Nick Russell

22 Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought For The Day – A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.

Three Quickies

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

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

***

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

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

***

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

***

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

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

Dad Lied

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Bidet Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mind Your Manners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought For The Day – Never judge a book by its movie.

Picking Up Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought For The Day – Marriage Tip: Whenever you talk to your wife, you should remember that this conversation is being recorded for training and quality control purposes.

Shaving The Mango

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life Is A Crapshoot

 Posted by at 12:21 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 092020
 

Note: I first posted this story back in 2010, but its message is just as real, if not more so, today.

You can plan carefully, take every precaution, and still, sometimes, we are at the whimsy of fate, as our Escapee friends Mel and Charlene Schwartz experienced recently while traveling through Utah.

About 3 p.m. on June 29, they were driving east on U.S. Highway 50 just outside of Delta, Utah, doing about 55 miles per hour, just enjoying the scenery on the two lane highway, when this limb broke off a tree beside the highway, crashed into the hood of their Ford truck, and then through the windshield, showering them with glass. Their Excel fifth wheel was not damaged, but the truck needed extensive repairs.

Their guardian angel must have been riding with them that afternoon because unbelievably, Mel and Charlene were not injured. It’s a wonder they weren’t killed as the limb slammed through the driver’s side of the cab and out the window! Mel said that aside from being scared and shook up, they were unharmed, though they spent over an hour vacuuming bits of glass out of each other’s hair.
As a side note, Mel told me that the sheriff’s deputy that investigated the accident said that he had been notified of a tree limb that was about to fall but hadn’t been able to get to it yet. As Mel said, timing is everything.

This is a perfect example of why I believe that while we can take every reasonable precaution in the book, sometimes things just happen, and when they do, all we can do is roll with the punches.

We never know when the car or truck coming toward us down the highway may cross the center line and hit us head on; or when a tire on the eighteen wheeler passing us may blow and wipe out the side of our RV; or when some tiny speck of plaque in an artery will break loose and block the blood flow; or a million other things that probably will not happen, but can at any moment.

What quirk of fate determines who will dodge the bullet, and who won’t? Why did I have friends who survived Vietnam, only to come home and die in traffic accidents? What keeps that semi tire from blowing when the truck passes me and makes it blow when passing some other poor guy? Life is a crapshoot. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

We can’t live our lives in fear of everything, so all we can do is cherish every moment we have and thank whatever higher being we believe in when we have a close call and survive.

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

Thought For The Day – Facebook is a lot like jail. You sit around wasting time writing on the walls and sometimes get poked by people you don’t know.

First Q&A Of 2020

 Posted by at 1:10 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 082020
 

I’m back with more questions from blog readers about RVing, what’s happening in our lives since we hung up the keys, and all kinds of other things. While I try to answer all questions individually, I also share them here occasionally. These are some that have come in since the new year began.

Q. This is our first year as snowbirds and our first New Year’s Eve in our fifth wheel. We are parked in a friend’s driveway in Albuquerque and all night long we were terrified because people were shooting guns up in the air all around us. The next day our friend, who is very smart about a lot of things, laughed at us and said there’s no way a bullet that someone fired up in the air is going to come down and go all the way through the roof of an RV. Does he know what he is talking about or were we right to be afraid?
A. Your friend may know a lot of things, but he obviously knows nothing about guns and bullets. Every year people are seriously injured and even killed by falling bullets. Sometimes those bullets are fired a mile or more away. And yes, they can come through an RV roof with no problem. We had friends who worked at a Camping World years ago and when they returned to work after New Year’s they discovered a bullet on the floor of a motorhome that was parked inside the service bay overnight. That’s right, the bullet not only came through the roof of the building, but also through the roof of the motorhome. Anyone foolish enough to fire a gun into the air at any time for any reason should never be allowed to be anywhere near one.

Q. My husband wants to get a tire pressure monitor for our motorhome and the small car we tow behind us. He’s a gadget guy like you, Nick, and I wonder if we really need something like that or if it’s just one more toy to spend money on.
A. I would not consider hitting the road without a tire pressure monitoring system on all wheels of all the vehicles. If you don’t, things like this happen and you never know about it until somebody flags you down to inform you of the damage being done. This was our Toyota pickup, which we were pulling behind our MCI bus conversion when we got a flat tire. I couldn’t feel it while I was driving and didn’t know until someone driving by honking and pointing to get our attention. Before we hit the road again I had a tire pressure monitoring system.

