis was still a little boy, so he doesn’t have many memories of his grandpa. But I think he inherited my dad’s green thumb because, just like Dad, Travis loves growing things. I have been amazed at all of the vegetables he has grown over the years while living at their place in Tuscaloosa. Now he has plenty of room to practice small-scale farming in a way that creates the least impact on the earth.

Unfortunately, the land on their property has a large amount of clay in the soil, which is not good for growing things. They have brought in some fill dirt and are experimenting with different ideas to make the most of what they have while they continue to work to improve the soil.

One thing they have done is create a trellis arbor for climbing plants, and several raised beds, using limbs from trees that they cut down while clearing the area. He has all kinds of vegetables growing in them.

When I first saw these mounds of earth, the old newspaperman in me got suspicious and wondered if my son was a serial killer. But as it turns out, they are part of Travis and Geli’s hügelkultur project. That’s German for “hill culture,” a technique in which they dug shallow trenches and put logs in them, then heaped dirt, wood debris, and compostable material on top, creating the mounds.

This method of growing things has been used in Germany and Eastern Europe for hundreds of years. As the wood decomposes, it adds nutrients to the soil, and Travis tells me it is great for growing just about anything he wants to try there. Apparently, the mounds will produce for several years before they have to be recreated elsewhere on the property.

I had no idea my kid knew so much about agriculture. And I’m kind of glad to find out that he isn’t a serial killer, too. 😊 I know his grandfather would be just as proud of him as I am.

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

Thought For The Day – People are like Oreos. The good stuff is on the inside.

Nov 012022
 

Halloween may be over, but how about a ghost story from our travels as fulltime RVers?

The South is filled with ghost stories, and in tiny Carrollton, Alabama, we spent some time exploring one of them, a popular tale known as the Face in the Window.

It all started when the Pickens County Courthouse burned to the ground on the night of November 16, 1876. A former slave named Henry Wells was accused of the crime and arrested two years later.

Protesting his innocence, Wells was lodged in a cell at the newly rebuilt courthouse in February, 1878. The story goes that a lynch mob formed and approached the courthouse, demanding that the accused man be turned over to them. Wells continued to declare that he was innocent and said that if he was murdered, he would haunt those involved forever.

Unwilling to fight off the mob, and probably sympathizing with them, a jailer unlocked the cell door, but before he could turn his prisoner over to the hooded mob, Wells escaped to the garret, where he hid out and watched the crowd looking for him on the courthouse grounds below.

And what would a ghost story be without a dark and stormy night? As the legend goes, it was just such a night, and as a panicked Henry Wells kept watch from a window, a bolt of lightning struck nearby, etching his panicked face in the glass forever. Eventually, the mob did make its way to the attic, where they seized the poor man, dragging him outside, and strung him up. They say that it wasn’t until the next day that someone from Carrollton looked up and spotted the dead man’s face staring back at them from high above.

That was 144 years ago, but even today visitors to Carrollton can see an image that does indeed look like a face in the courthouse window. In fact, the town has even erected a telescope on a corner across the street to make viewing the ghostly image easier and mounted an arrow on the side of the building to point you to the correct windowpane.

Of course, the story has its skeptics. Some claim that another man actually committed the crime and was lynched for it, and the records at the courthouse do show that about the same time, a black man named Nathaniel T. Pierce was taken from the jail and lynched. Others say that Henry Wells may or may not have been involved in the arson, but that he was shot resisting arrest on burglary charges. At least one newspaper article from that time period says Wells died from two gunshot wounds he received after signing a confession to burglary and arson. And, of course, many claim that the so-called “ghostly image” is nothing more than an aberration in the glass. An aberration that has lasted all these years.

I think what you believe about this tale depends on what you want to believe. We definitely saw something in the courthouse window that some might describe as a face, but I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions. Carrollton is about 32 miles west of Tuscaloosa on State Route 86. The courthouse square is in the center of town.

Across the street from the courthouse is the Kelly-Stone-Hill Home, the former home of Confederate General John Herbert Kelly, who was mortally wounded at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, in 1864. For many years it was the home of Lewis Maxwell Stone, a prominent Alabama statesman and politician during the Reconstruction era.

