Nov 152020
 

Note: This story first appeared in the September-October 2012 issue of the Gypsy Journal.

Is there a kid anywhere who doesn’t know The Cat in the Hat, Yertle the Turtle, the Grinch, Horton the Elephant, or the Lorax?

They all sprang from the mind of Theodor Seuss Geisel, the author, poet, and cartoonist known and loved around the world as Dr. Seuss.

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1904, Geisel had a happy childhood, and the city of Springfield provided inspiration for many of his stories. And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, his first children’s book, is filled with Springfield references, right down to policemen riding red motorcycles, the traditional color of Springfield’s famed Indian Motorcycles.

He attended attend Dartmouth College, where he became editor of the Jack-O-Lantern, Dartmouth’s humor magazine. After graduating from Dartmouth he went to Oxford University in England but soon grew bored with academics and left to explore Europe.

After returning to the United States, Geisel worked as a freelance cartoonist for the Saturday Evening Post, Life, Vanity Fair, and other publications, and spent fifteen years in the advertising department of Standard Oil. A contract to illustrate a children’s book for Viking Press gave him his break into children’s literature, but it wasn’t easy to get established. His first book was rejected 27 times before being published.

By the time he died in 1991, Geisel had written and illustrated 44 children’s books, including such perennial favorites as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Horton Hears a Who!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. His books have been translated into more than fifteen languages and have sold over 200 million copies worldwide.

Springfield, Massachusetts remembers its prolific children’s author with the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, located on the grounds of the Springfield Museums complex.

Sculptor Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, who happens to be Theodor Geisel’s stepdaughter, created a series of wonderful bronze sculptures of Doctor Seuss and his most beloved characters for the garden, including Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat, which features Geisel at his drawing board with the Cat in the Hat at his side.

table

Nearby is The Storyteller, a storytelling chair in front of a ten foot tall book with the text of Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Gertrude McFuzz sits atop the book and the Grinch and his dog, Max, peek around the side.

cover-2

In Horton Court, a fourteen foot Horton the Elephant, Sam-I-Am, Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, and other characters greet visitors.

elephant

An amazingly simple and yet complex Stickwork sculpture called Room by Room, which was created by a local artist weaving together saplings trimmed from trees by the museum staff, sits at the rear of the sculpture garden. It is a combination maze and work of art that kids love exploring.

maze

I think that while it might be possible to arrive at the sculpture garden in a bad mood, it would be impossible not to leave with a smile after spending some time with Doctor Seuss and his lovable, whimsical characters. They speak to the child inside all of us.

There is no charge to visit the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, which is located at 21 Edwards Street in downtown Springfield and is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. Visitors can park for free in the Springfield Museums’ lot on Edwards Street, and additional public parking is available nearby. The streets in downtown Springfield are very congested and not suitable for a large RV, so park at a campground outside of the city and drive your tow vehicle when you visit.

Thought For The Day – Always laugh when you can. It’s the cheapest medicine.

Nov 142020
 

After having such a rough night on Wednesday night, when I couldn’t sleep, Thursday night was much better for both of us. We both woke up feeling refreshed, and my back pain was greatly diminished.

I spent most of yesterday trying to figure out the problem with Dragon NaturallySpeaking and why it suddenly stopped working on my computer. I made some progress in resolving the issues, but not enough. I got a lot of input from some folks on Facebook who know a lot more about these kinds of things than I do. As it turns out, Windows did an update on the night of the 11th, and the problem began on the 12th. Apparently, there was some kind of a conflict in the update.

I was finally able to get Dragon to work with a microphone again, but not the digital recorder. However, I was able to copy the chapter and a half I had recorded for my new Big Lake book before the problem began onto my computer. Then I put the microphone in front of the external speakers on my computer and played the file from the recorder over the computer. It wasn’t great, but it picked up enough that I was able to go in and clean it up and be able to use it. So I didn’t lose all the work I was afraid I had.

That took a good part of my day, along with a couple of calls to Nuance customer support, the company that makes Dragon. They tell me that for $300, I can get the new Professional version, which the guy is pretty sure will work with my digital recorder. Pretty sure. I’m not sure I want to gamble $300 on pretty sure unless it’s a filly at a horse race. I guess I’ll just stick with what I’m doing for now.

Several people have told me that I should just buy a Mac computer and quit worrying about it. No thanks. Been there, done that. Never again! Besides which, Dragon doesn’t work on Macs either, unless you load a Windows version of software onto them. If I’m going to do that, why switch?

Aside from computer woes, there isn’t much new to report. Sometime around 5:30 in the afternoon I heard a loud rumbling and felt a vibration, and realized that I had completely forgotten that there was a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral scheduled. We don’t usually hear the launches themselves, as much as we hear the reentry of the rocket boosters. I went outside and got a couple of good pictures of the rocket’s trail through the sky.

They were supposed to launch another one today, with four astronauts headed to the International Space Station, but it’s been pushed back to Sunday, weather permitting. I will try to remember to get out and take some pictures of it.

Dinner was one of Miss Terry’s delicious chicken pot pies, all made from scratch, and yes, I stuffed myself, and I make no apologies for it. That lady is absolutely the best cook that was ever born.

Several people have invited us to Thanksgiving dinner at different places here in Florida, but we have declined. Until this whole COVID thing is under control, if it ever is, we don’t plan to be around groups of people. Not even our kids. Terry has a turkey breast in the freezer that she will make and we will have a nice quiet dinner at home, just the two of us. I’m looking forward to it.

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

Thought For The Day – Does anyone know if we can take a shower yet, or should we just keep washing our hands?

I’m back

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

I apologize for no blog yesterday. It’s very seldom that I miss posting it, but this was one of those times when it just didn’t happen.

As most of you know, Terry and I are night owls. We usually go to bed somewhere around 1:30 or 2 a.m., but for some reason, about 8 o’clock Thursday night, we both felt like we hit a brick wall. We were sitting in our recliners watching TV and falling asleep, so we decided to take a shower and go to bed. It was 10 o’clock by the time we finished a couple of chores, took our showers, and got in bed. We both fell right to sleep, but 45 minutes later, I was wide awake, my lower back and hips hurting so bad I couldn’t stay in one position. Even taking two extra strength arthritis pain formula pills didn’t take the edge off.

