Jul 062021
 

In a blog post a while back titled Stair Tape And Skid-Socks, I wrote about the anti-slip tape strips Miss Terry put down after I had a fall on the stairs in my office. They have helped a lot, but something we have talked about several times even before that happened was installing some kind of a rail on the wall where the stairs are. As we get older we’re going to need all the help we can get.

Jesse Bolton, who lives across the street from us, is one of those guys who can build or fix anything, and when I mentioned something about getting a rail installed, he said he could handle that. Now, most people would just run down to a building supply store and purchase a rail of some kind, but not Jesse. No, instead he built a custom rail, stained it to match the steps, and came over yesterday and installed it. Jesse takes pride in his work, as do all good craftsmen. The rail is big and sturdy and beautiful, and I really appreciate all of your hard work, Jesse. You are a good friend.

Unfortunately not everybody does take pride in their work, sometimes even when it is a business that has been around for many years. Back in March of 2018 we had new carpet and laminate flooring installed in the living room, hallway, three bedrooms, kitchen and upstairs bathroom. The cost was over $7,000 for materials and installation.

In a blog titled We Got Floored, I wrote about how the installation crew was far less than impressive. In follow-up blogs over the next few months I mentioned that the carpet was starting to come loose and ripple in the center, and how I made several calls to the business we got it from, trying to get the issue resolved.

That never happened, and then we got busy with Terry’s surgery for her Interstim device, and then the pandemic came around. And all the while, the carpet was developing more and more of a loose ripple in every room. Three weeks ago we stopped in the business again and the owner’s nephew told us that they could come out and re-stretch it, but it would be $150 to $200, since it had been three years since installation.

Now, my wife is a pretty mellow woman most of the time, but if you push her too far you will know about it. She let that guy know in no uncertain terms that his answer was unacceptable and that they had dropped the ball right from the start. And it didn’t bother her that there were other customers in the store and they could hear exactly how dissatisfied she was.

The next day the owner finally called back, but not to apologize for letting us down. No, he wanted to complain that Terry was rude to his nephew. I told him what the situation was, and he said we should have contacted them sooner. I told him I had tried several times, and he said that was impossible because he always returns calls immediately. Eventually he said that he was on vacation and would be back in two weeks, but his nephew would call me that same day or the next to set up an appointment him to come by and look at our problem when he got back to town. I wasn’t surprised that we didn’t hear anything for almost three weeks, but finally, just before the holiday weekend, I got a call saying that the owner would come by yesterday.

He did show up, and immediately started saying that if he had known there was a problem, which he didn’t think there was, he would have dealt with it sooner.

Here’s the thing; as you all know, I write a blog every day. In that blog I talk about everything that’s going on in our lives. I offered to show him four different blog posts talking about the many times we had tried to get the issue resolved. I also offered to show him my telephone call logs showing all the times I had called. He didn’t want to see those and said that he didn’t believe any of that was true.

That pushed my jackass button, and I told him if he was going to stand in my house and call me a liar, he could get the hell out. He said he wanted to see what the so-called problem was. We showed him in every room, and he suddenly decided that it was something that they needed to fix. He still wouldn’t admit, or even acknowledge the fact that I had proof that we had tried to deal with this for the last three years, but supposedly somebody is going to call us within the next week or so to set up a time to come out and re-stretch the carpet. That’s fine, whatever your ego needs to let you sleep at night. All I care about is that the job gets done right this time, and I’m not going to pay for it.

Thought For The Day – A mistake that makes you humble is better than an achievement that makes you arrogant.

Jul 052021
 

Yesterday we had some friends come over for a little get-together to celebrate the 4th of July. With COVID-19 on the run and everybody vaccinated, it was time to have a little celebration.

Terry smoked a turkey breast in our Orion convection smoker, and there was no question that it was going to be a hit with everybody, along with her red beans and rice.

She also made a loaf of banana bread and this delicious pie, which had blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and peaches in it. Topped off with vanilla ice cream, it was amazing.

Our guests also brought lots of goodies, including hot dogs and hamburgers to throw on the grill, a couple of kinds of salad, and another pie. I’m sure there was more that I can’t remember right this moment.

In this picture, on the left we have Jennifer Smith-Sommers, Kim Gilbert, Gary (whose last name I don’t remember, Jesse Bolton, Pam (Gary’s wife), and Scott Gilbert. Pam is Scott’s mother and Gary is her husband.

These two shady-looking characters are Rhonda and Chris Fisher.

Not pictured are Jim Lewis, Miss Terry, or me.

Chris and Rhonda live across the street from us, and Jennifer and Jesse live next door to them. Scott and Jesse have been best friends since they were schoolboys, and sometimes I suspect they’re not too far removed from that. I think Kim would agree since Jesse spent some time throwing spitballs at her. I told her to relax, I was sure once they got past puberty those two would straighten right up.

It was a great crowd with lots of laughter and good times as we enjoyed the wonderful food. And no question about it, nobody left hungry.

Rain had been threatening so I moved the Pacifica and Mustang and one of the kayaks on its trailer outside and put down the screen door of the garage. With the window air conditioner in the back of the garage running, as well as the overhead fan and three box fans, the air moved around enough that it was relatively comfortable.

At one point it rained so hard that the screen over the door was so wet we couldn’t see through it. When the party broke up, the kayak that I had moved outside had a lot of water sitting in it from all the rain, so we had to tilt it to let the water run out the scupper holes before we brought it back inside.

Thanks for coming everybody. It was a memorable day, and we will have to get together and do it again soon.

We weren’t the only people with guests. These are nine Hotshot firefighters from Virginia working to combat the forest fires near our old hometown of Show Low, Arizona that my daughter Tiffany and her husband Kenny hosted for the holiday. I know what it’s like to spend a holiday posted away from your loved ones and I know how much these folks appreciated it.

Congratulations Carsten Wiemken, 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 R.V. 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 37 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 U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Exercise gives you energy, but you need energy to exercise. Sounds like a pyramid scheme to me.

Happy Birthday America

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 042021
 

We have a lot of problems in this country and so much division right now that it is saddening. But I’ve been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things in close to seven decades on this earth, and there is no doubt in my mind that we still live in the greatest country in the world. And it’s our job, each and every one of us, yours and mine, to work together to keep it that way and to make it even better.

Terry and I are not social butterflies by any means, but we do enjoy being around good people that we like. In celebration of Independence Day, today we are having a small gathering of neighbors at our place. We will have hot dogs and burgers, and Terry is making red beans and rice and smoking a turkey, along with side dishes that folks are bringing, so I’m sure nobody will go hungry.

Since tropical storm Elsa is making its way through the islands and will be impacting us in some form in the next few days, though nobody really knows how much or when, and because we are in our normal hot and humid summer rainy season, we will set up some tables and eat in the garage. I spent some time tidying up in there yesterday. While I was doing that, Terry was busy in the kitchen working her magic. I have found it’s best to just stay out of her way and let her do her thing because all I do is get underfoot.

Just over two weeks ago, in a blog post titled They’re Back, I said that in the two weeks since my son and his wife dug up the banana trees next to our driveway, they had already started growing back and were knee-high. Not wanting them to get established, I dug them out, being careful to get the root balls again this time, and threw them in the trash, thinking I was done with them once and for all. So I was really ticked off Friday to see that four or five of them were back again and over a foot high.

