Hot Weather RVing Tips

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 072019

The thermometer has been flirting with the 100 degree mark, which is a reason a lot of people stay out of Florida in the summer. The good news is that there is less traffic on the roads, and stores and restaurants are not very crowded. The bad news is that it’s too bloody hot to go outside unless you have to!

Although I’ve seen some days at campgrounds in northern Indiana, in Michigan, and other places when it felt just as hot. Of course, fans of the desert will tell you that while it does climb into the triple digits in Arizona, it’s a dry heat. Yeah, it’s dry inside an oven, too. What’s your point?

You may not be in Florida or the desert now, but wherever you are, here are some ideas to help keep your RV cool without sending your electric bill through the roof.

When traveling in mountain country in a motorhome, consider turning off your dashboard air conditioner and running your generator and rooftop (or basement) AC. It places less strain on your engine when climbing steep grades in hot weather, and your coach will be comfortable when you arrive, instead of having to spend time cooling it down once you’re plugged in to shore power.

It’s easier to be comfortable if you can keep the heat outside of your RV in the first place. In helping to accomplish that, awnings are your friend. You can easily reduce the temperature inside your rig by ten degrees or more by using your patio and window awnings. An added benefit is that if your refrigerator is on the curb side of your RV, using the awning to shade it will help keep things colder in your refrigerator.

We also used mesh type solar screens on our windshield and forward side windows, which helps block the sun while still allowing us to see outside. Some RVers we know also hang a piece of the same mesh fabric from their patio awning to further shade their home on wheels. If the solar screen isn’t enough, and you are willing to forfeit the view, closing the privacy curtains over the windshield and cab area of a motorhome will help even more.

Sometimes you find yourself stuck someplace where the sun is particularly brutal and that mesh windshield screen just won’t do the job. That’s when a roll of reflective foil bubble insulation over the windshield can be a lifesaver. It does a good job on the inside, but the glass will still get hot and produce a lot of radiant heat. Putting the foil on the outside, under the wipers and secured so it won’t blow away will keep the glass cooler in the first place, and your RV as well.

You don’t always need to run your air conditioner to be comfortable. Knowing how to get the most from your roof vents and windows can be an asset in keeping your RV comfortable. Close the windows and blinds on the sunny side of your RV and open those in the shade, then turn on your roof fans to vent outward and you may be surprised at how much cool air flows in.

One summer several years ago, back when we were teaching for Life on Wheels, we found ourselves boondocking on an asphalt parking lot at a college in Pennsylvania for a week. It was bloody hot even at night and the RVs around us were running their generators all night long. Not us; we closed all of the windows in the front of our bus conversion, opened the bedroom windows, and put all of our roof vent fans on high. This created a strong airflow that worked almost like an evaporative cooler over our bodies. By morning we were pulling covers over us to warm up!

One of the best investments we ever made was a Fan-Tastic Vent Endless Breeze box fan. It plugs into a 12 volt outlet, has three speeds, and moves a lot of air. We’ve put it in front of an open window to draw warm air out or pointed it the other way to pull cool night air inside our RV. We also use it to move air to different areas of our motorhome when we are plugged in at a campground and have the air conditioning on.

An inexpensive investment that pays off big in keeping an RV comfortable in hot weather is an Roof Vent Insulator. Basically a pillow, some even have foil on one side, made to fit inside the vent opening in your ceiling, you will be amazed at how much heat they keep out on a hot summer day.

These are just a few tips to help you keep your cool when the summer temperature climbs. Do you have any of your own you want to share?

Thought For The Day – My biggest fear about becoming a zombie is all the walking that I’d have to do.

Be Prepared

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 062019

That old Boy Scout motto comes in handy in the RV lifestyle, just as it does in the rest of the world. We may never know what’s going to happen in the next moment, but we can do a few things to help us deal with whatever comes along.

Here’s an example; we were parked at the Show Low Elks lodge campground when the campground host came to our door one morning to tell us that a construction crew had broken a sewer line near the campground and city workers had asked that nobody flush their toilets or use their sinks until repairs were made, which could be up to four hours.

Not a problem for us, we had lots of room in our black tank, and since we are in a full hookup RV site, I had the valve to our gray tank open, so it was empty. I closed the valve and we were just fine. I don’t know what the folks in the houses near the campground did, but for us life went on like normal.

