Buried Sitting Up

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 192020
 

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

At the City Cemetery in Mishawaka, Indiana we learned the story of William Aldrich, a decidedly colorful character of his time. Born around 1840, Aldrich was an eccentric and self-proclaimed atheist, along with being a gambler, horse trader, and some claim, a horse thief. Be that as it may, Aldrich always lived very well and supported his mother in style in the home they shared on Main Street in Mishawaka. He would disappear for weeks, even months at a time, then show up back in town with a string of fine horses and one or more fancy carriages.

While rumors abounded that these were stolen property, or the ill-gotten gains from some card game, that never stopped the local folks from stepping up to purchase the fine steeds Aldrich offered.

Aldrich loved to play the dandy, dressing in a frock coat, gaily colored vest, bow tie, and sporting a large diamond stickpin. He carried a walking stick, and though nobody ever saw him use one, everybody knew he also toted a couple of guns under the folds of his coat.

When Aldrich fell ill with tuberculosis, a virulent disease of the time, he weakened fast and in his last days could only sleep sitting up. He commissioned a local undertaker to build him a large coffin designed so that he could sit up for all eternity. Once the coffin was finished and delivered, Aldrich spent many hours sitting in it, apparently trying out the fit while he could still order any needed adjustments.

When Aldrich succumbed to his illness, his coffin was too big to fit in any hearse, so a platoon of pallbearers carried it to the cemetery, where he was laid to rest in a specially constructed oversize vault measuring five by seven feet that he had decorated with photographs of Indians, frontiersmen, and some of his favorite horses.

Perhaps Aldrich planned to challenge the Devil himself to a game of chance to determine who would be in charge of Hell – the vault also contained a card table with a deck of cards, Aldrich’s pipe and tobacco, and a bottle of whiskey. Aldrich also ordered he be buried with his favorite fancy saddle, and a shotgun, just in case the Devil cheated.

Today is your last chance to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of The Ghost At His Back, the first book in my friend Cameron Lowe’s Rankin Flats supernatural thriller series. Cam is a great guy, witty, intelligent, and creative. To enter, 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 – Sometimes I shock myself with the smart stuff I say and do. Other times I try to get out of the car with my seat belt on.

Tinkertown

 Posted by at 12:26 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 182020
 

While spending some time in Albuquerque, New Mexico a few years ago, several readers urged us to visit Tinkertown, a short drive into the Sandia Mountains on the northeast side of the city. In fact, there were so many people suggesting it that we had to check it out to see what all the fuss was about. And I’m glad we did because the place was amazing and will delight the child inside of everyone who visits, no matter their age.

Billed as New Mexico’s premiere folk art museum, Tinkertown is the lifework of artist Ross Ward, who spent over 40 years carving, collecting, and building Tinkertown. Ward used over 50,000 glass bottles to build a maze-like 22-room attraction that houses a fascinating collection of antiques and memorabilia, including old coin operated sideshow machines like Otto the One-Man-Band and Esmerelda the Fortune Teller. Drop a quarter in the coin slots and they come to life.

There is so much to see at Tinkertown that it’s hard to choose a favorite. Probably the most fascinating are the thousands of animated miniature wood carved figures arranged in hilarious scenes. One diorama is an Old West town, another is a circus, complete with trained tigers and acrobats, yet another is a spooky Boot Hill, complete with dancing skeletons. The figures were originally part of a traveling exhibit that appeared at county fairs and carnivals across the country in the 1960s and 1970s.

There are also collections of antique tools, wedding cake figurines, old toys, and dolls. There is even a neat old 35 foot long wooden sailboat that Ward’s brother-in-law spent ten years sailing around the world in.

Outside are Old West storefronts, metal sculptures made from trash and castoff farm machinery, and more. One of the many signs in the museum pretty much sums it all up with a quote by Thomas Edison, “Invention consists of imagination and a scrap heap.”

This was evident in all of Ward’s work. The old time soda fountain in one of his dioramas is a good example. The bar is an old sewing machine drawer, the marble tables are linoleum samples, the fan is a wooden drawer pull, the Coke dispenser is a thread spool, and the floor is a shoe box cover. As Ward said, “Ideas are everywhere. Pick them like flowers.”