That turned out to be the pattern for the rest of the night. I would toss and turn for a while, drift off to sleep for a few minutes, and wake right back up. I could not find a position that was comfortable. Eventually, sometime around 4 a.m. I got up and went into one of our guest bedrooms, where we have a full size bed that is adjustable, and I was able to raise the head and foot to a position that allowed me to sleep for close to an hour. Then Terry woke up and came looking for me because I wasn’t in bed, so I went back to our bedroom. Sometime around 5:30, I did fall asleep from sheer exhaustion and got in two or three more hours.

Unfortunately, it was pretty much the same way for Terry all night. I know part of that is because I kept her awake. Hopefully, tonight will be better for both of us.

Yesterday wasn’t a great day, either. Not because of the rain, which we got a bit of from Eta, which is either a tropical storm or hurricane, whose status seems to change every half hour or so.

As I’ve said before, I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking software to write my books because I have arthritis in my hands and fingers, and typing is painful and slow. I was working along when suddenly the program decided to crash. When I tried to restart it, all I got was the icon on my screen, and it sat there without opening. After closing it with Task Manager and trying it again, it eventually reopened, but wouldn’t let me do anything.

At one point, I got a message that said I didn’t have a sound card installed on my computer (yes, I do), and at another point,  a message popped up that said there was a compatibility issue with Windows 10. (I have been running Windows 10 all along.) I uninstalled and reinstalled the program four times, and it still won’t work.

This is version 13 of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which is no longer supported. I contacted Customer Support anyway, but their only suggestion is to update to the newer version 15. When I asked if it will work with my digital recorder, all they could say is “I don’t know. You’ll have to try it and see.”

So frustrating. I guess I will have to give up and order the newer version and just hope that it is compatible with my digital recorder.

I actually dictated this blog using the dictate mode in Microsoft Word, and I find it is probably just as accurate as Dragon. Unfortunately, Word won’t work with a digital recorder, and I have found that the recorder is a very good way for me to work, because I can knock out a paragraph or even a chapter sitting in the car while Terry is in the grocery store, or when I am sitting in my recliner.

Because I missed posting a Thursday blog, I’m afraid there won’t be a free drawing this week, but I promise I’ll have one next week.

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

Thought For The Day – It took a long time for me to realize that I am not “Atlas.” The world does not rest on my shoulders.

Veterans Day

 Posted by at 12:25 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 112020
 

Veterans Day
Note: I posted this blog last year on Veterans Day and it’s just as appropriate today.

I want to share some thoughts on veterans and Veterans Day.

My family has a long tradition of military service. At least two great grandfathers that I know of were in the Civil War. Yes, the Civil War. I was born late in my parents’ lives. I know of one grandfather who saw military service, and my father and many of my uncles fought during World War II. One of those uncles never made it back home. My two brothers also spent their time in uniform. I have cousins who served in Vietnam, and several of my nephews spent time in the military. So when I got out of high school, during the Vietnam War, there was no question what my next step would be. I went to the recruiter, raised my right hand, took my oath, and did my time.

Some of my time in the Army was very bad, but a lot of it was very good. I have never regretted the experience, and I know it helped me grow up fast. Maybe even too fast. I am proud of my service to my country, and more than once when somebody has objected to me expressing my opinion on something, which seems to happen more and more these days, I remember that I did things no one should ever have to do to give them the right to disagree with me. But I also know that I earned the right to speak my mind and no one can tell me to shut up, whether I am right or wrong. And there is no question in my mind that I have been wrong more than once. Still, I make no apologies for saying how I feel about something.

I did many things while I was in the military, and the worst of all was a short time when I was assigned to be a funeral escort. My job was to meet a dead soldier’s remains when they arrived at their hometown and to be a liaison between the Army, the funeral home, and the dead hero’s family. I was a 19-year-old kid, and besides being shown how to fold a flag and instructed on how a military funeral was conducted, I was given only three rules. Never say anything bad about the war or the military; never sleep with the dead man’s wife, sister, or other relatives; and never, under any circumstances, allow any family member to look inside a closed coffin if the accompanying paperwork was stamped RNV, which was an abbreviation for Remains Not Viewable.

At every closed coffin funeral I was involved in, the parents or wife wanted to know that it was really him inside that box, hoping against all hope that there had been some terrible mistake made. If they insisted on knowing it was their son or husband, I was supposed to look myself and tell them he looked fine but was discolored because of the shipping time. I was never to tell them what I really saw. Believe me, they did not want to see what I saw, and even today I wish I never had. After a while I cheated and stopped looking. I just couldn’t anymore. It was horrible to have to stand there and lie to them, but it would have been even worse to allow them to look.

I had parents hug me and cry. And I also had them hit me and demand to know why I was still alive and their loved one was dead. How the hell can a 19-year-old kid answer a question like that? I have asked myself the same question a thousand times over the years, and I still don’t know the answer. I only lasted about three months in that job before begging to be reassigned anywhere, even back in the war zone. I just could not do it one more time.

But I can tell you one thing I took away from my time in uniform. If you had to do the things I did back then, if you had to see the things I saw, you would not remain silent when old men who have nothing to lose are quick to send young men and women off to fight and die for causes that only further their own interests, be they political or personal.

Thought For The Day – The most satisfying adult sentence is, “No, I’m not going to do that.”

How About Some Q&A?

 Posted by at 12:20 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 102020
 

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 some here occasionally.

Q. We are watching the news coverage of Hurricane Eta and are really worried about you two. Are you in a safe place, or do you have one to go to if you need it?
A. We appreciate your concern, but we are fine. It’s actually a tropical storm at this point, and it’s on the Southwest side of the state in the Gulf of Mexico, while we are on the Atlantic coast much further north. We’re getting wind and rain, but the forecast doesn’t show it gaining strength and coming across the state to us. We are safe and just enjoying watching the rain coming down.

