Nick Russell

Selfish Can Be Good

 Posted by at 12:12 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 252016
 

Words are funny things. They can make us smile and even laugh out loud, or they can bring us to tears. Words can build us up or they can tear us down. But why? Every word in the English language is made up of some combination of just the 26 letters in the alphabet.



And here’s the thing about words (and you can trust me on this, after all, I’m a real, live wordsmith), even bad words can be good. Take selfish, for example.

Yesterday I got an email from a woman who said that she and her husband lived frugally and both worked two jobs to put their three daughters through college. She said they paid all of their expenses and the girls all graduated with no student loan debt, and that all have good jobs now. She said they have also helped all three out financially when it has been needed. Now mom and dad are in their mid-60s, recently retired, and have wanted to travel for as long as they can remember. So they put their home on the market, it’s under contract, and they plan to use that money to purchase a motorhome to live their dream.



Or, at least that was the plan until their middle daughter, who has a Masters degree and makes somewhere around $100,000 a year, announced that she wants to quit her job and get a PhD, and that she expects mom and dad to use the proceeds of the house sale to pay for that. The mother said she told her that wasn’t going to happen, it was now their time to do their thing, and in response the daughter has told them they are being very selfish. She added that her husband always wants to do anything he can for his three daughters and feels that if that’s what it will take to get this adult child where she wants to be in life, they should do it.

I replied that selfish can be good. I also told her that they had done much more for their daughters than most people would or could do, and that it’s time for their daughters to stand on their hind legs and take responsibility for their lives. There is selfish, and then there is selfish. Their daughter is selfish in the worst form of the word, and mom and dad putting their foot down and saying no is the right kind of selfish.

I love my kids, and we have helped them out in the past when they needed something, but there comes a time when you have to say the Bank of Dad is closed. I believe that’s an announcement this couple should have made to their daughters a long time ago. What do you think?

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of my friend Ken Rossignol’s Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous Pirates Book Series: THE LIVES AND ADVENTURES of FAMOUS and SUNDRY PIRATES. 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 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.

Pirate Trials book 3

Thought For The Day – If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how would we ever know?

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Who Wet The Bed?

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 242016
 

Living and traveling fulltime in an RV is always an adventure. Most of those adventures are a lot of fun and our memory banks are stuffed with wonderful experiences, from listening to coyotes singing as we fell asleep while boondocking in the Arizona desert, to watching whales swimming in Depoe Bay, Oregon, walking on the hallowed battleground at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and a thousand other things that most people never get to do.



But not all RVing experiences are that much fun. Sometimes they can be downright frustrating. Thursday night an hour long storm came through the area, with lots of thunder, lightning, and rain. A little before bedtime Miss Terry discovered that we had a leak in our bedroom slide and the bedding was soaked in one area. Well darn it anyway. Do they make Depends large enough to fit an RV slide?

Normally our slide seals do a pretty good job, but this happened once before when we had a hard rain and were parked in such a way that the water pooled against the slide seal. While Terry stripped the bed, I dropped the passenger side of the motorhome an inch or two so the water channeled away from the rig, solving the problem.



We were relieved to find that the water had not seeped all the way through to the mattress. So all she had to do was put on clean sheets and dry the comforter and life was back to normal. Or at least as normal as it ever is for us.

Good news if you are a fulltime RVer who uses South Dakota as your legal domicile. Up until now it has been difficult, if not impossible, to get health insurance if you are a traveling South Dakota resident. But my friend John Huggins from Living the RV Dream reported in his Facebook group that it now looks like South Dakota has a portable health care option for fulltimers under age 65. John said that Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield offers health insurance to those under age 65, who are not Medicare eligible, as long as they have a South Dakota address and a South Dakota driver’s license. The company also offers Medicare supplements for those over age 65. You can contact contact Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield at https://www.wellmark.com/i-buy-my-own/how-to-enroll and scroll to the bottom and choose “Find an agent”. Open enrollment starts November 1.

Be sure to enter our latest new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of my friend Ken Rossignol’s Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous Pirates Book Series: THE LIVES AND ADVENTURES of FAMOUS and SUNDRY PIRATES. 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 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.