Once I was done in the garage, I attacked them once again, digging out even more root balls, and then dug up the whole area, looking for more. I didn’t find any, but I swear, if they come back again, I’m going to resort to Vietnam War-era technology and see if I can get my hands on some Agent Orange. That may be the only thing that will do the job.

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.

Today is your last chance 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 R.V. 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 U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – God is in control and provides for you, but he doesn’t expect you to lean on a shovel and pray for a hole.

Jul 032021
 

Note: This is a repost of a blog about our travels in the Pacific Northwest when we were fulltime RVers.

We woke to a gray foggy morning yesterday, and I would have loved to roll over and go back to sleep, but we had a lot of miles to cover. The shortest route between the Escapees Evergreen Co-op in Chimacum to Oceana Resort in Ocean City is south down U.S. Highway 101 along the eastern side of the Olympic Peninsula and then west to the coast, a distance of 137 miles. But what fun would that be?

Instead we took U.S.101 west across the top of the Olympic Peninsula, skirting the edge of Olympic National Park, and then followed it south to Humptulips, where we took local roads a few miles out to the beach and to Ocean City. It was 198 miles, and a pretty darned slow 198 miles at that.

As I said, it was a foggy day when we started out, but it burned off after an hour or so.

Foggy road

One of the slowest parts of the trip was the ten miles or so where the highway clings to the south shore of Crescent Lake. Narrow, no shoulders, lots of curves, and some dips in the pavement that added to the fun. At 1,000 feet deep, the lake’s sparkling blue water is amazing. In tomorrow’s blog, I’ll tell you a couple of mystery stories about the lake.

Curvy US 101 2

Crescent Lake curve

Crescent Lake

Crescent Lake 2

The highway turned south near the logging town of Forks and continued through heavy forest as it jogged out to the coast. This is a land of trees, mountains, and water, and we crossed a number of bridges, most of them narrow.

Crossing US 101 bridge

Terry always likes to take my picture as I drive across bridges or through tight construction zones. What, you never saw a guy concentrate before?

NIck driving

Our first view of the Pacific Ocean was breathtaking. Terry and I love being around water, from the Florida Keys to the Great Lakes to the wild Pacific Northwest coast.

First beach view

That’s Destruction Island, and the lighthouse went into service in 1891 and was manned until it became automated in 1968.

Soon the view gave way to a heavy fog bank and the road turned back inland.

Fog bank over ocean

We saw a lot of logging trucks all the way around the Peninsula. I know from my newspaper days in this part of the country that a lot of these guys can be pretty aggressive drivers and won’t hesitate to bully slower vehicles.

Logging truck US 101

In Washington it is against the law to have a backlog of five vehicles behind you and pullouts are provided to move over to let traffic pass. Unfortunately, not all of the pullouts will fit a large RV.

US 101 pullout

It wasn’t always a fast or necessarily easy trip, but every mile of it is scenic.

Mountain view

Olympic Peninsula valley

This is logging country and we passed many sections of tree farms that had been clear cut. But in this wet climate, regrowth is amazingly fast.

Clearcut

Eventually we made our way to Oceana RV Resort and got parked in our full hookup 50 amp site, where we have good satellite TV reception, decent Verizon internet service, and are close enough to the beach to hear the sound of the surf.

Winnie at Oceana

Well, we could if it weren’t so cold that we had to close the windows! It’s only going to be cloudy and in the low 60s for most of the next week. But that’s typical weather here on the coast. There’s a reason they call this a rain forest.

Once we were parked and settled in we followed a path out to the beach and went for a long walk, enjoying being there even if it was a gray, chilly day. Who needs sunshine and blue sky to have fun?

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize 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 R.V. 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 U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought for The Day – If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else. – Yogi Berra

July Q&A

 Posted by at 12:46 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 022021
 

I’m back with more questions from blog readers about RVing, what’s happening in our lives since we hung up the keys, and all kinds of other things. While I try to answer all questions individually, I also share some here occasionally.

Q. We subscribed to your Gypsy Journal until you quit and trust your recommendations. My wife and I are in the process of selling everything and going fulltime. What is your recommendation for an insurance agent? I can’t seem to find it in your back issues.

A. I wish I could help you, but we have been out of the RV lifestyle for almost five years and all of the RV insurance vendors we knew are gone.

Q. I am a voracious reader and love all of your books. Recently I joined Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, which allows me to read as many books as I want to for just $10 a month. But then I wondered if that will cheat you out of your royalties? If so, I will still buy your e-books because I love what you write so much.

A. Authors get a small payment for each page of a book read with Kindle Unlimited. It doesn’t seem like much on the surface, but it really adds up. In fact, Kindle Unlimited page reads make up over 75% of my income from Amazon. It’s a great deal for authors and readers alike.

Q. Stumbled upon your blog. If I have the story correct, you once lived in Arizona but now reside in Florida? Just curious because we are thinking of doing the same thing, just Arizona to either Florida or my (some time ago) old home of Alabama. Thanks for your writings, I had a good time reading.

A. Yes, we lived in northern Arizona (Show Low) for many years, then bought a motorhome and traveled fulltime for over 18 years. When we decided to get back into a permanent home, we knew we wanted to live near the ocean. Our choices were either the Oregon/Washington coast or the Atlantic coast of Florida. While we loved the Pacific NW, we chose Florida because the cold, wet winters on the Pacific coast were too uncomfortable for our aging bones.

Q. For the last five years we have spent the winters in our manufactured home in a 55+ community in Zephyrhills, Florida and summers at home in Anderson, Indiana. It’s about 1,000 miles each way and we spend two nights and three days on the road going down and coming back. My wife’s brother says we should buy a diesel pusher camper to travel to Florida and back and that it will save a lot of money over motels and will be more comfortable. We have no interest in going anywhere else in a camper, just down there and back. Can you recommend an inexpensive diesel pusher?

A. There are no inexpensive diesel pushers. And if all you are going to do is sleep in it four nights a year, two going down and two coming back up, it would not begin to be worth it. It would take two or three years or more of motel bills to equal just one month’s payment on a diesel motorhome. The difference in fuel and campsites along the way could easily cost more than a motel. Not to mention the cost of buying the RV, licensing and registration, insurance, and storage. I sure hope your brother-in-law is not your financial advisor in other matters!

Q. The 4th of July is always terrible for pet owners. My two dogs totally freak out from all of the fireworks. I seem to recall you saying something about a blanket or something that helps calm them, but I can’t find it now

A. I have never used one for any of my animals, but I have heard some very good reports on the Thundershirt Dog Anxiety Jackets for things like fireworks, thunder, separation anxiety, travel, and trips to the vet. They make them in different sizes for different breeds of dogs. They also make Thundershirts for cats, and two cat owners I know say they have worked wonders.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize 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 R.V. 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 U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I ate a kids meal at McDonald’s today. His mother was furious.

Jul 012021
 

I wrote in Wednesday’s blog that I didn’t get any writing done that day, but I made up for it yesterday. I started out fixing the plot hole in my new Big Lake book that I mentioned in Wednesday’s blog, and then I started cranking out words. I had a good writing (actually narrating) day, with another 10,500 words under my belt by the time I was done. Some days are like that and I love them.

