Nick Russell

May 272015
 

We love exploring America’s back roads and small towns and finding overlooked gems that the tourist brochures never cover. In a series of weekly blog posts we will be sharing some of America’s lesser-known small town museums, historic sites, and oddball attractions, on a state-by-state basis. We don’t have room to cover each and every attraction in every state, but hope to give you some ideas for places to see in your travels.


Accokeek: The National Colonial Farm is an outdoor living history museum depicting life for an ordinary tobacco planting family in Prince George’s County in the 1770s.

Annapolis: Established in 1845, the United States Naval Academy trains men and women to become officers in the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Naval Academy Museum, located in Preble Hall on the grounds of the Naval Academy, displays an impressive collection of ship models, paintings, prints, flags, uniforms, swords, firearms, medals, sculptures, manuscripts, rare books, photographs, ship instruments and gear, and a wide variety of personal memorabilia owned by famous Naval heroes.

Annapolis Sign

Annapolis: The Annapolis Maritime Museum tells the story of the city’s long seafaring history with displays of nautical equipment and memorabilia.

Baltimore: The Baltimore Streetcar Museum preserves and displays several very nice examples of the city’s first mass transit vehicles.

Baltimore: The National Aquarium houses thousands of marine animals, birds, and reptiles, and is the city’s most popular attraction.

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Baltimore: The B&O Railroad Museum includes five historic buildings and acres of vintage railroad cars.

Train

Baltimore: The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House is dedicated to the story of Mary Young Pickersgill, who made the enormous 30 x 42-foot American flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that became our national anthem.

Baltimore: You can learn all about codes and breaking them at the National Cryptologic Museum.

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Baltimore: Three ships make up the Baltimore Maritime Museum, including the Coast Guard cutter Taney, the World War II era submarine USS Torsk, and the lightship Chesapeake. The museum also includes the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, built in 1856.

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Baltimore: Fort McHenry, the historic star shaped fort that inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner during the War of 1812, is now a National Monument and open to tours.

Emmitsburg: The National Fallen Firefighters Memorial, located on the National Fire Academy campus, contains the names of more than 3,000 firefighters who lost their lives serving their communities.

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Frederick: The National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick is dedicated to telling the story of medicine in the American Civil War and the advancements in the care of the wounded and injured that came about from that terrible period in our nation’s history.

Frostburg: The Thrasher Carriage Museum has one of the top collections of horse drawn vehicles in the world, representing every walk of life from the milkman to the President of the United States. Pleasure vehicles, funeral wagons, sleighs, and carts are on permanent display in the renovated 19th century warehouse located at historic Depot Center in Frostburg.

Grantsville: Visitors can see Appalachian culture and traditions preserved at Spruce Forest Artisan Village, where artisans demonstrate wood carving, pottery, weaving, and spinning.

Greenbelt: The Visitor Center at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center offers many unique programs, special events, and presentations that highlight Goddard’s contributions to America’s space program. Exhibits include rockets and space vehicles, and a tree whose seeds traveled to the moon and back on the Apollo 14 mission.


Kingsville: Jerusalem Mill was once the centerpiece of the thriving Quaker settlement of Jerusalem in the 18th and 19th centuries. The gristmill operated continuously from 1772 until the last miller died in 1961. Today, Historic Jerusalem Mill Village includes the mill, blacksmith shop, 1830s general store, the Cooper gun shop, which made muskets for the American Revolution, several farmhouses, and a covered bridge.

Spinning

Lutherville: At the Fire Museum of Maryland, visitors can see antique firefighting equipment, including over 40 vintage fire trucks, a working fire alarm telegraph system, badge and uniform displays, and hand-pulled fire carts.

Ocean City: At the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum, exhibits tell the story of the United States Life-Saving Service on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. Exhibits include old life saving equipment, artifacts recovered from shipwrecks that occurred off the coast of Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and New Jersey, dollhouse models of famous Ocean City hotels, and a stuffed 1,200 pound tiger shark that was caught in the water off Ocean City.

