Nick Russell

Jun 262018
 

Note: This story is from my book Highway History And Back Road Mystery II.

Just steps away from the Mayflower II on the Plymouth, Massachusetts waterfront can be found an immortal icon to American history. Plymouth Rock has been a symbol of the pioneer spirit and the potential America holds for all who come here. Seen as solid, steadfast, and everlasting, the original large granite boulder upon which the Pilgrims first set foot on America is revered. The only problem is, the story may well be a myth.

Even ignoring the fact that the Pilgrims first landed at the tip of Cape Cod, at present-day Provincetown, where they spent several weeks exploring before they decided to settle at present-day Plymouth, neither William Bradford nor Edward Winslow, both of whom wrote extensive journals describing nearly everything about the Pilgrims’ experience, ever referred to the rock in descriptions of the scene.



Some speculate that the rock was only a convenient landmark, or was used as the base of a makeshift pier. In fact, it wasn’t until 1741, over 120 years after the Pilgrims arrival, that the rock was ever mentioned as their landing place. That year a shoreline construction project to build a wharf began and Thomas Faunce, a 95 year old Elder in the First Church who knew some of the original Pilgrims, said the rock should be spared because it was where the Pilgrims first made landfall.

During the American Revolution, in 1774, the rock was accidently broken in half when it was moved to Town Square and displayed as a monument to liberty. The townspeople decided to only move the top half, which still required 30 teams of oxen. The bottom half was left in place and became part of Hedges Wharf. In 1834, the top half of the rock was moved again, this time to Pilgrim Hall on Court Street.

In the mid-1800s, the original base of the rock was swept off from time to time, and a hammer and chisel were reportedly kept nearby to be used by souvenir hunters.

In 1867, the long-neglected bottom half of the rock was trimmed to fit inside a new Gothic-style granite canopy. Thirteen years later, in 1880, the top half of the rock was moved once again, and reunited with its base. At that time, the date 1620 was carved into the rock, to replace the painted numbers that had adorned it.



To celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing, in 1921 a new portico was built over the rock. In 1970, Plymouth Rock and the portico were listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

So did the Pilgrims actually step on Plymouth Rock? Nobody really knows, but the story has became part of the fabric of American culture. And though Plymouth Rock is only a third of the size it was when the Pilgrims arrived, it remains a powerful icon, visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

Thought For The Day – I’m done chasing people who won’t do the same for me. After today, the ice cream man can go to hell.

Jun 252018
 

I get a lot of questions from blog readers about RVing, what’s happening in our lives since we hung up the keys, writing and self-publishing, and all kinds of other things. While I try to answer all of them individually, sometimes I also share some here.



Q. Nick, can you recommend somebody in southern California that can be trusted to work on our motorhome? The hydraulic jacks are not working right, I have a persistent fuel leak that I can’t seem to locate, and a couple of other issues. I’ve had it to two shops and neither seem to be know what they’re doing.

A. Contact Redlands RV in Redlands, California, and tell them I sent you. Keith and the rest of the crew there are good people that you can depend on. I highly recommend them. http://redlandstruckservice.com/

Q. Several people have told me about some kind of computer chips that you can put in a diesel engine to up the horsepower. Are you familiar with these, and do you think they’re worth the investment?

A. Yes, I’ve heard of them, though I don’t have any direct experience with them. My feeling has always been that a lot of highly educated and well trained engineers designed the chassis and powertrain of my motorhomes and they probably knew a lot more about what was needed than I do, so I didn’t try to improve on their designs.

Q. Is there a site for locating parts from now defunct RV builders? I need a compartment door for a 2003 National Sea Breeze, dimensions are 58″ wide x 28″ tall.

A. Try Colaw RV Salvage in Carthage, Missouri. They are the largest RV salvage company in the country, and if they don’t have it they might be able tell you who else to ask. https://colawrvsalvage.com/

Q. With all the years that you and Miss Terry were fulltiming, is there any place you didn’t get to that you wish you had?

