Nick Russell

Pyramid Schemes

 Posted by at 12:52 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 262018

I received a lot of responses to yesterday’s blog about play dates for RVing kids, and the general consensus seemed to be that 15 and 17-year-old boys don’t need play dates as much as they need a mother who doesn’t hover over them monitoring their every move. I also got a few requests for information on where I found those “other” play date websites. I don’t want to be an enabler, so you’ll have to do your own research on that.

In the process of weaning myself away from the VA healthcare system in favor of private service providers, I have had to have a lot of blood tests and other lab work done. Yesterday I went to the civilian primary care doctor’s office to review everything with a nurse practitioner. Overall, things are good. My blood pressure and cholesterol levels are where they need to be, my A1c level was a bit high but not bad. I think if I keep doing the things I’m doing, I’m going to live a while longer.

Of course, then she had to talk about my weight. What a way to spoil a good time. She gave me a chart with a food pyramid on it. I think while she was pointing out the good things and the bad things (and as it turns out there a lot more bad things than good things) she knew as well as I did that she was wasting both of our time.

No thank you, I’ve heard about every pyramid scheme there is from the multilevel marketing people. I don’t think I’ll be embracing the concept.

The good news is, now that my back pain is no longer an issue, I’ve been back on the treadmill knocking out a half-mile at a time. A month ago I couldn’t have done that. It’s hard to walk on a treadmill with a cane. Especially for a guy who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time on his best days.

I’ve gotten a couple of emails from people asking how they can avoid going into RV parks and campgrounds that have a lot of issues, be those issues poor power, poorly laid out campsites, bad neighbors, or whatever. We always relied on RV Park Reviews, where our fellow RVers review campgrounds, listing the good and the bad.

Of course, just like with any review site, you have to read between the lines sometimes. I’ve seen campgrounds get a one star review because they didn’t have fast free Wi-Fi, because the owner was “rude” by insisting people control their animals and their kids, and by one person who was mad because they kicked him and his wife out of the swimming pool at 2 AM. Those are probably those bad neighbors that I mentioned above.

Another website I recently came across is Six federal agencies with vastly different jurisdictions have joined together to create a “one stop shop” for U.S. Government recalls, be they for vehicles, food, clothing, or any other consumer goods. It’s updated on a regular basis, so check back often.

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

Thought For The Day – If you have a dad, you really should be thanking him for bringing you into the world. Your mom probably wasn’t even in the mood.

Really? A Play Date?

 Posted by at 12:33 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 252018

I know I’m showing my age here, but I have to ask. What the hell is a play date? And why do kids need them? I had never heard of a play date until the last few years. If we had play dates when I was a kid, it consisted of all the mothers in the neighborhood telling the kids to get outside and play until it was time for lunch, and after lunch to go back out and play again until it was time for dinner. They didn’t really care what we were playing or where we were playing it, just so we were out from under foot. And wonder of wonders, we survived!

I ask this because I got an email from a woman who told me that she and her family are fulltime RVers who are homeschooling their two sons, ages 15 and 17 on the road. She said in the nine months they’ve been traveling it’s been a wonderful experience for the most part, but one issue she is having problems with is finding play dates for her boys when they go to RV parks where they don’t know anybody. She wondered if there was something like Boondockers Welcome which lists homes and businesses where RVers can park for free overnight, but to arrange play dates instead.

Always eager to help my readers, I did an Internet search for play dates. Boy, am I glad Miss Terry didn’t walk in when I was reading those results! And based on some of the links I clicked from there, that old saying that boys will be boys may not be entirely true anymore. I admit that for a second there I almost fell a little bit in lust with a beautiful blonde named Eve. Then I took a closer look and found out she’s really an Adam. Nope, not going back to that website again!

But seriously. At 15 and 17 years old, do boys really need a play date? How about handing them a basketball and pointing toward the campground’s hoop and saying, “go play.” Who knows? They might actually make some new friends and get a game going.

Play dates. I just don’t get it.