Oxon Hill: Administered by the National Park Service, Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm operates as an actual working farm representative of the early 20th century. Here you can see a farmhouse, barns, a stable, feed building, livestock buildings, and a visitor activity barn.

Saint Michaels: Situated on the waterfront in historic St. Michaels, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum tells the stories of the Chesapeake Bay and the people who have lived, worked, and played here. Interpretive exhibitions cover the range of Chesapeake Bay maritime history and culture, including Native American life, 17th and 18th century trans-Atlantic trade, naval history, the Bay’s unique watercraft and boat building traditions, navigation, waterfowling, boating, seafood harvesting, and recreation.

Solomons: The Calvert Marine Museum is one of the premier museums devoted to the Chesapeake Bay. The museum has a nice collection of traditional Chesapeake Bay wooden vessels that once were part of an abundant fleet on the bay.

Thurmont: Built in 1776 and located at Cunningham Falls State Park, Catoctin Iron Furnace produced everything from pig iron to cannons for George Washington’s army to the plates on the famous Civil War ship, the Monitor.

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Waldorf: The home of Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd, the physician who set John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg after the actor shot Abraham Lincoln, is now a museum displaying family heirlooms.

Doctor Mudd house

Westminster: The Carroll County Farm Museum is a sprawling 142-acre complex that includes the 1852 Almshouse, also called the County Home, which housed the poor people as well as the insane and criminals, who were held in rooms with barred windows and metal-lined walls. The museum complex also includes a blacksmith shop, a tinsmith shop, broom shop, and exhibits on chair caning, spinning and weaving, and quilting.

Thought For The Day – It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept.

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May 262015
 

There have been a few RVs pulling into the Las Vegas Thousand Trails, but a lot more are going out with the Memorial Day holiday over. I have noticed that our Verizon internet connection has been a little bit faster as the place thins out.


My friend Chris Yust called from Florida yesterday just to rub it in that she and hubby Charles are in Titusville, Florida and that we’re way out here in the desert. She knows that we love Titusville, and we have seriously considered buying a lot at Willow Lakes RV Resort there. Chris gave the place her stamp of approval, so I guess we’re good to go. Well, except for having the money, of course. There’s always that to get in the way.

We’re just beginning our sixteenth year as fulltimers and we’re not close to being ready to hang up the keys yet, but we have found ourselves slowing down. When we were teaching at Life on Wheels and working the RV rally circuit as vendors, it was common for us to put on 20,000 or more miles a year. Lately it’s been about half that and we enjoy the slower pace. We love Florida’s Space Coast and if we ever do stop fulltiming that’s where we’d like to settle down. We can see a lot of advantages to having a lot where we can hang out for a few months every winter to do some serious writing, weaving, and playing.

At 1:30 we met our friends Dennis and Carol Hill for a late buffet lunch at Boulder Station Casino, just up the road from the campground. We have not had an opportunity to just sit and visit with them in a long time, and we had a great time talking about the fulltime RV lifestyle and our travels, our mutual RVing friends, and life in general.

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Dennis is even more of a Gadget Boy than I am, and he brought along his new GoPro HERO4 SILVER. These tiny little video cameras are great for everything from kayaking to biking, as dash cams, and a lot of my kite flying friends put them on their kites. I was hoping that all of the stimulating conversation would make Dennis forget about the Go Pro and I could walk away with it, but it didn’t work out that way.

Go Pro small

Which I don’t understand, because it seems like people forget a lot of things in casinos. Especially Boulder Station. While we were there yesterday somebody at the table next to us left their purse behind when they finished their meal. I guess things like that happen. But Thursday evening when we went there for dinner Terry noticed the upper plate to someone’s dentures lying on the floor by the cash register. Really? How do you not notice that you lost your teeth? Especially going into a restaurant? Only in Vegas, baby!


It’s going to start getting hot soon. In fact, the forecast is calling for triple digit temperatures by Sunday. I’m sure glad the basement air conditioner in our Winnebago works so well!

Thought For The Day – You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.

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May 252015
 

Today is not about cookouts, or car races, or getting out of town for a three day weekend at the lake or campground. It’s about more than that. Much, much more.


It is a day to remember the men and women who have given us the most precious gift of all, our very freedom, and who paid for it with their lives. We forget that too easily in this country. And we need to remember.

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It’s about this. American heroes who made the supreme sacrifice for their country. It’s about honoring those heroes. About remembering that we can sleep comfortably in our beds tonight, because they sleep here forever. We need to remember that all of those headstones decorated with little American flags in all of those cemeteries across this great land of ours represent somebody’s son, somebody’s brother, somebody’s sister or daughter.

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It’s about remembering those who served. It’s about taking the time to thank a veteran. Because without him or her, there might not be us.

They didn’t go because they wanted to. They went because they needed to. Not because their number came up with some draft board. They went because that’s what Americans do. Their country needed them. Their country called. And they answered the call.

I’m heartened to see that while our country may be divided on a lot of issues these days, one thing that most of us agree on is that we appreciate our servicemen and women. It hasn’t always been that way.

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Please remember that right now, as you are reading this with your morning coffee, or during a commercial break in your favorite television show, somebody’s son or daughter, somebody’s brother or sister, somebody’s husband or wife, is in the enemy’s gun sights. Somewhere today or tomorrow or next week, some mother or father or wife will answer a knock on their door and find solemn men in uniform there to deliver the very worst news of all. That is what this day is about.

To all of our heroes who never came home, rest in peace. To all of my brothers and sisters who wore the uniform, and to those who are still serving, thank you from the very bottom of my heart. Welcome home.


Congratulations, Molly Jarrett, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Gun Shy by my friend Ben Rehder. We had 70 entries this time around. Stay tuned, because a new contest starts soon!

Thought For The Day – They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. At this point I should be able to bench press a Buick.

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Plugging Away At It

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
May 242015
 

We always try to stay at home and off the crowded streets and highways on holiday weekends, which is what we have been doing. Except for a trip to the dumpster I didn’t leave the motorhome all day yesterday.


I spent most of the time plugging away at the new issue of the Gypsy Journal, which will be my main activity for the next week or so. I’ve got the Letters to the Editor, Meandering Down The Highway, Free Campgrounds column, Dump Stations column, RV Calendar, and one feature story done so far. It’s a good start, but I still have a long way to go before I send it off to the printer.

I am still amazed at how much better my hands have been feeling since I started taking two 1000 mg MSM capsules every day. Six months ago, two long days in a row of typing would have my arthritic fingers aching terribly, but since I’ve been taking the stuff I have had almost no pain and instead of being stiff and swollen, my fingers are flexible and feel fine.

About 5 p.m. I stretched out on the couch for a short nap, waking up just in time for a delicious dinner of Miss Terry’s clam chowder, made from scratch. Nothing you’ll get out of a can or order in a restaurant can compare.

Among the e-mails I have received in the last couple of days were two asking me if I thought a Thousand Trails membership was a good investment. Since we have been members for over ten years, obviously it works for us. But like anything, if you use it it’s a good investment, and if you don’t, it’s a waste of money.

Our annual dues are around $550, which gives us 50 nights of “free” camping, and anything over that is $5/night. Some of the campgrounds in the system, Las Vegas being one of them, charge $5 a day extra for an upgraded site with 50 amp electric. Even at that rate, it’s a good deal. We have nine weeks reserved on the Oregon/Washington coasts this summer. Where can you get that so inexpensively?

It seems like no two Thousand Trails memberships are the same, depending on what kind of deal you can negotiate. If you are considering a membership, I urge you to look at the resale market. There are some very good deals out there. Check internet forums like the Escapees, Thousand Trails groups on Facebook, and resale companies to see what is available.


Today is your last chance to enter this week’s Free Drawing for an audiobook of Gun Shy, the fifth book in my friend Ben Rehder’s excellent Blanco County 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 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.

Gun Shy

Thought For The Day – The first 40 years of your childhood are always the hardest.

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The Earth Moved

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
May 232015
 

In my time kicking around this world I’ve been in a few blizzards, a couple of tornados, we drove through the edge of a forest fire during our first year on the road, and I’ve seen a lot of Arizona flash floods. Now I can add an earthquake to the list.


A little before noon yesterday we felt the motorhome lurch and for the briefest of seconds I thought that somebody backing into an RV site had hit us. But there was no noise and it was over as quickly as it started. Terry had just put a load in the washing machine and she thought it was some kind of vibration from that, but it was much stronger.

As it turns out, it was a 4.8-magnitude earthquake whose epicenter was about 90 miles north of Las Vegas. The news reported that the initial tremor was felt as far away as southern Utah, and that several aftershocks followed the initial quake, but none were stronger than 3.8. We never felt them and no damage was done, though an onramp from US Highway 95 to Interstate 15 was closed for a while so that inspectors could check a crack that apparently has been there for a while but was determined to not be a problem.

When we arrived here at the Las Vegas Thousand Trails on Thursday afternoon there were a lot of open RV sites but they have been filling up quickly ever since with folks coming in for the holiday weekend.

I worked on the new issue of the paper for part of the day, and then in the afternoon we drove to Fry’s Electronics. I needed a new wireless keyboard and mouse since the one I’ve had forever is not working very well. While we were there we picked up a couple of other goodies and then we found a Barnes and Noble bookstore and spent some time browsing the aisles. On the way home we made one final stop, this time at a WalMart a couple of miles south of the campground on Boulder Highway.

Back at home, I answered a few e-mails, and then took a quick nap while Miss Terry made dinner, delicious cheeseburgers. Yummy yummy!


Be sure to enter this week’s Free Drawing for an audiobook of Gun Shy, the fifth book in my friend Ben Rehder’s excellent Blanco County 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 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.

Gun Shy

If you’re looking for something good to read this weekend, my friend Ken Rossignol’s Pirate Trials: The Three Pirates, the fourth book in his Famous Murderous Pirate book series is free on Amazon today. Check it out.

Thought For The Day – Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas, take your next trip in kilometers.

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May 222015
 

No, I’m not talking about those folks in Washington who are busy taking bribes and shafting all of us, though you shouldn’t trust them either. But I’ll get to all of that in a moment.


After we’ve been sitting still for a while, we never seem to sleep well the night before we begin a trip, and Wednesday night was no exception. We both tossed and turned all night long and were up by 7 a.m. to get ready to hit the road. This time of year high winds are a fact of life in northern Arizona, but we got lucky and had a pretty calm day for traveling. Nice!

We left the Show Low Elks lodge campground and traveled 50 miles north on State Route 77 to Holbrook, where we got on Interstate 40 and traveled west across the state to Kingman, with a stop at the Flying J in Winslow to take on fuel.

There were two RV islands, but one was blocked off because they were working on the pumps, so I pulled in behind the motorhome at the other pump. The owner had a beautiful German shepherd on a leash, which is my favorite breed of dog. So I had to get out and play with her while he filled his tank. That was cool. What wasn’t cool was that after he was done and put the dog back inside, he then proceeded to wash his windshield and putter around for another fifteen minutes or so before he pulled away from the fuel island.

Back on the road, we noticed a vibration whenever our Winnebago’s transmission upshifted or downshifted, or as I was going up a steep hill, and then once it had changed gears it would smooth right back out. Hmmm…. what’s that about?

All of my gauges were reading fine and there were no warning lights, just that noticeable vibration. I was worried that something like the clutch or torque converter was going bad. A few miles west of Williams there is a big safety pullout before the road starts a two mile long 6% downgrade, and I stopped there to check things out. Which means I called Greg White.

Greg asked if the transmission was low on fluid. Not according to the dipstick, but he said the dipstick doesn’t always give a reliable reading and suggested I use the transmission’s keypad to have it check the fluid level. That is done by putting the transmission in Neutral, with the brake on, at operating temperature and then pushing both the Up and Down arrows on the keypad at the same time. I did and the digital readout said LL 03, which means the transmission was three quarts low. I went outside to the back of the motorhome and checked the dipstick, carefully wiping it clean before I put it back in and pulled it out again and it showed the fluid was in the correct normal when hot range. But back inside the keypad once again showed three quarts low.

We couldn’t sit there all day, so we went on to Kingman and stopped at a NAPA Auto Parts. I run synthetic fluid in the transmission, and a gallon of Amsoil synthetic fluid set me back $51. Terry held the funnel while I poured three quarts in, and probably half a pint down her arm, but she never complained.

Back on the highway we immediately noticed the vibration was lessening and the rig began purring right along. The transmission holds something like twenty quarts of fluid, and we were both amazed that three quarts could make that much difference. Now the question is, where did the fluid go? We have not noticed any leakage or spray on the Explorer that would indicate a leak.


From Kingman we took U.S. Highway 93 north about 60 miles or so. It’s a good divided four lane road through the high desert, and as we approached the Colorado River we started seeing some dramatic mountain scenery.

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Everybody knows that I have a fear of bridges, but the bridge that crosses the river near Hoover Dam is a piece of cake. High profile vehicles are supposed to stay in the left lane, and the sides are high enough that I can’t even tell I’m on a bridge.

Hoover Dam bridge small

Terry did manage to get one picture of the water as we passed over, and then this one of Lake Meade once we had crossed into Nevada. The white line on the rocks shows how low the water level is.

Lake Meade small

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We arrived at the Las Vegas Thousand Trails preserve about 5:30 and got settled into a full hookup 50 amp site with 390 miles behind us. That’s a long day and a lot of miles, but now we’ll sit still for two or three weeks while I get the new issue of the Gypsy Journal done.

We were both disappointed to find that the Verizon internet sucks here, both on our 3G air card and using my Samsung phone as a 4G hotspot. You’d think a city as big as Las Vegas would have decent service from Verizon, but apparently you’d be wrong.

Be sure to enter this week’s Free Drawing for an audiobook of Gun Shy, the fifth book in my friend Ben Rehder’s excellent Blanco County 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 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.

Gun Shy

Thought For The Day – Dear life, when I asked if my day could get any worse, it was a rhetorical question, not a challenge.

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Roll Those Wheels!

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
May 212015
 

I had a lot of plans yesterday, but time got away from me and I didn’t get much accomplished. Sometimes that happens.


The first thing on the agenda was running a few errands during the day, and then back at the Elks lodge campground we walked over to the host’s site for a quick visit. They were hosting an informal happy hour and we chatted with folks for a few minutes and then came home because Terry’s parents, Pete and Bess Weber, were coming over for dinner.

I also went up to the lodge to settle our bill, since we paid for a month when we arrived, which was up on Tuesday and owed for the extra day. Like many fulltime RVers, I’ve been a member of the Gila Bend, Arizona Elks lodge for fourteen years, but while we were here I transferred to the Show Low lodge. The dues are the same, and I’ve not been happy with the Gila Bend lodge for a while now.

We had a nice visit and Terry made a delicious meal of broiled basil Parmesan salmon, garlic mashed red potatoes, and steamed broccoli. It was absolutely delicious, as were the homemade cookies we had for dessert. Before her parents left Terry made another big batch of cookies to send home with them.

As I said in yesterday’s blog, I wanted to be sure the new wheel we had put on Monday would solve the problem of the leaking tire. It did, so today we’re going to roll those wheels! We’ve got a bad case of hitch itch, so we’re headed for the Las Vegas Thousand Trails, where we’ll be for a couple of weeks while I work on the new issue of the Gypsy Journal.

We’re not gamblers, but we do like people watching, and Las Vegas is a great place to do it. And who knows? We may even hit a buffet or two while we’re there!


It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Gun Shy, the fifth book in my friend Ben Rehder’s excellent Blanco County 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 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.

Gun Shy

Thought For The Day – I hate when you offer someone a sincere compliment on their mustache and suddenly she’s not your friend anymore.

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So Far, So Good

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
May 202015
 

Thanks to everybody who e-mailed or posted on Facebook hoping I was doing well after my fall on Monday. I’m a bit sore but not too bad overall.



Yesterday I checked the tire pressure on the inside dual where we had the replacement wheel installed on Monday and so far, so good. I wanted to be sure there wasn’t any other problem before we hit the road. Sitting on the shoulder of the highway waiting for roadside service is no way to enjoy the RV experience.

Today I plan to replace all of the batteries in my TireTraker tire pressure monitoring system. They are a lot easier and cheaper to do than our previous system, which required replacing the entire sensor, for a lot more money.

On the subject of RV tires, here is yet another horror story related to a tire failure. According to an article on Gainesville.com, the motorhome’s front left tire separated, causing the driver to hit the guardrail, and then it caught fire. Fortunately nobody was injured, but it sure makes you wonder what the heck is going on with the tire industry these days. And it makes me glad we just replaced our Winnebago’s Goodyears, which were separating. Folks, check your tires before EVERY trip, and do a walk-around every time you make a pit stop. It only takes a couple of minutes and it can save your RV and your life.

RV wreck

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A while back somebody said they didn’t like it when I talk about RV fires and accidents. That’s the same reason some RV manufacturers won’t have people like me or Mac McCoy giving seminars at their rallies. But bad things do happen to good RVers, and knowing what can happen and how to prevent it is important, so we don’t sugarcoat it.


Except for a quick break while Miss Terry gave me a haircut, I spent most of yesterday working on my next Big Lake book and got another 3,500 words done. While I was busy with that, Terry was doing bookwork, then putting the finishing touches on some hand towels she had woven. And then, just because she’s so wonderful, she also made a batch of delicious oatmeal cookies!

Tea towels

If you like your mystery stories with an RV theme, check out J.A. Harper’s Soul of the Forest, the first book in the Bird Treks mystery series about a couple who finds adventure as they explore the country in their Blue Bird motor coach. The book is free on Amazon today, so get yourself a copy, and don’t forget to leave a review after you read it. It’s the best thing you can ever do for an author.

Thought For The Day – Never expect somebody else to come along and change your life for you. Change it yourself. – Colleen Hoover

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Klutz

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
May 192015
 

I’m a klutz. I was born a klutz and I’ll die a klutz. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if I died from being a klutz! My dad used to say that I should probably get a job in a mattress factory, but I’ve always suspected that if I did I’ve have been smothered by an avalanche of falling mattresses. Seriously, I was the point man on a combat patrol once and my commanding officer said, “I hope he doesn’t stumble on a trip wire and kill all of us.” One of the NCOs heard him and said, “Hell sir, let’s just be glad if he doesn’t fall off the mountain.”


I reaffirmed my klutz status yesterday and I’m feeling the effects of it. When we had the new tires put on our motorhome last week they discovered a bent wheel on an inside dual and had to order a replacement wheel for it. The old tire on that wheel had not been holding air before we bought the new ones, and the replacement tire went flat in just a few days sitting here at the Elks lodge campground.

We went back to the tire shop yesterday to have the replacement wheel put on, and while getting ready to go, I was airing up that tire. I forgot that the bedroom slide was above me and stood up, banging my head, then lost my balance and fell, landing on my side on top of the air compressor. You’d think a guy as fat as me would just bounce but if I did, it wasn’t far.

My back, ribs, and one wrist are all pretty sore, but I think the worst damage was the big bruise on my dignity.

You can add Medford, Oregon to the list of RV unfriendly towns. Recently, RVers asking to park overnight at the WalMart in Medford have been told that while the store management has no problem with it, the police may give them a ticket and/or make them leave. I sent an e-mail to the City Manager explaining that people traveling in self-contained RVs don’t always want or need to stop at a campground if all they want to do is grab a few hours sleep and go on down the highway the next day. I also added that quite often when we stop at an RV-friendly business overnight, we do some shopping, have dinner in a restaurant, and buy fuel. I said that in the future we will avoid Medford and go on down the road to a community that welcomes us. Here is the response I received yesterday:

Dear Mr. Russell, Thank you for contacting the City of Medford. I spoke with our Code Enforcement Department regarding your concerns. Apparently, Medford has been working with Wal-Mart’s Corporate Office to enforce the Municipal Code prohibiting overnight camping. Wal-Mart has also installed signage in their parking lots advising that overnight stays are no longer allowed. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. The City of Medford welcomes visitors and hopes that you will continue to stop here during your travels. Winnie Shepard Mayor and City Manager’s Office

No thanks, Winnie, we’ll spend our time and our money someplace else. If you want to let the folks in Medford know how you feel about their ban on overnight parking, you can e-mail the City Manager’s office at CMO@cityofmedford.org


If you like fun mysteries with a minimum of gore, check out the Z & C mystery series about the mother/daughter team of Zoey and Claire, who just can’t seem to avoid trouble anywhere they go. Legend of The Lost, the fourth book in the series, is free for a limited time, so download a copy and get to know this dynamic duo.

Thought For The Day – We live in an era of smart phones and stupid people.

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May 182015
 

We love exploring America’s back roads and small towns and finding overlooked gems that the tourist brochures never cover. In a series of weekly blog posts we will be sharing some of America’s lesser-known small town museums, historic sites, and oddball attractions, on a state-by-state basis. We don’t have room to cover each and every attraction in every state, but hope to give you some ideas for places to see in your travels.


Alna: The Alna Center School House Museum, circa 1795, is the second oldest one-room schoolhouse in Maine.

Augusta: Built in 1754, Old Fort Western is America’s oldest surviving wooden fort. The fort has been a British outpost, a trading post, and is now a museum of frontier life in New England.

Bangor: The Cole Land Transportation Museum includes an impressive display of snow removal equipment, ten fire trucks ranging from a 1910 hand tub to a 1948 Ahrens Fox, antique farm equipment, vintage motorcycles, railroad cars, a 1925 camper trailer, antique trucks and World War II era military vehicles.

Bar Harbor: At the Mount Desert Oceanarium’s Bar Harbor facility, visitors can tour the Maine Lobster Museum, take a marsh tour, and explore a lobster hatchery.

Bar Harbor: Maine’s Native American people are celebrated at the Abbe Museum, which displays over 50,000 objects representing 10,000 years of Native American culture and history in Maine.

Bath: The Maine Maritime Museum chronicles the state’s rich nautical heritage at a restored shipyard where wooden schooners were built between 1894 and 1920.

Maine Maritime

Boothbay: Boothbay Railway Village is a re-created old time village containing historical exhibits, including the circa 1870 Thorndike and circa 1911 Freeport railroad stations.

Railway Village

Brunswick: The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum displays artifacts and equipment from the Arctic explorations of Robert E. Peary and Donald B. MacMillan.

Edgecomb: Fort Edgecomb State Historic Site preserves old Fort Edgecomb, built in 1808 and attacked by the British during the War of 1812.

Ellsworth: Birdsacre, the Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary, includes the home of ornithologist and author Cordelia Stanwood, with displays of period furniture and a large collection of mounted birds.

Birdsacre

Fort Kent: Maine’s first historic site, Fort Kent State Historic Site, preserves the old fort built in 1840 to protect Maine’s boundaries during the “Bloodless Aroostook War” with England.

Freeport: No trip to Freeport is complete without a stop at the famous L.L. Bean flagship store, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, offering all sorts of things you never knew you needed.

Kennebunk: The Seashore Trolley Museum displays exhibits on early day transportation and offers streetcar rides.

Kingfield: The Stanley Museum houses the inventions of the Stanley twins, who counted the airbrush and Stanley Steamer steam powered car among their many inventions. The museum’s displays include examples of Stanley steam cars from 1905, 1910, and 1916.

Kittery: Fort McClary, built in 1720, was used periodically as a military post through 1942. Today visitors can explore the old fort and get a feel for life in a frontier outpost.

Kittery: The Kittery Historical and Naval Museum tells the history of the Kittery area and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Kittery Museum

Newfield: Willowbrook is a living history 19th century country village museum of more than 35 historic buildings and thousands of artifacts.

Owls Head: The Owls Head Transportation Museum houses one of the nation’s most outstanding collections of antique planes, automobiles, wagons, motorcycles and bicycles, all in working condition.

Owls Head

Phippsburg: Built in 1861, Fort Popham is a semicircular granite fort that saw service from the Civil War through World War I.

Fort Popham

Portland: The Museum of African Art & Culture displays over 1,500 pieces of African tribal art, including elaborately carved wooden masks dating back to 1600, figurines, textiles, 1,000 year old bronze items, ivory flutes, and clay vessels up to 2,000 years old.

Portland: Built in 1807, the 86-foot tall Portland Observatory tower on Munjoy Hill is America’s last remaining maritime signal tower. A telescope at the top allowed monitors to see thirty miles out to sea and identify inbound ships. Signal flags were used to alert ship owners that their ship was coming in. Today the tower is open for tours, and offers visitors a dramatic view of the harbor.

Portland: The Portland Fire Museum honors the long history of fire fighting in Portland with displays that include an 1848 Crockett hand tub & reel, an 1857 Jeffords hand pumper, an 1867 Button hand pumper, a 1938 McCann pumper Engine 12, equipment from the 1909 Portland fire alarm office, badges, slide poles, photos, and other fire department artifacts.

Hand Pumper

Portland: As a child, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived in the first brick house built in Portland. Today the home, at 485 Congress Street, is a museum with family furnishings and mementos.

Portland: Maine’s greatest athletes are honored at the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in Portland.

Portland: The Portland Harbor Museum is located on the grounds of historic Fort Preble, overlooking Casco Bay. Exhibits on 19th century wooden shipbuilding includes sections of the Portland built clipper ship Snow Squall. Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse is next door to the gallery.


Prospect Center: Fort Knox, built over a 25 year period between 1844 and 1869, was Maine’s largest fort and the first one built of granite. Visitors can tour the old fort and explore its many rooms.

Rockland: The Maine Lighthouse Museum is the home of the largest collection of lighthouse lenses, and displays one of the best collections of lighthouse artifacts and Coast Guard memorabilia in the United States.

Lenses

Seal Cove: The Seal Cove Auto Museum displays over 130 antique cars and motorcycles.

Searsport: Housed in eight historic buildings, the Penobscot Marine Museum exhibits marine paintings, photographs, art, and artifacts relating to Maine’s nautical heritage.

South Portland: Fort Preble was built in 1808 and has been a military fort, a prison for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, and a Navy training base. Today visitors can tour the old fort, located in Portland Harbor.

Thorndike: Bryant’s Stove Museum is the largest antique stove showroom east of the Mississippi River, with hundreds of gorgeous, meticulously restored antique wood burning stoves from the 1750s to the 1850s.

Waterville: The Redington Museum & Apothecary, circa 1814, is a 19th century apothecary and displays Civil War items, Indian relics, china, and silverware.

Wells: The Wells Auto Museum displays a large collection of antique cars, from Stanley Steamers to Stutz Bearcats, along with antique motorcycles and other memorabilia.

Yarmouth: You can see Eartha, the world’s largest rotating globe, at mapmaker DeLorme’s headquarters in Yarmouth.

York: Old York is a living history museum that includes the 1754 Jefferd’s Tavern; the Old Goal (jail) that housed prisoners from 1719-1860; the 1742 Emerson-Wilcox house; John Hancock Wharf and Warehouse; the 1867 George Marshall Store; an 18th century schoolhouse; the elegant 18th century Elizabeth Perkins house, and an 1850s farm worker’s house.

Congratulations Debra Larson, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Chesapeake 1880 by my friend Ken Rossignol. We had 98 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon!

Thought For The Day – Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, damn you’re good.

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