Nick Russell

The Dead Zone

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 072015
 

We really like the Elks lodge campground here in Florence, Oregon. The sites are roomy, the place is very clean, the power is good, and everybody is friendly. But it’s an internet dead zone.


The Verizon signal on our cell phones and air card are very, very flakey, and getting online is really difficult. Staying on is even harder. They have free WiFi here with several repeaters located around the campground, and we can log onto them, but when we try to go online we get kicked off. So checking e-mail or anything else is just about impossible.

For a lot of RVers that’s not a big deal, but we run a business on the road and connectivity is a major issue for us. You’d be surprised how upset people get when they place an order or make an inquiry and don’t get a timely response.

While some sites in the campground allow satellite TV reception, our dish is blocked by trees. Fortunately I have over 7,000 songs on my iPod and we stick it on our Bose and have great tunes to listen to.

Today we’re headed for Whalers Rest Thousand Trails near Newport, and I have heard the internet reception there is just as bad. My buddy Greg White used this Wilson directional antenna when he and Jan were gate guarding in Texas and Greg said he was able to pick up cell towers 20 miles away. I may order one from Amazon and see if that does any good.

Wilson Outside Antenna small

Since it was our last day in Florence we went into town and spent a couple of hours wandering around on the waterfront, poking our heads into some of the small shops and enjoying the scenery. I’d like to have a pontoon boat someday, but I think this handsome three-masted ship if way out of my league and I darned sure know it’s out of my price range!

Florence ship small

Terry always likes checking out produce stands and there was one on the waterfront where she got some delicious cherries, plums, nectarines, squash, and other goodies.

Florence fruit stand small

This is the Siuslaw River Bridge. I’ve driven over it many times and never even snivel because it’s not too high or too narrow or too long. We need more bridges like that.

Siuslaw River Bridge Florence small

And here is the best thing I saw all day. It sure is wonderful being married to your best friend.

Terry Florence Oregon small

We did get enough of a telephone signal for Terry’s mom to call from Arizona yesterday morning to tell us that their home in Apache Junction had been burglarized while they were staying in their fifth wheel in the White Mountains. None of us are safe from the maggots who are too lazy to work and prey on others instead.


Terry and I have talked about someday getting a place in Florida to use as a winter base and traveling in the summer, but one major concern is the worry that the same thing would happen to us. Of course, it can happen in an RV too, as we well know from our own experience of returning to the motorhome one night and finding a burglar inside. At least that fine young man went back to the prison he had recently been paroled from after getting the seven bones I broke in his hand and wrist mended. I’d like to do the same to the creep or creeps who broke into Terry’s parents house, too.

Thought For The Day – Political correctness equals an inability to think for oneself.Political correctness equals an inability to think for oneself.

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A Short Move

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 062015
 

Yesterday we had one of the shortest moves ever in our sixteen years as fulltime RVers, just 7 1/2 miles. But oh what a difference that short distance made!


Since we didn’t have far to go we didn’t get up until 8:30 a.m., which is later than usual for us on a traveling day. Then we spent some time checking e-mail and a couple of our favorite blogs. Terry had already turned our captains chairs around to the travel position and stowed some things away for travel the night before, like she always does, to speed things up the next morning. So it was pretty much a case of securing our computers and moving her loom to the bedroom, unhooking our campground utility connections, pulling the slides in, and the leveling jacks up.

With all of the tree stumps and the vehicles parked everywhere and people walking about, I needed to exercise some extra caution getting out of our campsite, but with Terry guiding me it was a piece of cake. Since we were going such a short distance we didn’t bother hooking the Explorer to our Blue Ox tow bar, Terry just followed me.

It was about 10:45 when we pulled out of the campground and turned north on U.S. Highway 101. There was a fair amount of traffic, but nothing like it would be later in the day, especially when everybody started heading back to their homes and usual routine. One of the great things about the fulltime RV lifestyle, even for working RVers like us, is that we’re not shackled to a rigid schedule.

