Nick Russell

Saved Some Money

 Posted by at 12:57 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 212017
 

Anybody who knows me, or who has ever read this blog or the Gypsy Journal for very long knows that I am about the most un-handy man in the world. Seriously, if you ever see me with a tool in my hand, take it away quickly and scold me before I get into trouble. Because left to my own devices, I’m going to screw something up or hurt myself. Or both.



This is no joke. When I was 16 years old and had my first car, I decided to change the spark plugs and put new plug wires on it. I actually got the old plugs out and the new ones in with a minimum of damage. But when I started to put the new wires on, none of them fit right. I compared them to the old ones, and the different lengths were the same, but I couldn’t figure out which wires went where.

After a day of staring at things and not getting anywhere, I reluctantly asked my dad and my older brother for help. That’s when I learned that cars in those days had something called a firing order, and the correct wires had to be in the correct places in the distributor cap, and then routed to the right sparkplug. I didn’t know this, because I had just taken all of the old plug wires off at once in my eagerness to do the job. Once my dad and brother Jack got things put together right, my dad told me there are guys who fix things, and there are guys who pay people to fix things, and there was no question in his mind that I needed to figure out a way to earn a lot of money in my life, because I was one of the guys who was going to be paying to have a lot of work done.

Fast-forward about 25 years, and I had apparently forgotten my old man’s advice. I was living in the White Mountains of northern Arizona and I decided that I should probably change the thermostats in my three vehicles before winter hit. I’d seen people do that job many times. You loosen two bolts, you take the little gizmo that the upper radiator hose goes into off, you take out the old thermostat, clean off the old gasket material, put some Permabond on a new gasket, put it and the new thermostat in, and replace the two bolts. What could go wrong?

Well, in my case, you could lose one of the bolts for the pickup truck, you could strip the threads tightening up a bolt in the minivan, and you could break one of the bolt heads off in the car. That’s right, my friends, in not much more than an hour’s time I broke three perfectly good vehicles! What do you do in a situation like that? You call your mechanic, like your wife and your secretary both told you to do in the first place.

Even if I knew how to fix things without destroying them, I have reached the stage in my life where I’m too old (okay, too lazy) to even attempt to do so anymore. That’s why when we bought our place here in Florida, one of the the first things I did was get recommendations for a good local garage to take care of my automotive repairs.

About a week ago our 2005 Ford Explorer started idling and running really rough between about 1200 and 2000 RPMs. Once you got over 2000 it smoothed out and had plenty of power. I had just filled the gas tank the day before, so I thought maybe I got some bad gas. I stopped at the O’Reilly Auto Parts in Edgewater and bought some gas treatment, and also asked them to plug their meter into the port under the dashboard and look for any fault codes.

When he did, the counterman said it showed a pending fault code for some kind of idle adjustment, and recommended I see my mechanic if the gas treatment didn’t do any good. Back at home, I started to put the gas treatment in the tank and when I opened the door over the gas cap, I discovered that the cap was missing. I’m still not sure how that happened, because the cap was connected to the filler tube of the tank by a plastic ring that encircled the opening of the tube. If the plastic had broken, the ring still should have been in place, but it wasn’t. So I went back to O’Reilly’s and bought a replacement.

Over the next couple of days the rough idling and hesitation got worse so I decided I would have to call my mechanic this morning and make an appointment to get it checked out. Then, on Saturday, the Service Engine Soon light came on. We were driving by O’Reilly’s, so I stopped again and one of the men behind the counter plugged his meter into the data port again, and this time the message was that there was a misfire on cylinder eight.

“It’s probably the coil for that cylinder,” he told me. I didn’t even know that in modern cars, each cylinder has its own coil, instead of the single main coil that the cars I drove as a teenager did. He showed me where the coil was and said, “It’s an easy fix, I’ll loan you the tools you’ll need and you can do it right here in the parking lot.” Obviously this kid did not know me or my history, did he?”