Q. We are snowbirds who usually go to Yuma for the winter, camping out in the desert in the LTVA for a couple of months. With COVID, we are concerned about traveling. Do you think it’s safe to do that, Nick? We really do not want to spend the winter here in Kansas if we can avoid it. We have a comfortable house here, but we would rather be in our RV with the sun shining on us.
A. I know Rvers who are traveling, but it’s not something I would be comfortable with right now. Once you’re in Arizona and boondocking, you can distance yourself from people. But what happens when you need to go into an RV park on the way to Arizona? Or if you have a breakdown along the way? I wouldn’t do it.

Q. How did you go from owning a newspaper in Grays Harbor (Washington) to a paper in Arizona?
A. I have long connections to Arizona and had lived there a couple of times before. When we left the Pacific Northwest, we returned to Arizona, and after a few years in Tucson, I moved to the White Mountains. I had not planned to go back into the newspaper business, I was looking at buying a retail store. But when I called the newspaper that was already there, which was owned by an out of town company, to ask about advertising, they blew me off. In talking to different business owners in the area, they all complained about how hard the newspaper was to work with and how often they messed up ads and did not make it right. I saw an opportunity to do it better and I took it, opening up a competing paper.

Q. Nick, I know you’re a gun guy, and from what I’ve heard, gun prices are through the roof right now. Is this normal or just a reaction to the election?
A. Every time there’s an election, there’s a big panic and people start hoarding guns and ammunition. A few months from now, when they realize that nobody is going to take their guns away, things will calm down again. I’ve seen this happen every election since the 1970s. It hasn’t changed and probably never will. The companies who make guns and ammunition, and the gun stores who sell them, all love it because they can’t keep up with the demand.

Q. I know this sounds crazy, but is it true that there is a place in Quartzsite, Arizona, where nudists hang out or is it just an urban myth? My husband keeps teasing me that we’re going to go boondock there this winter.
A. Yes, it’s true. They call it the Magic Circle. I don’t know what the turnout will be like this year, but in past years I’ve known quite a few people who went there to be free in the sunshine. I was going to go once, but they took up a petition and were rather demanding that I not show up.

Q. We are headed to Tucson for the winter and want to go to Nogales, Mexico to get some dental work done. Do you know if the border is open for things like that?
A. I’m sorry, I don’t, and I think things could change at any time. I would check locally or at the U.S. Department of State for current information. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/need-passport/us-mexicoborder.html

And finally, with Christmas coming, remember that heavy traffic and crowded stores are not the only things to be aware of when doing your Black Friday shopping. It changed one man’s life forever. Read all about it here.

Thought For The Day – I don’t always go the extra mile, but when I do, it’s because I missed my exit.

Adding To My Resume

 Posted by at 12:36 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 092020
 

I have done quite a few things to earn a buck in my life, and some of them have been a bit bizarre while others have been rather mundane.

I think the shortest job I ever had was about four hours. Right after I got out of the Army a thousand years ago, I got a job at a company in Toledo, Ohio that made conveyor belts. I’m sure things are a lot more automated these days than they were back then, but basically, I stood at what was called a slitter machine, and if we were making 200 foot long conveyor belts, or whatever the number was, I dialed it into a meter and pushed the Start button. When it got to the designated number, a buzzer sounded, and the machine stopped. I pulled a lever to cut the belt, pushed the Start button once more, and did it all over again when the meter hit 200.

It was the most boring four hours of my life. A drunk monkey could have done the job, and I’m sure by now they have replaced the guy who pushed the button and pulled the lever with some kind of automation. Or at least a drunk monkey.

I was wearing one of my Army fatigue shirts, and when another buzzer sounded to say that it was time for lunch, one of my coworkers came over to talk to me. He was a squirrely guy named Joe. I know his name was Joe because he had a label on his shirt that said Joe, a coffee mug that said Joe, and a black lunch pail with Joe stenciled on it in big white letters. Joe said he heard I had just gotten out of the Army, and I told him that was right.

Joe told me that, like me, he had gone to work there 33 years ago, right after he got out of the Army, and he was still there. He proudly told me that he had worked his way up from the slitter machine to forklift driver, and now he spent his days driving it all over the factory. Joe said he liked having that change of scenery all the time. I looked at Joe, and I looked at his name tag and his lunch pail and his coffee mug, and I turned off the slitter machine, walked out to the parking lot, and got in my car and drove away. I never even went back to get paid for my four hours of “labor.”

My longest job, on the other hand, was in the newspaper business. Between publishing small town newspapers on the Pacific Northwest coast and then in Arizona, and after that the Gypsy Journal RV travel newspaper, I spent about 35 years at that gig, and loved every minute of it

But now I have added something new to my resume. Matchmaker. Can you believe that? When we were in Norwalk, Ohio last year, we were having dinner with my cousin Nora Knople and her husband Chris and their daughter Emily. I was teasing Emily about being a young single woman, asking why she wasn’t married yet. Emily had a coworker named Nicholas Judge, who she was kind of interested in, but because they worked together and were friends, she didn’t want to complicate things or mess up that friendship.

I kept urging her to go for it, telling her that being married to your best friend is about the best thing you could ever do, and I was speaking from experience. I may have hinted that Norwalk was a small town, and she probably wasn’t going to do any better than Nick anyway, so she might as well settle. I might have even mentioned that it wasn’t like he would ever cheat on her, because what woman would… never mind.

Anyhow, Emily took my advice, and they did go on a date, and then another date, and yet another date. And yesterday, I got a video call from Emily showing off her brand-new engagement ring. How cool is that?


She told me I should get ordained so I can go up there and perform the wedding ceremony when it happens in, 2022. Can you imagine the circus that would be? I would have to walk out with a shotgun, open with a couple of inappropriate jokes, and then tell Emily that the ring doesn’t go on Nick’s finger, it belongs in his nose. And things would probably go downhill from there. I told them I think that it might be better if I just came and sat in the audience and watched.

Besides, when whoever does officiate, when he or she asks if there is anyone who knows of any reason why these two should not be joined in holy matrimony, I’m going to have a whole list of things to say when I stand up!

Seriously kids (and listen carefully because I am very seldom serious), as I told you when we talked earlier, I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness. I really do.