A. Not really. We visited a lot of places in our 17+ years as fulltimers, and there are a lot of places we would love to go back to again, but I can’t think of any place that was on our bucket list that we didn’t get to. Early on, we really wanted to go to Alaska. But as we spent more time exploring all the continental U.S. and hearing from people that had gone to Alaska, we lost interest in it. There was just too much that we wanted to see and do down here to keep us occupied.



Q. We started fulltiming about three years after you did and met you guys at Life on Wheels just before we took the plunge. It seems that most of the people we knew from those days have hung up the keys and are no longer traveling. A lot of people who were vendors or speakers at RV rallies and events all seem to have disappeared. What happened and where did everybody go?

A. Time happened. Terry and I were just talking about this the other day. So many of our RVing friends and associates are off the road now. We all got old, some of us passed away, and a lot of us have hung up the keys and are embracing a new phase of our lives. RV fire safety expert Mac McCoy is enjoying retirement at his home in Oregon. RV speaker and awning expert Russell Maxwell is living with family members in California. Dick Reed, who founded the RV Driving School, still travels in his bus conversion when he is not hanging out at home in California. John and Kathy Huggins got off the road due to medical problems and bought a house south of the Tampa area. RV insurance agents Charles and Chris Yust have retired and are living in an RV park in southern Florida, though they still travel sometimes, and we’re here on the central Florida coast. We lost track of some of the others, and hope they are doing well.

Q. I just finished reading your newest book, Big Lake Fugitive, and loved it. The teaser for the next one says that Sheriff Weber and Robyn are finally going to get married. Please tell me this isn’t going to be the end of the series?

A. Don’t worry about that, I still have a lot of stories to share with you from Big Lake. I have no plans to end the series at this point.

Q. The other day a couple stopped to let their dog do its business at the edge of our campsite, right where we have to walk to get to our car. Then they just kept walking without picking it up. I wanted to go outside and hand them a plastic bag and tell them they missed something, but my wife said that might just start an argument. What would you do?

A. Once somebody let their big dog take a dump right in front of our motorhome’s stairs and walked away without cleaning it up. I went outside and handed him a bag and told him to clean up the mess, and he replied that it was biodegradable and it would wash off in the next rain. No problem, I cleaned it up for him and then emptied the bag on the hood of his white Ford pickup truck. He really didn’t like that, but I told him not to worry, it was biodegradable and it would wash off in the next rain.

Q. I know this sounds like a crazy question, but it is real. I play the bagpipes, and find that when we are in RV parks we are always parked almost on top of people. My wife doesn’t want me to practice in such close quarters. Any suggestions?

A. Have you tried boondocking out in the middle of nowhere? I actually enjoy listening to good bagpipe music once in a while, but I am sure that your campground neighbors would not appreciate it.

Q. I’m so confused about what toilet paper to use in our RV. Some people say we have to buy the expensive RV stuff, others say any one-ply paper is fine, and still others say use whatever you want, as long as you have enough water in the tank. We are brand new at all of this and so afraid of making an expensive mistake.

A. There are as many opinions about what toilet paper to use and what not to use as there are RVers. We always used Scott Extra Soft in our holding tanks. As you have been advised, make sure there are at least two or three toilet bowls full of water in the tank, use plenty of water when you flush, and don’t dump until the tank is at least three-quarters full.

Q. What happened to Bad Nick? I miss his blog, and with everything going on in this country right now, I think we need his common sense approach to things. Surely he can find plenty to write about these days.

A. You’re right, there’s plenty to write about these days, but my doctor tells me there’s not enough blood pressure medicine in the world to keep my head from exploding if I start getting into all of it. I miss Bad Nick too, but right now I’m focusing on writing my books and enjoying our semi-retirement.

Congratulations Tom Wallace, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Koinobi, the first book in author Reid Minnich’s Koinobi science fiction trilogy. We had 27 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – I’m not sarcastic. I’m just intelligent beyond your understanding.

Hanging Up The Keys

 Posted by at 12:30 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 242018
 

A blog reader contacted me yesterday asking when Miss Terry and I knew it was time to hang up the keys. He and his wife have been fulltiming for close to 10 years and enjoyed it much of that time. But he said lately they are beginning to dread it every time they leave a campground headed somewhere else.

Their truck is 15 years old and their fifth wheel is 14 years old, and both are starting to show their age and having a lot of mechanical problems. They are currently in Elkhart, Indiana, getting new axles put on, and this is not the first time they’ve had to do that. He said that they are reaching the point where they either have to buy a newer RV and tow vehicle or think about getting off the road.



He said they knew eventually they would hang up the keys, and even knew where they planned to do it. And at their age, he said the most they expected to fulltime was another 3 – 5 years. They are not sure if the investment in another rig and tow vehicle is worth it at this stage in their lives, or if they should stop traveling now.

When is it time to hang up the keys? For some fulltimers it’s when their own health or family medical issues get in the way of traveling. For others, it’s when their financial situation changes, either for the good or the bad. And for others, it’s when it’s no longer fun.

That’s what happened with Terry and me. We loved fulltiming, and at one time we were sure we would do it as long as we were physically able to and then settle down in an RV park somewhere to live out our days in our motorhome. But just like our travel plans were always set in Jell-O, so is the rest of life.

We had some great adventures, we made some wonderful friends along the way that we will cherish forever, and we don’t regret a minute of it. But one day we looked at each other and both said, “I’m not having fun anymore, are you?” That’s when we knew.

At the same time, we also both acknowledged that there were other things we wanted to do that did not fit with the RV lifestyle. Terry wanted to get more into weaving and have a larger loom. I wanted to live on or very close to the water, have a boat, and do more fishing. And we wanted to do those things while we were still physically capable.

And just as we never had a minute of regret when we began our fulltime lifestyle and all through our days on the road, we have not had a minute of regret since we began this new phase in our lives.



So when is it your time to hang up the keys? I don’t know. But if you are honest with each other (if there are two of you) and with yourself, you’ll know. You may not want to admit it to yourself at first. I think Terry and I both experienced that. But when the time is right, you’ll figure it out.

Today is your last chance to enter our 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 this evening.

Thought For The Day – I just want to be rich enough to throw leftovers away after dinner, instead of putting them in Tupperware and throwing them away a week later

Best Steak Ever!

 Posted by at 12:59 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 232018
 

Terry is a very low maintenance woman, so when I asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday and she said nothing special, it was just another day, I wasn’t surprised. But we had to do something, right?



We’re not really into giving each other gifts for birthdays and holidays and such because basically whenever we want something, we get it. Sometimes it takes a lot of nagging and cajoling on my part, and that can last for days, but eventually Terry gets tired of my whining and gives in, buying herself whatever it is she mentioned she wants. See, like I said, low maintenance.

Since there was nothing she wanted, and trust me, I asked over and over, we decided that just having a day away from the house together would be nice. Even if the day started with an appointment at Terry’s doctor. That only took a few minutes, then we drove into Daytona Beach and spent some time browsing at Nicole’s Beach Street Mall, an antique mall we like to visit now and then.

Do you remember me writing about wanting to find an antique upright cabinet radio a couple of months ago, and looking in antique shops all over the region and not being able to find one? As I said in the blog, eventually I acquired two of them from a fellow who had an ad on Craigslist. Now that I have my radios, what did we see at Nicole’s? Yep, three or four of them. Though to be honest, both of mine are in better shape than the ones on display there. I passed on the radios, but Terry did find a couple of things she wanted, including some nice silk yarn at a greatly reduced price.

From there we went to the VA clinic so I could get blood drawn in preparation for an upcoming visit with my primary care provider in a week or so. At that time we will be discussing whether or not I will continue with VA healthcare at all or switch to a private-sector doctor, or possibly a combination of both.

Done with that, we stopped at Bass Pro Shop and browsed for a few minutes, then went to Bed Bath and Beyond for two new CO2 cartridge for our SodaStream machine. Our next stop was at a Barnes & Noble bookstore for some more browsing, with Terry finding a couple of knitting magazines she wanted. Though we do most of our reading on our Kindle Paperwhites, neither of us have ever been able to pass up a bookstore. And sometimes I will see a book at Barnes & Noble, then look it up on Amazon and find I can get it cheaper, with free shipping.



By the time we left the bookstore it was about 4:30 and we were both hungry, since we hadn’t eaten all day. Originally Terry had said she thought she wanted to go to Aunt Catfish’s On The River, one of our favorite seafood restaurants in this area. But she had also talked about the grilled salmon at Longhorn Steakhouse, and since we were close to it that’s where we decided to go. We have only eaten at Longhorn a couple of times before, but remembered it as being very good.

Terry ordered the salmon, which she said was very good, while I decided to try their Outlaw Ribeye, because my buddy Greg White has said many times that it is excellent. And Greg was right! (Isn’t he always?) I’m a steak kind of guy and I’ve eaten a lot of it in my time, but this was absolutely beyond a doubt the best steak I’ve ever had anywhere. I used to like to go to Texas Roadhouse for their ribeye, which is good, but the music is always so darn loud you can’t hold a conversation there. After the steak I had at Longhorn, I know where I will be going the next time I get a craving for dead cow.

Back at home, I sat down in my recliner to watch the news and promptly fell asleep for about a half hour. Then Terry and I had a quiet evening watching TV and just enjoying being together. She said that’s a pretty good way to spend a birthday. Yep, low maintenance!

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 – Elevator sex is amazing on many levels.

Happy Birthday Terry!

 Posted by at 12:55 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 222018
 

This is a very special day at our house because it is Miss Terry’s birthday. I won’t tell you how old she is, because I guess ladies aren’t supposed to want you to do that. But I will say that if she was a highway going from Chicago to LA, we’d all be getting our kicks.

June 22 is apparently a popular day for amazing women to be born, because it was also my mother’s birthday. Don’t try to psychoanalyze me, my mom was gone for many years before Terry and I got together, and it wasn’t until afterward that I found out they have the same birthday. Besides, if you can figure out what’s going inside my head, you’re the one that probably needs to see a shrink.



Even though it’s Terry’s birthday, I feel like I’m the one getting the biggest present of all because I get to spend this day and every day with her. If I have any regrets about anything in my life, it is that we didn’t meet in high school and get to spend our entire lives together. But I can tell you this, after 20 years of marriage to this beautiful, intelligent, talented, amazing woman, she still takes my breath away every time I look at her and I stand in awe of not just her physical beauty, but her inner beauty as well. Happy birthday darling. I love you.

I spent most of yesterday getting my author’s newsletter put together and sent out to my subscribers. It didn’t help that Steve the computer decided it would be a good day to start acting up again, and if I didn’t remember to save as soon as I completed each page, I was sure to lose it because the video card was acting up again, knocking the computer off and then back on. Steve doesn’t know it, but his days are numbered.

But I did get the newsletter sent out and received several comments from people thanking me for the links to all of the free books I listed by author friends of mine. If you’re not on the newsletter mailing list, send me your email at editor@GypsyJournal.net and I’ll get you added to it. Don’t worry, I don’t spam you, and I don’t share your information with anybody. The newsletter is only to keep my readers up to date on my different writing projects and to share some insights into the writing process.



Speaking of books, in less than 12 hours my new book, Big Lake Fugitive, is ranked #2,251 of all e-books on Amazon and #114 in the mystery category and has its first 5 star review. Thanks for your support everybody! I appreciate you downloading the book and sharing a link on your Facebook page.

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 – There will never be true equality in this world until magicians start sawing men in half, too.

I Just Hit 31

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 212018
 

No, not my age. I hit that number a long time ago, and then doubled it! I’m talking about my 31st book, Big Lake Fugitive, which I uploaded to Amazon last night. Depending on how quickly (or not so quickly) they work, it should be ready sometime today. I have had books go live in as little as two hours, and on one occasion it took three days. But on average, it takes 12 to 18 hours.



A lot is happening in this latest visit to our picturesque little town tucked away in Arizona’s White Mountains, and by the time it’s over Big Lake will never be the same again. I hope you enjoy reading it.

UPDATE: An hour after I posted the blog Big Lake Fugitive went live on Amazon. You can order it at this link.

Much of my day yesterday was spent making last-minute changes from the proofreaders and formatting the e-book version of the new release. With that out of the way, I began working on my author’s newsletter, which I plan to send out sometime this afternoon. Included in it will be links to quite a few free books from some author friends of mine. If you’re not on the newsletter mailing list, send me your email at editor@GypsyJournal.net and I’ll get you added to it. Don’t worry, I don’t spam you, and I don’t share your information with anybody. The newsletter is only to keep my readers up to date on my different writing projects and to share some insights into the writing process.

Our friend Jim Lewis stopped by in the afternoon with some parrotfish he had picked up at Oceans Seafood in New Smyrna Beach. It’s our “go to” place when Terry feels like cooking seafood. We had never had parrotfish before, and Terry floured and lightly pan fried it with fresh thyme, lemon, and butter. It was delicious! I’m looking forward to having it again sometime.

Afterward we retired to the garage to play darts, and as usually happens, Jim beat both of us several game in a row. Nothing new there. That old man (with the emphasis on old) is good!



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 – Some days I feel like I’m surrounded by morons. Other days, I realize it’s not just some days.

Point Pleasant

 Posted by at 12:33 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 202018
 

We discovered history and mystery in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, a charming little community located on the bank of the majestic Ohio River in the foothills of the rugged Appalachian Mountains.



The county seat of Mason County, Point Pleasant has been the scene of violent Indian conflicts, was an important riverboat stop, and is even the reputed home of a strange creature right out of fiction.

The area around Point Pleasant is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy camping, hiking, kayaking, fishing, bird watching, or cycling. Fans of history will enjoy the Point Pleasant River Museum, which focuses on river life and commercial enterprise on the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers. Displays and video demonstrations highlight such topics as great floods, boat construction, sternwheeler steamers, river disasters and the local river industry’s contribution to World War II. The museum also offers a working pilot house and a research library.

A block from the museum, Point Pleasant Battle Monument is a small park which commemorates the frontiersmen who fought and died at the Battle of Point Pleasant. The battle between Virginia militiamen, commanded by Lord Dunmore, and Shawnee and Mingo Indians, led by Chief Cornstalk, took place on October 10, 1774, when a force of militiamen was attacked by the Indians on the bank of the Ohio River. After hours of bloody fighting, the Indians withdrew, leaving behind the dead and dying on both sides. Among the dead was Pucksinwah, the father of the great Shawnee chief Tecumseh. The militiamen lost 75 men, and had another 150 wounded. The Shawnee are estimated to have suffered over 30 killed. The Shawnee threw many of the bodies of their dead into the river to prevent them from being mutilated by the vengeful Virginians. Following his defeat at the Battle of Point Pleasant, Cornstalk was forced to agree to the Treaty of Camp Charlotte, ceding all Shawnee lands south of the Ohio River to Virginia.

The American Revolution had begun by the time the Virginia militiamen returned home from their campaign against the Shawnee, and ironically soon found themselves fighting against Lord Dunmore, their former commander. Dunmore urged the same Indians he had defeated at Point Pleasant to take up arms against the revolutionaries. This led many to believe that he had actually orchestrated the attack at Point Pleasant to eliminate the Virginia militia before they could fight the British. Because of this belief, some historians consider the Battle of Point Pleasant to be the first engagement of the Revolutionary War.



Also located at the park is the Mansion House, built as a tavern in 1796, by Walter Newman. It is the oldest hewn log house in the Kanawha Valley, and is a museum with displays of antiques and heirlooms of the pioneer era, including a large square piano believed to be one of the first brought over the Alleghenies. The cabin’s bedrooms are furnished with authentic four-poster beds that are more than 150 years old.

Another interesting museum in Point Pleasant is the West Virginia State Farm Museum, which is dedicated to preserving the heritage of farm life. Here you will find exhibits that include log cabins, an early day farmhouse, a blacksmith shop, and early day agricultural equipment.

Perhaps the strangest story to come out of Point Pleasant is that of Mothman, a mythical winged creature that is supposed to flit through the treetops warning people of disaster and terrifying the community. Today there is a Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant and a statue of the mysterious creature on Main Street. You can read more about Mothman in this blog post.

A short drive from town, restored Fort Randolph re-creates the fort that protected settlers here during the Indian Wars. A city-owned campground next to the fort has RV sites and a dump station.

As you can see, for such a small community, Point Pleasant has a lot to offer. Be sure to include it in your travel plans the next time you explore the Ohio River valley!

Thought For The Day – My new doctor gave me a chart with a food pyramid on it. I have no idea why he thinks I’m Egyptian.

Cape Cod

 Posted by at 12:50 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 192018
 

Mention Cape Cod to anybody who has never been there, and the image that comes to mind is probably one of scenic back roads leading to miles of pristine beaches, with the occasional picturesque small village along the way. At least that’s what I imagined.



The reality is more like bumper to bumper traffic, people packed onto beaches like sardines in a can, and roadways lined with lobster shacks and souvenir stands. Or at least that’s what Cape Cod was like during our summer visit. People tell me that we timed our trip wrong, and that autumn is the perfect time to explore the Cape, when the crowds are smaller and the weather is still nice. We hope to go back again sometime during this “shoulder season” as they call it.

Cape Cod is an L shaped peninsula that juts 60 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean from the eastern shore of Massachusetts. The Cape is divided from the mainland by the manmade Cape Cod Canal, making it essentially the world’s largest barrier island, shielding much of the state’s coastline from the strong storms that plague the North Atlantic. But in the process, those same storms erode the Cape’s shoreline, making it smaller every year. The Cape’s outer beaches lose an average of four feet every year to erosion.

The Cape has a long and fascinating history that includes Native people who lived here for eons, Pilgrims, seamen, whalers, farmers, and the occasional pirate. In 1990, storms uncovered a prehistoric site on Coast Guard Beach in Eastham. Archaeologists excavated the Carns Site, which was inhabited by native peoples during the Early and Middle Woodland period, approximately 2,100 to 1,100 years ago.

Much of the most scenic areas of the Cape are part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, which encompasses 43,500 acres on the Atlantic side. The park has six beaches which offer a variety of recreational opportunities; Coast Guard and Nauset Light in Eastham, Marconi in Wellfleet, Head of the Meadow in Truro, and Race Point and Herring Cove in Provincetown. There are three bicycle trails administered by Cape Cod National Seashore; Nauset Trail in Eastham, Head of the Meadow Trail in Truro, and the Province Lands Trail in Provincetown. There are eleven self-guided trails for walking within the Seashore.

Cape Cod National Seashore is an important nesting area for the endangered Piping Plover, whose population declined dramatically during the 20th century. The National Park Service operates two Visitors Centers on Cape Cod, the Salt Pond Visitor Center on U.S. Highway 6 in Eastham, and the Province Road Visitor Center in Provincetown.

Both have information desks, videos about the Cape, and bookstores with a nice selection of books and souvenirs. The Province Lands Visitor Center has an outdoor observation deck, and during our visit we were lucky enough to spot a couple of whales spouting a mile or so offshore. They even breached several times. That alone made the trip worthwhile. Visitors can take whale watching trips from several towns on the Cape.

The National Seashore has six swimming beaches, where lifeguards are on duty from late June through the last week of August. The beaches can be very crowded and entrance fees are steep. Daily vehicle passes are $20, while pedestrians and bicyclists pay $3. Beach entrance fees are collected from late June through early September, and on weekends/holidays from Memorial Day to the end of September. For $60, visitors can purchase a Cape Cod National Seashore pass that is good for a calendar year fee season. All National Park passes are also honored.

There are two routes out to the Cape, US Highway 6 and US Highway 6A. Friends had told us that 6A was the slower route, but that we would see more along the way. And we did; we saw yuppified shops with yuppified names, and we saw endless lines of restaurants, all of them selling lobster, which the locals refer to as lobstah.