He must have seen my deer in the headlights look, because he just laughed and shook his head, and told me to hang on a minute. He looked up the replacement coil, brought it out with some tools, and in just a few minutes he had replaced it. Then he put his meter back into the data port, cleared the fault code, and we were done. The Explorer was running great again. Wow! That looked easy. I bet I could do that next… never mind. As a line from one of the old Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry movies went, “a man has to know his limitations.”

The replacement coil was $46, and I gave the young man $20 for his trouble, which is probably not much more than half of what a mechanic would have charged just to troubleshoot the problem, before they ever started to fix anything. So I saved money, and hopefully the nice young man at O’Reillys was able to buy a pizza and a six pack for dinner.



Several blog readers have asked where they can find pictures and information on the 2002 Winnebago Ultimate Advantage motorhome we are selling. I have set up a page for it, with lots of info and photos. You can access it here at this Motorhome For Sale link.

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 Tim Purdon, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Crazy Days In Big Lake, book 3 in my Big Lake mystery series. We had 79 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – If you heard me shoot, I wasn’t aiming at you.

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Two Down, One To Go

 Posted by at 1:29 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 202017
 

My new book, Big Lake Tragedy, has been through two proofreaders now, with one more to go. So it won’t be long now, folks! I don’t know about you, but I’m getting excited.



Since we have been pretty much confined to the house while I was working on the new book, we decided to take a day off yesterday. So we drove to Deland, a nice little town about 25 miles west of us. Deland is the home of Stetson University and the downtown area has a lot of neat little shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Among them were half a dozen antique shops we wanted to visit.

We know we’re getting old because every time we go into an antique shop, one or the other of us, and often both of us, will say, “I remember those from when I was a kid!” Or even worse, “I had one of those when I first got married!” Yeah, we’re old farts.

We were not looking for anything specific, mostly just killing time and enjoying having a day together. But in one shop I spotted these two weaving shuttles. Miss Terry is always on the lookout for things like that, so I showed them to her. They were beautiful, and priced right, too, so they came home with us.

These things are big, about 16 inches long, and heavy. They don’t have the pirns in them right now, which are the spools (also called weaver’s bobbins) that hold the yarn, but here’s a picture of another one of Terry’s shuttles with a pirn in it to give you an idea.

To be honest, most of the antique shops there didn’t do much for us, but we did find one called River City Antique Mall that was really cool. There were three floors of goodies to admire, including two or three things that I thought would look good in my office. But I was a good boy and resisted.

It was hot in Deland, 93°, and on the streets and sidewalks it seemed even worse. So when we left there, we drove back to New Smyrna Beach to see what it was like on the beach. There’s usually a nice breeze coming off the water, which makes it a lot more tolerable. And of course, the girls in their skimpy bikinis help to take my mind off the heat.

I spent a little over an hour trying to see what I could find with my Garrett AT Pro metal detector. I’d like to say that I came home with a pocket full of diamond rings and gold doubloons but the truth is, I wasn’t even doing very good on junk. I found a few pull tabs and bottle caps, but that was about it.

Well, except for this beauty. It’s a token from the Grand Prix Race-O-Rama Arcade in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From a quick Google search, I was able to learn that the arcade opened in the mid-1970s and lasted about twenty years, going through three or four owners over the years. In its heyday it boasted a 1 1/2 mile go-kart track with 100 karts. The token shows some wear but, overall it’s in good shape. I was happy to find it.

While my new book won’t be out for a couple of days yet, the good news is that two of my author friends have free books on Amazon today. If you like reading great romance novels, download a copy of Mona Ingram’s A Forever Kind of Love. And if your taste runs more toward mysteries, George Wier’s The Lone Star Express, book 13 in his excellent Bill Travis mystery series, is free today only. Such a deal!



Several blog readers have asked where they can find pictures and information on the 2002 Winnebago Ultimate Advantage motorhome we are selling. I have set up a page for it, with lots of info and photos. You can access it here at this Motorhome For Sale link.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Crazy Days In Big Lake, book 3 in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Thought For The Day – You don’t drown falling into a river, you drown staying in it.