I had planned to stop for fuel at a 76 station in town which has easy access for big rigs, but when I got there I discovered that they were closed. I would think that on a busy holiday weekend they’d be open. Oh well, I have a little over half a tank of fuel so we’re good, but I prefer not to go a lot lower, and finding places we can get into and back out on the coast isn’t always easy.

We arrived at the Elks lodge campground a couple of miles north of Florence and checked in, then got parked at our site, which is extra large and could easily accommodate two 40 foot motorhomes. The campground host pulled up on his golf cart and watched as Terry guided me as I backed in, and complimented us on how easy we made it look. I told him it is easy, I just follow her directions, and she’s been telling me where to go for a long time.

Winnie Florence Elks Campground small

The only downsides to this campground are that trees block my rooftop satellite TV dish and Verizon service is almost nonexistent. They have free WiFi, but I can’t log onto it. And while Terry can, she can’t stay connected for very long so I’ll be toting the laptop up to the clubhouse to see if I can get on and post from there


Congratulations Rob Nixon, winner of this week’s drawing for an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins’ So, You Want to be a Full-Time RVer? We had 176 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon!

Thought For The Day – Age is a great equalizer when it comes to beauty. Look inside any nursing home and it’s really hard to tell who was hot and who was not.

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Moving Day

 Posted by at 12:06 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 052015
 

Our two weeks at the South Jetty Thousand Trails preserve is over and today is moving day for us. I can’t say that we’re sad to be leaving, and I doubt we’ll return to this campground again anytime soon.


The campground is heavily treed, which makes satellite TV reception iffy at best and only has a few full hookup RV sites. We were lucky enough to find a full hookup site in the A section up front, but could not get a shot at the sky through the trees from our automatic rooftop satellite dish. But the real problem is all of the tree stumps and roots everywhere that make this section of the campground look like a war zone and make driving a big rig, or even walking, a challenge.

Stump 3 small

Roots small

A couple of years ago they cut down a bunch of trees but left the stumps. I have heard from a couple of RVers who have banged up their rigs trying to get in or out of a campsite.

rear small

Side small

Besides which, it’s just ugly. This isn’t exactly the picture Thousand Trails has in their sales brochures, is it?

Stump small

RV site stumps small

While we don’t like South Jetty, we definitely like the friendly little community of Florence and will be hanging around for a couple more days. Today’s trip will only be a little over seven miles to the Elks lodge campground on the north side of town. I’m, not sure what kind of internet service we’ll have there since when we visited our friend Nancy Kissack there a few days ago I only had one bar of signal on my cell phone.

When we leave the Elks campground on Tuesday, we’re moving up the coast to Whalers Rest Thousand Trails in Newport for a two week stay. Every report I have had from there is that we will have little or no Verizon service, so posting the blog will be a challenge, but I’ll get it done one way or another. I’d miss visiting with all of you every morning.


Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins’ So, You Want to be a Full-Time RVer? 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.

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If you like horror/science fiction books, my friend Chris Ward currently has They Came Out After Dark, the first book in his Tales of Crow series, free on Amazon. Download a copy, and please leave a review when you’re finished reading it.

Thought For The Day – Having children is genetic. Chances are that if your parents didn’t have any children, you won’t either.

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I Accomplished Nothing

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 042015
 

Happy Independence Day everybody, and happy birthday America! I want to thank all of the veterans and active duty military who made this day possible. I hope you have a wonderful, safe holiday weekend. We’re spending it staying close to the campground and off the highway as much as possible.


We’ve been on the go quite a bit the last few days, so yesterday was a stay at home day for us. I planned to get some writing done, I’ve got two manuscripts author friends want me to look over before they publish them, and I wanted to work on creating an e-mail list for people who are fans of my Big Lake mystery series. But I accomplished nothing.

We slept in, and then I puttered around the rest of the morning, checking e-mail and answering half a dozen of them, reading some of my favorite blogs, and popping into a couple of Facebook groups that I help moderate.

In the early afternoon Betty Graffis, one of our neighbors here at the Thousand Trails, came by for a brief visit. Betty writes the Joe and Betty’s Adventures blog and it was nice to meet her.