Congratulations Myrna Jorgensen, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Birdsongs, the first book in my friend Jason Deas’ excellent Benny James mystery series. We had 34 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – All men make mistakes, but married men find out about them sooner.

A New Day

 Posted by at 12:50 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 082020
 

When we turned on the news yesterday morning, we learned that Joe Biden had been officially named President-elect of the United States. I know for many Americans that was wonderful news, and for many others, it was not what they had hoped for. Either way, it’s a new day and a new start for our country. Hopefully, we can all come together and get past the anger and hatred that have been a part of our society for so long.

And how did I spend that first new day? For me, it wasn’t much different than any other recent day. I made corrections to several chapters of my new book that Terry had suggested, then sent those chapters off to my next proofreader, and did some more writing.

During the afternoon, I heard the dinging of the produce wagon bell and went to tell Terry they were stopped outside of our place, waiting for her to go out. I think she is one of their favorite customers, and I know that she sure likes their produce. They come through the park a couple of days a week, and it’s a lot more convenient than going to the grocery store.

Several people have asked if we are in danger from Tropical Storm Eta and if we are making any preparations. At this point, it’s going to go through the Keys and out into the Gulf of Mexico and wander around on the other side of Florida somewhere, but nobody really knows where at this point. We are much further north and on the East Coast, so while we will get some rain and wind, hopefully, that will be about it.

The other day somebody wrote to tell me that they went to the local Barnes & Noble to ask if they stocked any of my books, and they told her no, they usually don’t stock books by independent authors. Then she asked if they could order them for her, and they said no, they don’t do that. She even offered to prepay, but they still said no. So she went home and ordered them from Amazon. She said that even though Barnes & Noble is a nationwide chain, she still prefers to shop locally because the people that work in the store live in her community. But since they don’t want her business unless she’s ordering books for a traditional publisher, I guess that money will go out of town. It makes no difference to me either way because I still got two sales out of the deal. But whatever happened to taking care of your customers?

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Birdsongs, the first book in my friend Jason Deas’ excellent Benny James mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name 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 – Did you ever meet someone for the first time and want to buy them a toaster for their bathtub?

Nov 072020
 

With more than 5,000 surface acres, Lake Crescent, on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula, is a body of deep blue water that has always been popular with campers, fishermen, and boaters. The lake’s water is exceptionally clear, caused by a lack of nitrogen, which inhibits the growth of algae.

Before highways were built in the area in the early 1920s, Lake Crescent was used as a route from Port Townsend into the northwestern part of the Olympic Peninsula, and ferries and steamboats were used to transport passengers and freight. Several lodges and campgrounds at the lake welcome visitors from around the world. But the lake’s beauty can also be mysterious and deadly.

Way back on July 3, 1929, a local couple named Russell and Blanch Warren disappeared while driving near the lake. Blanch Warren had just been released from the hospital in Port Angeles, and the couple was on their way home to a logging camp on the Bogachiel River near Forks. Earlier in the day, they had purchased a new washing machine and loaded it into their 1927 Chevrolet.

They never arrived home, and speculation at the time was that the Warrens had missed a curve on the winding road around the lake and drowned. The only clues searchers could find were a cap identified as Russell’s and a visor from a Chevrolet.

The Warrens left behind two sons, Charles, who was 11 at the time, and Frank, who was 13. Both have since died. Ironically, Charles Warren drowned in 1964 in a fishing accident off the California coast, and his body was never recovered. In another eerie twist, Blanch Warren’s father, John Francis “Frank” Rhone, had also vanished in the summer of 1905, at the age of 34, never to be seen or heard from again.

Years after the Warrens disappeared, local historian Bob Caso brought the long forgotten mystery to light, and in 2002, a team of volunteers using high tech underwater search equipment located the Warrens’ car at a depth of over 170 feet below the surface of the lake, about four miles west of Barnes Point, near Milepost 223 on U.S. Highway 101. They reported that the car was resting on its left side and tilting downward on a steep slope, and was remarkably intact.

No human remains were recovered, but family members said that they were comforted just knowing the young couple’s fate. “Blanch and Russell Warren have been resting here comfortably in the lake for the last 72 years, and I almost feel like we’re disturbing them by going down there. This is a gravesite, a special place,” Park Ranger Dan Pontbriand told a Seattle television station at the time the car was found.

Another deadly story associated with Lake Crescent started in 1940 when the body of a woman named Hallie Latham Illingworth, of nearby Port Angeles, popped to the surface. Mrs. Illingworth had gone missing shortly before Christmas, in 1937.

Suspicion had immediately fallen on her husband Monty, a known womanizer who was reported to have abused his wife in the past. Police had responded to the couple’s home for domestic violence complaints, and coworkers recalled that Hallie Illingworth sometimes showed up for work with noticeable bruises and black eyes. Monty told everyone his wife had left him and moved away, and with no body or other evidence to back up their suspicions, police could not do anything.

Hallie’s body had been hogtied and wrapped in blankets, and an autopsy revealed that she had been strangled. To add an even more bizarre twist to the story, newspapers reported that instead of decomposing in the lake’s cold, highly mineralized deep water, the woman’s body had undergone a strange chemical transformation known as saponification and turned into a soap-like substance. She was identified through a dental plate, and the police immediately began searching for her husband.

He was located in Long Beach, California and extradited back to Washington, where he was tried for Hallie’s murder. It took a jury just four hours to convict him, and he was sentenced to life in prison. After just nine years, Monty Illingworth was paroled in 1951. He returned to southern California, where he died in Los Alamitos in 1974.

Driving past Lake Crescent on U.S. Highway 101, with its many twists and turns as it hugs the shoreline, one cannot help but wonder what other mysteries might still be hidden beneath all of that beautiful blue water, just waiting to be discovered.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Birdsongs, the first book in my friend Jason Deas’ excellent Benny James mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name 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 – Me: “Alexa what’s the weather this weekend?” Alexa: “It doesn’t matter, you’re not going anywhere.”