Q. I saw a post you made on Facebook that you had written 8,000 words in one day on your new book, and other comments about 6,000 word days. How do you possibly do that? I have been trying to write a book for the last two years now and I think I’m at 20,000 words. How do you possibly turn out four books or more a year?
A. When I say that I wrote 8,000 or 6,000 or however many words in the day, that’s not exactly true. I don’t sit and type that many words, because I’m a two-finger typist at best. I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking software and either dictate directly into that at my computer, or else I dictate into a digital microphone, which I then plug into the computer and pull the files into Dragon and it’s transcribed into text. As to how I publish four books a year, the secret to that is to like really expensive toys like pontoon boats and new Mustangs and guns and kayaks, and then have to work your butt off to pay for them.

Q. Passport America, a good or bad investment?
A. There’s no way you can go wrong with Passport America. At just $44 a year and with over 1600 campgrounds where you can stay for half-price, it only takes a night or two to get your membership fee back. We are lifetime members, and it saved us a ton of money in our travels.

Q. We are in Casa Grande, Arizona and my husband wants to go to Quartzsite and boondock. People were telling us how much fun it is and I was all for it until someone told me that there are no hookups there where people boondock. I thought they called it that because people are parked out in the boondocks but I never realized they meant without being hooked up. I’m not sure I’m ready for that! Is that true or are they pulling my leg?
A. There are a lot of definitions for boondocking. Some say true boondocking is out in the desert or the national forest or someplace far away from civilization. Other people consider spending the night at a Walmart parking lot or in a friend’s driveway boondocking. No matter where you do it at, the one thing it all has in common is no hookups. But if your RV is self-contained with water tanks and a generator, you have everything you need to boondock for a few days, at least. Try it, you might like it.

Q. We have a 2016 Heartland fifth wheel that is in excellent condition, both inside and out. But my husband has early onset dementia which has forced us off the road. We are trying to sell it, but we are about $15,000 upside down. All we want is the payoff but we’re not having any luck getting anyone to buy it. We are constantly besieged by people calling who want us to put it on consignment or let them sell it for them online. Are any of these people legit? How did you guys sell your motorhome?
A. As they say, the two happiest days in a boat owner or an RV owner’s life are when they buy it and when they sell it. We got many of the same calls from hustlers promising us the world, along with plenty of tire kickers offering to give us a dollar down and a dollar a week. We finally took it to a large dealership in Texas that is known for their consignment sales. It took many months to sell it, and every time we turned around they were calling or e-mailing wanting us to spend money on getting it detailed or getting something else done that was not necessary. When it did eventually sell we got much less than we expected and much less than they promised they could get for it. I suspect you are going to have to spend a lot of your own money just to get out from under the rig.

Q. So did you buy that classic Ford Galaxy you had in the blog a few days ago? You said there was no room in the garage, but from what I have seen in the pictures of your house you have a huge paved parking area and I remember a picture of your motorhome parked there. Does it have to be in the garage?
A. Yes, we have room to park several cars outside, but the Florida sun and heat is terrible on them. I used to keep my 1999 Ford pickup in the garage until I bought the Mustang, but in just one year parked outside, the trim on the truck’s center console and armrests have split and started to come apart.

Q. Nick, we were contacted by a company who wants us to sign up with them to rent our motorhome out. They tell us that by renting it for just a week to 10 days a month we will make enough money to cover the payments. I’m not sure I want strangers that we never met going down the road in our motorhome. Would you do it?
A. Not just no, but hell no! There are many problems associated with something like this. First of all, your insurance may not cover the RV if it is being rented out. Second, whoever holds the loan on the RV may have specified in the contract that is not to be rented. Not to mention the fact that you have no idea how much, if any, experience someone renting it has in driving a large vehicle like a motorhome, if they know how to properly dump the tanks, or if they are jerks who will trash it, leaving you to make expensive repairs or payments on a rig that is destroyed because your insurance company will not cover the damage. I’ve heard of several outfits trying to get people to do this. They make you all kinds of promises about how well it’s going to work out, but at the end of the day you have to decide if you want a nice RV that you’ve taken care of, or a few bucks in your pocket from rental fees that will not cover the damage done to your rig.