I could have kept on going but I had to knock off for dinner, and oh, what a delicious dinner it was! Terry made pan-seared rare sesame tuna steaks, along with garlic mashed potatoes and corn for me and Brussel sprouts for her. She also made some wasabi, which is like a really hot mustard that would open the sinuses on a dead man. It was good, but a little bit of it goes a very long way.

I also mentioned in Wednesday’s blog that I was trying to figure out how to take Amtrak from their depot in Sanford, Florida to Savannah, Georgia. It turns out you can’t get there from there. The only Florida trains going to Savannah originate in Orlando, which is an hour away, as opposed to the Amtrak station in Sanford, half an hour west of us. It doesn’t make sense to drive an hour south and deal with Orlando traffic to get on a train going north, so I guess we’ll skip that for now.

It’s summer, which means it’s a great time for beach reads, and my pal Mona Ingram has a great deal for you. For a limited time you can get Mona’s entire Love in a Bottle eight-book series for 99¢. When it comes to clean and wholesome romance books, Mona stands out among the best of the best authors in the genre, which has earned her a legion of faithful fans. Click here to check out this deal. You won’t regret it!

Every time I turn on the television, the news is talking about the labor shortage in the country. Whether you believe it’s because people getting unemployment are too lazy to go back to work or that they’re just not willing to go back to work for the low wages they have been making, apparently the struggle is real, as shown by this sign that a reader shared with me yesterday. If they’ve stooped to hiring 8s, I shudder to think how low they might go.

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 R.V. 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 U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Why do people say tuna fish, but they don’t say beef mammal or chicken bird?

Half Gone?

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 302021
 

Half a year gone already? Where does the time go? I can remember as a kid when summers seemed to last thirteen months. I guess all those people who say that time goes faster as you get older know what they’re talking about.

It being the end of June, we are already ten days into summer and thirty days into hurricane season here on the central Florida coast. We had three hurricanes hit our area during our first two years here, and none since then. That’s just fine with me. They can stay as far away as they want to. I won’t feel the least bit slighted.

We are also getting into our rainy season, which we definitely need. Every afternoon the clouds start building up and the thunder starts rumbling, and even here in our little area that seldom gets rain compared to places just up and down the road a mile or two, we have been getting our fair share. Our grass and citrus trees sure appreciate that.

I don’t know if we’re beginning to get a bit acclimated to the climate here, or it just hasn’t gotten quite as hot yet, but I have noticed that while we’ve had some hot days, it doesn’t seem quite as harsh as in previous years. But I’m sure that won’t last much longer. In a blog post a couple of weeks ago titled They’re Back I told you that after my son and daughter-in-law dug up the banana palms at the end of our driveway, the darn things came back and were already knee-high within just a couple of weeks. Taking advantage of the somewhat tolerable temperature, last week I went out with a shovel and dug up the area where the banana palms were, taking out their root balls and throwing them in the trash. Some of them were as big as a grapefruit and seemed to weigh a couple of pounds. I hope that does the trick and we’ve seen the last of those messy plants. Terry has something else she wants to plant in there, but we don’t want to do it until we know the banana palms are completely gone.

So what have I been doing, besides digging up tree roots? Working on my new Big Lake book. I ran into a snag in the plot but realized it in time so that I was able to do some research and then go back and make some changes to what I’ve written already to correct the problem. I’ll be back at it again today.

I didn’t get any writing done yesterday because we had to go to the airport in Sanford, about 45 minutes west of us, to pick up our neighbor Jennifer. She had been in New Hampshire on business and was scheduled to fly home on Sunday, but her flight got canceled and the next one she could get out on was yesterday. Her regular ride couldn’t pick her up because of a scheduling conflict, so Terry and I volunteered. We had not been to the Sanford airport before because people visiting us from Arizona always fly into Daytona Beach, but it seems like it good facility with a lot of flights going to the eastern and Midwestern states.

Speaking of Sanford, they have an Amtrak station there and we have always wanted to take a train trip somewhere. Amtrak has an auto train on which you can load your car and go to Washington DC. That sounds interesting, but first we thought about just taking the train without our car up to Savannah, Georgia or Charleston, South Carolina. But for some reason, even though there are Amtrak stations in both cities, I can’t find a way on Amtrak’s website to book a trip to either of those two places. It’s not exactly user-friendly, and the three times I’ve tried to call their customer service number, all I get is voicemail and nobody ever calls me back. So I guess we won’t be doing that.

In other news, my friend Arthur Herbert recently launched his debut novel, The Cuts That Cure. A small town Texas boy, “Herb” spent time working on offshore oil rigs, as a bartender, a landscaper at a trailer park, and as a social worker before going to medical school. For the last seventeen years he’s worked as a trauma and burn surgeon, operating on all ages of injured patients.

I get many, many requests to read books-in-progress from new authors, and I almost always decline simply because I don’t have the time, given my own work schedule. But I had already read his eerie short story Sisters and loved it, so I agreed to take a look at The Cuts That Cure and offered Herb some advice I thought would help the story. Believe me, you need to read this book. It takes some twists and turns you won’t soon forget.

Thought For The Day – Bigfoot saw me yesterday, but no one believes him.

Jun 292021
 

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

On a visit to Cape Cod we came across a windmill that most RVers could identify with because it seems to have a bit of gypsy in its soul.

The historic Jonathan Young Windmill, located just off busy Highway 6A in Orleans, has done some traveling since it was built in the early 1700s.

The mill was built in South Orleans, though the exact location has been lost over time. In 1839, a farmer named Jonathan Young moved the mill to a hill overlooking Town Cove in Orleans.

According to historian William Quinn, in 1897 the mill moved again, this time across Nantucket Sound to the estate of a wealthy sea captain, off Greenwood Avenue in Hyannisport, where it stood for nearly a century.

For a community with a windmill on its town seal and no windmill left in town, the move was not popular. In 1983, the citizens of Orleans were thrilled when the owners of the windmill donated it to the Orleans Historical Society.

It was moved yet again, back to Orleans, and underwent a two-year restoration to its original working condition by a dedicated group of volunteers. Today the windmill is a important landmark for Cape Cod visitors, and like RVers who eventually hang up the keys, its traveling days are over.

This isn’t the only windmill to have stood in the area over the years. A while back, students from the Lighthouse Charter School began a search for early-day boundary markers for a class project. Using old maps and other records, they found the location of Cape Cod’s earliest windmill, which was built by master millwright Thomas Payne, on the farm of his father-in-law, Nicholas Snow, near Namskaket. Among the foundation stones the students found hand-formed iron nails and other 17th-century artifacts. It is believed that one of Thomas Payne’s sons built the Jonathan Young Windmill.

The windmill’s traveling days are over, but if you visit Cape Cod during July and August, you’re welcome to take a tour, and maybe you and the old structure can compare notes about life on the road.

A lot of you do your online shopping by clicking this Amazon link or the Amazon Search box at the top right sidebar of this blog. We appreciate that, because when you purchase an item on Amazon any time of the year from one of our links, we earn a small commission, which helps us offset the cost of publishing the blog.

Thought For The Day – I left Santa gluten-free cookies and organic soy milk and he put a solar panel in my stocking.