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

Getting Closer

 Posted by at 1:00 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 192017
 

Last night Terry finished the editing and first proofing of my new Big Lake book and I made the corrections. Then I sent it off to my other two proofreaders. It should be live sometime early next week.



The book came in at just a little under 77,000 words. In looking at my notes, I started working on it on May 20th. So when you factor in the two weeks it took me to put the last issue of the Gypsy Journal together, our week long RV trip, then our nearly three week trip to Arizona due to my daughter’s heart attack, and then to northern Alabama on the way home for my daughter-in-law’s medical issue, I had roughly six weeks to work on the book. I guess that’s not too bad.

My friend Jim Lewis asked me how I can put out a book in such a short time, since it takes him the better part of a week to write a postcard. Here’s the thing, that’s how long it takes me to get it from my brain to the computer. But the stories are growing in my head all the time. So when I sit down to write a book, the biggest part of the job is just getting the stuff out of there and onto the computer. As most of you know, my pal Greg White is about the smartest person I’ve ever known, and there is not much he can’t do. But so far, he hasn’t figured out a way to install a USB port in my skull so I can just download stuff directly. I wish you’d get on that, Greg.

And just to whet your appetite a little bit more for the new book, here’s the cover that the fabulously talented Elizabeth Mackey designed for it. This young lady is amazing. I send her an email with two or three lines about a book, sometimes I make a suggestion or two about what I think I want to see (and sometimes I just leave it up to her), and within a day or so I’ve got a completed book cover. Pretty awesome!

I don’t have a lot to do until the proofreaders get done doing their thing, so I may sneak away for an hour or two and take my Garrett AT Pro metal detector for a walk down the beach to see if I can reduce the amount of pull tabs and bottle caps littering the sand. If I do, and if I find anything interesting, I’ll tell you about it in the blog.



Several blog readers have asked where they can find pictures and information on the 2002 Winnebago Ultimate Advantage motorhome we are selling. I have set up a page for it, with lots of info and photos. You can access it here at this Motorhome For Sale link.

So far over 60 people have entered our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Crazy Days In Big Lake, book 3 in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Effort is important. But knowing where to make an effort can make all the difference!

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

Watermen’s Museum

 Posted by at 12:11 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 182017
 

Note: This story is from the January-February 2011 issue of the Gypsy Journal.

On a visit to Yorktown, Virginia we discovered the charming little Watermen’s Museum, located on the bank of the York River, almost in the shadow of the George P. Coleman Memorial Bridge.



We love small town museums, and this one was a real treat. The Watermen’s Museum tells the story of the Chesapeake Bay watermen, and of the role they played in the shaping of our nation.

Displays inside the museum include everything from small boats used to harvest crabs to fishing nets, antique outboard motors, fishing equipment, model reproductions of historic Chesapeake Bay watercraft, and artwork devoted to the local commercial fishing industry.

Like the Native Americans they found when they first arrived in the area, the Virginia colonists learned to depend on the waters of Chesapeake Bay to survive. Taking the title “watermen” from those who worked England’s Thames River, the people who work the Chesapeake are still called watermen today.

The term applies to anyone who makes their living on the water, including fishermen, freight haulers, ferry boat pilots, bargemen, ship pilots, merchant mariners, boat and ship builders, and dealers in seafood and related goods. The term is common in only two places on earth, the Thames River, and Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

There is no other body of water in North America quite like the Chesapeake Bay, and none has had such an impact on the people who live on its shores. Since the beginning of time, harvesting the Chesapeake has been a major occupation of its inhabitants, and a tradition passed down from generation to generation.

While some seafood species call the Bay home year round, the majority migrate into the Chesapeake to reproduce, following instincts imprinted by evolution. This is why estuaries like the Chesapeake Bay are called nurseries of the seas.

In the last 100 years there have been dramatic changes in every aspect of life in and around the Chesapeake Bay. Changes in the population, changes in technology, changes in the very environment itself.

But even with all of these changes, the watermen are still harvesting the Bay’s bounty with many of the same methods and equipment that served their fathers and grandfathers so well, dating back to the first settlers. Their story is the story of wooden boats and iron men facing the dangers of the sea every day to carry on traditions established long before they were born.

