Nick Russell

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.

Green Hills Farm

 Posted by at 12:01 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 092019

My father was a great reader, and some of my earliest memories of our times together are of him reading me stories from the classics. Treasure Island, Moby Dick, Oliver Twist, Robinson Crusoe, Little Women, The Last of the Mohicans, A Tale of Two Cities, The Call of the Wild, Gulliver’s Travels, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

He passed his love of books down to me and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading something. Books opened up a whole new world for me. Many worlds. Long before I ever saw a sailing ship, I knew what it was like to stand on the deck of one in a roiling sea. I was 30 years old before I saw my first whale, but Herman Melville had already introduced me to these great creatures. And every time I cross the mighty Mississippi River I think of Tom Sawyer and his buddy Huck Finn floating down the big river on their raft.

One book I remember reading when I was young that really stood out to me was Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth, about peasant life in China. Any time a kid of my generation didn’t want to eat their vegetables, we were reminded that there were starving people in China who would be glad to have them. The Good Earth taught me about those people.

Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker, the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries to China, was born June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia at her mother’s family home while her parents were home on furlough. Five months later they returned to China with their infant daughter.

Though they could have lived in the compound with other missionaries, Pearl’s parents preferred to live among the Chinese people. She grew up playing with Chinese children, visiting with them in their homes, speaking Chinese, and being absorbed into their culture. An intelligent child, she seemed to soak up everything around her like a sponge, and much of what she experienced in her early days was later used in her novels.

Home-schooled by her mother, who required her daughter to write something each week, the future author saw her first work published when she was just six years old, a short piece in the weekly children’s edition of the English-language Shanghai Mercury newspaper. An avid reader, she devoured the classics, as well as books on Confucianism and Chinese history.

Returning to the United States in 1910, Pearl enrolled in Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia. She received a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy in 1914, and shortly thereafter returned to China to care for her mother, who had fallen ill. In 1917, she married an American agricultural missionary named John Lossing Buck, and the couple spent their first five years together living in a small town in northern China. Pearl drew from these memories when writing her best-selling book, The Good Earth.

The couple’s only biological child, Carol, was born in 1920. Concerned that her daughter was not developing normally, Pearl sought advice from doctors, who assured her that nothing was wrong. In fact, something was very wrong. Carol suffered from PKU syndrome, a debilitating disease that results in progressive mental deterioration if not diagnosed and treated at birth.

In 1925, Pearl and her husband returned to the United States, where she earned a Masters degree in English literature from Cornell University. The couple adopted a baby girl, naming her Janice, before returning to China.

Unable to care for the increasing needs of her first daughter, Pearl enrolled Carol at the Vineland Training School in New Jersey in 1929, where she lived until her death in 1992. Concerned about paying for Carol’s care and schooling, Pearl, wrote her first novel, East Wind, West Wind. It was rejected by every publisher she submitted it to before the John Day Publishing Company bought the rights to it in 1930. Two years later, her next book, The Good Earth, won the Pulitzer Prize. It remained on the bestseller list for 21 months and was turned into an Oscar-winning movie in 1937.

Success seemed to follow success, and in 1938, Pearl S Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for her epic portrayal of Chinese peasant life and for biographies she had written about her parents. She was the first American woman to be awarded both the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes for literature.

Experiencing marital problems and concerned about the changes in China as the Nationalists and the Communists struggled for power, Pearl and her family returned to the United States in 1934. Shortly thereafter she divorced her husband, and in 1935 she married Richard Walsh. They purchased Green Hills Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where they raised their seven adopted children and several foster children.

In 1950, Pearl shared her personal feelings and experiences with Carol in a book titled The Child Who Never Grew. The book continues to help parents of children with similar mental disabilities today.

Never one to rest on her laurels, Pearl continued to write daily at her farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In her lifetime she penned more than 70 novels, in addition to biographies, an autobiography, essays, and plays. A woman before her time, she was also very involved in humanitarian causes, advocating cultural understanding and racial harmony to help achieve world peace. She was an outspoken advocate of the Civil Rights movement in the United States back in the 1930s, long before it was popular to do so.

In 1949 she helped create the Welcome House Adoption Agency, which continues to find loving homes for children of mixed race today.

Shortly before her 81st birthday, Pearl S. Buck died of cancer, on March 6, 1973. She asked that she be buried on the grounds of her beloved Green Hills Farm.