We Share Everything

 Posted by at 12:42 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 062020
 

I have said many times that Terry and I are best friends, and we have a wonderful marriage. We have so many things in common – we like the same kind of music, we enjoy many of the same things, from traveling and kayaking and flying kites to collecting antiques. We like reading, we both prefer getting together with one or two couples as opposed to large parties, we’d rather enjoy a quiet evening at home than going out and partying, and so much more.

Of course, there are some differences, too. Terry loves veggies and I am a meat and potatoes man. She has to have her morning coffee while I prefer milk. I am more outgoing while she is shy around strangers. And I pushed the envelope some in my misspent youth, doing things like jumping out of perfectly good airplanes and participating in a stock car race. I only did that once, but I won and retired a winner.

If she wanted to go skydiving or racing a car, I would encourage her to do so. But just because I got shot a long, long time ago, I really didn’t think she should do that, too. But apparently, she disagreed, because she did.

In January of 2009, we were visiting with our friends Mike and Pam Steffan in Salt Flat, Texas. We lost Mike, who was a well known RV writer and seminar speaker a few years later. But at the time, they had a good sized chunk of land out in the middle of nowhere, about 70 miles east of El Paso.  Mike had put in a little shooting range on the property made of a dirt berm reinforced with tires buried in the dirt as a bullet stop.

One afternoon during our stay, we were target shooting, and Terry was trying out one of Mike’s .40 semi-automatic pistols. On one of her shots, the bullet nicked the steel target, ricocheted off one of the tires, and came back and hit her in the upper thigh. It had lost most of its velocity by then and didn’t go through her blue jeans or penetrate the skin, but it left an ugly welt and a big bruise.

Fortunately, she was not seriously injured. It just left her with a goose egg and a very sore leg. It was one of those freak accidents that happen, and we were very thankful it was not worse. Mike picked up the spent bullet, which had landed at Terry’s feet, and gave it to her as a souvenir.

I told Terry that in the previous couple of months she had been bitten by a tarpon in the Florida Keys, got dunked in the water in Aransas Pass, Texas, and now shot in the leg. And I’m supposed to be the clumsy one! I told her I didn’t think her mom would let her play with me anymore.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Birdsongs, the first book in my friend Jason Deas’ excellent Benny James mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – My favorite childhood memory was building sandcastles with my grandpa, until my mom hid the urn.

Will It Ever End?

 Posted by at 12:57 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 052020
 

I think most of America has spent the last two days on pins and needles, wondering what was going to happen on Election Day and then how the final count would come out. As of midnight last night, it was still up in the air, although Joe Biden had a commanding lead. But as they say, it ain’t over until it’s over. Someone said it feels like the country is in an episode of the Murray Povich show, trying to find out who the father is. I think there’s some truth to that.

I was back at it yesterday, first making a lot of corrections to several chapters of my new Big Lake book that have been proofed. Then I cranked out another 6,800 words and printed them for Terry to edit and proofread.

I’ll be back at it, doing the same thing again today.

I know Terry is going to be pulled in two directions at once because she wants to help me get the first round of editing and proofreading done so I can send it off to the next two proofreaders. But at the same time, I know she’s itching to get busy on her new weaving project. The other day I showed you the warp she had wound up for it, and here it is with the yarn laid out on the loom, almost ready to begin the process of threading it through all the heddles, and the bottom picture is with the warp spread out to ease that process. I just don’t know how she does that. Every time I see it, I am amazed.

If that wasn’t enough, she also made petite tender steaks and new red potatoes, and veggies for Terry for dinner. I don’t even have to tell you it was delicious. You know it was, right?

Unlike our friends on the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast, who have been hammered by a series of hurricanes this summer, we have made it through most of hurricane season without any problems so far, not even a really bad storm. Now they’re talking about Eta coming across Cuba and picking up steam and impacting southern Florida. As far north as we are, I don’t think we’ll get much more than some rain here. That’s just fine with me. With COVID numbers climbing every day, we don’t want to have to evacuate anyplace and expose ourselves to any more danger than we have to.

It’s Thursday and that means it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Birdsongs, the first book in my friend Jason Deas’ excellent Benny James mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name 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 – Remember all those times when you wished the weekend would last forever? Well, wish granted. Happy now?

You Named It What?

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 042020
 

Note: I spent too much time watching the election results last night and didn’t have enough left in me to write a new blog. So here is a repost of a fun one from November of 2014.

In every issue of the Gypsy Journal I always included some of the funny signs we saw in our travels or that our readers shared with us. We were constantly amazed at some of the business names we saw, but sometimes even towns have names that leave you scratching your head and wondering what they were thinking when they named it that.

For example, Hooker, Oklahoma.

Welcome to Hooker

And yes, their high school football team is called the Horny Toads. Is this really the best way to deal with teenage hormones gone wild?

hooker oklahoma

Growing up in Hooker, I wonder if the kids hang out in Hickey Park?

Hickey Park 2I guess if they get carried away, somebody could always call the police.

Climax Police

Just don’t call these guys until I finish my lunch, okay?

Sandwich Police

Make me mad and I’ll send the Flippin cops after you!

Flippin Police 

I think an eight year old boy named this place.

Boogertown

Yes, in the winter, Hell really does freeze over!

hell_froze_sign

I’m pretty sure I do know what they were thinking when they named this place.

Titty Ho

We’ve been to Blue Ball and Intercourse, Pennsylvania, but for the most memorable town name, you have to go to Newfoundland.

Dildo

Thought For The Day – I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them. – Mark Twain

Today’s The Day

 Posted by at 12:43 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 032020
 

Well, the big day is finally here. Election Day. In all of my 68 years, I have never seen a more contentious election than this one. Have you? Between politics and the pandemic, I have seen friendships and family relationships destroyed and rifts created that may never be overcome.

Whatever your politics are, or who your candidate of choice is, if you have not voted yet, I hope you get out today and do your civic duty. A lot of people fought and died to give you this right. Do not let their sacrifices be in vain. Go exercise it.

Yesterday the temperature was down in the mid-70s and it was beautiful outside, except for the fact that the wind was really blowing. The weatherman reported sustained winds in the 30 to 35 miles per hour range for a while and gusts close to 50 miles per hour. We are supposed to have more wind for the rest of the week, along with milder temperatures than we have been experiencing for months. And we are less than a month away from the end of this year’s hurricane season!

