Nick Russell

Birthdays And Books

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 262015
 

It’s cold here in Arizona’s White Mountains. Damn cold! The high yesterday was only 57 degrees, and it got down to 35 last night! But that wasn’t as bad as today, when the high is only predicted to be 46, with a low of 29 and rain/snow. And did I mention the strong winds? The heat pump and furnace in our Winnebago are sure getting a workout!


So why are we here freezing our hineys off when we could be sitting on a beach in the Florida Keys? Because of this little girl, and her Mom and big sister. This is our granddaughter Destiny, and yesterday we celebrated her 8th birthday at the Show Low City Park. Terry and I were bundled up in layers of clothing and the kids were running around in shorts! It made me even colder watching them!

Destiny scooter small

Except for the birthday party, and a stop on the way home to get the Explorer washed, I spent most of the day finishing my new book, Big Lake Honeymoon, and just before dinner I printed it out for Miss Terry to start editing and proof reading. Once she’s done it will go on to two more proof readers before it’s ready for formatting and publishing to Amazon and Barns and Noble. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Mackey is working on the cover and she has already sent me the first idea, which I think needs just a little tweaking to be ready to go.

This is my seventh Big Lake book, and once I catch my breath I’ll be starting on number eight in the series. Actually, I already have close to 15,000 words done on it. A couple of books back in the series things went off in a different direction and I couldn’t bring them back around to the storyline I was working on, so I saved them for this book. I think I have at least four or five more to go in the series, but every now and then I get an idea for a new one and make some notes to see where it goes.


Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Crazy Days in Big Lake, the third book 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.

Crazy Days test final

Thought For The Day – How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great.

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Apr 252015
 

We love exploring America’s back roads and small towns and finding overlooked gems that the tourist brochures never cover. In a series of weekly blog posts we will be sharing some of America’s lesser-known small town museums, historic sites, and oddball attractions, on a state-by-state basis. We don’t have room to cover each and every attraction in every state, but hope to give you some ideas for places to see in your travels.


Algona: As many as 10,000 German prisoners of war were held here at Camp Algona during World War II. Today the Camp Algona POW Museum tells the story of the men who were held there and the camp’s impact on the community.

Amana: The Amana Colonies consist of seven small German villages with more than 400 historic structures, living history displays, and shops.

Anamosa: The National Motorcycle Museum displays nearly 200 motorcycles dating back to 1900. Steve McQueen’s favorite 1956 Harley Davidson is here, along with Evil Knievel’s Harley, and the chopper ridden by Peter Fonda in Easy Rider.

Classic cruiser 3

Anamosa: The Anamosa State Penitentiary Museum showcases the 132 year history of Iowa’s largest prison, the Anamosa State Penitentiary. The museum offers displays describing prison life, the duties of guards, and a large variety of photographs from the prison’s early days.

Arnolds Park: Exhibits at the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum include classic wooden boats, antique boat motors dating back to 1917, a 1939 Chris Craft., amusement park rides from the 1940s, old fishing lures, ice harvesting tools, a replica of a rural store, and an old time boathouse.

Arnolds Park: The Iowa Rock n’ Roll Museum exhibits instruments and costumes of musicians who played in Iowa or were born in Iowa, as well as a vintage jukebox and other music memorabilia.

Boone: The Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace in Boone has been restored to its original condition when the nation’s former First Lady was born here in 1896 and is open for tours.

Mamie house 3

Britt: Don’t call them bums, they’re hobos, and every August, hobos from around the country come here for the National Hobo Convention. Hobo history is remembered at the Hobo Museum here.

Hobo display

Burr Oak: In 1876, the family of author Laura Ingalls Wilder moved from their Minnesota homestead to the hotel here, which is now the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum.

Cedar Falls: You can see the equipment used to cut ice for cooling food in the days before modern refrigeration at the Ice House Museum here.

Cedar Rapids: Visitors can tour the studio where artist Grant Woods (American Gothic) worked and learn about the artist’s contribution to the American art scene at the Grant Woods Studio and Visitor Center.

Council Bluffs: Once considered the most modern design in prison construction, the unique Squirrel Cage Jail with its pie shaped cells and revolving openings, is now a museum.