I was feeling the effects of my kite flying the day before, or actually, the tumbles I took while flying, and couldn’t seem to get motivated to do much. I did spend an hour or so researching some places I want to visit to do stories on for the Gypsy Journal, while Miss Terry did a little cooking and worked on her loom, and by then I was getting droopy and decided to take a nap. I woke up just in time for a delicious dinner of pork carnitas that Terry made. (Unlike her husband, she’s no slacker.)

After dinner Terry cut my hair and beard so I would not run afoul of the local leash laws, and then I resumed what I had been doing all day, absolutely nothing. I was on a roll and didn’t see any reason to stop.


Have you entered our latest Free Drawing yet? This week’s prize is an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins’ So, You Want to be a Full-Time RVer? 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.

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In honor of the holiday weekend, today and tomorrow only, my friend Randy Morris put his book Traveling the U.S.: East Coast History on sale for just $1.99. It’s a great book for RVers or armchair travelers, with some excellent photography. Get your copy at this reduced price while you can.

Thought For The Day – After you reach 60, old age is always 10 years off.

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

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Kite Up, Nick Down

 Posted by at 12:16 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 032015
 

Do you remember a while back when I wrote that this campground was a circus, with RVs coming and going in every direction? Well, I think they added a third ring for the holiday weekend. I don’t think you could shoehorn a roller skate in here at this point, but I still see rigs lined up at check in.


Knowing how crazy the whole town will be, we decided to get a few last errands run yesterday and then to hunker down at home as much as possible. So in the early afternoon we drove into Florence and visited a couple of antique shops we had missed before. Terry wanted to check out a kitchen store in Old Town, a two or three block long stretch along the waterfront lined with restaurants, shops, and tourist traps. That’s where I saw this truck and knew I had to take a picture. Hey, don’t blame me, I didn’t name it!

Camel Towing Florence Oregon small

We are scheduled to leave here on Sunday, the 5th, and our next reservation is Tuesday, the 7th, at Whalers Rest Thousand Trails in Newport. We weren’t sure where we’d find a place to hang out for those two days, but our pal Nancy Kissack is staying at the Elks lodge campground a couple of miles north of town and she called yesterday afternoon to say that she had talked to the camp hosts and they had reserved a site for us for those two days. Very nice! While we were out we stopped by the campground to thank Nancy and checked out our new site.

A big part of our reason for spending the summer here on the Oregon coast is for the great kite flying opportunities. This is my newest kite, a dual line Prism Quantum stunt kite with an 84″ wing span that is capable of amazing maneuvers in the hands of a competent pilot, which I’m not, but yet is very forgiving for beginners, which I am. So once we were done in town we headed out to the end of the South Jetty for some flying.

Quantum small

The Oregon Dunes stretch for miles along the coast here, with great beaches and impressive winds.

South Jetty Beach small

This is a popular spot for kiteboarders and in spite of the cold wind there were several out having fun in the water.

KIte boarder small

The weather said winds would be 15 miles per hour with gusts to 25, and it was really blowing out at the beach. I’m sure it was closer to 30 sustained, and gust were up to 35. I flew the Quantum for a while but it was too windy for it, especially for my first time out with it. But I had it in the air long enough to be impressed with how strong it pulls. I’m looking forward to getting it aloft in lighter winds a little further up the coast.

I put the Quantum away and switched to my Prism Snapshot 1.9 speed foil. This is a kite that was made for high winds, but I’ve never flown it in anything that strong before.

Snapshot.jpg

What a workout! You all know that I’m a fat guy, but that darned thing dragged me all over the beach and even off my feet a couple of times! The last time it actually pulled me face down for a foot or so along the sand. I told Terry that if I did that for an hour a day I might lose some weight! Especially with the half mile or so hike we had to get across the sand to the beach and then back to where the Explorer was parked.

By the time we got home I was aching all over and I felt like I’d been worked over by a couple of professional wrestlers. But it’s a good hurt. Yeah, right!


In less than 24 hours we have received over 90 entries for out latest Free Drawing for an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins’ So, You Want to be a Full-Time RVer? 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.