Yesterday Miss Terry put the finishing touches on her new rug and it now rests proudly right inside our front door. This picture shows it’s true colors better than the one yesterday.

While she was doing that, I wrote the last chapter in my new John Lee Quarrels book Strawberry Slugbug and printed it out for Terry to begin editing and proofing. It came in at 83,774 words, which makes it one of my longest novels to date. Most of them come in somewhere around 75,000 words, give or take.

While the new book is going through the editing and proofing stages I’ve got a few days to catch my breath before it’s ready to be uploaded to Amazon. But that doesn’t mean I’ll be goofing off too much because I have a lot of work ahead of me. I have to write the first chapter of the next John Lee book to include at the end of this one as a teaser, then I have to get my author’s newsletter ready to send out, and there are blogs to write, including some stories from our road trip back in July that I haven’t gotten around to yet. I guess I’d better catch that breath real quick so I can get to work, huh?

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

Thought For The Day – Surround yourself with people who have issues, because people who have issues always have alcohol.

Sep 242018

Wow, I was really surprised by how much feedback I got from yesterday’s blog when I asked about readers’ experiences using Airbnb instead of staying in motels or hotels. Between blog comments, emails, and Facebook messages, over 30 of you responded, and everybody seemed to be very pleased with the places they have stayed using the program. Several people also mentioned VRBO, a similar service specializing in vacation rentals for the most part. Terry and I have decided we will probably do something like that on our next road trip.

We spent most of our time over the weekend writing and weaving. Late yesterday afternoon Terry finished her rug project and took it off the loom. It is very heavy, measures 48 x 38”, and I think it’s beautiful. She still has to hem it, wet finish it, and trim the fringe and then it’s ready to go. I’m impressed.

For my part, I didn’t quite meet my goal of finishing my new book by yesterday but I’m very close. I have one more chapter to write, then I’ll give it a read-through and make any obvious corrections that are needed before I print it out and give it to Terry to do her thing. After she’s done it will start making the rounds of my other proofreaders. They usually all work pretty fast and I’m still hoping to have it out by the end of the month.

This will be my third new book out this year, and I still have one more to go, the long-awaited Big Lake Wedding, when Sheriff Weber and Robyn finally tie the knot. But since it’s happening in Big Lake, you just know there are going to be some complications along the way to the altar. Nothing is ever easy in that little mountain town.

Speaking of books, my good friend USA Today bestselling author Suzie O’Connell has a newly-created two-book holiday romance bundle called Mistletoe Magic. The regular price is $6.99, but starting today and running through the end of the month, Suzie has reduced the price to just $.99. That’s a whole bunch of reading from an excellent author for under a buck! How can you possibly go wrong?

Congratulations Gail Reitz, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of undone, the first book in my buddy Jason Deas’ new Burt Bigsley mystery series. We had 51 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

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

Thought For The Day – You just can’t beat procrastination. You always have something to do tomorrow, and nothing to do today.

Sep 232018

After reading my blog post about using medical marijuana to control my back pain, I got an email from a longtime reader telling me that her husband suffered with pain for many years until his doctor suggested medical marijuana 12 years ago. Since they live in Colorado it was easy to get, and just like with me, it did wonders for him and he hasn’t had to revert back to the opioids the doctors had been prescribing for him. But they are concerned about the legalities of crossing state lines and into states that do not allow medical marijuana. She said they can’t even visit family in Nebraska without risking the possibility of jail time and wondered how we plan to address the problem when we visit family in Alabama or Arizona.

I replied that it is an issue we are going to have to figure out before our next road trip, and something we are concerned about as well. And at this point, I really don’t have an answer. It’s wrong that people should be considered criminals by crossing a state line because they use a natural product to control pain, but they can take their prescribed opioids with them.

It’s like traveling with firearms. If you are traveling through a state where gun laws are very restrictive you run the risk of being arrested. So you have to make a decision as to whether you are more concerned about your personal safety or your personal freedom if you are caught. There is no easy answer. One difference is that RVers probably don’t get stopped as often as people traveling in passenger cars might. But even in our motorhome we went through many Border Patrol checkpoints out west where they have dogs trained to detect narcotics. The never did a walk around our coach, but I guess it’s possible.