Harvesting the Atlantic blue crab is the largest seafood industry in the region. The seasonal migrations of the blue crab have challenged and rewarded fishermen for years. Crabbing methods range from wire traps to edging, depending on the season and the crab population. The Watermen’s Museum has a display of several different crab pots and nets, as well as this crabbing skiff, similar to ones still used today. Powered by poling, these flat bottom boats are incredibly stable and are popular with both commercial and recreational crab fishermen.

Oysters have long been a popular seafood crop for the Bay’s commercial fishermen, and though their numbers declined sharply a few decades ago, careful management, and artificial reefs have helped them make a comeback.

Besides the nautical artifacts and equipment on display, the museum also has an interesting collection of items brought up by dredges in the fishing process. The display includes antique bottles, China plates, keys, a shaving razor, tobacco pipes, an ax, an early hoe blade, a brass drinking cup, and Indian artifacts.

The museum also has a small gift shop, where visitors can shop for souvenirs and books on the history and traditions of the Chesapeake Bay watermen.

The Watermen’s Museum operates a popular wooden boat building program in which people who have a passion for classic watercraft can gain hands-on experience.

The museum is located at 309 Water Street, on the Yorktown waterfront, next to the newly developed River Walk shopping and dining area. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am – 5 pm, and Sundays from 1 pm – 5 pm April 1 through Thanksgiving. Winter hours are Saturday 10 am – 5pm and Sunday 1pm – 5pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and students, and kids under age 6 are free..

For more information on the Watermen’s Museum, call (757)887-2641 or visit their website at www.watermens.org



Several blog readers have asked where they can find pictures and information on our 2002 Winnebago Ultimate Advantage motorhome, which we are selling. I have set up a page for it, with lots of info and photos. You can access it here at this Motorhome For Sale link.

On another note, if you like a good mystery story, be sure to check out my pal Donna’s McNicol’s new release Paradise Dead. It’s a must have for readers of the popular Lei Crime series.

So far over 50 people have entered our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Crazy Days In Big Lake, book 3 in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Patience is the companion of wisdom. – St. Augustine

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

12, 17, And 27

 Posted by at 1:11 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 172017
 

It’s been a writing marathon for the last few days for me. I got 8,000 words done Tuesday, and another 8,000 yesterday, and finished my newest book, Big Lake Tragedy.



Today I will give it a final read-through and make any corrections that I see, then I will print it out so Miss Terry can proof it. Once she’s done and I make the corrections she deems necessary, it will go to my second proofreader, and after that I’ll be sending it to an attorney friend of mine and have her go over it because the story has some references to legal issues, and I want to make sure I get things right. Once that’s all done, I’ll upload the e-book version to Amazon. It should be live by this time next week. I’ll keep you posted. It’s always a good feeling to finish another book, and even better when it goes live.

This is my 12th Big Lake mystery novel, my 17th work of fiction, and my 27th book altogether. And as soon as I get this one live and then knock out the next issue of the Gypsy Journal, I’ll begin working on the third book in my John Lee Quarrels series.

I usually wait a few weeks before I do the printed edition of a book, just in case the gremlins managed to slip a typo or two into the e-book, which can happen no matter how many proofreaders put their eyes on it. I do it that way because while it’s a simple matter to go back and make changes to an e-book, it’s not so easy once it’s actually in print.

Aside from that, what else have we been doing? Terry has been catching up on her paperwork and setting up a project on her new-to-her Glimakra floor loom. Just about the time I was finishing the book yesterday evening, she took a break from the loom to make some delicious homemade clam chowder for dinner. I don’t know how she does it, but every time I think she’s made the most delicious meal possible, she comes right back and tops that one with something even better.

We did take a break the other evening to go down to our dock and see how things were going on the water. There were a few manatees doing their thing, and a dolphin or two, and plenty of smaller fish jumping as something bigger was chasing them beneath the surface. I guess that’s the cycle of life.

