Nick Russell

Q&A Time Again

 Posted by at 1:15 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 132017
 

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from Gypsy Journal subscribers and blog readers, and while I try to answer all of them individually, I wanted to share some with the folks here today.

Q. I know that you and Terry built a bus conversion and lived in it for quite some time before getting the Winnebago. My husband has talked about doing that. What kind of bus was it, and do you have any tips for somebody wanting to do the same thing?

A. We lived in our 1976 MCI bus for over 8 1/2 years and we loved it. But building a bus conversion is a lot of hard work, and if you don’t have a place to work and the time to do it, it can be pretty difficult. I would advise anybody looking at building a bus conversion to go with a newer four-stroke engine instead of the old two-stroke Detroit diesel like we had. Those old engines are bulletproof, but very underpowered if they do not have a turbo, and sometimes tended to overheat in hilly or mountain country. And we found that it’s getting harder and harder to locate good mechanics who are familiar with the old two-stroke’s. Today everything is electronic, and it seems like if they can’t plug it into a data port and run a diagnostic test, a lot of shops don’t know what to do with the older buses.

Q. It’s been a year since you and Terry bought your house. Has hitch itch been a problem after so many years on the road?

A. Not at all. We loved our RVing life, but when we hung up the keys we were done. We still want to travel, and we will, but we will be sleeping in hotels from now on, not campgrounds.



Q. You talked about taking some short trips in your van. Do you have anything planned right now?

A. At the moment, I’m hard at work trying to get my next Big Lake book out. Once that’s done we may take a trip up to Savannah, Georgia for a few days, or maybe to Charleston, South Carolina. We also plan on a day trip to Saint Augustine soon, and we may find someplace else to visit. We’re taking things one day at a time

Q. We are new fulltimers with a very nice 2008 Newmar Dutch Star. We keep hearing that a lot of RV parks enforce a 10 year rule and won’t let us in. Is that going to be a problem?

A. There are a few places that do enforce a 10 year rule, and others that have it but only use it selectively, depending on the look of the rig. As I said above, our bus was a 1976, and there was only one RV resort where we couldn’t go. And we wouldn’t have wanted to go there, anyway. Don’t worry, there are plenty of places that want your business and will be glad to have you.

Q. We haven’t heard anything about you being out on your boat in a long time. Aren’t you using it?

A. We are not acclimated to the hot Florida summers yet, so the boat has been in the garage since late spring. There is not nearly as much fishing activity going on in the summer as there is once things cool down. We hope to be out on the water very soon.

Q. What’s happening with the sale of your Winnebago? You haven’t had anything to say about that in a while.

A. I haven’t had anything to say because nothing is happening. We had the one deal that fell through soon after we took it to PPL Motorhomes in Houston, and since then there have been some lookers, but nobody has made an offer. Hopefully we’ll see some action soon.

Q. Quite some time ago you posted info on how to go online with Dish to change your service location when you move. I saved that and used it, and it was a lot quicker than talking to someone on the phone who couldn’t speak English. Now we’re getting ready to go to Yuma for the winter, and I can’t find it. Can you help me out?

A. To have Dish change your service location every time you arrive at a new location, log onto www.mydish.com and set up an online account if you don’t already have one. From then on, log into http://www.dish.com/chat/ and choose Chat Now. The wait is usually less than five minutes. I have a paragraph typed up and saved on my computer that I just paste in when the rep comes on the line, with the local address substituted. Here it is: Hello. We have your DISH service in our motorhome and need to change our service address to (insert your location address and zip code). This is a change of service address only, the billing address will remain the same.



Q. Have you ever taken an RV caravan, and if so, what did you think of the experience?

A. In all our years fulltiming, we never took part in a caravan, though we know many people who did and loved it. The biggest problem we had with caravans is they seem to be too structured for our taste. There’s a schedule to follow, you get on the road at a certain time in the morning, you travel a certain route, stop at a certain time for breaks, and arrive at a certain campground at a certain time at the end of the day. Our inner children are just too whimsical for that. There’s always a historical marker we need to pull over and read, an interesting small town we need to stop and explore, or a historical site that we can’t pass up.