Pirate Trials book 3

Thought For The Day – I’ll bet you $4,567 you can’t guess how much money I owe my bookie.

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It’s A Wet Heat

 Posted by at 12:32 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 222016
 

Terry and I both spent many years living in the desert of Arizona before we moved up to the White Mountains, which was prior to our becoming fulltime RVers. And anybody who has ever been there knows that it gets terribly hot for months on end in the late spring, all summer long, and into the early fall. But folks always say that it’s okay because it’s a dry heat. My response to that has always been that is dry inside an oven, too, but I don’t want to spend any time there, either.



Here in Florida, on the other hand, it’s a wet heat. Humidity is almost like a living, breathing entity and you can’t ignore it. It won’t let you, even if you try. But, during our last four months in northern Indiana it was also hot and humid. Maybe not quite as humid as here, but there wasn’t really that much difference. There were a lot of days when we didn’t go out much at all while we were in Elkhart because it was just too hot and humid. Just like there were many days when we lived in the desert that we didn’t go out because it was too hot, even if it was dry. In all three places, Arizona, Elkhart, and here in Florida, folks leave their air-conditioned homes (or RVs) and get into their air-conditioned cars, and drive to air-conditioned stores. So yeah, it’s a wet heat, but tolerable. Then again, we probably won’t be here in July and August.



When we stopped at the Flying J in St. Augustine the other day, I noticed that they now have this control box for the dump station. I have not seen it at any other Flying J yet, though I do know they started charging to dump RV holding tanks a while back.

dump-station-box

We know some folks who were pretty upset by that, but I disagree. It costs money to install and maintain a dump station. Why should it be free? Most Flying Js have dedicated RV fuel islands, most will let you park overnight and have dedicated RV parking lanes (even though all too often cars are parked there anyway because people can’t or choose not to read the RV Parking Only signs painted on the pavement), and where else can you spend a night and hear an announcement that “Shower Number Three is now available?” If you have ever spent a night dry camping at a Flying J, you know what I’m talking about.

While we were getting fuel we saw an eighteen wheeler pulling a trailer filled with used propane tanks. Take a look at some of these things. I’m thinking if your propane tank has that much rust on it, you’re way overdue for replacement!

old-propane-tanks

If you are a fan of my buddy Billy Kring’s books (and if you’re not, you should be) I have great news for you. Billy just released his latest book in his Ronny Baca Mystery series, Bad Moon Rising. Be sure to get your copy, it is a fine read, like all of Billy’s books are.

bad-moon

Speaking of books, it’s Thursday, which means it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of my friend Ken Rossignol’s Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous Pirates Book Series: THE LIVES AND ADVENTURES of FAMOUS and SUNDRY PIRATES. 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 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.

Pirate Trials book 3

Thought For The Day – Anger is the emotion that makes your mouth work twice as fast as your mind.

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Windmill Island

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 212016
 

Note: This story first appeared in the September-October, 2009 issue of the Gypsy Journal.

You can experience a little bit of Old World Europe in southwest Michigan with a visit to Windmill Island! Windmill Island is a beautiful 36 acre oasis within the city of Holland, Michigan comprised of manicured gardens, costumed guides, and other attractions to delight visitors of all ages.



Here you can tour a magnificent 240 year old working Dutch windmill, enjoy the beauty of over 150,000 tulips in bloom in the spring, tour an exact replica of a 14th century wayside inn, browse through a large selection of souvenirs, and even buy yourself a pair of wooden shoes!

dutch-village-3

Your first stop on a visit to Windmill Island should be the Posthouse, an exact architectural reconstruction of a 14th century Dutch wayside inn. The original stood near Ruinen, in the province of Drenthe. Wayside inns such as this provided weary travelers with food and shelter for centuries. Meals and lodging were available in the main part of the building, while the back part was a stable for horses. A display in the Posthouse’s great room shows life in an old time wayside inn.