And of course, there are always plenty of birds to see. Pelicans, gulls, some other shorebirds whose names I don’t know, and we also saw this formation of sandhill cranes flying overhead. We couldn’t help saying once again that we live in a remarkable place.

Several blog readers have asked where they can find pictures and information on our 2002 Winnebago Ultimate Advantage motorhome, which we are selling. I have set up a page for it, with lots of info and photos. You can access it here at this Motorhome For Sale link.

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, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Crazy Days In Big Lake, book 3 in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Forgiving is not forgetting, it’s letting go of the hurt.

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

A Dozen More RV Tips

 Posted by at 12:38 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 162017
 

You asked for them and you’ve got them! Here are twelve more RV tips learned in nearly two decades of fulltime RV travel or suggested by our readers.



In my last blog about RV tips, I mentioned how important it was to know the actual height of your rig. Not just what the specs in the brochure say, but the actual height that you yourself got when you got up on the roof and measured it. I said to write that number down and post it on your dashboard so you could see it in a hurry when you approach a low overpass. Several blog readers suggested that if going into Canada you need to also post the rigs height in metrics and instead of trying to figure it out in your head at the last moment.

A multi-pocketed mesh shoe holder makes an excellent shower organizer for soap, shampoo, and hair conditioner. Attach it to your shower’s wall with suction cups and hooks through the grommets on the top, or run shower curtain hooks through the grommets and onto the shower curtain rod, if you have one.

Never, ever trust an RV’s electric steps. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve known who have been bruised or even worse when they opened the door and stepped out into thin air because the steps did not extend properly. Always look before you step!

Some campgrounds may have very high water pressure that can damage your RV’s plumbing system. Always use a brass water pressure regulator every time you hook up. Buy two of them, because sooner or later you are going to lose one.

Carry a squirt bottle filled with a 50/50 mixture of water and bleach in your water bay, and before you hook up to any campground connection water, first turn the faucet on for a few seconds to flush it, then liberally spray the outside and the inside of the faucet with the bleach. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve seen someone unhook their sewer hose from their RV and stick it under the fresh water faucet to rinse it out.

In my seminar How To Be A Smart RV Shopper I always tell people to go into the bathroom, close the door, and sit on the toilet. Then simulate taking care of the paperwork afterward. Is there enough room to do it? If you weigh more than 175 pounds, or are taller than average height, it can be difficult in some units. Likewise, take off your shoes and stand in the shower and simulate bathing. Is there enough room to do it comfortably? Lie down on the bed. Both of you. Now stay there for five minutes in your normal sleeping positions. How comfortable is it? Pull the slides in and try to squeeze past each other in the hallway. Is there room? What is a slight inconvenience when you are shopping for an RV can become a major irritation over time.

In hot weather you can add extra insulation to your RV’s windows with clear bubble wrap. Cut it to size, lightly dampen the inside of the window with a spray bottle of water, and press into place. Light still comes in, but a lot of heat stays outside.

Purchase some spring rods in different lengths and keep them handy. When the little plastic locking devices on kitchen drawers and pantry doors fail, and they will eventually, the rods can keep things in place while on the road until you can buy and install replacements.

If you are the ground guide helping the driver back into an RV site, always remember that if you can’t see their face in the rearview mirrors, he or she can’t see you either.



Velcro tape and ball bungee cords are your best friends. Surround yourself with them, because you’ll need them many times.

You can remove dead bugs quickly and easily from the front of your RV with a damp fabric softener sheet. They also come in handy to stick in dresser drawers and overhead cabinets to combat musty smells when the RV is in storage.

When you are boondocking, your gray water tank usually fills quicker than your black tank. Use a small plastic dishpan in your sink when doing dishes and dump that water into the toilet when you’re done instead of letting it go down the drain into the gray tank. Some people even use dishwater to flush the toilet, prolonging the periods between when they have to refill their freshwater tank.

Okay, that’s a dozen from me, now it’s your turn to share. Email me some of your favorite RV tips at editor@gypsyjournal.net and I may use them in a future blog.

