Nick Russell

Rednecks And Rockets

 Posted by at 1:00 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 122019
 

Well, it took a few days longer than expected, but I think (hope) it was worth the wait. I got the manuscript back from my third and final proofreader yesterday morning, made the necessary corrections, and about 2 PM I uploaded it to Amazon. I never know when a book is going to go live once it’s uploaded, sometimes it’s very quick and other times it’s taken as many as three days. I got lucky this time around, and Sweet Tea And Jesus was online and available for purchase in less than two hours. I think that may be a record.



So, if you’re looking for a story about rednecks, racists, good guys, and bad guys, check it out. I will advise you ahead of time that it’s a gritty book and there is some rough language and violence that are appropriate for the setting and the characters, but still might be uncomfortable for some people.

This is the sixth book in my John Lee Quarrels series, and if memory serves me correctly, my 36th book. It’s getting to the point where I can’t be sure any more. I wonder if that’s how it was for my parents, trying to keep track of their eight kids.

In other news, after a delay or two that set the launch date back, yesterday afternoon SpaceX sent the Falcon Heavy into the wild blue yonder carrying a Saudi satellite into orbit. I was visiting a friend at the hospital in New Smyrna Beach and went out in the parking lot to see it.

As always, it was thrilling to see something that big flying through the sky. It amazes me every time the booster rockets return to earth, two of them landing on the precise spots they were supposed to at the Kennedy Space Center and a third one on a barge out in the ocean. And even in New Smyrna Beach, easily 30 miles from the Cape, if not more, the rumble of the rockets was beyond impressive.

I’ve never been a space junkie. Even as a kid growing up, I had little interest in rockets and outer space, never watched a sci-fi movie, and I still haven’t seen Star Wars or Star Trek or any of that. But I have to admit, anytime there is a rocket launch I try to get outside to see it. The two times we went down to Titusville to actually watch a liftoff from there, right across the water from the Space Center, the launches were scrubbed. One of these days we definitely have to go down and see one taking off, up close and personal.



In less than 24 hours, over 80 people have entered our latest Free Drawing. That doesn’t surprise me, because this week’s prize is a Kindle Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa, a 7 inch display, and 8 GB of memory. If I could enter the contest myself, I would! 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 – Sometimes giving someone a second chance is like giving them an extra bullet for their gun because they missed you the first time.

USS Turner Joy

 Posted by at 12:16 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 112019
 

Navy ships are about as common a sight as Starbucks coffee shops in Bremerton, Washington, thanks to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. On one of our visits there were three or four old aircraft carriers and a few other vessels painted Navy gray. But one ship, the USS Turner Joy, has a special place in American history. Some have said that this ship and her sister destroyer, the USS Maddox, started the Vietnam War.



The USS Turner Joy (DD-951), a Forrest Sherman class destroyer, was built in Seattle and launched on May 5, 1958. The 418 foot long destroyer was armed with three 5-inch guns, machine guns, and two torpedo launchers that carried six Mark 46 torpedoes each. Her crew consisted of 17 officers and 275 enlisted men.

Until she was decommissioned on November 22, 1982, she served with distinction, earning a total of nine battle stars. Her duties included numerous combat tours off the coast of Vietnam, air-sea rescue duty near the Marianas Islands, as a radar picket ship, and as security for President Eisenhower’s visit to Asian nations. But the Turner Joy is most remembered for her participation in the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which escalated our involvement in the Vietnam War.

In August, 1964, the ship was in her third deployment in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam, making what were called “watch dog” patrols. On August 2, the USS Maddox, patrolling nearby, was attacked by three North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats from the 135th Torpedo Squadron. With the aid of fighters from the carrier USS Ticonderoga, the Maddox destroyed two of the enemy vessels and drove the third one away. The Turner Joy sped to the scene and remained with the Maddox as they continued patrolling.

Two days later, on August 4, the Turner Joy reported several images appearing on her radar that were believed to be enemy torpedo boats approaching at high speed. Both destroyers began firing at the suspected targets, and fighters from the Ticonderoga responded as well. Though the Turner Joy reported taking evasive action to avoid two torpedo wakes, no enemy boats were physically sighted and many believe that the blips on her radar were false images caused by the bad weather the ships were operating in. Ghost radar images are well known in the area.