Speaking of traveling, the other day a friend of mine told me that they are staying in Airbnb’s on a trip they are taking. I got curious and started reading up a little bit about them, and they’re very intriguing. These are privately owned cottages, apartments, condos, or sometimes even a spare bedroom in somebody’s house that they rent out to travelers. In looking at the Airbnb website, I saw some very nice rentals available in many places we like to visit and for a lot less money than hotels. I think we may go that route on our next out-of-town trip. Have any of you used Airbnb? If so, what has your experience been like?

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of undone, the first book in my buddy Jason Deas’ new Burt Bigsley mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is 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.

Thought For The Day – As an adult I can go anywhere I please and do anything I want. Most of the time I just want to go home.

Sep 222018

In a blog post a couple of weeks ago I reported that after 45 years of constant back pain resulting from an injury in the military, and after taking every kind of opioid the VA doctors gave me and getting no relief, I decided to try medical marijuana, which is legal here in Florida in oil or capsule form.

As I said then, I stopped taking the heavy drugs from the VA immediately and began using the marijuana. Within a week or two my pain level was down by 50% Now it’s gone for the most part. I still feel some stiffness when I get up first thing in the morning, and an occasional twinge or two, but nothing at all compared to what I’ve dealt with for most of my adult life. No, the marijuana doesn’t repair the bad discs in my back, but it does relieve the pain and I don’t take enough to get high from it.

That being said, beside being a pothead, I just realized I’m also a pill head. Really, look at what I take every night. Who needs a midnight snack when you’ve got all of this? And that’s after I dumped the opioids! Actually, only two of what you see here are prescription meds, one for cholesterol and one for blood pressure. Everything else is a vitamin or supplement of some kind or another that Terry gives me. I’m not sure what they all do, but none of them have made me taller or skinnier. The good thing is, they haven’t affected my boyish good looks, either.

A few days ago I was talking to my buddy Mac McCoy, who worked the RV rally circuit with us for many years, teaching fire safety to RVers. Mac is now retired and living in Oregon, and he mentioned that he and his wife Annie have starting using contoured neck pillows. Mac said they’ve made a world of difference in their sleep. So Miss Terry decided to order a couple of them. Amazon has a lot to choose from, and Terry went with the DMI Hugg-A-Pillow hypoallergenic pillows. We tried them out Thursday night and she really liked hers. For me, when I’m sleeping on my side, the contoured pillow is nice, but I tend to change positions from side to back several times a night, and when I’m on my back it’s not very comfortable for me. Or maybe I haven’t learned how to use it yet. I’ll keep you updated.

When I’m not writing books, I love reading them. My taste runs everywhere from mysteries to biographies to books on historical subjects, among others. We are fans of the TV show The Incredible Dr. Pol, which is about the folks that work in a veterinarian’s office in a small town in Michigan. They treat everything from small animals like dogs and cats to making farm calls to deal with cows and horses, as well as exotic animals like emus, reindeer, parrots, and even snakes. It’s an interesting show and I have learned quite a bit from it. I’ve even picked up some things I will be slipping into one of my mystery novels now and then. I get ideas for my books everywhere.

So when I saw that Dr. Pol had a book out, I ordered it from Amazon. Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow: My Life as a Country Vet, is a good read and covers everything from his childhood in Holland to veterinary school, coming to the United States as an exchange student and meeting Diane, the love of his life, and later returning to Michigan to marry her and set up their practice. It’s almost an updated version of James Herriot’s excellent All Creatures Great and Small. If you’re a fan of the show, or are just interested in animals, get yourself a copy. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audio book of undone, the first book in my buddy Jason Deas’ new Burt Bigsley mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is 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.

Thought For The Day – Did you ever wake up from a sound sleep with a foot cramp and think, “this is it, this is how it all ends for me”?

New Or Old?