At Windmill Island’s Posthouse, visitors can see a reproduction of an inn’s Great Room, and watch a 12 minute presentation about windmills, the Netherlands, and the park’s own windmill, De Zwaan.

posthouse-interior

The centerpiece of Windmill Island is the beautiful old windmill, named De Zwaan, which dates back to the 1760s. The 125 foot tall authentic Dutch windmill reflects the Dutch heritage of many of the earliest settlers in Holland, Michigan. Brought from the Netherlands in 1964, this is the only original Dutch windmill exported to America. It is still a working windmill producing stone ground flour, which is for sale at Windmill Island.

windmill-2

Visitors can take a guided tour of the old windmill to learn about its history and operation. Our tour guide was a delightful young lady dressed in authentic Dutch girl costume. One note here, the tour includes walking up a series of wooden stairways, so those with physical challenges may not be able to go to the top of the windmill.

Since the Netherlands are below sea level, windmills were first introduced to pump out water and control flooding. However, the resourceful Dutch people also used them to grind flour, and as signaling devices. By decorating the blades of a windmill with different colored banners, they could notify their neighbors of births, deaths, and other important community events.

Windmill Island’s De Zwaan (meaning graceful bird) has a colorful history. The windmill was used as a lookout during World War II, and a set of old windmill blades on display outside show bullet holes from being strafed by a German fighter plane.

In 1964, the City of Holland purchased the windmill from a retired miller in the town of Vinkel, in the province of Noord Brabant in the Netherlands. The windmill was shipped from the Netherlands to the port of Muskegon, Michigan and was brought by truck from Muskegon to its present location on Windmill Island. Reconstruction of the mill began in 1964, and the park opened in April of 1965.

Kids will love Windmill Island’s marvelous antique carousel, featuring hand-carved and painted wooden horses. The century old carousel was imported from the Netherlands in 1971. The carousel was carefully restored during the winter of 2002-2003 and features sixteen painted canvas ceiling panels that feature angels, birds, and small animals.Over 1,000 hours of labor went into the restoration, which was done by local artist Lisa Freeman. 

carousel-horse

Music lovers will also appreciate the famous “The Four Columns,” 69 key metal organ built in 1928 that once filled the streets of Breda, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam with music. Built by famous organ maker Carl Frel, the beautiful organ was given to the City of Holland by the City of Amsterdam in 1947 in gratitude for the role the United States played in liberating Holland from the Nazis during World War II. We enjoyed listening as a young woman in Dutch clothing played the organ for us.

organ-3

My favorite exhibit at Windmill Island was Little Netherlands. Housed in a building whose exterior is an authentic reproduction of a typical dwelling on the colorful Island of Markden in the Zuiderzee, the display features hundreds of miniature figures, buildings, and operating models depicting life in old Holland. Years of research and handwork went into the creation of this amazing Lilliputian world.

little-netherlands-2

During the spring and summer, Windmill Islands’ gardens are alive with color, and boys and girls dressed in folk costumes and wooden shoes perform the old-time klompen dance to entertain visitors.

When you think you’ve seen it all and you’re all done, you’re wrong. Your visit to Windmill Island is not complete until you browse through the gift shop, where you will find souvenirs including beautiful authentic Delftware porcelain, delicious fudge, and even colorfully decorated wooden shoes. And on a hot day, the ice cream is especially good!

wooden-shoe-display

Windmill Island is located at 1 Lincoln Avenue in Holland, just a few blocks off U.S. Highway 31, and is open daily from April to early October. Admission is $9 for adults, and $5 for youth ages 5 to 15. While the parking lot at Windmill Island can accommodate tour buses and RVs, if it was busy it might be hard to maneuver about, and the streets between U.S. 31 and Windmill Island are busy and narrow. You would be advised to leave your RV elsewhere and drive in with your dinghy or tow vehicle. For more information on Windmill Island, call (888-535-5792) toll free, or visit the website at http://www.cityofholland.com/windmillislandgardens  

Thought For The Day – I was going to give him a nasty look, but he already had one.

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No Love For These Bugs

 Posted by at 12:07 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 202016
 

When we pulled into Allatoona Landing Marina Resort Sunday evening to get off the road and out of the rain, I had no idea how big this huge body of water actually is. Lake Allatoona has over 12,000 surface acres and is a popular recreation spot for folks all over north Georgia and southern Tennessee. In addition to private operations like Allatoona Landing, there are also Corps of Engineers campgrounds, and the 1,776 acre Red Top Mountain State Park.