We’re not survivalists, but we always tried to be prepared for whatever happens, so that things that cause inconveniences to others aren’t even a speed bump for us. We kept our fresh water tank at least half full, even in a full hookup campground, because we’ve had the water shut off for repairs more than once. We kept our fuel tank close to full, even when sitting still for a few weeks, because if the electricity went out, our generator could supply all the power we need.

We tried to be prepared for the unexpected when on the road, too. We very seldom made advance campground reservations because we like the freedom of not having to be on a schedule. But we usually had a general idea of where we planned to spend the night. Before we pulled onto the highway, I always had an idea of alternate stops, usually every 50 miles or so apart, along the way that we could get into if bad weather, traffic delays, or mechanical problems delayed us. These might be truck stops or RV friendly businesses, a city park or fairgrounds that allows RV parking, or an Elks or Moose lodge. That way we were never pushed to drive into inclement weather or past dark to get someplace.

We are also always aware of what is happening around us as we travel. If we saw traffic starting to slow down, we monitored the CB radio to find out if there was an accident or bad weather ahead, so we could find an alternate route or get off the road into a safe place until the problem was over.

As RVers, we usually had the ability to avoid or drive away from areas where bad weather threatened us. But if we happened to find ourselves in some ungodly place like Tornado Alley, a good weather radio would alert us to approaching storms. If we were in a campground that was new to us, we always found out where the storm shelters were, and if we happened to be in a Wal-Mart parking lot or some such, we tried to scope out a secure building we could hide out in if things got out of hand.

It doesn’t take much to be prepared, and when you are, it can negate ordinary inconveniences, and help avoid or survive potential emergencies.

It’s Thursday, which is when we normally start our weekly  Free Drawing. Unfortunately, there will be no drawing this week while we work out an issue with the download codes to the free audiobook prizes. But we’ll be back next week with a new drawing.

Thought For The Day – Women always worry about the things that men forget; men always worry about the things women remember.

Oops And Almost Oops

 Posted by at 12:08 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 052019

When I was a kid, I was so accident-prone that my father used to say I should probably get a job in a mattress factory. Then he would think about it for a minute and say no, I would more than likely knock a stack of mattresses off on top of me and smother myself. My mother, bless her heart, used to say (hopefully, I think) that I would grow out of it. Well, here I am, well past my 66th birthday, and I’m still not exactly as graceful as a gazelle. Not even close. Anytime I’m left alone for very long, you might hear the word “oops” if you are listening. Actually, you would probably hear some other words, too, but this is a family blog, so we won’t get into that.

I have just had two oops moments in two days. At least I’m consistent, right? The first one was Monday evening, when I somehow lost my balance and tripped in the bathroom, bouncing off the door before landing on the floor. When I was young paratrooper I was taught to tuck and roll. Apparently I’m not a young paratrooper anymore. I did manage to turn enough to land on my right side, and when Miss Terry came to see what I had done this time I was laughing at myself so hard it took a minute or two to tell her. Fortunately, I didn’t break anything, though I do have a sore shoulder and hip, and a badly bruised dignity. I wasn’t in the shower, this wasn’t a slip, it was just a fat guy tripping over his own feet.

My second was an almost oops yesterday afternoon. I ran down to the chiropractor’s for an adjustment in case I had knocked anything more out of whack than it already is. Coming home, I made a stop at the post office and another one at Walgreens to pick up a prescription. As I was driving through the Walgreens parking lot a police car was stopped off to one side and the officer was talking to the dispatcher on his telephone. Not seeing me, he made a U-turn directly in front of me. I slammed on the brakes and the Explorer came to an abrupt stop less than a foot from his driver’s door.

He quickly got out to ask if I was okay, and apologized profusely, telling me it was all his fault and he should have looked before he pulled away. Since I didn’t actually hit his car, there was no damage to either of our vehicles, but he did offer to call a supervisor to take a report if I wanted him to. I didn’t see any reason for that, so we shook hands and went our separate ways. I’m not sure I want T-boning a police car on my driving record, no matter who was at fault.

