Nick Russell

Aug 192019
 

RVers love blogging! These electronic newsletters provide us with a way to share our traveling adventures with our friends and families back home, and to keep in touch with other RVers we meet along the way. It’s also a diary of our daily lives  and a way to look back  on our adventures.

Blogs allow us to remain a part of our children’s and grandchildren’s lives; they can log in and see pictures of Grandma and Grandpa fishing, sightseeing, or just relaxing under the awning. These visual reminders seem to make the miles separating us go away.

But can your RV blog also become a source of income? It’s a question I get asked a lot from RVers who have or want to launch a blog.

There are several ways to monetize a blog, and the simplest is by putting advertising on your blog. On the surface, it looks easy. You sign up for one of the many advertising affiliate programs such as Google’s AdSense, paste in a simple code, wait for your readers to click the ad links, and then sit back and watch the money roll in. How cool is that?

There are literally thousands of books, e-books, special reports, and online courses you can buy or subscribe to that promise to help you make a fortune with affiliate advertising. Uh huh, and I have some swamp land in Florida I want to sell you.

Yes, you can make money by placing advertising on your RV blog. But can you earn enough money to make it worth the effort? Probably not. The sad truth is that out of the millions and millions of blogs on every topic imaginable floating around in cyberspace, very few bloggers make more than $5 or $10 a month, if that.

To make any significant money in blogging, you have to have a lot of visitors to your blog every day. I have been blogging daily since about 2006. My RV blog runs at least 500 words daily and I rarely miss a day. I average about 1,500 daily blog readers according to Google’s AdSense statistics. That number is down considerably from when we were fulltime RVers and were publishing the Gypsy Journal. My blog ad commissions average about twenty cents each, with some exceptions. At one time I averaged just over $18 a day in ad commissions and was taking in a little over $500 a month from AdSense alone. That wasn’t get rich money, but it covered our car payment every month, with enough left over for a few dinners out. These days I’m lucky to earn $75 a month from AdSense commissions on my blog.

What changed? Several things. As I stated, we no longer publish the Gypsy Journal, but when we did, many of our thousands of readers also read the blog every day. And, with the growth of social media, especially Facebook, people don’t seem to reads blogs as much as they used to. There is just too much competition for their time.

Writing 500+ words a day is a lot of work. But I approach it as part of our income stream. Most RVers don’t want to invest that much time into their blogging efforts. Why do I? Not really for the AdSense money, but more so because I enjoy it, because I make a few extra bucks with the ads on the blog, and because it is a great marketing resource for my books. Whenever I put a new book out and announce it in my blog, I can count on about 1,000 e-book sales in the first 48 hours or so. In yesterday’s blog I mentioned that the print version of Big Lake Ninja was now available on Amazon and so far I have sold 23 copies of it in printed form. That doesn’t sound like much, but printed books never sell as well as e-books.

Experienced blog publishers have found that Google is constantly tweaking and adjusting the formula they use to determine AdSense commissions, and there seems to be no rhyme nor reason to how they do so. There were months when my commissions were high, and then the next month they suddenly dropped like a rock. Then a month later they were high again. The same type of ads are appearing, the number of visitors and ad clicks remained stable, but the commissions were much less. This is a cycle that I have seen come around every so often in the years I have been blogging.

I also have Amazon ads on my blog, which bring anywhere from $50 to $100 a month, and more during the Christmas season. At one time I tried some different affiliate marketing programs, including Commission Junction. They are one of the biggies in that fields. After eight months I dropped them because I saw no results at all and never earned a nickel from them.

You will also notice a few stand-alone ads on the sidebars. These are all from companies run by friends of mine, and while they bring in a few bucks they are not a huge revenue source.

One thing I would warn any blogger to avoid is sponsored blog content. The way this works is some company, usually through an agent that specializes in that sort of thing, will pay you to post an article they provide that is no more than a thinly (or not so thinly) disguised puff piece for their product or service, complete with embedded links to their website. Blog readers quickly recognize this for what it is, the blog equivalent of a TV infomercial. Do that more than once or twice and you will lose readers faster than rats deserting a sinking ship.

So, can you make money with an RV blog? Yes, if you work hard enough at it and put out a lot of information on a consistent basis you may be able to make a few bucks every month. But I sure would not want to try to live off of my commissions. I love blogging and would be doing this even if I did not have ads on the blog. And the ads do help buy dinner or give us a little bit of mad money every month.

My advice to you, if you are considering putting ads on your RV blog, is to go for it and see what happens. It doesn’t cost a thing to enroll in the AdSense program, so all you have to lose is a little bit of your time. But blog because you enjoy it, not because you expect to make any real money at it.

Congratulations John C. Powell, winner of our drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. We had 75 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – Smile today, tomorrow could be worse.

What Rant?

 Posted by at 12:36 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 182019
 

You know that old saying about how you can’t please everybody? Apparently it’s true, no matter how hard you try. Even when you’re giving something away for free.

After reading Friday’s blog, in which I asked readers to exercise patience and to not keep entering our weekly free contest over and over if they don’t see their name immediately listed among the entries, I got an email from someone who said, “I did not appreciate your long rant about how terrible the people are in your contests. If you don’t want to hold the damn contests stop doing them. But don’t harangue your readers like we are a bunch of imbeciles because we don’t do things your way. How about fixing the problem that causes entries not to show up immediately instead of putting the blame on your readers? Get over yourself!”

Well, I guess he told me, didn’t he? I didn’t see the post as a rant, simply a request to do something that would make all of our lives easier. I apologize if it came across that way to somebody, because that was never my intention. But at the same time, if someone’s not happy with the way I run things, keep in mind that we don’t take attendance here and nobody has to log on if they don’t want to.

In other news, I got an interesting email from somebody who told me that they found a way to keep people from parking too close to them when they are dry camping in Quartzsite, Arizona. He said he found an old tuba at a swap meet someplace and bought it for $15, and when they set up camp he puts it on a folding table that they carry in one of their storage bays. Yeah, that would keep me away.

It’s always amazed me that people go to Quartzsite in the wintertime to boondock on miles and miles and miles of public land, yet some of them feel the need to park right on top of somebody who’s already there. We experienced that ourselves once, back when we had our MCI bus conversion. Someone pulled in so close to us that I literally could have reached out the window and touched their rig. Why? I mean, I know I’m fun and charming and all that, but really, I don’t need you sitting in my lap. Well, I’ll make exceptions for pretty ladies, but that’s all.

In this case, I solved the problem by firing up our Onan gas generator, which was mounted in the compartment that used to hold the bus AC condenser. The exhaust pipe came out the side and was directly under their window. Ten minutes later they were gone! I’m sure Mr. Rogers might not have approved of my method, but it was my neighborhood, not his.

Good news for people who prefer printed books over e-books! The paperback version of Big Lake Ninja is now available on Amazon and you can order it at this link. In other book news, I’m past the halfway point in my new John Lee Quarrels book, Dead Romeos. As often happens, the plot has taken a twist or two I didn’t see coming. I love when that happens!

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for a campground ratings, 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. 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 – I might wake up early and do some exercise. Or I might win the lottery. The odds are about the same.

 

Aug 172019
 

Note – One of the most frequent questions I get is about ways to make money on the road. Here is a blog I wrote with some ideas a few years ago that still applies today.

Several years ago I wrote a book called Work Your Way Across The USA, which is still available in print or as an e-book from Amazon. I’ve also presented seminars on working on the road at RV rallies across the country ever since we started our career as working fulltime RVers.

I’ve always said that there are many ways to make money on the road that are far better than mowing grass or cleaning restrooms in an RV park. Some excellent opportunities can be found in Workamper News, by reading the different Internet forums for RVers, and by talking to your fellow travelers. Here are 10 you may not have thought of:

Gate guard – We know many RVers who are making very good money as gate guards at oil and natural gas wells across the country. The gate guards are positioned at entry gates to wells and drilling sites and are responsible for checking in and out all vehicles coming and going. This is a 24-hour a day job, and usually couples divide the duties and shifts. Most companies who hire gate guards provide a generator, fresh water, and an external waste tank or honey wagon service. Couples can earn $125 a day and up, depending on the company, where their gate is located, and how busy it is. Drawbacks to this job include often being stationed far away from the nearest WalMart or grocery store, and that somebody has to be at the gate at all times so there are no opportunities to go exploring the area together. A couple of popular gate guard blogs are Our RV Adventures and Fork In The Road.

