Nick Russell

Jan 182017
 

For the last couple of days I have been involved in an email exchange with a couple who are brand-new fulltimers trying to adjust to life on the road. They are currently dry camping in the desert a couple of miles north of Quartzsite, Arizona and are freaking out about being in such a different environment from that which are used to back in the Midwest.



Unfortunately, a lot of their concerns are all due to one “helpful” RVer parked next to them who is giving them all sorts of advice and warning them about all the calamities that could occur. He walks around with a big sixgun strapped to his waist, because you never know when you might stumble upon a rattlesnake, or a coyote might come into your campsite, or you might cross paths with some Mexican drug runner. He also warned them that they could be drowned in an instant if a flash flood comes up in the middle of the night, and that being parked out in the middle of nowhere like they are makes them easy pickings for any kind of thugs who come along looking for an easy score. They said they have only been there for three days and are about ready to head back to Casa Grande or Tucson, where it is “safer.”

I spent many years of my life in Arizona, a lot of it wandering the back roads, camping out in the boondocks, and exploring the back country. And yeah, I’ve seen a few rattlesnakes in my time. And lots of coyotes. And who knows, I may have crossed paths with a drug runner at some point, but he was probably in his vehicle headed to wherever he was going to drop his load off and I never noticed. As far as flash floods, I’ve seen some doozies, no question about it. That’s why I never camp in or near riverbeds. Thugs looking for an easy score? I suspect there are more of them in the big city than there are out in the middle of the desert.



So yes, any of these things can happen. Or you might get hit by a meteorite. Or taken out by a drunk driver or some nitwit going down the road texting. Anything’s possible. But every year many thousands of RVers descend on Quartzsite and the surrounding desert for what some call Woodstock for Old Farts. They shop the vendors in the Big Tent at the RV show and on every street corner in town, they hang out with their friends and shoot the bull around the campfire, they play music, tell tall tales, ride ATVs, and have a great time. And in all the years we have been publishing the Gypsy Journal, I have never heard of any of them getting killed by rattlesnakes, or coyotes, or drug runners, or flash floods.

About the worst that happens is an occasional bicycle or generator left unlocked gets pilfered. So take the normal precautions you would anywhere else – if you want to keep it, lock it up! And relax. I really don’t think you’re going to be the first Quartzsite casualties to happen.

I told these folks to find a new neighbor. Life is too short to spend a minute of it listening to fools like the fellow giving them advice, or worrying about what somebody tells you could happen. Spend those minutes enjoying life instead. I guarantee you’ll be much happier.

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

Thought For The Day – Life is too short to worry about anything. Enjoy it, because the next day promises nothing. – Eric Davis

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Jan 172017
 

When you live and travel fulltime in an RV, something you always have to be aware of is weight considerations. There’s an old saying that whenever something comes in, something else has to go out. That’s why every time Miss Terry purchased a couple of skeins of yarn, I tried to stay as far away from the door as possible, just so she wouldn’t boot me out to make more room. And let’s face it, getting me out of the Winnebago sure would take a load off the old airbags!



One thing that adds a tremendous amount of weight is books. And since Terry and I are both avid readers, that was always an issue. Fortunately, having Amazon Kindles helped a lot in that respect. However, I still have a lot of research books that I use for my writing that aren’t always available in e-book format. And, as an author myself, we used to carry a selection of my books, along with Terry’s cookbook, to have at our booth when we were vending at RV rallies.

Since we have cut way back on our rally participation, I’ve also cut down on the number of my own books that we have on hand. In fact, I didn’t even have printed copies of four my books, Big Lake Honeymoon, Big Lake Reckoning, Big Lake Brewpub, and Black Friday.

When we were furnishing our house, purchasing several nice oak bookcases was very high on our priority list. Now we can have all the books we want! We just can’t take them all with us in the motorhome when we hit the road.



Yesterday a package came from CreateSpace, Amazon’s print division, with four copies each of the above books. It was the first time I had seen them in print format. That’s a nice stroke for the ego.

After several days of frustration, I finally got all the problems resolved with the last four books I have been working on formatting, Big Lake Abduction, Big Lake Celebration, Return to Dog’s Run, and Stillborn Armadillos. Meanwhile, my cover artist, Elizabeth Mackey sent me over the print covers, and today I will load everything up to CreateSpace and get them going. They should be available soon.

On another note, yesterday was our 19th wedding anniversary. Can you believe this beautiful lady has been putting up with my nonsense for that long? Don’t ask me why, folks, it’s a mystery to me. And I love her even more than I did the day we said “I do.” Thank you for all of your love and support through the years, Terry. I am nothing without you.

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

Thought For The Day – If Apple built a car, would it have windows?

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Jan 162017
 

One of the drawbacks to our home here in Edgewater, Florida is that Verizon service really sucks. If we go north or south a mile, we’ve got four bars of 4G. But here at home we get one bar if you’re really, really lucky. Even using my We Boost signal booster doesn’t help. We just seem to be in a dead area.



We solved the problem by switching our phones to Wi-Fi calling when we are here at home, using our Spectrum (formally Bright House) internet. But our friend Jim Lewis, who just bought a house down the street from us, decided he wanted to try AT&T instead, because other people in the neighborhood have said it is much better. So we spent much of yesterday running back and forth between AT&T and Verizon company stores in Daytona Beach, canceling his Verizon service and getting things switched over. That’s a long story in itself, but eventually he got it done.

While we were at Verizon, I was talking to one of the customer service reps who was trying to convince me I needed to upgrade my telephone. I’ve had my Samsung S5 for three years or so and it’s getting pretty worn out. I told the Verizon guy that I still have my old grandfathered in unlimited data plan, and I didn’t want to take one of their discounted phone plans because to get that, I have to give up my unlimited data.



I was surprised when he told me that is not the case anymore, and that customers on the old grandfathered unlimited plans can still get new phones on two-year contracts at discounted pricing. Since we haven’t had the best of experiences with the things we’ve been told by Verizon people, I want to check it out and be sure that what he told me is accurate before I upgrade my Samsung. I’d like to have a new phone, but not at the expense of losing my unlimited data. Here at home it’s no big deal, but when we are traveling in our motorhome, I need it.

Of course, that may be only for folks who are not high use customers. Cherie Ve Ard and Chris Dunphy from Technomadia recently reported that some Verizon customers who use too much have been getting letters terminating their contracts. I’m not really sure what Verizon considers too much, so that’s something to be aware of.

Jim must have felt guilty because dealing with the phone issues took so much time, because he treated us to dinner at Texas Roadhouse. He had never been to one before and I told him going in that the food was great, but the noise level at every one of their restaurants we’ve ever been to has made it almost impossible to have a conversation. By the time we finished our meals and left, with our ears ringing, he agreed.

Back at home, Jim was pleasantly surprised to find out that while our Verizon phones have none to one bar of service, his new AT&T phone has three bars and works fine. And in talking to the folks at AT&T, they seem to have some pretty good unlimited data plans also. I wonder if Verizon is feeling the competition, and that is why they are starting to get more reasonable for folks with existing unlimited data plans?

Before I end today’s blog, here’s one other comment on Verizon. If you are an honorably discharged veteran, take your DD 214 to a Verizon company store and you are entitled to a discount off your monthly billing for telephone service. It’s always nice to save a little bit of money every month.

Congratulations Linda Marie Joe, winner of our drawing for a membership to Boondockers Welcome, donated by Marianne Edwards. We had 151 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

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

Thought For The Day – If a young woman goes to Hooters to get a job, do they give her an application, or just hand her a bra and says, “Fill this out.”?

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Geeks For Lunch

 Posted by at 12:30 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 152017
 

We had a great day yesterday. Our friends Jim and Chris Guld, better known as the Geeks on Tour, spent last week presenting some of their great techno seminars at the Orlando Thousand Trails  Preserve and decided to drive up and see us.



It seems like we have known Jim and Chris forever, and we have crossed paths over and over in our RV travels and working the RV rally circuit. It’s been close to a year since the last time we saw them, but as it always is with good friends, time apart means nothing. We had a wonderful time reminiscing, showing them our new house, and catching up on events in all our lives in the past few months.

If you have never been to one of the Geeks’ seminars, you don’t know what you’re missing. If it has anything to do with computers, digital cameras, smart phones, or any other kind of techno toy, they wrote the book on it.

No, seriously. Among their many other activities, which includes teaching classes all over the country, blogging, podcasting, putting out a newsletter, and sharing their vast knowledge on all things technical, they recently published their first book, Google Photos. We’ve got a copy and it’s amazing how much information they crammed into it.

And because they are always willing to share their knowledge, they gave Miss Terry, me, and our friend Jim Lewis a mini-seminar on Google Photos, the benefits of storing photographs on the cloud, and all kinds of other valuable information.



We all went to lunch at one of our favorite local restaurants, the SeaShack in New Smyrna Beach. As always, the food was excellent, and the company was even better. Jim is neither an RVer nor a techno-head, but he still had a good time, and learned some things about his new smart phone in the process.

Here’s a picture of the five of us at lunch. That’s Jim Lewis in the left front, then Terry, and me, and Chris is in the right rear, with Jim Guld in the right front. Now that’s a crowd of hooligans you don’t want showing up on your doorstep late some night!

Back at our house after lunch, we visited some more, and Chris gave me my own official Geeks on Tour baseball cap. How cool is that?

If you’re going to be at the Escapees Escapade rally in Tucson, Arizona in March, be sure to sit in on some of their seminars. I promise you that you are going to have fun and learn a lot at the same time. Thanks for coming to see us, Jim and Chris. It was a real treat!

Today is your last day to enter our Free Drawing for a membership to Boondockers Welcome, donated by Marianne Edwards. This is a great prize that can save you a ton of money in your RV travels! 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.

Thought For The Day – Every single thing you’ve gone through has helped lead you to where you are today.

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Jan 142017
 

I got an email yesterday from a couple who are currently stuck in Wisconsin dealing with a family medical issue that may keep them there most of the winter. They said that while their RV is supposed to be an “all seasons” rig, they are finding it is far from adequate in the situation they find themselves in. They are parked in their son’s driveway and finding it to be quite a challenge living in an RV in the wintertime. Moving into the house is not an option, and they were asking for advice on ways to handle the situation and keep warm.



We know only too well what they’re going through. Eighteen months into our fulltiming adventure, we found ourselves stuck in Traverse City, Michigan in the wintertime while Terry was being treated for stage four cancer. And while the RV we had at that time, which became known as the Motorhome From Hell, was also supposed to be a four seasons rig, we found that it wasn’t.

Even without the terrible medical ordeal Terry was going through, it would still have been a miserable experience. But we did get through it, and today she is healthy and cancer free. Here are some tips we learned during that experience.



Power management is very important. We were parked at my cousin’s house and the best we could do was to plug into a 20 amp electrical outlet. It was enough to keep our batteries charged, and to watch television when the snow did not cover the satellite TV dish, but that was about it. We tried to use an electric space heater to supplement the feeble furnace on our motorhome, but every time we turned it on we blew the circuit. We had to switch to propane for our water heater, and carefully monitor our electrical use.

Insulate anyway you can. The more cold you can keep out of your RV, the less you have to heat it. I have known RVers in similar situations who put tarps, plywood, and even hay bales around the bottom of their rigs to keep the cold from coming in underneath. And surprisingly, snow is a very good insulator. At least it kept the cold wind from blowing underneath the rig. I guess that’s why Eskimos used to live in igloos, right?

Glass is a major conduit for cold. Silver foil over the windows reduces your ability to see outside, but can go a long way to helping you stay warmer inside. We also found that a lot of cold air came in around both of our slides. If bringing them in for the duration is not an option, stuffing towels around the inside of the seals helps a bit. But when you’re in below zero temperatures, you can only do so much.

Condensation is also a problem when you keep the rig closed up in cold weather. Our poorly insulated Pace Arrow Vision had several places in the front of the coach that were soaking wet for most of the time we were there. Later on we discovered DampRid, which does a very good job of absorbing moisture. I wish I had known about it back then.

Obviously, water hoses freeze in that kind of an environment. We would fill our fresh water tank, then disconnect the hose and run off the water pump until we needed to refill it. I found that hanging a simple trouble light with a 40 watt bulb inside the plumbing bay kept things from freezing in there.

One of the best things we bought, and the thing that really made it tolerable for us when we had to return for Terry’s follow-up care, was an Olympian catalytic heater. That thing worked great and was much more efficient than the RV furnace that came with the motorhome. Like the DampRid, I wish we had known about it while we were in the worst of the winter weather up there.

We bought extended-stay type propane line and ran it to our motorhome’s tank, and our gas consumption went down, while our comfort factor went way up.

When using any propane device inside for heat, it is absolutely necessary to have proper ventilation. We kept a living room window and a roof vent in the bathroom cracked open to provide it. We also used a small fan to help circulate the warm air from the heater throughout the motorhome.

One of the things that helped considerably was isolating the parts of the living quarters we were actually in. Even with the foil over the front windshield it was still very cold in the cab of the motorhome, but hanging heavy blankets across the rig just behind the driver and passenger seats helped keep that cold up front and made the living and dining room more comfortable.

If you are parked somewhere where you have decent electrical power available to you, a heated mattress pad can make sleeping much easier. With heat rising from below you, you don’t need as many blankets on top, which for me makes for a better night’s sleep.

Those are just some of the things that helped us get through that terrible time. Of course the best thing you can do is get out of Dodge and go someplace warm as soon as possible. But that’s not always an option. Hopefully, until you can, these tips will make life a little more tolerable. Does anybody else have any suggestions they would like to share? Your input is always welcome.

So far almost 90 people have entered our latest Free Drawing, and I’m not surprised, because we have a great prize for you this time around! Marianne Edwards from Boondockers Welcome is donating a membership for this week’s lucky winner. That can save you a ton of money in your RV travels! 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 – Live life like a butterfly. Take a rest sometimes, but don’t forget to fly.

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Cape Cod Canal

 Posted by at 12:23 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 132017
 

Note: This story first appeared in the November-December, 2012 issue of the Gypsy Journal.

Recognizing that a waterway across the seven mile wide isthmus of Cape Cod, connecting Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay, would be a great trade boon between the Plimoth Colony, local Indian villages, and the Dutch merchants sailing from New York, Captain Miles Standish of Pilgrim fame was the first to propose the construction of a manmade canal. But the project was too immense for his small band of settlers.



During the Revolutionary War, George Washington saw a need for a canal to help protect the American fleet from British blockades and ordered a survey of what would eventually become the Cape Cod Canal. But with the end of the war, the new nation had other, more important priorities and nothing was ever accomplished.

The sea route around Cape Cod to Boston Harbor has always been treacherous, taking a heavy toll on ships and sailors who ventured too close to the outer banks. During the late 1880s, shipwrecks happened at the rate of one every two weeks.

Over the years, several attempts were made by private companies to build a canal, but all failed due to the overwhelming costs of such a project. Finally in 1904, a wealthy financier named August Perry Belmont became interested in the project. He purchased the Boston, Cape Cod, and New York Canal Company, which had held a charter for canal construction since 1899. Belmont hired William Barclay Parsons, a respected civil engineer, to head the project.

Digging began in 1909, and despite many hardships and setbacks, continued until the Cape Cod Canal officially opened on July 29, 1914. But there were several drawbacks that kept the Canal from becoming a success.



Tolls were as much as $16 for a commercial schooner, which was a considerable amount of money in those days. At only 100 feet wide and rather shallow, many ship captains felt the canal was not adequate for their vessels and continued to make the dangerous passage around the Cape. Belmont had accomplished the Herculean task of building the Canal, but it was a financial failure.

Finally, the Federal government stepped in and purchased the Canal on March 30, 1928. An improvement project was launched, widening the channel to nearly 500 feet, and dredging it to 32 feet deep, removing 30 million cubic yards of earth in the process. The 1,400 jobs created by the Canal project during the Great Depression was an economic help to the region, and the new, improved Cape Cod Canal became the widest sea-level canal in the world. With its completion, ship traffic could safely transit the waterway, and now over 20,000 vessels of all types use the Canal annually, at no fee.

In addition to becoming a navigational aid, the Canal also provides an abundance of recreational opportunities. People come to the Canal to fish, to boat, to bike or walk the paved service roads that parallel both sides of the waterway, to picnic, or just to sit and watch the parade of marine traffic pass by.

The Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center, located at 60 Ed Moffitt Drive in Sandwich, Massachusetts, has displays on the history of the canal and its role in navigation, including the retired Coast Guard patrol boat Renier, a collection of nautical knots, and a small book store.

Park rangers and volunteers on duty at the Visitor center are happy to provide information and answer questions on the Canal, and interactive exhibits are popular with both children and adults. The small theater shows videos on the construction of the Canal, local wildlife, and natural history.

During the Summer and Fall, the Visitor Center offers a wide variety of interpretive programs, including natural and cultural history hikes, beach explorations, a Junior Ranger program, and an evening lecture series.

We enjoyed exploring the 45 foot long Renier during our visit to the Visitor Center. Built in 1969, the patrol boat was powered by twin Detroit diesel engines and was specially designed for service on the Canal in all kinds of weather.

The Marine Traffic Control exhibit explains how the Corps of Engineers manages marine traffic through the canal, and visitors can view live ship traffic on radar screens and camera monitors.

The Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center was a fun stop and we learned a lot during our visit. There is a lot to see and do for visitors of all ages. The Visitor Center is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from early May through late October, and admission is free. The parking lot is too small to accommodate large RVs, so plan on visiting in your tow vehicle. For more information call (508) 833-9678.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. We have a great prize for you this time around! Marianne Edwards from Boondockers Welcome is donating a membership for this week’s lucky winner. That can save you a ton of money in your RV travels! 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 – How can you say the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon?

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Show Off

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 122017
 

When we called Lowe’s last week to report that the oven light in Terry’s new Samsung stove had gone out the second time she used it, they said they would send a repairman out on Friday. But Thursday afternoon he called to say that there was a scheduling conflict and he wouldn’t be here until Wednesday (yesterday) of this week. He was scheduled to be here between 1 and 3, and actually showed up half an hour early.

Unfortunately, the problem isn’t the light bulb, since a replacement doesn’t work either and there doesn’t seem to be any power to the socket. So he is supposed to be coming back today. They’d better get it fixed pretty soon, because Terry is about ready to call Lowe’s and tell them to come pick it back up.

Except for poking my head into the kitchen while the repairman was here to see what was going on with that, I spent most of the day at my computer. I was working on formatting the print editions of my last four books, Big Lake Abduction, Big Lake Celebration, Return to Dog’s Run, and Stillborn Armadillos. The first book, Big Lake Abduction, came together pretty easily.

Then, when I started on the second one, Big Lake Celebration, I began having problems with InDesign, the page layout program I use for my books and for the Gypsy Journal. It kept changing the fonts on the page, making the size either smaller or larger at random. I found that I had to lay out two or three pages and then save everything before proceeding, or else the type size on the pages I had already done would change. That slowed me down quite a bit, but I eventually got it done.

Then, when I started on the third book, Stillborn Armadillos, it seemed like the gremlins had taken total control of the computer and nothing would work right. The type size kept changing, the text would not flow from page to page, or else it would create a blank page in between two pages of type. I tried everything from closing the program down and restarting it to actually shutting the computer down and rebooting, and nothing seemed to work. I kept at it until dinnertime, and finally called it day, drowning my sorrows in some of Miss Terry’s delicious lasagna. I’ll get back at it today and see what I can come up with.

A while back I told you that our friend Jim Lewis was visiting us from Mission, Texas. I guess Jim must have liked what he saw, because he was only here a few days before he bought a home just down the street from us! How cool is that? He doesn’t close until February 1, so he made a quick trip back to Mission, stuffed a U-Haul full of his worldly possessions, and he’s back and staying with us until he closes. Some people couldn’t handle having company that long, and there are not many people that Terry and I could tolerate staying with us that long, either. But Jim is an exception. He and I go back about 30 years and we are closer than brothers. We’ve seen each other through a lot of hard times, and shared plenty of good ones, too, and we’re looking forward to having him as a neighbor.

While living at Pleasant Valley RV Resort in Mission, Jim got into playing darts and introduced Terry and I to the sport. So every day we’ve been playing a few games on the dartboard in our garage. And so far, Terry and I have lost every one of them. This guy is good! But unfortunately, he’s a bit of a show off, too.

We were playing the other day and I managed to make what is known as a Robin Hood, where you stick one dart into the back end of another one already on the board. I didn’t plan to do it that way, it just happened.

I was feeling pretty good about that accomplishment until the next round, when Jim did the same thing. Except that his group of three darts were much closer together than anything I could have thrown.

And I’ll be darned if he didn’t do it again on the next round! That’s right, he got two different Robin Hood’s in one game! No wonder Terry and I can’t win against him. I consider it a success if I can just hit the dartboard at all, instead of the wall around it.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. And we have a great prize for you this time around! Marianne Edwards from Boondockers Welcome is donating a membership for this week’s lucky winner. That can save you a ton of money in your RV travels! 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 – The best way to get on your feet is to get off your butt.

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Mystery Solved

 Posted by at 1:12 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 112017
 

Or, at least we think it’s solved.

As I wrote in my blog post Drenched in Yamaha Pee, a few days ago we took my boat out for its first ride and the engine kept cutting out. My first thought was that we were running out of gas, even though the gauge said full and the dealer had assured me that he had filled the tank before we took it home. (As it turns out, boat dealers and RV dealers will both lie to you.)



We were prepared for that and I had brought along a two gallon can of gas. But we could only get a little bit into the built-in tank before it was overflowing out the neck. So apparently that wasn’t the problem. We managed to limp home, and different people offered different suggestions as to what the problem might be; everything from bad gas to a loose fuel line, or that the gas tank wasn’t venting properly, which could cause a vapor lock.

I bought some Starbright fuel additive, which is supposed to take care of the gas problem, we made sure the fuel line was attached properly, and we couldn’t find anything wrong with the cap that would indicate the vent in it was clogged. So yesterday, our neighbor Curtis King, who used to operate tour boats on the Erie Canal and has done a lot of boating here on the Intercoastal Waterway, offered to go for a ride with us to show us some of the local waters and point out where some of the best fishing was, and the places to avoid because of the shallows.



Curtis had talked me through the procedure of how to launch the boat by backing down the ramp and then hitting the brakes, causing it to float off the trailer. Terry was on the dock, holding a line secured to one of the boat’s cleats, and it was a simple task to pull it up to the dock while I parked the truck and trailer.

I got on the boat and Curtis gave us some last-minute instructions on how to best clear the shallow water near the dock and get out to the deep water channel of the Intercoastal Waterway.

Then we set off for our ride. Can anybody hear the theme song from Gilligan’s Island about a three-hour cruise?

We went south about 5 miles, operating at minimum wake as required by law because this is a manatee zone, and the boat ran perfectly. Then we got past that and out into the clear and Curtis told me to open it up. We were zipping right along, my GPS saying we were doing a little over 28 mph, and I thought all was right with the world.

Wrong! Suddenly the engine lost power, just like it had before. Curtis opened the gas cap, in the hope that if the problem was a bad vent from the tank, that would cure it. He also pumped the primer bulb to manually feed fuel to the Yamaha outboard motor. The engine fired back up with no problem and we decided to head for home. We got about half a mile when it stopped completely. Nothing, nada, zip.

So there we sat on the Intercoastal Waterway trying to decide if our best option would be to try to paddle to shore (the Coast Guard requires powerboats in these waters to have an oar or paddle for situations just like this). But the current was against us and we weren’t making any headway at all. We dropped anchor and tried to manually prime the motor again, but there was no gas coming out of the tank.

Fortunately, boaters are wonderful people, and in just a few minutes a big trawler named Salty Paws came along. Its owners, Bill and Molly Webster, saw us waving and came alongside to ask if we needed any help. We told them that we had lost power and weren’t sure what the problem was, and they very kindly offered to tow us all the way back to our dock. What nice people! Here is a picture of Bill and Molly and their boat that I stole from their blog http://cruisingonsaltypaws.blogspot.com/

Curtis tied the line they threw us to the bow of my boat, and off we went like a herd of turtles. It was a slow trip, but at least we were moving and didn’t have to call and then wait for the boat towing service that comes with my insurance policy. Before I started looking at boats, I didn’t even know they had towing services for them. But I’m glad they do!

Once we were back at the dock and had thanked Bill and Molly profusely for rescuing us, we winched my boat back onto the trailer. Curtis said he didn’t think we had any fuel in the tank even though we had not been able to put much more than half a gallon in when we had the problem the other day.

Then I remembered something I had read on a forum about Key Largo boats. Somebody said that their tank designs made them very slow to fill. A light went on and I asked Curtis if it was possible that we were only able to pour a little gas in from the can without it backing up on us because of that, which led us to believe the tank was indeed full, as the gauge said. He agreed that that was a good possibility.

We drove to a gas station a few miles down the road which sells non-ethanol marine gas. I knew the boat had a 20 gallon tank and wanted to see just how much it would take. And I’ll tell you what, whoever said they were slow to fill did not exaggerate! It took a long time because the gas kept splashing backwards like it was full, but by just letting it run in at a very slow speed we were able to put 20.5 gallons in until it was full to the rim.

So we were out of gas both times! Apparently the first time around when we were able to get a little bit of gas in from our portable tank, it was just enough to make the engine start and run for about five minutes before it would run out of fuel again, and when we repeated the process, we again got just a little bit in to allow us to go a little further.

I feel better knowing what the problem is, or at least I’m assuming that is what the problem is. We all know that when you assume, it’s possible to make an ASS of U and Me! I guess we’ll know the next time we put it in the water.

Thank you Curtis, Rosemary (his wife), and our buddy Jim Lewis, who both brought cans of gas down to us at the dock so we could give it to Bill and Molly to make up for what they had used towing us home, and, of course, thank you again, Bill and Molly! Your kindness is very much appreciated!

Thought For The Day – The only time you have too much fuel is when you’re on fire.

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Santa Fe Trail Center

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 102017
 

Note: This story appeared in the July-August 2012 issue of the Gypsy Journal.

For a small town, Larned, Kansas has a lot to offer visitors, including the Central States Scout Museum and Fort Larned National Historic Site, both of which we have featured in the Gypsy Journal. Another stop worth making in Larned is the nationally acclaimed Santa Fe Trail Center Historical Museum and Library.



Here visitors will find an impressive collection of over 35,000 historical and archeological artifacts related to the Santa Fe Trail era, early Pawnee County, Kansas, and settlement in the early 1900s.

Displays include Native American artifacts that range from headdresses and drums to pottery and baskets, exhibits on the buffalo, which played such an important role in the life and culture of the Plains Indians, and how the arrival of the white man changed their world forever.

The great era of the Santa Fe Trail began in 1821, when Mexican independence from Spain opened up new trade opportunities for American and Mexican merchants. The Santa Fe Trail was primarily a trading route, and the museum has an exhibit of wagons of the type used to transport goods along the Trail. Pulled by oxen and mules, these commercial freight wagon trains crossed the plains until the railroad arrived near Santa Fe in 1880.

Unlike the other great Western trails, the Santa Fe Trail was a two way route between two different countries: the United States and Mexico. By the early 1840’s, the majority of private freight caravans were owned and operated by New Mexicans. The Mexican War ended the international days of the Trail, when New Mexico was added to the U.S. territory.



The Plains Indians resisted the growing number of trespassers across their land, and attacks became frequent, requiring the intervention of the United States Army, and the military comprised a major portion of traffic on the Santa Fe Trail. A restored Army escort wagon is included in the museum’s exhibits.

The museum has an impressive collection of historic firearms showing the progression of weapons technology from flintlock to cartridges.

As the railroad tracks moved further west, they ended the freighting days of the Santa Fe Trail, and towns and farmsteads grew up in its wake. Settlers followed the traders, and the museum has a large collection of settlement artifacts including farming, business, household, and recreational items. A number of exhibits depict the lives of the settlers who built a civilization on the harsh and wild prairie.

The Santa Fe Trail Center’s archives include over 7,000 photographs and 2,300 Glass Magic Lantern slides, as well as manuscripts and diaries, school and voting records, and papers from businesses and organizations. Also included are the Pawnee County and Santa Fe Trail Association records.

A small, but impressive research library is available for people wishing to find additional information about the Santa Fe Trail. It is also an important resource for genealogical research on early families in Pawnee County. The library houses published materials related to the Santa Fe Trail, Kansas history, and the American West. The museum owns the War of Rebellion series, a collection of the official documents from the Civil War. Books and materials cannot be checked out, but reading on-site is encouraged. The Center’s library and archives are free and open to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during regular Center hours.

In addition to the museum and research library, a collection of historic buildings has been moved to the ten acre Santa Fe Trail Center complex. These include a typical settler’s sod house, the CME Escue Chapel, which was built in 1906 in Larned, a circa 1870 cooling house used to store meat and dairy products, and the 1929 Frizell Depot, built for the Atchinson, Topeka, and Santa Fe railway.

There is also a re-creation of a pioneer dugout, usually the first shelter made by newcomers to the prairie.

The one room L’Dora School, built in 1906, was moved to the Center from Frizell. Fans of the old television series Gunsmoke will be interested to note that actor Milburn Stone, who played Doc Adams, was a student at the school when he was a child.

The Center is also home to the Dale & Melba Woods Farm & Auto Museum, which houses a collection of antique cars, trucks, tractors, and other farming equipment. These include combines, threshing machines, and plows.

The Center also hosts special events and temporary exhibits, including quilt shows, living history events, and the annual Santa Fe Trail Days.

The main museum is handicapped accessible, but the other buildings and grounds could be difficult for those in wheelchairs.

The Santa Fe Trail Center is located at 1349 State Route 156, two miles west of Larned. The Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It is closed on Mondays from Labor Day until Memorial Day, as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for students age 12-18, $2 for children 6-11, and age 5 and under are free. There is room on the museum grounds for RVs to park while visiting, and free WiFi service is available in the lobby. For more information, call (620) 285-2054 or visit their website at http://santafetrailcenter.org/

Thought For The Day – He who laughs last thinks slowest.

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Shivering And Shaking

 Posted by at 12:34 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 092017
 

People who have not spent much time here during the winter may think that Florida is warm year-round, but that’s not necessarily so! We had a cold front come through this weekend, dropping temperatures down into the low 50s during the daytime into the 30s at night, with a lot of wind accompanying it.



Of course, that’s nothing like folks in more northern locales are experiencing. But then again, that’s why we have wheels under our houses and we’re not in those northern locales, right?

It was definitely not a day to be traveling anywhere in an RV. I hope all of you in this part of the country were parked somewhere safe and warm. I stepped outside a couple of times during the day and came back indoors shivering and shaking. And yes, sniveling, too. But you know my motto – find something you’re good at and stick with it.

The nasty weather was enough to keep me inside most of the day. I spent some time answering emails from blog readers and subscribers, including one from a lady who said she and her husband had just purchased a new RV and plan to do the snowbird thing. She said they were appalled to discover how many things were wrong with the rig and wondered how something with that many problems ever made it out of the factory, let alone off of the dealer’s lot, without some kind of quality control inspection.

She said among its many problems are an oven door that won’t stay closed but instead gaps open about 3 inches, a crank up rooftop antenna whose handle came off the first time her husband tried to extend it, misaligned cabinet doors, a ceiling light fixture that came loose and was dangling by the time they drove the rig home from the dealer when they picked it up, a loose water connection under the kitchen sink that drenched everything the first time they turned the water on, power steps that do not retract or extend all the way without being pushed in or pulled out, and a surround sound system that crackles and makes all kinds of noise when either the stereo or TV are on.

I wrote back and told her that unfortunately, her new motorhome is more the norm than an exception. I have said for years in the Gypsy Journal, at the seminars I present at RV rallies, and in a blog post way back in 2011, that the worst thing about the RV lifestyle is the terrible quality of the majority of the RVs being manufactured and sold to an unsuspecting public. A lot of them are junk, no question about it. And though myself and others over the years have asked representatives from the different RV manufacturing companies why they don’t clean up their act and actually produce something worth the big bucks they charge for them, I know that the answer is simple. People are willing to settle for what they can get. And, unfortunately, I don’t see things improving anytime soon.



Once I was done with emails I got the newest edition of my authors newsletter ready to send out to my subscribers, which I will do today. I send one of these out every couple of months, though not on any set schedule. In them, I share information about my books, what projects I’m working on, and occasionally short stories from other author friends of mine. If you would like to be added to the mailing list for the newsletter, send me an e-mail at editor@gypsyjournal.net.

Congratulations Cynthia Devonshire, winner of our drawing for the newly released Forever Series boxed set by my dear friend Mona Ingram. We had 101 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – The trouble with normal is that it only gets worse.

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