Since we were on an island, or a peninsula, whatever the heck Cape Cod is, we thought we would get a lot of views of the ocean, but we didn’t. There are too many trees, houses, and businesses, and the highway doesn’t really go that close to the water. We had the same experience when we drove to Key West. Even though the Keys are a series of islands, for much of the way you down, don’t really see the water.

That’s not to say that we didn’t enjoy the Cape. There is a lot to see and do there. We stopped at Marconi Beach, where the parking lot was packed, but we did manage to find a spot and walked up to the beach overlook.

Driving back to the highway from Marconi Beach, we stopped at the Marconi Station Site, where the first wireless telegraph message was sent from the United States to England, in 1903. The station was also one of the first to receive a distress message from the Titanic when it sank in 1912. There isn’t much left of the old station these days, just a few pieces of concrete foundation and some heavy iron chain.

We did enjoy much better views of the beach there. The cliffs above the beach are very unstable and people are not allowed down there due to the danger. These were the kind of vistas I came to Cape Cod to see.

And what’s a trip to Cape Cod if you can’t see a lighthouse? We have seen a lot of lighthouses over the years, on the Great Lakes, the Gulf Coast, and in the Pacific Northwest, and we always enjoy them. How can you not love lighthouses?

Though they are all touristy, several of the towns on the Cape proved interesting. Bourne is the gateway to Cape Cod, and both bridges that carry traffic from the mainland are in Bourne. Compared to most other Cape Cod communities, Bourne is rather quiet except for all of the traffic headed out to the Cape. The annual Bourne Scallop Festival, held in early September, brings visitors from across the nation.

Established in 1803, Brewster, along historic Route 6A, is a historic sea captains’ town located on the bay side of Cape Cod. Over a third of Brewster’s land has been set aside for conservation, recreation, and watershed protection. 1,900 acre Nickerson State Park has trails for biking and hiking, 400 camp sites, and stocked freshwater ponds for swimming, fishing and boating.

Settled in 1656 by Pilgrims, Chatham is one of the older communities on Cape Cod. Deep sea fishing plays an important role in the town’s economy, which still operates under the old time town meeting form of government. Once a year Chatham’s citizens meet to discuss and vote on issues concerning how the town will be run and to approve a budget.

Over half of the land area of the quaint community of Wellfleet is in the Cape Cod National Seashore. The town’s Harbor is busy with sailboats, huge yachts, charter fishing boats, and trawlers. Some of the best fishing to be found on Cape Cod, whether it be surf casting or on a charter boat, can be found here. The town is famous for its abundant supply of shellfish, including the famous “Wellfleet Oyster.” Wellfleet is also home to the 1,000 acre Massachusetts Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary.

The biggest and busiest town on Cape Cod is Provincetown, incorporated in 1727. Forget Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims actually landed here first when they reached the New World, and it was here that they signed the Mayflower Compact to set down the rules by which their new colony would be governed. During the 1700s, Provincetown made its living off the sea and its population fluctuated with the price of fish. Today tourists flock here from around the world to browse the town’s art studios and galleries and dozens of small shops, or for the active nightlife in the summer.

As you can see, there is a lot to see and do on Cape Cod, and it would take a season to explore it all. But make it the fall season, when things slow down, and the traffic isn’t such a nightmare.

Thought For The Day – I’m not feeling very worky today.

Moving Right Along

 Posted by at 12:06 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 182018
 

My newest book, Big Lake Fugitive, is moving right along through the pre-production stages. Terry finished the initial editing and proofreading on Saturday, and yesterday I finished making all of the corrections she suggested. Then I sent it off to my second proofreader. She’s usually pretty quick, and as soon as I get back from her and make her corrections, it will go to proofreaders number three and four. They are all very dedicated people and don’t waste any time, so it should be finished, formatted, uploaded to Amazon, and available by the end of the week, or the weekend at the latest.



Somebody asked me if this is the last book in the Big Lake series. No, it’s not even close to the last. I still have a lot more stories to tell you about all the things happening in Big Lake. And I haven’t forgot my Florida buddy, Somerton County Deputy John Lee Quarrels. As soon as this latest book is out, I’ll start working on the next John Lee book.