Thought For The Day – Expectations are so often just planned disappointments.

Jan 072020
 

Miss Terry and I spent more than 18 years traveling from border to border and sea to shining sea during our life as fulltime RVers, and when it was time to hang up the keys, we bought a house on Florida’s central coast.

Why, you ask? What made us decide on Florida over other places we visited and loved? Why not the Pacific Northwest coast, where we spent many summers flying kites and enjoying its wild beauty? Why not back in our old hometown of Show Low, Arizona to be near my daughter and grandkids? Or Rockport, Texas, another popular stop on our travels?

Was it the warm weather in Florida? Beautiful beaches  just minutes from our front door? The fabulous fishing? All of those things are great, but as an author, one of the greatest things about Florida is that I never have to do more than turn on the local news for great story fodder. Consider just a few bizarre stories from our adopted state. And if you think I’m making these up, click the links for the full story.

Man Wakes Up To Find Burglar Sucking His Toes – No, it wasn’t Santa that paid a late night visit to one Florida man on Christmas Eve.  https://www.wfla.com/news/local-news/manatee-county/florida-man-wakes-up-to-find-burglar-sucking-his-toes-deputies-say/

Naked Man Bites Police Dog – I don’t know, maybe the dog would have preferred to have its toes sucked. Or maybe not. https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-florida-man-police-dog-meth-bites-20200104-x66czekmbrbyfpy4gt63r5yuj4-story.html

Police Respond To Cries For Help And Meet A Talkative Parrot – I guess I’d rather deal with a loud mouthed parrot than a toe sucking burglar.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/01/06/florida-police-respond-911-call-after-parrot-cries/2822586001/

Florida Woman Claims Wind Blew Cocaine Into Her Purse – Sure it did. Here’s your sign! https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/state/florida-woman-claims-wind-blew-cocaine-into-her-purse

Drunk Man Mistakes Bank Drive-Thru For A Taco Bell – And I bet he didn’t even get fries with his chalupa. https://www.bradenton.com/news/local/crime/article195482099.html

Opossum Breaks Into Florida Liquor Store – Not only did it break in, it was drunker than a skunk when cops responded. (See what I did there?) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/opossum-breaks-into-florida-liquor-store-gets-drunk/

Airplane Hits 500-Pound Alligator – In the big reptile’s defense, he was moving slow because he had been out drinking with a possum the night before https://www.clickorlando.com/news/2017/06/07/plane-hits-kills-500-pound-alligator-at-orlando-executive-airport/

Golf Cart Chop Shop – The Villages is an upscale retirement community in Central Florida, but I guess you can find crime everywhere these days. https://www.wftv.com/news/local/deputies-in-the-villages-bust-suspected-drug-house-golf-cart-chop-shop/536991140/

Romance And STD’s Keep Retirees Busy – Some people in The Villages are too busy doing the nasty to have time to steal golf carts. https://nypost.com/2009/01/25/retire-to-the-bedroom/

Deputy Accused Of Pawning Guns – Maybe he thought he was an English Bobby and didn’t need one. https://www.wesh.com/article/sumter-county-deputy-accused-of-pawning-stolen-guns/13083288

Stolen Stripper Money Goes To Home Depot – Did you ever wonder where that $10 bill you got as change has been? https://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/gone-viral/fl-pn-stripper-fees-embezzled-20170901-story.html

Car Carrying Propane Tank Explodes When Woman Lights Cigarette – This is why we have warning labels on products. https://www.foxnews.com/us/florida-couple-transporting-grill-injured-after-suv-explodes-when-woman-lights-cigarette

15 Pounds Of Frozen Sausage Crashes Into Family’s Roof – Just in time for breakfast! – https://www.clickorlando.com/strange-florida/2017/07/18/15-pounds-of-frozen-italian-sausage-crashes-on-florida-familys-roof/

Yeah, it’s great story fodder, but if I ever used any of this in one of my books people would say I was stretching the bonds of fiction way too far.

Thought For The Day – Sometimes you have to hug the people you don’t like so you know how big to dig the hole in your backyard.