I spent yesterday writing, knocking out another 5,500 words in my new Big Lake mystery novel, as well as sending the corrected chapters off to my second proofreader.

While I was doing that, Terry was putting together a new warp, which is a series of threads that will go onto her loom for a project she is going to start soon.

It’s hard to see in this picture, but these are hundreds of individuals threads, all arranged in a certain pattern. Next up will be to tie them onto the loom and then thread them through the eyelets of hundreds of heddles. Then she will tie those threads through the other side of the loom and let the fun begin!

Besides setting up the warp, Terry made a delicious deep-dish pizza for dinner. She is her own worst critic and wasn’t entirely pleased with the homemade sauce, but I told her she could make it every day for a week, and I’d never get tired of it. Yes, it was that good.

We already dropped our ballots off at the early voting box, so except for running to the post office to mail out a book and to Walgreens to pick up a couple of prescriptions, today will be just like yesterday. A mellow day at home.

Terry and I were just talking the other night about how lucky we are that if we have to be isolated someplace, it sure is nice to be doing it together since we are best friends. It doesn’t get any better than that!

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

Thought For The Day – You think it’s bad now? In 20 years, our country will be run by people home-schooled by day drinkers!

Nov 022020
 

You know that filter we’re all supposed to have that keeps us from saying what we’re really thinking sometimes? Yeah, well, I don’t have one of those. Not having that filter comes in handy when you’re a small-town newspaper publisher and you aren’t afraid of stepping on toes. Of course, it makes you some enemies along the way, but it also makes you some friends, too.

In one of the small towns where I published a newspaper in northern Arizona’s White Mountains, in addition to the Mayor and Town Council members, who were elected officials, there was also a City Manager, who was a “professional” tasked with running the everyday operations of the town. This self-important gentleman and I did not get along for a myriad of reasons, the big one being that I called him out several times when he tried to do things that were not within his authority, such as interfering with the police department’s disciplining of an officer who had broken several rules.

At one point during a Town Council meeting, he said something along the lines of, “I don’t know what Nick Russell’s deal is, but he seems to think I have a problem running this town, and I’d like to see him come up with a solution.” You just know I couldn’t pass that up, don’t you? In the next issue of the paper, I quoted him and then replied that we all knew what his problem was and that I was pretty sure of the solution, too. I suggested a large bran muffin and two cups of strong black coffee every morning would clear it up. For some reason, he liked me even less after that.

Not long after that, I was in the local bakery one morning getting a blueberry donut to start my day when I overheard three older ladies sitting at a table talking. One of them had that week’s edition of the paper in front of her and said, “I don’t know who this Nick Russell guy is, but someday I’d like to give him a piece of my mind!” I couldn’t resist. I walked over, pulled up a chair and sat at their table and said, “Good morning, ladies. I’m Nick Russell,” with a big smile on my face. All three of them sat there, mouths hanging open for a moment, and then one of them got up and went to the counter and came back and handed me a bran muffin. Touché.

In the same county there was a good old boy network at work, and if you were a member of the predominant religion for that area, you could get away with darn near anything from a zoning violation to a felony. Meanwhile, someone else who did the same thing or requested the same services from the county, got completely different treatment. I wrote about this inequity many times. At one point, a county official who was a known womanizer, and of whom it was common knowledge that slipping him an envelope with a few bills in it could help your case if you had something going on, said, “I don’t know why Nick Russell keeps harping on me. Can’t he see my hands are tied?” My reply in the next editorial, after quoting him, was that I couldn’t see his hands because one was up a secretary’s skirt and the other was in the cookie jar. For some reason, he didn’t like me very much, either.

One of my advertisers was a bar. Every week when I went in to renew their advertisement, a guy in an army field jacket or fatigue shirt, depending on the time of year, was always sitting at the bar crying in his beer about how much the world sucked. I was there one day waiting for the owner to write me a check, and this same loser, what I call a professional veteran, said, “You were in Nam, too, Nick. You know what I’m talking about. Nobody cares.” I told him I did know what he was talking about, and that I felt sorry for him. He perked up at that, then I added, “I feel sorry that you were a truck driver in a rear echelon position, but that was the most significant thing that ever happened in your life, and it was 25 years ago.”

Another time, I was out refilling some of our newspaper racks when an old man approached me at the front of the store and asked, “Are you Nick Russell, the guy who writes this paper?” I told him I was, and he said, “I want to shake your hand,” and he did. Then, he said, “I think you’re a brave young man, saying the things you do in the paper.” I thanked him for the compliment, and he said, “Yeah, I think you’re very brave. I also think you’re one dumb sumbitch. But you got the gonads to say what you think.” Then he nodded his head at me and turned and walked away.

The least he could have done was buy me a bran muffin.

Congratulations Lynn S Beman, winner of our drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. We had 41 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – Revenge sounds so mean. That’s why I prefer to call it “Returning the favor.”

Down And Dirty

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 012020
 

Right on schedule, the truck from Edgewater Yard Shop arrived at 1:30 yesterday afternoon with two yards of fill dirt that we needed to replace what was lost when we took out the big dead tree and the parasitic Palmetto that was surrounding it.

I originally thought that we would need about 1½ yards, and when I described the area we had to fill, 18′ x 16′ and maybe 3 inches deep, the lady at the Yard Shop suggested three yards, so we compromise and ordered two yards, and that was just about perfect.

It was a pretty good day, 83°, and the humidity was 54%. Not as nice as the 73° we had the day before, but better than the upper 80s and 90s we have been experiencing.

Using a shovel and a rake, it took Terry and me about half an hour to spread and level the dirt. Then we walked over the area, tamping it down as best we could with our feet.

After that, I turned on a hose with a sprinkler and let it run for an hour and a half to help it settle some more. I will water it down again today, or maybe on Monday, and see how it goes from there.

Even though I was wearing a back brace, by the time we got done, I was feeling glad to get inside and sit for a bit.