Back at home, our friend Jim Lewis had gone to Ocean’s Seafood market in New Smyrna Beach and picked up some large red snapper fillets. Miss Terry cooked them, along with some roasted potato wedges and veggies, and we had an outstanding meal. Since Jim bought the fish, and Terry cooked it, I decided my contribution to the dinner would be to have a second helping. It was just as good as the first. And I didn’t even choke on a fishbone. That’s another oops that I avoided. Two in one day. Could my luck be changing?

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 think somebody needs a new calendar!

Thought For The Day – Legend says that when you can’t sleep, it’s because you are awake in someone else’s dream. So if everyone could stop dreaming about me, that would be great.

Happy Birthday Travis

 Posted by at 12:04 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 042019

Okay, somebody needs to stop the clock, because it’s going way too fast! Today my son Travis turns 42 years old. How in the world could I possibly have a child that old? I’m barely out of puberty myself! I thought the calculator was messed up, so I did the math three or four times. No way can I have a kid that old! But I do. I could have sworn this picture was just taken last week.

Travis and I have a special bond because for much of his youth I was a single father and it was just the two of us stumbling through life. That was a role I never saw myself in, and I know I made a lot of mistakes. But I was always trying to do the best for him and for his sister, who lived with their mother. When you have a baby, nobody gives you a manual on how to do things right. You sort of have to fly by the seat of your pants and hope you get it right.

I think Travis was around 12 when this picture was taken. I think he’s looking at my old high school yearbook, thinking his old man could never have been that young.

And here he is a year or so later, right after we moved to Arizona’s White Mountains. By then he was as tall as his dad. Yes, I was bald back then, too, but at least what hair I had and my beard were dark. But I wasn’t quite so “well-rounded” as I am today.

My son and I had some rough years, and for a long time we were estranged. But then he met a lovely lady who brought us back together. At the time, her father was going downhill and she made us both realize that time doesn’t wait. Here is Travis and that lady, his wife Geli, when they visited us a while back.

Don’t let all those tattoos and the beard fool you. He may look rough and tough, but he is one of the gentlest souls you will ever meet. He loves animals, has a passion for gardening and growing things, is an awesome photographer, and still kisses his dad on the cheek when he sees me. Here is a night sky shot of the Milky Way he took the other day and shared with me.

Happy birthday, Travis. If I haven’t told you lately, I love you. And I’m so very proud of you, and proud to be your dad. We look forward to seeing you two later this week.

Thought For The Day – If you didn’t see it with your own eyes, or hear it with your own ears, don’t invent it with your small mind and share it with your big mouth.

Jun 032019

We love finding strange museums in our travels around the country, and we have discovered some real finds as we explore this great land of ours. Here are fifteen of my favorites, in no particular order.

National Mustard Museum; Middleton, Wisconsin – You can learn everything you ever wanted to know, and some things you never thought to ask about mustard, at this fun and quirky museum, which has it’s very own college called, what else, Poupon U!

Spam Museum; Austin, Minnesota – No, not that aggravating e-mail, we’re talking the original Spam, the meat that won World War II. Find out the history of this canned meat product, and the contributions the Hormel Company made to our nation during the war effort.

World’s Smallest Museum; Superior, Arizona – At just 143 square feet, smaller than your average motorhome, this museum has an amazing amount of stuff crammed inside, from Indian pottery to antique cameras to mining artifacts.

National Construction Equipment Museum; Bowling Green, Ohio – Operated by the Historical Construction Equipment Association, this unique museum displays many different types of construction equipment, including cranes, shovels, rollers, scrapers, bulldozers, dump trucks, concrete mixers, drills, and other heavy equipment.

Tow Truck Museum; Chattanooga, Tennessee – At the International Towing Museum you will find a fascinating collection of restored antique wreckers and towing equipment.

Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum; Farmington Hills, Michigan – This fun museum is home to a fun and funky collection of everything mechanical, from historical and modern arcade machines, sideshow wonders and curiosities to carousels, posters, coin operated kiddie rides and much more.

Leila’s Hair Museum; Independence, Missouri – And you thought hair was just for brushing! Leila’s Hair Museum displays over 150 wreaths and more than 2,000 pieces of jewelry containing or made of human hair, dating before 1900.

Marsh’s Free Museum; Long Beach, Washington – You’re guaranteed to have fun here as you see everything from shrunken heads to dinosaur dung, and even a two headed calf! And don’t forget Jake, the Alligator Man!

