Nick’s Blog

Dec 062022
 

My brother Jack was the oldest of my seven siblings and I am the youngest, so we were never close like you would expect brothers to be. I think that was because he had a son almost three years older than me, so I was just another kid. Jack was a big man who sometimes came across as gruff to me, though I know he had a great sense of humor and a heart of gold. But he was too busy living his own life and raising his own children to pay me much mind. But there was one time when I know I impressed him.

During part of my time in the Army, I was a firearms instructor at the US Military Academy at West Point, New York. Being someone who liked to shoot and who was encouraged to do so as much as I wanted, it was a great job. I can’t count how many rounds I fired in everything from handguns to rifles to machineguns. All on the Army’s dime.

When I got out of the Army in July of 1974, my family lived in Toledo, Ohio and Jack had a farmhouse on some land outside of town on Bancroft Road. Once, Jack, our dad, myself, and my high school buddy Dan Connell were on his land doing some informal target shooting. Back then I was a darned good shot, if I do say so myself, and I had hit every tin can we had. Then we stuck some empty shotgun shells on end, and I was knocking them down one after another with my little Ruger .22 carbine.

Apparently, Jack decided to see how good I really was and flipped a quarter into the air, saying, “Let’s see you hit that, smart ass.” I wasn’t expecting that, and was holding the Ruger with one hand, the butt resting against my hip. I never moved the gun, never looked at the quarter, I just pulled the trigger. By some act of fate, having nothing to do with any skill on my part, the coin must have flown into the bullet’s path, and I nailed it just shy of dead center.

Jack was amazed. Dad and Dan were both amazed. But nobody was more amazed than me! As my brother searched for the quarter in front of the backstop we were using, my dad and friend looked at me, and I shrugged my shoulders and shook my head in wonder. It was truly a once in a lifetime shot.

Jack finally found the quarter and stared at it a long time, then pulled another one out of his pocket and told me to do it again. I knew there was no way I could ever repeat the feat, so I shook my head and said, “Why? Dad knows I can do it, Dan knows I can do it, and you know I can do it. I’m not going to show off.”

As I said, I was just another kid to Jack and nothing I had ever done before then had impressed him. But that sure did! He told everyone he knew about how his kid brother, fresh out of the Army, was the best shot that ever lived. And over time, the story got better and better. Not only did I not even aim at the coin, I made my shot while looking the other way and talking to our Dad. By Christmas, he was telling people that I made the shot one handed, and when he told it at a family get together a year or so later, I was walking away with the gun over my shoulder when I pulled the trigger! Yeah, Jack was impressed.

We lost Jack in 1982, when he was just 52 years old. At the time, I was living in Washington state, publishing small town newspapers, and he lived in Florida. We had not seen each other in years and were both busy doing our own thing, so any contact we had was by word of mouth from our parents. But I sometimes think he may have had a premonition of his death because not long before he died, Jack called me on a Sunday afternoon and we talked for almost two hours. We talked about our lives and our families, lamented that we had never been as close as we should have been, and he told me that he loved me, words I had never heard from him before. And Jack asked me if I was still shooting quarters out of the air. He still remembered that after all those years and said if he had not seen it with his own eyes, he would never have believed it. I have a feeling that wherever we go when we leave this life, Jack is drinking a beer with his buddies and bragging about what a crack shot his kid brother is.

Rest in peace, Jack. I love you.

Thought For The Day – Always leave people better than you found them.

Dec 052022
 

Note: Here is a blog post from our fulltime RVing days about one of our favorite places on the North Carolina coast. At the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, we found an impressive collection of nautical exhibits that tell the story of North Carolina’s seafaring past, and how it has affected the state’s history […]

Handywoman

 Posted by at 12:58 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 042022
 

Our son Travis loves it when Dad comes to town, because he knows lots of projects around the house will get done. Not because I know how to do much besides get underfoot, but because Dad brings Mom with him. And as her T-shirt says, if Terry can’t fix it, we’re all screwed. Travis has […]

A Dose Of Reality

 Posted by at 9:15 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 302022
 

Note: This is a repeat of a blog post from 2014 that is just as true today, and may burst someone’s bubble, but it’s something they need to understand about the fulltime RV lifestyle. I get a lot e-mails and letters to the editor and see posts online from people with limited funds who want […]

Nov 292022
 

Note: This story is from our days as fulltime RVers. Just a half hour drive south of busy and modern Tampa, Gamble Plantation Historic State Park preserves the historic Gamble Mansion, the last surviving antebellum plantation home in South Florida. Major Robert Gamble built his beautiful home between 1845 and 1850 as the center of […]

Whiter Than Rice

 Posted by at 1:20 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 282022
 

If you live in Florida and have a manufactured home or a house with siding on it, you’re going to have to learn to live with mold and mildew. It seems to collect on the exterior no matter what you do or what kind of products you use to repel it, and the only way […]

Nov 272022
 

We are almost through this year’s hurricane season, which runs from June through the end of November, and the weatherman says there is no chance of anything happening between now and then. After dealing with two hurricanes in 43 days, that’s good news for us! After making a delicious breakfast of banana pecan pancakes, Terry […]

Never Left The House

 Posted by at 12:51 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 262022
 

While much of the country was up and out the door before dawn yesterday to stand in long lines waiting to get inside crowded stores, pushing and shoving to get to Black Friday “bargains” that really are not bargains, we slept in late yesterday. We needed to make up for the two early mornings and […]

Beyond Stuffed

 Posted by at 12:37 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 252022
 

The turkey wasn’t the only thing stuffed around here yesterday. Not by a long shot! Our friends Jesse and Jennifer had invited several people to their house for Thanksgiving dinner, and the ladies went all out getting ready for the big meal. Terry was up by about 8 o’clock Wednesday morning, making desserts, relish, and […]

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Posted by at 1:01 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 242022
 

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. I hope wherever and however you celebrate the day, you are with people who love you. When I think of what Thanksgiving is all about, I remember our first year as fulltime RVers. We were staying at an RV park in St. David, Arizona, a few miles from the Escapees RV Club’s […]

Moving With The Music

 Posted by at 12:44 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 232022
 

Note: This is a blog about a fascinating museum we discovered in our travels as fulltime RVers. We’re always looking for interesting places to visit and share with our readers, and we’ve found many wonderful and fascinating attractions while we’ve been poking around in every corner of America. But we’re always surprised at how many […]

Busy As Bees

 Posted by at 12:49 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 222022
 

Even though I didn’t get any writing done yesterday, we were as busy as bees and got a lot accomplished. After dealing with the morning’s load of e-mail, which seemed to be larger than normal for some reason, including not one, not two, but three different people contacting me who are generals or presidents of […]

Nov 212022
 

Well, Thanksgiving week is upon us, and that means it’s almost that time of year. Time for the stores and malls to be flooded with people pushing and shoving to buy something for somebody who probably doesn’t even want what they’re buying, and then will spend the next year paying everything off so they can […]

One Man’s Trash

 Posted by at 12:58 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 202022
 

We’ve all heard the old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and that is never more true than at an antique show. It’s always interesting to see the things that our parents and grandparents used up and wore out now becoming collectible. And there’s no better place to see an amazing collection […]

Nov 192022
 

Note: This is a repeat of a blog post from our days as fulltime RVers. As soon as the first European settlers arrived in the New World, conflicts for control of the land began between the newcomers and the Native people who had always called what would become America home. Conflicts that would result in […]

Nov 172022
 

A cold front has descended on much of the country, including here in Florida, and what a difference a day makes! The high here in Edgewater yesterday was 82 degrees, and today the weatherman says we can expect the high to be just 62. That’s a big difference! Break out the long johns, baby, Daddy’s […]

Up, Up, And Away!

 Posted by at 2:02 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 162022
 

The Artemis I rocket was scheduled to launch weeks ago, but technical delays, fuel leaks, and hurricanes kept pushing things back. The window for the latest launch opened at 1:04 a.m. this morning, but even an hour before that, the ground crews were struggling to deal with last minute details and problems that were cropping […]