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

Thought For The Day – It may look like I’m doing nothing, but in my head, I’m quite busy.

Oct 312022
 

Today being Halloween, let’s talk about jack-o’-lanterns. We’ve all seen them, and we’ve probably all carved at least one or two in our lifetimes. But while we were visiting our son Travis and his wife Geli in Alabama last week, we saw something that you’ve probably never seen before. A completely new twist on carving jack-o’-lanterns that eliminates the possibility of cutting yourself with a slip of a knife and instead gives the job to subordinates. And what could be more subordinate than a chicken?

That’s right, we saw chickens make jack-o’-lanterns. I don’t know where Travis came up with this idea, but I don’t think it’s something that either of us will forget anytime soon.

He started the process by taking a pumpkin and making shallow cuts where the eyes and mouth should be and then peeling off the thin layer of outer skin. When he was done with that, he took it to his chicken pen and set it down and let the hens do their magic.

To say they seem to like pumpkin is an understatement. They almost charged him as soon as they saw it, and the minute he sat it on the ground, they were all over the thing.

It was something to watch as the birds pecked away at the mouth and eyes, greedily gobbling down the pumpkin meat. At least I guess they were gobbling it down, unless that’s an exclusive turkey expression. 😊

And before you could say “trick or treat” this was the end result. Maybe the chickens were not quite as creative as some jack-o’-lanterns I have seen in my life, but then again, how many of us can lay an egg?

This is our 6th year here at our house in Florida, and every year we buy candy for the little munchkins we expect to come around. And not once in all of those years has even one child shown up at our door. But we keep buying the candy anyway because I’m childlike in my innocence, and I do like candy.

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

Thought For The Day – They told us we could have it all but forgot to tell us we might not want it all.

Getting Caught Up

 Posted by at 12:24 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 302022
 

After spending eight nights at our son’s house in Alabama, as well as a night going and a night coming home in hotels, it sure was good to sleep in our own bed Friday night! So good that I think we both went into a sleep coma as soon as our heads hit the pillows, and we didn’t wake up until almost noon. There really is no place like home.

We spent most of yesterday getting caught up with things. For me, that included answering a ton of e-mails and deleting even more that were things like forwarded jokes or political nonsense. I never open those kinds of things because I just don’t have time for them under the best of circumstances, and since we didn’t have much of an internet connection while in Alabama, they really piled up. I think (hope) I was able to respond to just about everybody who had a real question or comment, but if I missed you, please don’t hesitate to remind me.

Besides e-mails and text messages, we had a big stack of regular mail that came in while we were gone. Almost all of it was advertising flyers, political stuff saying “vote for me,” and solicitations for Medicare Advantage programs. That all went in the recycling bin, leaving maybe two or three legitimate items.

While I was busy with that, Terry was working her way through piles of laundry, taking care of some bookkeeping, and the 1,001 other things she does every day to keep our home and business running smoothly.

Everybody knows that Terry is a whiz in the kitchen, and like any professional, she needs the right tools to do the job. Somewhere around 20 years ago, when we were in Ohio for an RV rally, we went to the KitchenAid outlet store, which was housed in a beautiful old department store building on the Main Street in Circleville. While we were there, Terry bought a nice factory-refurbished KitchenAid mixer, and she has been using it on a regular basis ever since.

Over the years, technology has changed, and last year she bought our daughter Tiffany and daughter-in-law Geli brand new KitchenAid mixers. Shortly before our trip, she mentioned she would like to get a new one for herself, and I told her to order it. Because we knew we were going to be out of town, she asked that it be sent to Travis and Geli’s house in Alabama, so it wouldn’t be sitting in our carport until someone could bring it inside. As it turns out, somebody in the shipping department goofed, and they didn’t send the item because they had transposed the phone number when they called to verify the shipping address. When the mixer didn’t come, Terry called them and got things straightened out, but by then, we were getting ready to leave, so she had it sent here to the house. And here it is, all red and shiny and beautiful. I can’t wait to see what kind of delicious goodies she’s going to be able to turn out with it.