There was probably nobody else in the world who could have envisioned what would become Tinkertown but Ross Ward. He was born to create, to paint, carve, and tinker. Growing up in the Midwest, he was captivated by the tiny villages, farms, and circuses created by “spare time carvers.” He began carving circus figures while in junior high school and they are now on display at the museum. He began carving the first figures for the turn-of-the-century general store diorama in 1962.

While Ward carved and built his folk art environment as a hobby for most of his adult life, he was even more prolific in painting, etching, drawing, and sculpture. A self-taught artist, he was a show painter for carnivals for over 30 years, traveling the country painting for all the major carnival shows and in winter quarters from Texas to Florida.

Always adding to his collection and creating something new, Ward never stopped working on Tinkertown, which grew from a one-room museum welcoming 943 visitors in 1983 to a roadside attraction hosting tens of thousands of visitors annually. He once said of Tinkertown, “I did all this while you were watching TV.”

Tragically, Ross Ward was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 1998, at age 57, and passed away November 13, 2002. I think the New Mexican newspaper in Santa Fe summed up his life best with this eulogy – “The late Ross J. Ward, best described as a folk artist who drank sunsets for breakfast, left behind a temple devoted to inspiration, imagination, and childhood dreams”

Today Ross Ward’s family continues his legacy by maintaining and operating Tinkertown in his memory. Something is always happening at the museum, be it a school group coming for a field trip, a busload of seniors on a tour, or just visitors like us enthralled with all that the artist created. I’m sure he would be pleased, as he always believed “The show must go on!”

We were very fortunate to meet Ross Ward’s widow, Carla, during our visit and to chat with her for a few minutes. When I admired a highly decorated old Jeep in the carport, she explained that when his illness made it unsafe for her husband to drive, he couldn’t just park it. Instead, in the best example of turning lemons into lemonade I’ve ever seen, he turned his car into yet another work of art. Could you really expect any less? I’m sorry I never got to meet Ross Ward because he was obviously a fascinating person.

The Tinkertown Museum is closed for the winter, but will reopen on April 1st, 2020, so make your travel plans now if you are a snowbird spending the winter in the Southwest. Tinkertown is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 1st thru October 31st and is closed during the winter. Admission is $4 for adults age 18-62, , $1.50 for kids ages 4-17 and children under age 4 are free. Seniors age 62 and older are $3.50.

Tinkertown is located in Sandia Park, just 20 minutes from Albuquerque on the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. From Interstate 40, take Exit 175 and travel six miles north on State Highway 14, then turn left on Highway 536, the road to Sandia Crest. Tinkertown is 1.5 miles on the left. The parking lot will not accommodate RVs, so park in one of the many campgrounds in the area or in Albuquerque and drive your tow vehicle or dinghy. For more information, call (505) 281-5233 or visit their website at www.tinkertown.com

Be sure to enter our latest new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of The Ghost At His Back, the first book in my friend Cameron Lowe’s Rankin Flats supernatural thriller series. Cam is a great guy, witty, intelligent, and creative. To enter, 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 – Be careful who you trust. Salt and sugar look the same.

It Was A Wonderful Day

 Posted by at 12:24 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 172020
 

Terry and I want to say a huge thank you to so many people who left blog comments, sent e-mails, and wished us happy anniversary on Facebook. You all helped make an already wonderful day even more special for us.

We started the day by waking up around 7 a.m., which was about three hours earlier than normal and not wonderful at all. But we had to be on the road by 8:30 to drive to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville for Terry’s post-op conference on her InterStim device. The first thing Terry said when asked how things are going since it was implanted on December 16 was, “I love it! It’s given me my life back!”

Yes, it really has been that effective. Her pain levels have dropped dramatically, her comfort level is so much better, and as she said, she is able to function more normally again.

Much of our time there yesterday was spent going over the different programs on the device and discussing how they work and a question and answer session to help us better understand what it is capable of. Terry will start physical therapy sometime in March and is scheduled to return to Mayo in six months.