The home of the famous writer has been named a national historic landmark, where visitors can tour Green Hill Farm and see the desk where Pearl wrote The Good Earth, admire gifts from the Dalai Lama and President Richard M. Nixon, and see her Nobel and Pulitzer prizes.

Outside the house, visitors can stroll through the beautiful gardens, pay their respects at the author’s grave, and stop at the Exhibit Gallery to see changing exhibits on culture, literature, and history.

The beautiful home you see today almost disappeared. In 2004, it was in a sad state of disrepair. Windows were broken, ceilings leaked, and structural and electrical deficiencies threatened its very existence. The house was listed by the National Park Service as one of the country’s most endangered historic landmarks. Realizing the importance of this historic treasure, a $2.8 million restoration began, which took six years. The grand reopening took place on June 26, 2013, which was, fittingly, Pearl S. Buck’s 121st birthday.

Only a short drive from Philadelphia, the Pearl S. Buck house is located at 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, Pennsylvania. Guided tours are held daily, but the schedule changes with the time of year. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $7 for students. For more information and tour schedules, call (215) 249-0100 or visit the home’s website at

Thought For The Day – Never ruin an apology with an excuse. – Benjamin Franklin

Hurry Up And Wait

 Posted by at 12:15 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 082019

When I was in the Army, so much of what we did was hurry up and wait. During training we would roll out of our bunks, get ready for the day, fall out in formation, and then wait while the drill sergeants or whoever was in charge decided to get around to inspecting us, harassing us, and finally allowing us to go have breakfast. We would march double time to the mess hall, where we would wait in line to get our food and eat it, and then hurry up and finish so that we could get back outside and stand back in formation again for whatever came next.

Once I was out of training, it was the same thing. Hurry up and wait. Suit up and get ready to go do something, then wait for trucks or helicopters or whatever transportation we were going to get. I think half of my time in the military was spent standing in line someplace.

And it’s no different in civilian life, is it? Hurry to the bank to make a deposit and stand in line to get to the teller. Go to the Department of Motor Vehicles, arrive early to beat the rush and then wait for hours to renew your license or whatever you need done. Make a quick pass through the grocery throwing things in your cart so you can get home and cook dinner, and then wait in the checkout line while they call for a price check and the person in front of you tries to find their credit card or checkbook.

We have been doing our share of hurry up and wait lately, too, trying to get all the medical exams out of the way so we can figure out what the heck’s going on with my head, and hopefully also get a resolution for my back pain. Not to mention just regular medical checkups that we have every so often. It does get tiresome sometimes.

Monday, we got to the MRI place in Daytona Beach about a half hour early for my scheduled 6:15 PM procedure, and I figured that late in the day we shouldn’t have to wait. Wrong. It was about an hour before they took me in to get started.

I don’t know what I’d do without Terry. The MRI of my head took about 35 minutes, and they had to put a mask over my face. I’m a bit claustrophobic and really wasn’t looking forward to being in the close confines of the tube that long. But they let Terry sit next to the machine the whole time I was in it and she held my hand. That made it a lot easier to handle. What would I do without that precious lady?

Now we wait for results. I’ve got a preliminary appointment with an ENT specialist coming up in a couple of weeks, and once my neurologist reviews all the MRI information, hopefully we will find out what’s going there. And with any luck, somewhere along the line we will learn more about some new treatment options for my back that the doctor mentioned. More hurry up and wait.

In the meantime,  we had planned to take a short road trip starting today. I want to go up to Ohio to do some research on the family saga book series that has been rolling around in my head, because that is where its setting will be. It will also be a good time to introduce bookstores and readers in that area to my books. So I had to hurry up and stock up on snacks and goodies for the house sitter. But I woke up early yesterday morning with so much back pain that I could hardly get out of bed, and for the first time in over a year I had to take a oxycodone just to be able to move. I wore my back brace most of the day, went to the chiropractor in the afternoon, and was a bit better by bedtime. So we’ll see how things feel today before we decide whether to go or cancel the trip.

Because things are up in the air with scheduling, both the road trip and the medical stuff, I won’t be holding a free drawing this week, and possibly not next, either. When we are on the road it’s too hard to get online to approve entries, delete duplicate entries, and such. But don’t worry, I will be back soon with more goodies to give away.

Likewise, if we get into a dead area or can’t get online and I miss a blog post or two, don’t fret. I probably haven’t strayed too close to the edge of the flat earth and fallen off.

But before I close, 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 – Be decisive. The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make up their mind.

Hobbies For RVers

 Posted by at 12:15 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 072019

More than once I have had people ask me what fulltime RVers do to occupy their time when not actually on the road traveling. So I dusted off a blog post from 2015 that covers some of the many hobbies we and other fulltimers found to keep ourselves busy and out of trouble.

What do you do all day? It’s a question fulltime RVers get asked all the time. The real question is, how can they cram another twelve hours into every day to get all of the things done they want to?

RVers have many hobbies that fit perfectly into their lifestyle, offering plenty of opportunities to get outside and exercise, or to keep them content inside when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Traditional outdoor activities such as hiking, bicycling, fishing, bird watching, and golfing are all popular with RVers, as well as playing pickleball, geocaching, volkswalking, and kite flying.

If you like getting out on the water but don’t want the hassle of towing a boat around, consider a kayak. There are some excellent ways to carry a hard kayak on your vehicle, or you might consider an inflatable like the Sea Eagle, which is lightweight, easy to store, and indestructible. We have paddled our Sea Eagles everywhere from lakes and rivers in the Midwest to the Florida Keys.

Indoor hobbies include everything from working jigsaw puzzles to scrap booking to beading, weaving, and spinning.

Sometimes you have to be creative to make it work, but anything’s possible. You name it, and with just a little bit of ingenuity there’s a way to take your hobby on the road and enjoy it wherever your travels may take you. Miss Terry carried a full size Baby Wolf loom that folded up for storage when we were on the road, as well as a folding Lendrum spinning wheel. We’ve also seen more than one RV with a portable quilting frame.

We have met RVers who were busy making stained glass windows, building dollhouses, and playing music under their awnings in campgrounds from coast to coast. Many RV resorts have organized activities that center around hobbies, including lapidary, woodcarving, and square dancing. This is a great way to learn more, share your skills, and make new friends. A lot of RV parks also hold jam sessions for their guests who like to play music.

Photography has always been a popular activity and one that fits perfectly with RVing. Digital cameras and photo editing software make it easy to produce amazing photo collections and albums.

Genealogy is another hobby that is tailored for the RV lifestyle. It is one thing to know that your great great-uncle Angus is buried in a family plot on land he farmed in Missouri, and quite another to be able to travel to the old family farm and actually walk the land your ancestors tilled and pay your respects in person at their grave sites.

Those are just a few ideas. What are some of your hobbies that fit well with the RV lifestyle?

Thought For The Day – All my dance moves look like I’m trying to signal the guy on first base to steal second.

The Village of Spires

 Posted by at 12:44 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 062019

Note: Since most of yesterday was taken up with doctor appointments and then a long MRI that started at 6:30 p.m., I’m too tired to write a blog. So here is a repeat of one from 2012 that visitors to the Midwest might enjoy.

Tucked away on a back road just two miles north of busy Interstate 74 in eastern Indiana, the small town of Oldenburg is a charming escape from the fast food restaurants and generic traveler’s services along the highway.

Founded in the late 1830s by a group of German settlers who named the town in honor of their home, the province of Oldenburg in Northern Germany, Oldenburg is home to less than 700 people, and the strong German influence is still evident. Restaurants serve German food, the architecture of many of the buildings reflect an Old World style with their tin facades and cornices, and street signs are in both German and English.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Oldenburg is known as the Village of Spires because of the churches that cluster around the small downtown area. It is amazing how many large churches this small community has!

German Catholics coming from Cincinnati erected the first church, a log building, in 1837. Fr. Franz Joseph Rudolf was appointed Pastor of Oldenburg in 1844. He in turn, invited sister Theresa Hackelmeier to establish the Sisters of St. Francis Community.

At just 24 years old, Sister Theresa sailed from Vienna, Austria to New York, and then traveled down the Erie Canal and Ohio River until she reached Lawrenceburg, Indiana, where she was met by horse and buggy to be taken to Oldenburg. She founded the Sisters of St. Francis of Oldenburg in 1851, and became Mother Theresa.

The order would teach the German-speaking children of Oldenburg and care for children orphaned by a cholera epidemic that raged through southeastern Indiana in 1847.

The Sisters went on to open numerous schools in the Midwest. Their first school, St, Francis Normal School for Women, was formed in 1851 as a training school for teachers. It later became a four-year, state approved institution known today as Marian College, known for its strong professional programs. The order is still an important part of Oldenburg’s community.

