Nick Russell

I See The Light!

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 212017
 

After writing about the couple who were offered a workcamping position in Branson, Missouri that was far from equitable, I received some questions from blog readers about workamping. One was how hard is it to find workcamping jobs, and where do you look for them?



One of the best resources around is Workamper News. In addition to job listings from coast to coast, they also have articles about workampers and resources available to help you create a resume that will get you just the right job. Another very good source of jobs for RVers is Workers on Wheels. And here is an interesting article on Mobile Jobs from the Escapees RV Club. An excellent guide to every aspect of workamping is John and Kathy Huggins’ book So, You Want to be a Workamper? which is available on Amazon.

Another question was what happens if you get to a workcamping position and find out it wasn’t all that was promised? This has come up many times in my seminars on working on the road at RV rallies. A lot depends on how far off the actual job description is from what was advertised, and how much you are willing to compromise. I always tell people that if you made a commitment and find that you just don’t care for the job, you owe it to the employer to stick it out. It’s not like you have to be there forever, and who knows, you might even learn a thing or two that will come in handy later on.



On the other hand, if you were promised a full hookup RV site in exchange for X number of hours per week doing specified duties and arrive to discover that the site is not full hookup or is substandard, or are informed that you will need to work longer hours or do things that are not part of the job description you agreed upon and you find the working conditions intolerable, you have wheels under your house. Leave and go someplace else!

At the same time, I believe flexibility is important. We knew one workamping couple who were told they would be on duty Tuesday through Thursday in the daytime, and their duties would be limited to checking in new arrivals, getting them parked, and working in the campground store. As it turned out, another workamping couple at the park had a death in the family and had to leave suddenly. The manager asked them to work two extra days per week for two weeks until replacements arrived. That wasn’t part of the deal, but they went along with it, given the situation. They said that when the new workampers got there, the manager gave them a nice bonus check and presented them with a stainless steel portable barbecue grill for helping out. So everybody came out ahead. Like they say, it’s nice to be nice, and it’s nice to be appreciated.

Assuming the light I see at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train, I should be able to wrap up the March – April issue of the Gypsy Journal today, print it out for Terry to proof in the morning, make the necessary corrections, and hopefully have it sent out to our subscribers within a couple of days.

I think we’ve got a great mix of stories in this issue that I have been hanging onto from our past travels, just waiting for the opportunity to share them with our readers. They include features on Cave-In-Rock State Park in Illinois, the Railroad Museum of Oklahoma, Leila’s Hair Museum in Missouri, the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota, New York’s Six Nations Indian Museum, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Montana, the Cleveland Roller Mill Museum in New Mexico, and Florida’s Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. And I’ve still got a couple more to go, as space permits.

Thought For The Day – Make your smile change the world, don’t let the world change your smile.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

A Day At Buffalo Gap

 Posted by at 12:21 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 202017
 

Located a short drive south of Abilene, Texas, Buffalo Gap Historic Village allows visitors to step back in time to the early days of the Lone Star State. Over a dozen historic buildings and an amazing collection of artifacts and displays tell the story of life in Texas between 1875 and 1925.



The area takes its name from the great herds of buffalo who favored this gap in the Callahan Divide. It was a favored camping place for native peoples who came to hunt the buffalo and later for the hide hunters who slaughtered vast numbers of the animals.

Settlers started coming into the region in the 1870s, drawn to its abundant water and good grazing, pushing the Indians out. A town called Buffalo Gap was founded, the first capital of Taylor County. The county courthouse, a two-story limestone structure combining a courtroom and a jail, was completed in 1879.

In the following years the area changed rapidly. The railroads came, followed by automobiles, and the buffalo and Indians disappeared. In 1883, the county seat was moved to the new city of Abilene, and Buffalo Gap became a ghost town.



To preserve the site, local lawyer and historian Ernest Wilson purchased the courthouse building and established a small historical museum of Indian and western artifacts in the 1950s. Wilson eventually brought in two other Taylor County structures, the Hill House and the Knight/Sayles Cabin. More buildings have been added over the years, and today Buffalo Gap Historic Site is operated as a non-profit educational facility.