Some of you may remember that on our trip back to Arizona in May, I reported that I was having a considerable amount of tailbone pain after driving for about three hours. Since I spend many hours sitting in my office chair at home working every day with no issues, I’m not sure what caused it. We stopped at a Walmart someplace along the way on that trip and bought one of those foam cushion pillows with a tailbone cut out, hoping that would help, but it didn’t.

Longtime reader Arley Running suggested I check out the inflatable ROHO Mosaic Seating and Positioning Cushion on Amazon, and after reading the reviews and knowing that Arley has never steered me wrong, I ordered one. This was our first trip using it, and what a world of difference! Even after driving 400 miles in one day, I had absolutely no pain. At one point, I wondered if the cushion was really helping or if something had changed in my body to make it more comfortable, so I stopped using it for a while. I immediately knew that the cushion was making the difference and put it back on the truck’s seat. Thanks for the recommendation, Arley. I appreciate it.

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

Thought For The Day – I like older women because they’ve gotten used to life’s disappointments, which means they’re ready for me.

We Are Home

 Posted by at 12:57 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 292022
 

We are home after spending a week with our son Travis and his wife Geli at their home in Alabama. Tonight I will give you a quick overview of our trip, but I will tell you about some of the things we did while we were there over the next few days.

On Tuesday, the 18th, Terry had an appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville to go over the results of her ultrasound tests. The doctor said everything was good, and they discussed replacing her InterStim implant with a new version of the device that is MRI-compatible. Since she will benefit most from MRIs rather than CT scans or ultrasounds, it was decided to do that procedure sometime after the first of the year.

We had packed the truck the night before, so when we were done at Mayo a little after noon, we got on the road headed for Alabama. We made good time and stopped at the Hampton Inn in Troy, Alabama for the night. The next day we had a three-hour run to the kids’ place near Tuscaloosa.

Travis and Geli have nine acres and are really into country life. When we were there in early June, they had some baby chicks, and they have really grown up fast. Travis spends a lot of time with them, and they are very socialized. They seem to enjoy being held and reward him with fresh eggs every day.

Since our last visit, Travis got a riding lawn mower and he invited me to try it out. Technology has come a long way since I was a kid cutting neighbors’ laws with a non-powered push mower!

They also got a new roommate. When I posted this picture on Facebook, somebody asked me why they had a skeleton in their living room. I replied that they had to move it there because it was not getting along with the mummy in the kitchen.

You may remember that we picked up three 55-gallon drums to take to Travis. He needed to cut the tops off and started out doing so with an angle grinder. It didn’t take long to burn that out, so we went to Lowes and got a Sawzall, which made quick work of the job.

While we were there, Travis and Geli introduced us to a game called Cards Against Humanity, which is a lot of fun. At one point, Travis and I were laughing so hard that Geli had to take a couple of picture of us just to record the scene for posterity.

All good things must come to an end, and so it was with our trip. We left Thursday morning and drove 400 miles to Madison, Florida, where we spent the night at the Best Western Plus, and then yesterday, we had a three-hour trip home. It sprinkled most of the way through Jacksonville, and then we ran in rain most of the rest of the way home. We pulled into our driveway a little after 1 p.m., worn out from our trip and so glad to be home again.

We had a wonderful trip and look forward to going back again soon. Thanks for having us, Travis and Geli. We love you.

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

Thought For The Day – I’m on my second guardian Angel. The first one quit and is now in rehab.

Winding Down

 Posted by at 2:36 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 262022
 

Our time here in Alabama with our son Travis and his wife Geli is winding down and we will be leaving for home soon. But we have had a lot of fun and I will have a lot to share with you once we get home and back to a computer that works.

Travis loves the country life and growing things and they have done a lot of work in the few short months they have had the place. A cold snap a couple of nights ago killed off the last of this year’s produce and he picked the last few pepper plants.


Yesterday was a rainy, windy day, but today is supposed to be nice again.  I am sure we will find something fun to do.

Dead Computer

 Posted by at 10:02 pm  Nick's Blog
Oct 212022
 

We are having a great time with our son and daughter-in-law here in Alabama. I would love to tell you  all about it, but my Dell laptop seems to have died since I used it on our last trip. It won’t boot up, just spins and spins. So, until I can get it running all I can do is a quick update on my phone. But we are doing fine and having fresh eggs right from the henhouse every morning.

