Nick Russell

Let The Madness Begin

 Posted by at 12:43 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 242017
 

Okay, everybody, ‘fess up. Who totally blew their diet yesterday? Come on, don’t be ashamed. I know we did around here. Terry made a delicious meal of turkey breast, sweet potato stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, a couple of kinds of vegetables, cranberry relish, rolls, and both pecan and pumpkin pie. God bless the man who invented stretch pants!

Here are the pies. Those alone were worth blowing your diet over!

But that’s okay; stuffing yourself even more than you stuffed the turkey is a Thanksgiving tradition I think if you don’t do it you might need to turn in your red-blooded American card.

And today is Black Friday. Let the madness begin! I believe in keeping holiday traditions alive, and one tradition I try very hard to maintain is my vow not to go into any big box store until sometime after the first of the year if I can avoid it in any way. I refuse to participate in all of the commercialism and battle the surly crowds looking for a parking place outside the stores and a bargain inside. Can’t you just feel the Christmas spirit in the air? No thanks. If I can’t buy it from a small local mom-and-pop business, I would just as soon make my purchases online and avoid all the hassle.



Speaking of shopping, 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. And why not? You can get just about anything in the world from Amazon, and with Amazon Prime, have it delivered right to your door in a couple of days. We appreciate you using one of our links 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.

Instead of shopping, I plan to spend today working on my new book, Big Lake Snowdaze. I’m over 50,000 words into it now and looking forward to a release in early December. And once that’s out, I’m going to goof off for a little while and get some fishing and kayaking done. I think I deserve it.



Since people seem to be liking the funny signs I’ve been sharing in the blog, here’s another one for you. I thought it was appropriate, what with all the people looking for bargains right now. It looks like a heck of a deal!

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Birdsongs, the first book in my friend Jason Deas’ excellent Benny James mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice. – Dave Barry

Visit With Old Friends

 Posted by at 12:48 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 232017
 

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Whether you’re at home having a meal with family, sharing a meal with friends in an RV park, or are going out to dinner someplace, I hope you have a wonderful time. And I hope you take a moment or two to think about all that we have to be thankful for. There is a lot of division in our country right now, but no matter which side of the issues you are on, there is no denying the fact that we live in the greatest country in the world.

If there is one thing that Terry and I miss from our days as fulltime RVers, it is the opportunity to see so many of the friends that we made in the years we were roaming around the country from border to border and ocean to ocean.

Sometimes new fulltimers are afraid that they will not have any friends to connect with once they are out on the road but they quickly learn just the opposite. Before you know it you will have friends all over the place and you will be amazed how many times you will cross paths and unexpectedly meet up with somebody you met in a campground 1,000 miles away. Or how many friends you will see again at an RV rally. Not to mention the times you arrange to meet with somebody by email, on social media, or with a phone call.



That doesn’t happen now that we are off the road. But we have been fortunate in that several of our RVing friends have stopped by to visit since we bought our place here in Florida. Yesterday two very special people, Russ and Debbie Davis, came by to take us to lunch. I think the last time we saw them was at an Escapees rally at the Pima County Fairgrounds, in Tucson, Arizona. They have a daughter and a son who both live in the Saint Augustine area and are in Florida visiting them and they were kind enough to come see us, too.

We gave them a tour of our house and spent some time catching up on what all has been happening in our respective lives, then went to Goodrich Seafood for lunch. Goodrich is a local place, tucked away on a back road Off of U.S. Highway 1, that most of the tourists never even know about. They have no idea what they are missing, because the food is delicious. We ate on the back deck overlooking the river and spent a couple of hours talking and swapping lies before Russ and Debbie had to take off. Here is a picture someone took of us after we got done eating. Thanks for coming and seeing us, Russ and Debbie, we enjoyed it!

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.



It’s Thursday and that means it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Birdsongs, the first book in my friend Jason Deas’ excellent Benny James mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness. – Bertrand Russell

Art Imitating Life?