The plan for today is to pretty much what do we do every day. Putter around the house, get some writing done and make the corrections Terry suggests. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

On another topic, here is some good news for veterans. Starting in November, all honorably discharged military veterans will be admitted free to National Parks, National Historic Sites, and such that charge an entry fee. If the fee is charged by the carload, any family member in the car with the vet is also admitted free. You can find out more at this link.

Today is your last chance to enter Free Drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, 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 – One of the hardest pills I had to learn to swallow was that I meant nothing to people who meant a lot to me.

Cool Is Cool

 Posted by at 12:27 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 312020
 

After endless months of hot, humid weather, a cold front came through Central Florida yesterday and dropped the temperature down into the mid-70s. Boy, were we glad to see that!

Terry and I had doctors’ appointments in New Smyrna Beach in the early afternoon, and when we finished up with that we drove a mile or two to the beach for some vitamin sea. It was a beautiful day, with a gentle breeze blowing, and not a cloud in the sky.

Here in Volusia County, you can drive on the beach, which makes it very nice. We found a spot and backed in, facing the water.

There were not a lot of people out because it was kind of breezy and cool, but after all the hot weather we have had for so many months, as far as I’m concerned, cool is cool.

A kayak and a paddleboard were pulled out of the water, and a couple of fellows were standing in the surf fishing. One of them caught something, but we were too far away to see what it was.

Only a few people ventured out into the water like this woman, and none of them stayed in for very long before coming back to shore and finding a towel to wrap up in.

Yes, Florida has heat, humidity, bugs, alligators, and hurricanes. But it also has days like this, and to me, that’s a pretty darned good trade-off!

I’m glad for the cold front for another reason. We are having some fill dirt delivered today to replace what was lost when we had the big tree taken out of our yard last week. It will make things a lot easier as we spread it out in preparation for the citrus trees we have coming in a week or so.

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 campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – My high school was so small that we had to use the same car for drivers education and sex education.

Morro Bay

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 302020
 

Note: This is a repost of a blog from our 2010 travels as fulltime RVers.

Terry and I did a lot of exploring along the central coast yesterday, but rather than post one super long blog, I’ll break it up into two or three shorter blogs over the next few days, since the weather is turning colder here, and we probably won’t be out playing as much.

One of our favorite places in the world is Morro Bay, California. I first discovered this charming little town back in the mid-1970s, and I said then that if it wasn’t in California, I’d move there. Even with the state’s drawbacks (flakey politics, taxes, over-population), I’ve still seriously considered it a time or two. When Miss Terry and I got married I brought her to Morro Bay for our honeymoon, and she was just as taken by the place as I was. I think Terry said it best yesterday when she said her soul is at peace here.

The town takes its name from its famous landmark, Morro Rock, a 576-foot high volcanic plug that stands at the entrance to the harbor. Morro Rock was named by Spanish adventurer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, when he explored the coast during the 16th Century.

Morro Rock best 4

Morro Bay is a working fishing village, and you can watch commercial fishing boats unloading their catches at the docks along the Embarcadero every day. The town is also a tourist destination, with dozens of shops and restaurants lining the waterfront and extending up the hill from the harbor.

Morro Bay fishing boats

In spite of the current cold snap we are experiencing, overall Morro Bay has mild weather all year long. Terry and I commented yesterday that we had better weather during our honeymoon, which was in January, than during this late June visit.

Besides shopping and dining, you can book a charter fishing trip, take a whale-watching expedition, a boat tour of the harbor, or rent a kayak and explore on your own.

Morro Bay tour boat

Morro Bay boat tour

Terry and I wandered up and down the waterfront, poking our heads into the shops, admiring some of the crafts on sale, and watching harbor seals swimming along and bobbing their heads out of the water.

Nick Terry Morro Bay

Now, while Morro Bay has not changed much over time, I do have to say that I noticed one major difference. I used to love to go to Crills II Bakery for their cinnamon rolls, and sitting at one of the outdoor tables along the waterfront, eating one and watching harbor life go by, was always a treat. But, after all these years of eating the wonderful cinnamon rolls that Miss Terry makes, Crills just didn’t hold up yesterday. That lady has spoiled me in more than a few ways!

It was a weird day yesterday – for much of the day a heavy cloud cover obscured parts of Morro Rock, then it would suddenly clear up for a while to give us a nice view, and then just as quickly the shroud would drop back down.

After a while, it became a little too cold to be comfortable on the waterfront. We visited a few RV parks in Morro Bay, dropping off bundles of sample copies of the Gypsy Journal, and then we drove up the coast to check out some other places.

We returned to Morro Bay for dinner at The Galley, an upscale seafood restaurant with a wall of large windows overlooking the bay and Morro Rock. Terry had the sautéed scallops, while I chose the fried prawns. Both were good, but the place is out of our price range for frequent visits, and we’ve had better meals for less money.

When we got back to the Elks lodge campground in Oceano, we discovered that a small Class C had arrived and was parked on the other side of us from the RV that came in the day before. Our new neighbors have a couple of young boys with them, and at 10:30 p.m. they were still outside making a lot of noise. I don’t think we’ve ever had any neighbors with kids at an Elks lodge before. We don’t mind kids; heck, we used to be kids ourselves once. But now we’ve become grouchy old farts, and we’re not thrilled with people who allow their kids or pets to disturb others.

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 campground reviews, 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 – By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he’s too old to go anywhere.

18 Years? Wow!

 Posted by at 12:22 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 292020
 

Eighteen years ago today we were at the Escapees RV Club’s Raccoon Valley Campground, just north of Knoxville, Tennessee, when my daughter Tiffany, back in Arizona, went into labor with her first child.

We didn’t have a cell phone and it was during the evening, and the only pay telephone available was in the campground’s laundry room, and Miss Terry taking the phone to reassure Tiffany that she could in fact deliver this child. I remember standing there feeding coins into it and getting updates every half hour or so. And then, when the phone rang in her room at the hospital on one call, someone picked it up and I heard a baby crying. My first grandchild! My knees went weak and my eyes filled with tears of joy.

That little baby girl, Hailey Nicole, has grown into a beautiful, sassy, independent young woman who I am very proud of. Wherever the road of life takes you, Hailey, stick to your ideals and keep focused on your goals. I know you can do it. I love you!