Back in May I wrote about getting a set of Arlo security cameras to mount inside and outside the house. So far I’ve been very impressed with the cameras. The picture quality is excellent, even at night, and we haven’t had any problems with the Arlo system like we did when we were using the SimpliSafe. The Arlo system is strictly cameras, and I wish it had sensors for the doors and windows like the SimpliSafe did. But then again that system never worked properly, so I guess having them didn’t do us much good anyway, did it?

The Arlo cameras are battery-powered, and I wasn’t sure how long to expect them to work before they needed charged. I originally set them up on May 6, which was a Sunday, and yesterday they were all down somewhere around 15 to 18%. So I started recharging them, which went pretty quickly. All you do is plug a charging cord into them and within a few hours they are ready to go again. We have six cameras in the system now, but I’m thinking of adding at least two more to cover a couple of blind spots.



Two readers have asked if we have to pay for the rock that the county put in the other day to try to stop the erosion on both sides of their flood control ditch. I don’t believe so, nobody ever said anything to me about that. In fact, as I wrote in the blog, I didn’t even know they were going to do it. I’ve been complaining about the problem for quite some time, and when we came home from running some errands, it was done.

Somebody else asked if we are going to continue with the retaining wall project. I think we will eventually, but for now we’ll wait and see what the rock does. With daytime temperatures in the low to mid 90s and high humidity for the next three months at least, I’m not feeling all that energetic to get out there and do a lot of physical labor. Okay, let’s be honest, I never feel like doing physical labor if I can avoid it.

And finally, because I haven’t shared one with you lately, here is a funny sign from the collection we accumulated in our travels as fulltime RVers or that our readers sent to us.

Congratulations David Bushouse, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Ohio town in 1951. I have 20 mystery novels out, as well as 10 nonfiction books, and I have to say that Dog’s Run is my favorite. It’s a gritty tale that is loosely based upon a real crime that took place in that part of the country when my father was a young police officer there. We had 80 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – I don’t know what your problem is, but I’m pretty sure it’s hard to pronounce.

Father’s Day

 Posted by at 12:26 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 172018
 

My dad’s been gone for over 30 years now but I still think about him. Not just on Father’s Day, but every day. He was quite a guy and I’d love to be able sit down and talk to him again.



He was part of the Greatest Generation who helped to push the Japanese out of the South Pacific and end World War II. Sometimes he’d sit up alone late at night with a beer and his memories. I didn’t understand that then, but I do now.

He was proud of his country and loved his flag, but there were sure a lot of politicians he didn’t like and didn’t trust.

He was a hard-working man who loved his family, loved telling jokes and making people laugh, loved telling stories, and loved playing music. Even though he never had a lesson in his life and could not read music, he could play anything with keys or strings, and if he listened to a song once or twice he could sit down and play it for you. He wrote at least one book that was never published, and poetry about the things he had seen in his life.

If you were doing something stupid, he wouldn’t hesitate to tell you so. He also never hesitated to compliment you on a job well done, or to encourage people to follow their dreams. When I first got out of the Army I thought about becoming a policeman, and since one of the many schools I attended while I was in the military was the MP school, I didn’t have to attend the police academy, but was required to work as a part time reserve officer for a year before I could be hired. That year was about up and my dad sat down with me and said, “Ever since you were a kid you have always talked about wanting to be a writer. I’ve read some of the stuff you wrote, and I think you could do a pretty good job of it. And to be honest, I also think you will be a piss poor cop. Go be a writer.” It was probably the best piece of advice I ever got. I like to think that if my dad could see me now, he’d be proud.

No matter what else you’ve got going on in your life, if you’re dad is still alive, take some time to visit him or call him and tell him how much he means to you. It will mean much more to him than a tie or a bottle of after shave. And trust me, there will come a time when you wish you had him around to talk to.



Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Ohio town in 1951. I have 20 mystery novels out, as well as 10 nonfiction books, and I have to say that Dog’s Run is my favorite. It’s a gritty tale that is loosely based upon a real crime that took place in that part of the country when my father was a young police officer there. 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 have the ability to annoy you and make you laugh at the same time. I’m delightfully difficult.