Gas line survey – If you enjoy being outside and like getting a lot of exercise, gas line survey may be just the right opportunity for you. In this job, you are paid to use a sniffer device and follow mapped out routes checking buried gas lines in cities and small towns. The pay can be very good, and many times couples can work together, one walking with the sniffer and the other driving the car with supplies used to mark suspected leaks. Here is a thread on the Escapees forum with lots of information on gas line survey work: Gas Line Survey.

Card dealer – We have met two or three fulltimers who spend part of the season dealing cards at casinos in Laughlin, Las Vegas, and Reno, Nevada. There are schools that will teach you how to deal cards, and though there are a few hoops to jump through to get your dealer’s license, the folks we know who’ve done this enjoy the work and say the tips can be very good.

eBay sales – Your chances of finding a hidden treasure that you can buy at a yard sale for a quarter and sell for a thousand dollars on eBay are pretty slim, but it does happen! I used to sell a lot of things on eBay for a friend of mine who had a natural talent for finding those hidden gems, and he made some serious money at it. However, more money can be made on a steadier basis by opening an eBay store or specializing in one type of product. A lady who was in my class on working on the road at Life on Wheels several years ago has built up a very nice business buying closeout designer clothing in pallet size lots at the end of the season. She has them shipped to her daughter’s house, and lists and runs the auctions from the road, and her daughter/partner handles the shipping duties from her home. The last time we saw them, she and her husband were driving a new diesel pusher that her eBay earnings were paying for.

Dude ranch wrangler – We had a friend who loved horses, and for several seasons worked at a dude ranch in South Dakota as a horse wrangler. The job gave her the opportunity to spend time around horses, meet a lot of nice people, and make money at the same time.

Selling fireworks – Every year Workamper News carries ads for companies looking for people to man firework stands for the Independence Day holiday. We know several fulltimers who do this, and they tell me that while the work is hard, it is not uncommon to make $5,000 or more in a ten day sales period. Similar opportunities are also available selling pumpkins before Thanksgiving and Christmas trees in December.

E-book publishing – The technology that created e-books and e-book readers has revolutionized the publishing industry. While there are a handful of authors who are making a fortune self-publishing their own e-books on sites like Amazon, there are many more who, while not getting rich, are making respectable amounts of money every month. Is there a book inside you?

Editor/proofreader – You don’t have to be a writer to make money in the e-book revolution. The biggest problem that most self published e-books have is poor editing and proofing. And the biggest problem that many of the authors I know have is finding someone to do this chore for them. While there are some companies offering these services to self-published authors, many times their fees are outlandish or they are scams trying to push some sort of get rich quick scheme. Anybody with good English skills and eye for detail could easily make a few hundred bucks a month as an editor/proofreader.

Book cover design – Another opportunity created by the e-book revolution is perfect for anybody with a flair for design and a little bit of graphics knowledge. With any of several relatively inexpensive computer programs, you can create a nice e-book cover in under an hour, and authors are paying anywhere from $25-$100 per cover. Having a digital camera and building up a stock of different types of photos to incorporate into the covers is a big help.

Shooting range attendant – If you like guns and the shooting sports, you might be surprised to find that both public and private shooting ranges across the country often employ RVers to check in shooters, maintain the range, and sometimes serve as safety officers or range masters. Ranges that use RVers usually provide a full hookup site, and pay for all hours worked.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, 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. 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 – You learn a lot about people when they don’t get what they want.

Aug 162019
 

No, not for the reasons you think. Well, come to think of it, that’s a pretty good reason to avoid the refrigerator, too. But there’s so much good stuff in there!

No, the reason I should avoid refrigerators is because I have spent so much time in MRI machines lately that I’m afraid if I get too close I might stick to the door and look like some schoolkid’s extra-large drawing hung there by a proud mama.

If you’re not familiar with an MRI, those initials stand for magnetic resonance imaging, a technique used in radiology to take pictures of a body using strong magnetic fields and radio waves to generate images of the organs or skeletal structures. A couple of weeks ago I had one done on my head to see if I have a brain in there (yes I do, but it’s a twisted, sick thing) and yesterday I had another one on my lower back, each lasting about 45 minutes. And before that, I had a couple of others a while back, too. I guess that explains my magnetic personality. (Did you see what I did there?)

All of this is in preparation for three different appointments I have with specialists in the next two weeks to see what’s going on in my head, with the dizzy spell and headaches and all that, as well as for my lower back. I have put off back surgery for years, but the doctors all seem to be of the opinion that it’s time. I’ll know more after this round of doctor visits.

The MRI place was less than a mile from Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet, a favorite of ours, and since I didn’t cry or anything during the MRI, Terry said we could go there for dinner. I don’t know about you, but for me that beats the hell out of a gold star next to my name!

But before we went in to eat, we parked the car in front of the restaurant and walked to the other end of the strip mall to West Marine. I was looking for a push pole like I see a lot of the fellows with flats boat use around here to keep on the pontoon boat in case we ever get into shallow water and get stuck. It happens, because a lot of the water here is not very deep. They didn’t have what I was looking for, but I did find some other goodies I can’t afford.

The sky was getting dark and the wind was picking up, so we walked back to the restaurant for dinner before the downpour hit. It was sprinkling by then, but as hot as it’s been, that was somewhat refreshing.

By the time we finished dinner and left it was still raining, but not very hard. We got home in time for me to check my email and answer some pressing ones before settling down for an evening of television and just being together.

If you are one of the people who enters our free drawings, I need you to do me a favor. Please read this carefully. Sometimes when you enter the drawing it takes a few minutes for your name to show up. And sometimes it won’t show up until I approve the post. I’m not sure why that is, but it is.

Every week we have people who enter the drawing and don’t immediately see their name, so they enter again, and again, and again, all in a row. Quite often as many as 10 times, and I think the record was 17. When we got home yesterday I had four different people who had submitted multiple entries.

When you do that, three things happen. First the computer automatically kicks out all of your entries because only one entry is allowed per contest. Second, I then have to go through and manually delete all of those pending extra entries except one, which I have to manually approve. And third, many times the computer program automatically assumes you are a spammer and your entries go to a spam file and I never see them. So please, exercise a little bit of patience. If you enter, your name will get put into the drawing. But it’s not like instant oatmeal and instant coffee; sometimes you have to wait a little bit. Thank you for your patience.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, 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. 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’m not a social drinker. Most of my drinking is work related.

Five Quick Q&As

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 152019
 

It’s late and my new meds are making me sleepy, so I’m just going to post five recent questions and my answers for today’s blog.

Q. I keep hearing that we need to buy a new RV because most campgrounds have a rule not to allow RVs over ten years old. Is this going to be an issue when we hit the road?
A. The 10 year rule is not a real issue despite all the BS you hear online. A handful of “resorts” use it, but the vast majority of campgrounds do not. In 18 years of fulltiming we ran into it just once. And for many of those years we were in a homebuilt 1976 MCI bus conversion. Think about this, there are at least a million RVs out there over 10 years old. Do the owners just turn them into chicken coops and dog houses when they hit the magic number?

Q. Nick, who creates your awesome book covers? I am about to wrap up my first novel and want a gorgeous cover like yours.
A. Congratulation on completing your first book! A marvelously talented young woman named Elizabeth Mackey creates my covers. Her website is http://www.elizabethmackeygraphics.com/

Q. We are thinking about converting a bus into an RV like you and your wife did. Somebody told us that since it was once a commercial vehicle we would still have to stop at weigh stations. Is that true?
A. No, once it is taken out of service and you start to convert it, it is a private coach and not required to stop for commercial weigh stations. Many bus owners I know have Private Coach signs like this on their rigs just to reinforce the fact that it is not a commercial vehicle.

Q. I am a night person and seldom get to bed before 3 a.m. At the last campground I was at I was scheduled to leave on a Friday morning and checkout time was 11 a.m. I overslept and the owner was knocking on my door at 11:30 saying the people who had reserved the site after me were there and I needed to move. It took me an hour or so to get packed up, unhooked, and ready to pull out and when I was leaving I was informed they were charging my credit card an extra for a $20 late departure fee. Can they do that and is it ethical? He did point it out in the rules on the campground map, but still, is it fair?
A. My question back to you is, do you think it’s fair that the arriving guests had to wait 90 minutes after their arrival to get parked in the spot they had rented on a Friday? And my second question is, if you knew you had to leave the next morning, why weren’t you packed the night before? Yes, it’s fair, it’s ethical, and I would do the same thing if I were in that campground owner’s shoes. I am also a night person, but that does not give me the right to overstay my departure or inconvenience others.

Q. My son and his wife want to borrow our motorhome to take a trip to Yellowstone. He’s never driven anything bigger than a compact car and to be honest, he’s not the most responsible person on the world. How do I say no and keep the peace in the family?
A. No is a simple one syllable word and not hard to say at all, though I know far too many people who seem to have difficulty with it. As for keeping peace in the family, how peaceful will it be if he damages your motorhome while he’s using it? You say he is not a very responsible person. Who will be responsible for any damage the rig sustains? Your insurance company might object to somebody else using the RV who doesn’t know the first thing about driving one. I don’t loan my cars, my RVs, or my boats to anyone.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, 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. 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 – My favorite color is purple. I like it better than red and blue combined.

 

There Must Be A Reason

 Posted by at 12:07 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 142019
 

There is an old saying that everything happens for a reason. I might add that sometimes you need to listen to reason.

I once got an e-mail from a gentleman asking my advice about an RV purchase. He wanted to buy a motorhome that he said was an excellent deal, $35,000 less than any comparable RV he had found at any of the different RV dealers where he had been shopping. The unit was being offered by a private seller, which is not a problem, but it had a salvage title, which could be a big problem.

The seller was vague as to the RV’s history. He said he didn’t know why it had a salvage title and that he acquired it from a friend of a friend. The potential buyer said that his bank refused to loan him money on that motorhome, though they have approved him for considerably more money for the purchase of a different rig. He planned to get past that problem by borrowing the money from his mother, who was going to refinance her home to get the funds, and he would make monthly payments to her. But with that hurdle overcome, his insurance company told him they will not write a policy on it.

He wanted to know “What is everyone’s problem with a salvage title? This is a great deal!” Yeah, it’s a great deal for somebody. But that somebody may only be the seller trying to unload it. Banks and insurance companies understand risk. They spend a lot of time and money researching what is a safe investment and what is not. I told him that If both his bank and his insurance company didn’t have enough confidence in this particular RV to want anything to do with it, there was probably a darned good reason. Just like there’s a reason that a motorhome is priced at $35,000 less than anything else comparable on the market. You get what you pay for. And you also don’t get what you don’t pay for.

I was reminded of that gentleman yesterday when I got an email from somebody asking if I knew anything about a campground in Pennsylvania that they are considering workamping at. The person said that they saw the job listing online and contacted the campground owner, who told them he would only hire them if they signed a contract agreeing to stay until he closed for the season on October 31st.

They said that was fine and his reply was that they would be his sixth workamping couple this year, so he wouldn’t hold his breath on them staying. They asked why the other couples had left and said he gave them a long litany of complaints. They were all lazy, they were all incompetent, nobody wants to work anymore, none of them were good with people, and on and on. He then started telling them that the customers were no better, always expecting something for nothing, always complaining, just a bunch of jerks.

By now they were hearing alarm bells going off in their heads and wondered if I knew anything about the campground or had any advice for them. While I had never heard of the place, I told them that it stretches the imagination that five workamping couples had all left in one short season and every camper who pulled into the place seemed to be a jerk.

They had mentioned that the season for this campground is from April 1st to October 31st. It’s now mid-August, which means this place has gone through a workamping couple on average of less than a month at a time. There must be a reason for that. Couple that with the campground owner’s obvious blanket dissatisfaction with not only his employees but his customers, and it’s a red flag I would not ignore. My advice was to look elsewhere for a workamping gig.

Thought For The Day – You know you are on the right track when you have no interest in looking back.

A Couple Of Pinkos

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 132019
 

During my long career publishing small town newspapers in both the Pacific Northwest and Arizona, I used to always laugh at the response my editorials would get from people. To half of my readers I was a gun toting, KKK cross burning right wing extremist. To the other half of the readership I was a commie pinko fag. And those were the exact terms that were used more than once to describe me, depending on how you felt about that week’s editorial. I kept telling people that there is a place in the middle where common sense lives, but nobody wanted to believe that.

For the record, while I do carry a gun, I have no tolerance for the KKK or anybody else who thrives on hate. At the same time, I’m not a communist, and I think Miss Terry would tell you the fag thing is a myth. However, both of us have to admit to being pinkos right now. Maybe not the kind my readers used to accuse me of being, but we are both definitely pink.

After being run out of the swimming pool on Saturday by a thunderstorm, Sunday morning the sky looked clear so we went down to the other swimming pool in our little private community, which is down by the fishing pier. It was a hot day and the water sure felt good. We were probably in there for about an hour or so, Terry swimming a few laps and me walking around in the water and enjoying the buoyancy and how it made my back feel.

When we got home and were drying off and changing clothes, Terry commented that we both got a little bit of sun. Turns out, we both got a lot of sun. It didn’t hurt much then, but by that evening we were certainly beginning to feel it. Yep, we are couple of pinkos!

The good news is that the new meds my doctor prescribed for me have really helped my back pain a lot. The bad news is that they both make me tired and drowsy all the time, making it almost impossible to write. So, I have the choice of hurting and getting some work accomplished, or not hurting and walking around in a fog. I’m not sure which is better. Since the meds are only a stopgap measure to get me out of the pain until the doctors decide what else to do, I guess I’ll just muddle along the best I can for now.

In other news, I had an online discussion with somebody yesterday who really wants to become a successful author. However, she doesn’t want to waste time or money having her books edited and proofread, nor does she want to waste money on a professionally designed cover. Quite some time ago she sent me the first chapter of one of her books, and I counted 25 typos in the first two pages. That’s when I suggested she get a good proofreader and her response was that most people don’t care about things like that, they just want to read a good story. Then she asked how I managed to sell hundreds and even thousands of books a month because, (in her words) “I’ve read a couple of your books and they’re not all that great.” Maybe not, darling, but whatever I’m doing seems to work for me. As for what might work for you, I don’t have a clue.

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.

Thought For The Day – I combined alphabet soup and a laxative. I call my new invention Letter Rip.

Aug 122019
 

I love trivia and finding out oddball facts, especially about some of the places where we travel. So today, just for fun, I thought I’d share 5 Weird Things You Never Knew.

Mount Rushmore, polygamy and the KKK – There are few things that make a statement about America’s power and glory more than Mount Rushmore. But Sculptor Gutzon Borglum, celebrated for the massive sculptures at Mount Rushmore, had some connections that are decidedly opposed to our country’s values. Gutzon’s father, James Miller Borglum, was a polygamist with two wives, Borglum’s mother and his mother’s sister. When he decided to leave his home in Idaho and move to Nebraska, he cast Gutzon’s mother out of the family and forbade his family to ever speak of her again. While many people think of Ku Klux Klan activity as being a southern phenomena, their tentacles reached most areas of the nation over the years. Sculptor Borglum was active in the South Dakota Ku Klux Klan, which organized its first Klaverns in the Black Hills in 1922.

Strange presidential pets – The White House is one of the most popular places to visit in Washington, D.C., and over the years the different First Families have brought a strange assortment of critters with them. First Lady Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, kept several hundred silkworms in an unsuccessful attempt to make raw silk. Her husband kept a pet alligator in one of the White House bathrooms. President Calvin Coolidge had a menagerie that included six dogs of different breeds, a cat, a goose, a bobcat, a pair of lion cubs, a wallaby, and a pygmy hippopotamus. By comparison, the two opossums and billy goat that President Benjamin Harrison owned seem almost normal.

The mobile lighthouse – In 1999, the National Park Service moved the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina almost 3,000 feet to a new location when it was threatened by severe beach erosion. The lighthouse was moved onto railroad tracks for the trip, which took 23 days and cost nearly $10 million.

The black slave owner of Natchez – Natchez, Mississippi is a beautiful town, and visitors from around the world come to tour the beautiful antebellum mansions that were home to some of the wealthiest plantation owners of the day. Natchez’s slave auction did a thriving business. But not all slave owners were what you might think. William Johnson, known as the “barber of Natchez,” was a free black man who owned a barbershop and had other business interests in the city. Johnson kept a detailed journal of his daily activities, in which he listed his assets and business dealings. At the time of his death, Johnson owned sixteen slaves and wrote openly in his diary about his slaves and the trials and tribulations of being a slave owner. Johnson’s house, on State Street, is administered by the National Park Service and is open for tours.

Folks are batty in Austin – Austin, Texas is home to over 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats, which live under the Congress Avenue Bridge. From March to October, thousands of people come to the bridge just before sunset to watch the bats fly from their homes in nooks and crevices under the bridge to go hunting for food. The bats eat between 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of insects nightly, and their flights are so huge that they appear on local weather radar screens.

Thought For The Day – The problem with drinking and driving is that trees defend themselves very well.

Pool Boy

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 112019
 

I never did learn to swim, though Miss Terry has taught me enough to get from one side of the shallow end of a swimming pool to the other. But my doctor and chiropractor have both recommended getting in a swimming pool and walking around in chest deep water for a half hour a day. They tell me that the buoyancy could help relieve some of my back pain.

We have two pools here in our little private community. One is within eyesight of our house and the other is a few blocks away, down by the fishing pier. Yesterday, after checking the weather apps on our phones and not seeing any indication of trouble, we went to the pool closest to us.

The water felt good for the five minutes we were in it, then suddenly the sky opened up and there was a downpour, along with lighting. Lots of lightning. No, thank you! We quickly got out of the water and retreated back home. Half an hour later the storm had passed, but we could still hear thunder rumbling. As the weatherman here says, “If you can hear it, fear it.”

I’m not afraid of much in the world except for high bridges, snakes, and lightning. But of the things I do fear, I embrace that fear and never let go.

A friend suggested that if I was going to walk in water, I should try the ocean in calm areas because you are lighter in salt water and can walk longer. Thanks, but no thanks. I only live about 15 minutes from the beach, but this is the shark bite capital of the world. If I ever put my chubby butt in the ocean there’d be a feeding frenzy NASA could pick up on satellites!

Another friend asked how I got to be as old as I am (I will be 67 in October) without ever learning to swim. When I was a youngster we didn’t live anywhere that I could do it. Then, when I was 13, we were living in Ohio and I was in the Boy Scouts. We went to a winter camp out at Camp Miakonda, near Toledo. The scoutmaster decided we should hike across a frozen lake, and about halfway across the ice broke and I fell through. I don’t know how deep the water was, but I went down quite a ways before bobbing back up, and when I did I hit the ice above me and realized I was about 10 or 15 feet from the hole in the ice that I had fallen through. I don’t remember a lot about it, but somehow I managed to claw my way along the bottom of the ice until I reached the hole and was pulled out.

After that I had a decided fear about being in or under any kind of water. And as for ice fishing? Forget it. I tried once with a couple of my brothers-in-law, who lived on a lake in Minnesota. They assured me that the ice was two or three feet thick, and even drove their cars out to their fishing shanty. But I just could not relax enough to enjoy it. I left them there and made my way back to solid, snow-covered ground.

We will take another look at the weather report today, and maybe we’ll have better luck. See you at the pool!

Thought For The Day – Life’s biggest tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late”- Benjamin Franklin

Back To Square One

 Posted by at 12:01 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 102019
 

In a blog post a couple of days ago I said that we were planning a trip up to Ohio to do some research on the family saga series I want to write. At the same time, I said my back was acting up again, so the timing of the trip depended on that. As it turns out, we are still at home.

The pain was back on Thursday and growing in intensity, and by Friday morning I could hardly function, even taking oxycodone and wearing my back brace. And I’m back to using a cane to get around. So basically, I’m back to square one, where I was eighteen months ago. This is really getting old.

In the past I’ve been told I’m not a candidate for back surgery, but that’s because basically all the VA ever wants to do is fuse something, which would not help me. But Dr. Kent tells me there are some new techniques that are proving to be successful in cases like mine. When I talked to him yesterday he was trying to get me set up for another MRI of my lower back as well as a consult with a neurosurgeon who specializes in things like this. He said the neurosurgeon is not one who wants to operate just for the sake of performing surgery and will only do so if he believes he can help the patient. We are in a holding pattern right now, waiting to see what happens.

The good news is that the MRI I had of my brain last week doesn’t show any sign of a stroke or TMI. One less thing to worry about.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to focus on writing to take my mind off of everything else. But the drugs leave me in a fog that I don’t like, and I told Miss Terry that I have no idea what will come out the other end when it’s time to proof what I’m doing.

In other news, I received an email yesterday from a longtime blog reader who just hung up the keys after fourteen years of fulltiming. He said it was a choice that they did not want to make, but that family health issues required it so they could care for his elderly in-laws. He asked me how long it takes to get used to using a regular toilet and not trying to flush with his foot after he goes to the bathroom. I replied that we’ve been off the road almost three years now, and I still find myself doing that now and then. Old habits die hard, I guess.

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. I’m not sure what the message is here. Are the lap dances gluten-free? Or are gluten-free couples welcome? Inquiring minds want to know.

Thought For The Day – Facebook is a lot like jail; you sit around and waste time, have a profile picture, write on walls, and get poked by guys you don’t really know.