Ready To Roll

 Posted by at 12:21 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 182022
 

The batteries in all of our security cameras are charged up, I managed to get our Ring doorbell system back working again after it went haywire during the hurricane, the house sitter has the keys, the truck is loaded, and we are ready to roll.

Terry has a follow-up appointment with her doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville today to go over the results of the ultrasound exams she had last week, although they’ve already sent us an e-mail saying that everything is fine.

When we get done with that, we will continue on to our son’s house near Gordo, Alabama. Our days of driving 600 or more miles a day are behind us, so we won’t make it all the way there today. Depending on what time we leave Mayo, we will probably either stop in Dothan or Troy for the night and continue on the rest of the way tomorrow morning.

We are really looking forward to spending some time with Travis and Geli, and there are a few things around the house he needs my help with. While there isn’t much I know how to do when it comes to being a handyman, I do understand electrical issues and a couple of other things that he needs some advice on.

Since he lives out in the country with no close neighbors, we are also taking a couple of shotguns along to do some trap shooting while we are there. Does anybody have a good recipe for clay pigeons?

We will probably be there for about a week or so, and then we will head back home. A cold front is coming down from up north, and it’s going to be in the 50s the first couple of days we are there, with overnight lows dropping down to about 29 degrees. I’m not looking forward to that part of it. Fortunately, it is supposed to warm back up into the 70s about midweek. The good thing is, hopefully, the cold snap will kill off the mosquitoes!

A couple of people have asked me when my new Big Lake book is going to be finished. I had hoped to have it out in October, but medical issues and Hurricane Ian threw me off schedule. It is more than half finished, and I will work on completing it as soon as we get back from our trip to Alabama.

I usually put out anywhere between four and six new books a year, and this will only be my third book for this year because of our long trip out to Arizona and back and now this trip. Normally I would be fretting about that, but someone reminded me of something the other day. When I’m dead and gone, my kids and grandkids won’t sit around talking about the number of books I published. What they will remember are the times we spent together, and you can’t put a price tag on that. As my dad used to say, they can take away your money, and they can take away your house, but they can’t take away your memories. I like building good memories whenever I can.

Because Travis and Geli do live out in the country, the Internet service is rather flaky out there. So while I will try to post a blog as often as possible, I won’t promise to have one every day.

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

Thought For The Day – Sometimes words just aren’t enough. That’s why we have middle fingers.

Time For Q&A

 Posted by at 12:50 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 172022
 

How about some questions from blog readers to start your week?

Q. After riding out Hurricane Ian, would you do the same thing if/when another hurricane hits your area?

A. It would depend on the situation. If it was a major storm coming in directly off the Atlantic, we would probably leave. But the folks who have lived here a long time pretty much ignore Category 1 and 2 hurricanes. They all say Ian was the worst they ever experienced, and we handled that fine.

Q. What did you do with the motor home from hell? The Pace Arrow? I started reading your blog when you were still living in it.

A. As it turned out, it was one of several Lemon Law buybacks from California that Fleetwood sent to Arizona to unload. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office ordered them to take them back, so we were able to get out of it, but still lost a ton of money in the process.

Q. Nick, are you okay? Haven’t received a post in a while and ran out of new books to read. Hope you are well.

A. We are fine. During a recent automatic update, it seems a some subscribers got lost. Here is a link to the blog, try going to the subscribe button on the upper right sidebar and re-subscribing.  https://www.gypsyjournalrv.com/

Q. Did you know that your book Tinder Street made the NY Times bestseller list a while back, Nick? Congratulations.

A. Someone told me that, but I missed it. Not sure what category it was in.

Q. Reading about you having two Honda generators that you used when the power was out from the hurricane, I wondered if you know that they make a kit that allows you to hook the two gensets together to give you double the power? Handy for AC units and other things that draw high power on startup.

A. Yes, I have one of the parallel kits to do so, but have not needed it so far. If it were hotter and we needed to run a window AC unit I would have used it.