Something else that has helped Terry’s comfort level and healing is the Luxe Neo 120 bidet we recently installed in our guest bathroom. So much so that we will be putting one in our master bathroom, too. In fact, after hearing how much she likes it, Terry’s mom and dad ordered the same model. They were so impressed that they bought a second one the next day!

When we were finished at Mayo we drove back south, stopping in Daytona Beach for dinner. Then it was home for a relaxing evening, just the two of us. That may not sound all that wonderful to some people, but for us it was the perfect way to wrap up our special day.

As for our next few days, Terry will be busy getting the editing and proofing of Big Lake Quarterback finished, and I’ll be making corrections as she goes. I also have to write the back cover blurb, which is also what shoppers on Amazon will see. Then I’ll write the first chapter of my next Big Lake book, which will go into the back of this one as a teaser. And finally, I will get my next authors newsletter ready to go out free to over 1,000 subscribers. If you are not already on the subscription list, just send me your e-mail at editor@gypsyjournal.net and I’ll get you added.

And finally, 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.

Be sure to enter our latest new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of The Ghost At His Back, the first book in my friend Cameron Lowe’s Rankin Flats supernatural thriller series. Cam is a great guy, witty, intelligent, and creative. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – I am sitting in a horrible traffic jam, but fortunately someone is beeping their horn behind me, so we should be on the move anytime now.

22 Years

 Posted by at 12:00 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 162020
 

Today is a very special day for us. It’s our 22nd wedding anniversary. That’s right, this beautiful lady who shares my life e and makes it better in every possible way, has been putting up with my nonsense for over two decades now. Honestly, I don’t know how or why she does it.

I know I’ve said this before, and some people may or may not believe it, but we are absolutely, deliriously happy together and head over heels in love, even after all this time. More than once we have been in a restaurant and had a server ask if we were on our first date because we are holding hands. No, we hold hands all the time, even when we are asleep.

We never go to sleep at night without saying I love you, and it’s the first thing we say to each other when we wake up in the morning. A couple of times people have called us codependent because we like to be together all the time. Maybe we are, I don’t know. But whatever you call it, it works for us.

Us coming together surprised a lot of people, but I don’t think anybody was more surprised about it than myself and Terry. We had both been in bad marriages and we definitely were not looking to make that mistake again! In fact, when my marriage ended I told all my friends that if I ever said I was going to get married again, to shoot me. I had been shot and married twice before, and trust me, you can get over being shot a whole lot easier than getting over being married. Now my friends joke about the hour and a half I was single. Some people even said we were jumping into it too soon.

The thing is, Terry and I had been friends for a long time before anything developed between us romantically. She advertised the business she ran in my newspaper and I was so impressed with her intelligence and openness that I made it a point to call on her myself instead of sending one of my salespeople. But she always wore a ring on her finger so I just assume she was married, and since I was also married at the time, it was never anything but a friendship.

At some point after my marriage ended, Terry told me that she had been single for 14 years. I asked her about the ring she wore and she said that was just to keep guys from bothering her because she wasn’t interested. In fact, she was so committed to being single that when I told my daughter, who was about 15 at the time, that we had started spending time together, Tiffany said, “She’s gay, Dad. But if anybody could change her mind, it’s you.” And the rest is history.

Here’s a picture of us, 22 years ago today, signing our marriage license. Yeah, I was pretty much bald then, too, but at least the beard was a little bit darker. As for Miss Terry, she was beautiful then and she’s even more beautiful now.

And here’s another one of us on our honeymoon, somewhere on the California coast around Big Sur. I think I’ve gained a few pounds since then.

So what are we doing for our anniversary? We’re driving up to the Mayo Clinic in  Jacksonville for Terry’s four week checkup after her InterStim device was implanted. After that, I think we’re going to find some nice place to have dinner, just me and my best friend.

Happy anniversary, Terry. Thank you for 22 wonderful years, and I look forward to spending however many years we have left together. I love you.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of The Ghost At His Back, the first book in my friend Cameron Lowe’s Rankin Flats supernatural thriller series. Cam is a great guy, witty, intelligent, and creative. To enter, 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 – A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.

Three Quickies

 Posted by at 12:36 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 152020
 

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter! When you’re as old and fat as me, nothing is ever quick. But today I thought I’d share three different quick stories from the Nick Happens files, which are a collection of my adventures and misadventures over the years.