There is also a lot of history here. In June, 1864, Union and Confederate soldiers clashed there in the Battle of Allatoona Pass during the Atlanta Campaign of the Civil War. By the time the smoke had cleared, more than 1,500 men had been killed, wounded, or reported missing in action.

They say the only difference between men and boys is the cost of their toys, and I think that’s probably true. I have wanted a pontoon boat for quite a while now, and a friend of mine who has become a fulltime RVer has a very nice one for sale. And totally unexpected until he told me so Sunday evening, as it turned out it is in a boat slip at a marina on the lake. Being that close, we just had to go check it out.



If a guy had a place to keep it, this would be a very nice boat for Terry and I. It almost makes it worth buying a house just for that reason.

pontoon-boat

How about a floating house? This one is so big it looks like they have a pontoon boat just to run around in.

houseboat

After I drooled all over the boat, we went back to the campground, hooked the Explorer up to our Blue Ox tow bar, and were on the road a little before 11 AM. There is really no good way to get through or around Atlanta. I know, because we have tried them all over the years. No matter which way you go, you can expect lots of traffic, lots of road construction, and a fair amount of frustration. This trip we took the Interstate 285 bypass on the west side of the city, and except for a lot of traffic in the aforementioned road construction, it wasn’t too bad. No worse than Phoenix, Denver, or any other big city.

At least it wasn’t raining, and we made good time as we headed south on Interstate 75. With one stop for fuel at a Flying J, and another stop at a rest area near Unadilla for a potty break and a sandwich, we made good time and eventually crossed into Florida. We were greeted in the Sunshine State by a brief but strong rainstorm.

With 330 miles behind us, we stopped for the night at Lake City RV Resort, just off Interstate 10. This is a nice campground, with pull-through full hookup sites, and just far enough away from the highway that there isn’t much traffic noise.

A few years ago Terry and I spent a lot of time in Lake City, and one place we really enjoyed was Cedar River Seafood. So once we were parked and had the utilities hooked up we drove into town for dinner. The restaurant has moved to a new location since we were there last, but the food was just as good as we remembered, and the servings were huge. Lots of fish, shrimp, scallops, a crab cake for Terry, clams for me, and cheese grits. I think it’s a law in the South that you have to eat grits at least once a week.

platter-2

platter-1

A phenomenon that anybody in Florida is familiar with are love bugs, also known as honeymoon flies, kissing bugs, and double-headed bugs. There are about 10 million of them per square foot right now, and they were all over the front end of the motorhome. I had to keep swatting them away as I was hooking up at the campground.

love-bugs-windshield

love-bugs

No, I don’t love love bugs. And I don’t love what they do to paint on a vehicle once they smash into it. There are about as caustic as my ex-wife’s divorce lawyer was. The difference is, at least they have the courtesy to die once they slam into you.

Today will be an easy day, only about 180 miles to New Smyrna Beach. It’s going to be great to be near the ocean again. We have missed it during our summer in the Midwest.

Thought For The Day – Doesn’t expecting the unexpected mean that the unexpected is actually expected?

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I Should Listen To Me

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 192016
 

We left Kentucky Horse Park Campground in Lexington, Kentucky at 10 o’clock yesterday morning under cloudy skies. When we’ve been there before we have always pulled into one of the two dump stations to hook the Explorer up to the back of the motorhome. But we’ve never left there on a Sunday before. Each dump station had three or four RVs in line waiting to dump. Since we didn’t have to dump, just hook up, Terry followed me out of the campground and I pulled over on the wide shoulder of the road so we could get the job done.



I always tell RVers that there’s no sense driving in bad weather. Where the heck do you have to be that you would do that? I mean, you’ve got your house with you, so where are you going? I should listen to me.

We had more of the on-again off-again rain like we did the day before, and then a few miles north of Knoxville it really started coming down hard. But according to the Radar Now app on my phone it looked like it should be clear about the time we got to Knoxville. And it was. The storm system was moving east, and I had to decide whether I wanted to take Interstate 40 east in North Carolina and then down into South Carolina, or to continue south on Interstate 75 into Georgia. Given the weather, that looked like the better option, so that’s what we did.