 Posted by at 12:49 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 212018

Note: Because this is a topic that comes up often, I thought I would brush off and repost this blog from March, 2013.

I have been thinking about living and traveling in an RV and how different the RV lifestyle can be among different fulltimers and snowbirds.

We know many RVers who enjoy seeking out new places to visit and explore and never seem to return to the same town twice. For them, the adventure of discovery is a big part of appeal of RVing.

On the other hand, we also know a lot of RVers who seem to return to the same places year after year. They may have family in an area or have developed friendships with other RVers who always go back to the same campground season after season and want to hang out with them. Or, they may just feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings.

I think each style has its advantages and disadvantages. There’s a lot to be said for knowing how to find your way around a town, knowing where to get the best pizza or automobile service, and which grocery stores have the best selection and prices. And after a long, hard day on the road, it’s comforting to be greeted by familiar faces when you arrive at your destination.

On the other hand, isn’t RVing all about freedom and adventure? I wonder if some folks escape the workaday-world rut only to find themselves in a different, albeit more relaxing rut. While enjoying the comforts of the familiar, what delights are we missing?

Yes, we liked Elkhart Campground and it felt almost like home to us, but there may be a hundred other nice campgrounds down the road we might never get to if we spent all of our time parked there. We love #1 Eastern Super Buffet in Mesa, Arizona, but we would have never discovered the excellent Green Garden Chinese Restaurant in Clermont, Florida if we hadn’t expanded our world by traveling. The Oregon coast has some of the most magnificent scenery in the country, but if we spent all of our time there we would have never discovered how much we like coastal Virginia.

It’s not a case of right or wrong, it’s really about what works for you. I guess we were between the two. We spent three winters in a row at Thousand Trails and Escapees campgrounds in Florida, but we also spent winters wandering around Arizona and southern California. We spent many summers in the Midwest, but we also spent a lot of summers on the Pacific Northwest coast.

How about you? Do you like the familiar, or do you like experiencing new things? Going to the same RV parks or having a different view out your window every few days? Or are you more like us, enjoying a mixture of the comfortably familiar and at the same time eager to discover what lies over the next hill?

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audio book of undone, the first book in my buddy Jason Deas’ new Burt Bigsley mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is 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.

Thought For The Day – Thank you, God for protecting me from what I thought I wanted and blessing me with what I didn’t know I needed.

Another Ring

 Posted by at 1:03 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 202018

Okay, I have sat here quietly doing my thing for months now and I haven’t whined or sniveled once about the weather. But I’ve about reached my limit with it. I really, really wish it would start cooling down. Instead, in the last week the temperature has gotten even hotter, hovering at and even exceeding record temperatures for this time of year. The weatherman says it’s because Hurricane Florence sucked so much moisture out of the local atmosphere, making it even warmer than normal here. Okay Florence, we get it, you suck. Now stop it!

In a blog post last week I told you about the Ring doorbell we installed at our front door. I liked it so much that I ordered a second one from Amazon, and yesterday Terry installed it on the door in our carport that goes into my office. They both connect to the same Ring chime/Wi-Fi extender, and I was able to set different ring tones for each one, so when someone pushes a doorbell we know which door they are at.

Terry and I have spent the last two days like we have a lot of our time lately, with her weaving and me writing. She tells me she is almost finished with her current project, a beautiful rug, and I’m almost finished with my newest book, Strawberry Slugbug. It’s book 5 in my John Lee Quarrels series and I should have it wrapped up this weekend. For any of you who are interested, here is a sneak peek at the cover, which was created by the very talented Elizabeth Mackey. Elizabeth has created all of my book covers for the last few years, as well as covers for many best-selling authors I know.

Today we have to take a break from the writing and the weaving for, you guessed it, more medical appointments. Terry has one at 11:15 in New Smyrna Beach, and then another one at 1 o’clock in Titusville. That seemed like it was cutting it pretty tight, but the folks at the first office told us they close for lunch at noon and assured us we will be in and out by then. It’s about 32 miles from one doctor’s office to the next, so we should be able to make it, barring any unforeseen difficulties. But I still prefer to have a little more buffer than that. I hate being late for anything and always try to arrive ahead of time.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audio book of undone, the first book in my buddy Jason Deas’ new Burt Bigsley mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is 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.