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Good news for fans of my friend Bobbi Holmes’ Haunting Danielle mystery series. The fourth book in the series, The Ghost Who Wanted Revenge, is out now. These cozy mysteries are set here on the Oregon coast and are very good. Check them out!

Thought For The Day – If the stuff I say upsets you, just think of all the things I keep to myself.

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

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BJs and Beaches

 Posted by at 12:38 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 022015
 

Except for the first couple of days we were here in Florence, most of the time it has been cold, with a lot of clouds and fog. Since we were spending so much time here at home getting the most recent issue of the Gypsy Journal in the mail, and then dealing with the leaks in our water system, it wasn’t a big deal. But now that we have all of that behind us, it needs to warm up, darn it. I want to get out and play! I’ve got miles of beach and good wind most days, and kites that need flying. Let’s get with the program.


Two things I enjoy as much as kites are good food and good people, and we got to have both yesterday. Our friends Doug and Julie Livingston just finished a volunteer gig at South Beach State Park near Newport and were headed south toward Bandon and they stopped on their way through town to have lunch with us.

We went to the Kozy Kitchen and had a nice meal while we talked about their experiences as volunteers, our mutual RV travels, and travel plans for the future. Here is a picture our waitress took of us that I stole from Julie’s Facebook page. We look forward to seeing them again in our travels.

Lunch

After we parted company with Doug and Julie, we spent an hour or two prowling around some of the antique shops in town, stopped at Safeway to pick up some things and then came home.

We’ve noticed an ice cream shop called BJs, which advertised 48 different flavors, and about 6:30 we drove back into town to check it out. They make the ice cream at a plant right behind the store, and to say it was delicious would be an understatement. It’s 14.5 percent butterfat and I think I gained a pound just sampling the selection of flavors before I settled on bittersweet triple chocolate. Our only regret is that we waited so long to try it and wasted nearly two weeks!

BJs small

Every afternoon a heavy fog bank rolls in off the ocean, and when we left BJs we drove a few miles north on U.S. 101 to a couple of viewpoints.

Beach view small

Beach view 2 small 2

There is driftwood everywhere you look around here, and I’m sure there is an artist somewhere that could put it to good use. Then again, it looks pretty nice where it is, too.

Driftwood small

When our travels through the Pacific Northwest are over we plan to go back to Arizona to have Christmas with Terry’s parents and sister. Then we are heading to Florida. But I’m wishing we were going to be there in October, because John and Kathy Huggins from Living the RV Dream are hosting their first Living the RV Dream Gathering at the Horseshoe Cove RV Resort in Bradenton, October 21st to 25th. They are putting together a great event that includes lots of fun and some education, too. The program will feature Jim and Chris Guld from Geeks on Tour, Eric and Tami Johnson of TechnoRV, Greg Gerber, editor of the RV Daily Report and Let’s RV, and Al Hesselbart, former historian at the RV Hall of Fame. And John and Kathy will also be giving a few seminars. For more information, contact John and Kathy at ltrvdgathering@yahoo.com


It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins’ So, You Want to be a Full-Time RVer? 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.

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Thought For The Day – Alcohol doesn’t solve any problems, but then again, neither does milk.

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Yarn And Myrtlewood

 Posted by at 12:32 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 012015
 

Ever since we arrived at the South Jetty Thousand Trails preserve we’ve been pretty much stuck at home dealing with a series of leaks in our fresh water system and other issues with our motorhome. But those all seem to finally be resolved and we needed a day away, so yesterday we drove about 45 miles south to Coos Bay.


The largest city on the Oregon Coast, Coos Bay is a busy deepwater port where ships put in to load logs harvested from the surrounding thickly forested hills. It is also an important recreational headquarters with access to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

The reason for our trip was to visit a great yarn shop our friend Nancy Kissack had told Terry about. And what a find it was! My Yarn Shop is located right downtown and Terry said that in all of our travels, she has never found a shop with such a huge variety of yarns to choose from.

My Yarn Store small

The shop has two rooms of bin after bin filled with every kind of colorful yarn one could ever hope for, including Angoras, silk blends, cottons, Merinos, Yak, bamboo, and more. Owner Judy Mogan also stocks a great selection of fiber craft books, knitting needles, and anything else you can think of. We spent well over an hour there and Terry found some great yarn for some of her projects, along with a book and some wooden knitting needles.

My Yarn Store 2 small

Driving back north, we stopped at the Myrtlewood Factory Gift Shop to browse for a while. Oregon Myrtlewood is a species of evergreen tree found in the coastal region of southern Oregon and northern California. Its wood is treasured for its beauty and strength and is used to make everything from burl tables to furniture and bowls. Terry found a couple of small spatulas for her kitchen.

Myrtlewood Store small

Our friends George and Diana Ruelens are camp hosting at Honeyman State Park, just a few miles south of the Thousand Trails, so we stopped to visit with them and they gave us a tour of the park. The second largest State Park in Oregon, Honeyman gets nearly a million visitors a year. It has 168 RV sites, as well as 187 tents sites and 10 yurts available for rent.


Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s, the park backs up to the Oregon Dunes and has two stocked fishing lakes with canoe and kayak rentals. Three and four generations of families have made a tradition of coming to the park every summer to camp and play.

Beach small

Canoes small

This handsome building is the Interpretive Center, originally a bathhouse built by the CCC.

Interpretive Center outside small

Interpretive Center small

After our tour the four of us drove into town for a great dinner at Chen’s Family Dish and some fun conversation. It’s been a long time since we have been able to spend some time with George and Diana and we really enjoyed it. We hope to see them again soon.

Thought For The Day – If it wasn’t for the gutter, my mind would be homeless.

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Jun 302015
 

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.


Akeley: The Akeley Paul Bunyan Historical Museum, located on Main Street immediately behind the 28-foot tall statue of Paul Bunyan, contains an interesting collection of pictures and artifacts portraying early Akeley history, when the largest sawmill in the state was located here.

Alexandria: The Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum preserves the rich history of Minnesota’s maritime past with exhibits and displays of historic photographs, wooden boats and artifacts.

Alexandria: In 1897, a large stone with mysterious inscriptions was found here and many local residents believe it was the work of Vikings. You can learn more about the stone at the Kensington Runestone Museum. Outside of the museum stands a 28-foot tall statue of Big Ole, a fierce looking Viking with a sign proclaiming Alexandria as the Birthplace of America.

Chisholm: The Minnesota Museum of Mining tells the story of the mining industry in this region. An 81-foot tall statue of an iron miner towers over the town.

Comfrey: Amid the prairie grasses at what is now Jeffers Petroglyphs Historic Site are islands of uncovered rock where American Indians left carvings known as petroglyphs of people, deer, elk, buffalo, turtles, thunderbirds, and arrows. The images tell a story that spans 5,000 years. The glyphs served many functions including recording important events, depicting sacred ceremonies, and emphasizing the importance of animals and hunting.

Duluth: For an opportunity to learn about maritime history on the Great Lakes, be sure to visit the Lake Superior Marine Museum, where displays will tell you the story of the brave men who work these waters.

Duluth

Duluth: The three story tall waterfront Great Lakes Aquarium is the only aquarium in the country that specializes in freshwater fish.

Elk River: At the Oliver Kelly Farm Historic Site, visitors can watch costumed guides plow the fields with oxen and horses, put up hay, pick garden vegetables, and demonstrate domestic crafts like making straw hats and soap.

Ely: For a howling good time, visit the International Wolf Center here to learn more about wolves and how they live in the wild.

Eveleth: Sports fans will want to stop by the United States Hockey Hall of Fame to learn about the athletes who make the game great. Appropriately enough, you will also find the World’s Largest Hockey Stick here, at 107 feet long.

Fairfax: When the Dakota Indians went on the warpath in 1862, following years of broken treaties and empty promises by the U.S. government, they attacked Fort Ridgely twice, making it one of the few military forts west of the Mississippi to withstand a direct assault. Fort Ridgely’s 280 military and civilian defenders held out until reinforcements ended the siege. Today the old fort has been restored and is a State Historic Site.