Besides traditional static displays, Buffalo Gap offers special events and lectures designed to bring the programming to a more personal, interactive level for visitors. Self-guided tours, assisted by sound wands that tell the story of what you are seeing, make for a unique and interesting experience as you wander through the old buildings.

Items on display include everything from collections of Indian arrowheads and frontier weapons in the Courthouse museum, to primitive medical instruments, farming equipment and implements, and an interesting collection of early hand-powered washing machines.

Among the historic buildings at Buffalo Gap are houses and cabins, a barbershop, railroad freight office, blacksmith shop, barn, a two-room school house, dentist office, newspaper print shop, and an early day Texaco gas station.

The old courthouse is quite unique in that old cannonballs were used to help hold the limestone blocks in place, and more than one visitor has claimed to see a ghost lounging in the jail cell on the second floor! We didn’t see any such specter during our visit, but if a soul wanted a place to hang around in the afterlife, Buffalo Gap would certainly fit the bill!

But don’t be in any hurry yourself when you visit Buffalo Gap! There is so much to see here that you can’t do it justice with a quick walk through. We spent several hours exploring the old buildings in the village, and could have lingered even longer if time would have allowed. This is definitely on my list of places to return to!

The small general store is a gift shop, with souvenirs of your visit to Buffalo Gap and an impressive selection of local interest books.

Buffalo Gap is located thirteen miles southwest of Abilene, accessible by either State Route 89 or U.S. Highway 83. Parking is along the street, and the nice lady in the general store/gift shop told us that there is very little traffic, so even large RVs can find a place to park.

Buffalo Gap is open Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The village is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Because of the nature of the old buildings on display, not all of them are handicapped accessible.

Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, and children under 5 are admitted free. Admission prices include use of a sound wand to assist you in your tour. For more information, call (325) 572-3365.

Congratulations Tony Cirocco, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Blood Honor, the debut novel in my friend Russell Blake’s The Day After Never post-apocalyptic trilogy. We had 55 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – It’s important to realize that you can miss something, but not want it back.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

A Quick Road Trip

 Posted by at 12:11 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 192017
 

I have been spending a lot of time working on the new issue of the Gypsy Journal lately and was looking for an excuse to get away for a while so on Friday when Terry told me she found a good deal on a yarn mill that a lady had for sale down in Boynton Beach, I told her we should go get it on Saturday (yesterday).



I’m not exactly sure what a yarn mill does, but as Terry explained it to me, it is used to wind yarn from a spool into a warp to be put on the loom. Okay, if you say so.

Boynton Beach is 185 miles south of us on Interstate 95. We had hoped to get an early start, but for whatever reason, neither one of us slept well on Friday night, which means we delayed our departure by two or three hours. That was no problem. The seller, whose name was Penny, said we could come by anytime around 3:30 or 4 o’clock. After a pit stop along the way, we got to her house just a few minutes after four.



Terry knew she had found a new friend the minute we walked in the door. Penny had two looms in her living room, and one wall was filled with spools of yarn. She was a very nice lady and we enjoyed meeting her. Penny and Terry compared notes on weaving techniques and such for a little bit, then it was time to hit the road.

Driving back, we got to Titusville about 7 PM and decided to stop at El Leoncito for dinner. Terry really likes their Mexican food, and I don’t think their Cuban sandwiches can be beat. Unfortunately, as it turns out, they were out of the pork they use for the Cubans. The waiter suggested a steak sandwich instead, which was okay, but kind of a letdown when one has their heart set on a Cuban. Oh well, better luck next time.

After we finished eating we stopped by the Titusville pier to check out the shrimping action. It wasn’t as busy as we have seen in the past, when it was almost wall-to-wall dippers, but the folks who were there were getting some very nice shrimp. We hung around for a while talking to a couple of them and picking up some tips. One fellow we were talking to has been dipping shrimp there for over 20 years, and he had it down to a science.

We got home about 10 PM and decided to go down to our little pier to see if we could spot any shrimp, but the water was very still and there was nothing happening. We did spend a few minutes watching a couple of fellows throwing a cast net, catching bait for today’s fishing trip.

If you haven’t seen one before, a cast net is a large net with weights on the bottom, attached to a long line. As the name implies, you cast it into the water, and if you do it right the net opens up into a nice circle and sinks to the bottom. Then, when you pull the line in to retrieve it like a drawstring on a purse, whatever is in the net is trapped. That could be anything from small baitfish like minnows and mullet, to shrimp, crabs, and even trout and catfish.

