Nick Russell

Another Good Guy

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 192014
 

We were up and out the door by 7:30 a.m. yesterday, headed for Benny’s Auto Repair to get the front end of our Ford Explorer worked on. Not for the first time, we both said a little prayer of thanks for not having to be part of the working world commuting to a job every day. We are not retired and probably never will be, but we’re very fortunate to be able to have work we love doing and also having the ability to set our own schedules.

Benny and his crew were waiting for us and as soon as we arrived they took the Explorer in and started working on it. Benny had promised us that we’d be out the door by noon, but about the time we arrived, the delivery driver showed up with our four new tires. Except there was a miscommunication somewhere along the way and he brought the wrong size tires.

This was going to delay finishing the job by a couple of hours at least as he finished his route and then went back to the warehouse and retrieved the correct tires and brought them back. We were glad we brought our Kindles along to be able to read, but Benny said he didn’t want us to have to sit around waiting that long and handed us the keys to his pickup truck and said to take it and go sightseeing or back home where we could wait in comfort, or wherever and he’d call us when the job was done. What a generous offer. So we went home and did our thing until it was time to go back.

That was impressive enough, but when we went back to pick up our SUV and pay the tab, the total was a couple hundred dollars less than we expected it to be! You can bet that Benny’s Auto Repair immediately got added to our RV Good Guys book of trustworthy repair shops from coast to coast.

After a couple of stops along the way, we got back to the Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails campground in time to drive around and look at all of the preparations being made for the Bluegrass By The Bay Festival that started yesterday and ends on Sunday. Every campsite is full and there were people everywhere checking out the vendors and getting ready to enjoy the music.

Back at the motorhome I spent some time talking with a fellow who is RV shopping and needed some advice. Hopefully I was able to give him some useful information that will help him in the decision making process.

I’m not sure what’s on our schedule today. There is a lot to see and do around here so we may go play tourist for a while. Or we may wander down to the campground pavilion and listen to the music. On the other hand, it may be a stay at home writing and weaving day. That’s part of the beauty of setting our own schedule that I talked about above.

Have you entered our latest Free Drawing yet? This week’s prize is an audiobook of The Journals of Jacob and Hyde by my friend Randall Morris. To enter, all you have to do is click on the 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.

The Journals of Jacob and Hyde

Thought For The Day – Why does the Air Force need expensive new bombers? Have the people we’ve been bombing over the years been complaining about the old ones?

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Sep 182014
 

I wrote in yesterday’s blog that we needed to find a shop to look at the front end of our Explorer. The front tires were wearing on the inside and we’ve had a vibration and occasional clunking noise. I got on the Thousand Trails Facebook group and asked if anybody here could recommend a shop in this area. I got several recommendations, including Benny’s Automotive in Gloucester. When I called yesterday they said to bring it in and they’d take a look.

As I suspected, the upper ball joints needed to be replaced, so this morning I have to have it back to the shop at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. Instead of running around with things hanging over my head waiting for an opportunity to break down at the least opportune time, I believe in having everything done at once if I find a shop I’m comfortable with, so we’ll also put on four new tires and get an oil change. Hey, it’s only money, right? Or plastic.

If we get out of the shop early enough we plan to run over to Yorktown so Terry can get her Old Farts National Parks Pass. It’s a good deal for anyone age 62 and over. The one-time fee is $10 and it gets the pass-holder and up to 3 people in their vehicle into National Parks and Historic sites free, as well as a lot of other benefits, including discounts at Corps of Engineers campgrounds.

Yesterday I got confirmation from the folks at the Escapees that I’ll be a featured speaker at Escapade in Tucson in March 8-13. I’ll be doing four or five seminars, including Highway History And Back Road Mystery, The Frugal RVer, and The Reluctant RVer.

I did a seminar called Boondocking Tips & Tricks at the Escapade in Goshen last May, but I’d prefer not to do that one if they can find somebody else. While we used to do a lot of boondocking, in fact our longest stint was over 7 months not hooked up to any utilities, we seldom do that any more. As we’ve gotten older we have reached the point where we appreciate full hookups.

When I replied to Wanda Lewis, the seminar coordinator, I suggested doing a self-publishing seminar or maybe my How To Be A Smart RV Shopper. We’ll see what they decide they want me to do. Whatever it is, I’m up for it. I hope we see a lot of you at the rally.

Have you entered our latest Free Drawing yet? This week’s prize is an audiobook of The Journals of Jacob and Hyde by my friend Randall Morris. To enter, all you have to do is click on the 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.

The Journals of Jacob and Hyde

Thought For The Day – Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.

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Just Chillin’

 Posted by at 12:39 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 172014
 

Ask me what I accomplished yesterday. Go ahead, ask me. Okay, I’ll tell you. Not a darned thing! Smile All I did was take up space and breathe valuable air that productive human beings could have used.

I goofed around on the computer for a while, had lunch, took the trash to the campground dumpster and went to the activity center to drop off a sample bundle of Gypsy Journals. Then I goofed around some more and decided I needed a nap after all of that strenuous nothing.

I was tempted to crawl into this hammock a few sites down from us, but people tend to get upset when they come back from town and find strangers asleep on their stuff.

Hammock

Hammocks are cool. I’ve had several over the years and there’s no better place for a nap. I keep looking for one that would work for us, be small enough to store in a basement bay and still have its own frame, since a lot of RV parks frown on you tying things to their trees. A fellow I know has this portable hammock and says he carries it in his Dutch Star. Hmm.

While I was being a waste of skin, Miss Terry was busy getting started on her next weaving project, another shawl. It’s a new and more complicated pattern, because she’s always looking for a new challenge.

New pattern

Close up

She’s going to have another challenge to master soon, learning to fly the Revolution EXP Quad Line Stunt Kite I won for her in a drawing on the KiteLife website. This is the second Rev I’ve won in their drawings, as well as a set of kite stakes. I wish I was that lucky with lottery tickets.

Terry Rev

Today I have to find a shop to look at the front end of our Explorer. It’s time to buy new tires, but we also need an alignment. At least I hope that’s all we need. The inside of the front tires have worn badly and I want to get whatever needs corrected fixed before I invest in new tires.

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time to start a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of The Journals of Jacob and Hyde by my friend Randall Morris. To enter, all you have to do is click on the 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.

Jacob Hyde audiobook cover

Thought For The Day – Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other. – Ronald Reagan

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Sep 162014
 

An idling diesel engine woke me up about 7 yesterday morning, and though I tried to roll over and get back to sleep it kept running for a long time before finally pulling out. I guess the guy owns stock in an oil company and didn’t mind sitting there burning up money.

We got up a half hour later and puttered around for a while, trying to get online to check e-mail without much success, and then I went outside to start getting ready to unhook things for our trip south to the Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails preserve.

After getting everything ready to go and stopping to say goodbye to our friend and current neighbor, Larry Sazama, we hit the road about 10 a.m. It was an easy trip over mostly two lane roads and we made good time, getting to Chesapeake Bay a little before noon.

The ranger at the gate told us that they are having a big bluegrass festival this coming weekend and that a lot of the 50 amp sites were reserved, though there were a few still available scattered around the park, as well as a lot of 30 amp sites. He warned us that it was going to be busy and noisy over the weekend, but that the musicians and a lot of the crowd would be leaving Sunday. He added that once they were gone we could move to another site if we wanted to.

No problem, we unhooked the Explorer and drove around looking at what was available, settling on a nice back in full hookup RV site with a good shot at the sky for our rooftop satellite TV dish. It’s only 30 amp, but the folks here said it’s been comfortable during the day with windows open and they haven’t really needed to run their air conditioners. And the neighbors on both sides are friendly, too. Life is good.

Winnie at Chesapeake Bay

Fiver at Chesapeake Bay

Unfortunately, life isn’t good for at least one RVing couple I’ve been exchanging e-mails with for a while. Yesterday I got an e-mail from the husband saying that they have been fulltiming for three months now and are not happy. He said, “I don’t know if we are experiencing growing pains, remorse over the change from working and living in a house to retired and living in an RV or what, but after 19 years of marriage we suddenly realize that we don’t like each other very much. We love each other but we don’t enjoy being together all the time. During our working days we were both very career driven and usually got home in time for a quick dinner, not always together, watched a little TV or read, and went to bed. Weekends were always busy with family, friends and plans. We realized that we never had all that much in common and never spent enough one-on-one time for it to be an issue. Is this common with other newly retired RVers? Do we need marriage counseling or RV counseling? Have your other readers dealt with this?”

I can’t relate to their plight because Terry and I get along so well and love spending every possible minute together, to the point that somebody once told us we were co-dependent. I don’t think that’s true, we just like doing things together and being together. How about you folks? Does anybody have any input to share with these people?

Thought For the Day – To make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity.

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Chesapeake Bay Awaits

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 152014
 

Everybody says it’s going to be a long, cold winter, and I believe that might be true. It got down into the 50s Saturday night and I was grateful for the blanket Terry draped across the foot of the bed. It wasn’t long before it got pulled all the way up!

It was another day spent working on corrections and formatting for my new travel book, while Terry threaded the headles of her loom, which is a long and laborious process. It was a nice day and we enjoyed having the windows and door open to air out the motorhome after having it closed up and the air conditioning on so much lately.

During the afternoon we took a break to make a quick trip into Colonial Beach to pick up a couple of things at the grocery store. This is beautiful country and we’ve been admiring the flowers that grow along the back roads around here, so I stopped to get a picture to share with you.

Wildflowers on fence

James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States, was born here in 1758, and there is a monument and small visitor center at is birthplace. We’ll have a feature story on President Monroe in an upcoming issue of the Gypsy Journal

Monroe birthplace mionuemnt

Back at home Terry warmed up the leftover pizza from Saturday and it was just as good, if not better. I told her that as much as I love her regular pizza made with traditional sauce, this new white pizza recipe she came up with may well be my new favorite.

While we were eating we heard a diesel pusher backing into the site behind us. When our last mail caught up with us it included the renewal stickers for our license plates, so after we finished eating we went outside to put them on. Terry commented that the toad that came with the new neighbors had an Adventure Caravans sign on it and as it turned out it was our friends Larry and Marlene Sazama, whom we last saw on the Washington coast a year ago! I always tell people that once you become a member of the fulltime community you’re always running into friends in every corner of the country.

Larry and Marlene brought a couple of folding chairs over and we sat outside talking about RV travels, caravans and anything else that came to mind as we slapped skeeters and enjoyed the evening. We hope to see them again soon in our travels.

Larry and Marlene Sazama

While we enjoy talking to both experienced RVers like Larry and Marlene and newbies as well, sometimes all I can do is shake my head and walk away. Just yesterday I had a conversation with a guy who plans to pull a huge fifth wheel with a ¾ ton truck four wheel (as opposed to dually) pickup. When I told him I considered that pretty marginal, he assured me his salesman said he’d be fine. I expressed my reservations about that and he got offended and told me that if he had to choose who to believe, me who had owned three or four RVs, or a salesman who had sold hundreds, he’d go with the experienced salesman every time. Well okay, then. All you can do is lead them to water. Whether they drink or not is up to them.

Congratulations to Denise Peoples, this week’s winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins’ excellent book, So, You Want to be a Workamper?. We had 190 entries this time around. Stay tuned, because a new contest starts soon!

Today we’re moving south to the Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails preserve and hoping we’ll have better internet service. It seems like it has gotten worse every day we’ve been here.

Thought For The Day – Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.

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Plans And Strands

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 142014
 

Yesterday was a busy day for us though we never left the motorhome. Which was fine because it was a rainy day and not really good for playing tourist anyway.

I worked on book projects most of the day and well into the evening. The first order of business was uploading Big Lake Scandal, my latest mystery, to ACX, the production arm of Audible.com and getting it open for auditions. I’d love to have Bruce Miles, the same narrator who did the other books in the Big Lake series do this one too, if we can work out the details.

Then most of the day was spent working on a new book project A few years ago I spent a lot of time putting together a travel book listing about a zillion offbeat and little known attractions from coast to coast. It was intended to be a handy reference for RVers and other travelers, but we got busy with other projects and I never did anything with it, though it was the basis for my Overlooked Florida and Overlooked Arizona travel books. A while back blog reader Donna Gates-Smeall offered to proof the book for me and I e-mailed her a copy of the manuscript. A few days ago she finished it and I’ve been wading through it making corrections. It’s a long book, over 165K words without photos or front matter. I’m almost halfway through it and hope to get it out sometime in October, just in time for snowbird travel season.

I also spent some time working on our winter travel plans and making reservations. We try to keep our schedule flexible, but spending time in Florida in the winter takes a bit of advance scheduling. We plan to arrive in Florida sometime in early November, stop in the Titusville area for a week or so and then hopefully spend a couple of weeks in the Keys. We’ll spend the last three weeks of December at the Orlando Thousand Trails preserve, then go to Three Flags RV Resort in Wildwood for two weeks. From there we’ll be at the Tampa RV show January 16 – 19, and from there back to the Orlando Thousand Trails for two more weeks. Then we may pop back into Wildwood or the Escapees Sumter Oaks park in Bushnell for a while before we hit the road headed back to Arizona in time for the Escapade RV rally in Tucson in March. Of course, like all fulltime RVers, our plans are set in Jello and you never know when we’ll shake it up and go off in some other direction.

While I was doing that, Terry was busy stringing 534 individual strands of thread onto her loom for her next weaving project. I really like the colors she is going to use on this one, a combination of two shades of blue, purple, and a separate variegated purple. Actually, I don’t care much for purple, but it works well in this. Once she gets it all warped up, sometime tomorrow, I’ll share a picture or two.

She also took time to make a delicious white pizza for dinner. This was a new recipe, and while I’ve always thought her regular pizza can’t be beat, I think she outdid herself this time around.

This is our last day here at Harbor View RV Resort in Colonial Beach. Monday we are moving about 70 miles south to the Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails near Gloucester, Virginia. I hope we have better Verizon service there than we’ve had here. Early in our stay it worked fairly well, but the last few days it’s been somewhere between sludge speed and dead, making it really hard to get any research done or even answer e-mails.

A while back I mentioned an amazing product called Strike-Hold on Ken and Marilyn Murphy’s vendor table at an RV rally. Originally developed for the military to protect weapons from sand, Strike-Hold is a cleaner, lubricant, protector, and de-moisturizer. I’ve been using it when I plug my 50 amp electric cord into a campground’s utility hookup and it makes it a snap to unplug when we’re ready to leave. My buddy Greg White even sprayed a bit into his Kindle Fire’s charging socket when it wouldn’t charge anymore and the thing’s working great again! Unfortunately, when I wrote about Strike-Hold I gave you the wrong e-mail for Ken and Marilyn, so if you didn’t get a reply, it’s my fault, not theirs. Here is the correct e-mail address: kmurphytx@live.com. Trust me, you need some of this stuff. It works great!

Today is your last chance to enter this week’s Free Drawing for an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins’ excellent book, So, You Want to be a Workamper? To enter, all you have to do is click on the 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.

WorkamperHugginsCover

And before I close, I have good news for science fiction fans. My friend T.R. Harris has a brand new book and the first of a brand new series just out; The Enclaves of Sylox, the first book in his Jason King: Agent to the Stars series. Check it out!

Thought For The Day – Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. – Robert Frost

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Hidden Treasures

 Posted by at 12:13 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 132014
 

Years ago we met a couple who had been fulltiming for a year and were going to get off the road because they had seen everything there was to see in the entire country. And that included a trip to Alaska! The husband said they left Seattle June 1st and were back July 4th. “The trip just about tore our motorhome and toad to pieces, and we never saw an animal all the way up and back,” he told me. I imagine not! It’s hard to see much when you’re bouncing over frost heaves at 65 miles per hour!

I guess my traveling style is a lot different than theirs. I couldn’t see all of New Jersey in a year, let alone the whole country. There is just too much waiting to be discovered tucked away on the back roads and small towns from coast to coast.

We found one such hidden gem yesterday in the small Rappahannock River town of Port Royal, Virginia. Not much more than a crossroads at the junction of U.S. Highways 17 and 301, at one time Port Royal was a major shipping port, and it played a role in a dark moment in our history.

On the run from the Union Army after assassinating President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater in Washington, John Wilkes Booth and four co-conspirators crossed the river here and stopped at the home of Randolph Peyton, in its time the finest home in Port Royal. Peyton was away on business and the group told his sister, Sarah Jane Peyton, that Booth was a wounded Confederate soldier.

Brockenbrough house

She became suspicious and ordered them to leave, so they went on another two or three miles to the farm of Richard Garrett. It was there that a posse of Federal soldiers caught up with them and found the assassin hiding in a tobacco barn. After Booth refused to surrender, the soldiers set the barn on fire and shot him when he tried to escape. He was carried to the porch of the Garrett house, where he died. Today the old farm is gone and the land is part of the Army’s Fort A.P. Hill. Historical markers on the highway note the location where the action took place.

Booth died sign

We poked around the little town for a while and then drove south about 30 miles to Tappahannock, another Rappahannock River town that has fared much better over the years. Reader Marty Leake had recommended we try Lowery’s Seafood Restaurant, and I’m glad we did because it was excellent! We both had seafood platters that included haddock, shrimp, oysters, crab cakes and scallops and neither of us could finish. This one definitely goes into our Favorite Restaurants book!

Be sure to enter this week’s Free Drawing for an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins’ excellent book, So, You Want to be a Workamper? To enter, all you have to do is click on the 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.

WorkamperHugginsCover

Thought For The Day – Fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind. – Dale Carnegie

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

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Hobbies For RVers

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 122014
 

What do you do all day? It’s a question fulltime RVers get asked all the time. The real question is, how can we cram another twelve hours into every day to get all of the things done we want to?

RVers have many hobbies that fit perfectly into our lifestyle, offering plenty of opportunities to get outside and exercise, or to keep us occupied inside when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Traditional outdoor activities such as hiking, bicycling, fishing, bird watching and golfing are all popular with RVers, as well as playing pickleball, geocaching, volkswalking, and kite flying.

If you like getting out on the water but don’t want the hassle of towing a boat around, an inflatable Sea Eagle kayak is lightweight, easy to store, and indestructible. We have paddled our Sea Eagles everywhere from lakes and rivers in the Midwest to the Florida Keys.

Terry PaddleSki 2

Nick rear angle

Indoor hobbies include everything from scrapbooking to beading to weaving and spinning.

Bead display 2

Sometimes you have to be creative to make it work, but anything’s possible. You name it, and with just a little bit of ingenuity there’s a way to take your hobby on the road and enjoy it wherever your travels may take you. Miss Terry’s full size Baby Wolf loom folds up for storage when we are on the road, as does her Lendrum spinning wheel. We’ve also seen an RV with a portable quilt frame.

Terry purple shawl

Loom folded

We have met RVers who were busy making stained glass windows, building dollhouses and playing music under their awnings in campgrounds from coast to coast. Many RV resorts have organized activities that center around hobbies including lapidary, woodcarving, and square dancing. This is a great way to learn more, share your skills, and make new friends. A lot of RV parks also hold jam sessions for their guests who like to play music.

Photography has always been a popular activity and one that fits perfectly with RVing. Digital cameras and photo editing software make it easy to produce amazing photo collections and albums.

Genealogy is another hobby that is tailored for the RV lifestyle. It is one thing to know that your great great-uncle Angus is buried in a family plot on land he farmed in Missouri, and quite another to be able to travel to the old family farm and actually walk the land your ancestors tilled and pay your respects in person at their gravesites.

What are some of your hobbies that fit well with the RV lifestyle?

Be sure to enter this week’s Free Drawing for an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins’ excellent book, So, You Want to be a Workamper? To enter, all you have to do is click on the 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 – Consistency: the last refuge of the unimaginative.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

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Sep 112014
 

Yesterday was a working day for us, but when you have a job like ours, working is a lot of fun so we weren’t complaining at all.

We drove into Fredericksburg hoping to visit some of the historic sites there for inclusion in a future issue of the Gypsy Journal. If you like history as much as we do, this is one place you really need to visit. It’s everywhere you look!

And unlike Mount Vernon, which did not think a feature story in our publication was worth two media passes, or Colonial Williamsburg, which did not even bother to respond to our request for a visit, the folks in Fredericksburg were eager to help us in any way they could.

Established in 1728 as a shipping port on the Rappahannock River, Fredericksburg is probably best known for two Civil War battles fought here, the first on December 11–15, 1862, when Union troops sacked the town and left much of it in ruins, and again on May 3, 1863. Many of the buildings that survived the fighting still show scars from the battles, and more than one has a cannonball lodge in a wall.

Cannon ball

Cannon ball 2

We started our visit at the James Monroe Museum where we learned a lot about our fifth president. The museum has exhibits on Monroe’s long life of public service, including clothing and the desk on which he signed the famous Monroe Doctrine.

Monroe Museum outside

Monroe clothes

Our next stop was Historic Kenmore, the beautiful Georgian-style brick mansion of Fielding and Betty Washington Lewis, who was the sister of George Washington. Diane Elstein, the Manager of Interpretation, took time out of her busy schedule to give us a private in-depth tour of the carefully restored mansion. Terry and I were both impressed with the elaborate bas relief ceiling in the dining room.

Kenmore outside

Dining room

At the Mary Washington House, docent Barbara Kardatzke, dressed in period costume, told us about the mother of our first president, a remarkable woman who obviously helped mold the man who would wrest America out of British control and lead her into independence.

Barbara Kardatzke

And while many places make the same claim, Washington really did sleep here!

Washington bedroom

This is Cheryl Valdivia, who boasted of the healing qualities of the wonderful natural herbs and concoctions at the Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop.

Cheryl Valdivia

Apothecary shop inside

In the next room, Pam Calvin told us all about the good doctor’s medical skills and the tools of his trade. Some of those tools include the leeches in these bowls, which were used for “bleeding” patients, and the curved knife and bone saw next to them, which were used for amputations.

Pam Calvin

In search of something less grim to take our minds off so many things that make you bleed, we wandered a few blocks down Caroline Street to the Rising Sun Tavern, which was built in 1760 by George Washington’s youngest brother, Charles. Jo Atkins spent a lot of time with us, telling about life as a tavern owner and the many important visitors who had graced the establishment.

Jo Atkins

This is her indentured servant Glenn Hyatt who, when he’s not hanging out in the 18th Century, writes books on military history and treasure hunts for Civil War relics on private property around Fredericksburg.

We had a long and interesting day in Fredericksburg and we’ll have feature stories on all of these places and more in a future issue of the Gypsy Journal. Today the heat is supposed to spike upward again and the weatherman says we’re in store for heavy rain and possible strong thunderstorms. In other words, a good day to stay at home and get some writing done.

Be sure to enter this week’s Free Drawing for an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins’ excellent book, So, You Want to be a Workamper? To enter, all you have to do is click on the 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.

WorkamperHugginsCover

Thought For The Day – When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

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Enemy Territory

 Posted by at 12:39 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 102014
 

A hundred years ago when I was a young soldier I spent some time at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, teaching cadets which end of a rifle to point at the target and how to make it go bang. So yesterday when we drove to Annapolis, Maryland to visit the Naval Academy it was sort of like venturing into enemy territory.

Established as the Naval School in 1845 with a class of 50 midshipmen and seven professors, the name was changed to the United States Naval Academy in 1850. As the U.S. Navy grew over the years, the Academy grew with it, from its original 10 acre campus to over 300, and the student body now numbers over 4,000 midshipmen. During their four years at the Academy, young men and women receive a superb college education as well as learning how to be officers in the United States Navy and Marine Corps. When they graduate they leave the Academy for assignments all over the world, taking with them not only a diploma but also a sense of responsibility and ethics that is ingrained in them from their very first day at Annapolis.

Annapolis Sign

We parked right outside the gate and after passing through a security checkpoint, stopped at the Visitor Center for a brief orientation film. Then we walked down Officer’s Row, past the stately homes of the Academy’s senior officers to the Academy Chapel.

Officers Row

The historic Chapel with its landmark dome is beautiful both inside and out.

Chapel Dome outside

Chapel inside

Here is a neat shot Terry took of the dome from the inside.

Chapel Dome inside

Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones, whose words, “I have not yet begun to fight,” have inspired generations of military men, is laid to rest in a crypt located beneath the Academy Chapel. Displays in the crypt include his commissioning papers from the United States Congress, awards and decorations, and personal items.

John Paul Jones coffin

From the Chapel we walked almost across the street to Preble Hall, the U.S. Naval Academy Museum. It would take at least a long day to see everything in the museum, if not more. Displays include weapons, uniforms, and Naval artifacts throughout our country’s history.

Museum display

Wheel

This is John Paul Jones’ battle sword.

John Paul Jones sword

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry carried this .54 caliber flintlock pistol at the Battle of Thames, in which famed Indian leader Tecumseh was killed.

Oliver Perry pistol

The top floor of the museum holds the amazing Henry Rogers model ship collection; over 100 highly detailed models of sailing ships and boats dating from 1650 to 1850. Many of the scale models were built for British Admiralty. The gallery depicts model makers of 150 years ago carefully creating their masterpieces.

Model maker

This makes three of the five service academies we have visited, the others being West Point and the Air Force Academy in Colorado, and I have to say that I still think that West Point, with its many monuments and gothic granite buildings overlooking the Hudson River, is the most impressive. But then again, I may be just a wee bit prejudiced. Smile

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time to start a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins’ excellent book, So, You Want to be a Workamper? To enter, all you have to do is click on the 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.

WorkamperHugginsCover

My friend Mona Ingram has just released No Such Thing, book two in her popular Gold Rush Romance series. The historical romance tells the story of a beautiful Chinese girl overcoming impossible odds to survive the chaotic Gold Rush days in San Francisco.

Chris Ward’s new book Finding My World is a great young adult romance/mystery set in Japan that is going to be a sure hit. Check it out!

Thought For The Day – Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.

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

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