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

Thought For The Day – Lazy people fact #5679386452000167. Admit it, you were too lazy to read that whole number.

Sep 192018

History is written by the victors, and unfortunately, we Americans have not always been the nicest people in the world. Evidence of that is in the movies and television shows of my childhood, which portrayed Indians, whom we now call Native Americans, as ruthless savages who spent their time raiding settlers’ isolated cabins and ambushing hapless wagon trains, until the “good guys” in the form of the U.S. Cavalry rode to the rescue in the nick of time, with bugles playing and sabers flashing.

In truth, these native peoples were defending their homeland from an invading horde who descended upon them, broke every treaty made with them, and in quick time destroyed their world and their culture.

The Indian tribes that resisted the influx of these newcomers with violence met with overpowering opposition from the United States Army, whose superior firepower beat them into submission. Those who tried to compromise, by way of treaties and moving onto government appointed reservations, quickly learned that the promises made by Washington to provide for their needs on those reservations were broken before the ink was even dry on the treaties they signed.

Not content to force the Indians off their traditional lands and onto substandard reservations, the next step was to destroy their traditional way of life by introducing them to the White man’s ways and forcing them to assimilate into our culture. One of the primary ways to do so was to establish Indian schools, where Native American children were brought to “civilize” them.

More than 100,000 Indian children attended some 500 boarding schools that were established to accomplish this mission. The children were forbidden to wear their hair long, to dress in their traditional clothing, practice their religious beliefs, or even to speak their native languages. They were even forced to accept Anglo names to further separate them from their identities as Indians.

The first, and probably the most infamous of these, was the Carlisle Indian School in the Pennsylvania community of the same name. Today a cemetery at the former school holds the graves of Indian children who were torn from their homes and families and brought to Carlisle, where many died of diseases unknown to their former lives, and to which they had no immunity.

Perhaps not as disruptive to the Indians’ traditional lifestyle were the missions established on the frontier to help the Indians assimilate into White culture. At least here the Indian children were close to home and family.

One such school is known today as the Iowa and Sac & Fox Mission State Historic Site, near Highland, Kansas. The school here was established by the Presbyterian Church in 1837 to educate Iowa and Sac and Fox Indian children. Originally Great Lakes tribes, these native peoples were forced to emigrate to reservations in Kansas in the 1800s, adapting their traditional Woodlands cultures to the rolling prairie landscape.

Like so much that happened in our dealings with the Indians, though the decision to build the mission was made by the Presbyterian Church at the urging of the United States government, most of the construction costs were funded by appropriating tribal annuity monies that were supposed to be paid to help them survive on the reservations until they could establish farms and become self-sufficient.

At least life was easier on Indian children educated at the mission than it was for their counterparts who were forced into the boarding schools far from their families. The mission was adjacent to the reservation, and lessons were taught in English and the Iowa language. Lessons included spelling, arithmetic, and geography, but emphasis was placed on the industrial and domestic arts, and farming. By 1856, the mission had 44 students. Half were Iowas, and the rest were from the Sac, Fox, Blackfoot, Sioux, and Pawnee tribes. Many of the students were orphans.

The Presbyterians realized the advantage of teaching Indian children to read and write in their own languages and felt that a gradual introduction to English was more effective than the forced total immersion to Anglo ways used in many of the boarding schools.

This was one of many Indian missions scattered across the West, and the missionaries’ motives varied. Many honestly believed that their work was in the best interests of the Indians. Unfortunately, others shared the popular opinion that the Indians were an inferior race that needed to either change or disappear.

Emigrant and freight traffic passed the mission on the St. Joseph branch of the Oregon-California Trail, and for a time the Indians were able to profit from this traffic. They built a log bridge across Wolf Creek, near the mission, and charged a toll, usually twenty-five or fifty cents a wagon.

