Nick Russell

Nick The Smut Peddler

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 052018

I’ve done a lot of things to make a buck in my life, from delivering newspapers when I was a youngster and working in a gas station to a couple of short jobs in factories, being a soldier, driving taxi cab, working as a clerk in a convenience store during college, owning retail businesses, putting bad guys away, publishing newspapers, writing books, and even selling cars. You can look at this one of two ways – either I have a lot of experience in a lot of things, or else I just couldn’t keep a job. I’ll leave it for you to decide.

But it looks like I may be getting into another line of work. I may start dabbling in the porn industry. At least it might seem that way if whoever sent this email to me yesterday was for real:

Subject: powerful backlinks for your site
Message Body:
Hello guys, I would like to make offer for you. Please buy my services from or I will create negative porn backlinks to your website and get it removed from Google index. Please choose. I recommend that you buy my gigs to avoid losing business. If you order my gig, I will take your site to top and if no, I will spam it with porn links and get you removed from Google. I hope you understand the serious matter.

No, I wasn’t foolish enough to fall for that nonsense. Someone asked me how I was going to protect myself from that happening. Not a darn thing. I’m always looking for interesting porn sites. Who knows what might turn up?

Actually, it did get reported, but I don’t know what will come of that, if anything. It’s amazing how many jerks sit around scheming new ways to rip people off, isn’t it?

In other news, we had company yesterday! Our friends George and Amy Smith, who own Smith’s Family Campground on the bank of the beautiful Mohican State Scenic River, near the charming village of Loudonville, Ohio spend the winters here in Florida and stopped in for a visit. George and Amy are a fun couple, and just as nice as could be. We enjoyed showing them around our area and getting reacquainted, since it’s been a couple of years since we saw them. Hopefully we’ll be able to get together again while they’re in the area.

If you like a good mystery story, I’ve got great news for you! My buddy Billy Kring just released Degüello, the sixth book in his excellent Hunter Kincaid mystery series. Besides being a fine human being and a lot of fun to hang out with, Billy is also a superb mystery writer. I have enjoyed every book he has released. Trust me, you’re going to like his style!

And for those of you who prefer to listen to books rather than read them, the audiobook of The Gecko In The Corner is now available. Look for the next two books in my John Lee Quarrels mystery series, Badge Bunny and Mullets And Man Buns, to be available in audiobook format soon.

Thought For The Day – Sometimes a small step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take the step.

Dec 042018

A while back I did a blog post titled 10 Gift Ideas For RVers, and judging by the feedback I got from them, I thought I would post some more. So here you go, 10 more Christmas gift ideas, and each of these costs under $15. We use, or have used, all of the products ourselves and feel confident in recommending them to you.

50 States, 5,000 Ideas – Published by National Geographic, this travel guide is full of interesting places to see and things to do in each of our 50 states, all illustrated with beautiful color photographs. A great gift for RVers or armchair travelers. $14.97

RV State Sticker Travel Map – Tell the world where you’ve been with this fill-in-the-stickers map of your RV travels. It’s your own personal brag wall $13.99

Vgate Bluetooth Scan Tool – Don’t waste your time and money going to a mechanic when your vehicle’s check engine light comes on. This handy tool plugs into the vehicle’s code reader socket and couples with the free Android torque app to tell you what is wrong. $12.99

Multi-Purpose utility belt pouch – I have two of these and they are excellent for carrying cell phones, pens, keys, and all the other things you need with you during the day but don’t want to load your pockets with. $8.88

Camping Journal & RV Travel Logbook – Now you can keep track of the places you visit and your impression of them quickly and easily. Each journal contains pages where you can list the date, weather, travel information, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for a campground rating, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. $12.99

Atomic Bear Tactical Pen – It’s a pen, it’s a self-defense tool, and it will break a vehicle’s windows if you need to get out in a hurry due to an accident. Sturdy and well-made, buy several because once your friends see yours, they’re going to want one, too. $14.97

Camper’s coffee mug – The inscription on the mug says it all. You know somebody on your gift list will appreciate this! $11.99

Peterson Field Guide – How many times have you seen a bird you don’t recognize and wondered what it was? You don’t have to be an ornithologist to appreciate this handy guide to the birds of Eastern and Central North America $13.56

Vantax Handheld Anti Barking Device – Nobody likes a dog that barks nonstop, whether it’s yours or in the RV next to you. Using safe, painless ultrasonic sound waves, this will put an end to the noise, as well as repel aggressive dogs you might encounter in your walk around the campground. $10.68

Camping Rules Throw Pillow – Does camping really need any rules? Probably not, but if we must have them, these are pretty easy to follow. $8.29

Thought For The Day – If you want someone who will listen to you every time, to do everything you tell them to do, and always be there for you for better or for worse, get a dog.

Monday Q&A

 Posted by at 12:31 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 032018

I’m back with more questions from blog readers about RVing, what’s happening in our lives since we hung up the keys, and all kinds of other things. While I try to answer all questions individually, I also share some here occasionally.

Q. My husband is an introvert who is perfectly happy staying home reading books and watching TV. I am an extrovert who needs to interact with people on a regular basis. We are snowbirds and the last two winters we stayed in an RV park in Mission, Texas that has all kinds activities going on all the time. My husband tells me to go and have fun and that he’s quite content to stay home and do his thing while I do mine. But I still feel guilty leaving him out of it. How do I handle that?
A. I doubt that your personalities changed after you became snowbirds. How did you handle it before that, or when you are home for the summer? From reading your letter it seems like your husband doesn’t have a problem, so stop beating yourself up and go enjoy the activities at the campground.

Q. I know this may make me sound like I’m crazy, but I swear it’s true. We go to visit our daughter and her family at least two or three times a year. Every time we turn on her street we have to drive past a police station and a fire station next door. And every time we do our tire pressure monitors start going off. Once we get a short distance away from those buildings they stop beeping. Is it possible that something there is setting them off?
A. Not only is it possible, it’s quite probable. Tire pressure monitoring systems work wirelessly, and if there is a transmitter or something at the police or fire station, it may be setting the system off when you drive past. We had it happen to us at least once that I can remember.

Q. We are new to all of this and will begin fulltiming right after Christmas. We bought a used motorhome that has a crank up TV dish on the roof, but the handle is broken so we can’t get it to work. The previous owner had a dish on a tripod that he left in one of the storage bays. The two times my husband tried to set it up it was so frustrating that it ended in a screaming match. Do you have any suggestions besides a very expensive automatic rooftop TV dish?
A. I have friends who use the self-aiming portable Dish Playmaker satellite domes and are very happy with them. They’re easy to set up and take all of the aggravation out of trying to find satellite signals. It might be the solution to your problems.

Q. This is not intended to be negative, I am just truly curious. As a fulltimer we all get rid of so much stuff and I for one found that very freeing. Just curious how you and Miss Terry feel now that that you once again have “stuff.”
A. We laugh about that. We had large collections of antiques, guns, and other things before we hit the road, as well as enough books to fill a small library. Like you, we found it very liberating when they all went away and we moved into the motorhome. When we first looked at this house it was so big that we said no and walked away. Now we are wondering how it got so small! I don’t know, maybe we’re making up for lost time after losing our retirement, nest egg, and more to Terry’s cancer years ago. So if not now, when?

Q. I know you have written before about some way to clean out a Splendide RV washer/dryer combo when the spin cycle won’t completely drain it, but I can’t find that information anywhere now that I need it. Can you help me out and post it again, Nick?
A. Here is a link to that blog post, I hope it helps. Many people actually print out and save it somewhere near the washing machine, because it’s a process that should be repeated on a regular basis as preventive maintenance.

Q. Due to a family illness two years ago, we hung up the keys after five years of fulltiming to take care of an elderly parent. She passed away in August and we really want to get back on the road again because we miss the lifestyle. The only problem is that my mother-in-law had a dog that has outlived her. It was her only companion for many years and on her death bed she made my husband promise to take care of it until it died. The dog is 12 years old, half blind and stone deaf, and leaves messes all over the house. It misses her and walks around the house looking for her and whining all the time. It gets car sick if we even start the engine with it in the car. I really think it’s time to put it down but my husband says he feels like he would be breaking his promise to his mother. I feel like we’ve given enough already and now it’s our time again. I know that my husband values your opinion very much, so I guess the question is, what would Nick do?
A. You paid your dues and you deserve to enjoy your lives doing the things you want to do. It doesn’t sound like the dog’s quality of life is very good at this point. I may offend some of the animal lovers who read this, but if I were in your position I would have it put out of its misery. Tell your husband Nick said I don’t think his mother would want the animal to suffer any longer.

Q. We don’t care to have a gun with us in the RV, but I have heard many people say that they keep a can of wasp spray next to their door and say is just as effective as a gun for self-defense. Is that true?
A. When was the last time you were attacked by a wasp? I have heard this many times myself, and I imagine getting zapped in the eyes with wasp spray would not be very pleasant. It also would be very unpleasant if the wind was blowing the wrong way and you got it in your eyes instead. And no, I don’t care how big a can of wasp spray you have, it is not as effective as a firearm in stopping an aggressor. I also don’t believe anybody should own a firearm unless they invest the time and money for proper training and have the mental preparation to actually use one if necessary. Many people travel millions of miles in their RVs and never have a crime related problem. Yes, it does happen, but it’s very rare. Just use common sense. Don’t park in shady areas of town, don’t open your door to anybody who comes knocking, and if you feel threatened, start the engine and drive away if you are in a motorhome, or call 911 if you can’t leave.

Q. I smell a rat. A “friend” we recently met at a campground in Alabama wants to sell us his Western Horizons campground membership for $500. According to him he paid over $5,000 for the membership. He has a guide to the campgrounds that are in the chain, but the guide is at least 10 years old. Looking online I can’t find anything about them and our supposed friend is very evasive when we ask them questions. What do you think?
A. As the old saying goes, I think with friends like that you don’t need any enemies. At one time Western Horizons operated a large chain of campgrounds, but then they began selling them off one by one. We were members for a short time and got cheated out of the money we invested in the membership, as did many others. You can read more about them at the Ripoff Report.

Q. We are in Texas right now and gas prices are at an all-time low, which is very nice. But diesel doesn’t seem to have dropped at all. Do you foresee that happening anytime soon, Nick?
A. If I could predict what OPEC and the oil companies and the retailers were going to do ahead of time, I would give up this writing gig and retire to a beach somewhere in Tahiti. Fuel prices are like the weather, forget trying to guess what’s going to happen and be prepared for anything.

Q. We are fulltimers and decided we wanted to get a small dog to keep us company. We went to the animal shelter near the campground where we are staying and were surprised that they would not even consider letting us adopt a pet because we don’t have a home with a fenced yard and because we are on the move and don’t have a regular veterinarian. We told them that we walked our previous dog regularly and kept him up to date on his shots and everything else, but no go. We thought that was strange but have run into the same thing at two other shelters in different places. Have you ever heard of RVers being discriminated against when it comes to adopting a pet?
A. Yes, I have heard of that. A solo fulltiming friend of ours had the same experience recently. The shelter had five cats they said had to be rehomed or they would be euthanized. She begged them to let her adopt one, or even two, but she got the same response. It’s appalling that they would rather put an animal down than allow it to go to a loving home, just because it has wheels under it instead of a foundation.

Congratulations Sandy Bronstein, winner of our drawing for a pair of e-books, the first two novellas in my friend Mona Ingram’s Dear Santa Christmas romance series. Their titles are The Bride and The Party. We had 51 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – Deja Poo – the feeling that you’ve heard this crap before.

They Said What?

 Posted by at 12:10 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 022018

From time to time some blog readers have expressed disbelief at some of the emails and questions I get, and more than one has actually accused me of making things up. While I do write fiction for a living, I have said many times that nobody would believe the things we see and hear in real life if I put them in one of my books.

A good example is a recent news story about a gentleman from New Mexico who went to Washington, DC, to marry his fiancée, who lives there. When they went to get their marriage license the clerk would not accept his New Mexico driver’s license as proof of his identity because she didn’t know that New Mexico was a state. She informed him he would have to have an international passport to get the marriage license. When he tried to tell her that he was a US citizen from the state of New Mexico the clerk asked her supervisor. And as it turns out, the supervisor didn’t know New Mexico is a state, either! If you don’t believe me, you can read all about it at this link.

So when you think about the fact that two government employees in the nation’s capital don’t know the names of all of our states, are you really surprised at some of the stories I’m about to tell you? I swear on the hood of my brand-new Mustang that they are true!

Many years ago Terry and I were staying in a campground somewhere in Missouri and went to dinner at a nearby restaurant. We struck up a conversation with a young waitress, who was fascinated with our fulltime RV lifestyle. It was a slow afternoon and she wasn’t very busy, so we spent a lot of time talking. Terry asked her about her family and she said she had two sisters, one in college and one who was a schoolteacher. Keep that in mind folks, a schoolteacher.

She told us the sister who was a teacher was going through a crisis because her high school boyfriend had served in the Gulf War and lost his leg. Now he was home and out of rehab and wanted to get married, but the bride-to-be just wasn’t sure what to do. While she loved the man very much, she really wanted to have children, and she wasn’t sure if she was up to the rigors of raising a handicapped child if one should be born without a leg like the father. Remember when I said she was a schoolteacher? I worry about the future of our country.

Another time, we were at a Popeye’s restaurant somewhere on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We had just sat down with our order when a trucker came in and asked if he could have a two piece meal, a wing and a leg. The young lady behind the counter said sure and asked him what side he wanted. He stared at her in confusion for a moment, then said “I really don’t care. Left?” No folks, he wasn’t joking. And he drives a monstrous truck down the highway at high speeds. I worry about our transportation future.

My cousin Rocky and I were at a gun show in Grand Rapids, Michigan once, and Rocky spied an old beater single-shot shotgun he was interested in. The price tag said $99, and Rocky asked me if I thought it was worth that, or if I thought he could get a better deal. I suggested he offer $75 or $80. So Rocky asked the seller, “Would you take $75 or $80?” The guy smiled at him and looked at me sympathetically, then back at Rocky and said, “I’ll take the $80.” I worry about Rocky being allowed outside of the house with a credit card and no adult supervision.

Years ago we carried two kayaks in a rack on the roof of our Ford Explorer. We were at the Escapees campground in Bushnell, Florida when one of the neighbors asked if we did any paddling in our kayaks. I was really tempted to say, “Nope, I just keep those big heavy things up there to make it easier to find our SUV in crowded parking lots. Here’s your sign.”

About ten years ago we were westbound on Interstate 10 somewhere near El Paso, Texas when the right front tire of our MCI bus conversion literally exploded. The next few seconds were terrifying as I fought to get the bus under control and safely onto the shoulder of the highway. By the time I did, all that was left of the tire was a bunch of pieces of rubber attached to the steel wheel. We called our roadside service company, and in an hour or two a fellow showed up with a truck and a replacement tire. He walked up the side of the bus, saw the wheel and the remnants of the shredded tire, and asked, “Is this the one that needs changed?” I was still too rattled from our near-death experience to reply with a snarky comeback, but I suspect that if I would have, he would not have understood it anyway.

Like I said, folks, if I put any of this stuff in one of my books nobody would believe it.

And in closing, NASA has released the first picture from the Mars landing a few days ago. Here is the very first picture ever taken on the red planet.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for a pair of e-books, the first two novellas in my friend Mona Ingram’s Dear Santa Christmas romance series. Their titles are The Bride and The Party. One lucky winner gets both books. 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 – Stupidity is far more fascinating than intelligence. After all, intelligence has its limits.

Oh Ye Of Little Faith!

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 012018

Some blog readers have asked how it’s possible for a guy my size to fit into a small car like a Mustang. A couple of people have said I should have bought a convertible because with the top down it would be much easier. One smart Alec suggested the only way I was going to get in and out of the car was with a shoehorn and a coating of 30 weight oil to lubricate the way. And a few skeptics said it couldn’t be done.

Oh yeah? Well, where there’s a will there’s a way, right? Even with my bad back and the 150 pounds of extra weight I don’t need to be carrying, I’m able to get in and out just fine. And if you don’t believe me, here’s a YouTube video I posted to prove it! See? Told you so!

I have had over 100 cars in my life, so even though I really wanted the Mustang, I wasn’t hopping up and down excited about it while we were in the purchasing process. By the time I drove it home from the dealership Tuesday evening I was getting excited, and the more I drive it the more I like it. Unfortunately, I may not be able to keep it for very much longer. That’s a bummer.

When I first looked at the car, I asked Miss Terry for her opinion of it and all she would say is that “It’s pretty, and if you want you should get it.” She had no interest in getting behind the wheel during the two or three test drives we took in it, always saying “It’s your car, I don’t need to drive it.” But the other day we went out for dinner and the restaurant was pretty crowded. By the time we were finished eating it was dark, and my night vision is not very good, so Terry drove home. Within about two blocks she said, “Gee, this drives really nice.” By the end of the third block she was saying, “This is a real sweet ride!” We got on US Highway 1 and away from traffic and I told her to give it a little extra throttle. When she did she said, “Oh yeah, I like this a lot!” So don’t be surprised if I’m back to driving the Explorer or the pickup.

In other news, I had an appointment with a neurologist on Tuesday, and after going over my MRI and examining me himself, he came up with not just one, but several issues with my back that included arthritis, facet arthropathy in a couple of places, lumbar spinal stenosis, and lumbar spondylosis. I spent a lot of time playing doctor with a pretty redheaded girl that lived next door when I was a kid, but that’s about as far as my medical education goes, so I had to look up all that stuff. In layman’s terms it means exactly what I knew all along – my back is trashed.

While the medical marijuana has given me some relief, probably as much as I was getting from the opioids, without all of their side effects and dangers, I still have some pretty rough days. The doctor said he wanted to take a conservative approach to things, so we started out with a series of facet injections, three of them at once. He said I should feel some relief within a day or so if they were going to help, and I have an appointment to go back on the 12th to determine what the next step will be. I’m not sure the first injections did much good at all so we’ll have to see what Plan B is going to be.

Meanwhile, I’m still doing my mile a day on the treadmill and have increased the speed and the incline. It’s helping a bit, I’ve dropped off a few pounds, and I guess it’s beginning to show because the other day when I was that the chiropractor’s office, I was teasing the pretty girls who work there, and as I was walking away I heard one of them say, “What an ass!” So I guess I’m looking pretty good for an old guy.

And in closing, here’s a chuckle to start your day, from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. Now you know what to do with all that leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a pair of e-books, the first two novellas in my friend Mona Ingram’s Dear Santa Christmas romance series. Their titles are The Bride and The Party. One lucky winner gets both books. 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 – All you have to know about celery is that it’s made up of 95% water, and it’s 100% not pizza.

Enough Already!

 Posted by at 12:26 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 302018

I know I won’t get any sympathy from my friends and relatives who live up north, but here it is – enough with the cold, already! I’m freezing my butt off!

We went from daytime temperatures in the mid-to-upper 80s, with nights in the upper 60s, down to daytime temps in the low 50s, and overnight lows in the upper 30s in 24 hours. That’s just too darned cold!

Yeah, I know you live in Michigan, or Ohio, or Antarctica where it gets really cold and you think I’m being a sniveling little sissy. You’re right, I am! I moved to Florida because I didn’t want to be cold.

And yes, compared to where you are and what you have coming in the months ahead this isn’t cold at all. I lived in northern Ohio when I was in high school and walked a mile to school no matter what the weather was because we didn’t have school buses. I spent a couple of years stationed at the Military Academy at West Point, New York, where the frigid wind whipping down the Hudson Valley was enough to give you frostbite if you weren’t careful. I even participated in war games held in Iceland while I was in the Army, and my superiors didn’t seem to agree with my opinion that if any of our enemies ever wanted to invade that frigid place, they were welcome to it.

I also spent a winter living in Minnesota. All winter long I said that if it ever warmed up enough for my car to start, I would leave. It did, and I did. If you read my book Big Lake Snowdaze, you may remember the Polar Bear Plunge scene. My brothers-in-law at the time convinced me I should take part in that tradition while I lived in Minnesota. And like a fool, I said okay. However, unlike Sheriff Weber and the characters in my book who dove into the icy water, I made it about knee-deep and shrieked in pain. I never felt anything that terrible. Did you know that water can be so cold that it feels like it’s burning you? I was back inside the van with the engine running and the heater blowing, cussing and pulling clothes on faster than you would think a fat little guy like me could move.

So yeah, I get it. Compared to a lot of places, this is nothing. But it’s my blog and I’ll snivel if I want to. Why does that sound familiar? Wasn’t there an old song about crying at a party back in the day?

The good news is, the weatherman says we will start warming up today, reaching the mid-70s, and we will be in the middle 80s over the weekend. How about if we get somewhere around 80° and just stay there year ‘round? Not too hot and not too cold. Yeah, I could handle that.

Changing the subject, in answer to all the people who commented on Facebook or sent me messages after reading yesterday’s blog Terry To The Rescue, no, you can’t have her. And yes, though she does have two sisters, you can’t have either one of them, either.

And in closing, here’s a picture of a sign someone sent me that they saw on Election Day. No clothing allowed in the polling place? I didn’t know you could vote at your local nudist camp, did you?

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a pair of e-books, the first two novellas in my friend Mona Ingram’s Dear Santa Christmas romance series. Their titles are The Bride and The Party. One lucky winner gets both books. 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 – Women always worry about the things that men forget. Men always worry about the things women remember.

Terry To The Rescue

 Posted by at 12:44 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 292018

Anybody who has been reading my blog for more than a month or so already knows that Miss Terry is both the brains and the beauty around here. She just keeps me around for comic relief; I’m basically the modern version of a medieval court jester.

It doesn’t threaten my manhood at all to tell you that if something needs assembled, taken apart, repaired, or figured out around our house, Terry is the one that does that. She is also responsible for dispatching spiders and catching the occasional wayward lizard that sneaks into the house and putting it back outside where it belongs. I would help her when she’s doing that, but I’m too busy standing on the bed screaming like a little girl. Nope, no male ego here!

A while back I bought a Performance Tool metal storage rack with 47 plastic bins for the garage to help me organize various nuts and bolts, screws, electrical connectors and such. My buddy Jim Lewis came over and we decided to put it together. The item description said it assembles in minutes with just a Phillips screwdriver. The description lied.

We unpacked the box, separated the storage bins from the other hardware, and quickly realized there were no instructions nor the screws required to put it together. Well that should be fun! We stared at it from every angle, referred to the picture on the box and online, scratched our individual heads and butts two or three times (Jim and I are close friends, but not that close of friends), tried to put it together just to see how it would look if we had the screws we needed, and then we did the sensible thing. We gave up and turned the project over to Terry. Discovering the screw package and instructions taped to the bottom of one of the bins, it took her all of fifteen minutes to figure out what needed done and put the darn thing together. I love that woman!

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I have a collection of police badges. Trying to figure out some way to display them, I came across some very nice walnut finish display cases on Amazon. The other day we laid out the badges and patches in two of the cases and Terry arranged them and hung them on the wall in my office. I’ve still got some other badges and a third case, but I don’t have enough to fill it yet, so that will have to wait for a while.

Another recent addition that is going to come in very handy is this excellent Timber Ridge folding wagon. It has a 150 pound capacity and can be used for anything from gardening to going to the beach, to holding your purchases while you are walking around swap meets or farmers markets. It folds up small enough to fit into a storage bay of an RV or the trunk of a car without taking up a lot of room. At least this I could get out of the box and put together by myself, since there were no tools required. All I had to do was unfold it and lay the folding bottom cover in it. Easy peazy!

Getting it to fold back up and fit into the cover wasn’t quite so easy. Well, it wasn’t for me. It took Terry less time to do it then it took for me find her and ask for help. Did I mention I love that woman?

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a pair of e-books, the first two novellas in my friend Mona Ingram’s Dear Santa Christmas romance series. Their titles are The Bride and The Party. One lucky winner gets both books from this popular author with a loyal fan base. 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 – We are not given a good life or a bad life. We are given life, and it’s up to us to make the most of it.

Santa Came Early

 Posted by at 1:36 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 282018

I must have been a very good boy this year because Santa came to our house early. And I needed a really big stocking for my Christmas present. Like a garage-sized stocking!

I mentioned a while back that I was thinking about buying myself a new Mustang. I’ve had a lot of cars in my time, from Corvettes to pickup trucks and vans, to classics. My favorite cars of all time have been Mustangs. The first one I was ever in was a ‘68 fastback that my cousin Sonny bought when he came back from Vietnam. One ride in that car and my teenage heart was doing flip-flops.

Over the years I’ve had four or five 1966 Mustangs, fourteen 1967 models (everything from show cars to daily drivers that were cannibalized to restore other cars), along with a rocket-fast 1969 Mach I, and even a very anemic 1979 Mustang II. So you get that they’re my favorite car, right? But the one thing I’ve never owned was a brand-new Mustang, though I have always wanted one. We can scratch that off the list now.

Back on my birthday in October, Terry and I were out running around and we stopped at Mullinax Ford in New Smyrna Beach, where I test drove this 2018 Mustang Ecoboost Premium fastback. I wasn’t even out of the parking lot before I fell in love.

Miss Terry told me then that I should buy it, but I had to convince myself first. She says I’m weird because I don’t hesitate to reach for my checkbook if she wants something, or somebody else I care about wants or needs something, but I hate spending money on myself. That’s not exactly true. I love spending money on myself. I just have very expensive tastes!

At any rate, I kicked it around for a long time, did a lot of research, and waited long enough that Ford and the dealership kicked in some very nice end of model year rebates and discounts. Couple those with a $500 veteran’s rebate from Ford and I decided I might as well bite the bullet, or ride the Pony, as it may be.

I always said that if I bought myself a new Mustang I would not compromise, I would put every option on it I wanted. So even though we agreed to the deal a week ago, I didn’t take delivery until yesterday so they could get everything done I wanted. That included the louvers on the back side windows, the Mustang stripe on the bottom, and the spoiler on the back. None of them make it run better, but I think they make it look pretty cool.

It has a 2.3 liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which puts out 310 hp and 350 foot-pounds of torque, coupled with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Trust me, it will go faster than I ever want to drive! The Premium package also included an electronically tuned suspension that can be set up for everything from highway cruising to drag racing, three steering wheel modes, depending on how sporty I’m feeling, and just about every other option available.

When I mentioned in the blog a while back that I was thinking about buying a new Mustang, several people told me it would be too hard for me to get in and out of, and others said I really didn’t need a fourth car. It’s actually easier to get in and out of than Terry’s Chrysler Pacifica.

And those folks were right, I didn’t need a new car. We’ve already got the 2017 Pacifica, the trusty old 2005 Ford Explorer we towed behind the motorhome for years, and a 1999 Ford pickup. But here’s the thing, I wanted it, I can afford it, so why not? I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I don’t play golf, I don’t go to expensive ballgames, and I don’t have the energy to keep a mistress on the side. And with my diet and exercise program, I cut out Pepsi years ago and have stayed away from junk food as much as I possibly can. A guy’s got to have some enjoyment in life, doesn’t he?

This isn’t going to be my daily driver. Around town we actually drive the Explorer more often than not. We use the Pacifica for out-of-town trips, and everybody needs a pickup, right? How else am I going to launch my pontoon boat? No, this car is strictly a toy, just like my classic cars were, back in the days when we were doing the car show circuit. And besides, none of our other vehicles have little lights under the doors that project a Mustang logo onto the driveway. How cool is that?

As for that big old 1100 square foot garage of ours, it sure looked huge when it was empty. Now, not so much. We may need to build on.

If you’re ever anywhere near the New Smyrna Beach area here on Florida’s Central Coast and are looking for a vehicle, I really recommend Jack Tuthill at Mullinax Ford. We met him when we first test drove the Mustang, and he wasn’t one of those pushy salesman that tries to pound you into the ground to make a sale. He is very laid-back. He stayed in touch but didn’t hound us, he answered any questions I had whenever I called him as I was doing my research, he did a good job for us, and he was very patient with me with all the things I wanted done to the car.

Thought For The Day – When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.

Nov 272018

With Christmas coming, I thought I’d make a few gift suggestions for the RVers on your shopping list, or even as a treat for yourself. We use, or have used, all of the products ourselves and feel confident in recommending them to you.

Midland Two Way Radios – With over a 30 mile range, a pair of these small two-way radios are useful when backing an RV, driving in two vehicles, hiking, kayaking and anytime you need to keep in touch.

Restaurant Gift Cards – Most fulltime or snowbird RVers are very conscious of adding any weight to their load, so a lot of times typical gifts are a hassle. We don’t need doodads and geegaws, but we all love to eat. A gift card from any chain restaurant (Texas Roadhouse, Applebees, TGI Fridays, etc) is always welcomed.

Craftsman Digital Thermometer – I have a Tire Traker tire pressure monitoring system and use it whenever we’re on the road, but I still find this tool useful for checking tire and wheel bearing temperatures at rest stops, and always keep it handy.

Dual Range Non-Contact Voltage Tester – Never get zapped again! All I have to do is hold this handy little gadget near any electrical outlet or wiring and it lets me know if there is power present. Works on both 110 and 12 volt.

Rand McNally Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas – Yes, I know, we all have a GPS. But anyone driving a big rig will find this reference invaluable to know about low clearance bridges and hazards your GPS may not tell you about.

Breville Toaster Oven – I’m afraid that if Terry ever had to decide between me and her Breville, I’d be history. She uses it almost every day for everything from cooking roast beef to baking pies to making pizza.

Miss Terry’s Kitchen – If you have a Breville (or even if you don’t), what better way to create dinners and desserts that will please everybody at your table and make you the envy of the next campground potluck dinner than Miss Terry’s excellent cookbook?

LED Flashlights – Everybody can use an LED flashlight and we have at least a dozen of them in desk drawers, glove boxes, and on our headboard. You can never have too many!

The Next EXIT – The iconic Interstate highway exit directory, which lists gas, food, lodging, shopping and many other services. The most complete directory ever printed, it will help you find everything you need in the windshield, not the rear view mirror.

Shark Rocket Ultra-Light Bagless Vacuum – Over the years Terry has tried several makes and models of vacuum cleaners and the Shark Rocket is the one she kept and relies on.

Thought For The Day – The hardest part of being a parent is watching a child go through something difficult and not being able to fix it for them.

Nov 262018

We never know what we’re going to find when we set out for a day of exploring America’s back roads and small towns, but we always seem to discover something interesting along the way. On a visit to California’s Central Coast we were wandering along Morro Bay’s Embarcadero when we found the Morro Bay Skateboard Museum and stopped in to check it out.

I’ll admit, I don’t know much about skateboarding. My son had one when he was a kid and I think I tried to ride it once and fell and bruised my dignity. But I do know that for a lot of people it’s more than a hobby, it’s a serious sport and a way of life. At the Skateboard Museum we saw displays covering the complete history of skateboarding, from the early 1930s to present day. They have over 200 skateboards from all eras, with rotating exhibits from extensive private collections. It was interesting to see the evolution of the skateboard and to learn about some of the people who have been involved with skateboarding since the early days.

The first thing that caught our eye was the world’s second-largest skateboard, a 12 foot mega-board in the museum’s lobby. I wonder how many people could ride that thing at once!

I remember seeing these things when I was a kid. I don’t think I ever had one, but where I grew up there weren’t many sidewalks.

Wandering around the small museum’s displays, I couldn’t help think of my son Travis and how much fun he would have here among all of this nostalgia. Darn, I must be getting old when my kid has nostalgia!

Besides the historic skateboards on display, it’s not uncommon to see veteran skateboarders stopping in for a visit and to talk about the good old days with museum founder Jack Smith. The museum seems to draw them like a magnet.

This window was once located at the famous 1980s Heaven Ramp in San Jose, California. It became tradition that when pro skateboarders visited the ramp they would place stickers on the bedroom window of Ron Kaspar, who lived there. It is a virtual time capsule of 1980s skateboarding companies.

We spent part of an afternoon at the Skateboard Museum and learned a lot about their evolution from the early crude wooden sidewalk surfers to the professionally designed speed machines that they are today, capable of doing all kinds of stunts in the hands of skilled skaters. It was definitely worth our time, and if you’ve ever been a skateboarder, or have kids or grandkids who are, check it out next time you’re in Morro Bay.

The museum was established in 2012 by Jack and Kathy Smith, who have received skateboards and memorabilia on loan from collectors all over the world. The museum is an all volunteer effort. Jack mans the front desk about 95% of the time, while his wife Kathy and their children fill in when time is available. When we visited there was a volunteer on duty. No one receives compensation for working at the museum, it’s a labor of love. The museum is supported by monetary donations and the sale of apparel, skateboards, and other skateboard related items in the museum store. Jack also does consulting work in the skateboard and apparel industry to help make ends meet. A yearly online fundraiser also helps to fund the museum. Be sure to stop and visit the next time you’re on the Central Coast.

The Morro Bay skateboard Museum is located on the waterfront at 699 Embarcadero and is open Monday – Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday noon to 5 p.m., and weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit their website at

Congratulations Steve Varadi, winner of our drawing for an audio book of undone, the first book in my buddy Jason Deas’ new Burt Bigsley mystery series. We had 43 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – Every man has two options. You can stand up and be the man she wants you to be or sit down so she can see the man standing behind you!