Several blog readers have asked where they can find pictures and information on our 2002 Winnebago Ultimate Advantage motorhome, which we are selling. I have set up a page for it, with lots of info and photos. You can access it here at this Motorhome For Sale link.

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 – Silence is golden. Unless you have children. Then it is plain suspicious.

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

Q&A Time

 Posted by at 11:29 pm  Nick's Blog
Aug 142017
 

I get a lot of questions from Gypsy Journal subscribers and blog readers, and while I try to answer all of them individually, occasionally I like to share some with the folks here.



Q. I am wondering if you have ever written any articles about starting your own blog – and/or website hosting services? If not, if you could point us to any articles/links to sites to get started we would appreciate it.

A. I have not written much about starting a blog, but Jim and Chris Guld from Geeks on Tour have covered blogging in detail. Here is a link to some of their information on blogging. https://geeksontour.com/?s=blog&searchsubmit=

Q. You recommended Doctor Drain from Walmart for the black tank. But how much do you put in at any one time? My tank is 65 gallons.

A. About 4 tablespoons should do the job. In real hot weather a bit more may be needed to help control odors.

Q. We keep hearing about jobs as gate guards. Are the jobs hard to get? Do you have to have a police or security background? Do gate guards have to be armed?

A. No, a law enforcement background is not required, and no, gate guards are not armed. Our friends Greg and Jan White have been gate guarding for several seasons now and have a lot of excellent info on it at their blog at http://ourrvadventures.com/gate-guard-info/  

Q. We are looking for a place to buy on a lake (or some water feature) that we can become part of a community and park our motorhome or set a park model on. Prefer somewhere in North or South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, or Georgia. Do you have any suggestions as to how to locate online these kind of places?

A. Here are a couple of resources you might check out. http://www.rvparkstore.com/rv-lots-for-sale and http://www.rvproperty.com/rv-lots/rv-lots-for-sale/ Good luck with your search.

Q. We are new RVers and were going to stay at a Flying J truck stop overnight. But a relative warned us no to because lot lizards (prostitutes) would come knocking on our door and if we opened the door they would rob us. Is this a real concern? Does it really happen?

A. I don’t know if it really happens or not. My wife has never allowed me to open the door and talk to any lot lizards in truck stops. Seriously, we have stayed at many, many truck stops all over the country and never been bothered. Then again, we stay inside and would never open our door to anybody who came knocking.

Q. How do you store things like Social Security cards and marriage certificates and other such personal paperwork in an RV? We bolted a small strong box in the underbelly space and recently had the box ripped out during a break-in. We are concerned about identity problems as a result.

A. Unfortunately, you can never be 100% secure. If you can figure out a way to hide it, a thief can figure out a way to steal it. The best you can hope for is to make it difficult enough that the lazy ones and the snatch and grab artists will be deterred. I know someone who actually bolted a lockbox to one of his overhead cabinets in a very conspicuous place, and filled it with some junk jewelry. His hope was that if a thief saw that they would pry it loose and take it and run, thinking they had scored, and not bother looking for the small safe he had hidden elsewhere in the RV with his real valuables.



Several blog readers have asked where they can find pictures and information on our 2002 Winnebago Ultimate Advantage motorhome, which we are selling. I have set up a page for it, with lots of info and photos. You can access it here at this Motorhome For Sale link.

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 – It is better to be hated for what you are, than loved for what you are not. – Johnny VanZant

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

A Busy Weekend

 Posted by at 12:30 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 142017
 

Miss Terry and I had a busy weekend and we got a lot accomplished. In yesterday’s blog I told you about our Saturday trip down to Winter Springs to visit Kellyco, the metal detecting store, and shared some pictures of the many recovered treasures they have on display.



But before we went there, we pulled the motorhome out of the storage lot and took it for about a 25 mile drive, just to keep everything lubricated. It ran great and we were tempted to just keep on going for a while. Maybe stop in Savannah, or someplace on the Alabama Gulf Coast. But we had too much else going on that we needed to get done.