But, as happened with the Indian children sent to the boarding schools, exposure to the White man meant exposure to his diseases. Cholera and smallpox broke out among the Indians, claiming many tribal members. The Indians who survived these epidemics shunned contact with white emigrants and the missionaries, fearing that more disease would follow.

Even though the Indians’ original treaty, agreed to in 1836, promised them their reservation lands “so long as the grass on the prairie shall grow,” that was not to be. In 1854 a new treaty was negotiated, causing a reduction of Indian lands, and settlers moved into the region, pushing the Indians further west. This left the mission too far removed from the reservation to serve the Indians, and the decision was made to close it in 1863. For the next three years the mission functioned as the Indian Orphanage Institute, before it closed completely in 1866.

Over time, part of the original mission building was dismantled, and in 1937 the Northeast Kansas Historical Society organized to preserve the remaining portion of the building, which had been used as a residence until about 1905. It became the property of the state in 1941, and since 1963 the Kansas Historical Society has administered the property as a state historic site.

The Iowa and Sac & Fox Mission State Historic Site is located at 1737 Elgin Road, one mile north of U.S. 36, and three miles east of Highland, Kansas. The buildings are no longer open to visitors, but the grounds open daily from dawn to dusk. There is no admission fee. Parking may be limited for larger RVs. For more information, call (785) 272-8681.

Thought For The Day – Sorry, I’m in a hurry. Let’s talk while we walk. You go that way.

The Dogs Of Daytona

 Posted by at 1:46 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 182018

Daytona Beach, Florida has been a popular vacation spot for well over 100 years, and many who come to enjoy the white sand beaches, the amusements along the Boardwalk, or to see a NASCAR race at the Daytona International Speedway are so taken with the friendly seaside town that they move there permanently or purchase vacation homes to spend the winter months away from the ice and snow up north.

One such couple were wealthy businessman Charles Grover Burgoyne and his wife Mary Therese, who retired to Daytona Beach in 1894. Born in Fairmont, Virginia in 1847, Burgoyne joined the Union Army during the Civil War when he was just 14 years old. He later moved to New York and made his fortune in the printing industry. And while Burgoyne may have retired from that business, he was an early mover and shaker in Daytona Beach.

Many credit him with being the father of tourism in the area, and he served as the mayor of Daytona Beach in the late 1800s. The Burgoynes were philanthropists who did a lot for the city. Though they had no children of their own, they provided money to see that local schoolchildren always had milk and something to eat, and they provided housing for children in need. Every year they threw a large party and welcomed every child in town to attend.

The Sweetheart Trail, a walking and jogging pathway, runs along the Halifax River at Beach Street, which was at one time the center of downtown Daytona Beach and is now home to trendy boutiques, restaurants, and antique shops. Named after the Burgoynes’ 75 foot yacht Sweetheart, the Sweetheart Trail is part of the East Coast Greenway, a 2,900-mile-long shared-use trail between Calais, Maine, and Key West, Florida.

Standing beside the Sweetheart Trail in Riverfront Park at the corner of Orange Avenue and Beach Street is a statue of what was at one time one of the most famous dogs in the world. Brownie was a stray who hung out in downtown Daytona Beach from about 1939 until his death in 1954. He was a friendly dog who always had time to stop and visit with anybody who was willing to give him a kind word or a pat on the head. If you were waiting at a bus stop, Brownie would wait with you until your bus came along, then mosey on down the street to find somebody else who welcomed his company. And it seems like everybody welcomed his company!

Everyday Brownie would make the rounds of the shops along Beach Street, where people would give him a treat, water, or just some loving. The local firemen built him a custom doghouse, people took up a collection and opened a bank account for him at the Florida Bank & Trust, and he lived well on steak and ice cream.

Featured in local and national publications, Brownie became as much a tourist attraction as did the beach and the cars that raced on it in the early days of automotive racing. When he died they held a funeral for Brownie, with the Mayor of Daytona Beach officiating. He is buried next to his statue with the epitaph “A Good Dog.”

