Nick Russell


 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 302015

Terry still wasn’t feeling back to normal yesterday, so instead of flying kites again we ran a few errands in town, stopped at the farmers market, and then came home. So for today’s blog, I thought I would share some of the questions I have received lately and my answers.

Q. Do you guys ever miss your bus conversion and how does it compare to living and traveling in your Winnebago?

A. We loved that old bus and for over eight years it was a comfortable home on wheels. It was as solid as a tank and could carry more weight than we could have ever stuffed into its massive storage bays. However, it had a million miles on it and the engine and transmission were tired. Climbing up the mountains out west was becoming a real challenge, and for what it would have cost to rebuild or replace them we could put a huge dent in the cost of a newer, more powerful diesel pusher. And it was getting harder and harder to find shops what could work on the old two-stroke Detroit Diesel engine. Our Winnebago Ultimate Advantage has power to spare, two slide rooms that gives us plenty of living space, and any Cummins shop can work on it. We’re very happy with our choice.

Q. You used to have a lot of solar panels on your bus and did a lot of dry camping. Why didn’t you transfer them, to your Winnebago, and why don’t you dry camp anymore?

A. Yes, we used to spend a lot of time camping off the grid, but everybody changes over time. We reached the point where we prefer the creature comforts of a full hookup campground, and did not feel a need to move our solar system to the motorhome.

Q. Do you ever worry about what would happen if one of you were to get sick and die when on the road, far away from home?

A. Where is home? We are fulltimers with no ties to any particular place. None of us are ever going to get out of this life alive, so why spend a lot of time worrying about when or where the end will come? We prefer to spend that energy enjoying our lives.

Q. We are researching fulltime RVing and one major concern is that three of our four adult children are completely opposed to it. One daughter thinks it will be a great adventure, but the others have told us that if we sell the house and blow everything on an RV not to expect to come back and live with them when we are too old or are in poor health. How would you respond to that?

A. I would tell them that I am too independent to live with anybody, but if I had to, it wouldn’t be with someone who had an attitude like theirs and had forgotten all of the time they lived with me growing up. Then I would tell them goodbye, I’m off to enjoy my life.

Q. We are looking at discount camping groups like Coast to Coast, RPI, and Enjoy America. Our home park offers all three. Which of them would you go with, if any, and what about Passport America?

A. Most campgrounds that participate in any of these discount programs participates in all of them, so there is a lot of duplication. The biggest and best, in my opinion, is Passport America. We are lifetime members and have belonged since before we hit the road sixteen years ago.

Q. Our Class A motorhome has a patio awning that needs to be pulled out and closed up by hand. Some people have said it’s okay to leave it out when we are away from the campground and others say it’s better to close it up. What do you think?

A. We never leave our awning out when we are away from the motorhome. We have seen too many that were damaged or destroyed when a sudden storm or wind burst came through while the owners are away.

Q. We are leaving on our fulltiming adventure the end of the summer and my wife wants to pack at least six week’s worth of food, “just in case.” I keep telling her that we can shop at local grocery stores along the way. What do you think?

A. When that six week’s worth of food is gone, do you plan to go back to the same grocery store in your hometown where you shop now? We do our shopping just like anybody living in a house or apartment, at the local grocery store.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Crazy Days in Big Lake, the third book in my Big Lake 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.


Thought For The Day – A nymphomaniac is a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man.

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Domiciles And Kites

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 292015

After reading yesterday’s blog in which I said we would eventually be changing our residence from South Dakota, several readers e-mailed or messaged me to ask why.

Where you choose as your legal domicile isn’t just about where you register your RV or how much sales tax you pay. There are many other factors to consider, and what works for one person or couple may not work for somebody else. It’s a complicated issue and I do an entire 60 minute seminar on it at RV rallies.

We are changing for several reasons. We spend a lot of time in Florida and when/if we ever hang up the keys, it will be there. As Florida residents we can get fishing licenses at a reduced rate and once we hit 65 it’s good for life. Concealed weapons permits don’t have the hassle of having to be in the county for 30 consecutive days that South Dakota now has. And perhaps most important, Terry can get medical coverage in Florida that she can’t in South Dakota, because South Dakota does not participate in AHCA, and health insurance for South Dakota fulltimers can be hard to get, and even more so for somebody who has had cancer.

And now that the Escapees RV Club has expanded their excellent mail forwarding program to include Florida, changing residence just makes sense for us. Again, this is what works for us. As they say in the TV commercials, your mileage may be different.