Mid-America Windmill Museum; Kendallville, Indiana – You will find over 50 historic windmills on display at this interesting small outdoor museum.

Heaton-Bowman-Smith Funeral Museum; St. Joseph, Missouri – The wicker basket that carried the body of Jesse James from his house to the funeral parlor in 1882 is among the unusual collection of funeral industry artifacts displayed at this unique museum.

Music House Museum; Williamsburg, Michigan – This interesting museum near Traverse City is home to the world’s largest collection of mechanical musical devices.

National Bird Dog Museum; Grand Junction, Tennessee – You can see displays of art, photography, and memorabilia reflecting a variety of pointing dog and retriever breeds, hunting, field trial activities, and shooting sports covering more than 100 years of sporting tradition at this small town museum.

National Museum Of Roller Skating; Lincoln, Nebraska – This fun little museum boasts the largest collection of historical roller skates in the world, dating to 1819, along with medals and trophies, photographs, artworks, costumes, and other roller skating memorabilia.

International Rock-a-Billy Hall of Fame and Museum; Jackson, Tennessee – Dedicated to preserving and promoting Rockabilly Music, this museum’s displays recognize the pioneers of Rockabilly music with stage costumes, instruments, and memorabilia.

National Watch and Clock Museum; Columbia, Pennsylvania – You’ll find everything from sundials and ancient Egyptian hourglasses to ultra-modern atomic clocks that can measure time in nanoseconds at this surprisingly interesting museum.

These are just some of the fun and interesting museums waiting to be discovered in every corner of America. Post a comment below and tell me about some of your favorite oddball museums.

Congratulations Barry Simonson, winner of our drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. We had 58 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – I read that by law you have to turn your headlights on if it’s raining in Sweden. How in the world am I supposed to know if it’s raining in Sweden?

Jun 022019

As I wrote in yesterday’s blog, we had planned to stay home on Friday so I could get some writing done and Miss Terry could get back to her latest long-delayed weaving project. But then we ran out to do a couple of errands and the day got away from us. So we didn’t accomplish either of those goals. But yesterday we really did it.

As I usually do, I started the day by answering a bunch of emails about RVing and writing. While I would say that 90% of the emails I get are legitimate questions that any newbie might ask, I’m still amazed at some of the oddball questions I get from people. Here are three examples from yesterday’s mailbag:

“I’m writing a book about a police officer who is in an abandoned building looking for an escaped bank robber. The bad guy jumps on him and they get into a fight during which the officer loses his gun. The criminal has a large knife and attempts to stab the officer with it, but he manages to wrestle it away from him. The big bad guy grabs the cop’s gun, but before he can use it, I have the policeman stabbing him and killing him with his own knife. Would he get in trouble for this, since it’s not an issued weapon? Also, would he have to warn the criminal to drop the gun before he stabs him?” I replied that anybody who has ever been in a real fight to the death knows that you use whatever you can get your hands on to stay alive, and you don’t have time for niceties like warnings or worrying about what the brass will say afterward.

The second email was from someone who wants to try the fulltime RV lifestyle, but he doesn’t have an RV yet and has never even been inside of one. He wondered if there were people like snowbirds who only use their rig a few months out of the year that would be willing to loan it to him so he can get his feet wet. No, I don’t think it’s going to happen.

The third email was probably the best of all. A lady contacted me to tell me that she and her family have been evicted from a mobile home park that has half a dozen RV sites because her dog is aggressive, barks a lot, and lunged at a few people that walked past when it was tied up. She asked me what recourse she had against the owners of the mobile home park, and if I would be willing to take on her case on a contingency basis, getting paid when we collect. No, ma’am, I’ll have to pass because A: I’m not an attorney and B: you have no case. Maybe you should put your efforts into learning how to control your animal, not trying to figure out how to sue somebody.

With all of that out of the way, we had a nice brunch, and about the time we were finishing it my buddy Greg White called from Texas. I had just told Miss Terry that I thought Greg didn’t love me anymore since we usually talk every day or two and I had only heard from him once since he and Jan got back from their month-long European adventure. And I had to call him for that.

Greg swore he’s been busy playing catch up since they got home, both on his rest and all of the chores at work that that had piled up in his absence. Maybe that’s true, but the suspicious part of me thinks he’s found a new fat little author to hang out with and I’m yesterday’s news.

