Mind Your Manners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picking Up Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shaving The Mango

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life Is A Crapshoot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Q&A Of 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 072020
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 062020
 

I goofed in yesterday’s blog when I said that the police car on the cover of Return to Dog’s Run was a 1960 Ford. Blog reader Dave Davis corrected me on that, telling me he thought it was a 1963, and he was right. I should have known better, because back in my high school days I owned a ’63 Ford, among other cars.

That wasn’t because I was rich. I was darned sure at the other end of the economic scale. Back in those days you could buy cars from the early 60s back through the late 40s for anywhere from $25 to $100. They were not show cars by any means. Some were beaters, but others were in pretty good shape. All my life I’ve been a bit of a hustler, buying and selling cars, motorcycles, guns when I was an adult, or whatever else caught my eye.

I always had some kind of gig going on, whether it was mowing grass, having a big newspaper route, and later on working in gas stations and things like that. I would save up some money, buy a car or motorcycle, play with it for a while, then sell it for usually more than I paid for it, and buy something else. One time my dad got ticked off at me because he had one car and I had three. But I was always a great son; once when his car was in the shop for repairs, I let him use one of mine. Yeah, I’m that kind of guy.

I’ve owned all kind of cars, but I always seem to gravitate toward Fords. My first was a 1949 Ford, followed by a 1955 Ford Victoria, then a series of 1959 Fords. I don’t know why I had so many of them, but I had at least one of every body style made that year – a two-door, a four-door, a convertible, and a station wagon. I also had a 1960 Galaxy and a 1963 Fairlane.

But I wasn’t exclusive to Fords, I had a 1948 Oldsmobile, a 1961 Chevy Bel Air, and a massive boat of a 1963 Pontiac Catalina convertible. Not to mention two or three motorcycles along the way. And all this while I was in high school! There used to be a comedian on the old Hee Haw TV show named Junior Samples, who was a car salesman. Tell the truth, if you were around in those days, did you ever call BR-549? I know I did. Anyway, every time that skit came on TV, my dad used to say that was going to be me someday.

In other news, in yesterday’s blog I said I hoped to get between 3,000 and 5,000 more words done in my new book. But as it turned out, I actually knocked out a little over 8,000 words. I stayed at it pretty much nonstop until about 5:30, when our friend Jim Lewis showed up to help us work our way through a delicious meal of shrimp and grits, with bacon bits. Miss Terry has never cooked a bad meal, or even a mediocre one, but this time around she went above and beyond. It was amazing!

It was cold here yesterday and it’s going to be cold again today. One of my neighbors said that there were something like 30 or 40 manatee in the canal a couple of blocks from our house in our little community. As soon as it gets cold, they come in there and huddle up and stay throughout most of the winter. If I feel energetic enough I may bundle up and go down and see if I can get some pictures of them. Or maybe I’ll just stay here at home where it’s nice and warm and keep on writing.

Congratulations Mike Knight, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of Big Lake Blizzard, the fourth book in my Big Lake mystery series. This copy has the original cover, before I commissioned Elizabeth Mackey to design all of my book covers. We had 107 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – When I see lovers’ initials carved into a tree trunk, I can’t help wondering why so many people bring knives on dates.

Jan 052020
 

As a former newspaperman and an independent book author and self-publisher, I hate typos. But I’ve also been at this game long enough to know that they are a part of life, and no matter how carefully you watch for them, they slip in. I have at least three or four proofreaders for every book I put out, and these are people who really know their stuff. But still, with just about every book, at least one typo makes its way through.

And it’s not just me. I’ve seen typos in magazines, big city newspapers, and in books published by the big publishing houses. You will also see them on TV from time to time. For example, this news report last night said the wind here in the New Smyrna Beach area was 265 miles per hour. Wow, we didn’t feel a thing here!

After seeing my post about the 1960 Ford in yesterday’s blog, somebody pointed out that I also had a 1960 Ford police car on the front cover of my book Return to Dog’s Run. Is it an omen? Should I get started on that garage expansion project?

In other news, I guess winter is headed our way. It’s been in the upper 70s and low 80s for several days now, but starting today it’s going to be down in the low 60s. I don’t care, I’ll be doing the same thing I have been doing; working on my new book. I knocked out another 3,000 words yesterday, and if all goes well I’ll get somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 more in today. I really want to get this book done because then I can start on another book. And when that one is done, I’ll start on a third book, and then I’ll… well, you get it.