Even though he’s been gone well over 60 years, Brownie’s grave remains one of the most visited dog memorials in the world. A comment on a sign near his grave says it all, Brownie was owned by no one, but beloved by all. He even has his own website,

Brownie was not the only famous dog from this area. Back in the 1950s, Justice of the Peace J.C. Beard presided over the Daytona Beach courthouse, ably assisted by his dog Pepper. The judge was a quirky character and it was not uncommon for him to turn to Pepper once he had found somebody guilty and ask the dog how much time the convicted person should get. If Pepper barked twice, the judge sentenced them to two months in jail. If Pepper barked four times, they got four months, and so on. According to one report, there was an occasion where the judge found someone guilty and turned to Pepper and asked what the sentence should be, and the dog remained silent. That hadn’t happened before, but Judge Beard told the convicted man, “I still think you’re guilty, but my dog doesn’t, so I’m not going to send you to jail. Now get out of here.”

Unfortunately, unlike Brownie the Town Dog, some people didn’t appreciate Pepper or Judge Beard, and they were both murdered in the courthouse. According to the book Haunted Daytona Beach by author Dusty Smith, security guards at the courthouse have claimed to hear Pepper growling and barking and the footsteps of Judge Beard late at night when the building is locked and nobody is around. Maybe they’re looking for whoever did them in so they can send them away for a long, long time.

Thought For The Day – Did you ever look at your kids and think “That one will be dropping me off curbside at the nursing home. That one will be paying for it. That one will come visit me the most. And that one? He’ll be sneaking in the pizza and beer!”

Nothing Happening Here

 Posted by at 12:27 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 172018

I keep hearing from people asking us if we are safe and out of harm’s way from Hurricane Florence. Thank you for your concern, and yes, we are fine. The hurricane made landfall about 550 miles north of us, so except for some high surf it was a nonevent for us. We didn’t even get much rain here at our place.

The only other effect we’ve had from the hurricane is that it’s been very hot the last couple of days. Not that it hasn’t been hot all along, but over the weekend we saw temps in the mid-90s, with a heat index of over 100°. The weatherman says that’s because the hurricane pulled so much moisture out of the air so it could dump it on the Carolinas. I’m not sure how that works, but I’m just glad we dodged the bullet, and we feel a lot of concern for the people that are affected by the storm. We spent a lot of time on the Carolina coast during our fulltime RVing days and it’s a place that’s dear to our hearts.

So what did we do while the storm was raging up north? Terry has been busy weaving a rug on one of her big Glamakra looms, and it’s really pretty. It uses a very thick, dense yarn and it’s taken her a while to get the feel for it. But I think the results speak for themselves. She told me she doesn’t know where it’s going to go when it’s finished, but that’s okay. For her the joy is in the creating. As for me, I don’t have her vision and I am still amazed every time I see what she can make when all she starts out with are cones of yarn.

While she was doing that, I was busy writing. I did somewhere around 2,000 to 2,500 words on Friday and Saturday on my new John Lee Quarrels book, and yesterday was a 6,155 word day. I’m getting close to wrapping this one up.

We won’t get any writing or weaving done today because I have a chiropractor appointment in the morning and then we both have doctor appointments in Daytona Beach in the afternoon. The fun just never stops. The other day I looked at our calendar and saw how many appointments we have scheduled for doctors, eye doctors, and chiropractors and I told Miss Terry that we must be getting old. Then I added that ever since we got Medicare, we seem to have fallen into poor health. Actually, a lot of it is catch-up work, because for so long Terry couldn’t get insurance due to her cancer, and because I am weaning myself away from the VA medical system and getting hooked up with civilian doctors. All that takes appointments and lab work and such, when I’d rather be home writing. Or napping. I’m pretty flexible that way.

Congratulations Carole Tibbets, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake, the first book in my Big Lake mystery series and the book that launched my career as a fiction author. We had 61 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

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.