***

In our first trip in our motorhome, before we became fulltime RVers, we were staying at Zane Grey RV Village in Camp Verde, Arizona and were relaxing under our awning. In fact, I was feeling so relaxed after a few days away from my sometimes hectic life publishing a small town newspaper that as the stress faded away, so did I, falling asleep in my lawn chair! I woke up to the sound of another RV pulling into the site next to ours, a Class C rental unit occupied by an attractive young couple from Switzerland, who are touring the country with their two little girls. The husband was amazed at the size of our wide body rig and told us it would be impossible to drive such an RV on Europe’s narrow roads.

An hour or so later, I had gone inside to use the bathroom, and when I finished and was washing my hands, Miss Terry came inside and told me that our foreign neighbors must not realize just how close the quarters are in an RV park. It seems the pretty blonde woman had stripped down to get ready for bed standing right in front of the window, without closing the blinds. And I missed it! Yes, I missed my one and only chance to see Swiss boobs! Terry had come inside to spare herself or our neighbors any further embarrassment, but I sat outside another two hours swatting bugs, and all I ever got to see was the guy in his boxer shorts! Timing is everything.

***

In our first year as fulltimers, way back in 1999, before we all had cell phones attached at birth, we were somewhere west of Baton Rouge, Louisiana when we pulled into a rest area to stretch, take a quick walk around the motorhome and dinghy to be sure all was well, and to make a couple of telephone calls. Standing at the phone booth, I suddenly realized this was not a place I wanted to be. Several police cars had pulled in and officers were piling out wearing flak vests and carrying M-16 automatic rifles and riot shotguns. Not being a big fan of gunfire unless I can shoot back, I cut my call short and headed for the RV at a fast pace (or at least as fast as a short fat guy can move). Along the way I noticed several people milling about, but nobody appeared worried about the firefight that seemed imminent. I asked somebody what was happening and learned they were filming a new action adventure movie. Heart rate and peace of mind restored, we headed on down the highway and had a giggle or two at my moment of panic.

***

We were dry camping and vending at an Escapees RV Club rally at a fairgrounds in Wisconsin back in that same time period. The rally ended on Friday morning and everybody was supposed to be gone by 3 p.m. I was feeling under the weather and asked a groundskeeper if we could park someplace there for the night. He told us to just stay put and we would be fine. Standing on your feet in a vending booth for 8 or 9 hours a day for several days is exhausting. Besides me not feeling great, we were worn out and didn’t wake up until about 10 a.m. Saturday morning. When we pulled back the curtains over the windshield, we were shocked to find that we were surrounded by classic cars. Apparently the man I had talked to did not know about the car show that weekend. Since we could not have made our way through the cars and spectators in our motorhome, and since we love classic cars anyway,we stayed put until Monday morning. Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Thought For The Day – Folgers got it wrong. The best part of waking up is going back to bed after you pee.

Dad Lied

 Posted by at 12:29 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 142020
 

Depending on which side you take in the age-old controversy about heredity versus environment, we are all either genetically inclined to become who we are, or we adapt to our surroundings as we grow. There are plenty of arguments for and against both claims. We’ve all seen kids that came from good families go bad while their siblings grew up to become good citizens, and we’ve seen others who came from dysfunctional families, grew up in poverty, and yet overcame all kinds of problems to succeed. Either way, I was screwed, thanks to my old man.

Don’t get me wrong, my dad was a great guy, and the lessons I learned from him helped shape me into the man I am today. He instilled a love of books and travel in me at an early age, as well as a work ethic, and he always told me that I could accomplish anything I wanted to in life if I were willing to work hard enough to make it happen. He also had a great sense of humor and there were times when that came back to haunt me.

I was probably about five or six years old and we were sitting on the couch watching the old Red Skelton Show on our little black and white TV. Mom had made a big bowl of popcorn and I was munching away as we enjoyed the antics of Clem Kadiddlehopper and Freddie the Freeloader. When I started to reach into the bowl again, Dad pulled it away and said I couldn’t have any more. I asked why not, and he told me it was because I still had my appendix.