Whether or not the second attack actually happened or was just a reaction by nervous crewmen on the Turner Joy, the incident led to Congress passing the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which paved the way for America’s direct involvement in the Vietnam War. The Turner Joy was an active participant in the war, making several deployments into the war zone to interdict enemy shipping in Operation Sea Dragon and provide support to ground troops.

The ship and her crew paid a price for their role. In October, 1964, the Turner Joy fired 700 rounds at shore targets near Chu Lai, destroying 57 enemy structures before a shell hung up in one of her five inch guns. While crewmembers were trying to clear the muzzle the shell exploded, killing three sailors and injuring three others.

In April, 1967, the ship was attacking enemy boats beached near Cap Mui Ron when fire from a shore battery scored a direct hit on her fantail. The shell penetrated to the supply office below. One crewman was injured from shrapnel, and an air burst damaged the ship’s radar system. The damage was not enough to put her out of commission and the Turner Joy remained on post until relieved by another ship.

The Turner Joy completed her last combat deployment off the coast of Vietnam in September, 1968. After refitting, she made several peacetime deployments until 1976 when her years of faithful service took their toll and she was retired and finally decommissioned in 1982.



While some Forrest Sherman class destroyers were refitted as guided missile ships and others were scrapped, the Turner Joy would have a different fate. Donated to the Bremerton Historic Ships Association on April 10, 1991, the proud old destroyer now serves as a museum ship on Bremerton’s waterfront. She has been restored to her appearance during her active years during and after the Vietnam War, and today visitors can tour the old warship and get a feel for what sea duty was like during that troubled time in our history.

The Turner Joy is located on the Bremerton Boardwalk, an easy walk from the Seattle Ferry Terminal and the Harborside Convention Center. Streets are narrow in downtown Bremerton, and not suited for large RVs, so you should park your rig at one of the area campgrounds and drive your tow vehicle or dinghy when you visit.

The Turner Joy is open for tours daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the spring, fall, and summer months, with shorter hours during the winter. There is also a Haunted Ship tour the last week of October. Plan on about 90 minutes to tour the entire ship. Because a tour of the ship involves climbing up and down ladders and navigating through raised hatchways, access below decks would be difficult for visitors with handicaps. She is handicapped accessible on and in part of her main deck. Wheelchairs are available upon request.

Admission is $16 for adults, $13.50 for seniors age 62+, $11.50 for children ages 13-17 $9.50 for children ages 5-12, and children 4 and under are admitted free. Active duty military and members of the Tin Can Sailors are also admitted free.

For more information on the USS Turner Joy, call (360) 792-2457 or visit the ship’s website at www.ussturnerjoy.org.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a Kindle Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa, a 7″ display, and 8 GB of memory. 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 need a new friend. The last one escaped.

Eco-Discovery Center

 Posted by at 12:22 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 102019
 

Note: This story is from my book Overlooked Florida, available on Amazon.

Most people know about the big tourist attractions in Key West – Duval Street, the daily Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square, President Truman’s Little White House, Ernest Hemingway’s house, and the Mel Fisher Shipwreck Museum. But there is a lot more to see on the island that the tourist brochures don’t always list.



One hidden gem we discovered was the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, a facility of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), dedicated to educating the public about marine life and habitat.

Located in the Truman Annex area, the Eco-Discovery Center offers visitors exhibits that interpret the resources and management efforts of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, two national parks, and four national wildlife refuges.

Highlights of the 6,400 square foot facility include a simulation of the Aquarius underwater research habitat, complete with sights and sounds experienced by the aquanauts who live and work in it beneath the sea, and a high-definition theater featuring a video about the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Visitors can peer through an underwater camera to watch coral spawning, learn about the plants and animals that call this region home, or take a journey through the natural habitats of south Florida, from the Everglades to teeming coral reefs.

A high-definition theater shows a seventeen minute video about the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary by world-renowned filmmaker Bob Talbot. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which is managed by NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program, protects 2,896 square nautical miles of important marine habitat, including maritime heritage resources, as well as coral reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadows, mangrove communities, and sand flats.

We spent a couple of hours checking out the different habitat exhibits, learning about the threats mankind poses for the natural world, and admiring the fish in the Center’s impressive 2,400 gallon salt water aquarium.

Admission to the Eco-Discovery Center is free, and it is one of the few places in Key West that offers free parking while visiting.



The Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center is located in the Truman Annex at the foot of Southard Street in Key West, near the entrance to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. The Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call (305) 809-4750.

Thought For The Day – Thanks to the people who walked into my life and made it better. And thanks to the ones who walked out and made it amazing.

 

Soon, I Promise

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 092019
 

I have received a number of emails and messages wanting to know when my new John Lee Quarrels book, Sweet Tea And Jesus, will be out. It’s with the final proofreader and I expect to get back from her at any time. As soon as she does, I will make any final corrections she pointed out and get it uploaded to Amazon. It should only be a day or two at the very most. As soon as it is available I will be blasting announcements about it here on the blog, on Facebook, and in my author’s newsletter.



By the way, if you would like a free subscription to the newsletter, with information about my books and writing activities, and the things some of my author friends are doing, just send me your email and I’ll get you added. And don’t worry, I won’t spam you or share your information with anybody else.

You can tell that spring has sprung and summer is on the way to the Central Florida coast. It was 90° here yesterday, and we got a lot of rain, thunder, and lightning. And it looks like more of the same today.

Terry had a doctor’s appointment yesterday morning, and Beverly had another one in the afternoon. But between them I managed to spend some time doing genealogical research and found some interesting stuff. My dad and his father were estranged, so I don’t know much about the Russell side of the family. My research yesterday turned up a cousin, Duane Elliott Russell, who joined the Army during World War II as an enlisted man, rising to the rank of Master Sergeant and transferring to the newly formed Air Force. From there he became an officer, rising to the rank of full colonel before he retired in 1974. By then he had served in not only World War II, but also Korea and Vietnam, earning several decorations and awards, including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with V for valor in Vietnam, several air medals, two presidential citations, four Air Force outstanding awards, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with palm, and others. His name is inscribed on the National Aviation and Space Exploration Wall of Honor at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. I never had the opportunity to meet Duane, who died in 2015 at the age of 92, but I think he’s the kind of man I would have liked to know.

I really enjoy poking around on Ancestry.com and find it fascinating to discover stories from long ago. The only problem is, I get so involved in it that I lose track of time and before I know it three or four hours have gone by. It really cuts into the production of new books. But don’t worry, I’ll be starting on my next Big Lake book shortly.



And finally, I have been meaning to post this photograph of Surterra Wellness, the medical marijuana dispensary in nearby Port Orange. And yes, that really is a Dunkin’ Donuts right next. How cool is that? You can get glazed and dazed in one stop. Talk about a time saver!

Thought For The Day – Whenever I’m sad, you’re there. Whenever I have problems, you’re there. Whenever I lose control, you’re there. Let’s face it, you are bad luck!

Apr 082019
 

In our nearly two decades of fulltime RV travel we made it a point to get off the interstates whenever possible to travel the two lane roads. The pace is slower and you will get a chance to see many wonderful small towns and the treasures they hold.



One such treasure was the DeQuincy Railroad Museum in the friendly little town of DeQuincy, Louisiana. If you are a railroad buff, this is a place you really need to put on your bucket list.

Housed in the handsome 1923 Kansas City Southern Railroad Depot, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum’s displays of railroad memorabilia and rolling stock are well worth your time to visit.

The depot includes an agent/ticket office, two passenger waiting rooms with original floors and benches for seating, and a baggage room (below) filled with tools and railroad artifacts from days gone by. The depot’s upstairs rooms, originally used as offices for railroad employees, are now used for storage.

Standing in the waiting rooms, it’s easy to feel what it must have been like to come to the depot to welcome friends and family members to town, or to see others off who were heading out on some grand adventure. Displays in the waiting rooms include old railroad lanterns, train schedules, and some beautiful railroad themed artwork.

There is also an impressive display of model railroad equipment, including both steam and diesel locomotives.

For anyone doing research on railroads and railroad history, the depot is a treasure trove of railroad records, timetables, and photographs. The museum’s collection of books about railroads in general could keep you reading for years.

Outside the depot building itself visitors will find a beautiful steam locomotive built in 1913 for the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Behind the locomotive is an International Car Company caboose that saw service with the St. Louis-Southwestern Railroad, better known as the Cotton Belt, which was a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific. This particular unit was known as an extended vision caboose because of the overhanging cupola, designed to give the conductor a better view of the train.