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Council Bluffs: The restored 1899 Rock Island Depot is home to the RailsWest Railroad Museum and HO Model Display, which includes a collection of railroad artifacts and an operating model railroad that depicts a world where passenger and freight trains are still kings. Visitors can tour actual locomotives and sleeping cars and see a full-scale model of Thomas the Tank Engine in action.

Dubuque: The Fenelon Place Elevator is described as the world’s shortest, steepest scenic railway at 296 feet in length, elevating passengers 189 feet from Fourth Street to Fenelon Place, where visitors get a magnificent view of the historic Dubuque business district, the Mississippi River, and three states.

Dubuque: Covering 300 years of river history, the National Mississippi River Museum complex includes the Woodward Riverboat Museum, National Rivers Hall of Fame, and the steam powered side-wheeler William M. Black.

Dyersville: A farmer’s cornfield a few miles from town was the location for the movie Field of Dreams.

Dyersville: You can see over 30,000 rare and antique farm toys at the National Farm Toy Museum here.

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Dyersville: Over 1,000 antique and vintage dolls are displayed at the Dyer-Botsford Doll Museum.

Haverhill: The Edel Blacksmith Shop here dates back to the early 1880s and displays original tools and equipment from the days when horsepower actually came from horses.

Indianola: More than two centuries of hot air ballooning are remembered with displays and artifacts at the National Balloon Museum here. Every year more than a hundred hot air balloon pilots come to Indianola to fill the sky with their colorful aircraft in balloon rallies.

balloon museum sign

Kalona: At the Kalona Historical Village visitors can tour several cabins and farmhouses, old stores, a church, and a collection of interesting museums.

Knoxville: Knoxville is the Sprint Car Racing Capital of the World, and the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum displays these miniature speedsters and honors the people who drive them.

LeClaire: Buffalo Bill Cody was born on a farm near here and the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum displays artifacts on the Wild West showman’s life and career.

Marquette: At Effigy Mounds National Monument visitors can walk over ten miles of interpretive trails through the 1,474 acre park, which holds over 190 earthen mounds built by prehistoric Indians 2,500 years ago.

Mason City: Mason City was the model for the fictional town of River City in the musical The Music Man. The show’s composer, Meredith Willson, was born here in 1902 and the Meredith Willson Boyhood Home is now a museum displaying family mementos and photographs.

Muscatine: At one time this was the button making center of the world, and at the Pearl Button Museum visitors can learn about the history of the button industry and how they were made.

Nashau: Made famous in William Pitt’s song The Church in the Wildwood, the Little Brown Church in the Wildwood has served its community for over 150 years. Visitors can take a guided tour of the church and learn about its long history.


Ottumwa: The Air Power Museum here displays antique and vintage aircraft dating back to the 1920s.

Prairie City: At the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge and Prairie Learning Center you can see the largest reconstruction of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem in the country, along with grazing herds of buffalo, pheasants, badgers, elk, and whitetail deer, along with more than 200 types of native prairie flowers and grasses

Sioux City: A nice collection of interesting vintage and rare aircraft are displayed at the Mid America Air Museum here.

Spillville: The Bily Clocks Museum houses an outstanding collection of wooden clocks carved by brothers Frank and Joseph Bily as a hobby from their full time farming duties. In 1915 and 1916, they built the Apostle Clock, from which the Twelve Apostles appear on the hour.

State Center: Watson’s Grocery served the community for decades, and when it closed in 1981, the local folks purchased the building and opened the store as a museum, just as it was back in the 1940s, complete with its original equipment, maple floors, oak counter and tin ceiling.

Storm Lake: At the Living Heritage Tree Museum, each tree has a story to tell. This unique outdoor attraction is dedicated to planting the documented offspring of trees associated with famous people or events in history. Visitors can see the Joan of Arc Willow, a tree descended from a willow at Joan of Arc’s birthplace or see one of the descendants of the original trees planted by Johnny Appleseed.

Story City: If you have a hankering for a nostalgic ride, stop and take a spin on the restored Story City Carousel here, which was originally built in 1913.

Urbandale: Living History Farms tells the story of how Iowans transformed the fertile prairies of the Midwest into the most productive farmland in the world. While at the 550-acre open-air museum, visitors can travel at their own pace through five historical time periods spanning 300 years. On-site interpreters provide a unique learning environment of seasonal activities and demonstrations.

Van Meter: Baseball fans will enjoy a visit to the Bob Feller Museum, dedicated to Van Meter’s native son, who set Major League records while a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians from 1936 to 1956, and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

West Branch: President Herbert Hoover was born and raised here and is buried at the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site.

Winterset: John Wayne was born in Winterset, the county seat of Madison County, famous for its bridges. The family home, located at 216 South Second Street, is now a museum to the Duke.

john wayne house outside 3

Have you entered our latest Free Drawing yet? This week’s prize is an audiobook of Crazy Days in Big Lake, the third book 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.

Crazy Days test final

Thought For The Day – A promise made is a debt unpaid – Robert W. Service

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

 

Apr 242015
 

Who are these modern day gypsies who spend their lives on the road? What prompted them to leave their former homes and communities for a life on wheels? Each week we will introduce you to some of the fulltime RVers we meet in our travels and those who read this blog.


Over the years we’ve heard a lot of reasons for why people became fulltime RVers, from a love of travel to seeking freedom from existing routines, to a desire to simplify their lives. But I think Bob and Sandi Swanson are the first couple I’ve met who attribute it to cruise ships. As they explained it, “We love to cruise, and always enjoy the fact that once aboard a ship you unpack once yet every morning the scenery outside the window is different. RVing duplicates that hassle-free freedom, the view out the window is ever-changing, yet your socks are always in the same drawer.”

Swanson small

Bob and Sandi had never stepped foot inside an RV when they bought their motorhome. In their seven years of fulltiming in their 2008 Itasca Ellipse 40 foot diesel pusher, Bob, who was a programmer/analyst for Boeing Maui, and Sandi, a former Computer Science professor at the University of Hawaii in Maui, have been to all of the lower 48 states except Delaware, though they’re not sure how they missed it. (In their defense, it is a small state.) They say they have fond memories of most of them, and some not-so-fond memories of a few. Their favorite pace to visit is southern Utah, though they added that their 2012 Alaska trip was definitely a highlight of their RV lives. They have also visited three Canadian Provinces; Alberta, Yukon, and British Columbia.

They usually stay in one place in the winter and travel in the summers. Unless they are in Point A to Point B mode, they like to stay in places a week or so before they move on.

The Swansons said the hardest part of leaving their old lives was getting rid of their stuff, but that has been more than offset by having the opportunity to visit so many wonderful places and meeting so many special people. They said they have seen more of their families since they started fulltiming.

When asked what they like best about fulltiming, they said it was the combination of new places, new faces, and new experiences. And what do they most dislike about fulltiming? Inconsiderate people. And they miss having a big shower with lots of hot water.

Bob and Sandi said their best day fulltiming is every morning when they wake up in their beautiful home on wheels, and that boondocking in remote places is very special to them. Their worst day fulltiming was having their coach “tossed” by some over zealous Canadian Border Agents. “They ensured that we’ll not return to Canada with our coach.”

Both are avid amateur photographers, and Bob is a stamp collector. Sandi enjoys reading and cooking. They recently we got their amateur radio licenses and are getting their feet wet in that hobby.

Bob and Sandi are life members of the Escapees RV Club, and also belong to the FMCA, the Escapees Boomers, and Boondockers groups. They have attended Escapees Escapade RV rallies, as well as Gypsy Journal rallies and rallies sponsored by the FMCA and the Winnebago/Itasca Owners Club. They have taken many classes at rallies and also attended Freightliner’s “Camp Freightliner” class in Gaffney, South Dakota.


When asked if they have any special RV goals, they said it was to do what they’re doing as long as they can.

What advice would Bob and Sandi give to a newbie? Take it slow. If you want to drive fast and far, buy a Ferrari. They’re cheaper and cost less to operate.

Summing up their feelings on fulltime RVing, the Swansons said, “As with any other aspect of life, you generally reap what you sow. Be flexible and always have a Plan B, C, etc.”

You can follow Bob and Sandi online at http://www.mytripjournal.com/rvswansons and http://swansongrp.com/

Have you entered our latest Free Drawing yet? This week’s prize is an audiobook of Crazy Days in Big Lake, the third book 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.

Crazy Days test final

Thought For The Day – Normal people scare me. But not as much as I scare them.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

On The Go

 Posted by at 12:26 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 232015
 

Terry finally finished stuffing all of the envelopes with the new issue of the Gypsy Journal and told me she needed a day out, so we spent yesterday on the go. Well, after a delayed start, we did.


With the back of the Explorer packed with bins of envelopes, the first order of business was to drop them at the Show Low post office. But when I turned the key on the Explorer, all I got was a clicking noise. Now, I’m no mechanic, but even I knew that wasn’t right. I called my daughter and she and a friend came over and gave me a jump and the motor turned right over. I let it run for a couple of minutes and then tried it again and it started right up. Hmmm….

After stopping at the post office to get the last of the papers in the mail, I stopped at a local auto parts shop and a young man there tested the battery and said it was dead, but wouldn’t let me look at the test meter and quickly turned it off when I asked to see the reading. He also quoted me what seemed a very high price for a replacement battery with a two year warranty. I like to support the small business whenever I can, but I just didn’t have a lot of confidence in this guy.

We had to pick up a few things at WalMart, so while Terry started the shopping I had their auto service department check the battery. The tech tested it once and it came back as good, but when I told him it had been dead before I had it jumped he had me turn it on and back off, then tested it again and it came back bad. That confused both of us, so he called his boss over to check it out, and the third test showed it was good. The guys at WalMart said that with a good charge it would probably be okay, but I don’t like my vehicles not to work when I need them to, so I had them replace it with a new one with a five year warranty. Back home I checked my records and discovered that I bought the old battery almost exactly four years ago, and it had a four year warranty. Go figure.

We also made a stop at Lowes to look at a couple of things and then went to Tiffany’s house to see granddaughters Hailey and Destiny, who had been at their dad’s house since we arrived here in Show Low. It’s amazing how much they have grown since we saw them last year! And there’s nothing that beats lots of love and kisses from the little ones, even if they’re not so little any more.

It was about 7 p.m. when we left Tiffany’s and we were both beyond hungry so we had dinner at Licano’s, a Mexican restaurant and steakhouse that is one of the better eateries in this area. And that’s not saying much, because the dining options locally are not all that great. We’ve eaten at Licano’s before when we’ve been here and it was okay, but Terry and I agreed that we probably don’t need to go back again. The food was mediocre at best and not nearly worth what the bill came to.

Back at home I spent the rest of the evening moving files from my iMac to the new Dell, using a 64 GB jump drive I picked up while we were at WalMart. I hope to get the rest of them moved over today. We also found our Microsoft Office program and I installed it on the new computer. I think the iMac knows its days are numbered, because it’s running slower and locking up more and more.

While I was doing that, Terry was busy going through closets and dresser drawers, sorting clothes that we no longer wear, and by the time she was done she had four big black trash bags full to take to a local charity, and we had a lot more room!

And that’s about it for our busy day on the go and at home. We’ve got a cold front coming through and it was down to 34 last night. The highs for the next couple of days are only going to be in the 50s and the weatherman said there is a possibility of snow on Friday. I highly disapprove!


It’s Thursday, so it’s time to kick off a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Crazy Days In Big Lake, the third book 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.

Crazy Days test final

Thought For The Day – Given the capacity to be stupid, most people will be.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

 

All Set Up

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 222015
 

Well, it’s not all set up, but my new Dell computer is up and running. And it only took three or four phone calls to Greg White.

The first step was to install the APC BE550G Back-UPS 550VA 8-outlet uninterruptible power supply that Greg suggested I order with the computer, and to plug everything into. All that was required was connecting one of the battery cables (they are shipped with one cable unplugged) and plugging it into the wall outlet.


Overall the computer setup went well. It was basically a case of connecting the monitor and power cord, sticking the little wireless receiver for the mouse and wireless keyboard in a USB port and turning the computer on. There are 6 USB ports on the back of the computer, two on top, and two on the front, some of which are 2.0 and some 3.0. I started out with the wireless receiver in one of the ports on the back, but the mouse and keyboard were both very slow, so Greg suggested trying one of the ports on top or in the front, saying that even a few inches distance might impact the signal strength. And he was right. I moved it to one of the ports on top and things worked much better.

I have never had a Windows 8 computer and quickly found myself lost trying to find my way through it. So that required another frustrated call to the wise and powerful Greg, who had me install a program called Classic Shell, which replicates the Windows 7 screen. That made life easier.

There were several problems that were software related. I couldn’t get Live Writer to work after downloading it. That is the program I use to format the blog for publication but for some reason it would not cooperate, so once again, Greg to the rescue. He figured out a workaround that will work.

The description of the computer on Amazon said it came with a trial version of Microsoft Office installed, but if it’s there I sure can’t find it. We bought the program a while back for Terry’s Toshiba laptop and I think we can install it on a second computer, if we can just figure out where we put the dumb thing. If not, I’ll have to buy a new copy. 

There is one other software problem I need to try to resolve. When I tried to install Microsoft Streets and Trips I got an error message that said “Microsoft Visual C++2010 Redistributable” had to be installed and then it would close the install program. Greg suggested I go online and see if I could download the required component, but when I tried, I got a message that it could not be downloaded became the computer already has a newer version. Microsoft stopped making Streets and Trips a while back and Greg suggested I switch to DeLorme Street Atlas. The problem is that I have all of our past years’ travel routes plotted and saved in Streets and Trips and I’d like to have them for reference.


Between all of that, running some errands, and my daughter Tiffany coming over for dinner, I ran out of time and did not get the new printer installed. That will be today’s project.
Several people e-mailed to ask me why I didn’t sell my old iMac or donate it to charity instead of blowing holes in it, as I jokingly wrote in yesterday’s blog. A friend wanted it for parts, but we won’t cross paths for at least a year and I don’t want to haul it around that long, so I’m giving it to my daughter. I figure being a single mom with two girls doesn’t bring enough frustration into her life, so I felt it was my duty to add more.

Finally, I received an e-mail yesterday from blog reader Cathy Williams, who said that a cat had stowed away in their motorhome and they suspect it had been with them since they left Catalina Spa in Desert Hot Springs, California. Along the way, they stopped at Camp Verde Resort in Arizona, Hidden Valley in Tijeras, New Mexico, Double D in Texola, Oklahoma, and Bears Den in Grove, Oklahoma. The cat is a male black and white tuxedo cat, with a white face and pink nose. He is neutered, overweight, and friendly. Cathy would really like to get him home to his owners, so if you lost this fellow or know someone who did, e-mail me at editor@gypsyjournal.net and I’ll put you in touch with her. 

Thought For The Day – The company you keep becomes the character you reap.

Apr 212015
 

That is the question. While I’d really love to take my iMac out to the local cinder pit and blow it to pieces with my AR-15, that’s probably juvenile, right? And besides, it would make a mess and I’d spend the rest of the day picking up pieces of it to haul away. No, not a good idea at all.


Childish, that’s what it is. Childish! A minute or two of satisfaction as I officially kill it, and then all of that time bending over and picking up shards of plastic, glass, and pot metal to leave the place as clean as I found it. No, it’s really not worth it.

Nick AR15

But then again, I do need the exercise……

My new computer arrived yesterday and I’ll be setting it up today. It’s a Dell XPS 8700 Desktop desktop with Intel Quad Core 3.9 GHz, 24GB DDR3 SDRAM, and 2 TB hard drive. That’s all Greek to me, but Greg White picked it out and I trust his judgment a lot more than mine. After all, I’m the one who insisted on buying the iMac.

Dell

I already have a 21 inch Dell monitor that I’ve been using with my laptop, which I’ll be using with the new computer now.

On Greg’s suggestion I also ordered an APC BE550G Back-UPS 550VA 8-outlet uninterruptible power supply. It will provide battery backup power during outages and unsafe voltage fluctuations, as well as surge protection.

APC

Since I was spending money like a drunken sailor, I also bought an HP LaserJet Pro 400 printer to replace our ancient HP P3005 laser jet. For the last couple of months it has been making terrible noises as the gears turn, it doesn’t want to feed paper, and it jams a lot. So it’s time to put it out to pasture. But I can’t complain because it has given us faithful service for almost seven years of very hard work, printing tens of thousands of pages every year.

HP

Our computers, printers, and digital cameras are tools, and to get our job done we need the best ones available. I really appreciate Greg’s input on helping us find the right equipment. Left to my own devices, who knows what I’d do. Oh, that’s right, we already know that, don’t we?

Once I get the new computer and printer set up, I need to finish my new book, Big Lake Honeymoon. I’m really looking forward to getting it out because I’ve already got much of the plot for the one after that roiling around inside my head.


Speaking of books, if you are into fantasy, my friend C. Craig Coleman’s The Dragon Ring, the first book in his Neuyokkasinian Arc of Empire series, is on sale on Amazon for just 99¢ for a limited time starting today.

Thought For The Day – Now I understand why Peter Pan didn’t want to grow up.

Back Home Again

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 202015
 

We left Santa Fe RV Resort in Apache Junction, Arizona about 10 yesterday morning for the 144 mile trip to our old hometown of Show Low, in the White Mountains. But the difference between the two places would make you think you were in different parts of the country.


We started out in the desert, following U.S. Highway 60 east past rugged mountains and hillsides covered with saguaros.

Desert scenery

After passing through the Queen Creek Tunnel, the highway goes past some awesome rock formations. It’s not unusual to see people climbing the sheer rock faces along here.

Queen Creek Tunnel

US 60 2

52 miles into our trip, the highway turned north in Globe and we began the climb toward the high country. As we moved along the terrain started to change and scrub oak and cedar trees replaced the desert cacti.

About 35 miles north of Globe we started the five mile descent down into the Salt River Canyon. Folks here in Arizona call this the “other” Grand Canyon. The scenery is awesome, with amazing multi-colored rock formations, but you have to be careful because the road is a series of switchbacks and hairpin curves, some with a 15 mph speed limit. As long as you gear down at the top and pay attention it is no problem in a big rig, but in my time publishing the weekly newspaper in the White Mountains I covered a lot of fatal accidents in the canyon.

Salt River Canyon

Winding Canyon road

There are plenty of pullouts and viewpoints on both sides of the canyon. Take the time to get out and enjoy the views. If you’re lucky you may spot an elusive mountain goat or bighorn sheep.

Rock view

River view 2

I think some of the best rock formations are on the uphill climb heading north.

Rock heads 4

Canyon rock face

Canyon rock formation

It’s 47 miles from the river at the bottom of the canyon to Show Low, climbing most of the way. Before long you enter a vast Ponderosa pine forest that stretches for over 100 miles across central Arizona.

US 60 trees

This is the Mogollon Rim, where there are dozens of lakes, and more outdoor activites than you could ever want. There are herds of elk and deer, black bear, mountain lion, and the trout fishing is excellent. Sunrise Ski Park on the White Mountain Apache Reservation draws powder lovers from across the Southwest, and cross country skiers, hikers, and kayakers will love the Rim Country.


Most of U.S. 60 between the Salt River Canyon is two lane road, with frequent passing zones. There are a few dips along part of the route to keep you awake, but it’s a good road all the way from Apache Junction to Show Low.

US 60 dips

We arrived at the Elks Lodge about 1:30 and got settled into a pull through full hookup site in their campground. I hadn’t even finished leveling up the Winnebago before my daughter Tiffany showed up to shower us with kisses. It sure was good to see her! Granddaughters Hailey and Destiny are with their dad for a couple of days, so we won’t get to see them until Wednesday. I bet there will be even more hugs and kisses then!

Congratulations to Mollie Folmar, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Highland Passage by J.L. Jarvis. We had 80 entries this time around. Stay tuned, because a new contest starts soon.

Thought For the Day – Talk is cheap unless it involves your ex and her lawyer.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal

Apr 192015
 

Our time in Apache Junction is over and today we’re headed for our old hometown of Show Low, Arizona. I’m not sure if it’s just in time, since the temperature here in the desert is already climbing, or if we’re jumping the gun since they had snow flurries in Show Low the middle of last week, and overnight temps in the high country this week will be down in the mid-30s. It may be time to unpack our long johns. But it will be worth it to be able to spend some time with my daughter Tiffany and her two girls. The air may be cold, but love warms the heart, right?


I did not make my goal of finishing my new Big Lake book by yesterday as I had hoped, because we lost much of a day while we were installing our new TV on Friday. So I still have one chapter to go. I’ll probably finish it Monday and then it will start going through the editing and proof reading process. The White Mountains are also the setting for my Big Lake books so this trip and our weeks there are research, right?

While I was busy with all of that, Terry was working hard to get another shawl finished and off the loom. I’m not sure what the problem was, but this one seemed to be more of a struggle than her other projects and she had a lot of frustration with it. But I think the finished product was well worth the effort, don’t you?

Lisa shawl small

And here is a close up of the pattern.

Pattern

During the evening, Terry’s parents came over for a brief visit and to say goodbye. But it won’t be a long separation because they spend their summers in the mountains at the Hon-Dah RV Park, which is part of the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s casino/resort complex in nearby Pinetop. They plan to come up about the first of May, so we’ll see them again real soon.

Hopefully the Verizon internet will be better in Show Low than it has been here in Apache Junction. I don’t think it could be any worse.


Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Highland Passage by J.L Jarvis. It’s a time travel historical romance that begins with the heroine blacking out following a car crash on an icy road and waking up in a mysterious stone chamber being cared for by a kilted man who claims to be an eighteenth century Scottish highlander. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Thought For The Day – The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.

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Apr 182015
 

Isn’t technology a wonderful thing? Just think about how far we have come in only a few short years. We never had a telephone until I was thirteen years old and I still remember our first color TV. Now I’ve got a smart phone that I can watch movies on, surf the internet, and use as a GPS. But sometime I think the thing is too darned smart!


As I wrote a while back, we bought a new TV to replace the one we’ve had for several years that was giving up the ghost, and yesterday we decided to install it. Terry and I were at the front of the motorhome, removing the old TV from where it was mounted over the windshield, when I heard a voice say, “Hello. Hello. Hello?” I was just about to tell Terry that somebody outside sounded just like my buddy Greg White when I happened to glance at my phone, which was sitting over ten feet away on the kitchen counter, and saw Greg’s picture on the screen.

I picked it up and told Greg I was sorry, I never heard it ring, just his voice saying hello. Greg told me that he didn’t call me, I had called him. He said his phone rang and when he answered it he heard Terry and me talking. He thought it was a butt call, but like I said, the phone was ten feet away. Even my butt’s not that big! We finally concluded that my phone realized I was playing with tools so it went ahead and made a preemptive call to Greg. I guess that’s why they call them smart phones!

In theory, removing the old TV and installing the new one was going to be quick and easy. Just unhook the cables and unplug the old TV, remove the four bolts holding it in place, and repeat the process in reverse with the new TV. Yeah, right, we know how that always works out, don’t we?


The bolt pattern on all TVs is supposed to be the same, and it was. Except that on the new TV, they are several inches higher than on the old one. So new holes had to be drilled. And when we tried to open the cabinet door it mounts to, we realized that because the old TV was 26 inches and the new one is 28 inches, it would need to be moved a couple of inches to the right. So Terry had to drill four more holes. Frustration city to be sure.

Terry TV install

But eventually we got it all done and are pleased with the end result, even if we had to mount it a little off center to be able to open the door. I told Terry that in a couple of weeks we wouldn’t even notice it any more. She uses that storage space for yarn that doesn’t fit under the couch, in the bedroom, in the closet, and… well, she’s got a lot of yarn!

TV installed

This is our last day in Apache Junction and I have absolutely no idea where the last month has gone. It seems like we just got here. Tomorrow we’ll be on the road to our old hometown of Show Low, where we plan to settle in for a while and spend some time spoiling our granddaughters. I’m really looking forward to that!

And today is granddaughter Destiny’s 8th birthday! Talk about time moving fast! I think we have another bookworm in the family.

Destiny reading

Have you entered our latest Free Drawing yet? This week’s prize is an audiobook of Highland Passage by J.L Jarvis. It’s a time travel historical romance that begins with the heroine blacking out following a car crash on an icy road and waking up in a mysterious stone chamber being cared for by a kilted man who claims to be an eighteenth century Scottish highlander. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Highland Passage

Thought For The Day – I may be a lonely schizophrenic, but at least we have each other.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

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Apr 172015
 

Who are these modern day gypsies who spend their lives on the road? What prompted them to leave their former homes and communities for a life on wheels? Each week we will introduce you to some of the fulltime RVers we meet in our travels and those who read this blog.


The fulltime RV lifestyle seems to attract active, adventurous people who aren’t content to just sit and watch life go by. After all, it’s a lot more fun to actually be in the parade than to stand on the sidewalk as it passes you by. Just ask Jim and Nancy Tidball. Ever since they left their hometown of Washington, Pennsylvania eight years ago to explore the world in their 2004 Newmar Dutch Star motorhome, the fun hasn’t stopped.

Tidball Mardi Gras

Jim, a former teacher, and Nancy, who worked in human resources, say their love of travel led them to fulltiming, and it was something they spent years planning before they retired. And all of that preparation has led to a wonderful lifestyle that never gets old.

As many fulltimers will tell you, they love the freedom to go where they want, when they want. They enjoy making and seeing friends all over the country and being able to have extended stays in places they visit because they have their house with them, and are not on vacation.

Of course, not everything about fulltiming is perfect. Nancy said she doesn’t like not being able to use Charmin bathroom tissue. For Jim, dealing with repair issues and service in so many different places is an irritation. And they both miss getting to spend more time with their old friends back in Pennsylvania.

The Tidballs tend to move around a lot. They said they have spent 90 days at a Sun Life Park in Mesa, Arizona a couple of times, and have been to Betty’s RV Park in Abbeville, Louisiana for stays of 30 to 60 days several times, and they usually go back to Pennsylvania for a couple of months each year. But the rest of the time they rarely stay more than a couple weeks in one location. They have stayed in as few as 32 places and as many as 65 in a single year.

Both Jim and Nancy like to read and they try to stay in shape by hiking and riding their bikes. Nancy is also a runner and Jim likes walking for exercise.

They belong to the Escapees RV Club, FMCA, and the Good Sam Club and have been to Escapades, The Escapees RV Boot Camp, and Gypsy Journal rallies. Seminars at rallies are a great source of information and they try to sit in on as many as possible.

The Tidballs have covered a lot of miles and seen a lot of places in their travels, including Alaska and all of the Canadian provinces except The Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Among their favorite places have been Alaska, where they saw nature at its finest; Louisiana’s Cajun country for its great food, music and people; our National Parks, for which they are thankful that people had the foresight to preserve; and Ojo Calienta, New Mexico. Some memorable highlights have been the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, and Mardi Gras in Cajun country and New Orleans.

When asked what they considered their best day fulltiming they said, “We have had so many best days it is impossible to pick just one. Every time we meet new people, find a new interesting place, or have some new experience is a new best day.”

What about their worst day fulltiming? Getting caught in a wash in Quartzite, Arizona with their back wheels off the ground. They said even that experience was a positive when fellow RVers worked together to get them out.

Not being with family and friends whom they have known for so many years has been the hardest part of leaving their old life behind, but that is more than made up for by the freedom that retiring, getting rid of all the stuff that ties us down, and hitting the road has given them.


Jim and Nancy don’t have any special RV goals. They don’t have an exit strategy at this point and hope to continue the fulltime RV lifestyle as long as they can.

When asked what advice they would give to a newbie, Jim and Nancy said to not be in a hurry. They said they always try to leave by the crack of 10 a.m. and to be set up by 3 p.m. They don’t like to travel more than 250 miles in a day and have only gone more than 400 miles in a day once. Also, don’t be afraid. They said they have talked to many people who say they would be afraid to travel like they do. But in eight years they have never been in a situation where they felt fear. “If you are uneasy about a place, your house is on wheels, leave.” Another piece of advice was to not tie yourself to a set schedule because you may find a place you love and want to stay longer. They said they only make reservations when going to places in high season like the Florida Keys in January. Otherwise they usually just call a week or so in advance to find a place to stay. They said when they traveled to Alaska they only made reservations a couple of times and never had a problem finding a place to stay.

“Join the Escapees RV Club, read their online forum, and go to a rally,” they added. “You will meet like-minded people, make new friends, and get a wealth of information. It was the beginning of our great adventure.”

Summing up their thoughts on fulltime RVing, they said, “The fulltiming lifestyle has exceeded all our expectations. Meeting people, visiting new places, and having new experiences all while sleeping in your own bed is a wonderful way to live. It took a while to realize we were not on vacation and we did not have to hurry from place to place. After eight years we still love it and do not expect to stop anytime soon.”

You can follow Jim and Nancy’s adventures on their blog at http://runningdownourdream.blogspot.com/

Tidball Denali National Park

Note: If you would like to be featured in our series of fulltimer profiles, please send an e-mail to editor@gypsyjournal.net

Have you entered our latest Free Drawing yet? This week’s prize is an audiobook of Highland Passage by J.L Jarvis. It’s a time travel historical romance that begins with the heroine blacking out following a car crash on an icy road and waking up in a mysterious stone chamber being cared for by a kilted man who claims to be an eighteenth century Scottish highlander. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Highland Passage

Thought For The Day – Being someone’s first love is great, but being their last is beyond wonderful.

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

Click Here For Back Issues Of The Gypsy Journal

Click Here To Subscribe To The Gypsy Journal