It’s fun just to drive around town, admiring the old buildings. Of the roughly 115 homes in the historic district, 80 were constructed of stone or wood or a combination of the two. Brick structures were not built until after 1858, when the Gehring opened on the south edge of town. Following the Old World tradition, many of the buildings in the community combine a shop on the bottom floor with the owner’s residence upstairs.

Besides the church spires, Oldenburg’s other claim to fame are the 30 or so brightly painted fire hydrants around town that look like everything from farmers and nuns to cartoon characters. There are even posters in the local businesses displaying them. We spent another hour or so cruising around from street to street taking pictures of the hydrants.

The Freudenfest  (“fun day”) takes place every year in July and is known as the biggest little German festival in Indiana. Activities range from a pie auction to a beer stein holding endurance contest, wine tastings, games, music, and food. All proceeds from the event go to help preserve Oldenburg’s historic heritage.

In December, during the Holidays Under the Spires Christmas celebration, Christmas cheer takes over the streets. Carolers sing traditional holiday songs, there are sleigh rides, wine tastings and goodwill for all.

There are only a handful of businesses in Oldenburg, but one we enjoyed during our visit was the Brau Haus. The service was very good and the food was excellent, especially the pepper-fried chicken and the sauerkraut balls.

Whether you go for the church spires, the fire hydrants, the good German food, or the festivals, the friendly people of Oldenburg will make you feel welcome anytime you visit.

Thought For The Day – Ignoring the red flags because you want to see the good in people can bite you on the butt.

Stuck In A La-Z-Boy

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 052019

No, I wasn’t being a couch potato all day, or a recliner potato, either. But I did spend some time stuck in my La-Z-Boy recliner yesterday evening.

We actually started the day with a quick run up to the gun show at the Volusia County Fairgrounds. I didn’t see anything I couldn’t live without, but it’s always interesting to look at what’s available and the prices things are going for. I’m also amazed at how much guns I used to own have increased in value over the years. When Terry and I became fulltime RVers I sold off most of my gun collection, and one of the items I sold was a Colt Python .357 magnum revolver. These have always been top class guns and have always drawn a big price. When I sold mine in 1999 I got $600 for it, which I considered fair since I had paid $500 for it a couple of years earlier. I saw three Pythons at the gun show in the $2,500 to $2,800 range. Try getting that kind of return on your CD from your bank!

When we left the fairgrounds we made a stop at Walmart, something I always dread. Especially on weekends. Especially on the weekend when the state of Florida is having their tax-free back to school days, when there is no sales tax on all school supplies, clothes, computers. etc. I expected the place to be mobbed, but it really wasn’t that bad.

Back at home, I spent some time going over the 8000+ words I had written the day before and making corrections while Terry fixed dinner. I finished up the corrections after dinner while she did the dishes, and then we retired to the living room for a relaxing evening watching TV. And that’s when everything went to hell.

About half an hour after we sat down, I heard a loud pop outside and the power went off. I knew immediately that a transformer had blown somewhere, and a call to Florida Power & Light got a recorded message that they were already aware of the problem and expected to have power back on by 10:15 PM. That was about 8 o’clock. No big problem, we’ve got flashlights, battery-powered lights, Kindle Paperwhites to read, and while it was warm, it was not all that uncomfortable.

The problem was that I was sitting in my La-Z-Boy recliner with the footrest up when the power went out. If you have never seen a fat old man trying to get out of a powered recliner when the electricity goes out, take Miss Terry’s word for it. It’s not a pretty sight. My back was actually feeling pretty good until I had to do all those contortions!

My buddy Greg White told me that some powered recliners are also battery-operated, and once I was out, Terry looked and sure enough, there’s a compartment in the power cord that takes two square 9 volt batteries. She put a couple of Duracell’s in it and the chair moved about an inch and stopped. And this was just the chair, my fat butt was already out of it. The batteries are brand-new, but I don’t know, maybe they weren’t all that great. I’ll buy some new ones today and try again.
10:15 came and get went, and though there were a couple of power company trucks out working on the street it was another half hour past the promised time before the lights came back on. Just another little speed bump on the road of life. No big deal. Well, no big deal unless you’re a fat man stuck in a La-Z-Boy recliner.

Congratulations Sky Renfro, winner of this week’s drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. We had 61 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – Do you remember, before the Internet, when everyone thought the cause of collective stupidity was a lack of access to information? Well, it turns out that wasn’t it.