I settled down to writing after the phone call from Greg, first going over the last few chapters I had written and making any corrections I saw that needed to be taken care of. Then I cranked out just shy of 4,000 words by the end of the day.

While I was doing that, Miss Terry was busy weaving, and from what I’ve seen of her latest project, it’s going to be another beautiful one. But aren’t they all?

And just like the day before, it was very hot and we had another short, hard rainfall as a couple of storm cells came through the area. That will be the pattern for the next three or four months. What can you do? It’s Florida in the summertime. It looks like some businesses around here know how to make the best of a bad situation.

Today is your last chance 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 this evening.

Thought For The Day – Are people born with a photographic memory, or is it something they develop?

Jun 012019

In yesterday’s blog I said we would probably spend the day at home writing and weaving. That’s the way I saw it happening when I wrote that, but as it turned out I was lying through my tooth. Except for this blog I didn’t do any writing, Miss Terry did not do any weaving, and we were gone for a big part of the day.

Jessup’s Jewelers in New Smyrna Beach called the first thing in the morning to say that they had repaired Terry’s necklace, which we had dropped off the day before, and it was ready to be picked up. We had a leisurely morning, and after brunch drove into town to pick it up.

My back has really been giving me a lot of problems for the last week, so our first stop was at Coastal Integrative Healthcare for another chiropractic adjustment. In December a doctor gave me some shots in the SI joints in my lower back which helped quite a bit, but at the time he told me the procedure was a Band-Aid to help with the pain, but it was not going to cure my problem. He said within 4 to 6 months I would need to have it done again, and we are right in that timeframe. I have an appointment with him Thursday and will probably get the shots again. He also wants to discuss radiofrequency nerve ablation, an option that should have long-term positive effects. If any of you have had this procedure done, I would be interested to hear your thoughts about it.

When we left the chiropractor’s we went to Jessup’s, which is a pawn shop and jewelry store. It’s not your typical cluttered pawn shop filled with old DVDs and rusty tools, with a grouchy suspicious guy behind the counter. It’s a friendly, well lighted place filled with showcases full of excellent quality new and used jewelry and a lot of very nice guitars and other musical instruments. They also do outstanding jewelry repair, and Terry has had a couple of items repaired there in the past and was quite pleased with the results.

With that behind us, we decided to stop at a couple of antique shops in New Smyrna Beach and do some browsing. We were not looking for anything particular and didn’t find anything we needed to bring home with us, but we had fun anyhow. I think we like antique shops because we are now official antiques ourselves and we can relate to everything that’s in them.

Back home, we decided to drive down to our dock and fishing pier because we hadn’t been down there in a while. It was a hot day, upper 90s, but there was a nice breeze blowing off the water which made it comfortable. Between our own medical issues and taking cousin Beverly to all of her doctor appointments while she was here, we didn’t get any time on the water at all this year. All my pontoon boat and our kayaks have done is collect dust. I really miss paddling and fishing and just being out there. I told Terry I don’t care if I have to crawl down to the water and into my kayak, one way or the other, once it starts to cool back down, I’m out there.

Terry made a delicious meal of chicken schnitzel and German spaetzle noodles for dinner and it really hit the spot. I’m pretty sure that girl could take an old combat boot and a worn-out baseball glove and turn them into something extraordinary. Yes, she’s that good of a cook!

Sometime around 7 o’clock a fast-moving storm came through the area and it rained really hard for about 15 minutes before it moved on out over the ocean. It was long enough to give our yard some much-needed water and to fill the streets.

Today marks the official start of hurricane season, which runs through November. We are keeping our fingers crossed and are hopeful for a quiet season. Our first two years here saw Hurricanes Matthew and Irma come through our area and do quite a bit of damage, and last year Hurricane Michael roared out of the Gulf of Mexico as the first Category 6 hurricane to ever hit the region, destroying a large section of the Panhandle. Scientists say it was the most intense hurricane ever recorded, the strongest to ever hit the United States, and the most expensive and deadly hurricane ever. Let’s hope we don’t have anything like that this year.

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 – What happens to nitrogen when the sun comes up? It becomes daytrogen?


Fat Guy In A Hot Place

 Posted by at 12:22 am  Nick's Blog
May 312019

It’s been in the low to mid-90s for days now, and the humidity has kicked in to add to the discomfort. Florida is not a good place to be a fat man this time of year. But it has convinced me I need to change my ways and clean up my act, because obviously I would have a really rough time in Hell.

At least the weatherman is saying we might start seeing some rain in the next few days. I hope so, because that always cools things down a bit. Of course, when the rain stops and it warms right back up and adds to the sauna affect.

As hot as it has been, we haven’t done much, mostly just staying home in the comfort of the air conditioner, only going out when we have to. That’s okay, because when my cousin Beverly was here with us we were running her to one or two doctors’ appointments every day, which means I haven’t gotten as much writing done as I would have liked to.

I have taken advantage of the time here at home to get some work done, knocking out several thousand words in my new Big Lake book. I am very close to the halfway point and the story is coming together very well.

Miss Terry has been busy with a dozen projects at once, but she’s itching to get back to her looms and get some weaving done. I told her she needs to put all of those other things aside and do what gives her the most pleasure and satisfaction. There are always chores that need done and there always will be. But I believe that time spent on things that bring us happiness and fulfillment are just as important, if not more so.

We did leave the house yesterday because I had an appointment at the eye clinic at the VA Medical Center in Daytona Beach. On the way, we stopped at Space Coast Credit Union to make payments for Terry’s minivan and my Mustang, and then at a jewelry store to drop off Terry’s necklace to have the clasp repaired. It broke the other day while she was kneading some bread dough and she was afraid her opal pendant had gotten lost in the dough. Fortunately, it hadn’t, she found it hanging out on the throw rug in front of the stove.

I always try to go to the VA Medical Center in the afternoons because it’s usually not as busy as it is in the mornings. And now that all the snowbirds have headed back up north, we didn’t have to wait long at all. I have large, oval shaped eyes and whenever I have an eye exam they tell me I am a strong candidate for glaucoma. So they test me every few months just to be sure everything is okay. That’s been going on for over 10 years now and there never has been a problem. But I guess it’s one of those things where it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I actually had two eye appointments scheduled, one for yesterday for a field of vision test and a basic eye exam, and I was supposed to come back on Monday for an appointment with one of the eye doctors so she could examine me and go over the results of the field of vision test. But when I got there yesterday, they asked if I would mind doing all of it at the same time instead of coming back on Monday, due to a scheduling conflict on the doctor’s part. No problem, it’s 30 miles over there and 30 miles back, and if I could wrap it up all at once and not have to make that second trip I’m more than happy to do so. Like every time previously, all of my results were excellent, and they want me to come back in late November to do it all over again.

With that chore out of the way we went to Books-A-Million, which is located at the Volusia Mall, right across the street from the Daytona Beach International Speedway. Even though we both have Kindle Paperwhites, we love bookstores and never miss a chance to wander through one. I didn’t find anything that I couldn’t live without, but Terry found a couple of fiber magazines and a cooking magazine, so it wasn’t a wasted trip.

From there we drove two or three blocks to Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet, one of our favorite Chinese buffets in the entire country. They always have plenty of fresh hot items to choose from and the prices are very good. This trip was no exception, and an hour later we waddled out with smiles on our faces and full tummies.

Driving home, it was close to 6 o’clock when we got to New Smyrna Beach and we decided to drive down on the beach and look at the ocean. No, I wasn’t looking for beautiful women parading around in swimsuits that have less fabric in them than the average Chihuahua’s collar. No really, I wasn’t. It’s not my fault if some of them insist on sauntering by, showing all of that tanned, sweaty flesh. It was a distraction, really. A couple of times I almost dropped my binoculars.

As it turned out, the beach was closed to vehicles because of high tide, so instead we parked at the parking lot near the Flagler Street entrance. That still gave us a nice view of the beach. Of course, it would have been better if that well endowed girl with the long legs in the black thong that wasn’t really any more than butt floss had not kept getting in the way. It was all I could do just to ignore her. No, really, it was!

Back at home we spent some time catching up on email, watched a little bit of television, and then called it a night.

I’m not sure what’s on the agenda for today, probably writing and weaving, and saying a silent prayer of appreciation for the man who invented air-conditioning. I like him almost as much as I do the one who invented thong bikinis. Not that I’d ever notice somebody wearing one, mind you.