I have seen people doing this before and I keep thinking I want to try it, but as clumsy as I am, with my luck I would probably get tangled up in the net and wind up drowning myself. But what the heck, it’s worth a try, right?

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Blood Honor, the debut novel in my friend Russell Blake’s The Day After Never post-apocalyptic trilogy. 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 – The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

Such A Deal!

 Posted by at 12:35 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 182017
 

I got an email from a blog reader yesterday who said he and his wife are brand-new fulltimers and looking for their first workamping opportunity. He wanted to run a job offer by me to see what I thought of it, because while the campground manager was telling him what a great deal it was, it didn’t sound so good to him. After looking over the offer that he forwarded to me, it didn’t look so good to me, either.



The campground is a large operation in a popular resort area in the Midwest, and they require the couple to each work 40 hours per week in exchange for a full hookup 30 amp site, or they can upgrade to a 50 amp site and pay the campground $10 a day. The 30 amp sites normally rent for $650 per month, and the 50 amp sites go for $750 per month. It’s easy to do the math here and figure out that this is not such a hot deal after all. If he and his wife are both working 40 hours per week, that’s 80 hours total for the week or 320 hours for the month, based upon a four week (28 day) month. That’s insane! They would be paid $2.03 for each hour worked by the two of them, or about $1.01 per hour individually in return for that 30 amp site. If they choose the 50 amp site, it’s even less of a deal. They would be paying money out-of-pocket to work those kind of hours! They would be better off renting a campsite on a monthly basis and going to town and getting jobs at minimum wage.

But wait, there’s more! They are also allowed the use of a rental cabin at the resort for one week during their stay, which is a $300 value. But they can’t let their kids or relatives come and stay in that cabin, it’s for them only. So they can move out of their motorhome for a week and stay in a cabin in the same resort. Doesn’t that sound like fun? But wait, there’s still more! They also get a 50% discount on paddleboat rentals and a 10% discount on anything they purchase in the campground store. And just because that offer doesn’t sound good enough already, they would be required to work staggered shifts and days off, so they wouldn’t have any days off together, or even most evenings together. Somebody give me a pen, I want to sign up for that deal right now!



The sad thing is, there is probably some fool that will go for that deal. But it’s not me, and if these folks follow my advice, it won’t be them, either.

It kind of reminds me of some of the offers we get here the Gypsy Journal. Many times campgrounds have contacted us and asked us to come and stay for a few days and write nice things about them. We always respond that if it works for our schedule and travel itinerary, we might do that. However, we also add that we will do an honest review, and if the place is great, we will tell our readers about it. And if it’s not so great, we will tell them that, too. That turns a good number of them off right there. I guess they’re not comfortable enough with their amenities to want to have us share our opinion with the world. What’s even more interesting is that in better than half the cases where we receive these offers, they expect us to come and pay full price for a campsite. Let’s see, you want me to come to your campground that I had no intention of visiting, you want me to write good things about it, and you want me to pay for the privilege? I don’t think so.

And it’s not just campgrounds. A lot of companies contact us wanting us to review their products. And we have done a lot of reviews. But the same rules apply – if we think it’s a good product we say so, if we don’t think it’s good, we say that. And just like the campgrounds, as soon as they hear that, communication stops. There have been a lot of companies that have sent us really good products that we like, and we have told our readers about them. But just like some of the campgrounds, we have also had manufacturers ask us to review a product, we have agreed to do so under the conditions stated above, and then they want our credit card number so we can pay for it. No, thank you. I’m not going to pay you to give you publicity.

Now, to clarify, there are many times when we buy something that we want, and after using it we think it’s good and will be useful to our readers, and I mention it here in the blog and in the Gypsy Journal. But that’s because it’s something that we chose to purchase for our own use. We don’t solicit companies asking for freebies so we can review them, but when they come to us, it has to be under our terms. And if they don’t like that, I know of a campground in the Midwest that is looking for workampers. They can go there and tell their story.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Blood Honor, the debut novel in my friend Russell Blake’s The Day After Never post-apocalyptic trilogy. 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 – We spend the first twelve months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve years telling them to sit down and shut up. – Phyllis Diller

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

Feb 172017
 

Note: This story is from the July-August, 2013 issue of the Gypsy Journal.

Besides Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower II, Pilgrim Hall Museum, and plenty of other attractions, Plymouth, Massachusetts is also home to the largest free standing granite monument in the world. But you have to make an effort to find it.



The National Monument To The Forefathers is dedicated to the Pilgrims who first settled New England. Completed in 1889, the beautiful 81 foot tall monument features a 36 foot tall central figure representing Faith, with her right hand pointing toward heaven and her left hand clutching the Bible.

Four seated statues around the base represent Law, Morality, Liberty, and Education. Each was carved from a solid block of granite. Smaller bas-relief figures carved into the base represent other virtues such as Youth, Justice, and Peace.

Panels on the side of the monument are engraved with the names of those who came to America on the Mayflower.

Other panels have bas-relief depictions of important events in the Pilgrims’ experience.

The monument was a long time coming. First conceived about 1820 by the newly founded Pilgrim Society, the monument was designed by Boston sculptor and architect Hammatt Billings. The cornerstone was laid on August 2, 1859 by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, and after Billings’ death in 1874, his brother Joseph took over the project.



It’s hard to visualize the true size and beauty of the monument until you actually stand below it. The attention to detail in all of the sculptures is amazing.

The monument is located on a hill a mile from Plymouth Harbor, and back when it was built it was an impressive landmark that could be seen from almost anywhere in Plymouth and from out to sea. In fact, an early streetcar line ran along the base of the hill and tourists from around the country snapped pictures as they passed by.

However, over time huge trees have grown up around the area and these days you have to be almost at the foot of the hill to see the monument. And we were surprised to discover that the first three local residents either did not know the monument existed at all, or if they did, they could not tell us where it was!

Finally, after a couple of false starts, we found the monument in a mostly residential area on Allerton Street near Cushman Street. Though tour buses navigate the narrow and busy streets of Plymouth, it’s not something I would consider in our motorhome. We left our Winnebago at a campground and drove our Ford Explorer to explore Plymouth.

It may take a little work to find the National Monument To The Forefathers, but I’m glad we made the effort. It’s definitely one of the most impressive monuments we’ve found anywhere in the country. Visit it yourself and I think you’ll agree!

It’s time to kick off a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Blood Honor, the debut novel in my friend Russell Blake’s The Day After Never post-apocalyptic trilogy. 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 should never have to think twice about who your true friends are. If you do, they aren’t true.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

It Takes Work

 Posted by at 12:25 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 162017
 

After I posted my Valentine’s Day blog about my parents, longtime reader Bettie Kincaid said it reminded her of another blog I did on our anniversary last year, titled Our Love Story, and said maybe romance ran in the Russell family. She added that she and her husband fulltimed for two years but decided to get off the road after that because it was too stressful for them living in the small space of their motorhome, and they decided that staying married was more important than staying fulltime RVers.



In Betty’s words (which I am sharing here with her permission), “in 17 years of marriage we never had a real knock down, drag out fight about anything until we started fulltiming, but in the two years we were on the road it seemed like we were always at each others’ throats. I applaud those of you can do it, but it didn’t work for us.”

This is something I cover in one of the seminars I do on fulltiming at RV rallies. I call it being two-gether, and no, that’s not a typo. As I say, it’s one thing to love each other, but if you’re going to live in an RV fulltime, you really have to like each other, too! And even then, it takes work.

When you live in a 1200+ square foot home and you have a little spat, hubby can wander out to the garage or his man cave to get away for a while, or go mow the grass, or whatever else he needs to do to let off steam. Or the wife can go next door to the neighbor’s house and have a cup of coffee and talk about what a stubborn SOB he can be. and get it out of her system. But when home is a 320 square foot RV, there’s no place to go to escape for a while. No matter where you turn, he (or she) is right there!



Even couples who get along very well under normal circumstances can find the adjustment to living the fulltime RV lifestyle challenging. In fact, after giving my seminar on fulltiming at Life on Wheels years ago, a couple came up to us during the lunch break and told us they wanted to thank Terry and me for talking them out of fulltiming. I said that certainly wasn’t our intention, but they said no, it was a good thing. “We love each other to death, and we usually get along very well,” said the wife. “And we love traveling. But after a couple of days in a motel we find ourselves bickering and snapping at each other. He says I take too long in the bathroom, I say he shouldn’t leave his shoes in the middle of the floor so I can trip over them, just little things like that. But those little things add up to big irritations. We realize that if we can’t get along for a week in a motel, living in an RV just won’t work for us. Your seminar probably saved our marriage.”

While I’m glad we helped prevent them from making a mistake, I wish they could find a way to work around their issues, because fulltiming with someone you love can be a great lifestyle. But I do understand that if there problems that a couple can’t work through, it can just as easily be pure hell.

So what is the secret to maintaining a relationship while being fulltime RVers? I can sum it up in two words, and it’s not a secret, because those two words are the ones that make any relationship work – communication and compromise. It can’t be one person’s way all the time. If the husband likes to go to Civil War battlefields, or to tractor pulls, or enjoys boondocking out in the middle of nowhere for weeks on end, while the wife prefers museums, and touring historic homes, and hanging out on the beach, somebody has to be willing to give up what they want once in a while so the other person can have their turn. If not, it won’t be long before resentment starts to build up.

However, if you are not the person who is getting what you want out of the RV experience, or any relationship, for that matter, it’s your responsibility to speak up. Maybe your partner doesn’t know that you want to go to those tractor pulls or to the beach, because instead of saying so you just go along while they do their thing and suffer in silence. That’s where communication comes in. There’s nothing at all wrong with saying, “I know you like such and such, and let’s do that this week. But next week I want to do something that interests me.”

Another thing that is important is that you have to be willing to overlook some things that might normally get to you. Here’s an example; I’m a slob. My desk usually looks like a tornado just hit it. I’ve got notes and pens and reading glasses and my phone and stuff scattered all over the top of it. Terry, on the other hand, likes things neat and orderly. I know there are times she looks at my desk and cringes, but she knows that is my space and she leaves it alone. For my part, I don’t throw my clothes on the floor and leave them there, I pick up after myself, and I try not to make too much of a mess everywhere I go to avoid making extra work for her whenever I can.

Don’t get me wrong, there will still be the occasional bad day. We’re all human and I don’t know any couple who agrees on everything. And sometimes you just need to clear the air. So do it. But do it respectfully, and then put it behind you and move on. It’s not always easy living in the close confines of an RV, and it takes work, but it’s worth it.

Thought For The Day – Be careful with words because once they are said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

Feb 152017
 

I hope you all had a nice Valentine’s Day. We sure did, even if it was quiet. We stayed in bed cuddling and talking about how wonderful life is to be married to your best friend for a long time yesterday morning. Can you think of a better way to start the day?



I spent much of the day doing what I’ve been doing for a while now, working on the new issue of the Gypsy Journal. Sometimes I get sidetracked because while I am researching a story I find other things that fascinate me and I start checking them out, and before you know it I have lost a couple of hours.

Such was the case yesterday. I’m doing a story on a visit to Judy Garland’s childhood home in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, which is now a museum devoted to her life and career. In doing some research on the actress I came across references about how so many of the child actors in Hollywood were mistreated back in those days.

Garland, who was 15 when she made the movie, said that she was molested on the set of the Wizard of Oz, that the studios used to keep the young actors hyped up on pep pills so they could work 48 and even 72 hours at time, then give them sleeping pills so they could get some rest before they woke them up and put them to work again. She also claimed that in an effort to keep her young girl next-door figure, studio executives kept her on a diet of chicken soup and coffee. I started looking at similar allegations by other child actors and was shocked by some of the things I read. No amount of fame is worth what some of those kids had to go through.



On a happier note, Terry has been weaving the last few days, and here is her finished creation. Actually, I guess I should say two creations.

These crackle pattern scarves are beautiful and each measures about 65 inches long. They are made from tencel yarn, which is silk-like and has a beautiful sheen that moves in the changing light.

During the afternoon our friend Jim Lewis came by and I took a break so we could throw a few rounds of darts. It’s very seldom that either Terry or I can beat Jim, but it has happened on a few rare occasions. I have very little consistency when I throw. I can place two darts so close together they are almost touching, and the third one might be clear on the other side of the board. It was that way back when I was bowling, too. Sometimes I would bowl a strike, and the next two or three times up it was all I could do to keep the balls out of the gutter.

After humiliating me at darts, Jim made up for it by taking us to Alberto’s Restaurant for a delicious Italian dinner. If he keeps picking up the check like that, I may make it a point to lose every game we play!

We are supposed to have a storm system coming through this area today with the possibility of severe weather. They say it is going to be a fast-moving system, so hopefully it will come and go quickly and with no damage to anyone around here.

Thought For The Day – Most children threaten at times to run away from home. This is the only thing that keeps some parents going. – Phyllis Diller

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

A Love Story

 Posted by at 12:18 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 142017
 

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you lovers out there, and especially to Miss Terry, the love of my life. Terry, everything I am and everything I ever hope to be is because of you. I love you with all of my being. As I held you when I went to sleep last night I thought I couldn’t possibly love you more, just as I do every night. And when I woke up this morning I realized I was wrong, just as I am every morning.



In honor of the day, I am posting a story about my parents that I shared a few years ago on Valentine’s Day. As I said then, it is either one of the greatest love stories you’ll ever hear, or one of the worst stories about communication between a man and woman. I’ll leave it to you to decide which.

My parents were married at the start of the Great Depression, and by their first anniversary my mother was pregnant. Times were hard for the young couple trying to make it on a small farm in Hudson, Michigan, and my father was humiliated that all he could afford to give my mother were three chocolate covered cherries. He promised her with tears in his eyes that someday things would get better. Mom told him it was the perfect gift and she loved her three cherries, one for her, one for him, and one for the baby they would have in just a few months.

My parents were never rich, but they were hard working people and over time things did get better for them. They were married for over 54 years and every year on their anniversary, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and on her birthday, no matter what other gift he bought her, my Dad gave Mom a box of chocolate covered cherries. When he was in the South Pacific during World War II, his younger brother made sure that the cherries arrived right on schedule.



As their lot in life improved, the boxes of candy got bigger and Mom always gushed over them and made a big production of biting into the first one as my Dad’s face beamed with love and pride. Us children were forbidden to have even one; Dad let us know those were Mom’s special treat.

Dad died of cancer in 1984, a few weeks after their anniversary. My Mom never drove a car, and every day I would take her to the hospital to spend time with him. Dad was bedridden, but the day before their anniversary he called and asked me to pick up a big box of chocolate covered cherries for him and drop them off ahead of Mom’s visit, which I did on my way to work the next morning. That evening when I brought her to the hospital, Dad presented her with her traditional gift and as always, Mom gushed like a schoolgirl and asked him how in the world he accomplished that. Dad just smiled and told her he had his ways, and winked at me.

Driving home that night, my Mom said, “Thank you for doing that for your Dad. It meant a lot to him. He’s always been so proud of giving me my cherries. And I’ve never had the heart to tell him how much I hate them!” I looked at her in wonder, and Mom said, “It would have broken his heart, so I’ve gagged these things down for years, just to see the look in his eyes.”

So you tell me, love story or terrible communication? I’m voting love story, myself.

Thought For The Day – The best gift a father can give his children is to show them how much he loves their mother.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

That Was Fun

 Posted by at 12:38 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 132017
 

I’ve been spending too much time at my desk working on the new issue of the Gypsy Journal so when my nephew Steve contacted me to say that he and his wife Denise were going to be in Daytona Beach over the weekend and asked if we could get together, I was quick to say yes. Not only because of the chance to get away from work for a while, but also because we really like Steve and Denise.




Steve is one of my late brother Jack’s sons, and after his dad died and my parents passed on I lost contact with that side of the family. We reconnected a few years ago through Ancestry.com, and when we have visited Florida in the past, Steve and Denise have hosted family reunions at their home in Pinellas Park so I could see his brothers and sister and all of their kids. Here is a picture of my nephews, niece and myself from one of those reunions. From left to right there is Harold, Steve, Jack, Cheryl, Lou, and me. Is that a motley crew or what?

We enjoyed showing Steve and Denise our house and had a nice visit them, and I think they liked to place. Steve works for Spectrum, which used to be Bright House cable before a recent merger or buyout or something, and he showed me several things I didn’t know about our receiver and programming. He said the installer should have gone over all of that when they set the system up for us, but we had three different installers come out before they got it to work right, and none of them took the time. Thanks for all the help, Steve.