Q. Now that you have stopped publishing the Gypsy Journal, what you plan to do with your time besides write books and go fishing?

A. Oh, don’t worry about me, I can find plenty of ways to keep myself occupied. There is metal detecting, fishing, boating, kayaking, kite flying, eating all the great seafood in this area, and just sitting at the beach and watching the pretty girls. And when I’m not doing something like that, I may just goof off!

I’m happy to say that this weekend we gave away over 400 copies of our e-book Overnight Parking With The VFW, which lists VFW posts nationwide that allow traveling VFW members to park overnight for free or a small donation. It’s always nice to help a fellow vet.

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 Denise Gray, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake, the first book in my Big Lake mystery series, and the one that launched my career as a fiction author. We had 96 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – I’m fairly competent at making piss poor decisions.

High Expectations

 Posted by at 1:02 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 122017
 

Sometimes people have some very high expectations. I don’t know if it’s because they have a sense of entitlement or because they are just foolish, but either way they need to get a dose of reality. Here are some examples based on emails and social media messages I’ve received in just the last two weeks.

Terry and I have been lifetime members of Passport America for many years and it’s one of the best ways I know of for RVers to save money when they travel. For just $44 a year you get access to over 1900 RV parks and campgrounds that offer a 50% discount to Passport America members. But you do have to understand that each campground sets its own rules as to which days of the week they accept Passport America members and on stay limits. Obviously, if you have a campground in Florida and it’s the busy winter season, you are not going to be renting RV sites for half-price when you are running at 100% occupancy. But in the off-season it’s a good deal for both the RV park and the Passport America member. They get more traffic when they need it, and the RVer saves a few bucks. Many participating campgrounds are small mom and pop places, although some are large full service RV resorts. Either way, it’s a heck of a bargain.

So I didn’t have a lot of sympathy when someone complained to me that they stayed overnight in a small Passport America campground that only had 30 amp electric at their full hookup site, and that there was no cable TV or free Wi-Fi. They felt like they got ripped off at $13 a night. Really? $13 got you a full hookup RV site? That was a heck of a deal over 18 years ago when we started fulltiming. I’m surprised somebody like this doesn’t expect Walmart to supply hookups and free Wi-Fi when they stay in their parking lots overnight, too.



Somebody else was complaining that they called a dealer in Wisconsin who handles the same brand of RV they bought back home in New York and he wouldn’t send someone out to their campground to discuss some of the issues they were having with their motorhome. The RVer said he paid a good price for his rig, and he didn’t think it was too much to expect someone to drive a measly eight miles to take care of a customer. I told him that’s not the way this industry works, and I would be very surprised if the dealer he originally bought the RV from would even send somebody across the street to make a repair. Anybody who has read this blog very long knows I’m not a big fan of most RV dealerships, but let’s get real, folks.

And then there was the couple complaining that they stayed in a state park campsite somewhere out west and all the sites had was basic electric and a dump station. No water and no sewer hookup. I’m surprised they got a site with electric. A lot of state parks don’t even offer that much

As I’ve written many times, Terry and I have always loved traveling the two lane roads, both in our motorhome and in our van. One interstate highway exit looks the same as any other, no matter where you are in the country. Two lane roads take you past farmland and through small towns and along winding rivers where the real America lives. But one has to understand that not all two lane roads are created equally. Some are just not suited for a big RV.

A blog reader complained about that the other day, saying they were on a back road somewhere in the mountains of West Virginia and it got so narrow they thought they were going to fall off the side. And that was before they came to the low underpass they couldn’t fit through! They wondered why a state would not make all of their roads suitable for any size vehicle. I’ve traveled some two lane roads in West Virginia. We were on one once in our Toyota pickup that had me wondering if we wouldn’t fall off the side! If you’re going to drive a big rig, learn how to read a map and know what kind of roads the different lines on that map indicate. And get yourself a GPS that will allow you to enter your vehicle’s height and weight. It will save you a lot of trouble.