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 – A bad day with a bald head is still better than a good day with a man bun.

May 302019

We have been to several Presidential homes and gravesites, and even to President Truman’s Little White House in Key West, Florida. But we especially liked the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I think we found this one so interesting because President Ford took office when we were young adults and we remembered (and lived through) many of the events covered at the museum.

Raised in Grand Rapids, Gerald R. Ford was well known and loved by his constituents, who elected him to the House of Representatives for twenty-five years, from 1949 to 1973. During the fall of the Nixon White House, Ford was chosen to succeed Spiro Agnew, who resigned his role as Vice President in December, 1973. When President Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, Gerald R. Ford became President, giving him the distinction of being the only person to assume the vice-presidency and the presidency without having been elected to either office.

Though not elected by the people, Ford knew he had a responsibility to unite the nation, which was reeling from the Watergate scandal and deeply divided by our involvement in the long and unpopular war in Vietnam. By the time he left office, upon the inauguration of Jimmy Carter in 1977, he had made great strides to accomplish his mission.

The Grand Rapids museum has displays on Ford’s childhood, his wartime service as an officer on an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific, his political career, and his presidency.

Exhibits include a re-creation of the Oval Office as it was during Ford’s time, with many items that decorated the office during his presidency.

A display on Ford’s role in ending the Vietnam War includes the front half of a Huey helicopter, and the actual steps from the American Embassy in Saigon, which hundreds of American military personnel and South Vietnamese climbed to be airlifted off the roof during the fall of Saigon. I still vividly remember scenes of crews pushing helicopters off the decks of ships to make room for more people, and pilots deliberately crashing their choppers into the sea near ships to escape the advancing communist troops.

Many of the decisions President Ford made were controversial, including his pardoning of Richard M. Nixon, as well as his decision to allow those who fled the country to avoid the draft to return home. One exhibit includes medals that Vietnam veterans sent to the president in protest of his decisions. But he truly believed these actions were needed to unify the nation, and looking back from the perspective of over 35 years, I think at least some of us who disagreed with him at that time have mellowed.

One grim reminder of just how dangerous the president’s job can be is the Colt .45 semiautomatic pistol that Charles Manson follower Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme tried to assassinate President Ford with on September 5, 1975.

Gerald R. Ford died on December 26, 2006, at his retirement home in Rancho Mirage, California. His wife, Betty Ford, died on July 8, 2011. The Fords, who were dedicated to each other throughout their married lives, are buried on the grounds of the museum in Grand Rapids.

After spending the day at the museum, I came away with a better understanding of President Ford, and a lot of respect for his integrity and his long service to our nation. It was refreshing to learn more about a man who had the integrity to take unpopular stands to do what he was believed was right.

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is located at 303 Pearl Street NW, in Grand Rapids, and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. The parking lot at the museum is really not suited for large RVs, but there are many RV parks in the area where you can stay and make a day trip to the museum. For more information, call (616) 254-0400.

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 – As I get older I sometimes wonder, if I get senile, how will anybody know the difference?




Q&A For May

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
May 292019

It’s been a while since I’ve run a blog featuring some of the questions I receive and my answers to them. While I try to answer all questions individually, from time to time I find some that are worth sharing here.

Q. The plan was to go to Alaska this summer, and at the last minute my 15-year-old daughter invited her 15-year-old cousin to come along. She’s a nice girl and the two get along very well, but I’m wondering what kind of legalities are involved in taking a young girl who is not our child through Canada. Do you have any idea what we will need to do or have with us when we get to the border?
A. Make sure you have all the proper documentation on hand before you leave home. Here is a link to an article from the Canadian government about the requirements for minors crossing the Canadian border that you might find helpful.

Q. We want to go to the Grand Canyon this summer but are finding that the campgrounds there are already booked full. Somebody said we could boondock near the entrance, but that’s not our thing. Can you recommend a place we might stay within a close enough distance to the canyon that we can go there on a day trip?
A. I would recommend you stay at one of the RV parks in Williams, Arizona and ride the Grand Canyon Railway train up and back. It’s a great trip and the scenery along the way is awesome. Don’t worry about those train robbers that show up sometimes. As outlaws go, they are pretty nice fellows.