A Beachy Kind Of Day

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 282021
 

We had to go back to Best Buy in Daytona Beach yesterday to order something that we couldn’t figure out on their website. It’s always fun to wander around there and look at all the new tech toys, but there was nothing I really wanted or needed.

I don’t know if there’s a big sporting event coming up or what, but they had a big display of huge flat-screen televisions on sale. I don’t remember the exact size, but I would have to have a bigger living room just to be able to sit far enough away to watch one and see the entire screen!

When we were done there, we stopped at Books-A-Million and spent an hour or so browsing. While we order a lot of books on Amazon, every once in a while we find something good in a bookstore that we can’t live without, along with some magazines that Terry likes on weaving and knitting and things like that. But this time around nothing caught our attention. It seems like more and more, bookstores are whittling down the number of books they have and adding toys, puzzles, games, and other things. Maybe that’s why we couldn’t find anything we wanted.

It was only another half mile to Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet, and it would be almost rude to be that close and not stop for dinner, right? At least that’s the story I told Miss Terry. We got there about 4 o’clock, and I told Terry we planned it just right. The food was hot and fresh and it wasn’t very busy. When we left about 5:15, people were starting to stream in the door.

Driving back home on U.S. Highway 1, when we got to New Smyrna Beach we decided to take a detour and check out the beach. Volusia County, Florida, is one of the few places in the country where you can drive on the beach, and there were a lot of people out enjoying the sunshine and the water. We found a place to park, backing in so we could see the water and all of the people going by. Hey, it’s not my fault if some of those people were of the female persuasion and wearing revealing swimwear, was it?

But it wasn’t just young hardbodies on the beach. There were all kinds of people walking, playing in the water, metal detecting, building sandcastles, or just soaking up the sunshine, from kids to senior citizens.

We watched two boys with some kind of boogie board trying to surf in the very shallow water washing up on the beach, and they spend a lot more time falling on their butts than they did upright. But they were persistent, and every time they fell they got right back up and tried again.

There were a lot of people riding bicycles. Fat tire bicycles are very popular on the beaches around here. Some people even tow little trailers behind their bicycles to carry kids or just things they want to have with them at the beach.

As I’ve stated many times before, I love classic cars and always appreciate seeing a nice one. This old truck looked pretty sharp, but if I had something that nice I sure wouldn’t be driving it on the beach sand and exposing it to all that salt. But what the heck, to each of his own.

After an hour or so the lifeguards came by in a truck broadcasting that it was 6:30 and time to get all the cars off the beach. So while it wasn’t a long beach day for us, it’s always fun and relaxing to us to just sit there and watch all the action and the surf crashing on the shore. We really do live in a very special place to be able to have this just minutes from our doorstep.

Congratulations Beckie Dobbins, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of Learn Google Photos 2021 by Chris Guld from Geeks on Tour. The book is loaded with easy-to-understand instructions on how to assemble your lifetime of photo and video memories in one place, and then how to use the program’s powerful tools to edit, organize, and share them, all for free. Chris is a Platinum Level Product Expert for Google Photos and she and her husband Jim have taught classes on computer technology from coast to coast for years. We had 131 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 U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choices.

Jun 272021
 

I have received e-mails from not one, not two, but three different blog readers telling me that I have been taking some terrible risks lately and warning me of dire consequences I may not be aware of. These people aren’t talking about me being clumsy and falling up the steps or driving on our local freeways or things like that. No, they want me to know that being a good guy can get me into trouble. Here are the things they are concerned about.

After reading my blog titled We Got Geeked about a visit from our friends Jim and Chris Guld from Geeks on Tour, somebody wrote to tell me that we were taking a big risk by letting them park their van in our driveway and plug into our electricity overnight because if there was a power surge that zapped their RV’s system, we would be liable. Or if, God forbid, there was a fire and they were injured or killed while sleeping in their RV on our property, we could get sued by them or their surviving family members.

Then two people wanted to let me know that going out to help our neighbor who had fallen, which I reported on in my blog Eaten By A Trash Can, was absolutely foolish. One said that as an attorney, he always advises people to mind their own business, and if the older gentleman I helped up had any broken bones or permanent injuries, it could come back to haunt me because a sharp attorney could claim I aggravated the situation. Someone else said that by inserting myself into the episode, he might find some way to blame me for it and file suit.

I recall getting the same kind of e-mail when something similar happened a few years ago when we were in Indiana and I encountered an elderly man with dementia who had gotten lost. I wrote about that in a blog post titled Listen To That Little Voice, and while most people were appreciative of the fact that I was able to get in contact with his family and that we stayed with him until someone got there, I had one person say that we were lucky he hadn’t lost his wallet or gotten his pocket picked, or we could have been blamed for it.

You know what? While I appreciate your concern, and I am sure that some ambulance chaser somewhere could convince somebody to sue me over something like that, but I will take my chances. I was raised by people who taught me to help others in need, not to turn my back on them and “mind my own business.” When someone is hurting, when someone needs help in any way that I can give it to them, it is my business. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll be the one needing help.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an autographed copy of Learn Google Photos 2021 by Chris Guld from the Geeks on Tour. The book is loaded with easy to understand instructions on how to assemble your lifetime of photo and video memories in one place, and then how to use the program’s powerful tools to edit, organize, and share them, all for free. Chris is a Platinum Level Product Expert for Google Photos and she and her husband Jim have taught classes on computer technology from coast to coast for years. 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. The winner will be drawn this evening. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I’m not interested in whether you’ve stood with the great. I’m interested in whether you have sat with the broken.

 

Jun 262021
 

Note: I was busy writing and editing all day yesterday and ran out of time, so this is a repost of a blog from six years ago about good times on the Oregon coast.

Yesterday we got to see a lot of breathtaking views, made some new friends, and had seafood for dinner. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

I’ve been in every state in the country except Delaware, which is small and easy to miss, to England, Central America, and Southeast Asia. But for my money, there is no more beautiful place on earth than the Oregon coast from Brookings north to Port Orford. It seems like every curve in the road brings another spectacular vista that has you saying “Wow!”

Beach view

Beach view 2 small

Knowing how much Miss Terry loved the fiber arts, a while back blog reader Joan Austin sent her a list of yarn shops along the coast, and one that looked very good was Wild Rivers Wool Factory in Langlois. So yesterday we left the motorhome at the Elks campground in Brookings and drove 76 miles up the coast to check it out.

The coastline is famous for these rock formations, known as sea stacks. Photographers and artists love them.

Sea stack small

Sea Stack 2 small

Rock view small

There are lots of pullouts along the way, and we stopped in a lot of them to admire the views. Terry gave her camera a real workout and took dozens of pictures along the way.

Coastal view small

Beach view 4 small

One of the largest of the sea stacks is Battle Rock in Port Orford. The rock got its name for an incident in 1851 when nine white explorers were besieged on the rock for two weeks by Native Americans who were resisting encroachment onto their lands. Finally, under cover of darkness, the trapped men slipped away. But the Indians’ victory was short lived; less than a month later a well armed party of 70 men returned and established the settlement that would become Port Orford.

Battle Rock 2

Even without the great scenery along the way it was worth the trip to Wild Rivers Wool Factory and Terry found some goodies she couldn’t live without.