 Posted by at 12:42 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 222017
 

In my mystery novel The Gecko In The Corner, a gecko has taken up residence in the bedroom of the main character, John Lee Quarrels, hanging out in a corner on the wall. John Lee wants to get rid of the lizard, but a lady friend tells him that they are good to have around because they eat bugs. John Lee replies that they are in Florida and there are always going to be bugs in the house, then adds that even if his unwanted roommate does eat all the bugs around, he’s still got a lizard in his house.

I kind of feel that way, because last night when I sat down in my office next to our bedroom to write today’s blog, there was a lizard on the wall. It went scurrying behind one of my bookcases, but even though he may be out of sight, I know he’s still there. And just like John Lee’s lady friend, Miss Terry tells me that they are good to have around to keep the bug population down. I’d prefer to rely on the magic of chemicals, if it’s all the same to you. Somebody call an exterminator!

Speaking of art, check out these three beautiful pictures that our dear friend Nancy Kissack sent me. Nancy is a very accomplished photographer and we’ve used at least one of her photos for the front-page picture in the Gypsy Journal. The picture on the left is of a field of flowers with a lighthouse in the background, and the other two are of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, which crosses the Columbia River from Astoria, Oregon to Washington, on the north side of the river.

If you have been reading the blog for very long, you know that I have a terrible fear of driving over high bridges. When we come to them, Miss Terry takes the wheel and I try not to have a panic attack until we get over them and are safely on the other side. But even though driving across the bridge terrifies me, I also think it is beautiful and for some reason I can’t explain, I am drawn to it.

So while she was up in the Pacific Northwest last summer, Nancy took these photos and had them blown up to 16 x 20″ and printed, and sent them to me. Thank you, Nancy, I love them. I am going to have them framed and then they will hang in a prominent place here in the house.



I got a panicked email from a blog reader yesterday morning telling me that they had a leak in their fifth wheel’s gray water tank and can’t find anybody to work on it until after the Thanksgiving holiday. Terry and I had a similar problem a few years ago, except it was in our Winnebago’s black tank. My buddy Greg White told me to get some J-B Weld WaterWeld, which is a putty-like substance that is supposed to work even under water.

So I got some at WalMart and drained the holding tank. Terry followed the instructions and kneaded it between her fingers, then spread some over the hole and it worked as advertised, sealing the leak completely. We never had another problem with it. Since then, we’ve always kept some on hand. I suggested the folks with the fifth wheel try it, and sometime around 9 p.m. I got an email from them saying that it had done the trick and there was no more leaking. This is some handy stuff to have around the RV! Get it before you need it.



With Thanksgiving and all of the Black Friday sales almost here, how about a good mystery? What would you do if you braved the crowds of shoppers on Black Friday and suddenly your whole world had changed? Read Black Friday and find out how a simple shopping trip changed one man’s life forever.

Several people told me how much they enjoyed the funny sign I included in the blog a few days ago, and asked when I was going to have another one. So here you go. Is this one of the best yard sale signs ever, or what?

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 – Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Air Time

 Posted by at 12:49 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 212017
 

I was hoping we might get to do some kayaking yesterday, but I had some errands to run in the morning, and by the afternoon the wind had kicked up pretty stiffly again. So it looks like we probably won’t get a chance now until sometime around the weekend, since we are supposed to have rain for the next few days.

While we were down by the water checking things out yesterday afternoon, I decided that if the wind was going to keep me from kayaking, I would put it to some other use. So I dug my dual line Prism Snapshot 1.9 parafoil kite out of the back of the Explorer and got some air time. It’s been a long time since I flew the kite, and felt good to be working the lines again. Miss Terry took this picture of me flying it with the cloudy sky as a backdrop.

My buddy Jim Lewis is always ready to try something new, so I handed him the lines and let him give it a try. He was surprised how much it pulls when the wind is right. I told him that was nothing. A couple of years ago when we were in Florence, Oregon I put it up in some very strong winds (stronger than I should have been messing around in) and the darned thing jerked me right off my feet and drug me face first across the sand. I’ll tell you what, Terry sure got a laugh out of that. When we got back to the motorhome and I got ready to take a shower, I discovered I had sand in places where I didn’t even know I had places!