There were some sprinkles leaving Knoxville that turned into a heavy downpour about half way to Chattanooga, where it cleared up again just after we crossed the state line into Georgia. I was tempted to find some place to stay the night in that area, but like a fool, I kept pushing on. And the closer we got to Atlanta, the harder it rained.



We got off the interstate in Cartersville, looking for someplace to spend the night. A mile and a half away, through a construction zone, we came to a WalMart and I pulled in to check things out. I thought about dry camping there, but the temperature was in the upper 70s and very humid. Lots of rain will do that, you know.

I was hoping to find a Passport America campground, but there weren’t any nearby. So I used the RV Parky app on my phone and located Altoona Landing Marina Resort, which was about seven or eight miles away, further south. I called and the nice lady who answered the phone said she had room for us, and asked if we were members of Good Sam or AARP, because they have a discount for both. I told her no, but we were Escapees. As it turned out, they don’t have discounts for them. Then she asked if I was in the military or had been. I told her yes, I had been, and she said no problem and gave us a discount. How nice is that? The downpour had let up a little bit and I said we were on our way.

We drove back through the construction zone to the interstate, and as soon as I turned onto the on-ramp I knew we were in trouble. I could see a long line of traffic stopped on the highway. With nothing else we could do, I joined the traffic jam and we inched along for the next four miles at the speed of sludge.

traffic-jam

traffic-jam-2

Of course, there are always fools who think they are more important than everybody else, and some of them were speeding past on the shoulders on both sides of the road like they had someplace important to be. One of them earned himself a ticket from the Georgia State Patrol for that stunt! I will admit to a bit of a gloating chuckle about that.

When we finally made it to the accident site, it was a mess. I don’t know how many vehicles were involved in it, but I saw an eighteen wheeler on one side of the road, the mangled remains of a pickup truck in the middle of the highway, and this SUV towing a travel trailer, which had rear-ended another vehicle. I hope everybody made it out of there okay, but I’m not too optimistic about that.

wreck

We finally got off the interstate at Exit 283 and drove two miles down a very narrow winding road to Altoona Landing, where one of their security guys got us quickly checked in and escorted us to our site. This was another 350 mile day, and yes, I know that’s ridiculous, especially in all of that rain. I’d be telling you the same thing. Like I said, I really should listen to me.

Today we will make our way around Atlanta, something I’m not looking forward to, and we will be in Florida tonight, which I am looking forward to.

Here’s a heads up for anybody traveling through Georgia or the Carolinas anytime soon. There was some kind of pipeline break in Alabama which has disrupted deliveries in this region and many gas stations are completely sold out. I called a truck stop near us and diesel doesn’t seem to be a problem. That’s good, because I am about at the half tank mark and it’s time to fill up

Congratulations Rosanne Lloyd, this week’s winner of an audiobook of Chase the Rabbit, the first book in my friend Steven Thomas’ Gretch Bayonne action adventure series. We had 57 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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Running In The Rain

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 182016
 

As I said in yesterday’s blog, we weren’t sure if we would leave Saturday or Sunday to begin our trip south, depending on the weather. There were a couple of systems coming through the region that were going to bring some rain, but none of them looked to be very large.



It started raining hard about 5 o’clock yesterday morning, and when we got out of bed a little after eight it had dropped off to just a sprinkle. For the next three hours or so it would rain for a few minutes, then stop, then rain again. Watching the Weather Channel on TV and looking at the radar maps online, we decided we would go ahead and take off, knowing we would get wet for at least part of our trip.

Before I started unhooking all of our campground utilities, I walked down to the dumpster to throw away a bag of trash, and I’ll be darned if we didn’t have a Bad Nick episode. Some clown in a pickup pulled up near the dumpster and threw his bags of trash out on the ground and started to drive away. How lazy is that? I yelled and he stopped his truck and asked what the problem was. I told him the problem was that people like him just tick me off. Was he incapable of getting out of his truck and walking five feet to throw the trash away instead of just leaving it there for somebody else to deal with? His response was that for what he paid for a campsite, they should come to his rig and pick it up. We won’t get into what my response was, let’s just say he saw the error of his ways and got out and put his trash were it belonged.