We first met Joan Austin and her husband Jeff back when we were teaching at Life on Wheels and they sat in on several of our classes. They have a home in Port Orford where they hang out when not traveling in their motorhome, and we wanted to get together with them while we were in the area.

We had also been contacted by blog readers Rob and Jan Wilson, who are volunteering at Cape Blanco State Park and wanted to visit with them, too. So we all got together at a little coffee shop and spent a couple of hours getting acquainted. They are great people and we had a good time talking about RVing and comparing notes on our adventures on the road.

Eventually the party broke up and we said our goodbyes. Rob and Jan went on their way, and since our stomachs were growling we went to The Crazy Norwegian’s Fish & Chips, which we discovered on our trip through this area a few years ago. Jeff and Joan decided to join us, so we continued our visit over a delicious dinner.

Crazy Norwegian

The sun was getting lower in the sky as we drove back south, giving new perspectives to the scenes we had enjoyed on our way up.

Beach view 3 small

Silhouette small

In Gold Beach we stopped to take a picture of the Mary D. Hume, an old steamboat that was built in Gold Beach in 1880, and for the next 98 years saw service as a steam schooner, tugboat, cannery tender, and whaling vessel. After she was retired she came home to Gold Beach and the plan was to restore her. But as she was being placed into a specially designed cradle designed to display her, something went wrong and the Mary D. was damaged beyond repair. Now she slowly disintegrates, a silent reminder of days gone by.

Mary D Hume small

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Learn Google Photos 2021 by Chris Guld from the Geeks on Tour. The book is loaded with easy-to-understand instructions on how to assemble your lifetime of photo and video memories in one place, and then how to use the program’s powerful tools to edit, organize, and share them, all for free. Chris is a Platinum Level Product Expert for Google Photos and she and her husband Jim have taught classes on computer technology from coast to coast for years. 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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. – Helen Keller

Eaten By A Trash Can

 Posted by at 12:54 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 252021
 

Wednesday night was one of those nights where I just couldn’t get to sleep, no matter how hard I tried, and I was up and down all night. For some reason, my ribs were aching terribly on the left side, which is the position I sleep in while spooning Terry. So when I finally did fall asleep, I woke up later than usual.

Terry had made some of her delicious overnight yeasted browned butter waffles for brunch, and by the time we ate them and then I attended to my usual morning e-mails, it was after 2 PM before I started writing.

But I made up for lost time, cranking out a little over 3,500 words in my new Big Lake mystery book for the day. I plan to be back at it again today, hopefully with an earlier start. I would really like to have this book done and out sometime in July if I can.

Meanwhile, Terry was backing up all of the files from her old HP laptop computer to One Drive in preparation for retiring it to start using her new Surface Book 3. Setting up a new computer is always intimidating for us, and someone suggested we use the Geek Squad at Best Buy to do it. But I’ve heard too many horror stories from people who went that route. We’ll muddle through on our own one way or another.

Thursdays are trash days around here, and the garbage trucks come by first thing in the morning, so folks usually take their trash cans out to the curb Wednesday afternoon or evening. I was just about finished with my writing for the day and was saving everything to my different backup files and devices when I heard a loud noise outside and someone calling out like they were in pain. I looked outside and across the street, and down about two houses I saw one of the big blue plastic trash containers lying on its side in the street with a pair of legs sticking out of it.

Because I have a twisted mind, my first thought was that someone had been eaten by a trash can. Then the next thought was that someone threw away a perfectly good person. But it only took a nanosecond or two for that all to go through my mind before I was out the door and heading over that way. An older gentleman (yes, older than me, if you can believe it) had been wheeling his trash can out and got too close to the slightly inclined curb, and the next thing he knew, he had lost control of it and wound up headfirst inside.

He had scraped his face across the edge of the heavy plastic trash bin and it was pretty bloody, and he was obviously shaken. I helped him get to his feet and asked if he needed medical attention, and he said he didn’t think so. Except for the blood, which always looks bad on facial cuts, he seemed alright. A lady came out of the house to help him inside, and I got the trash can out of the street before checking one more time to see if there was anything else I could do.

A couple of hours later I saw him again, and he thanked me for my help. It looked like he had a pretty nasty black eye forming, but aside from that and some bruises, I think he’s going to be okay.

Aside from all of that, we have had two tragedies here in Florida. Wednesday evening a young Daytona Beach police officer investigating a suspicious vehicle was shot in the head and is in the hospital clinging to life as I write this. A massive manhunt is underway for the perpetrator from here in Florida all the way to Atlanta, Georgia, where he has ties. And then yesterday morning the news was full of the collapse of a 12-story condominium building down in the Miami area. The 11:00 o’clock news last night said that there were three confirmed fatalities and at least 99 people still unaccounted for. A lot of folks need your prayers right now.

And finally, to close on a lighter note, 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.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Learn Google Photos 2021 by Chris Guld from the Geeks on Tour. The book is loaded with easy-to-understand instructions on how to assemble your lifetime of photo and video memories in one place, and then how to use the program’s powerful tools to edit, organize, and share them, all for free. Chris is a Platinum Level Product Expert for Google Photos and she and her husband Jim have taught classes on computer technology from coast to coast for years. 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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – The easy path won’t lead you to the best views.

None Of Our Business

 Posted by at 12:04 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 242021
 

When I was a youngster my dad used to say that “Kids today don’t know how good they have it.” I suspect he wasn’t the first one to say that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if George Washington’s father didn’t say something similar way back then. But I do have to say that a lot of people who grew up with smartphones and Wi-Fi really don’t know what it was like even 15 years ago as technology was developing.

There was a time when RVers depended on huge satellite internet dishes mounted on the roof of their rigs to get online. If one had the money, for several thousand dollars you could get an automatic dish mounted on the roof of your RV that deployed and locked onto the satellite at the push of a button. Well, it did if you were lucky. I saw people pull into a campground, hook up the utilities, and be happily cruising the Internet within 15 or 20 minutes. I also saw times when those dishes would just rotate around and around, seeking an elusive satellite they could not find for some reason.

If you didn’t have the bucks to buy a powered rooftop dish, you could buy a tripod-mounted dish that you put on the ground. Most of the people who had those became quite adept at finding the satellites and could often do so just as quickly as the guy in the next rig with the automatic dish.

We had a hybrid, a tripod unit that we mounted to a special folding mast on top of our MCI bus conversion. In transit, the LNB arm was removed and stored inside the bus. When we were stopped, I would boost Terry up through the emergency escape hatch in the roof over our bed. She was so good at aiming the dish that we were usually online as fast as somebody with an automatic dish could deploy theirs.

Occasionally this led to some interesting discussions with our campground neighbors. Somebody once saw the mast, which was basically a hollow pipe, folded down and asked me what that was all about. I told him it was a 40-millimeter cannon that we used to discourage tailgaters. He got a good laugh out of that and wanted to know where he could buy one, and another for the front end of his rig.

Once we were at Elkhart Campground in Indiana and I started to boost Terry through the roof, but she had me stop because she had forgotten the written coordinates she needed to aim the dish and needed to retrieve them. I started to boost her up again and she had me stop a second time because she needed the wrench she used to tighten the LNB on with. Finally we were ready again, and it was one, two, three, and up through the hatch.