A complaint I have received more than once is from somebody who puts their clothes in a washing machine at a campground laundry and then runs off to do something and forgets about it or gets busy and couldn’t get back, and is offended because someone else eventually took the clothes out and stacked them on a table so they could use the machine. You would be surprised by how many people are offended by that. I guess they expect everyone else to just sit and wait until they eventually return. You would be even more surprised by the number of people who say that the least the next person wanting to use the machine should do is put the clothes in the dryer (use of these machines is not free, by the way) and start the drying process.



And last but not least, somebody contacted me yesterday asking about RV parks in Florida where one can buy their own site. I gave him the names of two or three that I knew of, and a link to a website that lists RV lots for sale nationwide. I don’t know how many places were listed, but apparently it was too many because he responded asking me if I could use some kind of filter to narrow the field down to sites in a certain price range that would accommodate his 45 foot rig in RV resorts that included a golf course and pickleball courts, and also had storage for boats. Gee, all I have to do with my life this month is finish writing a new book, write a daily blog, and run my business. I’ll jump right on that for you, buddy.

Like I said, sometimes people have very high expectations.

A lot of veterans have responded to our offer of a free copy of our e-book Overnight Parking With The VFW, which lists VFW posts nationwide that allow traveling VFW members to park overnight for free or a small donation. Again, this guide is free to VFW members for a limited time only. To request a copy, email me at Editor@gypsyjournal.net.

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 Free Drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake, the first book in my Big Lake mystery series, and the one that launched my career as a fiction author. 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 – Somebody stole my mood ring and I don’t know how I feel about that.

Veterans Day

 Posted by at 12:37 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 112017
 

Before I do anything else today I want to thank all of my fellow veterans and our active duty military for their service to our country and to say Welcome Home. It’s because of men and women like you, citizens who are willing to leave their home and their families to serve our country, that the rest of us can live in peace today and sleep safely in our beds tonight.

Nobody ever joined the service because they wanted to die for their country. But millions of them have. Nobody ever put on the uniform expecting to come home maimed. But millions of them have. Nobody ever raised their right hand and took the oath to protect their country and imagined that they were signing up for a lifetime of waking up from nightmares of scenes no Hollywood horror movie could ever portray. But millions of them do.

And for those of you who never wore our country’s uniform, I know you’ve heard it many times before, but it applies today even more than any other day of the year – if you love your freedom, thank a vet. Without the sacrifices made by our military members past and present, you and I would not have the freedoms we enjoy and all too often take for granted.



And while you are thanking that vet, thank his or her family members, too. If you’re married to or are the child of a plumber or an accountant or a small business owner, you live a pretty normal life. But the families of military people often live as single parent households while Dad (or Mom) is on deployment. Birthdays and holidays are missed. Family events and problems are dealt with alone. And they never know when that staff car might pull up and a couple of somber officers and a chaplain will come to their door.

And, in honor of Veterans Day, today through Monday we are sending our Overnight Camping With The VFW guide to any VFW members who want one for free. It lists VFW posts nationwide that allow traveling VFW members to park overnight for free or a small donation. Again, this guide is free to VFW members for a limited time only. To request a copy, email me at Editor@gypsyjournal.net.

Many companies are thanking veterans today in very visible ways with free meals and special discounts. Here is a link to a list of businesses honoring our nation’s veterans today. http://www.military.com/veterans-day/restaurants-veterans-day-military-discounts.html  

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 Big Lake, the first book in my Big Lake mystery series, and the one that launched my career as a fiction author. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes! – Maya Angelou

Nov 102017
 

Miss Terry has been keeping the folks at the post office busy, sending out refund checks for the unused portions of people’s subscriptions to the Gypsy Journal. If you were a subscriber, please e-mail me your current mailing address at Editor@gypsyjournal.net so we can process your refund.