Terry and I went up to the office to say our goodbyes to Bob and Gita Patel and to thank them for their hospitality in the four months we were at Elkhart Campground. These folks are part of our extended family and we love them, and saying goodbye is always hard. Gita made it a little easier by bringing Terry a plate of just made homemade tortillas, spicy rice, bitter vegetables, and an eggplant/potato combination that Terry said was out of this world. I don’t eat veggies, so I just settled for a hug.

While we were in the office we ran into Bob Lopez, whom we met last year in the Rio Grande Valley. It’s like I said folks, if you hang out at Elkhart Campground long enough, sooner or later you’ll meet every other RVer in the world. They all pass through at one time or another.

We left the campground a little before noon and got onto US Highway 31 and took it south toward Indianapolis. Most of the way it was divided four-lane highway, with a few rough sections to keep you on your toes. It sprinkled a couple times before we got to Indianapolis, and then as we were taking the 465 loop around the east side of the city it began to pour. We got onto Interstate 74 and followed it southeast.

Whenever I’m planning a trip I always like to select two or three places where I can stop for the night, depending on weather, traffic, and how we feel as the day progresses. Our first possible stop was at the Thousand Trails near Batesville, Indiana. That was about 235 miles, a decent driving day. In spite of the rain we had made good time, even though we pulled off at a rest area near Batesville for a little bit to make a potty stop and let the worst of the rain pass over us.

Back on the road, neither one of us really felt like stopping, so we just kept right on rolling. We crossed into Ohio, then picked up the Interstate 275 loop, which took us south, then crossed back to Indiana for a handful of miles, and then across the Ohio River into Kentucky. And I just sniveled a little bit going over the bridge. But it’s still better than dealing with all of the traffic in Cincinnati.

It rained hard again for about five minutes, and then it was just more of the same, on and off showers that lasted a short time and then cleared up.

At 6 o’clock we pulled into Kentucky Horse Park Campground on the north side of Lexington. We know this place well because we stayed here many times back when I was getting my medical care at the VA hospital in Lexington. The place was filled with campers, kids, and dogs, all having a great time in spite of the on-again off-again rain.

horse-park-sign

Once we were parked and hooked up, we grabbed a bite to eat, spent some time checking email and things like that, and by then we were both tired and ready for bed. We had covered 350 miles, which is a long day on the road, but that’s okay. We’re not in relaxed travel mode, we are in “get there” mode. We have an appointment in Florida in just a few days and we want to be there in time for it.

On another note, just before I shut the engine off here in our campsite I noticed that our Winnebago’s odometer is reading 94,600 miles. That’s no big deal for a diesel, it’s just getting broken in. Our rig is a 2002 Ultimate Advantage, and when we bought it in August of 2010, it had 33,600 miles on. So we have put 61,000 miles on it in the last six years. It has served us very well, and I’m sure it will carry us for another 60,000 miles without even thinking about it.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Chase the Rabbit, the first book in my friend Steven Thomas’ Gretch Bayonne action adventure 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 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.

Chase The Rabbit Cover

Thought For The Day – Sometimes you just have to wait for fate to make its move.

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A Heck Of A Deal!

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 172016
 

It’s always nice to meet blog readers and make new friends, and that’s what I got to do yesterday. Jimmy Crawford is here at Elkhart Campground for the IRV2 rally and sent an email asking if we could meet. So yesterday afternoon I dropped by his motorhome and we had a nice visit.



Jimmy is a recently retired professional photographer who said he spent most of his life looking at the world through a viewfinder, and now he’s enjoying getting a broader view of all there is out here to see. From here he’s headed to Albuquerque for the Balloon Festival, which I’m sure is going to add quite a bit to his memory bank. We talked about travel, blogging, making the transition from working to enjoying retirement, and a few other things before Miss Terry came by to pick me up so we could run some errands.

Terry and I always enjoy exploring places like antique malls and resale shops. You just never know what you’re going to find. And while living in a motorhome doesn’t allow a lot of room for impulse purchases, it’s always fun to see things that we remember as kids that are now classified as antiques. Then again, I suspect we may have reached that stage in life as well.



One place we’ve discovered here in Elkhart is the Hart City Resale Mall, a massive place with dozens of vendor stalls. We were there a couple of weeks ago and found a huge stash of yarn at a very good price, which had to come home with us. Such is the life of a fiber artist’s husband.

The last time we were there Terry saw another vendor booth with some four foot wide rolls of wool fabric and she was tempted to buy one of them for some projects she wants to do. But being the frugal woman that she is, she decided to think on it for a while.

We went back yesterday and there were three rolls that interested her. One had 20 feet of fabric on it and was going for $40, another had a little over 41 feet and was going for $83, and third was about 14 feet of fabric and was priced at $28. Being the frugal woman she is, Terry could not make up her mind, so I suggested I go up to the counter and see if they might consider a slight discount on one of the rolls.

I was hoping for 10 or 15 percent, but as it turned out, we had not seen the sign in front of the display that said everything was 50% off. And then the nice lady at the counter said she could probably do better than that for us. I went back and told Terry that at that price, she should get all three of them. I had to talk her into it, and then when we got up to the counter the clerk said she could actually give us a 75% discount. So for less than the original cost of the biggest roll, we got all three. Now that’s a heck of a deal!

wool

The clerk also mentioned that the vendor who had all the yarn was moving out of state and had everything priced at 50% off as well. So I told Terry to go check it out, and this is what she came back with. With the huge stock of yarn she has on hand already, I think she’s good to go for a few years of serious weaving!

yarn-deal

We have enjoyed our summer here at Elkhart Campground and I’ve gotten a lot of work done. But it’s about time to scratch that hitch itch. RV wheels were made to roll and either today or tomorrow, depending on the weather, we will be leaving Indiana and heading south. There was supposed to be a storm system coming through the area yesterday afternoon/evening, which never showed up, and another one behind it on Sunday. Neither looked like there was going to be much to them, so I think those wheels will be rolling real soon.

Be sure to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Chase the Rabbit, the first book in my friend Steven Thomas’ Gretch Bayonne action adventure 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 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.

Chase The Rabbit Cover

Thought For The Day – Take my advice — I’m not using it.

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Sep 162016
 

Note: This story appeared in a previous edition of the Gypsy Journal.

In Oklahoma City we toured one of the best military museums we have ever seen, and learned about one of the most valiant military units in our nation’s history.



The Militia of the Territory of Oklahoma, later called the National Guard, preceded the 45th Infantry Division as citizen soldiers. The unit first saw service in the Spanish-American War in 1898. The cavalry troops became a part of the First United States Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, better known as the Rough Riders. They took part in the famous Battle of San Juan Hill near Santiago, Cuba.

In 1916, these same citizen soldiers saw duty on the Mexican border following Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico. When that conflict ended, the Oklahoma National Guard had only a month’s rest before being called to duty in World War I. Two Oklahoma National guardsmen would receive our country’s highest award, the Congressional Medal of Honor, for their actions in the war.

The 45th Infantry Division was organized in 1923 from National Guard units from the states of Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.



For the next seventeen years the division was called upon to maintain order in times of disaster and kept peace during periods of political unrest. In September of 1940, the division was activated for one year for training. By the end of the year the world situation had worsened, and the 45th, nicknamed the Thunderbirds, continued their training and prepared for war.

On July 10, 1943, the division participated in their first of four amphibious landings. By war’s end, the division served 511 days in combat, fighting their way across Sicily, Italy, France, and Germany. The 45th suffered 3,650 killed in action and 13,729 wounded. The division captured 103,367 enemy prisoners. Eight of its members won the Medal of Honor.

The division earned the respect of both regular Army forces and the enemy for their fighting abilities. The 45th Infantry Division served with General George S. Patton’s U.S. 7th Army during the Sicilian campaign, and when the fighting was done, Patton told the soldiers “Your division is one of the best, if not the best division in the history of American arms.”