Terry was up on the roof setting the dish up when the man in the RV parked next to us came outside and said, “I’m so glad to see you!” Assuming it was one of our readers, Terry said she was glad to see him, too. The man told her, “I was sitting there having my coffee and I saw this head coming up through the roof of your bus and I told my wife to look at it, and when she did it was gone. Then it came back again! She said that whatever the heck was going on over there was none of our business!”

I’m glad we cleared that up for him. Sometimes inquiring minds do want to know

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. We have an awesome prize this week, an autographed copy of Learn Google Photos 2021 by Chris Guld from the Geeks on Tour. The book is loaded with easy to understand instructions on how to assemble your lifetime of photo and video memories in one place, and then how to use the program’s powerful tools to edit, organize, and share them, all for free. Chris is a Platinum Level Product Expert for Google Photos and she and her husband Jim have taught classes on computer technology from coast to coast for years. 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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they are sexy.

Jun 232021
 

You may remember that I’ve said many times that when we have storms coming through the area, they usually split and go north and south of us by a few miles, leaving us dry for the most part. But the last two days we have had a couple of big storm systems roll through, bringing us a lot of wind, rain, and lightning. Monday we were out running some errands and the rain started coming down hard when we were about 1/2 mile from the house. We got drenched in the time it took to get out of the Explorer and inside. Of course, it didn’t last long and within a half-hour or so it had let up.

Yesterday started off cloudy and the weatherman was saying we were going to get a lot more rain. But he’s kind of like a used car salesman and you never know what to believe. As it turned out, he was right this time and we got rain all afternoon. Sometimes it was just a light shower, and then it would turn into a downpour with lots of thunder and lightning. Sometime around 10 p.m. the hardest rain eased off, but it continued to rain off and on most of the night. That was fine with me, our grass and trees sure needed it. The area is still in a rainfall deficit of several inches, so the more we can get, the better.

Thank you to everybody who posted comments in the blog or on Facebook, or sent messages and e-mails wishing Terry happy birthday yesterday. She read every one of them and they all meant a lot to her.

I told Terry that yesterday was her day and we would do whatever she wanted. She said as long as we were spending it together, she was happy. We started out by driving down to Lowe’s in Titusville to pick up six pieces of tile she wanted for the kitchen wall behind the stove. I prefer to shop at Lowe’s over Home Depot because they always give all veterans a 10% discount, not just on Veteran’s Day like Home Depot does, but I wasn’t too impressed with our experience yesterday.

We found the tiles Terry wanted, but we needed to talk to someone to see if we could purchase them as individual tiles or if we had to buy the whole box, since the signage was rather confusing. Of course, you can never find somebody when you need them, so I went looking and found five or six employees sitting together in a meeting where the team leader or whoever she was, was talking about customer service and how the customer was the most important person in the store, and she wanted to see her team talking to customers, not standing around talking to each other. I didn’t want to interrupt their little rah rah session, but it seemed like it was going to go on for a while, so I said “excuse me” and she held up her finger for me to wait while she continued to tell her people how important it was to take care of the customer first, and anything else could come afterward. So we waited about 15 minutes, and just before I was ready to walk out I found another employee wandering around who went and got somebody to help us. Yes, customer service is so important.

From there we got on Interstate 95 and drove north to Daytona Beach. In case you don’t know it, people in Florida only drive at two speeds, really fast or really slow. The ones driving really slow are always in the left-hand lane of surface streets, with their right turn signal on, doing at least 10 miles under the speed limit. The ones driving really fast are on the interstate, and they would put any NASCAR driver to shame. The speed limit on I-95 is 70 mph, and I was doing 75, with people running up on my rear bumper no matter which lane I was in. I bumped it up to 80, and then 85, and I was still being passed by people who apparently had someplace that they had to get to yesterday.

We made it to Daytona Beach in one piece, and our first stop was at Bass Pro to return an item I bought last week. The guy at Customer Service said that it was 10% off Tuesday and added that if I signed up for their MasterCard, I would get an additional 10% off on any purchases I made that day, not to mention my 5% veterans discount. I wandered upstairs and looked at a nice Browning over-and-under shotgun, but even with all of the discounts, I don’t think Miss Terry would have been too pleased with me laying out $1500 cash on a gun, even if it was her birthday.

Our next stop was Best Buy, where we spent a couple of hours looking at computers and comparing their prices against Amazon’s Prime Days prices. After doing a lot of research and getting advice from several people who know a lot more about technical things than we do, Terry decided to go with the Surface Book 3, which is a laptop computer with a removable screen so it can also be used as a tablet. We could have saved $10 with the special Prime Day prices on Amazon, but we made up for that by getting $13 off of a CD/DVD reader/writer and another $8 off of a Surface Pen. Now all Terry has to do is get everything set up and figure out how to migrate files from her HP laptop to the Surface Book.

While we were in Best Buy the rain was coming down hard, but by the time we were done  there it had let up to a sprinkle. We had planned to go to Aunt Catfish on the River for dinner, but by then it was after 5 p.m., and when I called to ask if they were seating anybody or if there was a delay, they said we would have to wait about two hours for a table. No thanks, we’ll do that another day. Fortunately, our friends Tom and Diane Owen had sent Terry a $25 gift card for Red Lobster for her birthday, and she already had another $25 gift card from them. Since it was right down the road from Best Buy, we went there for dinner. The restaurant was not very crowded and the food and service were excellent.

Terry said she had forgotten something at Lowe’s earlier in the day so we stopped at Home Depot so I could buy her a shovel. Isn’t that what every married woman wants for her birthday? I didn’t ask, because I really didn’t want to know. But I was a little nervous when she started measuring me and then pacing off some distance in the side yard.

On the way home we stopped at Steel City Pizza and picked up a couple of slices of cheesecake to have for dessert later in the evening. And that was our day. Nothing exciting, but time spent together is always precious to us.

Thought For The Day – I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.

Jun 222021
 

Today is a very special day at our house because it’s Miss Terry’s birthday. Try as I might, I have never been able to figure out what this beautiful, intelligent woman sees in me or why she chooses to spend her life with me. But I am so happy she does. We all know she could do a lot better.

Terry is rather shy until you get to know her, but once she is comfortable with someone you could not ask for a nicer, more loyal, giving, and honest friend who will stick with you through the bad times as well as the good. I have seen her sit at a friend’s deathbed and comfort them as they make their passage, and hold their grieving family members as they cry.

She is also the most courageous person I have ever known. When Terry was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and told she had six weeks to live, she didn’t collapse and feel sorry for herself like some people might. Nor did she give up and accept her diagnosis. She fired that doctor and found one who was as committed to saving her life as she was to fighting.

I have known some brave people in my life. True heroes. Soldiers who stood their ground in the face of overwhelming odds while everybody around them turned and ran. Police officers who take on the dirty, dangerous jobs the rest of society doesn’t want to deal with. But never in my time on this earth have I seen anyone with the courage of my beloved wife as she faced this terrible challenge. The first words out of Terry’s lips after hearing her diagnosis were “I’m going to beat this. We’ve got too much left to do.”

With that steadfast courage, and with the grace and poise with which she lives every other aspect of her life, Terry set her goal on a complete recovery. It was the roughest road we’ve ever traveled together. Never have I felt so impotent as I did having to watch my darling suffer through the rigors of radiation and chemotherapy, the nausea, the pain, the weight loss, and not being able to do anything to help her. More than once I begged God to take me if one of us had to go. But the marvels of modern medicine and the power of prayer combined to bring us through our terrible journey, and 21 years later the cancer is gone and she is still by my side.

She did not give birth to my son and daughter and she didn’t come into their lives until Tiffany was 16 and Travis was 21, but to both of them, she has been Mom from the very first day, and always will be.

For the last two months I’ve been asking Terry what she wants for her birthday, but she always tells me she has everything she needs. I respond that it’s not about what she needs, it’s about what she wants. But she won’t tell me, darn it. She’s not one for flowers or jewelry, and while I know she needs a new computer, that’s kind of a personal choice and she hasn’t settled on what she wants yet. She doesn’t do any gaming or video editing or things like that, and Jim and Chris Guld from Geeks on Tour recommended a Chromebook, but she’s not sold on that idea. She’s been talking about a Surface Pro, but again, she hasn’t decided what she wants.

I did at least convince her to let me take her out for a nice dinner today, and I do believe seafood is on the agenda, possibly at Aunt Catfish on the River in Port Orange, which is one of her favorites. Aside from that, I’m at a loss.

There was a time when I could make her happy by taking her to Lowe’s or Home Depot and letting her run amuck through the tool department back when we were building our bus conversion. But she said she was hanging up her tool belt when we bought our house.

I guess I should be grateful she’s not a woman who wants the newest and best of everything and can wear out a credit card in a matter of months. Actually, that’s me. Terry is the practical and frugal one in our house.

Happy birthday, baby. Words cannot express how much I love you with all of my being. If we have to grow old, I am so very grateful we get to do it together.

Thought For The Day – A good marriage is one where each partner suspects they got the better deal.

Hot Weather RVing Tips

 Posted by at 12:24 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 212021
 

Note: With the heatwave blanketing so much of the country, I thought I would repost this blog on ways to make life more comfortable in an RV in hot weather.

The thermometer has been flirting with the 95-degree mark, which is a reason a lot of people stay out of Florida in the summer. The good news is that there is less traffic on the roads, and stores and restaurants are not very crowded. The bad news is that it’s too bloody hot to go outside unless you have to!

Although I’ve seen some days at campgrounds in northern Indiana, in Michigan, and other places when it felt just as hot. Of course, fans of the desert will tell you that while it does climb into the triple digits in Arizona, it’s a dry heat. Yeah, it’s dry inside an oven, too. What’s your point?

You may not be in Florida or the desert now, but wherever you are, here are some ideas to help keep your RV cool without sending your electric bill through the roof.

When traveling in mountain country in a motorhome, consider turning off your dashboard air conditioner and running your generator and rooftop (or basement) AC. It places less strain on your engine when climbing steep grades in hot weather, and your coach will be comfortable when you arrive, instead of having to spend time cooling it down once you’re plugged into shore power.

It’s easier to be comfortable if you can keep the heat outside of your RV in the first place. In helping to accomplish that, awnings are your friend. You can easily reduce the temperature inside your rig by ten degrees or more by using your patio and window awnings. An added benefit is that if your refrigerator is on the curb side of your RV, using the awning to shade it will help keep things colder in your refrigerator.

We also used mesh-type solar screens on our windshield and forward side windows, which helps block the sun while still allowing us to see outside. Some RVers we know also hang a piece of the same mesh fabric from their patio awning to further shade their home on wheels. If the solar screen isn’t enough, and you are willing to forfeit the view, closing the privacy curtains over the windshield and cab area of a motorhome will help even more.

Sometimes you find yourself stuck someplace where the sun is particularly brutal and that mesh windshield screen just won’t do the job. That’s when a roll of reflective foil bubble insulation over the windshield can be a lifesaver. It does a good job on the inside, but the glass will still get hot and produce a lot of radiant heat. Putting the foil on the outside, under the wipers and secured so it won’t blow away will keep the glass cooler in the first place, and your RV as well.

You don’t always need to run your air conditioner to be comfortable. Knowing how to get the most from your roof vents and windows can be an asset in keeping your RV comfortable. Close the windows and blinds on the sunny side of your RV and open those in the shade, then turn on your roof fans to vent outward and you may be surprised at how much cool air flows in.

One summer several years ago, back when we were teaching for Life on Wheels, we found ourselves boondocking on an asphalt parking lot at a college in Pennsylvania for a week. It was bloody hot even at night and the RVs around us were running their generators all night long. Not us; we closed all of the windows in the front of our bus conversion, opened the bedroom windows, and put all of our roof vent fans on high. This created a strong airflow that worked almost like an evaporative cooler over our bodies. By morning we were pulling covers over us to warm up!

One of the best investments we ever made was a Fan-Tastic Vent Endless Breeze box fan. It plugs into a 12-volt outlet, has three speeds, and moves a lot of air. We’ve put it in front of an open window to draw warm air out or pointed it the other way to pull cool night air inside our RV. We also use it to move air to different areas of our motorhome when we are plugged in at a campground and have the air conditioning on.

An inexpensive investment that pays off big in keeping an RV comfortable in hot weather is an Roof Vent Insulator. Basically a pillow, some even have foil on one side, made to fit inside the vent opening in your ceiling, you will be amazed at how much heat they keep out on a hot summer day.

These are just a few tips to help you keep your cool when the summer temperature climbs. Do you have any of your own you want to share?

Congratulations Deb Heen, the winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of Big Lake Hoarder, the most recent book in my Big Lake mystery series. We had 101 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – My biggest fear about becoming a zombie is all the walking that I’d have to do.

We Got Geeked!

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 202021
 

Just as we and many of the working RVers we knew during our years as fulltimers, our good friends Jim and Chris Guld from Geeks on Tour have taken a new course in life. While we hung up the keys completely, Jim and Chris downsized to a Roadtrek B van, and are still traveling part time to RV rallies and shows when they are not hanging out at their townhouse down in the Fort Lauderdale area.

Chris contacted us the other day and said they would be passing through our area on their way to the Escapees RV Club Escapade Rally and an FMCA rally in Wyoming in July, and said they were thinking of stopping by. Of course! Anytime!

They arrived about 6 o’clock on Friday afternoon, and we had a lot of hugs to make up for lost time. It’s been about three years since we last saw them and we were long overdue! We chatted for a while, and eventually went to Dustin’s Bar-B-Q for dinner. While we ate we talked about our mutual adventures on the road, seminar instructors and vendors we knew from those days, and shared a lot of laughs. Back at home, they were plugged into electricity and spent the night in our driveway.

Yesterday morning they had a couple of Zoom meetings they had to attend to before they came in and visited for a few more hours. Jim and Chris teach classes on Google Photos, computers, smartphones, and all kinds of technology at RV rallies and events around the country, and we always learn something from them. Chis is also the author of Learn Google Photos, an excellent, easy to understand guide to all that this powerful workhourse can do. This time around, she taught us how to find any place we have been by using the Google app on our smartphones, and then any pictures we took while we were at that location, even if it was years ago on a different phone.

A while back I purchased a Zoom H4nPro digital recorder/microphone, and it has quite a learning curve to it that I have not been able to master. Jim spent some time with me, showing me how to set it up properly and get the most out of, which I really appreciated.