We have been amazed at how many people have told us to keep the refund and enjoy a nice dinner, or at least tip the waitress with what they had coming back. That is much appreciated.

I’ve had several inquiries from people wanting to know if back issues of the Gypsy Journal are still available. Yes, we have 15 years of back issues (2003 – 2017) full of great travel stories and RV tips available in PDF format. We sell them on a USB thumb drive for $75, which includes shipping. You can order by logging onto www.paypal.com and making payment to Editor@gypsyjournal.net or you can use the PayPal button below to place your order.

People have also been asking me if we will still be selling our 8-IN-1 e-book with all eight of our best selling booklets – Gypsy Journal’s Guide To Free Campgrounds & Overnight Parking Spots, Gypsy Journal’s Guide to RV Good Guys, Gypsy Journal’s Guide to Public RV Dump Stations, RVers Guide To Fairgrounds Camping, Guide to Favorite Restaurants RVers Will Love, Guide to RV Parks With WiFi, Hitching Post, and RVers Guide ‘s To Casino Parking. Yes, they are also still available in PDF format for $24.95 and are e-mailed to you. Again, you can order by logging onto www.paypal.com and making payment to Editor@gypsyjournal.net or you can use the PayPal button below to place your order.

And, in honor of Veterans Day, today through Monday we are sending our Overnight Camping With The VFW guide to any VFW members who want one for free. It lists VFW posts nationwide that allow traveling VFW members to park overnight for free or a small donation. Again, this guide is free to VFW members for a limited time only. To request a copy, email me at Editor@gypsyjournal.net

Also, today I want to tell you about a great new book, Lone Star Lawless: 14 Texas Tales of Crime. Several of my author friends from Texas collaborated to put together a collection of stories that explore the dark side of the Lone Star State. They include tales of cowboys and criminals, girlfriends and grifters, morticians, motel clerks, and even a big, bad wolf! There is some fine writing from some fine people here, folks, including Valerie Chandler, George Wier, Manning Wolfe, and Laura Oles. And best of all, they did this to help their fellow man. All profits from the book will go to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Yeah, because that’s how my friends roll! They believe in giving something back to the world. Buy a copy. It’s for a good cause, and I guarantee you will be in for some great reading.

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 Big Lake, the first book in my Big Lake mystery series, and the one that launched my career as a fiction author. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Success in almost any field depends more on energy and drive than it does on intelligence. This explains why we have so many stupid leaders. – Sloan Wilson

 

 

A Busy Daytona Day

 Posted by at 12:59 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 092017
 

Yesterday was a busy day for us. I had a 2 PM appointment at the dealership in Daytona Beach where we bought our Chrysler Pacifica back in June for two recalls. One was to download a change in the computer software to fix a flaw in a sending unit, and the other was to replace a seatbelt connector in one of the rear seats.

They made the appointment two weeks ago, then called Tuesday afternoon to tell me that the part for the seatbelt is on a long back order and it may be months before they get it in. I’m sure glad we don’t haul a bunch of kids around and need those seats in the back! They asked if I wanted to delay the appointment for the software upgrade until the seatbelt part came in, but since they have no idea when that might be I told them no, we would be there because there’s no use putting it off. In the letter I got from Chrysler, it said it needed to be done immediately, so why would I want to wait months?

I have to say that while the sales process went well and we got a good deal on the van, l am not impressed with the service at Daytona Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram. When we bought the vehicle, we were told that it had electronic memory seating so that either Terry or I could just push a button and it would return to our individual positions for height, forward or backward movement, and lumbar support. It’s an option we have on our Ford Explorer and really like. The van has so many bells and whistles on it that it was only after we had it home for a day or two that we realized it did not have that option. I called the salesman and he told me he would talk to the service department and make sure they got us in immediately to have it installed. That was in early June. I’ve called several times, and stopped in three times, and every time I do I have to start from square one. Everybody remembers their promise to resolve the issue, but then they start passing the buck, each one blaming the next person for dropping the ball. I don’t care who dropped the damn ball, pick it up and take care of business!