At that age I had never heard of an appendix, so Dad explained that it was like a little sack that hung off your gut, and when you ate popcorn, the seeds fell into it. He told me that when that sack got full of seeds it exploded and you had to have an operation to get it out and it really hurt. “But you’re eating popcorn,” I said, and Dad lifted his shirt and pushed down his belt line to show me a scar. “My appendix exploded,” he said, “This is where they cut it out.” Suddenly popcorn didn’t taste so good to me anymore.

Fast forward about ten years and I was at my girlfriend’s house one Saturday night when her mother made up a batch of hot buttered popcorn and offered me some. I declined, telling her I couldn’t eat it since I still had my appendix. “What does that have to do with it?” she asked. So I explained all about the appendix and the dangers of popcorn seeds. That lady looked at me with a newfound understanding of just how low her daughter’s standards were in young men and asked, “Are you an idiot?”

Well yeah, but what does that have to do with anything? As it turns out, she was a nurse and she dragged out some kind of medical book and gave me a quick lesson on human anatomy, while my girlfriend, her sister, and whoever else was there laughed at my ignorance.

Incensed at this betrayal by my very own father, I called home and told my dad indignantly, “You lied to me!” Nonplussed, Dad said, “I lie to you all the time. What are you talking about?” I explained all about the appendix and what I had just learned, and it was Dad’s time to roar with laughter. “Really?” he asked. “That’s why you don’t eat popcorn? Your mother and I thought you were just weird and didn’t like it.”

My relationship with that young lady ended soon afterward, I suspect because she realized that her mom was probably right, she could do better. The good news was that my next girlfriend taught me even more about human anatomy. But that’s another story.

Thought For The Day – One day we decided we were tired of sleeping in and doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted in a clean house. So we had kids.

A Bidet Day

 Posted by at 12:10 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 132020
 

A couple of times over the years we have talked about getting a bidet because people who have them have told us about their many benefits, including better personal hygiene and cleaning, reducing the impact we have on the environment, and comfort of use. Bidets also can prevent clogs and reduce plumbing problems. But that’s all we did, talk about it.

While Terry was doing the prep work prior to the surgery to insert her Interstim device, one of the nurses there told her it would be a beneficial to her. So, after a lot of research, she ordered a Luxe Neo 120 model, which attaches to the existing toilet.

The flapper valve in the toilet in our guest bathroom was leaking and the entire apparatus was in bad shape, so the other day we bought a complete replacement kit. Yesterday was the day to put in the new toilet kit, and then install the bidet.

We replaced the guts of our master bedroom toilet a few months ago and it was an easy job, so we didn’t expect any problems this time around. We were wrong. When we had new flooring put in the house, including tile in the kitchen, hallway, and guest bathroom, they had to remove the toilet. Whoever put everything back together must have thought he was putting lug nuts on an 18-wheeler, because everything was so tight that we could not take the water supply line off. The fact that the toilet is only about 4 inches or so away from the wall on one side didn’t help. I think it took us a couple of hours just to get it taken apart. Once we did that, installing the new kit in the toilet tank was easy. Likewise, installing the bidet was also quick and easy.

Okay guys, here’s a tip for you. If you and your lady ever install a bidet, don’t open the toilet lid and push the button to see what happens. And if you do, make damn sure your wife or significant other is not standing there. Don’t ask me how I know this. Let’s just say that if there had been one more woman present, we could have had a wet T-shirt contest!

To Terry’s credit, she didn’t beat me over the head with a plunger or stick my head in the bowl and flush it a few times. I don’t know if that’s because she’s a good sport about things or she’s just waiting for me to go to sleep tonight.

I will say that we both tried the bidet and we both liked it. So much so, in fact, that we are talking about installing one in the master bathroom, too.

In other news, I did 6000 words Saturday and another 6,200 yesterday, and Big Lake Quarterback is done. It came in at 86K words. I started it November 15 and finished it January 12. It would have been done sooner except for all of the running back and forth to the Mayo Clinic in Jackson for the prep exams and then Terry’s surgery. Today I will give it a final read-through before I print it out for Terry to start the editing and proofing process. Here’s a sneak peek at the cover.

Congratulations Jay Rubin, winner of our drawing for an for autographed copy of my pal Donna McNicol’s 3-in-1 C’Mon Inn Hawaiian mystery series trilogy, Paradise at a Price, Paradise Dead, and Paradise Drift. We had 91 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – Sometimes I wonder if slugs are just snails that have gone through a divorce and she got the house.

Mind Your Manners

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 122020
 

I’ve get a lot of e-mails from blog readers and a surprising number of them are from RVers writing about campground problems that make me wonder how so many people never learned basic manners as children. So today, let’s talk about how to be a good neighbor.

Most RVers are pretty laid back, but living in a campground is much like living in an apartment; sometimes the neighbors can be very close, and the walls are pretty thin. There are times when this can magnify little irritations people might otherwise ignore.

Being a good neighbor is easy, whether you live in a house, a condominium, a motorhome, or a fifth wheel trailer. All it takes is common sense. Of course, we all know how rare that can be. So let’s review some basic campground etiquette.

We have had to close our motorhome’s windows more than once because a neighbor is sitting outside smoking and it’s coming right inside our rig. They don’t want their RV to smell like smoke, but it’s apparently okay to make your neighbors’ rig smell like an ashtray? If you must smoke, and don’t want to do it inside your RV, go stand by the dump station.

A lot of RVers feel the same way about campfire smoke. Weekend campers just love their fires, and it seems like the smokier, the better. And all that smoke is usually going in somebody’s windows. I always wonder how those campfire lovers would feel if I sent my smoking neighbor to light up under their windows. If having a campfire is an important part of your camping experience, use dry wood and learn to build a fire that doesn’t smoke so much, or better yet, get a portable propane campfire. They’re convenient, you don’t have to buy firewood, there’s no smoke, and no worry about making sure your fire is completely out before you call it a night.

Loud music, loud TVs, and loud conversations can quickly make you unpopular around the campground. Again, many RV sites are in close quarters, and sound carries. You may love Hank Williams or Gloria Gaynor’s music, but the folks next door may not be fans. Likewise with your favorite television shows. If you have hearing difficulties, don’t crank the volume up, get a set of headphones!

Terry and I are night owls and it’s not uncommon for me to write late into the night. We usually have the TV on, but we are careful to keep the volume low so as not to bother our neighbors. While RV parks have quiet hours, noise pollution is not appreciated any time of the day. That includes having loud conversations with somebody you meet up with during your invigorating early morning walk, especially while you are standing in one place next to someone’s bedroom window! Not everyone is up with the sunrise.

It’s no secret that while I love dogs, I hate yappy little dogs. Keep your mutt quiet. It’s just that simple! Because you choose to have an excitable dog that barks at everything it sees or hears does not mean your campground neighbors should have to listen to it. During a stay at the Orlando Thousand Trails, every morning about 7 AM a fellow rode his bike past with a noisy little dog in the basket. And he always stopped to chat with one of our neighbors, who also had a yappy little dog. So everybody had to listen to the noise in stereo. Neither owner attempted to quiet their dogs down, they just ignored them and talked louder. What clods! I once had the owner of two noisy dogs tell me that he had just learned to ignore them. Well, this old dog doesn’t want to learn any new tricks, including turning a deaf ear to incessant barking.

Kids are like dogs; just because you love yours doesn’t mean everybody does. We’ve met a lot of RVers who travel with children or grandchildren, and most of those youngsters have been very well mannered. But we’ve had a few occasions when kids have been left to run wild with no adult supervision. Somebody told me once that in the case of dogs or children, it all comes down to how they were raised. At the risk of offending my friends who travel with children, I had to admit that there’s some truth to that statement.

Another real concern with kids in campgrounds is safety. I’ve seen little ones riding bikes and even tricycles down campground roads, unsupervised, while huge RVs with many blind spots are coming and going. It scares me to death. Years ago, at Kentucky Horse Park, Terry was guiding me as I backed into a campsite when two kids on bikes rode right between her and our bus conversion. Terry didn’t see them coming until they were there, and I never saw them at all! Something else to consider is that you have no idea who the guy in the RV three sites down from you is. He is probably a great person, but what if he isn’t? For all you know, he could be a pedophile, and campgrounds, especially in the summer, can be a target rich environment. They don’t make someone pass a background check to buy an RV or rent a campsite.

We all have to dump our black tanks, but if you’re on a full hookup RV site, show your neighbors some consideration. If they are sitting outside eating or reading, wait to dump your tanks until they go back inside. You may think your poop don’t stink, but trust me, it does.

A pet peeve of many RVers is the folks who start their diesel rigs up and let them idle for prolonged periods of time to allow them to properly “warm up.” Most seem to be the same people who feel the need to leave the campground before dawn. No modern diesel engine needs to warm up for long periods of time, nor does it need a prolonged cool down time when you pull into an RV park. By the time you have gotten off the highway and made your way to the campground, it’s cooled down.

It happens all the time. You are going out to run an errand and somebody is sitting in the road blocking traffic while they talk to somebody. Campground interior roads are usually narrow and there may not be room to get around a stopped vehicle. Pull off the road if you’re going to chat.

When somebody rents a campsite, that’s their property until it’s time to leave. Cutting across campsites is rude. Would you want somebody trespassing across your yard?

We have had a washer/dryer in every motorhome we owned, but a lot of RVs don’t. Campground laundries are usually very clean, but they’re not as big as the commercial places in town and there may be several people using them at once. If you have clothes in the machine(s) stay with them. Don’t go back to your rig to make a quick snack, or call your sister back home. And if you do, don’t be surprised to come back and find the next person unhappy that they had to wait to use the machines when your clothes were done. Or, don’t be surprised to find your clothes sitting on a table (or the floor).

So there you have it, a basic primer on how to be a good campground neighbor. Like I said, common sense.

Today is your last chance to enter our  Free Drawing for autographed copy of my pal Donna McNicol’s 3-in-1 C’Mon Inn Hawaiian mystery series trilogy, Paradise at a Price, Paradise Dead, and Paradise Drift. To enter, 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 – Never judge a book by its movie.

Picking Up Women

 Posted by at 12:32 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 112020
 

Here is another installment from my Nick Happens file, a collection of my adventures and misadventures over the years. In this one I will tell you how to pick up women, and what happens when you pick up the wrong one.

We were visiting Mackinac Island, Michigan, known for the famous Grand Hotel, the fact that automobiles are not allowed on the island (this is not exactly true, because they have an ambulance and several police cars), and the excellent fudge sold at a number of shops along the busy waterfront.

When I say the waterfront is busy, I mean it. On weekends during the peak tourist season in the summer, sometimes you can hardly move on the sidewalks. Or you may find yourself packed in the midst of a crowd, moving when they move and stopping when they stop. Think the big tent during the annual RV show in Quartzsite, Arizona or Seattle’s Pike Place Market. This can cause problems if you’re not careful.

It wasn’t quite that busy during our visit, but there were still a lot of people everywhere we went. Miss Terry and I were strolling along the main street window shopping and paused with a crowd of people to watch a young man inside one of the island’s many fudge shops working the fudge on a marble table to cool it.

After a minute or two, I knew I either had to move on or blow my diet for the next six months. So, with longing eyes still locked on the fudge, I took my lady’s hand and led her on down the sidewalk. Terry and I hold hands everywhere we go and sometimes I play with an opal ring she wears on her right hand as we walk along. On this day I did not feel the ring and just assumed she had not worn it for some reason. That is until we reached the next store and I glanced at Terry to say something, and realized I was holding the wrong woman’s hand!

As it turns out, I had grabbed the closest hand, and it belonged to another tourist. She, thinking it was her husband, never realized it was a different handsome devil leading her astray. We both looked at each other in shock, while her husband, following close behind us, was barely able to stand up, he was laughing so hard. I don’t know which of our three faces was the reddest, the lady’s or mine with embarrassment, or his with laughter.

Finally, with tears rolling down his checks, he managed to jerk a thumb over his shoulder in the direction we had come from, and said, “I think you left someone behind. Yours is back there.”

His wife pulled her hand from mine and demanded to know why he had allowed a perfect stranger to just walk away with her. (The “perfect” part of her description proves we had never met before.) His response was, “Well, why did you go?” Once she got over her shock, we all had a good laugh. Then I went back to find Terry before someone else made off with her.

It’s a fact folks, I need adult supervision at all times

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is autographed copy of my pal Donna McNicol’s 3-in-1 C’Mon Inn Hawaiian mystery series trilogy, Paradise at a Price, Paradise Dead, and Paradise Drift. To enter, 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 – Marriage Tip: Whenever you talk to your wife, you should remember that this conversation is being recorded for training and quality control purposes.

Shaving The Mango

 Posted by at 1:11 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 102020
 

Boy, doesn’t that sound like the title to a bad 1970s porn movie? Not that I’ve ever seen a porn movie, mind you, but I had a friend who saw one and he told me all about it. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

First, let me tell you about yesterday morning. You all know that we seldom get to bed before 1 or 2 AM, and usually wake up around 10 o’clock in the morning. But yesterday morning I had to be up by 9 because I had to be at the Ford dealer at 10:45 to have them look at the rusty part of my Mustang’s door hinge. But for some reason, the darned alarm clock didn’t go off and I woke up at 10:15.

If there’s anything I hate, it’s being late for an appointment. Well, that’s not true. I also hate vegetables, guys who have man buns, religious fanatics, French poodles, and other yappy little dogs. I’m sure there are other things I hate, too, but you get my point. At any rate, I jumped out of bed, brushed my teeth, splashed some water on my face, was glad for once that I don’t have hair to comb, threw on some clothes and was out the door in about seven minutes.

It’s about a 15 or 20 minute drive to the dealership, so I thought I would be fine. That was until I pulled out onto US Highway 1 from our little subdivision and found traffic down to one lane and barely moving. They’ve been installing new power poles along this section of the highway and a long line of construction vehicles were parked in the right lane. Using the hands-free feature in the Mustang, I called the dealership and told them I would be a few minutes late, and they said not to worry.

I had assumed it would take them a couple of hours to do their thing and I would be out the door and headed back home. But when I got to the service department they had several vehicles ahead of me and I was told it would probably be somewhere around 2:30. They have free shuttle service, so I caught a ride home, figuring that Miss Terry would bring me back that afternoon to pick up the car.

Back at the house, we had brunch and then I started making corrections to the several chapters in my new Big Lake book that I had done in the last few days. I’m somewhere around 72,000 words now and closing in on the end.

When I had not heard from the dealership by 3 o’clock, I called to check the status on my car and was told that the replacement part for the door hinge would not be in until sometime this morning. I had the choice of bringing it home and going back again this morning, or just leaving it there overnight. I chose that alternative.

Okay, now let’s talk about the shaved mango. You may remember that a while back I bought a NESCO Snackmaster Pro food dehydrator, and in our first attempt at drying fruit, the apples and pears came out perfect, but the mangoes and bananas needed more drying time. We skipped the bananas this time around, but bought more apples, pears, and mangoes. We also decided to put the mangoes on the top of the stack in the dryer, closer to the heating element.

If you’ve ever tried to peel a mango, it’s not easy. I think they are about 99% water. But never fear, Terry’s here. After she realized a very sharp knife wasn’t cutting it, literally, she got out her Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Horizontal Y Peeler. The thing looks like some kind of futuristic shaving razor (hence the title Shaving The Mango), and it made easy work of getting the peels off the mangoes.

Since Terry had already gotten dressed and put on her makeup to take me to the Ford dealer, I decided she at least needed dinner out. I mean, after all, when a lady shaves a mango for you…

One of our favorite places to eat around here is Dustin’s Bar-B-Q, a small family-owned chain similar to Sonny’s but with better prices and food in my opinion. We had a nice meal and then came home to an evening of relaxing in our recliners watching TV.
Today I will be back to making corrections in the new book, and when they are done I hope to get a couple more chapters finished. Barring any unforeseen problems, I should have it done sometime this weekend and then will print it out so Miss Terry can begin the first round of editing and proofing.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is autographed copy of my pal Donna McNicol’s 3-in-1 C’Mon Inn Hawaiian mystery series trilogy, Paradise at a Price, Paradise Dead, and Paradise Drift. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – I had my patience tested. I’m negative.