Somebody was supposed to be coming by to look at the Winnebago on Sunday, but emailed and said he had to cancel. I appreciated him having the courtesy to do that. We have been stood up two or three times now by people who make an appointment and then just never show up or call or anything.

Yesterday was a stay-at-home day, and I spent most of it working on my new Big Lake mystery novel. By the end of the day I had over 6,000 words done and I’m so close to the end that it was hard to put it aside. Another couple days of hard writing days and it will be finished.

While I was doing that, Terry was putting over 1,000 string heddles on her new Glimakra loom. Yes, over 1,000! That’s a lot of tedious work, and I don’t know how she has the patience for it. Not to mention the fact that it all looks so darned confusing to me. But she can look at a chart and know how to do it like it’s a piece of cake.

Besides that, last night for dinner she made an amazing meal of pork fried rice. Every time I think she’s topped out in the culinary department and it just can’t get any better, she surprises me with some new creation that blows my taste buds away.

After dinner we watched TV for an hour or so, then I read through what I had written earlier in the day, making a few changes. When that was done I answered several emails, including one from the couple I told you about in a recent blog post called Keeping It Real who are being targeted by some scam artist trying to rip them off on a motorhome purchase. They had said that they knew right away he was a conman, even though the fellow seemed so warm and friendly every time he called. But that changed when they took my advice the last time he called. The husband told him that they wanted to proceed with the deal, but that his father-in-law was an FBI agent and he had a few questions he wanted answered first before he would advance them the money to make the purchase. He started to give the fellow a phone number to call and talk to his wife’s father, but he hung up and never called back. Gee, go figure.



Several blog readers have asked where they can find pictures and information on our 2002 Winnebago Ultimate Advantage motorhome, which we are selling. I have set up a page for it, with lots of info and photos. You can access it here at this Motorhome For Sale link.

Congratulations Bill Claypool, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Emerald Tears by Stacy Bender. We had 45 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

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

Thought For The Day – Am I the only one who sometimes wakes up in the morning, looks in the full-length mirror and says “You have got to be kidding me!”?

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Indy, Mel, And Me

 Posted by at 12:56 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 132017
 

As I wrote a while back, years ago I had an old cheap metal detector that was really good at finding pulltabs and bottle caps, but that was about it. Since we’ve moved here I keep seeing people on the beach with metal detectors and reading some local online forums about the rings and jewelry they are finding, and decided I wanted to get back into the hobby. So in June I got a Garrett AT Pro, which is a very sophisticated metal detector and one that a lot of people recommend.



While I got mine online from Amazon, a very popular metal detector company called Kellyco is located less than an hour from us in Winter Springs. They sell all of the major brands online and in their retail store. Somebody told me they have an impressive small museum of treasures large and small that was worth making the drive down to check out. So that’s what we did yesterday!

And Jack, the fellow who told me about the museum, was right! Wow! Wow, and wow once again! From the old cannons on display outside the building to the showcases full of everything from old coins to shipwreck treasures, from the moment you get out of your car you know this place is dedicated to people who are serious about treasure hunting. Indiana Jones would feel right at home here.

By the way, it’s called treasure hunting whether you’re finding modern clad coins in a city park or Spanish pieces of eight at an ancient fort. Like they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

The first thing we saw when we walked through the door was a showcase with these two old barnacle encrusted flintlock pistols that looked like Blackbeard or some other pirate may have used them.

Another showcase had silver bars recovered from the many ships that wrecked off the Florida coast hundreds of years ago.

This is a silver bar from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, a Spanish treasure ship that went down back in 1622. World-famous diver and treasure hunter Mel Fisher spent much of his life looking for the shipwreck before finally discovering it. Unfortunately, his newfound wealth came with a heavy price; his son and daughter-in-law were killed when one of their boats capsized during the search. According to the sign next to the bar’s certificate of authenticity, this one bar is worth nearly $25,000.

One showcase had an impressive display of Civil War belt buckles and other artifacts from that time period that have been recovered by treasure hunters.