After a while we decided it must be time for dinner and headed to the Seafood Shack, one of our favorite restaurants in New Smyrna Beach. But our timing was bad because Sunday is customer appreciation day there and they draw big crowd. If you don’t get there early you can expect a long wait. As soon as we pulled in, I knew that was going to be the case. People were standing around outside, and the entrance was packed. When I managed to make my way up to the front, I was told the wait would be approximately 90 minutes.

We decided that as good as the food is there, we didn’t feel like standing around in a crowd of people for 90 minutes. So we went to Beef O’Brady’s instead, another of our favorites. The food was as good as always, and we had a lot to talk about. Eventually we headed back home and visited for a while longer before Steve and Denise left to go back to their hotel in Daytona Beach. I’m really glad we got to spend some time together without the big crowd of a family reunion, where conversations can be hard because so many people are talking at once. We look forward to seeing Steve and Denise again soon.

Congratulations Aaron Borovoy, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins newly updated and expanded So, You Want to be an RVer?: Celebrating the RV Lifestyle. We had 196 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Are you looking for an affordable winter roost in a friendly, active adult RV resort in the Rio Grande Valley? Check out this very clean one bedroom, one bath park model in Pleasant Valley RV Resort in Mission, Texas. It is move-in ready, with all appliances and furniture included. Features include hardwood floors, a carport, a new metal roof, a new air conditioner, and the low annual lot rent is paid through April. All this for just $23,000. For more information, call (386) 478-8259.

Thought For The Day – The other day I got drunk and took a cab home from a bar. The cops and the cab driver seemed really ticked off when they came to get it.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

More Of The Same

 Posted by at 12:06 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 122017
 

The weather has been beautiful and I wish I was outside playing, but instead I have been spending a lot of time chained to my desk working on the new issue of the Gypsy Journal, as well as some other writing projects. But I’m making good progress.



Since we haven’t been doing any traveling I won’t have much in the way of a Meandering Down The Highway column this time around, but that does leave me room for more feature stories and I think we’ve got some pretty good ones.

Just a few include a really cool railroad museum in Oklahoma, an Illinois State Park that was once a hideout for outlaws and pirates, the world’s only museum devoted to human hair, the story of a Civil War cannon that was more dangerous to the people using it than it was the enemy, and a visit to the Minnesota childhood home of actress Judy Garland, which is now a museum about her life and career.

And those are just some of the things subscribers can look forward to in this issue! If you haven’t subscribed yet, why not? You are missing some excellent reading.



I’ve also been working with an author friend of mine to have her format print versions of three of my books that are only available as e-books at this time; Highway History and Back Road Mystery II, Overlooked Florida, and Overlooked Arizona. Formatting books has always been a chore for me and it’s nice to find someone who can do them at a reasonable cost. I have to get covers made for them, then all three should be available in the next week or two.

Meanwhile, Miss Terry has been busy, too. Yesterday she completed two scarves she has been weaving and they really look beautiful. Our friend Jim was over for dinner and a couple of games of darts, and he was really impressed with them when Terry took them off the loom. He was amazed that she can take a bunch of string (yarn) and create something so beautiful. I know what he means, because I’ve been watching her do it for quite a while now, and it still amazes me.

We are going to take a break and slip away this afternoon. My nephew Steve and his wife Denise are in Daytona Beach for a couple of days, and we are going to get together with them for dinner. Steve and Denise are really cool people, and we are looking forward to spending some time with them.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins newly updated and expanded So, You Want to be an RVer?: Celebrating the RV Lifestyle. This is the guide to RVing that every wannabe, newbie, and veteran RVer should have on their bookshelf. 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.

Are you looking for an affordable winter roost in a friendly, active adult RV resort in the Rio Grande Valley? Check out this very clean one bedroom, one bath park model in Pleasant Valley RV Resort in Mission, Texas. It is move-in ready, with all appliances and furniture included. Features include hardwood floors, a carport, a new metal roof, a new air conditioner, and the low annual lot rent is paid through April. All this for just $23,000. For more information, call (386) 478-8259.

Thought For The Day – Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal