Nick Russell

Two Great Attractions

 Posted by at 12:16 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 302014
 

Whenever we are going to a new area I spend a lot of time researching places to visit that will be of interest to Gypsy Journal readers and making contact with the various attractions to arrange visits. Here in southern Virginia there are so many great places to choose from that we could be on the go every day and still not get to them all.

Yesterday we visited two of the best, the Virginia Living Museum and the Mariners’ Museum, both in Newport News. And we quickly realized that half a day each is not enough to do either place justice.

The fascinating Virginia Living Museum introduces visitors to more than 250 living species native to Virginia through exhibits, discovery centers and interactive hands-on exhibits. These include everything from endangered red wolves to loggerhead turtles, jellyfish, many species of birds and more.

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We spent a lot of time exploring the two floors of indoor exhibits, which include an underground gallery with animals that live below the earth’s surface, an aquarium where huge tanks contain everything from sharks to sturgeon, and an observatory. These jellyfish were hard to photograph, but Terry was patient and got the job done.

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This big loggerhead, on the other hand, seemed to be a ham for the camera.

Loggerhead

Originally from the Pacific Ocean, the venomous lionfish were introduced into Florida waters accidently in the 1990s and can now be found as far north as New York.

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Outside, a ¾ mile elevated boardwalk leads visitors through woods and a wetlands area, showcasing animals native to Virginia in naturalized habitats.

Boardwalk

Nearly extinct, the red wolf is being saved through captive breeding programs.

Red wolf 

The 5,500 square-foot Coastal Plain Aviary is a dramatic walk-through aviary filled with coastal birds such as pelicans, herons, egrets and ducks.

Aviary

Less than two miles away, the Mariners’ Museum features over 60,000 square feet of gallery space displaying rare figureheads, handcrafted ship models, artifacts from the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor, an impressive collection of small boats, and more.

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We started our tour with the Dinosaurs of the Deep exhibit, which features the skeletons of over 20 huge sea monsters that once lived in ancient seas. Those were some fierce creatures!

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Then we spent a lot of time in the USS Monitor Center, which tells the story of the epic 1862 Civil War battle between America’s first ironclad warships, the USS Monitor and the Confederate ironclad ram CSS Virginia, which was built on the hull of the former USS Merrimack, which in turn had been burned by her crew to prevent her from being captured by rebel forces. The two ships fought a two-day battle near here that came to be known as the Battle of Hampton Roads. While the fight was a draw and both ships survived, it marked the end of wooden warships.

While the Monitor went on to fight again, she was lost less than a year later in a storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The shipwreck was discovered in 1973 and a long recovery effort was launched. In 2002, the ship’s turret was raised from its watery grave and today is undergoing preservation at the Mariners’ Museum.

Many artifacts from the Monitor are on display at the museum, including this anchor, silverware, a propeller, and several of her guns.

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This cannon, called a Dahlgren gun, came from the CSS Virginia. It was struck in the muzzle during the Battle of Hampton Roads, but the brave Confederate crew continued firing it at the enemy.

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One gallery at the Mariners’ Museum had an exhibit on shipwreck survivors, with the stories of those who managed to escape sinking vessels only to face peril trying to survive while adrift waiting for rescue. This survival raft could mean the difference between life and death after a disaster at sea.

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We were very impressed with the collection of ships figureheads on display. These carved wooden decorations were common on the prow of ships from the 16th to 19th centuries. Figureheads ranged from mythical figures to patriotic themes and each one was unique.

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Housed in a separate building, the museum’s International Small Craft Center displays nearly 150 small boats from around the world, everything from custom sailboats to crude handmade dugout canoes.

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We will have feature stories on both the Virginia Living Museum and the Mariners’ Museum in an upcoming issue of the Gypsy Journal.

Today is going to be a stay at home day for us. Playing tourist everyday can wear you out fast.

Thought For the Day – Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. – Bill Gates

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I Asked, I Got

 Posted by at 12:01 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 292014
 

I had an aunt who used to always tell me, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” It was probably some of the best advice I’ve ever received and I’ve found it to be true more often than not. Even, when I’m not really serious when I ask.