Q. Still no free drawing? I know you stopped them during the hurricane but why haven’t you started them up again?

A. Since we will be out of town visiting our son and his wife in Alabama, where the internet signal is not very good, I plan to wait until we get back to resume the drawings. I also need to hit up some more of my author friends to donate prizes. The supply is getting low.

Q. I have sent you three emails now offering to submit a series of guest posts for your blog that I am sure your readers would find interesting. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of an offer that would save you some effort in coming up with something to write about every day?

A. You and a hundred others make me the same offer every week. Your “guest posts” are nothing more than fluff pieces loaded with links to promote your advertising clients. Sorry, it’s not my job to help you make money and I won’t subject my readers to your spam.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. I am so glad to know this. The unfrozen ice is so darned messy!

Thought For The Day – There is no guarantee any of us will see tomorrow. Cuss them out today.

It Was A Great Day

 Posted by at 1:04 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 162022
 

Thank you, everybody, for all of the birthday greetings in the blog comments, emails, text messages, phone calls, and on Facebook. I tried to acknowledge each one individually, but there were literally hundreds of them, so many I was overwhelmed. But I read every one of them, and you really touched this old man’s heart.

It was a wonderful, laid-back birthday. We spent part of the morning cuddling in bed and enjoying not having a darn thing to do. Actually, we had things to do, but sometimes we just have to start the day off at a slow pace.

After a light breakfast of berries and cream and half a bagel each, I spent a couple of hours answering emails and Facebook messages. Then I started charging all of the batteries for the cameras in our home security system.

Speaking of batteries, when we went to Dixie Crossroads on Friday for dinner with our friends Aaron and Peter, I wanted to drive my Mustang, but it had been so long since I did that the battery was down. We took Terry’s Pacifica instead, but yesterday I put a charger on it and got the car started, then drove it around for a few miles to charge it up. I know it’s crazy to have a car I don’t drive. Since I bought it new in 2018, I have only put 1,666 miles on it. I guess I should drive it more. If I don’t, someone else will once I’m gone.

While I was doing all of that, Terry was making me this delicious three-layer birthday cake, all from scratch, of course. And trust me, it tastes even better than it looks!

About 6:30 we went to Alberto’s Italian Restaurant for a light dinner. This place has been here for a couple of generations and is always busy. It seems like every year or so we go there, and when we leave we both agree we’re in no hurry to return. I know a lot of people enjoy it, and it’s not that the food isn’t good, it’s just not good enough to want to go back for more.

We have a lot to do today and tomorrow to get ready for our trip to Alabama this coming week. We’re really looking forward to seeing our son Travis and his wife Geli and soaking up some of that clean country air.

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. Did someone move the sign, or did they move the lake?

Thought For The Day – One more bad decision and I’ll have the whole set.

Oct 152022
 

I think it was about a year ago that I was in love with a little red-haired girl named Linda who sat next to me in third grade. Six months ago, I was a young soldier home on leave from Army Basic Training and proud to show off my uniform and my National Defense Ribbon. Last month I was welcoming my first child into the world. A week ago, Miss Terry and I were on our first date. Yesterday I published my first Big Lake novel.

So would someone please explain to me how I woke up 70 years old today?

Can you believe I made it to my seventh decade in almost one piece? Because I’ve got to be honest with you, it surprises the hell out of me! How did that happen?

I got a great early birthday gift yesterday when our dear friends Aaron Borovoy and Peter Ambrose treated us to dinner at Dixie Crossroads in Titusville. Aaron and I have been Facebook friends for a long time, and then I met Peter online through him. We finally got to meet in person in January when they were staying at a nearby campground, and all four of us clicked instantly.

Since then, they sold their big diesel pusher motorhome, quit the fulltime RV life, and bought a park model in St. Petersburg, along with a Ford pickup and small travel trailer for short trips. They are camping in Titusville for a few days and invited us to dinner. Great seafood with great friends? Heck, yes, we’ll be there!

After dinner, we talked for a bit, but the place was getting busy, so we left and hung around outside feeding the fish and turtles in the restaurant’s pond as we visited for a while longer. Then we went our separate ways but we look forward to getting together with our friends again one of these days real soon. Thanks again for dinner and some great conversation, Peter and Aaron!

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

Thought For The Day – Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love will make him wag his tail.