All too soon our friends had to hit the road again in search of new adventures. I will admit that Terry and I both were a tad bit jealous as they were headed out, but we’re quite comfortable here at home. And once I get my next Big Lake book out, which I’m aiming for sometime in late July, we plan to do some traveling, too. There are still a lot of places we haven’t been to, and others we want to return to again. Life is too short to spend all of it sitting at home.

Today is your last chance to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Hoarder, the most recent book in my Big Lake mystery series. 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 U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – A person who dances with you in the rain will walk with you in the storm.

Are You Serious?

 Posted by at 12:04 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 192021
 

I get a lot of e-mails every day from people asking questions about my books, RVing, or life in general. Many times I share those questions here in the blog if I think they would be of interest to other readers. But sometimes I get an e-mail asking me something and I have to scratch my head and wonder if these people are really serious. Here are two real examples from the recent mailbag.

Someone wrote to say that they are considering becoming fulltime RVers and asked me what was the best RV to buy. I get this question a lot, and I always reply that there is no one size fits all RV. What works for one person might not be a good choice for somebody else. Some people like to go to state parks and travel back roads that might not be appropriate for a large RV, and they should go with something smaller and easier to maneuver in tight places. Other people want all of the creature comforts they can get, as well as a lot of cargo capacity and the smoothest ride possible. A large Class A diesel pusher might be the best for them. Others have hobbies or interests that could make a toy hauler their best choice.

The woman wrote back and replied that I wasn’t really answering her question, she didn’t care what was right for other people, she wanted me to tell her what RV her and her husband should buy. I replied once more that I could not tell her what was right for them because I didn’t know what their needs were and it would be impossible for me to advise her. I suggested that they visit several RV dealerships and look at the options available. She immediately wrote back saying I was wasting her time and to at “least give me something to start with!” I replied that they should start with something with wheels under it. Yes, I know that was snarky, but it seemed to work, because except for replying with a one word response describing a certain body orifice, I haven’t heard any more from her.

And then we have the person who told me that they have been fulltiming for three years now and have decided it’s not for them and would like to find a home somewhere in coastal Florida. He said they have visited Florida twice now and like it and asked me for any recommendations.

Again, a lot of that depends on their needs and interests, as well as their budget. I told him the reasons we settled where we did, halfway between Daytona Beach and Cape Canaveral, were because we can be at the beach in a matter of minutes, we like the small town atmosphere yet we are close to Orlando and Daytona Beach if there’s anything we need we can’t find locally, as well as for medical care. He asked several questions about the area and I told him about several local Facebook groups he might find interesting and where he might get answers for other questions he had.

His response was that he thought he and his wife would like to come and check out the area, and rather than bringing their RV, could they stay with us for a few days to a week or so. He said that would make it much more convenient for them, and they sure would not say no to any of Miss Terry’s home cooking.

Now keep in mind, this is not somebody we know personally, or even somebody I have an extended online relationship with. It’s just somebody who follows me on Facebook and reads my blog. I replied that we’re not in the habit of having people we know stay with us, kind of let alone strangers, but suggested several local hotels and said that maybe we could get together for lunch or dinner while they were in the area. He wrote back and said he didn’t understand why staying with us would be a problem, it wasn’t like they were ax murderers or serial killers or anything like that. I’m not sure ax murderers and serial killers tell you what they do to people they cross paths with, but I still didn’t extend an invitation to stay with us.

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.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Hoarder, the most recent book in my Big Lake mystery series. 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 U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I hug the people I hate so I know how big to dig the hole in my backyard.

Back At It

 Posted by at 12:18 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 182021
 

In yesterday’s blog I told you that I got about 4,000 words written in my new Big Lake book on Monday, but by the end of the day my right wrist and hand were aching so much that I couldn’t get anything done on Tuesday. However, thanks to healthy doses of ibuprofen and arthritis strength acetaminophen along with liberal applications of Voltaren gel, by yesterday morning things were feeling much better and I was able to get back at it.

I got a bit of a late start because I had a ton of e-mails to answer first thing in the morning, as well as deleting several fake entries in the current free drawing. Then I had to make some phone calls back and forth with the dealership where I’m ordering my new pickup to get a couple of things finalized. But I still managed to knock out about 5,500 more words by the end of the day.

I have missed the crew in Big Lake and it’s nice to get back there and see what’s going on. And if you have read any of the books in the series about that little mountain town in Northern Arizona, you know there’s always something happening. Sheriff Weber and his deputies are investigating a shooting on Main Street that took place in front of a crowd of people but isn’t at all what it appears on the surface. And, of course, former mayor Chet Wingate is sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong and doing his best to spread chaos wherever he goes. I’m not sure how this one is going to wind up yet, but it’s got me hooked already!

I’m not sure how much writing I’ll get done today or tomorrow because we have friends passing through who are going to stop for a visit. I’ll tell you all about that in another blog post real soon.

Several people have asked me how the non-slip stair tape that Terry put on my office stairs after my fall a few days ago is working out so far. It’s doing an excellent job, and you don’t really notice it, so it doesn’t detract from the oak wood on the stairs. It was definitely a good investment, and I would recommend it to anybody who wants to avoid a nasty fall like I experienced.

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.

We had over 60 entries in our latest Free Drawing in less than 24 hours, but you still have time to enter. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Hoarder, the most recent book in my Big Lake mystery series. 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 U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – When a cougar gets so old that she needs a hearing aid, does she becomes a Def Leppard?

They’re Back

 Posted by at 12:31 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 172021
 

In a blog post less than two weeks ago I told you that my son Travis and his wife Geli removed the banana palms at the edge of our driveway, which didn’t produce edible bananas but did make a mess all the time. Here’s a picture of what it looked like when they were done.

Apparently the soil here is very fertile because even though we haven’t had much rain lately, look what is growing back already! I guess they missed a couple of roots or something, and here we go again.

To give you an idea of the size of these, as you can see in this picture, one of them comes up to Terry’s knees. And again, this is in under two weeks! (Yes, I know I cropped her head off. I never said I was a great photographer.) I need to get out there with a shovel and dig the whole area up because those roots are like cancer and if you miss one cell, it comes back.

I knocked out close to 4,000 words in my next Big Lake book on Monday, but even though I narrate everything into a Sony digital recorder rather than typing, there is still a lot of work to be done with a mouse and keyboard, correcting errors and formatting things. I’m not sure what I did in the process of all that, but by Monday night my right hand and wrist were aching so bad I couldn’t sleep well, and they continued that way all through yesterday so I didn’t get any more work done on the book. I’m assuming that’s what is causing the problem, although I also came down hard on that wrist when I took my fall last week. It hurt quite a bit at the time, but that was seven days ago and I don’t think it would just now start flaring up. Hopefully today is a better day and I can get some more work done.

What do you get the man who has everything? My wonderful daughter-in-law Geli was all over that and sent me this beautiful pen with a quote by Ernest Hemingway for Father’s Day. I love this lady and am so glad she is a part of our lives. Thanks, Geli, I love it.

It’s Thursday, and after a several-week hiatus from our Free Drawings because we had company from out of town, it’s time for a new one. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Hoarder, the most recent book in my Big Lake mystery series. 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 U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I accidentally swallowed a bunch of Scrabble tiles. My next trip to the bathroom could spell disaster.