On another note, I got an email yesterday from some folks who are trying to sell their motorhome, saying that they received a call from some outfit that claimed they were an online dealership and wanting them to list their RV, saying that they could sell it within 30 days. He told them he has lots of buyers available, because he can offer 3.24% financing. But the catch was, he expects them to pay him $200 up front. They were understandably leery about that and asked what I thought.

I replied that they should make a counteroffer, offering to pay him $500 when the RV sells in the 30 days he claims he can move it in. After all, if he’s so sure of himself, what does he have to lose? There are all kinds of con artists out there making all kinds of claims, and all they really care about is separating you from your money. These clowns simply want $200 up front to list an RV on their website.

I am an administrator on the Living the RV Dream Sales & Swap Facebook group, and you can list your RV there for free, as well as a lot of other places online. Or, you can pay a little bit and put an ad in RV Trader. Or, just send me 200 bucks. I’ll mention your RV to a guy I know whose brother-in-law’s uncle’s next door neighbor works with a guy who said he might be in the market one of these days. Either way, the results will be the same as the “guaranteed” 30 day sale.



With Thanksgiving and all of the Black Friday sales just around the corner, how about a good mystery? What would you do if you braved the crowds of shoppers on Black Friday and suddenly your whole world had changed? Read Black Friday and find out how a simple shopping trip changed one man’s life forever.

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 – Women only sneer and call me ugly until they find out how much money I have. Then they sneer and call me poor and ugly.

Not Even One

 Posted by at 12:10 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 202017
 

Two years ago today I came home to our RV at the Escapees Jojoba Hills Co-op in Aguanga, California after spending most of a week in terrible pain at the hospital in nearby Temecula. When we first got to the hospital I thought I might be having a heart attack because the symptoms were very much like those I had a few years before when I did have a heart attack. But as it turned out, it was diagnosed as a case of acute pancreatitis.

I won’t go into all the details of the medical stuff, or how many ways the hospital screwed up, from deciding I was an alcoholic even though I hadn’t had a drink in over 40 years and Terry and I kept telling them that, to telling me I had a mass on my left kidney and then doing an ultrasound on the right, to referring to me as an African-American male in their records. And that doesn’t include them dropping the ball and not sending anything about my treatment to the VA hospital in Tucson, where I had to go and start all over from square one.

That experience led to two big changes in my life. The first was that before I was hospitalized I was a Pepsi-holic. It was my drug of choice, and for more years than I want to admit, I drank anywhere from 3 to 6 Pepsis a day. And I’m not talking about that low calorie diet stuff. No sir, I drank the high octane version, full of sugar!

The last Pepsi I had was on November 14, 2015, the night before I went into the hospital. For me, Pepsi really was like a drug. I had tried to stop drinking it three or four times, without success. I might go for a week or two or even three. But before I knew it, I was back at it. For the first couple of months I really missed it, then it wasn’t much of an issue. Now, two years later, I still have not had even one. Every once in a while I still want one, but it’s no big deal and I just don’t do it.

The other change that came about because that hospital stay was our decision to buy a house somewhere in Florida. As I said, the folks at the hospital in Temecula told us I had a mass on my left kidney. Anytime someone says you have a mass, it’s discomforting. And since my family has a long history of cancer, it was even more so for me.



As it turned out, in all of the follow-up ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs done at three different VA facilities, there was no mass, and apparently there never was one. I don’t know where the folks in Temecula came up with that. I just hope there’s not an African-American alcoholic someplace with a mass on his kidney whom they told had pancreatitis.

At any rate, like many fulltime RVers, Terry and I had talked several times about where we might want to settle down if and when we ever got off the road. We considered a lot of places but kept coming back to Florida. After the medical issue, it became important to me more so than to Terry that we find such a place. I wanted to have a home that she could go to if something ever did happen. So we spent about a year seriously looking all over the Sunshine State until we found our little piece of paradise.

And here we are today, getting ready to celebrate our second Thanksgiving in our house. There was a time when I would have had a Pepsi to celebrate the momentous occasion, but I think I’ll stick with unsweetened tea instead.

With Thanksgiving and all of the Black Friday sales just around the corner, how about a good mystery? What would you do if you braved the crowds of shoppers on Black Friday and suddenly your whole world changed? Read Black Friday and find out how a simple shopping trip changed one man’s life forever.