The wind was supposed to be stronger yesterday afternoon, so we planned to get some kite flying done, but at 2:30 p.m. it was still pretty calm here at the campground. We decided to go for it anyway and see what happened.

And I’m glad we did! According to my WeatherFlow wind meter, when we got to the beach, a mile away, the wind was blowing at 17- 20 mph. Perfect kite wind!

I got to fly both of my new kites. The Prism Micron Stunt Kite I just won in a Kite Life drawing is definitely a challenge. Fast does not even begin to describe it, and that long tail turning circles in the air looks really cool. Was it fun? Yes. But it will take some getting used to.

Then I broke out my new Revolution B Series full vent and I have to tell you, I love my wife, I love my kids, but I LOVE this kite! Love, love, love it! It almost seems like it anticipates my movements because it reacts so quickly and smoothly.

Flying B series 3 small

Flying B Series small

Flying B series 2 small

I flew it for over three hours and only stopped when the wind started to die off and my arms felt like there were going to fall off. I’m still a newbie, but several people walking by gave me a thumbs up as I practiced hovers and spins. I’m hoping we have good winds again today.

I wasn’t the only one having fun. Dan Chance flew his Prism Snapshot 1.9 speed foil until his arms ached, and it really dragged him around. And Nancy Kissack is proving to be a natural with her Revolution 1.5 SLE kite. She’s really getting good with it quickly.

Poor Terry wasn’t as lucky. She wasn’t feeling well to start with, and then the wind caught her kite lines as she was unwinding them and they quickly became a complete tangle. She tried to straighten things out but they only got worse, and eventually she decided it just wasn’t her day and put everything back in the kite bag. Hopefully today she’ll feel better and have better luck.

We left the beach about 6 p.m. and decided to check out Norma’s Seafood and Steak for dinner. It was really crowded and I can understand why. We both had the Captain’s Platter, which came with salmon, prawns, halibut, calamari, scallops, oysters, and razor clams. It was delicious and the servings were more than generous.

A while after we got home, Nancy Kissack came by to give me the pictures she took for today’s blog and to talk about kites and flying for a while.

Did I mention that we’re loving our summer here on the Oregon coast?

Thought For The Day – Friendship isn’t a big thing, it’s a million little things.

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Jul 282015

Yesterday was pretty much a stay at home day for us. Terry is working on a new weaving project that is coming out great and I was writing. In the last three days I knocked out another 6,000 words or so to my next Big Lake book and the end is near, as the doomsayers are so fond of telling us.

We had an early lunch of some of the smoked salmon and smoked oysters that we got from Josephson’s Smokehouse the other day, on Ritz crackers. Absolutely delicious!

I did leave a little before noon to go to the post office and pick up the newest addition to my kite bag. It’s a Prism Micron Stunt Kite, one of the smallest, fastest kites around. It’s been described as being “like a bumble bee on amphetamines.”

Prism Micron small

I won it in a drawing on the Kite Life website. I can’t remember how many kites I’ve won there in the last couple of years, but it’s been a lot. Some of the other members just groan when I enter and ask, “Why should I even try?” But they are a great bunch and are all very supportive and congratulatory when somebody wins. The wind has been pretty calm the last few days, but this afternoon it’s supposed to be in the 15 to 21 mile per hour ranges, which is great. So I guess you know where we’ll be.

Our legal domicile has been with Alternative Resources in Sioux Falls, but we plan to switch to Florida sometime early next year. In the meantime our South Dakota registrations for the motorhome and Explorer were due in August. I did not want to renew for a whole year of mail forwarding, since the only things that ever go there are our licenses and registrations.

Greg White uses My Dakota Address in Madison and said that owner Terri Lund is excellent to work with, and offers short term as well as annual accounts. Late last week I called Terry to ask what I needed to do to change things over and she said no problem, she would handle all of it, and even go to the courthouse to get the registrations handled and send them to us. And sure enough, while I was at the post office to get my kite I also picked up the renewal stickers and registrations she had sent out. Now that’s great personalized service

A little after five we met Dan and Patty Chance and Nancy Kissack at a little dive bar called the Relief Pitcher on the south side of town. We discovered this place a couple of years ago after several of our readers recommended it and were very pleased with their burgers. And they were as good yesterday as they were the first time around!

Bring your appetite. This is Terry’s cheeseburger with avocado. A whole avocado, if not more.