It took about an hour for the software upgrade to be done, and when we left the dealership we went to Dave’s Darts, a local dart shop. A year or so ago when our friend Jim Lewis got us hooked on playing darts, we bought a Unicorn dartboard. It wasn’t very expensive, and it served us well and gave us untold hours of recreation. But we used it so much that it was beat to death and many times darts would bounce right back out because the bristles it is composed of had softened and spread so much. So we bought a new board yesterday, a JMI Bandit, which is supposed to be a few steps up from the board we have been using. While we were at the store we also played with some different darts, and even experimented with a blow gun. Now that was fun!

With that out of the way, we made a few other stops, then went to the Chinese buffet for dinner. It’s been a while since we’ve been there, and it was really good.

Back at home we broke in the new dartboard, and I’m proud to say I had no trouble at all adapting to it, which is to say that I threw just as bad as I always do and lost every game.

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 Big Lake, the first book in my Big Lake mystery series, and the one that launched my career as a fiction author. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Swallow your pride. It isn’t fattening.

Don’t Be A Slob

 Posted by at 12:49 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 082017
 

It’s that time of year once again, the start of the snowbird season, and RVs are already abandoning the colder climates up north and heading south in search of sunshine and warm weather. If you’re one of them, please drive carefully. There are a lot of crazy people out there texting and talking on cell phones and doing all kinds of stupid things that can put your life in danger no matter how careful you are. Oh, and do me a favor will you? Don’t be a slob.



When I say slob, I don’t mean don’t be a litterbug who throws your trash out the window as you roll down the highway. Nobody here would do that, right? But unfortunately, there is another kind of slob in our community. The RV slob.

A lot of folks are going to be pulling into Walmarts for the night as they head for their favorite snowbird roosts in Florida, or Alabama, or Texas, or Arizona, or wherever. There’s not a thing wrong with that. We blacktop boondocked at Camp Walmart more times than I can count during our years of fulltime RVing. If all you plan to do is pull in, grab a bite to eat and get some rest before you go on down the road the next morning, why should you pay for a full hookup RV site in a campground if you don’t need it? After all, you’ve got a self-contained RV.

But there’s a right way and a wrong way to park at Walmart. And really, it’s a no-brainer. Just use your common sense. Oh, that’s right, common sense isn’t all that common anymore, is it? Apparently not, given some of the things we’ve seen over the years.

Always get permission to park overnight at any business. It’s not public property, the store is giving you the courtesy of letting you park there. Extend the same courtesy to them by asking permission. I don’t care if there were six other RVs already parked there, we always went inside and went to the courtesy desk and asked permission. It’s the right thing to do.

We always tried to park on the far edges of the parking lot. If you have a rig that requires you to open a slide to get to the bedroom or bathroom, park in such a way that you can extend the slide over the grassy area at the edge of the parking lot. Do not park your RV in the busy parking areas in front of the store. You would think people would understand that, right? Unfortunately, you would be wrong.

Check out this clown that we saw at the Walmart in Lake City, Florida a few years ago. This was a week before Christmas, and he was taking up seven car spaces near the front of the store. I know, because I counted them. There was plenty of room on the edge of the parking lot, but he chose to park right there. Me, being the jerk that I am, asked him why he would do that and he told me that it was no big deal, he only planned to be there for two or three days. You read that right folks, two or three days, right in the middle their parking lot, at the height of their Christmas shopping season. What kind of an impression do you think he gave people about RVers?

Don’t put jacks down. I don’t care if your rig is rocking and rolling when you walk around inside of it. This is what happens when you put jacks down on asphalt. If you ran that store and had to pay to get that repaired, how eager would you be to have other RVers overnight in your parking lot?

Keep a low profile. Don’t be this guy. This was at a Walmart in South Dakota. Not only was he taking up several car spaces in the busiest part of the parking lot, he was washing his rig. And again, there was plenty of room at the edge of the lot for him to park.

Don’t put out lawn chairs, or barbecue grills, or your awnings. Yes, I’ve seen people do all of those things. I’ve also seen them drain their gray water right out onto the pavement. A few years ago we were spending some time in Tucson, Arizona and there was a gentleman in a travel trailer who was parked for weeks at the Walmart in nearby Marana. We actually saw him come out and empty a plastic dishpan full of water in the parking lot in the middle of the day. The next time we came through that area there were No Overnight RV Parking signs.

I call these people OPOPs, which stands for Only People On the Planet. They have no consideration for others, they have no respect for others, and they do not appreciate the courtesy a business extends them by letting them park for free overnight instead of spending money on a campground. Don’t be an OPOP. Don’t be the RV slob that causes the next business to put up No Parking signs.



The Escapees RV Club has an excellent Code of Parking Etiquette that covers these basic things. You can even download it from their website so you’ll have a reminder that you can hand to somebody you see doing something that makes us all look bad. I don’t really recommend that, in this day and age, because while we would like to think that people do this out of ignorance, the truth is some of them are just slobs and you might find yourself arguing with them because they refuse to see the error of their ways. I learned a long time never to argue with an idiot. He’ll drag you down to his level and beat you with experience every time.

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 – Stupid is as stupid does. – Forrest Gump

Oops, I Goofed!

 Posted by at 12:33 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 072017
 

In yesterday’s blog, when I talked about RV fire extinguishers I recommend my friend Mac McCoy, the world’s acknowledged RV fire safety expert, and included a link to his website. As it turns out, I goofed.



When Mac and I talked a few weeks ago, he told me that he was planning to pull the plug on his business and his RV travels soon. And last month, 20 years after he started with his first seminars at the RVing Women rally in 1997, he did his last rally and last seminar, again at RVing Women. I called Mac yesterday and he told me that he and his wife Annie are planning to spend most of their time at their home in Oregon, with occasional trips down to Yuma, Arizona in the wintertime. But like us and so many of the old time instructors and vendors we know, he has hung up the keys. Mac told me he still has a few fire extinguishers left, but once they are gone, he won’t be getting any more in.

Mac was one of the first people we met as fulltime RVers and we had some wonderful times over the years. And a misadventure or two along the way, just for laughs. Mac’s sense of humor is just as sick and twisted as mine, and anytime we were together without adult supervision, trouble was sure to follow.

You’re leaving behind a hell of a legacy Mac, and I know some lives and some RVs were saved because of you. We actually had not one, but two RV fires, and both times they were extinguished quickly because of the lessons we learned in Mac’s seminars. If there’s anything that Terry and I miss about our life on the road, it is having the opportunity to cross paths with Mac and all of the other friends we made out there.

Speaking of our friends, here is a link to a very nice Kirkus review my good friend Billy Kring just received for Hunter’s Moon, the fifth book in his excellent mystery series featuring Border Patrol Agent Hunter Kincaid. Billy had a long career in the Border Patrol himself, and when he writes it’s just like you are out there in West Texas riding along with his characters. If you haven’t read any of Billy’s books yet, you really need to. They are great, and I never miss getting a new one as soon as it becomes available.

As for what’s going on around here, yesterday was another writing day for me, and I cranked out another 4,500 words in my next Big Lake book. Meanwhile, Miss Terry has been busy figuring out the refunds for unfulfilled subscriptions from the Gypsy Journal. But that didn’t stop her from making a delicious cheesecake the other day, and an outstanding dinner to go along with it. I hope to get another 4,000 to 5,000 words in today, because we are going to be busy with some other things Wednesday and Thursday and I probably won’t get much done then.



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 – The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets. – Will Rogers

Nov 062017
 

Definition of potpourri – 1: a mixture of flowers, herbs, and spices that is usually kept in a jar and used for scent. 2: a miscellaneous collection. The second definition above pretty much describes today’s blog. This is another post in a collection of miscellaneous thoughts and info that I’m sharing because I really don’t have anything else to talk about today.

Do you have Kidde fire extinguishers in your home or RV? If so, you may be at risk. The company is recalling 40 million of their fire extinguishers with plastic handles because of malfunctions that have already resulted in one death, as well as several people being burned. Owners of Kidde fire extinguishers should contact the company immediately to request a free replacement fire extinguisher and for instructions on how to return the recalled unit. You can call Kidde toll free at (855) 271-0773 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time Monday – Friday, and 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Eastern Time Saturday and Sunday, or go online www.kidde.com  and click on the “Product Safety Recall” link for more information.

Speaking of fire extinguishers, RVs are not like houses. Different materials are used in their manufacture, and they require different fire extinguishers than the kind you buy at Walmart. And yes, new RVs always come with a fire extinguisher. Usually just one. How much good do you think that will do if your rig catches fire? And do you remember how cheap everything else is in most RVs? That’s because the manufacturers want to get by for the least investment they can. Do you want to bet your life and your home on wheels on a fire extinguisher made by the lowest bidder? From the first week we started RVing we carried a variety of fire extinguishers from Mac McCoy, better known as Mac The Fire Guy because of the RV fire safety seminars he has put on at RV rallies across the country for 20 years. Mac sells only the best products, which are designed for RVs. I guarantee he will take good care of you.



I had an interesting email exchange yesterday with somebody who is researching the fulltime RV lifestyle and had quite a few questions, which is not uncommon. What was different about this person was that she doesn’t know how to drive a car and has a medical condition that prevents her from doing so. Her plan is to purchase a small Class C motorhome, or maybe a B van, and then hire someone to drive her from point A to point B, then she will pay their bus fare home. She plans to stay at every location at least a month, and maybe as much as three months, and when it’s time to move again, she will hire somebody else to drive her to her next stop. I’m not sure how that’s going to work out, but who knows? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Way back in 2011, when my first Big Lake book made the New York Times bestseller list, a few people thought we were going to close down the Gypsy Journal and retire and live off the revenue from that one book. Obviously, they didn’t know much about the book industry. One person in particular never let go of that and every few months I would get an email from him asking me when we were going to pull the plug, now that I’m rich and famous. He wrote yesterday to say “I told you so” when he heard that we were no longer going to be producing the paper. Yeah, I guess you were right, Barry. You were six years early in your prediction, but you are right. Well, all except that part about me being rich and famous. Instead, I’m just old and tired.

And while we’re on the topic of books, my newest release, Badge Bunny, already has 10 Amazon reviews and they are all 5 stars. Thank you for your support, everybody. Those reviews and you telling your friends about my books really has made a difference. Meanwhile, I cranked out a little over 6,000 words in my next Big Lake mystery yesterday, bringing my total up to a little over 14,000 words since I started it last Monday.



Can you believe how fast Christmas is coming? Actually, can you believe how fast this year has gone by? Just in time for Christmas, my friend Jason Deas has released a new book called 101 Things to do with your Christmas Elf. It’s a book of ideas for parents and grandparents for what to do with your elf on the shelf. Jason is going to be giving away 10 copies of the book this week, and you could be a winner. Click this link to find out more and help spread the word about a good book by a great guy. I’d consider it a personal favor. https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/2361908e67024f15

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 Beckie Dobbins, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of my friend Suzie O’Connell’s Starlight Magic, from her popular Northstar romance series. We had 45 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected. – Robert Frost

Me And The Dragon

 Posted by at 1:00 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 052017
 

Because I have arthritis in my hands, typing can become painful after a while for me. So two years ago I bought Dragon NaturallySpeaking software, and it has really increased my ability to churn out a lot of words in a day. I’m a two finger typist at best, and on a good day I might be able to get out 3,000 words, but then I would pay for it the next day. But with Dragon I can easily do 5,000 words or more in a day, and on a few occasions I’ve managed up to 10,000 words.

But we have a love-hate relationship. The program is not nearly as perfect as the TV commercials would have you believe. It has a lot of problems with similar sounding words such as their, there, and they’re. It confuses the words in and and all the time. The same with the words if and of. And for some reason, it doesn’t like certain words at all. It always wants to make Gypsy Journal into one compound word, gypsyjournal. And about half the time when I say Winnebago, it says win a bagel. I’ve done all of the voice training the company recommends and it didn’t help the problem. But even with those quirks, it’s still a lot better than typing for me.

Lately, the program has developed a new peculiarity. Once in a while, when I want to work in a Word document, Dragon will not respond. Sometimes I have to close Dragon and reopen it to make it work. Other times I have to close the Word document and reopen it before Dragon will work. Other times I have to close both programs. And, just to muddy the waters a little bit more, while it won’t work in Word, it may work in my email program, or on Facebook. Other times it won’t. I’ve tried unplugging the microphone and plugging it into a different USB port on the computer, and again, sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. There is no continuity in what resolves the problem. A few times I’ve been forced to completely reboot the computer. Like I said, it’s a love-hate relationship.



I’m on my second Logitech USB headphone/microphone, and one of these days I want to upgrade to a better quality, I’m just not sure what to get. I tried the Logitech wireless headphone/microphone, but couldn’t get it to work consistently. Does anybody have a good recommendation for a USB or wireless unit that might be better? I’m always open to suggestions.

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 Free Drawing for an audiobook of my friend Suzie O’Connell’s Starlight Magic, from her popular Northstar romance series To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Thought For The Day – Retirement is like a long vacation in Las Vegas. The goal is to enjoy it to the fullest, but not so fully that you run out of money.

Cut And Paste

 Posted by at 1:04 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 042017
 

There are some questions I get asked so many times that I’m almost tempted to just type the answer once and cut and paste it in from then on to save myself the trouble of having to retype it all over again. Yesterday was a good example.

I got an email from someone asking me what the difference is between a recreational vehicle and a camper. That was partly because I said in a recent blog about the sale of our Winnebago falling through that the so-called mechanic kept referring to our 40 foot diesel pusher motorhome as a camper, and also because this person said he wasn’t sure what he to call his rig. He has a small Class C motorhome, which he refers to as a camper, but someone corrected him and said it was an RV. It’s amazing how often this question comes up. Who are these people who feel a need to challenge what others call their campers… I mean RVs… I mean… oh, never mind.

In response, I sent him a link to a blog post from last year titled Call It What You Like. I’m not into splitting hairs, so let’s just use the terms RV and camper interchangeably. Stop worrying about what to call it, go build a bonfire, make some s’mores, and sing Kumbaya. Really, life is complicated enough without getting hung up on labels.

Another cut-and-paste response from a few days ago was when somebody wrote to tell me about a killer deal they had found on a new fifth wheel trailer at an unbelievable price. According to them, they found a 2017 Heartland that retailed for over $77,000, and the seller was willing to let it go for just $42,000 because he was no longer in the RV business. They said when they asked him where his business had been he was rather vague about that. I referred them to my October 15th blog, Not Such A Good Deal, warning about scammers trying to unload flood damaged RVs, cars, and trucks at bargain basement prices.



And, of course, there were two or three emails in the last week or so asking about what kind of chemicals to use in RV black tanks, asking for recommendations on sewer hoses, and somebody wanting to know how to clear a clog in their RV black tank. For that, I referred them to a blog from last year called Potty Talk.

I think I really need to index all of these blog posts so I don’t have to go back and look for them each time a question comes up. I can just cut and paste.

If you’re a fan of my buddy George Wier’s Bill Travis mystery series, I’ve got good news for you. Today and tomorrow The Devil To Pay, book four in the series, is free on Amazon. Get your copy now.

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 my friend Suzie O’Connell’s Starlight Magic, from her popular Northstar romance series To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Money and women are the most sought after and the least known about of any two things we have. – Will Rogers