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.



Congratulations Bob Jae, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Ken Rossignol’s Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous Pirates Book Series: THE LIVES AND ADVENTURES of FAMOUS and SUNDRY PIRATES. We had 36 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – My wife accused me of being immature. I told her to get out of my blanket fort.

New Toys

 Posted by at 12:56 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 192017
 

When Terry and I first got interested in kayaks many years ago we bought two Native Watercraft sit-on-tops. They were great boats and we really liked them, but after we traded in the Ford van we had then on the Explorer, we had to put them on the roof of the SUV. That became a hassle, and really cut down on our fuel mileage.

Then our friends Tim and Crystal Ryerson from InflatableBoats4Less convinced us to try Sea Eagle inflatable kayaks and we soon owned a pair of them, me a PaddleSki 435 and Terry a 385 Fast Track. We love them! They are sturdy, very stable in the water, and storing them in one of the bays of the motorhome was quick and easy. So we sold the hard kayaks and for the next few years we paddled our Sea Eagles from the Gulf of Mexico to lakes and rivers in the Midwest, and all over Central Florida.

But there are a lot of oyster beds in the water near our home here on Florida’s Intercoastal Waterway, and those darned oyster shells are really sharp. We talked to a man who sustained a serious foot injury when he stepped on some oyster shells and they cut right through one of the Crocs he was wearing. So while the Sea Eagles are good in the open water, we have been hesitant to take them into the mangroves and shallows where some of the best fishing is. We decided to start looking for hard kayaks again for the times when we want to get into the areas where the oyster beds are all over the place.

Terry and I starting researching fishing kayaks and became interested in the Old Town Predator 13s. They are a little wider than most kayaks, very stable, and have one of the best seats of any boat around. There is an excellent family owned shop in nearby Titusville called Kayaks By Bo that carries them, so a while back we stopped in to check it out. The owners, Tom and Lyn Altif and their son Jason, are super friendly people who don’t just want to sell you a boat and wish you well; they take the time to help you select the right boat for you – the one that fits your paddling style, your interests, and your budget.



They invited us to test paddle a few different boats to get a feel for them and see what might work for us. So a couple of days later we met Jason at a kayak launch in Titusville and tried out three or four different boats. After paddling all of them, Terry and I were both convinced that the Predator 13s were what we wanted. 

Our friend Jim Lewis, on the other hand, opted for an Old Town Predator PDL, a slightly wider version of the boats we chose, which also has foot pedals to propel it through the water. No, those aren’t training wheel under it, it’s a kayak caddy used to help move the boats around on dry land. They are heavy boats, which is part of what makes them so stable.

We got a heck of a deal on all three boats and brought them home. Terry’s is the red one and mine is the green.

We were eager to get them out on the water but the wind was so bad for the last few days that there was no way we were going to do that. Yesterday was just perfect, no wind and the temperature was around 78°. It just doesn’t get much better than that. It was time.

We launched the kayaks at a spot near our fishing pier and paddled a short distance across the Intercoastal Waterway and into the mangrove hammocks. They sure are smooth! When a motorboat when zipping down the main channel, completely ignoring the no wake zone due to all the manatee in the water here, the kayaks rode through the wake he threw up just fine.

This is the northern end of the famous Mosquito Lagoon, which has some of the best fishing in the world, and we paddled around for two or three hours. All three of us agreed that the next time we take the kayaks out, we’re going to bring some fishing gear with us!

To make the day even better, several of the local dolphins were playing in the water near us, and we saw one manatee.



Here is Jim, just peddling away. Not only is his PDL easy to maneuver forward or backward, it’s really fast. I found that out when I challenged him to a short race. I was paddling as fast as I could while he was just sitting back relaxing and never broke a sweat. And he was still at least three boat lengths ahead of me when he reached the crab trap buoy we were using as our finish line!

Jim got a couple of pictures of Terry and I, this one soon after we launched, near our fishing pier.

And this one was taken once we got into the mangroves.

The water can be very shallow back in there, and a few times Jim had to pull his pedal unit up and use his paddle. But he said even then it was no problem.