A second caboose is also on display, this one a 1950 vintage used by the Missouri Pacific and the Union Pacific and Western Pacific Railroads.

Before the days of airplanes and superhighways, trains were the most popular method of travel, and the museum has an 85 foot long 44 passenger Pullman car built in 1947 and used by the Santa Fe railroad.

It was what was known as a coach car and included two restrooms and two lounges where passengers could relax and enjoy their trip.

A small park next to the depot has playground equipment and picnic tables to relax at before or after your tour of the museum.

The railroad helped build DeQuincy, and the railroad industry continues to play a major role in the community. Every year DeQuincy is home to the Louisiana Railroad Days Festival, held at the depot the second weekend in April. If you’re anywhere in the area and you like railroads, this is something you don’t want to miss.

Railroading is still an active part of life in DeQuincy, and locals and visitors alike enjoy sitting at the stage located at the east end of the depot watching the trains of the Kansas City Southern Railway pass by.

A mile west of the depot is another good train viewing spot known as CS Junction. It is there that the east-west Union Pacific tracks merge with the Kansas City Southern Railway lines.

Located in DeQuincy’s historic downtown, the museum is at 400 Lake Charles Avenue and is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM, except for holidays. Admission is free and there are areas to park an RV near the depot. For more information, call (337) 786-2823.



Congratulations Karin Huth, winner of our 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 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. We had 63 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – A mistake that makes you humble is better than an achievement that makes you arrogant.

Two Out Of Three

 Posted by at 12:27 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 072019
 

Because we lost so much time running around to doctor appointments this last week, yesterday Miss Terry and Beverly spent most of yesterday proofing my new book, Sweet Tea And Jesus. With all of that done and the corrections made, I sent it off to my third and final proofreader. It won’t be long now, folks!



Terry and Beverly both agreed that this book is grittier than most of my other ones, which they both seemed to enjoy. And they both said they were blown away by the way things worked out in the end. To be honest, so was I, because I didn’t see that coming!

Several readers have asked how it’s working out having Beverly living here with us. It’s been an adjustment for all of us, but overall I think it’s come together very well. It seems like all we’ve done since she got here is run to one doctor appointment after another. But that’s because she has a number of serious health issues and we’ve been getting her set up with all the different specialists she needs to see, going to initial appointments with them, and things like that. I think we are getting past most of that now, and hopefully things will slow down a bit. Terry and I are just grateful that we are in a position to be able to help her and give her a safe, comfortable home.

Somebody else asked if I have followed through with the visits we made to a couple of the local trap ranges, and if so, how much shooting I have done so far. No, there just has not been time, but it’s something that I am still very interested in pursuing. But the flip side of the coin is that I have a beautiful pontoon boat and a couple of kayaks and I only live 800 yards from the water but still never seem to get the time to use them. And let’s don’t even mention all of the kites that I never get in the air. Do I really need one more hobby that I don’t have time for? And it’s not just me. Terry never seems to have time for weaving anymore, either. Something is wrong with this picture.

It seems like when we were traveling around the country, publishing the Gypsy Journal and working RV rallies, we had a lot more time for the things we enjoy doing than we do now that we are living in a house. What’s that all about? I know that some of our health issues have put a damper on things, but I think we need to sit down and reassess some of our priorities.



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.

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 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 this evening.

Thought For The Day – I accidently went grocery shopping on an empty stomach. I am now the proud owner of aisle 6.

Apr 062019
 

One of the most valuable lessons I learned in college is that we train people how to treat us. A psychology professor called a young woman to the front of the class and complimented her on a paper she had turned in, telling her it was one of the best he had seen in several semesters. She had a big smile on her face and he asked her that made her feel. She said it made her feel nice.



Then he added that not only was she smart, she was really pretty. One of the prettiest girls on campus. He asked how that made her feel and she said, “that was nice, thank you.” Then he put his arm around her shoulder and hugged her and said something about her being not just pretty, but downright sexy. Then he asked her how she felt about that. She was hesitant when she said it was okay, but you could tell it really wasn’t. Then he pulled her even closer and said something about if he was 30 years younger he’d ask her out. Then he asked her how she felt about that, and she said that made her uncomfortable.

He said that was the lesson we all needed to learn, that when someone stepped over the line and started to make us feel uncomfortable, to break our rules, to push our limits, we needed to remind them of where that line was and get them back behind it.

He said it’s the same thing if you’re a woman and your husband or boyfriend had a bad day at work and comes home from work and yells at you, and you let it pass, maybe the next day or the next, or at some point in the future he’s going to give you a little shove when he is mad about something. And eventually it will progress to him hitting you. He said by not drawing the line the first time he took his frustrations out on you, you made it okay to do that, so he stepped forward and you moved your boundaries. With no reason not to, he would step forward again, past the new boundary line.

If you’re a parent and your child’s bedtime is 8 PM but they whine and beg to stay up another half hour to see something on TV, and you allow it, you just moved bedtime from 8 to 8:30. Likewise, if you are a boss and starting time is 9 AM, but an employee comes in at 9:15 complaining about the traffic or finding a place to park, and you allow that without reprimanding them, you just moved starting time to 9:15.



The same applies in every part of life. Do you have rude campground neighbors who walk through your site uninvited, or let their dog do its business and not clean it up? If you did not speak up and put a stop to it the first time, the second time it happens is on you. If you have a friend or relative who borrows money or tools and does not pay you back as promised or return them when he said he would, it’s your duty to let them know that is not acceptable and they need to remedy the situation immediately. If you have a high maintenance person in your life who places demands on you and bullies or guilts you into doing what they want, it’s because you allow them to. If you go along because “it’s just easier” or because “that’s just how he or she is” you have only yourself to blame.

Step up to the plate. Set boundaries. Draw that line and refuse to compromise on the things that are important for your own wellbeing in a relationship. People who cannot or will not accept that because it doesn’t fit into their agenda are toxic. If you have to, cut them out just like you would a cancerous tumor. In the long run you will be healthier and happier.

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 old enough to remember when mentally ill people were put in hospitals, not Congress.

Apr 052019
 

Note: This story is from my book Overlooked Arizona.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for firefighters, but it is a job I could never do. The very idea of being in a fire terrifies me. Maybe this is just a natural human reaction, or maybe it’s because I had a cousin who was horribly burned when she was a child. For whatever reason, firefighting is one job I never considered, and never would. But I do appreciate the brave men and women who do it.



We toured the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting in Phoenix, and to say we were impressed would be a gross understatement. Located near the Phoenix Zoo and Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the museum displays over 130 restored wheeled pieces of firefighting equipment dating from 1725 to 1969.

We saw everything from hand pulled pumpers that required as many as 50 firemen to work the wooden handles that pumped water onto fires, to elaborately decorated “parade” carriages that were used both to fight fires and to promote the fire department at community events, such as a 1924 American La France fire engine that saw service in San Bernardino, California. Every item on display is in immaculate condition.

The oldest unit on display is a 1730 Newsham hand pumper made in England. Supplied by water from a bucket brigade, the Newsham could pump about 20 gallons per minute, which is about the output of a pair of typical modern day garden hoses.

Most English estates had their own fire brigades, which also fought fires in the villages, and one of the older pieces on display is an 1838 Merryweather hand pumper that was built for the Earl of Harrington’s estate in Devonshire.

In the mid-1800s, American volunteer fire companies took great pride in their equipment, and many purchased elaborate “parade carriages” to represent their company in parades and musters. The museum’s beautiful 1870 Buckley & Merritt hand drawn parade carriage is typical of that class of unit. It was built on special order for the firemen of the Hotchkiss Hose Company in Derby, Connecticut.

By the 1890s, steam powered fire pumpers had replaced hand pumpers, and were capable of putting a lot more water on a fire in a shorter period of time than their predecessors. The museum has several nice steam powered units on display, including an 1890 Shand Mason, which was used in Rugby, England. It was rated at 450 gallons per minute. A crew of firemen sat on wooded ledges above the hoses on the side of the pumper, which was horse drawn.

Besides heavy equipment, the Hall of Flame Museum has an impressive display of thousands of items, including firefighter’s helmets and other artifacts, communication equipment from over the years, and hundreds of uniform shoulder patches from fire departments around the world.



Several mannequins are dressed in firefighter gear from decades past and modern time, to demonstrate the advances in fire science.

The museum includes the National Firefighters Hall of Heroes, which honors American firefighters who have received a national award for heroism and recognizes American firefighters who have died in the line of duty.

One touching display is the 9/11 Memorial Pony that Santa Fe, New Mexico artist Rod Barker created to honor the firefighters and policemen who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center. The sculpture is a saddled riderless horse with a pair of boots turned backwards in the stirrups to signify those who lost their lives.

Motorized fire engines in the museum’s collection include a 1950 Autocar that served the community of Ardmore, Pennsylvania for years, and dozens of other impressive pumpers and ladder trucks.

We got a chuckle out of the tiny 1909 Brush Model D Chief’s Buggy, an underpowered one cylinder car used by the Fire Chief of Owensville, Indiana. The chief was humiliated when a boy on a bicycle beat him to the scene of a fire and demanded a new vehicle!

The museum also has a hands-on area, where children can dress in firefighters’ equipment and can tour a Safe House and learn how to protect themselves and their home from fire.

We spent the entire afternoon at the museum, enthralled by all of the displays. The exhibit area covers 35,000 square feet, divided into six galleries. There is also a research library with over 6,000 items. The museum has a small gift shop, with firefighting souvenirs available for sale, and the friendly staff is happy to answer any questions you may have.

The Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting is located at 6101 East Van Buren Street in Phoenix, just off the Loop 202 freeway. The museum is open Monday – Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for students age 6-17, and $4 for children ages 3-5. Children under age 3 are admitted free.

The museum’s parking lot would accommodate a large RV with a bit of maneuvering, if it wasn’t too busy, and the staff said they will open a gate on an extra driveway to make it easier to get in and out with a large vehicle. Personally, I’d prefer to leave my rig at one of the many RV parks in the Phoenix and Mesa area, and drive my tow vehicle.
For more information about the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting, call (602) 275-3473, or visit their website at www.hallofflame.org.

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 – Stop digging in the past. There is no treasure there to be discovered.

Fun With Telemarketers

 Posted by at 12:28 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 042019
 

We all hate them. Those annoying calls from someone that immediately launches into a spiel about the good news they have for you. They’re going to reduce your credit card debt, extend your car’s warranty, protect your investment in your house with pest control service, or whatever they are hustling. Most people just hang up when they get one of those calls, and I do, too, usually. But not always. Sometimes I’m bored and I need something to do, so I chat with them. Not because I’m interested in with they’re trying to sell me, but because I like screwing with their heads. And, I figure while I’m wasting their time, they’re not calling somebody else and bothering them.



A couple of years ago there was a scam going around where someone would call and say they are holding a loved one hostage and were going to kill them if you didn’t pay a ransom. I got one of those calls, telling me of that he was holding a gun to my son’s head and if I didn’t follow their instructions exactly to send them $10,000 they were going to shoot him. I told the caller to go ahead and do it, I never really liked him that much anyway. At first the guy seemed kind of incredulous, then he called me a heartless SOB before he hung up.

Now, just to set the record straight, after it was over with I did call my son Travis and explained the situation to him. I told him that it was nothing personal, but $10,000 was a lot of money. Being the good guy that he is, Travis understood and said he would do the same thing if he ever got such a call about me. Actually, if I recall correctly, he set his limit at ten bucks. Now that’s a heartless SOB!

Sometimes I will answer the phone and identify myself as Detective Adams and demand to know who they are and why are they calling a crime scene. If they start to hem and haw I tell them that this is an active murder investigation and I want to know their relation to the victim. Meanwhile, I say to some other person who really isn’t standing next to me, “Trace this call. Whoever it is, bring them in.”

If they are calling for a carpet cleaning service, I may ask them how good they are at getting blood out of a rug, and I add that I’m talking about an awful lot of blood. They seem to get rattled by that. Pest control companies can be fun, especially when I start describing the vermin that have infested my armpits and pubic hair since that drunken family reunion I went to in Toledo.



Did you know that if you ask a telemarketer what color panties she’s wearing, and then ask if she likes thongs or bikinis, they don’t want to talk to you anymore? When you add that you’re going commando and swinging in the breeze, they hang up. One told me that I was being obscene, but I corrected her and told her that she was the one that called me. My phone, my time, we’ll talk about what I want to talk about. That only seems fair, doesn’t it?

And finally, here’s another chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

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 – I cooked dinner for her, ran her a bubble bath, and had candles and flowers on the table when she came home. Instead of being turned on, she called the cops. Meeting new people can be so difficult.

A Deadly Duo

 Posted by at 12:25 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 032019
 

The other night we watched The Highwaymen on Netflix. It’s the Bonnie and Clyde story from the perspective of Frank Hamer, who hunted them down. I liked it. It brought back memories of our visit to the site where the murderous duo’s reign of terror was finally ended. Here is a blog post I wrote a while back about it:

Depending on who you talk to, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were either bloodthirsty killers, bumbling hicks who got caught up in a life of crime, or maybe even star-crossed lovers. Whatever they were, their lives and exploits had absolutely no resemblance to the highly romanticized story portrayed in the 1967 movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.



From the time they first met in Texas, in January of 1930, until they were cut down in an ambush in Bienville Parish, Louisiana on May 23, 1934, the outlaw couple’s crime spree reached from New Mexico to Michigan, and they left a trail of bloodied bodies and empty bank vaults in their wake.

Bonnie was 19 and married to a man serving a prison sentence for murder when she met Clyde, who was two years older and already had a record of petty criminal offenses. It wasn’t long before he was arrested for a burglary and sent to jail. Bonnie smuggled a gun to him and he escaped, but was quickly recaptured and sent back to prison.

As soon as Clyde was paroled, in February 1932, he picked up Bonnie and they resumed their life of crime. By the time they were killed, they were believed to have committed thirteen murders and dozens of robberies and burglaries.

Among those crimes were the murders of two police officers in Joplin, Missouri; a man Clyde allegedly murdered at Hillsboro, Texas; the murder of a deputy sheriff and the wounding of another at Stringtown, Oklahoma; as well as other murders in Texas and Missouri. Along the way they also kidnapped a number of victims. Their thefts and robberies ranged from stores and banks in several states, and numerous automobile thefts. It was the stolen cars that eventually drew the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, then called simply the Bureau of Investigation.

Traveling with a loose-knit gang that included Clyde’s brother Ivan M. “Buck” Barrow, Raymond Hamilton, William D. Jones, and Henry Methvin, Clyde would cover miles of back roads at high speed, usually behind the wheel of a stolen Ford V-8. In fact, he was such a fan of Fords that he actually wrote to company president Henry Ford and complimented him on the quality of his automobiles. It was not uncommon for them to rob a bank one afternoon and be two or three states away by the next day.

Both devoted to their mothers, the outlaw couple risked capture repeatedly to meet in small family reunions before setting off on another escapade. Bonnie was completely devoted to Clyde and ignored her mother’s pleas to leave him, though she knew staying meant certain death.

The manhunt for the outlaws came to an end when a posse compromised of former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, Deputy Sheriff Ted Hinton and Deputy Sheriff Bob Alcorn, both from Texas; B.M. “Manny” Gault, another Texas lawman; and two Louisiana officers, Henderson Jordan and Prentiss Morel Oakley set up an ambush for them alongside a lonely road ten miles south of Gibsland, Louisiana. The posse blocked one lane of the road with a disabled truck and waited, suspecting that Bonnie and Clyde would pass through on their way to a meeting with Henry Methvin.

And sure enough, shortly after 9 a.m. on that ill-fated morning, they heard the sound of a speeding car approaching and raised their weapons. As soon as they identified the man and woman in the car the posse began firing, and within seconds it was all over. 130 bullets riddled the car and the outlaws inside of it. The long chase was over.



Today the story of what happened that May morning is told at the Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum, located at 2419 Main Street in Gibsland, which displays newspaper articles, photos, and guns related to the death of the outlaws. L.J. “Boots” Hinton, the museum’s curator, is the son of Ted Hinton, one of the posse members. Hinton was chosen because he actually knew both Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow; he had worked as a Western Union messenger with Clyde as a teenager and had a crush on Bonnie when she was a waitress at a Dallas café where he frequently ate lunch before she met Clyde. The museum itself is located in the building that once housed Ma Canfield’s Café, where Clyde stopped and bought two sandwiches minutes before driving into the ambush that was waiting for them.

At the ambush site on Highway 154 a concrete marker that has been chipped away and shot many times by vandals over the years marks the place where Bonnie and Clyde met their fates. Highway 154 is a good two lane road and there is plenty of room for an RV to pull over while you visit the marker and contemplate the results of two lives cut short because they chose crime as their profession.

Thought For The Day – You cannot sit back and hope for a happy marriage, you have to create one.