Q. My 2010 5th wheel 7 pin connector is at rare times losing connection with the truck connector and was wondering if the electrical spray you had mentioned a while back might remedy this? As such I have forgotten the name of the product.
A. I use Strike Hold on everything from metal to electrical connections with good results. No RV should be without a can or two of it.

Q. A friend of ours recommended we join Passport America and said we could save a bundle on campgrounds. But other people have told us that there are a lot of restrictions and it’s worthless. What do you think of it?
A. We are life members of Passport America. Like anything, it’s a good investment if you use it. A lot of people recoup their small annual membership fee on their first RV trip. Yes, there are restrictions because each campground is individually owned and sets their own rules. These are usually things like not giving the Passport America discount on weekends during their busy season. That makes sense as a business owner. Why would you rent a site for half price when you’ve got people lined up to pay the full rate? Still, if you read the guide and understand what is allowed and work your schedule around it, you can save a lot of money.

Q. We were approached by somebody who works for a company that helps RV owners rent out their rigs when they are not using them. My wife thinks it’s a good idea, and this guy says that we could easily make the payments on our motorhome by renting it out a few weeks a year. But I’m just not comfortable with that and I’m wondering what you think, Nick?
A. I would not let my best friend or my kids use my motorhome, let alone some stranger. RVs are complex machines with complex systems, and simply driving or towing a big RV takes a certain amount of skill that the average renter might not have. If they get in an accident or break something, what recourse do you have? The rental company may say you are covered, but will you really be, without having to hire an attorney? Besides which, your insurance company and the bank or credit union that holds the loan may not approve of you renting the RV. There are too many things that can go wrong for me to ever be comfortable with this.

Q. I have driven trucks for many years, so I am comfortable driving our 36 foot motorhome. But the idea of getting behind the wheel of it scares my wife to death. Experience has taught us that I’m not the right person to teach her anything because I am too impatient. I know there’s an RV driving course or school somewhere, but I don’t know how to contact them. Can you give me any advice?
A. The RV Driving School has been training RVers how to safely drive in their own units for over 25 years and is an excellent resource. They have instructors scattered around the country, contact them and I am sure you will be happy with the results.

Q. We had hoped to be touring the Midwest now, but with all the terrible weather we are having second thoughts. But it’s getting too darned hot to stay in Phoenix. What would be your recommendation for a two or three month summer excursion?
A. My first choice would always be the Pacific Northwest coast. From Brookings in Southern Oregon along US Highway 101 all the way north to the tip of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula you will experience some of the most beautiful scenery known to man. It is absolutely my favorite place to spend the summer.

Q. A guy was telling me about something called a Mapleleaf or Goldleaf or something like that that hooks to a computer so you can keep track of things with your diesel engine while traveling. Do you know what he’s talking about, and is it worth it? And where can I get it?
A. It’s called a Silverleaf engine monitoring system and I found it very useful. Basically, it’s a harness that plugs into a port under your dashboard and is connected to a computer. Software monitors everything from fuel mileage to temperature readings to horsepower, fuel economy, and much more. You can learn more about it at the company’s website and order it from Amazon at this link.

Q. Our new diesel pusher motorhome has an automatic patio awning that is supposed to roll itself up if the wind gets too high, but I don’t completely trust it. Have you ever had one of these, Nick, and did you trust it enough to leave your awning out when you were not home?
A. I have seen too many awnings destroyed by sudden wind gusts that came up and damaged things before an awning could ever roll up automatically. Anytime we weren’t home our patio awnings were always retracted before we left.

Q. We have a very lovable two-year-old pitbull who has the sweetest disposition in the world. We realize these dogs have an unfair stigma attached to them and have been told that when we start fulltiming we might have difficulty at some RV parks that will not allow them. Do you know if this is true or not?
A. Unfortunately, many RV parks as well as apartment complexes and communities with homeowners associations have rules banning certain breeds of dogs, including pit bulls, German shepherds, Dobermans, and others that are deemed aggressive breeds. This is usually because their insurance companies restrict them. We ran into this a few months ago when we acquired a beautiful German Shepherd and then found out that the insurance company for our community would not allow us to keep her. It was heartbreaking, and unfair, but there was nothing we could do about it.

Thought For The Day – I am starting to think I will never be old enough to know better.