We will keep our Sea Eagles for when we want to just be out in the open water or when company visits, and I love my 16 foot center console Key Largo fishing boat. But the kayaks are perfect for getting into the mangroves and shallows where the big red fish live. Hopefully I’ll get to latch onto one of them before too much longer.

If you are anywhere on the central coast of Florida and are looking for a kayak, I promise you that you won’t find anybody who will treat you better than the nice folks at Kayaks By Bo. When you do business with them you’re not just a customer, you become part of the family.

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.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of my friend Ken Rossignol’s Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous Pirates Book Series: THE LIVES AND ADVENTURES of FAMOUS and SUNDRY PIRATES. 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 – It’s never too late to be what you want to be. Unless you want to be younger. Then you’re screwed!

Nov 182017
 

Note: This story is from the July-August, 2016 issue of the Gypsy Journal.

Just a half hour drive south from busy and modern Tampa, Gamble Plantation Historic State Park preserves historic Gamble Mansion, the last surviving antebellum plantation home in South Florida.

Major Robert Gamble built his beautiful home between 1845 and 1850 as the center of operations for a large sugar plantation. Florida’s Gulf Coast from Crystal River south was an ideal area for growing sugar cane and many plantations thrived there.

When work began on the plantation, the Seminole Indians were strongly resisting the loss of their traditional homelands to settlers and government efforts to move them west to Indian Territory. That, combined with the harsh climate, natural predators, and disease, made construction a challenge. By the time the fields were cleared and the beautiful mansion was finished, the bottom had dropped out of the sugar market and prices had plummeted. Major Gamble found himself deeply in debt. He was forced to sell the plantation to meet his obligations and left the area.

The property went through a series of owners, and by the time the Civil War began, Captain Archibald McNeill owned the mansion. McNeill, a sea captain, became one of the most successful blockade runners due to his knowledge of the backwaters and inlets along the Gulf Coast to keep supplies and necessary products moving during the war.

On April 2, 1865, General Robert E. Lee informed Jefferson Davis that he could no longer protect the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia and advised him to evacuate. The Confederate president and his cabinet fled south. Refusing to admit defeat, Davis hoped to flee to a sympathetic foreign nation to form a government in exile. But before he could do that, he and his entourage were captured on May 10 near Irwinville, Georgia by a detachment of Union General James H. Wilson’s cavalry.



Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin managed to escape capture and made his way to the Gamble Mansion a few days later. Using his intimate knowledge of the coast, Captain McNeill was able to set sail out of the Manatee River, which fronted the Gamble Plantation, and sneak out to sea under the guns of the Union blockade. He transported Benjamin to Nassau, in the Bahamas, safe from capture. Benjamin eventually reached England, where he went on to practice law. Some believe that a fortune in Confederate gold is still buried somewhere on the old plantation grounds or nearby, though one wonders how a man on the run, hiding out in the dense forests and swamps of Georgia and Florida while being pursued by the Union Army, could have managed to carry very much gold with him.

At its peak, the plantation included 3,500 acres, and more than 200 slaves worked the property and processed the sugar cane. Over the years there were other owners, and like many Southern homes of its period, the Gamble Mansion fell on hard times. But while many of the old plantation homes eventually disappeared, in 1925 the United Daughters of the Confederacy purchased the house and sixteen surrounding acres and donated them to the State of Florida to serve as a historic site and memorial to Judah P. Benjamin.

These days the beautifully restored house is open to visitors. It is an excellent example of what life was like for those who owned Florida’s plantations during the antebellum era. Many visitors are surprised to find that it was really more of a functional home than a glamorous showplace as in movies like Gone with the Wind.



The house is in the Doric Revivalist Vernacular architectural style. Its columns and two foot thick walls are made of tabby, a unique construction material created by mixing lime extracted by burning shells with sand and water. The carefully restored interior rooms display period furniture and items that would have been found in a home liked this during antebellum times. The parlor includes a beautiful piano and delicate China tea set.

Displays outside focus on the operation on the sugar mill, including a 40,000 gallon cistern that provide the household with fresh water, a large cane roller that was used to crush cane stalks to squeeze the juice out of them, and the ruins of the old sugar mill. If you time your visit right, you may see volunteers in historical costume demonstrating old time skills or talking about life on the plantation during its heyday.