Grand Rapids: Actress Judy Garland was born Francis Gumm in Grand Rapids in 1922. Her childhood home is now a museum and open for tours.

Judy Garland home

Grand Rapids: At the Forest History Center, visitors can see exhibits on the logging industry, visit the logging camp and see a blacksmith, saw filer, clerk, cook, and lumberjacks, board the moored river “wanigan,” a floating cook shack used when the logs and men headed downstream to the mills, and take a seat on the porch of a 1930s Minnesota Forest Service patrolman’s cabin and lookout tower and hear about the ranger’s important work protecting woodland resources.

Hanley Falls: Minnesota’s Machinery Museum celebrates yesteryear with displays that include antique machinery, old toys, vintage cars, and other memorabilia.

Machinery Museum

Hibbing: Hibbing is the site of the world’s biggest open pit iron ore mine, the Hull Rust Mahoning Mine. Earth removed to create the mammoth open pit is said to be the equivalent of digging a small tunnel from Minnesota through the center of the earth and out the other side. Since 1895, more than 1.4 billion tons of earth has been removed to form this man-made Grand Canyon. The vast pit yawns more than three miles long, up to two miles wide and 600 feet deep.

Hibbing: Hibbing is recognized as the birthplace of the bus industry in the United States and is home to the Greyhound Bus Museum, which displays eleven classic buses and tells the story of the men and machines that created Greyhound Bus Lines.

Greyhound

Little Falls: Pioneer aviator Charles Lindbergh grew up in Little Falls and the family home is now a State Historic Site with photographs and artifacts of his life and accomplishments.

Lindbergh home

Little Falls: The Minnesota Military Museum, located at Camp Ripley, tells the story of America’s wars from the Civil War through the Gulf War, with displays of military equipment, weapons, and aircraft.

Minneapolis: Built within the ruins of a National Historic Landmark, the Washburn A. Mill, the Mill City Museum chronicles the flour milling industry that dominated world flour production for 50 years and fueled the growth of Minneapolis, recognized across the nation and around the world as “Mill City.”

Minneapolis: Honoring the achievements of Swedish immigrants and dedicated to preserving the Swedish culture, the American Swedish Institute is housed in an elaborate historic mansion and showcases an impressive collection of Swedish glass, decorative and fine arts, textiles, and items from Sweden.

Swedish Museum

Morton: At Birch Coulee Battlefield State Historic Site visitors can learn about the Battle of Birch Coulee, one of the hardest fought battles of the Dakota War. The Dakota Indians kept U.S. soldiers under siege for 36 hours here before a relief detachment arrived from Fort Ridgely. Visitors can follow a self-guided trail through recreated prairie and read about the battle from the perspectives of Joseph Anderson, a captain in the U.S. Army, and Wamditanka (Big Eagle), a Mdewakanton warrior.

New Ulm: The Minnesota Music Hall of Fame honors the state’s famous musicians, singers, and composers, and displays memorabilia of individual musicians and musical groups as well as photographs of members of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.

New Ulm: At Harkin Store State Historic Site you can savor the smells and sights of an 1870s general store as you sample the wares or play a game of checkers, chat with the costumed staff, or sit on the porch and envision a steamboat plying the river below. When the railroad passed by the small town of West Newton, the store was forced to close with much of the unsold inventory still on the shelves, where it remains today.

Northfield: When outlaws Jesse and Frank James, Cole Younger, and their gang tried to rob the First National Bank in Northfield on September 7, 1876, the locals took exception to the plan and met them with a barrage of gunfire. Two local people and two of the outlaws were killed in the battle. Today the old bank building is a museum with displays on the raid and shootout that followed.


Onamia: The Mille Lacs Indian Museum offers exhibits dedicated to telling the story of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe American Indians. Visitors can trace their journey to settle in Northern Minnesota, learn about their fate during a period of treaties made and broken, and follow their story up to the present.

Owatonna: The Village of Yesteryear, operated by the Steele County Historical Society, is composed of fifteen structures where you can experience what life was like in Owatonna and Steele County at the turn of the 20th Century. Included in the village are two log cabins, a railroad station and a caboose from Steele County dating back to the 1850s, a general store/post office, fire station, farm machinery building, blacksmith shop, country school, the Dunnell mansion built in 1868, and the St. Wenceslaus of Moravia Church, built in 1891.

Owatonna: Between 1886 and 1945, over 10,000 children who were orphaned, abandoned, or abused were housed at the Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children. Today the facility is the only known Orphanage Museum in the United States, containing pictures, artifacts, and personal stories, the State School Kids Memorial, Children’s Cemetery, and thirteen original buildings.

Pine City: At the North West Company Fur Post State Historic Site, visitors can see a reconstruction of an 1804 trading post and an Ojibwa Indian encampment, and watch costumed interpreters demonstrate skills of the fur trade.

Pipestone: For centuries Native Americans have quarried the clay stone found here for ceremonial pipes. At Pipestone National Monument you can visit a small museum and take a self-guided walking tour.

Preston: Forestville was once a rural trade center where area farmers came to trade their produce for goods and services. When the railroad bypassed the town in 1868, it began a downhill spiral. By 1890, Thomas Meighen, son of one of the town’s founders, owned the entire village. The town’s 50 residents made their living on his farm, working for housing and credit in the Meighen store. Today Historic Forestville is a State Historic Site, where costumed guides portray actual residents as they go about their daily activities.

Red Wing: Shoes and boots helped make this town famous, and you can tour the Red Wing Shoe Museum to learn all about making footwear, and have your photo taken with the World’s Largest Boot.

Red Wing shoe

Redwood Falls: Visitors can learn about the history and culture of the Dakota Indians at the Lower Sioux Agency State Historic Site.

Sauk Centre: Novelist Sinclair Lewis was born here in 1885 and used the town as the setting for many of his books, including Main Street. His works were not popular with the townspeople until he won the Nobel Peace Prize, whereupon he achieved favorite son status. Now his boyhood home is a museum.

Sinclair Lewis home

St. Louis Park: The Pavek Museum of Broadcasting at 3517 Raleigh Avenue South houses one of the world’s finest collections of antique radio, television and broadcast equipment.

St. Paul: Anybody who loves model trains will enjoy a visit to the Twin City Model Railroad Museum, which features over 3,000 square feet of O-scale model train layouts recreating scenes and famous landmarks from the Twin Cities and Minnesota as it was in the 1940s and 1950s when steam and diesel shared the rails. The museum also has one of the largest collections of railroad art related to the Twin Cities.

St. Paul: Visitors can see trains, as well as vintage buses, and a restored train roundhouse during a visit to the Minnesota Transportation Museum at 193 Pennsylvania Avenue East.

Soudan: At Soudan Underground Mine State Park visitors wear hard hats and journey underground 2,341 feet via a “cage” to explore a former iron mine. On the 27th level, the transportation shifts to a rail car for a ride back into the mine as they listen to the stories of the mining days.

Walnut Grove: The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum tells the story of the Ingalls family when they homesteaded here in the 1800s. The museum’s collections are housed in a series of interesting buildings, including an 1898 depot, a chapel, an onion-domed house, dugout display, little red schoolhouse, and an early settler’s home. Also on display is memorabilia from visits by the stars from the Little House on the Prairie television series.

Willmar: Schwanke’s Museum displays antique farm equipment, vintage cars, fire engines and other memories of the past.

Worthington: The Nobles County Pioneer Village contains nearly fifty historic buildings including homes, a railroad depot, a church, school, law office, and grain elevators, all depicting life over a century ago.

Special Note: Before I close for today, I want to wish Terry’s parents, Pete and Bess Weber, happy 64th wedding anniversary. We miss you guys and wish we were there to help you celebrate your special day.

Thought For The Day – The pen may be mightier than the sword, but nobody in Braveheart carried one.

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It’s A Circus

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

It’s been a circus here at the South Jetty Thousand Trails preserve in Florence, Oregon this weekend. RVs have been going every direction on the narrow roads, meeting head on and having to back up, and trying to shoehorn large rigs into small, tight sites. So far nobody seems to have lost their temper and they all seem pretty good natured about things. We’ve been staying inside and watching the show.


We’ve seen everything in here from huge diesel pushers to van conversions, but this old Barth motorhome that was parked across from our site when we first arrived has been my favorite. Although they were not produced in great numbers, never more than 300 units a year, Barths were high end rigs built for upscale buyers. Here is an interesting story on the company from the Tin Can Tourists website.

Old Barth Motorhome South Jetty small

Of course, if you want to go really upscale and take all of your toys with you, this is the way to go. I wondered how they got that boat up there until I found this You Tube video showing the process. No thanks. I think I’ll wait until we get a place in Florida to get a pontoon boat.

Bus and pontoon

Up until yesterday the weather has been nice, but then it turned cold and damp. My hands were throbbing by noon and I only managed to knock out about 650 words in my new book before I had to stop. Hopefully it will warm back up in the next day or two.

Our friend Nancy Kissack is staying at the Elks lodge campground on the north side of town and came by to visit yesterday. The Elks have several RV sites with water and electric on the blacktop parking lot at the lodge in town, and also the very nice campground where Nancy is staying, which has nice RV sites with water, electric, a dump station, and WiFi. The next time we are in the area that’s where we’ll stay. This campground is just too busy and crowded for us.

Florence Elks campground 2 small

Florence Elks campground small

Nancy is fascinated with weaving, so she wanted to see Terry’s loom in action. She had a lot of questions and Terry shared a lot of information with her about how to set the loom up, how the different foot pedals and heddle arrangements create unlimited patterns, and shuttles and such. I have a suspicion that there’s a loom in Nancy’s very near future.


Congratulations Angela Callahan, winner of this week’s drawing for an audiobook of Highland Passage by J.L Jarvis! We had 78 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon!

Thought For The Day – Some people just drain the nice right out of you.

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Jun 282015
 

Sometimes it seems like there’s just one problem after another when you live in an RV. Morry Bernard from West Coast Mobile RV Service & Repair fixed our original water leak, and then another one that popped up, and now our Atwood water heater is on the fritz.


When I took my shower Friday night I had hot water, but when Terry took hers, about the time she got her hair full of shampoo the water turned cold and never did warm back up. She is not a fan of cold showers! The good news is that she was so cold when she got out that we did a lot of snuggling once we were under the covers!

The 120 volt circuit breaker for the electric side of the water heater is on, but it won’t heat up on electric. The gas will come on but then goes right back off. So yesterday I tried to figure out what the problem is. I went outside, opened the cover over the water heater compartment and verified that it’s still there. Since that’s the extent of my ability, I then called Greg White and after some research he gave me a lot of information that basically boiled down to that I need to call Morry and have him come back out. That’s not exactly what Greg said, but let’s face it, getting the compartment opened and then closed again without breaking anything is about all we can expect from me.


It’s too bad, because the other day our brand new Oxygenics shower head arrived. This is our second one. The first, which we used for several years, broke after it fell out of the holder on the wall of the shower. They work great, giving a lot of water pressure even when you’re using your 12-volt RV water pump. We looked all over for a replacement and finally ordered it from Amazon.

Oxygenics

Since we were already having something shipped to us from Amazon, we also ordered a couple of things Terry has been wanting for a while. One was this Kyocera ceramic coffee grinder and the other was an AeroPress coffee maker.

Cofee grinder

Coffee maker

I’m weird in a lot of ways, but you already knew that. One of them is that I don’t drink coffee because I don’t like the taste of it, but I do like Kopiko Coffee Candy, which is made with Java coffee beans. It kind of hard to find, but I recently learned that it’s available from Amazon, so next time around I’ll order some. They also have it in Cappuccino flavor, which I do drink from time to time, so I’ll try some of that, too.

Kopiko candy

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Highland Passage by J.L Jarvis. It’s a time travel historical romance that begins with the heroine blacking out following a car crash on an icy road and waking up in a mysterious stone chamber being cared for by a kilted man who claims to be an eighteenth century Scottish highlander. 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.

Highland Passage

Thought For The Day – If you’ve made your point, stop talking.

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