Last night Tiffany told me that it blows her mind that she couldn’t keep a houseplant alive, but she did a human being. And that her daughter still likes her. Now that’s an accomplishment!

Tiffany also said she can’t believe she has a daughter that old. I told her to try being me. My daughter has gray hair! I guess raising a girl to eighteen will do that to you.

I spent most of yesterday making corrections to chapters I have already written in the new book and doing some research on a couple of issues that I wasn’t too sure about. As it turned out, I was half right, which also means, of course, that I was half wrong. I’ve got to go back and rewrite part of one chapter but it shouldn’t take me too long.

Aside from that, there’s not a lot going on, just writing, waiting for it to cool down enough that we can get our kayaks in the water, and staying away from other people. Life under COVID.

And finally, 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.

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 campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – I have discovered that answering the door naked discourages trick or treaters. Oh look, here come two dressed as policemen!

Fog, Weed, And Rain

 Posted by at 12:26 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 282020
 

We were out running errands much of yesterday and I ran out of time, so here is my blog post from five years ago today. Hard to imagine that weather when it is 90 degrees here on the central Florida coast.

Yesterday was a long day on the road for us, 262 miles, from Sutherlin, Oregon to Redding, California. We’ve done more miles in a day many times, but this trip was mountain driving most of the way and that’s always more like work for me.

It was a foggy morning and as these pictures show, clouds and fog were hanging low over the mountains for much of our trip through southern Oregon on Interstate 5.

Foggy Oregon small

Foggy Oregon 2 small

Occasionally when we broke into the clear the scenery was great.

Autumn bridge small

Pastoral valley small

It probably would have been spectacular a couple of weeks ago, but a lot of the leaves have already turned on the hillsides and were now mostly brown.

Oregon scenery 2 small

Oregon scenery small

I’m not sure there was a straight, level mile of highway on our whole trip yesterday. It was all either uphill, downhill, or curvy, and usually two out of three.

Curvy I5 small

Eventually we crossed the California state line but the only thing that really changed was that the speed limit for vehicles towing anything dropped to 55 mph. Otherwise, it was the same curves, the same climbs, and the same descents.

Mount Shasta was hiding her top in a thick shroud of clouds.

Mount Shasta small

We stopped in Weed for a little while, a town that always gets a chuckle when we travel through here.

Weed sign

Who knew that Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory likes Weed too?

Weed Sheldon

It started raining about the time we got back on the highway, just to add to the fun. We crossed a long bridge over Shasta Lake and were amazed at how far down the water level is from previous trips through this area.

Shasta Lake small

There are two or three Passport America campgrounds in Redding, and we had planned to stop at one of them for the night. But it turned out one was several miles off the highway, which isn’t worth it for a quick overnight stay, and when Miss Terry called the other two to see if they had any openings, all she got was voicemail at both places. She left our number and told them we were looking for a site for the night, but neither of them called us back.

But as we were going through Redding we spotted a sign for the Win River Casino, and when Terry called them they told her that they have lots of room for RVs to dry camp free in their truck parking area, or 13 pull-through 30/50 amp full hookup RV sites for $26.40 a night, including tax. Not the cheapest camping around, but not bad either.

We had a scare when we got off the interstate and were driving to the casino when some fool on a three-wheel bicycle crossed from the side of the road across the bicycle lane and almost into the side of our motorhome. All the while he was looking back over his shoulder in the other direction and I don’t think he even had a clue how close he came to getting wiped out.

When we arrived at the casino a friendly shuttle driver named Andy met us, directed us into a site, and then drove us over to the casino to pay for it. By that time we were pretty hungry, so we went to one of the restaurants in the casino and got a bite to eat. We also got their free players cards, which got us a discount on dinner as well as $10 each in free slot play. I won $18.50, which helped offset the cost of our campsite. How cool is that?

Thought For The Day – Life is sexually transmitted.

Mixed Reactions

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 272020
 

When I asked in yesterday’s blog if I should continue to post stories from our previous travels when I don’t have something else to write about, the reaction was mixed. Some readers said that they didn’t really care about the travel stories because they had hung up the keys or else they had already been there and done that. But the majority seem to enjoy them and said that even if they have read the stories before or been to those places, they still like seeing them again.

So I guess I will slip one in every now and then when I don’t have anything else to talk about. Or when I’m busy and don’t have time to write a full blog and decide to recycle an old one. Yes, I really am that lazy.

In my last marathon writing session of over 6,300 words, the story went off on a tangent, which sometimes happens. Usually, I can weave wherever it’s going on back into the current story, but not always. Sometimes I go too far off into the ether and lose my way back. That was the case this time around, and before I realized it, I had two chapters that really didn’t fit in the book.

However, I felt like they were pretty good, and they would work well in a future Big Lake project, so yesterday I cut them out and saved them for another time. Then I wrote two more chapters to fill in the gap. I didn’t add any more to the word count in the process, so I’m right back where I started.

Speaking of books, my friend Patrick O’Donnell is a retired cop with over twenty years of experience under his belt with one of the largest police departments in the country. Patrick has been bitten by the writing bug, and last year he released Cops and Writers: From The Academy To The Street. It is an excellent reference for crime writers that explains the steps necessary to become a police officer, the training involved, and what it is like for new recruits when they graduate and begin working under a Field Training Officer.

Now Patrick, who started the excellent Cops and Writers Facebook group, has the second book in the series out, Cops And Writers: Crime Scenes And Investigations. As the title suggests, this book focuses on how police handle crime scenes, from misdemeanor assaults to major felonies, along with insights into the working lives of police officers, information on the weapons and equipment cops use, and personal accounts of some of the things Patrick encountered during his time protecting and serving his community. You can bet my copy of Patrick’s new book is on its way to me, and every mystery or crime writer should get one. But you don’t have to be an author to appreciate these books. They are an excellent way for civilians to get an idea of what the men and women of law enforcement experience every day.

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

Thought For The Day – The fact that my entire body cracks like a glowstick whenever I move and yet refuses to actually glow is very disappointing to me.