The park also includes the restored two story Victorian style Patten House, which was built in 1872 for owner George Patten.

Located at 3708 Patten Avenue in Ellenton, Florida, Gamble Plantation Historic State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year. The mansion itself is only open Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours are given six times daily on those days. The house and visitor center are closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year´s Day. The park and grounds are free to visit. Tours of the house cost $6 for adults and $4 for children. Parking could be difficult for a large RV. Visitors should leave their RV at one of the many local campgrounds and visit in their tow vehicle or dinghy. For more information about Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, call (941) 723-4536.

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.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of my friend Ken Rossignol’s Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous Pirates Book Series: THE LIVES AND ADVENTURES of FAMOUS and SUNDRY PIRATES. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – You have to put off being young until you can retire.

Wicked Winds

 Posted by at 12:27 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 172017
 

When we lived in northern Arizona before we started fulltime RVing, strong winds were a fact of life in the springtime. Strong to the point of being dangerous. Anybody who has ever been caught on a highway in a sandstorm knows what I’m talking about. It’s bad enough in an automobile, but in an RV it can become downright treacherous. A couple of times when we went back to visit my daughter in our old hometown of Show Low, we had to delay our planned departure day while we waited for the winds to die down. Of course, Tiffany liked that because it meant we got to hang around a while longer.

For the last week or so it’s felt the same way here on Florida’s central coast. The winds have been from the north at 20 to 25 miles per hour, blowing the palm trees around, causing high surf at the beach, and even whitecaps here on the Intercoastal Waterway. There is supposed to be a kite festival in New Smyrna Beach this weekend and the wind is supposed to be down into the 10 to 15 mile-per-hour range, so hopefully the kite fliers can get some flying time in.

The temperatures have also cooled down considerably around here, with daytime highs in the low to mid 70s. That’s just about perfect. If this keeps up we may get some fishing time in before too long. Although, local reports say the water is still pretty murky as a result of Hurricane Irma. But you know what they say, the worst day fishing is still better than the best day working.

Speaking of working, that’s pretty much all I’ve been doing, and I’m closing in on 40,000 words on my new Big Lake mystery. I’m still on schedule for an early December release.



The last couple of days I’ve been pitching another one of my books, Black Friday. It’s the story of a man who goes shopping the day after Thanksgiving and finds his whole life turned upside down due to a chance encounter with a mysterious woman. Blog reader Mike Goad had a very nice review of the book in his Haw Creek blog yesterday. Check it out.

After reading my How Do You Holiday blog yesterday, a couple of readers contacted me to say that something else to consider is helping out those less fortunate during the holidays by helping serve meals at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Thanks for reminding me of that. We all need to give something back to the world once in a while.

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.



Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of my friend Ken Rossignol’s Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous Pirates Book Series: THE LIVES AND ADVENTURES of FAMOUS and SUNDRY PIRATES. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – I read in the newspaper that someone in New York gets mugged every 32 seconds. That guy should stay home and keep his doors locked

How Do You Holiday?

 Posted by at 12:22 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 162017
 

This time of year I always seem to get a lot of emails and see a lot of comments on social media from new fulltime RVers and RV snowbirds wondering how to handle the holidays. For a lot of newbies, and even for some experienced road warriors, Thanksgiving and Christmas provide a certain amount of angst.

After all, those are supposed to be the important family holidays. An email I got yesterday from a new fulltimer said she and her husband don’t think it will feel much like Thanksgiving sitting alone at the table in their motorhome with a couple of frozen turkey TV dinners. So what do you do when you’re living in an RV far away from your family at the holidays?

We have met some people who travel back to where their family is for the holidays, sometimes in their RVs, and sometimes leaving the RV behind and driving in a car or flying. That’s never been our preference, but it might work for you.

But if you don’t do that, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be all alone. Just about every RV park we’ve ever been at over Thanksgiving and Christmas has a group dinner in their activity center. Often the park supplies turkey and ham, and everybody else brings plates to pass around. So you’re not alone, you’re with a wonderful extended family of like-minded people. Folks just like you who are living their dream.