Of course, coins are the most common thing found, and most of them are modern stuff that isn’t worth a lot of money. Well, I guess it would add up if you had this many! One display had over 200,000 pennies found by one man from here in Volusia County.

Besides all the treasure on display, there were also a lot of metal detectors and accessories for sale. Whether you’re looking for a cheap entry-level machine to take to the park or a top-of-the-line unit that can be used while you are diving on an ancient shipwreck, Kellyco has it.

So what have I found with my metal detector so far? Well, I haven’t caught up to Indiana Jones or Mel Fisher yet, but I’m trying! I wonder if Kellyco would be interested in this rusty old pair of needle nose pliers I dug out of the yard?

As for the 40 cents in coins I also found, forget about it! I’m saving up for a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts. When a guy works this hard treasure hunting, he deserves a treat, don’t you think?



Several blog readers have asked where they can find pictures and information on our 2002 Winnebago Ultimate Advantage motorhome, which we are selling. I have set up a page for it, with lots of info and photos. You can access it here at this Motorhome For Sale link.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Emerald Tears by Stacy Bender. It’s the story of nightclub owner Gabriel Tanner, aka Emerald. Everything comes too easy for him, as if his life is a dream. But his recurring nightmare of a futuristic world where he is murdered seems more real. Then a beautiful cybernetic assassin who knows the truth comes into his life. Is she his savior or here to finish the job? 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.

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 – Maybe I can only be young once, but I can be immature forever.

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Make It Your Own

 Posted by at 12:46 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 122017
 

I heard from someone yesterday who had some questions about the Winnebago motorhome we have for sale. She said she had looked at all of the photos we have posted of it, including the upgrades we have done, and her concern was that those upgrades may have lowered the value of the motorhome. She said she and her husband have been fulltiming in a Class C for a year now and have been paranoid about doing anything that would hurt its resale value come trade in time.



I replied, telling her that I felt things like the flat screen TVs, custom computer workstations and dining room table, the automatic rooftop satellite dish, wooden window blinds, etc. probably increased the value. Then I told her that none of that really matters anyway, because the moment you drive an RV off the dealer’s lot you have already lost a ton of resale value.

Folks, RVs are not an investment, they are a depreciating asset. Every morning when you wake up, every mile you drive, everything you do lowers the book value. Nobody I know ever owned an RV and made money on the deal when it came time to sell or trade it in. It doesn’t work that way.

So don’t worry about things like hanging photos on the walls, or putting one of those maps of the states you have visited on the door, or taking out the couch and adding a couple of recliners if that’s what suits you better. These are just some of the things I’ve heard RV owners agonize about over the years because they just know that when it comes time to sell or trade in their rig, it’s going to cost them money. We actually met somebody once who had only traveled a few hundred miles from home since they started fulltiming, because they did not want to put miles on their new rig, knowing that it would lower its resale value.

I was reminded of when Terry and I built our MCI bus conversion. Quite a few bus nuts told us we needed to raise the roof, which back then would have cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000. We are both short enough that we didn’t need to raise the roof, but the argument we kept getting was that a bus conversion with a raised roof would be worth more at resale time. No it won’t. Besides, we built it to live in it, not to get the maximum dollar when we were ready to get out of it. We made it our own, to suit us and our lifestyle. We did the same thing with the Winnebago.

And that’s what you should do with your RV, too! Make it your own, make it comfortable for the way you want to live, and don’t worry yourself sick about depreciation. That ship has already sailed.



Several blog readers have asked where they can find pictures and information on our 2002 Winnebago Ultimate Advantage motorhome, which we are selling. I have set up a page for it, with lots of info and photos. You can access it here at this Motorhome For Sale link.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Emerald Tears by Stacy Bender. It’s the story of nightclub owner Gabriel Tanner, aka Emerald. Everything comes too easy for him, as if his life is a dream. But his recurring nightmare of a futuristic world where he is murdered seems more real. Then a beautiful cybernetic assassin who knows the truth comes into his life. Is she his savior or here to finish the job? 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.

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

Thought For The Day – If you listen to the person who says you can’t, he will be right.

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal