Nick Russell

Feb 092018
 

When six year old Edward W. Bok immigrated to New York from the Netherlands with his family he did not understand our language or anything about our customs or culture. But from a young age he had a goal, one inspired by his grandmother, who told him to “make the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it.” And he did just that!

Growing up in Brooklyn, his family was so poor that the young boy collected pieces of coal that had fallen off coal wagons to help heat their home and washed the windows of the local shops after school to bring in a few extra pennies. That work ethic would lead him to great success in life.

As a young man Bok became involved in the publishing business, eventually becoming the advertising manager for Charles Scribner and Sons. He spent four years as the editor of The Brooklyn Magazine, and in 1886, at age 23, he founded the Bok Syndicate Press. Three years later he took over the editorship of the nationally-circulated Ladies Home Journal. During his tenure it became the first magazine in the world to reach one million subscribers.

Bok spent thirty years at the Ladies Home Journal, changing the face of magazine publishing by dropping things like patent medicine ads and attracting better advertising customers and growing reader involvement through contests, letters to the editor columns, and practical news his subscribers could use in their everyday lives. Along the way, he also became a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, writing fourteen books, and an advocate of world peace and the environment.

In 1896 Bok married Mary L. Curtis, the daughter of a prominent family. The couple shared an interest in music, cultural activities, and philanthropy.

The Boks escaped Philadelphia’s cold winters by going to a home they owned in Lake Wales, Florida. Bok loved the area and spent a lot of time on Iron Mountain, at 298 feet above sea level, one of Florida’s highest points. The “mountain” offered views of dramatic sunsets and Bok found a lot of peace and tranquility there.



Remembering his grandmother’s advice to make the world a bit better or more beautiful, he purchased the land and hired architects and landscapers to create the marvelous Bok Tower Gardens, a magnificent place of beauty, serenity and peace that was his gift to the American people as an enduring token of his appreciation for the opportunities he had been given.

Today visitors from all over the world come to Bok Tower to walk the meandering paths through the subtropical gardens that provide refuge for 126 bird species.

A 205 foot tall neo-Gothic singing tower houses one of the world’s finest carillons. The tower is adorned with sculptures and grille work of birds, plants, and wildlife, including various flowers and trees, cranes, herons, eagles, seahorses, jellyfish, pelicans, flamingos, geese, swans, foxes, storks, tortoises, and baboons.

The 60-bell carillon fills the surrounding area with two daily concerts at 1 and 3 p.m., with short selections played on the hour and half-hour. The carillon’s bells range in weight from 16 pounds to nearly 12 tons.

The Great Brass Door and wrought iron gates on the north side of the Tower depicts the Book of Genesis, starting with the creation of light and ending with Adam and Eve being ousted from the Garden of Eden. They were created by America’s premier metalworker. Samuel Yellin.

The beautiful Reflection Pool captures the reflection of the Singing Tower and offers the first image visitors have when entering the gardens.

The sundial on the south side of the Tower was set in place on October 26, 1928. The gnomon, which indicates time by casting a shadow on the dial face, is made with a bronze rod supported by a bronze snake – the ancient symbol of time. The hours are marked by the 12 signs of the zodiac and Roman numerals to mark the hours of the day. A correction table for different periods of the year is located at the base of the sundial.

Plan to spend several hours when you visit Bok Tower Gardens because this gift from an immigrant of humble origins who proved that our only limitations are those we place on ourselves has a lot to offer. Take the time to stroll the garden paths, paths at the Reflection Pool, and enjoy the music from Bok’s singing tower. It’s an experience you won’t forget.



Bok Tower Gardens is centrally located between Tampa and Orlando at 1151 Tower Boulevard in Lake Wales. It is open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Last admission from the entrance gate is at 5 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults, and $5 for children ages 5-12. For more information, visit their website at https://boktowergardens.org/

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

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Koinobi, the first book in author Reid Minnich’s Koinobi science fiction 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 (first and last) 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 – The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet. – James Openheim

We Have Visitors!

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 082018
 

A few days ago in a blog titled The Snowbirds Are Back, I shared a picture of a pair of ospreys that return to the same tree across the street from our house to nest every year. They can be noisy, but we always enjoy watching them as they raise their little ones and get them ready to fly off on their own.

And here are another pair of visitors that spend a lot of time wandering around the neighborhood. These sandhill cranes seem pretty docile and ignore people unless they get too close. Sometimes cars have to stop for them as they walk across the street, but nobody here is in a hurry to get anywhere and folks are always patient with them.

But those are not our only flying visitors. Terry’s parents arrived from Phoenix on Tuesday afternoon to spend a week with us. They had to be up at 3 a.m. Arizona time to be at the airport for their 6 a.m. flight, arriving here just before 1:30 p.m. local time. Her mom, Bess, is 86, and Pete, her dad, will turn 88 next week. That was a long trip for people their age, and since Bess only got about an hour’s sleep the night before, once they got settled in here she slept for 11 hours! Now I’m wondering how I can get her on an airplane every day.

Their scheduled arrival was supposed to be at the same time that the Falcon Heavy lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center, but the launch time was delayed until 3:45, so they got to see it take off and hear the sonic booms as the booster rockets returned to land, back at Cape Canaveral. I’m glad they got to experience that.



Yesterday we took them down to our fishing pier, hoping to spot some of our resident dolphins or manatee, but we did not see any. It’s very rare we don’t see at least a couple of dolphins, but I guess my mother-in-law’s reputation proceeded her. Here are Terry and her parents enjoying time together.

Even though we didn’t see dolphins or manatee, there were pelicans, seagulls, terns, and a lot of fish jumping in the water to greet them. I think Pete and Bess like it here.

For dinner last night, Terry made delicious shredded beef tacos, along with refried beans, Spanish rice, and all the fixings. I can guarantee you that nobody left the table hungry.

Today we will play tour guides, showing Pete and Bess some of the area and why it is such a special place to live.



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

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Koinobi, the first book in author Reid Minnich’s Koinobi science fiction 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 (first and last) 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 – No one will ever win the battle of the sexes. There is too much fraternization with the enemy going on.

Feb 072018
 

In his wonderful book On the Road With Charles Kuralt, the roving journalist said, “Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.”

That’s why Kuralt and his camera crew preferred the back roads, those two lane ribbons of blacktop that tie together the package that holds the treasures of America. And it’s why we travel those same back roads. We never know what we’re going to find, but more often than not, it’s well worth the trip.

Along U.S. Highway 422 near the little community of Womelsdorf in eastern Pennsylvania, we came across just such a place, the Conrad Weiser Homestead.

I had never heard of Weiser before but he played a major role in the history of Pennsylvania, negotiating every major treaty between the colonial settlers and the Iroquois Nations from 1731 until 1758, established the town of Reading as well as Berks County, and he was a militia leader who helped quell Indian uprisings during the Seven Years War.

Born in Germany in 1696, Weiser came to America with his family in 1710, settling in New York State. He quickly developed an interest in the native people who inhabited the area, and when he was 15 years old he lived with the Mohawk tribe of the Iroquois for a year, learning their language, customs, and traditions. This knowledge was invaluable throughout his life.



Weiser moved to the Tulpehocken area in Pennsylvania in 1729, carving a farm out of the wilderness that would eventually contain 890 acres of land. Soon after he arrived in the region, an Indian friend asked Weiser to help the Oneida Iroquois negotiate a series of land treaties between the Pennsylvania colonists and the Indians. During the 1730s and 1740s, Weiser was able to maintain stable relations between the Pennsylvania government and the Iroquois Nation

Weiser was appointed Lancaster County Magistrate in 1741, his first official role in colonial government. When Berks County was created in 1752, Weiser was appointed the county’s first justice of the peace.

The Seven Years War was a struggle that involved most of the major powers of the time and created conflict in Europe, North America, Central America, India, the Philippines, and parts of Africa. In Canada and the American colonies, the British and French were battling for dominance, and both sides enlisted different Indian nations to support them. Soon bloody raids were taking place throughout small settlements and isolated cabins on the frontier.

On October 16, 1755, a war party of Delaware Indians allied with the French killed 14 people, captured and took 11 prisoners in what became known as the Penn’s Creek Massacre. A local militia force was quickly organized to help protect the colonists, with Weiser in charge. In 1756, Weiser was appointed Colonel of the First Pennsylvania Regiment. He spent the next two years traveling through the area his unit was charged with guarding, responding to incidents and threats from the Indians.

Weiser negotiated the Treaty of Easton in 1758, which put an end to most of the violence in eastern Pennsylvania. By then he was 62 years old, an advanced age for that time and place, and had grown weary. He retired to his house in Reading, where he lived until he died in 1760.

Today Weiser’s old homestead in the Tulpehocken area is a State Historic Site where visitors can learn about Weiser and the settlement of eastern Pennsylvania. The Homestead includes several period buildings on a 26-acre Olmsted-designed landscaped park.



There is some mystery as to whether Weiser and his family actually lived in the house that stands today. He owned the property where the historic site is located from 1729 to 1750, and there is a strong oral history indicating he lived in the house, but archeological excavations have not been able to prove it. Over time, several different families have owned the land and the house has undergone several modifications and very little of the original structure remains. What visitors see today is basically a re-creation of what the home would have looked like during the time the Weiser family lived there.

The story of Conrad Weiser and the historic site is told through exhibits located in three different buildings. Start your self-guided tour in the Visitor Center, which has two galleries dedicated to Conrad Weiser’s career and accomplishments. The exhibits in this building highlight Weiser’s work with Pennsylvania’s Indian tribes, his early life in Germany and New York, and his involvement in colonial Pennsylvania history.

The exhibit continues in the Weiser House with an exhibit gallery and a furnished period room. The gallery deals with the importance of Weiser’s farm as a destination for many different kinds of people in the 18th century, including colonial governors and politicians, Native Americans, scientists, soldiers, religious leaders, and local settlers. The period room in the house is furnished to portray the domestic aspects of Weiser and his wife Anna Eva’s life here.

The Education Center houses an exhibit gallery which explains what happened to the site after Conrad Weiser’s death, the 19th century efforts to honor Weiser, the creation of the landscaped park in the 1920’s, and the Conrad Weiser Homestead historic site today. The building also includes the original gravestones of Conrad and Anna Eva Weiser.

The Homestead includes a Spring House, the Weiser’s graves and monument, a Long Hut, and the landscaped park grounds. During the summer, special talks and programs are scheduled within the historic area.

A statue of an Indian symbolizes the strong relationship Weiser had with the Iroquois and other tribes for most of his life.

The Conrad Weiser Homestead is located at 28 Weiser Lane in Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania and is open March 11 through December 2nd. For more information, call (610) 589-2934.

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

Thought For The Day – Never take a freeway when a back road is an option.

Feb 062018
 

In a recent conversation with somebody who was asking me for suggestions on places to spend the winter in his RV, I told him about some of the places in Florida we like. His immediate response was, “Oh, hell no! I don’t want to get eaten by an alligator!”

I assured him that probably wasn’t going to happen, but he said that the people whose child was killed by an alligator at Disney World a few months ago probably didn’t think it was going to happen to them, either.

While that was a very unfortunate tragedy, it doesn’t mean that everybody who sets foot inside the Sunshine State is going to become alligator food. We have fished and kayaked around here for years, first as winter snowbirds and now as residents. We’ve seen a lot of alligators in our time, paddled past them on our Sea Eagle inflatable kayaks, and they have ignored us.

Sure, alligators do attack sometimes. So do dogs, and bears, and mountain lions. But very seldom do we hear of an alligator attack where the victim wasn’t doing something careless, or even downright stupid. If you poke your hand someplace you can’t see, you might get bitten. If you try to mess with an alligator, you very well might get bitten. And you would deserve it.



But if you leave them alone and use some common sense, you’ll be fine. Yes, the child at Disney was a rare exception. The key word here being rare.

I lived in bear and rattlesnake country out west for many years, where I spent over 25 years publishing small town newspapers. I can count on one hand the number of bear attack or snakebite stories we ever covered. It’s the same thing. Some fool picks up a rattlesnake and it bites him. Gee, who could have seen that coming?

So stop worrying about the gators and come down to Florida. It’s a beautiful state with a lot to see and do, and I guarantee you, you won’t get eaten by an alligator. And I’ll back up that guarantee by promising to buy you dinner anyplace in the state that you choose if you do happen to wind up in a gator’s stomach! That’s how confident I am that it won’t happen. But even if I am wrong and you do become a gator buffet, it’s like my old commanding officer used to tell all of us young soldiers – you have to die of something!

Now the mosquitoes and no-see-ums here in Florida? That’s an entirely different story. The will eat you alive!



And finally, just because you can never be too cautious, here is today’s sign.

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

Thought For The Day – Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad. – Norm Papernick

Well, This Might Suck

 Posted by at 12:48 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 052018
 

We have been very busy the last week or so getting ready for the arrival of Terry’s parents tomorrow. They are flying in from Phoenix to spend a week with us, and there were a lot of things we wanted to get done around the house before they get here.

And we got most of them done, including some painting, power washing, cleaning, making sure there are fresh linens on the bed in the guest bedroom, and all those things you do when you have company coming. So, I think we’re just about ready. Except for one small detail.

Terry is sick. She always underplays everything when it comes to her and how she is feeling, but she’s got the makings of a first-class cold that is starting to kick her butt. So she’s been downing cold meds, vitamin C, and ibuprofen, hoping to ward it off, and all the while assuring me she is fine. I hope she can get a handle on it, because if she doesn’t, it will really suck for them to come all this way just to sit around and watch her being sick.

Of course, her parents, Pete and Bess, are wonderful people who adore all three of their daughters, so I know they’ll be happy just to be here with her. But it would be nice if she felt well enough to enjoy their visit.

Yesterday we went to Lowes in Daytona Beach to return some things we had bought but didn’t need, made a stop at Bed, Bath, and Beyond so Terry could pick up new towels and a rug for the guest bathroom, and then we did a drive-by at Daytona Beach International Airport to scope things out ahead of their arrival. We have never been to this airport before and didn’t want to show up and not know where to park or where to meet them.



As it turns out, it’s a small airport, and it should be pretty easy. We saw a security guard and stopped and asked him where the best place to park would be and he pointed out a short-term parking lot right across from the terminal where the first 15 minutes is free, and then it’s only a dollar an hour after that.

We got a chuckle when he asked what airline they were flying in on and I said Delta, and his reply was “Good, that means they’ll be on time. If they were coming in on American they could be an hour and a half late. But Delta is always on time.” Apparently he’s not a fan of American Airlines.

It cost us a few dollars more to fly them into Daytona Beach instead of Orlando, but it’s much closer to home and there is a lot less traffic and congestion deal with. That’s well worth the price, if you ask me.

Since we were only a couple of blocks from Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet, our favorite Chinese place around here, it seemed only fitting that we go there for dinner. Terry didn’t even have to twist my arm real hard to get me to agree to it.

Today we have a couple of errands to run and a few small chores around the house to get finished, depending on how Terry is feeling. And then tomorrow is the big day. We are looking forward to seeing her parents, but as it turns out the timing could have been better. Not just because Terry isn’t feeling good, but also because their plane arrives at 1:29 PM tomorrow, exactly one minute before the scheduled takeoff of the Falcon Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral.

Of course, that wasn’t on the calendar back when I made their airline reservations. It will be the most powerful rocket ever launched, and I would have loved to be standing down on our dock when it lifted off. We’ve seen a lot of rocket launches since we’ve been here, but this one is going to be historic.



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

Congratulations Jack Schulte, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake Burning, the sixth book in my Big Lake mystery series. We had 86 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.

The Snowbirds Are Back

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 042018
 

Traffic is heavier on the local roads, stores are busier, and restaurants that we used to be able to walk right into and get a table now have waiting times to be seated. Yes indeed, the snowbirds are back in Florida. Some people who live here year round grumble about that, but the business community sure appreciates them. And having been snowbirds ourselves for many years, we have no problem with all of our winter visitors.



Of course people are not the only snowbirds showing up. Yesterday I noticed these two Osprey have returned to their nest in a tree across the street from our house. They come here every year, and though they can be noisy at times, we always enjoy seeing them and watching as they hatch their eggs and raise their fledglings. They are huge, magnificent birds.

After reading yesterday’s blog, It Could Have Gotten Ugly, longtime reader Samantha McBride sent me a message saying she was worried when she read about me being up on a ladder with a power washer. You weren’t the only one who was worried, Samantha. Think how the people I owe money to must have felt!

I was back up on the ladder with the power washer again yesterday, and finished the rest of the front of the house, as well as one side. You wouldn’t think climbing up and down a ladder and pointing the nozzle of the sprayer at the house while I squeezed the handle would be that much work, but this old man was worn out by the time he was done.



And I wasn’t the only one who was tired. While I was doing that, Terry was busy doing yard work. We have several banana palms at the entrance to our driveway and their leaves had turned brown and wilted during the recent cold spell. We thought the frost might have killed them, but they have brand-new green shoots coming up again. So Terry trimmed off all the old dead leaves, as well as trimming back the flowers and bushes that grow in the front and side of the house.

We have a couple of trees next to our garage, and one had gotten so large that it was rubbing against the side of the building. We cut back the offending branches and Terry trimmed and cleaned a lot of smaller branches and bushes in that area.

Comedian Bill Engvall won fame and fortune with his Here’s Your Sign routines, where he replies to dumb questions with snarky answers, and then says, “here’s your sign” while showing a sign that says “stupid.” I was wishing I had one of Bill’s signs to pass out while I was doing the power washing. A fellow came by, watched me for a couple of minutes, and then asked, “Is that a power washer?” I really wanted to tell him “No, it’s a really, really powerful squirt gun.” He followed up his first dumb question with another one when he asked, “Are you power washing your house?” I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, “No, we’re thinking about adopting three or four kids, so I’m watering the house to see if I can grow an extra bedroom or two.” Yep, here’s your sign!

(In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that while Miss Terry was proofreading the original draft of today’s blog, I was in the bathroom taking my nightly meds and supplements when I dropped a pill on the floor. I quickly bent down to retrieve it and smacked my forehead on the vanity top hard enough that it left a welt and Terry heard it in the other room. Where’s my sign?”)

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

Today is your last chance to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a just released audiobook of Big Lake Burning, the sixth 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 (first and last) 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 – I listen to you talk and I can’t help but wonder if you get half off the regular price when you go to a mind reader?

Feb 032018
 

Picture this, me standing on a stepladder on our concrete driveway with a power tool in my hand. What could possibly go wrong? This is when you have to ask yourself, “where are the adults?”

If you live in Florida, (or Washington, Oregon, or other places with a lot of rain), eventually your house is going to start accumulating mildew stains on the exterior. It’s just a fact of life. And eventually you, or somebody else, is going to have to power wash the place. That was my chore yesterday.

I’m not sure if or when the person we bought our house from ever bothered to power wash it, but given some of the other neglect we have seen, I doubt it. Since Terry’s parents will be here visiting us this coming week, we have been trying to spruce the place up a bit in anticipation of their arrival. So yesterday afternoon I bought some cleaning chemical, got out my handy dandy Karcher K 2.27 pressure washer, and tried to see if I could do any good.

The results were better than I expected, though I had to get up on a stepladder to get to the higher parts. As clumsy as I am, it could have gotten ugly, but but I managed to do so without strangling myself with the hose or falling off and breaking my skull. I got about half of the front of the place done before the no-see-ums came out and starting biting, and hopefully I will get back at it today if the wind isn’t too bad.



Meanwhile, Terry has been on a painting binge. As I said a few days ago, she did the guest bathroom and one wall in the kitchen, and a little hallway/room that separates the front from the rear of the house. Yesterday she painted the living room. Everything originally was kind of an institutional green color, and she’s been using a lighter paint with a bit of blue in it.

She did an excellent job with it, and we are both really pleased. Here’s a shot of the living room from one end, and below it a picture of the entryway. That thing with the arms you see in the second picture is an antique weaving weasel, used for winding yarn.

There are still a couple more rooms Terry wants to paint, but we are running out of time and I’m not sure how much she will get done before her parents arrive on Tuesday. Once the painting is done and our visitors leave, we’ve got a couple more home improvement projects in the works. But I’ll tell you more about those later, when we get closer to having them done.



Here is another funny sign that I think we can all relate to. Do you remember the old days when we actually talked to each other? Good times, huh?

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

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a just released audiobook of Big Lake Burning, the sixth 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 (first and last) 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 – It’s better to have an inferiority complex and be pleasantly surprised than to have a superiority complex and be rudely awakened.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

 Posted by at 12:42 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 022018
 

Is there anybody who doesn’t love old lighthouses? I know we can’t drive past one without stopping!



One of our favorites is Cape Blanco Lighthouse, which stands on a rugged cliff, 245 feet above the ocean, on the western-most point in Oregon. Commissioned in 1870, Cape Blanco is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on Oregon’s coast. The massive Fresnel lens was lit for the first time on December 20, 1870, and the lighthouse has helped guide ships safely along the rugged and often hazardous coast ever since.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse had a number of keepers over the years, including James Langlois, who kept the light burning for 42 years, and James Hughes, who tended the light for 33 years. The light keeper’s job was hard work. Each day three gallons of oil had to be carried by hand up the 67 winding stairs to the top, and the keeper was responsible for keeping the light burning from sunset to sunrise, and polishing its lens. Other duties included keeping all of the equipment clean and polished, and maintaining the grounds and various buildings.

The lighthouse was an isolated place and the keeper and his assistants lived on the grounds, where they raised chickens, tended the station’s cows, and grew their own vegetables in a one acre garden. Firewood had to be cut, hauled, and split, laundry was done by hand, and everybody was expected to pitch in to help get the job done.

Housing was provided as part of the keeper’s compensation but the quarters were cramped. For the first 34 years, three keepers and their families lived under one roof. Fireplaces and oil lamps provided the only heat and illumination. In 1910, a separate house was built for the head light keeper. While the assistants and their families still had to use the outhouse, the new home included an indoor privy. Rank has its privileges!

Cape Blanco was also home to Oregon’s first woman keeper, Mabel E. Bretherton, who arrived in March, 1903.



Between 1852 and 1950, at least twenty shipwrecks occurred between Cape Blanco and Port Orford, a few miles to the south, including the oil tanker J.A. Chanslor, which hit an offshore rock in 1919. Only three of the 39 people onboard survived.

Cape Blanco’s original lens was a first order, non-rotating Fresnel lens. Years later, a 1,000-watt incandescent bulb replaced the lighthouse’s oil lamps. Today a 120 volt, 75 RPM electric motor rotates and flashes its 320,000 candlepower beam every eighteen seconds.

In 1939, the U.S. Coast Guard took over Cape Blanco Lighthouse, automating it and ending the need for a light keeper.

Today, Cape Blanco Lighthouse is open to the public through a joint operating agreement between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and various state and local governmental entities. Visitors can take a guided tour of the lighthouse dail, except Tuesday, from April through the end of October. Admission is $2 for adults and children age 15 and under are free.

Our volunteer tour guide was a fulltime RVer, who spent some time in the main building talking about the light keeper’s life and explaining the equipment used to keep the light burning, and then led us up the winding stairs to the top, where the Fresnel lens still sends its signal up to 25 miles out to sea.

We have met several RVers who volunteer at lighthouses, and if we were retired and had the time, I’d love to do something like that. Our guide told us that he and his wife work 20 hours a week in exchange for their RV site, and have the Pacific Ocean as their backyard! There are four RVing couples working at the lighthouse.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse is located nine miles north of Port Orford, Oregon, just off U.S. Highway 101. The paved parking area could accommodate a motorhome if it was not busy, but visitors are best advised to park your RV at one of the local campgrounds, or in town, and drive your tow vehicle or dinghy. For more information, contact the Coos Bay BLM office at (541) 756-0100.

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

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a just released audiobook of Big Lake Burning, the sixth 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 (first and last) 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 – The easiest way to look thin is to hang out with fat people.

Well, It Fit

 Posted by at 12:55 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 012018
 

In a blog post a couple of days ago titled What To Do? What To Do? I said I was trying to decide whether to buy my wife’s husband a Mustang fastback or a pontoon boat for Valentine’s Day. As an author, I know how important research is, so I went and drove a Mustang, and decided that while it was a really pretty (and really fast) car, it probably wasn’t the right thing to buy my wife’s husband. The guy has been known to have a lead foot.



That left the pontoon boat to consider, but as I said in that blog post, even though our garage is huge inside, it has a standard garage door about 7 feet high and a pontoon boat on a traditional trailer is too high and won’t fit. Rich, the salesman I had been talking to at Gerry’s Marina, suggested he send one of their guys over to our house with the same model of boat on a scissor trailer, which cranks up and down to lift or lower a boat. Rich was pretty sure it would fit with no problem once the trailer was cranked down.

So the other day one of their guys came by with a 20 foot Bennington on a scissor trailer, backed it into our driveway, turned the handle a few times to lower the boat, and it went right inside with no problem at all. Miss Terry and our friend Jim Lewis both agreed that it looked pretty good sitting there, too!

No, I haven’t bought a boat yet, but Rich did make me a heck of an offer. He wants us to come by and actually take one out on the water and see how it rides. If we have time we may do that. If I do buy the boat, I’ll have to find a scissor trailer, since nobody around here actually stocks them. And I’ll have to sell my Key Largo 16 foot center console. It’s a nice boat, but when I bought it I did so with the idea of it being a starter boat to see what I thought of having one. It’s fine for Terry and me, but if you have a third person fishing with you it gets pretty crowded.



After reading the blog about the boat, someone said that at my age, I should not be buying guns, and boats, and cars, but instead, I should be planning for the future. See, here’s the thing. That’s exactly what I’m doing. Let’s face it. I’m a 65-year-old fat man who has had two heart attacks. The odds that I will die long before Terry does are pretty certain. And if that happens, that lady is going to have a heck of a dowry to attract whoever replaces me. It really is all about her. You get that, right?

On another note, we all know that privacy disappeared the first time somebody figured out a way to connect a computer to the Internet. But sometimes it’s pretty scary when you realize how much of your information is out there for the world to access. Anybody who has done an Internet search for cars or barbecue grills or whatever, knows that within a day or so ads for those kind of items will start popping up on your Internet newsfeeds, on Facebook, or anywhere you go online. The same as they do when you buy something online.

But I was surprised to realize just how far this goes. A while back we started scanning all of our receipts from Walmart into their Savings Catcher app. The app compares the price a customer pays for an item at their store with advertised prices at other local retailers. If somebody else has the item for less money, the difference is added to your Savings Catcher account. Usually it’s only a few pennies, although a couple times it’s been more than a dollar per receipt. And, of course, many times we just get a message saying that nobody beat Walmart’s price that time around.

At any rate, we had accumulated about $77 in our Savings Catcher account and I didn’t know how to use it. So the other day when we were at Walmart, I went up to the customer service desk to find out. As it turned out, the first two people I spoke to didn’t know either, but they called a young a sales associate over and she quickly set it up on my telephone so all I have to do is scan a little code at the checkout and it credits the amount in my Savings Catcher account to my purchase. Quick and easy. Then, she told me that to speed things up when checking out, I had the option to choose one of my credit or debit cards to automatically be used for the balance of the purchase, if there was one, and pulled up every credit card I have to ask which one I wanted to use. I know for a fact that I haven’t used all of those cards at Walmart before, so I have no idea how they knew which ones I had and what the card numbers were. Amazing.

So the next time you freak out because the kid next door is flying a drone and you’re sure he’s spying on you, calm down. People with a lot more money and a lot more ability than someone like that already knows all there is to know about you.

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

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a just released audiobook of Big Lake Burning, the sixth 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 (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – I love you like a fat kid loves a chocolate cake.

Jan 312018
 

Popular history, television, and movies made a hero out of Wyatt Earp, who blazed his way to glory in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone. The truth is that while Earp was a sometime lawman, he was also a gambler, pimp, and a saloon owner, all acceptable careers in the Old West.

And there were many who considered Earp, his brothers, and their pal Doc Holliday no more than common thugs, hiding behind badges as an excuse to get rid of their enemies. In fact, the grave of Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers, who were killed in the famous shootout, bears the inscription “Murdered On The Streets Of Tombstone.”

Wyatt Earp’s reputation may have been enhanced by publicists and dime novelists, but there were other heroes who may not have received as much fame while certainly leaving their mark on Arizona. One of the most colorful and courageous of these was William Owen O’Neill.



Born on February 2, 1860, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Irish immigrant parents, O’Neill was educated in Washington, D.C. and then moved to Arizona in search of adventure. He worked as a prospector, newspaper typesetter, court reporter, and later became a newspaper editor and publisher. Somewhere along the way he earned the nickname “Bucky.”

1880 found O’Neill in Tombstone, where frontier publisher John Clum hired him to be a reporter for the famous Tombstone Epitaph. But O’Neill left Tombstone in the summer of 1881, missing the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which took place on October 26, 1881.

A gregariously friendly man with a reputation for honesty, O’Neill eventually moved to Prescott, which at the time was the capital of Arizona Territory. He served as the Yavapai County Probate Judge and as School Superintendent. Next he was elected Yavapai County Sheriff and served three consecutive terms. Bucky O’Neill quickly proved he was the right man for that dangerous job, and there were many tales of his courage and fearless dedication to enforcing the law.

He was considered the best shot in Arizona Territory, a skill that served him well in several shootouts. One of his most famous exploits as Sheriff was the manhunt he led for a gang of train robbers in 1889. O’Neill formed a posse and followed the bandits’ trail for three weeks before finally catching up with them in Utah. After a brief shootout, in which the Sheriff’s horse was the only casualty, the outlaws were captured and brought back to Arizona, where they were sentenced to the Yuma Territorial Prison.

Another story says that a local outlaw was holed up in a cabin and threatened to shoot any lawman that tried to arrest him. But Bucky O’Neill’s reputation proceeded him, and when the Sheriff rode up to the cabin alone, the fugitive took one look at him and surrendered.



After his time as Sheriff, O’Neill unsuccessfully ran for Congress three times, but was unanimously elected Mayor of Prescott. When the Spanish-American War broke out and Theodore Roosevelt put out the word that he was looking for volunteers, Bucky O’Neill joined some 300 cowboys, miners, and other adventure seekers in the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, which became known as the Rough Riders.

Just as flamboyant and courageous as the former Arizona sheriff, Roosevelt and O’Neill quickly became close friends. Roosevelt wrote of how O’Neill dove into the water to rescue two black soldiers who had fallen overboard, while others stood by and watched.

O’Neill was a captain in the Rough Riders in Cuba, and was well loved by his men for his courage and good character. But his fearlessness would be his undoing. On July 1, 1898, O’Neill and his men were pinned down in a ditch near San Juan Hill. O’Neill stood up to observe the enemy, and his sergeant urged him to take cover. “The Spanish bullet hasn’t been molded that can kill Bucky O’Neill,” the officer replied. He was wrong, in the next second he was shot in the mouth and died almost instantly. Bucky O’Neill was 39 years old. William Owen “Bucky” O’Neill was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, a short distance from his father John O’Neill, a Civil War veteran.

Today a statue of Bucky O’Neill stands in front of the Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott, to honor the brave sheriff and all of the Rough Riders. The statue was created by Solon Borglum, brother of Gutzon Borglum, who designed Mount Rushmore. Prescott citizens and visitors have picnics and attend concerts on the courthouse square, many not knowing the story of the Arizona hero who still watches over them.

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

Thought For The Day – I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll try to make an exception.