Besides the food, there is usually entertainment of some kind. It might be a jam session, it might be a program put on by people in the park, or it might be entertainers brought in to perform. There’s usually a room with a big screen TV for watching football, and always lots of friendly conversation. For many RVers, volunteering to help out with these group dinners is their way of having a good time. And if you’re a newbie, it’s also a great way to make new friends.

Some people prefer to go out to a nice dinner someplace, and leave all the cooking and cleaning duties to somebody else. We have done the RV park group dinners, and we have also gone out to dinner at restaurants on the holidays. Sometimes just the two of us, sometimes with another couple or two. There is something to be said for having a great meal, leaving a nice tip, and going home to take a nap.

Of course, Terry and I are always the oddballs, and for many years our favorite Christmas dinner was at a Chinese restaurant. Who needs turkey when you’ve got fried rice and General Tso’s Chicken?

No, Thanksgiving and Christmas in an RV are not the same as being at home surrounded by your family. But that doesn’t mean they have to be gloomy events. Make the most of it. Have a good time. Meet some new friends. And if you do decide to follow my lead and go to a Chinese restaurant, you just may see us there!

With Thanksgiving and all of the Black Friday sales just around the corner, how about a good mystery? What would you do if you braved the crowds of shoppers on Black Friday and suddenly your whole world had changed? Read Black Friday and find out how a simple shopping trip changed one man’s life forever.

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.

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of my friend Ken Rossignol’s Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous Pirates Book Series: THE LIVES AND ADVENTURES of FAMOUS and SUNDRY PIRATES. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.

Double Trouble

 Posted by at 12:12 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 152017
 

Note: This story is from the March-April, 2017 issue of the Gypsy Journal.

In the friendly college town of Athens, Georgia we came across an unusual historical artifact with an interesting history that is a classic example of engineering gone wrong, even though it seemed like a good idea at the time

Home to the University of Georgia, Athens was an important supply center during the Civil War, which made it a potential target for the invading Union Army. Fortunately, except for a skirmish between Confederate forces and Union Calvary as part of the Stoneman Raid, the town was spared from destruction during the war. Fortifications from that time can still be found along parts of the North Oconee River in Athens.

With the constant threat of enemy attack, a local dentist and tinkerer named John Gilleland came up with what he thought would be a devastating weapon, a double-barreled cannon. Gilleland was a private in the Mitchell Thunderbolts, an elite home guard unit of business and professional men who were deemed ineligible for service in the Confederate Army due to age or disability.

The idea behind his cannon was that both barrels could be loaded with a cannonball, and the two balls would be connected to each other with a sturdy eight foot long chain. When fired, Gilleland predicted that the balls and chain would tear across a battlefield, taking down enemy soldiers like a scythe through wheat. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on which end of the cannon you were on), things didn’t work out quite as planned.



The flaw in Gilleland’s design quickly became apparent when the gun was tested. For the cannon to work, the powder in each barrel had to ignite at the same instant, which did not happen because there was no way to synchronize the twin barrels to fire at the exact same time. The result was that the cannonballs did not follow the same path, instead going off in different directions.

This is not to say it wasn’t still a devastating weapon. On the first firing, a nearby farmer’s corn crop was completely destroyed. The second time the gun was fired the chain snapped and one cannonball killed a cow, while the other knocked down a tree and then plowed through a cabin and took out the stone chimney. None of these were anywhere near where the cannon was aimed, and historians have never been able to determine whether the unfortunate cow sided with the Union or the Rebel cause.

Undaunted, Gilleland tried to sell his invention to the Confederate States Army and pitched it to military leaders, hoping to get someone to show an interest in it, but was unsuccessful. Eventually the idea was scrapped, if not the weapon itself, and today the formidable folly of a firearm sits on the lawn of the Athens city hall, pointed north to warn away any Yankee invaders who don’t know how useless it actually is.



With Thanksgiving and all of the Black Friday sales just around the corner, how about a good mystery? What would you do if you braved the crowds of shoppers on Black Friday and suddenly your whole world had changed? Read Black Friday and find out how a simple shopping trip changed one man’s life forever.

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 – For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. – Winston Churchill