When North Korean forces invaded South Korea in June of 1950, the 45th Infantry Division was again mobilized. The Thunderbirds were one of only two National Guard divisions to see combat in the Korean War; the other being the 40th of California.

The division served in the Yonchon-Chorwon area, and in sectors fronting Old Baldy, Pork Chop Hill, Heartbreak Ridge, and Luke’s Castle. The division remained in Korea until the end of the conflict in 1953. In all, the 45th Division saw 429 days in battle, participating in four campaigns.

Once the war ended and they were back stateside, their status returned as a National Guard unit. In 1969, the 45th Infantry Division was disbanded and restructured into an infantry brigade, an artillery group, and a support command, with state headquarters providing general administrative and logistical support. This did not mean the end of the Thunderbirds; the Thunderbird patch was retained by all the field units.

Today the 45th Infantry Division Museum tells the story of this famous unit, with a fine display of military equipment and artifacts. The museum’s fifteen acre park features an impressive collection of over 60 tanks, artillery, personnel carriers, aircraft, and the Thunderbird Monument, which pays tribute to the men who served with the division in World War II and Korea, as well as those men and women who continue to serve in Oklahoma’s National Guard. Landscaped walkways lead visitors past the equipment and vehicles, which are identified by plaques. A small picnic area with two tables is available.

museum-outside

tank

Inside the museum, galleries display military weapons and equipment from earliest Territorial Days to the current Gulf wars. The Hall of Flags examines early Oklahoma military history. A series of exhibits takes visitors from the beginning of Oklahoma’s military history through the forts and along the trails of Indian Territory. Exhibits explore the role of the Indian Police, and tell of Oklahoma’s Civil War battles. The Spanish American War and Mexican Border displays tell of the formation of the 1st Territorial Regiment of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories, and their participation in the Philippine Insurrection and guarding the Mexican border.

mosby-canon

The World War II gallery features artifacts and photographs which tell the story of the division’s actions in the European Theater of Operations. Also housed in the World War II gallery are artifacts owned by Adolf Hitler, including a silver tea service taken from his mountain retreat in Berchtesgaden, Germany.

hitler-tea-service

The Korean War Gallery chronicles the division’s actions throughout the war. Often times referred to as the Forgotten War, the aim of this exhibit is to educate museum visitors about the Thunderbirds’ role in this important part of military history.

korean-war-soldier

The Infantry and Artillery Galleries honor the fighting men who saw battle throughout the division’s years of service. The Supporting Forces Hall is dedicated to the men and women whose jobs made it possible for fighting men of the 45th to perform their duties on the battlefield. The aviation, chemical, medical, engineers, ordnance, armor, signal corps, quartermaster, military police, band, special services, and chaplains, all of whom played vital supporting roles in assisting the men of the infantry and artillery, are honored here.

tommy-guns

On April 29, 1945, elements of the 157th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division liberated the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. The horrible scene that unfolded there reminded the men who participated in this historic liberation of the reasons for being at war with Germany, and left an indelible mark on the men who witnessed the atrocities of life in a concentration camp. The haunting exhibit on Dachau is one visitors will come away from moved by how cruel madmen can be to their fellow human beings.

On a lighter note, the Bill Mauldin Cartoon Collection displays over 200 original World War II cartoons by the celebrated artist. Mauldin joined the 45th Infantry Division in September of 1940 and became the cartoonist for the 45th Division News in October of the same year. Mauldin’s work recorded war from a unique perspective; he drew war showing humor in the face of misery. Mauldin was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1945 for editorial cartooning, and the army honored his work by presenting him with the Legion of Merit.

Plan to spend an afternoon when you visit the 45th Infantry Division Museum. This is not a place you can rush though, but it will be well worth your time.

The 45th Infantry Division Museum is located at 2145 N.E. 36th Street in Oklahoma City. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays. The museum is handicapped accessible and admission is free. Parking is limited, and large RVs would have a problem, so it’s better to leave your rig at a local RV park and take your dinghy or tow vehicle. For more information on the museum, call (405) 424-5313.

Be sure to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Chase the Rabbit, the first book in my friend Steven Thomas’ Gretch Bayonne action adventure 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 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 – Why is it called “after dark” when it really is “after light”?

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Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

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