Years ago we were at the Escapee’s North Ranch co-op park near Congress, Arizona and one Sunday afternoon I noticed a woman parked across from us was washing the windshield of her motorhome. I didn’t know her, but I’ve never met a stranger, so I asked her what she was doing. She said she was cleaning her windshield and I told her, “Bulls#$t, go make me cheesecake.” We had a laugh over it, chatted for a moment or two and went about our business. An hour or so later there was a knock on our door and it was the same lady, bringing me a plate of miniature cheesecakes.

On our way home from Richmond Saturday we stopped at Red Lobster for dinner, and as we were walking to the door I noticed an older couple getting out of their car and the woman was carrying a birthday cake. “You brought me cake,” I joked, “How sweet of you!” She laughed and said it was for her grandson and I asked her if he was going to share. The grandson and his wife were on a bench waiting for them and as we passed I told him I wanted cake too, which made him laugh. Terry and I had a nice dinner, and just as we were finishing the same young man brought a big slice of cake to our table! Hey, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Birthday cake

Did I mention asking for pizza? Yes, Miss Terry made me one of her awesome white pizzas last night.

Having two bathrooms in a motorhome seems to be popular these days, and I guess if you really need to go it could come in handy, though it usually means you need a 42-foot coach to make it work. Or maybe you could have one of these installed instead. What do you think?

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Congratulations to Dee Walter, this week’s winner of the Gypsy Journal drawing for an autographed copy of The Dumb Things Sold…Just like that by Al Hesselbart. We had 236 entries in this week’s drawing, and stay tuned, because a new contest starts soon!

I’ve got a couple of book deals to tell you about today. If you enjoy romance stories, my friend Mona Ingram’s novella Between a Jock and a Hard Place is free on Amazon, as well as on iTunes, Nook and Kobo.

And Jess Allison just released Shapeshifter Prophecy, book two in the Cancordian Adventure series for those who like sci fi/fantasy. And folks, when you read a book I recommend here, please consider leaving a review. It really helps the author a lot.

Thought For The Day – Opportunity is often difficult to recognize; we usually expect it to beckon us with beepers and billboards.

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Another Working Day

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 282014
 

Yesterday was another working day for us, which was okay since our “work” is playing tourist. Yeah, I know, it’s a tough gig, but somebody has to do it.

We drove back to Richmond to get to some of the places we missed on our visit the week before. We knew we couldn’t cover everything we wanted to in Virginia’s capital city because that would take a month or more, but there were three places we really wanted to see.

Our first stop was historic St. John’s Church, which was built in 1741 and is still an active Episcopal church as well as a National Historic Landmark. Many important early-day Virginians are buried here and the church grounds are covered with headstones dating back over 250 years. It was here at St. John’s in 1775 that a fiery young attorney named Patrick Henry gave a speech against British oppression that ended with the famous words, “Give me liberty or give me death!”

Saint Johns church halo

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When we left the church, we spent about three hours exploring the Virginia Holocaust Museum. It’s hard to find words to describe the horrors that the place depicts, with its exhibits that trace the rise of the Nazi party and the progression from ghettos to concentration camps to what the Nazi’s called the Final Solution, the extermination of millions of human beings.

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Not just Jews, but also Gypsies, the handicapped, the mentally impaired, homosexuals and anyone else who didn’t fit Adolf Hilter’s twisted vision of a master race were murdered en masse, their bodies cremated to remove any evidence of the Nazi atrocities.

Crematorium copy

I must warn you that this museum is not a place for the squeamish; photographs of the dead and near dead will tear your heart in two. But I think there must be places like this to remind us because, as the saying goes, “Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.” Terry summed up our feelings when we left the Holocaust Museum with just one word – haunting.

We had time for one final tour in Richmond, and it was one I was looking forward to, the home of Maggie L. Walker. Born just after the Civil War to a white father and an African-American woman, Walker realized the value of an education at a young age and became an advocate for social reform to better the lives of African-Americans in America.

Among her many accomplishments was becoming the first female African-American to charter a bank in the United States and act as its president, the first African-American woman to operate a newspaper, to assuming the national leadership of the Independent Order of St. Luke, a fraternal burial society for African-Americans that was established the same year she was born. While her hard work, integrity, and business acumen made Walker wealthy, she never lost sight of her original goal, to improve the lives of African-Americans, especially African-American women. Through her hard work and the example she set, black women learned that there were alternatives to a life of drudgery as a low paid domestic servant, laundress, or working in one of Richmond’s tobacco warehouses.

We’ll have feature stories on the Virginia Holocaust Museum and the Maggie L. Walker National Historic site in a future issue of the Gypsy Journal.

Today is your last chance to enter this week’s Free Drawing for an autographed copy of my buddy Al Hesselbart’s great history of the recreational vehicle, The Dumb Things Sold…Just like that! To enter, all you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

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Thought For The Day - Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason why it was put up.

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Sep 272014
 

We woke up to partly cloudy skies yesterday, but at least it had stopped raining. We were glad to see that since we really needed to get out for a while to shake off our cabin fever after two days cooped up inside.

After stopping for gas, we started the day by dropping off bundles of sample issues of the Gypsy Journal at two large RV resorts nearby, Bethpage Camp-Resort in Urbanna, which was voted National Park of the Year last year, and its sister resort, Grey’s Point Camp in Topping. Both are rated five stars by Woodalls and offer every amenity an RVer could want.

One of the places I had contacted to do a story on was the Steamboat Era Museum in the small town of Irvington, just a few miles east of Grey’s Point, across the Rappahannock River. The museum preserves the memory of the grand old days, when steamboats plied the waters of Chesapeake Bay and the rivers that feed it, with exhibits that include models of typical steamboats, photographs, and nautical equipment.

Steamboat Era Museum outside

In the days before telephones, automobiles, and trucks, the boats brought supplies to small towns throughout the Chesapeake Bay and carried local products to markets as far away as Baltimore. When the steamboat arrived at a river town many of the citizens dropped whatever they were doing to go to the wharf to see who was coming and going, and to hear the latest news.

Steamboat diorama

To get to the museum we had to cross the river on the two-mile long Robert O. Norris Bridge, known locally as the White Stone Bridge or Rappahannock River Bridge. The bridge is high and narrow, and of course there was no way I was going to drive across it. No problem. Miss Terry isn’t afraid of anything. I kept my eyes closed most of the way, but did manage to take a couple of quick photos without launching into a snivel.

Robert O Horris bridge

Robert O Norris bridge superstructure

We don’t like taking the same route twice because we never know what hidden treasure we might find along another road, so after touring the museum we crossed the river again and made a loop back to Gloucester, and sure enough we found one!

At the intersection of State Routes 3 and 14 I spotted this cannon and the sign for Fort Nonsense Historical Park. Really? A fort named Nonsense? How could we not stop?

Fort Nonsense canon

Built in the early days of the Civil War, not much is left of the old earthen fort, but we spent some time on the nice walking trail reading the interpretive signs.

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As we were headed back to the parking lot I told Terry that there had to be a cache in a place this cool and whipped out my Samsung smart phone to check the Geocaching app. Sure enough, there were two! We found this one pretty quickly, but the ground all around here is so saturated from all the rain than we didn’t want to get muddy, so the second one will have to wait for another day.

Geocache

And on another note, a few years ago the State of Indiana leased the Indiana Toll Road to a company called ITR Concession Company; not just the right to operate restaurants and fuel stops on the highway, but the actual turnpike itself. Under the agreement, ITR would collect tolls and make sure the road was maintained. Apparently that didn’t work out very well, and yesterday it was announced that after eight years, ITR has declared bankruptcy and now the state is looking for somebody else to take its place. Anybody want to lease a highway?

So far, we have over 200 entries in this week’s Free Drawing for an autographed copy of my buddy Al Hesselbart’s great history of the recreational vehicle, The Dumb Things Sold…Just like that! To enter, all you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

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It’s not a highway, or even a bridge, but if you are as technically challenged as I am, have I got a deal for you! My friend Randy Morris is offering his e-book Explanations and Advice for the Tech Illiterate free today on Amazon. Topics include basic computer types, basic home theater (audio & video), computer viruses, e-mail security, understanding encryption & passwords, backing up your hard drive, and computer speed/startup items. All that, and it’s free too! How can you go wrong?

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Thought For The Day - There’s a fine line between crazy and free spirited, and it’s usually a prescription.

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Sep 262014
 

It has been gray and rainy the last two days, which is perfect for four things – writing, weaving, napping, and eating a batch of fresh hot chocolate chip cookies. Well, we batted about 50-50 on all that.

I got a lot of writing done on my next Big Lake book and the story is off to a good start with closer to 10,000 words done so far. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’ll get there.

Meanwhile, Terry was weaving away, and yesterday she finished her latest creation, another beautiful shawl. This one measured 82 inches long and 20½ inches wide when it came off the loom, plus 6 inches of fringe on each end.

Terry blue shawl

It took a full day to warp the loom. This one had over 530 individual threads that had to be threaded through the heddles and tied off one at a time in order. Then the actual weaving took another 10 to 12 hours.

Terry shawl open

People keep asking if Terry is going to sell any of her work. She says maybe after Christmas, but right now she’s learning and perfecting her technique and the things she is making are gifts for special people.

When she finished with the shawl yesterday Terry made a delicious dinner of pork chops and mashed potatoes with gravy and I was so stuffed that I didn’t bother asking for cookies, too. Of course, I sure wouldn’t turn down any tonight. (Hint, hint)

And I was so busy writing that I never did get a nap, either!

After being cooped up inside the motorhome for the last couple of days waiting for the storm to pass, we have cabin fever and need to get out today and play. We still have a lot of places to see here in this area before we leave on October 6th. By the time we’re done here I’ll have enough material for the next three issues of the Gypsy Journal. That’s good because we won’t be traveling as much while we’re down in Florida this winter and we’ll have time for more weaving, more writing, cookies, and naps. Yes definitely, naps too!

Have you entered our latest Free Drawing yet? This week’s prize is an autographed copy of my buddy Al Hesselbart’s great history of the recreational vehicle, The Dumb Things Sold…Just like that. To enter, all you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

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Thought For The Day - Somewhere in the world, a woman is having a baby every 12 seconds. We have to find her and make her stop!

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10 More RV Goodies

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 252014
 

A lot of you seem to like my blogs about RV Goodies that help make life easier on the road, so here we go with some more that we use ourselves or that other RVers have suggested. If we’ve missed something that you find useful, please tell me and I’ll try to share it with everybody else.

Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool – This little gadget comes in very handy for unclogging drains inside the RV and with Terry’s long hair it gets used quite often.

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Dryer Vent Brush – Along those same lines, the Unger lint brush makes cleaning lint out of your RVs dryer vent a little easier.

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LED Rechargeable Spotlight – You can never have too much light, and this rechargeable unit will turn darkness into daylight. Excellent for emergency repairs and checking out tight campsites when you arrive after dark.

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Museum Putty – You can secure knickknacks, photographs and just about anything to most surfaces with this amazing stuff, which is removable and even reusable.

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Command Picture Hanging Strips – Do you want to hang photos on your RV’s walls but don’t want to use nails? 3M Command mounting strips will do the job and can be removed without damaging the wall or leaving any holes.

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Stainless Steel Tabletop Grill – Why does food always taste better when it’s cooked outside over a fire? I’m not sure I know any fulltimers who don’t have a tabletop grill, but if you don’t this is a great one to get.

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Assorted Cable Ties – I use these for everything from securing electrical wires and cords to holding drop lights in place to keeping kite spars together. Don’t leave home without them.

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Portable Air Compressor – I have an older Craftsman model, which Sears no longer sells, but this is the exact same thing with a different name on it. It quickly and easily fills the big tires on our Winnebago diesel pusher with no problem.

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Dyson Hand-held Vacuum – Our motorhome came with a built-in central vacuum, but once Terry got this nifty little unit she never used it and we finally took it out.

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Garmin eTrex Handheld GPS Geocaching BundleGeocaching is the perfect hobby for RVers and we know some with 1,000 or more cache finds to their credit. The Garmin eTrex is an excellent, affordable mapping GPS that will help you find even the most difficult hides.

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We’ve already had over 100 entries in this week’s Free Drawing for an autographed copy of my buddy Al Hesselbart’s great history of the recreational vehicle, The Dumb Things Sold…Just like that. To enter, all you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

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Thought For The Day - If you spend life trying to be good at everything you will never be great at anything.

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Sep 242014
 

That’s the slogan of the men and women tasked with moving men and materials for the military, and since the Revolutionary War they have been doing the job using everything from covered wagons to aircraft to boats and railroads. On a visit to the United States Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis, Virginia yesterday we learned about the long history of getting the troops not only where they need to be, but what they need, where they need it, and when they need it.

The museum is huge, with over 50,000 square feet in the main building, plus outdoor display areas. Mannequins, military equipment, vehicles and aircraft are set up in realistic exhibits, with excellent signage explaining what visitors are seeing.

Conestoga Wagon

Mules were used as pack animals from the Second Seminole War (1835-42) through World War I, and even into World War II on a limited basis.

Pack mule 

The military has always been good at adapting what they have to fit the job at hand, and we saw some interesting displays of that kind of innovation, including this Jeep outfitted with railroad wheels to run on rails.

Railroad Jeep

The Korean War saw the first widespread use of helicopters, especially the H-13E Sioux light observation helicopter, which anyone who has ever seen M*A*S*H is well familiar with. The Sioux was so versatile that it was still in use during the Vietnam War, flying scout mission for troops on the ground.

H13E Observation Helicopter

Convoys in Vietnam were prime targets for enemy attack and the Jeeps mounted with M-60 machineguns were not enough to keep the enemy at bay, so the Hardened Convoy concept was developed. Relying on that same ingenuity I mentioned above, the 8th Transportation Group created “gun trucks’ by welding armor plating onto the sides of regular cargo trucks and arming them with everything from M-60s to heavier .50 machineguns and even miniguns. The gun trucks had names like Iron Butterfly, True Grit, King Kong, and this one, Eve of Destruction. This is the last surviving gun truck from the Vietnam War.

Eve of Destruction

My unit of the 1st Cavalry was occasionally assigned to provide extra manpower and firepower for convoys and I ate dust for many hot sweaty miles in gun trucks and Jeeps. When the assignments were over I sure was happy to get back into our helicopters!

Huey

Remember that innovation I talked about? How about this flying rocket belt that was tested and found wanting? I want one of these!

Rocket belt

In the outside display area we saw even more oddball test units, including this GEM Model 2500 air car. Developed in 1959, the original idea was to market the hovercraft as an alternative to the family car. It never caught on with the driving public, but the Army purchased two of them for evaluation. I think I want this even more than the flying rocket belt.

Model 2500 air car

Now this is a big piece of equipment, a BARC 3X, which is an acronym for a Barge, Amphibious Resupply, Cargo. Capable of carrying a full infantry company of 120 men or 60 tons of cargo, this is one of the few BARCs on display in the world. How big is it? Did you notice the pretty lady dwarfed by its tire?

Resupply barge

If you visit the Army Transportation Museum, allow yourself a full day. We spent an afternoon there and were not able to see it all! I’ll have a feature story on the museum in an upcoming issue of the Gypsy Journal.

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time to start a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of my buddy Al Hesselbart’s great history of the recreational vehicle, The Dumb Things Sold…Just like that. To enter, all you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

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Thought For The Day – You’re the result of 3 billion years of evolution, act like it!

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On The Go

 Posted by at 1:20 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 232014
 

Terry and I spent yesterday on the go, covering a lot of territory and getting a lot done. It was a fun day.

We started out meeting longtime Gypsy Journal readers Ron and Verdis Knight for lunch at the Island Café, located in the Duke of York Motel on the waterfront in Yorktown. They have lived in this area for years and shared a lot of information on places to go and things to see. We had such a good time that two hours slipped by in what seemed like minutes and the restaurant was closing. Thanks for making time for us, Ron and Verdis. We really enjoyed it!

Ron Verdis Knight

When we left the restaurant we made a quick stop at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center so Terry could pick up her National Parks Senior Pass. For a onetime fee of $10, this lifetime pass is a heck of a deal and will save citizens age 62 and over a lot of money on entrance fees at National Parks, Historic Sites and lots of other places.

Ron and Verdis had recommended that we check out The Colonies RV and Travel Park adjacent to historic Fort Monroe National Monument, and since several of our readers had recommended the same thing, we decided to take a look. Fort Monroe was established soon after the War of 1812 and we definitely need to go back sometime and explore the old fort and the Casement Museum.

Fort Monroe

Fort Monroe 2

The campground is small but it looked like the kind of place I’d enjoy hanging out at for a while. Guests have access to 500 feet of private oceanfront beach only a two-minute walk across the park, and there was plenty of open space for kite flying. 

Depending on which route we take when we leave this area heading further south in the motorhome, we have to cross the James River where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay via one of three bridges, and we all know about me and bridges. So from Fort Monroe we drove across on the Hampton Roads Bridge–Tunnel and it wasn’t bad at all. The bridge is on Interstate 64 and is two lanes each direction, and best of all, it wasn’t very high. Tunnels don’t bother me at all so it was a piece of cake.

We drove on into Virginia Beach, an upscale beach town, and spent a couple of hours poking around there. This impressive 34-feet tall bronze sculpture of King Neptune greeted us.

Neptune Statue Virginia Beach

The Neptune Festival is going to be this coming weekend, with a sand castle contest, entertainment, and big crowds. But yesterday there were not very many people around.

Virginia Beach

While we were admiring the deep blue water (okay, I may have been admiring a couple of young ladies in skimpy bathing suits, too), Terry spotted a cell phone somebody had lost. I flipped it open and there was a missed call message showing, so I hit re-dial and when a woman answered I explained that we had just found the phone. It was the owner on the other end of the line and she had been calling the number, hoping somebody would hear it and pick it up. We hung around for about 20 minutes until she could drive back and meet us. She was thrilled to get her phone back and wanted to pay me for our trouble, but that’s bad karma. I told her to pay it forward to somebody else sometime down the road.

Since it was getting late in the day, Terry drove home. We took a slightly longer route back home, across the Monitor–Merrimac Memorial Bridge–Tunnel on Interstate 664. Again, low and wide. Another piece of cake. I don’t mind going under the water in a tunnel so ships can pass over me, I just don’t like being on high bridges so they can pass under me.

I’m not sure what’s on the agenda for today. We may stay home and hang out, or we may do some more exploring. There’s so much to see and do around here that we can’t possibly get to everything in the two weeks we have left, but that’s okay because we will have plenty of reasons to come back again!

Thought For the Day – We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. – Albert Einstein

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Kidney Kidnappers

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 222014
 

Congratulations to Bryan Carbonnell, this week’s winner of the Gypsy Journal drawing for an audiobook of the Journals of Jacob and Hyde by my friend Randall Morris. Stay tuned, because a new contest starts soon!

When we checked in here at the Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails a week ago the ranger had warned us that the Bluegrass By The Bay Festival was going be held over the weekend and that things would probably get pretty loud as the pickers and grinners played well into the night. No problem, we’re night owls anyway.

The festival wrapped up yesterday and from our viewpoint it was a nonevent. There were a lot of people here, but I guess we were parked far enough away from all the action that we never heard anything at all, except for one camper with a golf cart that cruised around well past midnight with a stereo blaring at full blast. And it wasn’t bluegrass music!

I think now that the festival is over and folks are headed back to work and their kids to school, things will slow down quite a bit around here.

For us, yesterday was another quiet day at home, spent with me writing and Terry doing some laundry and working on her loom. Today we’re going into Yorktown to meet longtime subscribers Ron and Verdis Knight for lunch, then we’ll stop at Yorktown Battlefield to get Terry’s National Parks Senior Pass. From there, if time allows, we’ll swing by the Williamsburg Outdoor World RV resort and drop off a sample bundle of Gypsy Journals.

And now, about today’s blog headline. A regular blog reader asked me to reassure his wife that RVing is safe. They are investigating fulltiming when they retire in a few years and have been shopping for a used RV for weekend trips in the meantime. But his wife came home from the beauty shop all freaked out the other day and told him there was no way she was going off into the middle of nowhere in an RV.

It seems that a woman at the shop told her that there are people who will strike up conversations with you in RV parks and then invite you into their motorhome where they have a surgical lab set up. They then proceed to drug you and harvest your organs and then go down the road and drop your body in the middle of nowhere. She said the cosmetologist told her “It’s been going on for years!” I assured her that this was just one more urban legend and that I’d think somebody would have noticed all those empty RVs sitting in campgrounds and all of the families of the victims who would have reported them missing.

Since we’re on such a gruesome subject, I’m about halfway through a book titled Coroner’s Journal: Forensics and the Art of Stalking Death and I am finding it fascinating. Written by Dr. Louis Cataldie, a medical examiner who stayed in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to deal with the many victims who lost their lives in the tragedy, the book tells the true story of that terrible incident as well as many of Dr. Cataldie’s other cases, including the victims of serial killers, accidents and his involvement in the Beltway Sniper case.

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Thought For The Day – People know you for what you’ve done, not for what you plan to do.

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Sep 212014
 

After our busy day playing tourist in Richmond on Friday, we decided to stay at home over the weekend. I always have plenty of writing projects to keep me busy and Terry wanted to work on her latest weaving project. At least that’s what she said.

Instead she tackled the latest backlog of paperwork, logging in orders and updating subscriptions that came in our last package of mail. She was still going at it at 6 p.m., when she stopped to finish putting together a delicious roast beef dinner. She never did get to her loom. Hopefully she will today.

I spent most of the day working on a book project, checking a lot of details on the internet to be sure I had my facts straight, and answering e-mails. One was from longtime subscribers Ron and Verdis Knight, who live near here in Yorktown. Ron offered to take a bundle of Gypsy Journals to put in the goody bags at a Good Sam rally they will be attending and offered us a pair of free tickets to Colonial Williamsburg. We’re looking forward to touring it, but since the folks there have let us know that our readership is not their audience I may not write a story about the place. We are looking forward to meeting Ron and Verdis for lunch tomorrow.

A couple of days ago I mentioned that I had been in contact with Wanda Lewis, who is in charge of scheduling seminars for the Escapees RV Club Escapade in Tucson, Arizona in March. As I said then, I had pitched the idea of a Writing on the Road seminar at the rally and Wanda thought that was a good idea, so she is adding it to the schedule. We may be adding yet another seminar, Welcome To My Arizona, that I did at a couple of our Yuma Gypsy Journal rallies. It introduces a lot of places tourists don’t know about, sort of a travelogue of some places to see and things do in the Grand Canyon State. She seemed interested, so we’ll see how it goes.

Several people have asked if I will be doing one of my day-long self-publishing workshops before or after the rally. If there is enough interest I will see if I can work out a location a day or two before or just after the rally. Let me know if you want to attend and we’ll take it from there.

Today is your last chance to enter this week’s Free Drawing for an audiobook of The Journals of Jacob and Hyde by my friend Randall Morris. To enter, all you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

The Journals of Jacob and Hyde

Thought For The Day – Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas Edison

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Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

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