Terry burger

And this is my Grand Slam, which was a hamburger with shaved ham, two kinds of cheese, and a fried egg. Add the hand cut French fries and I could not finish it all!

Nick burger

We had a great dinner, with lots of laughs all around, and on our way home we stopped at Safeway for some things we didn’t get at Fred Meyer on our way home from Astoria on Sunday. I’ll get some more writing done today before we go to the beach. But that’s just work. It’s really all about the kites.

Thought For The Day – When a man talks dirty to a woman, it’s sexual harassment. When a woman talks dirty to a man, it’s $3.95 a minute.

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Astoria Sunday Market

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 272015

Yes, the scenery is spectacular. No question about it, the seafood is amazing. And we truly have loved flying our kites on the beach. But let’s be honest, the real reason Miss Terry loves coming to the Oregon coast is to go to the Astoria Sunday Market.

Every Sunday from early May to early October, the quaint little city of Astoria, located at the mouth of the Columbia River, closes several blocks of a downtown street and it transforms into a wonderful farmers market where vendors sell locally created artwork and local produce.

Glass balls small

Kimos Dips small

People come from miles around to shop for every kind of vegetable you could ever hope to find.

Veggies small

Lots and lots of people!

Crowded Market small

This fellow was selling cigar box banjos, and entertaining the crowd as they passed by his booth.

Banjo player small

Banjos small

I didn’t claw my way to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables. I eat fried dead meat. Or barbecued dead meat. Or smoked dead meat. Or…., well, you get the idea. But Terry loves them, and she found some goodies, including some beets, heirloom tomatoes, onions, garlic, green beans, and probably some other stuff too. Hey, as long as she keeps me supplied with dead meat, she can have whatever she wants.

Veggies 2 small

In spite of the crowds, we had a good time at the market and I’m sure we’ll be going back again next Sunday. And the Sunday after that. And the….., again, you get the idea.

Now, you might think. “That Nick sure is a great husband, going to the farmers market even though he doesn’t eat veggies.” And you’d be right. I am a heck of a catch. But I like going to Astoria for my own reasons. There is a lot of history here, there are some beautiful old Victorian homes, and there’s Josephson’s Smokehouse.

Josephsons Smokehouse

I’ve been going to Josephson’s ever since my newspapering days here as a young man. They always have a wonderful selection of delicious smoked salmon, sturgeon, and other seafood the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else on earth. I’ve driven as much as a hundred miles just to go to Josephson’s. Yeah, it’s really that good.

Josephson's showcase 2

When we left Josephson’s, we crossed the very high, very long Astoria-Megler bridge over the Columbia River to the Washington side. Most of you know about my phobia about bridges, but this time across I didn’t even snivel as Terry drove across it.

Astoria Bridge 2015 small

It may be a different story next week when she drives across in the motorhome.

Motorhome on bridge small

Blog reader Linda Rees had e-mailed to tell us about a nice little yarn shop called Purly Shell Fiber Arts that had opened on the waterfront in Ilwaco since our last visit to this area two years ago and Terry wanted to check it out. They had a great selection of yarns, some neat spinning wheels, and other goodies. We had a nice time visiting with the owners, a friendly mother and daughter team, and I’m sure that once we get settled in at the Long Beach Thousand Trails Terry will be going back.

Spinning wheels small

We drove around Long Beach for a while and stopped at the Thousand Trails. I was very pleased to see that they now have strong 4G Verizon service, since on our last visit it was very poor. And we stopped at the kite shop because…, well, it was there! Is there a better reason!

Crossing back over the river we stopped at Fred Meyer to pick up some things and then at Great Wall, a nice Chinese restaurant we discovered on our last trip here. With our tummies full, we got home a little after 6 p.m., tired but pleased with our fun day on the go.

Congratulations Lamonte Monnell, winner of our 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. We had 82 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon!

Thought For The Day – Sometimes my train of thought leaves the station without me.

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Jul 262015

It’s often said that if RVers don’t like their neighbors, all they have to do is turn the key and leave. We did that Friday night, but it wasn’t because of our neighbors.

We were in a 30 amp full hookup site here at the Seaside Thousand Trails preserve, and for the first couple of days it was fine. But Friday our Progressive Industries Electrical Management System (EMS) started kicking out. It would do it two or three times and come back on instantly, and anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours later it would do it again. First the EMS gave a fault code showing reverse polarity, which did not make sense since it was fine when we arrived and plugged in. Then the error message changed to Line Frequency High. That’s not good.

I had walked down to the dumpster to throw some trash away, and on the way back to our site I spotted an empty 50 amp site two rows behind us. A Ranger was driving past and I stopped him, explained the problem, and asked if we could move to the other site. He said as long as nobody grabbed it before we got there, it was fine.

It being Friday night, I knew a nice site like that would not stay vacant long, so I went back to our rig and told Miss Terry we needed to move fast. She was the middle of washing dishes, but we hustled and made what was surely the fastest and shortest move in our sixteen years of fulltiming. Within 45 minutes Terry had folded her loom up, we had secured things inside the motorhome, our barbecue grill and portable propane tank stashed in a storage bay, had the slide rooms in, leveling jacks up, rooftop TV dish stowed, campground utilities unhooked, had moved to our new site, repeated the process in reverse, and were all settled into our new campsite. And we have good solid power now!

There has been a lot of talk lately about a recent report that warns that it is only a matter of time before a major earthquake hits the Pacific Northwest coast and causes total devastation. Several readers have asked if we are concerned, and why we are staying here all summer in light of the report.

I got my start in the newspaper business here in the late 70s, and it was a big topic back then for a while and then all of the hubbub died off. They have said the same thing about California for as long as I can remember. And they are right, it can happen any day. Or not. Or a drunk driver or some kid texting could hit me head on as I go somewhere else that is safer. Or I could trip over a seagull when I’m on the beach flying my kite and break my neck. There are tornadoes and lightning in the South and Midwest, hurricanes along the Gulf and East coasts, and some kind of potential danger anywhere you go.

I have always believed that when it’s my time, I’ll go, and until then I’m not going to live in fear. I live for today, and today and for the next few weeks, we’ll be right here in one of the most beautiful places on earth. If my number really is up, can you think of a better place to cash in my chips?

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of my friend Ken Rossignol’s Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous 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


And before I close, this blog is an Amazon affiliate. When you Shop Amazon through any of the links here, including the Search Amazon box in the right sidebar, it won’t cost you anything more, but we’ll get a small commission on everything you buy that helps cover the cost of our web service. Just click on the Amazon link, then shop as usual.

Thought For The Day – Most of the people who died yesterday had plans for today. Don’t take life for granted.

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Jul 252015

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.

Bloomfield: Familiar to servicemen and women worldwide, the Stars and Stripes newspaper was first published in Bloomfield, and the Stars and Stripes Museum here displays artifacts, graphics and newspapers dating from the Civil War to the present.

Stars and Stripes

Branson: The Titanic Museum displays artifacts, photos, and other exhibits about the world’s most famous shipwreck.

Branson: The Veterans Memorial Museum is a fascinating and awe-inspiring collection of artifacts and artwork from America’s 20th Century wars. The museum includes the world’s largest war memorial bronze sculpture, a stunning 70-foot long bronze sculpture consisting of 50 life-size soldiers storming a beach. A combat soldier from each of the 50 states was used as models for the life-size figures. The sculpture is surrounded by the names of over 400,000 American servicemen and women killed in action during World War II.

Vets MUseum Branson

Branson: Called the Smithsonian of the Ozarks, exhibits at the Ralph Foster Museum on the campus of the College of the Ozarks include the original vehicle used in the television series The Beverly Hillbillies, along with antiques, weapons, Kewpie dolls, natural history, and oddball items from around the world.

Defiance: Frontiersman Daniel Boone lived out the last years of his life in Defiance, and died here in 1820. Boone’s home and a collection of other historic buildings have been preserved and are open for tours.

Diamond: Scientist George Washington Carver was born a slave in Diamond in 1860. The farm where he grew up is now a National Monument administered by the National Park Service.

Carver bust

Fort Leonard Wood: The U.S. Army Engineer Museum tells the story of the Army’s construction battalions.

Fulton: The Auto World Museum, located at 200 Peacock Drive, displays a large collection of antique cars, fire trucks, tractors, and automotive memorabilia.

auto World Museum

Grandview: The farm where future president Harry S. Truman lived from 1906 to 1917 is now a National Historic Site and is open for tours.

Truman farm

Hannibal: Everything you ever wanted to know about Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and their pals can be learned in Hannibal. Museums, a statue of Tom and Huck, and historic buildings transport visitors to the days when this was a thriving river town.

Tom Huck Statue 2

Hannibal: Long before Samuel Clemens was Mark Twain, he lived in Hannibal as a boy. The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum displays his books, memorabilia, and one of the author’s trademark white suits.

Imperial: Mastodon State Historic Site contains an important archaeological and paleontological site, the Kimmswick Bone Bed. Bones of mastodons and other now-extinct animals were first found here in the early 1800s. The area has one of the most extensive Pleistocene ice age deposits in the country. A museum tells the natural and cultural story of the American Indians here and displays a full-size replica of a mastodon skeleton.

Independence: Leila’s Hair Museum displays over 150 wreaths and more than 2,000 pieces of jewelry containing, or made of, human hair, dating before 1900.

Independence: President Harry S. Truman and wife Bess are buried in the courtyard of the Truman Presidential Library in Independence.

Independence: The National Frontier Trails Museum is a museum, interpretive center, and research library dedicated to telling the rich history of America’s major western trails.

Kansas City: You can learn about the process of designing and printing greeting cards at the Hallmark Visitor Center.

Kansas City: The sights and sounds of a uniquely American art form come alive at the American Jazz Museum. The museum includes interactive exhibits and educational programs, as well as the Blue Room, a working jazz club, and the Gem Theater, a modern 500-seat performing arts center.

Kansas City: In 1856 the steamboat Arabia struck a submerged tree stump and sank in the Missouri River with a cargo of goods bounds for trading posts upriver. Over time the river changed its course and the ship lay hidden under a layer of silt and soil until it was discovered in a farmer’s field in 1988. The cargo remained in surprisingly well preserved condition, including tools, firearms, dishes, and even cans of peaches that were still edible. Many of the items recovered are on display at the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City.


Kansas City: The National Airline History Museum, located at the historic Downtown Airport in Kansas City, honors a different and more graceful age of air transportation. The museum contains a collection of photographs, artifacts, printed material, and audio/visual displays that will bring back the true flavor of an age gone by. Uniforms, galley items, instrumentation, logbooks, and personal mementos bring to life the propeller-driven airliner era. The museum’s aircraft collection includes a Lockheed L1049 “Super G” Constellation, a Martin 404, and a Douglas DC-3.

Kansas City: The National World War I Museum (Liberty Memorial Museum) is the only museum in the United States dedicated solely to preserving the story of the world’s first global conflict. Displays include military uniforms and equipment, photographs, documents, and artwork.

World War I

Kansas City: The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum tells the story of African American baseball players with artifacts and photographs dating from the late 1800s through the 1960s.

Kearney: Outlaw Jesse James lived in Kearney and his home is now a museum. The outlaw is buried in the Mount Olivett Cemetery.

Laclede: At the General John J. Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site you can learn about the boy who would grow up to chase Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa and command U.S. forces during World War I.

Lamar: President Harry Truman was born in Lamar in 1884. The Truman family home is now a State Historic Site and open to tours.

Lexington: Once called “the largest and best arranged dwelling house west of St. Louis,” the Oliver Anderson mansion is best known for the three bloody days in 1861 when it was a fiercely contested prize in a Civil War battle between the Union army and the Missouri State Guard. The mansion is now a State Historic Site, restored and furnished in the mid-19th century fashion, but it still displays damage from the shot and shell that hammered it during the Battle of Lexington.

Anderson house 2

Mansfield: If you are a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books, you’ll enjoy visiting her home at Rocky Ridge Farm, which is now a museum displaying many of her personal possessions.

Marceline: Walt Disney grew up in Marceline and the old railroad depot is now a museum to his life and career.

New Haven: The John Colter Memorial Museum & Visitor Center has displays on the explorer turned mountain man who made the trip west with Lewis and Clark.


Park Hills: Located within the Old Lead Belt of the eastern Ozarks, the nation’s major source of lead for more than 60 years, Missouri Mines State Historic Site now occupies the site of the St. Joseph Lead Company’s largest mine-mill complex. The 19,000 square-foot mine-mill powerhouse has been developed into a large museum that interprets Missouri’s mining history, displays old mining machinery. and has an outstanding mineral collection.

Missouri Mines

Sibley: Reconstructed historic Fort Osage, overlooking the Missouri River, served as one of the first United States outposts in the Louisiana Purchase. The garrison established an American presence in the territory.

Fort Osage

Springfield: Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, eight miles southwest of town, is the site of the first major Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River. Today the site has an impressive museum, and a five mile loop road takes visitors through the old battleground.

Wilson Creek

Stanton: Meramac Caverns, discovered in 1716 and once used as a hideout by outlaw Jesse James, has been a tourist attraction for over 150 years.


St. Joseph: The Society of Memories Doll Museum displays more than 600 dolls from the 1840s to the present day.

Society of Memories Doll Museum, St. Joseph

St. Joseph: The Pony Express operated between St. Joseph and Sacramento, California from 1860 to 1861. Exhibits at the Pony Express National Memorial, housed in the original stables, tell the story of the daring overland riders who carried the mail and faced bandits and marauding Indians along the way.

St. Joseph: The Glore Psychiatric Museum uses full-sized replicas, interactive displays, audio-visuals, artifacts, and documents to cover 130 years of the treatment of the mentally ill.

St. Louis: Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) is the world’s first museum of interfaith contemporary art. The museum is located in a spacious chapel that was used for over 35 years by Jesuits studying philosophy at Saint Louis University.

St. Louis: Housed in the 600,000 square-foot former International Shoe Company, the City Museum is an eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel, constructed from reclaimed building material such as old chimneys, salvaged bridges, construction cranes, miles of tile, and even two abandoned airplanes.

St. Louis: The American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog is home to the world’s finest collection of art devoted to the dog, displaying over 500 original paintings, drawings, watercolors, prints, sculptures, and decorative art objects depicting man’s best friend throughout the ages.

St. Louis: The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial includes the magnificent Gateway Arc, which visitors can ride to the top of in a tram, and the Museum of Westward Expansion, which displays some of the rarest artifacts from the days of Lewis and Clark. Through the museum’s exhibits, visitors can explore the world of the American Indians and the 19th century pioneers who helped shape the history of the American West.

Gateway Arch

St. Louis: The home where composer Scott Joplin lived, at 2658A Delmar Boulevard, is now a State Historic Site. Illuminated by gaslight, and appropriately furnished for 1902, the Joplin flat where many ragtime classics were composed has museum exhibits interpreting Joplin’s life and work, and St. Louis as it was during the ragtime era.


St Louis: The Museum of Transportation displays one of the largest collections of vehicles in the world, including over seventy locomotives representing the rail power that built America. Also on display are antique and classic vehicles including St. Louis’ oldest express delivery truck, a 1908 Galloway Express Truck; a 1959 Ford experimental gas turbine truck which dramatically advanced turbine technology; and a 1901 St. Louis Automobile made by the St. Louis Motor Carriage Company, the first successful automobile company west of the Mississippi River. The museum’s collection also includes airplanes and riverboats.

St Louis: The Soldiers’ Memorial Military Museum honors the service and sacrifices of our nation’s military men and women with displays that include uniforms, military equipment, photographs, and artwork.

Soldiers Museum

St Louis: The Miniature Museum of Greater St. Louis features an impressive collection of doll houses and other tiny buildings.

Have you entered our latest Free Drawing yet? 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 – Friends are relatives you make for yourself.

Check Out Nick’s E-Books In Our E-Book Store

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

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Good Deal Or Ripoff?

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

One reason that we don’t have very much advertising from the RV industry in the Gypsy Journal is because I have never made it a secret that a lot of what is being made and sold is junk, and that poor service after the sale seems to be the norm with many companies. In fact, I have been advised to tone it down more than once if I wanted a company’s advertising or to speak at certain RV shows and rallies. But I’m just not a tone it down kind of guy.

That being said, not everybody who builds, sells, or works on RVs is out to take advantage of you. I want to share an e-mail that I got the other day from a woman who feels she got ripped off by a mobile RV repairman who took advantage of her situation and my response.

She complained that the air conditioner in her fifth wheel trailer had stopped working and her husband works in the oil patch and was going to be gone for the next two weeks. It was over 100 degrees inside the trailer with all the windows open and her two little kids were getting sick from the heat, so she called a mobile RV tech. He drove 30 miles to get there, worked on it for an hour, replaced “something” and now the AC is blowing cold, but he charged her $200, which she felt was outrageous. She added, “Doctors don’t make $200 a hour. This is an example of somebody taking advantage of a helpless woman with kids and ripping her off. It should be illegal.”

I replied, “I don’t feel you got ripped off. First of all, he may have worked on it for an hour, but that 30 mile trip to you and then back was another hour or more. That was time he could have been working on someone’s else’s rig. I don’t know what the part he replaced in your air conditioner was or what it cost, but he didn’t get it for free. Not to mention that his truck, tools, and training didn’t come free, nor did the fuel for his 60 mile round trip. Plus, your air conditioning is working and your kids are not getting sick. I think you were treated fairly.”

What are your thoughts? Fair deal or ripoff?

Have you entered our latest Free Drawing yet? 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

Several people have asked why they never get picked even though they enter the drawing every week. I don’t choose who wins, it’s totally at random. I enter the number of entries into and it selects the winning number. Your chances of winning are the same as everyone else who enters. So keep playing. Sooner or later you’ll get lucky. Friendship is one mind in two bodies.

Thought For The Day – It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

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I Worked For It

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

With 770,000 visitors last year, this blog generates a lot of e-mail. Usually around 100 a day. Much of it is from readers with comments and questions, which is always fun. But there is also a lot of trash.

Besides the spam that slips through in spite of my filters, the never-ending forwards that I immediately delete without opening, and the occasional crank, in the last three or four months I have been getting a lot of requests to post links to Go Fund Me pages. This really irritates me. Yes, a few people have legitimate needs, but who is to say if one is real or just a scam? And then there are the those wanting something for nothing, like this one I want to share one with you, along with my response.

Hello, we are reaching out to you hoping you will help us achieve our goal of traveling in an RV for a few years as we raise our two girls, exposing them to all our country has to offer. We are both 27 years old and our girls are ages 6 and 4. We have always wanted to see America by RV so we have set up a Go Fund Me page that I hope you will share a link to with your readers to help us buy an RV. I know to rich people like you living in luxury RVs we may seem like beggars but that’s totally not the case. We don’t want something expensive, just a reliable home on wheels for our family of four. We have to start somewhere. We are unemployed so there is no better time than now to do it and we don’t want to wait until we are too old to enjoy it. Colleen and Raymond

I replied: Colleen and Raymond, I wish you luck in your quest, but I’m too busy to help you out right now. I’m about to leave my luxury motorhome, get in my SUV that is paid off, and drive to a beach to fly the $350 kite I bought by WORKING for a living. Nick Russell.

We went to the beach yesterday afternoon with Nancy Kissack and Dan and Patty Chance to get some kite flying in. Nancy was flying her new full vent Revolution kite and I gave her a few tips on launching it and some basic maneuvers, but she’s a natural and it didn’t take long before she didn’t need me bothering her.

Dan was zipping through the air with his Prism Snapshot 1.9 speed foil and Miss Terry was working her Revolution EXP but the wind was flakey, and by the time I got my kite in the air it was fading away and results were not all that great so we didn’t fly long. There will be other days. Lots of other days.

When we left the beach we stopped at the post office to mail out an order, and then at Northwest Winds Kite Shop. And who should we run into there but Nancy, feeding her addiction with a new Revolution ultralite kite! Of course, she’s not the only one with a monkey on her back. While we were there I spotted a beautiful John Barresi Signature Series full vent Revolution kite that I fell in love with, and the manager allowed me to return the full vent that I bought at their shop in Lincoln City on Sunday and never used, in exchange on this stunning red and black beauty.

Black Red B Series small

I also found something else there that I was planning to order from Amazon, a WeatherFlow Wind Meter that plugs into an Android smart phone or device, or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod. I’ve found that the weather apps I have on my phone are good but not all that reliable when it comes to current wind speeds where I am. These are great not only for kite flyers, but also boaters, kayakers, and anyone else who spends time in the great outdoors. It would even be good for RVers who want to know what the wind is like before they hit the road.

Wind meter

It’s Thursday, so 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 – Friendship is one mind in two bodies.

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A Move To Seaside

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 222015

We were awake at 6 a.m. yesterday because it was moving day. And though it was only a 120 mile trip, we needed to get to our new location, the Seaside Thousand Trails preserve, early to snag a good site. This is a very popular campground and stays busy all summer long.

We were on the road by 8:15, traveling north on U.S. Highway 101 through Newport, Depoe Bay, Lincoln City, on to Tillamook and Garibaldi, and finally to Seaside. While the trip wasn’t that long in miles, it was slow going much of the way, with narrow roads, a couple of short but steep climbs, and lots of dips,  twists, and turns. Add to that the fact that the road is rough in several places and it’s not exactly a super highway.

Wavey road

Narrow US 101


Part of the route follows the coast, where the views were incredible, and other parts of it carry you inland a few miles.

Beach view

Like Whalers Rest in Newport, Seaside has two sections, and like Whalers Rest, we prefer the north side. We arrived at the campground about 11:30, and once I checked in at the ranger station, we headed for the north section, where our friend Nancy Kissack was waiting for us. She pointed out a great 50 amp site on the end of a row and we got backed in and hooked up, then realized that a lone tree at the back of the site blocked our rooftop satellite dish. Well, darn it.

Fortunately, there was another empty site right across the road, so we moved to it. This one was only 30 amp, but the weather is nice here and we don’t really need any more than that. And the satellite dish locked right on. Life is good.

Later in the afternoon Nancy, Terry, and I decided to go to El Trio Loco for dinner. As we were leaving the campground, Dan and Patty Chance were driving in so we stopped and invited them to join us. The food was good and as always, the company was excellent. We talked about everything from kite flying to interesting places we have seen in our travels, to American history. Finally we had to break it up because the dinner rush was starting and we didn’t want to keep people waiting for a table.

Back at home we relaxed, watching TV and cruising the internet. Not used to getting up so early, I found myself nodding off at my keyboard and decided to take a nap. When I woke up we had the rest of the humble pie Terry made the day before, and it was just as delicious.

I received a couple of questions about the Tilley hat  mentioned in yesterday’s blog. One person said that the Tilleys are expensive and asked if they are worth the money. Absolutely. I have had mine for about 25 years and wear it whenever I’m paddling my Sea Eagle kayak, fishing, flying kites, or anything else outdoors. And it’s still in great shape. In my opinion, it’s worth every penny.

Tilley hat

We really like this area. In fact, after our two week reservation ends here at Seaside, we’re going 32 miles up to the Long Beach (Washington) Thousand Trails for three weeks, then back here for two more weeks, back to Long Beach again for a two week stay, and back here for yet another three weeks. I’m thinking that by the time we leave the Pacific Northwest coast we’ll have learned a whole lot about kite flying!

Thought For The Day – I’ve given it some thought and I don’t think this whole grownup thing is going to work out for me.

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 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 212015

Somebody sent me an e-mail yesterday saying that he was tired of hearing about kite flying and seeing pictures of kites, that this is an RV blog and that’s all he wants to read about.

Sorry, but it’s my blog about our life as fulltime RVers and we don’t spend every minute of every day traveling in our RV or playing tourist. I don’t know any fulltimers who do that. At least not after the first year or so. Looking at the world through a windshield wears you out pretty quickly. Most fulltimers who have been out here a while enjoy traveling, but they also enjoy stopping in places they like and hanging out and having fun, which is what we’re doing this summer.

How do you like our new look? No, we have not become banditos and we won’t be knocking over any banks. These are neck gaiters that have built in UV protection and are worn to protect us from the sun’s damaging rays. Having undergone a harsh chemical peel for skin cancer two years ago, I’m in no hurry to repeat that ordeal. With this, sunglasses, and my faithful old Tilley hat I’m well protected in the great outdoors.

Banditos small

We were back on the beach for about three hours yesterday. The wind was light so we did not break out the new vented kites we bought Sunday, but instead I flew my standard Revolution 1.5 SLE and Miss Terry flew her Revolution EXP. Using the tips we got from our new friend Terry Rowley the other day, we had a great time and feel like we have come a long way in mastering some of the basic maneuvers.

As in most things in life, Miss Terry made it look easy the way her kite flew and turned so smoothly. In fact, so much so that when a man walking his dog on the beach stopped to watch and I told him that this was only her fourth time flying, he didn’t believe me.

Back at home I worked my way through the day’s accumulation of e-mail while Terry did a load of laundry, then made dinner and a delicious fresh fruit filled humble pie for dessert.

Today we are leaving Whalers Rest Thousand Trails and driving 125 miles north up the coast to the Seaside Thousand Trails preserve. Nancy Kissack and Dan and Patty Chance made the trip yesterday and said that it took them about three hours between the road conditions and construction, so we plan to get an earlier start than usual. Hopefully we’ll be able to snag a nice site when we get there. Nancy said it was really busy.

We have really enjoyed our two weeks here in Newport and are looking forward to getting back here again. It’s been a highlight of our years on the road.

Thought For The Day – Political correctness equals an inability to think for oneself. Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. – Oliver Wendell Holmes

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