But all of that depends on whether we get another 265 mile-per-hour day. If that happens, I hope it blows me to some nice tropical island where I can sit on the beach and write while looking at all of the pretty girls in their skimpy’s playing volleyball. Of course, with my luck, the wind will blow the other direction and I’ll wind up in Mission, Texas watching all the Q-tips with their white hair and white shoes doing the Winter Texan crab crawl with their walkers through Walmart.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an autographed copy of Big Lake Blizzard, the fourth book in my Big Lake mystery series. This copy has the original cover, before I commissioned Elizabeth Mackey to design all of my book covers. 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 – Superman could have become a doctor, using his x-ray vision to detect life threatening tumors. But no, we really needed another journalist.

Jan 042020
 

After driving my Mustang to Daytona Beach a few days ago and some running around I did yesterday in it, it now has 840 miles on the odometer. So I was a little distressed to find rust on one of the bolts that holds the driver’s side door hinge to the car.

It lives in the garage, and even though we’re close to the Intercoastal Waterway, neither Terry’s van, which we bought in October of 2017, nor my pontoon boat, which has been in the salt water, have any rust on them.

So yesterday I took it back to Mullinax Ford, where I bought it, and showed it to Jack Tuthill, the salesman who handled the transaction. Jack is a great guy, not pushy at all, and really believes in taking care of the customer both before and after the sale. He took a picture of the hinge and went in and talked to the service department and got me scheduled to bring it in on Thursday to take care of the problem. It’s a minor thing, but there’s a reason they call rust cancer. Once it starts, you need to get rid of it as fast as possible.

While I was at the dealership, I looked at new Ford Explorers. Our trusty old 2005 Explorer has 141,000 miles on the odometer, not counting another 80,000 miles or more that it was towed behind our motorhome. It still runs great and it’s our daily driver, but if I ever did replace it, I thought I would buy a new Explorer. That’s not going to happen anytime soon, but because Sheriff Jim Weber in my Big Lake mystery novels drives a newer Explorer, I just wanted to get a feel for what they are like. Did you know the Ford Explorer is the number one selling police car in America these days?

Jack is not a pushy salesman at all, which is why bought my Mustang from him in the first place. I mentioned that I didn’t really like the body design of the new Explorers, preferring the more squared back-end of the one I have. That’s when he showed me the new Ford Expedition. Now that’s an amazing vehicle! If we would have looked at those before we bought Terry’s Chrysler Pacifica, we might have gone that route instead.

But what really grabbed me at Mullinax yesterday was this 1960 Ford Galaxy. I had a car exactly like that when I was in high school, even the same color, and I think the interiors were the same. The only difference was that mine was the old three on the tree standard shift, and this one is an automatic. It’s been in the same family forever and a photo album on the front seat included the original sales paperwork, owner’s manual, and receipts for work done on it over the years. It’s not show room perfect, but it’s very nice. Being an old car guy, I kind of keep up with prices, and this one is a heck of a deal.

I took a couple pictures of it and sent them to Miss Terry and told her I really needed that car. I didn’t even hint that our 22nd wedding anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks, but she merely wrote back and said “then you should have it.” I do love that woman of mine. But then she took the wind out of my sails when she asked what was going to come out of the garage to make room for that car. Well, I know it’s not going to be my Mustang or my pontoon boat, and I’m just as sure that it’s not going to be her van. Honey, we’re gonna need a bigger garage!

Over 90 people have entered our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Blizzard, the fourth book in my Big Lake mystery series. This copy has the original cover, before I commissioned Elizabeth Mackey to design all of my book covers. 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 got my father’s weak chin, receding hairline, and big ears. It was the strangest will reading I have ever attended.

Jan 032020
 

Here’s another tale from the Nick Happens file, a collection of true stories about my adventures and misadventures over the years.

We all know you can save a lot of money by doing your own vehicle maintenance and simple repairs. I even suggest it in my book The Frugal RVer. The problem is that there is so darned little I am qualified to do! When it comes to mechanical things, I am a complete idiot.

Here is an example: Back during our fulltime RVing days we were hanging out in Lake City, Florida one winter when the battery in our Toyota Tacoma started to fail and I needed to get it replaced. The local Wally World did not have the right size in stock. They install new batteries free if you purchase them there, but I figured “How hard can that be? You take off the hold down clamp, loosen the battery cables, pull the old battery out and replace it with the new one, then clamp it down, and hook up the cables, right?”

Actually, I did not think all of that. Miss Terry explained the process to me. I was all for jump starting the pickup every time I needed to go somewhere until Walmart got a new shipment of batteries in.

So off we went like a herd of turtles to a nearby auto parts store and bought a new battery. I swapped it out with the old one right there in the parking lot of Auto Zone and it seemed easy enough. I took the old battery back into the store to collect the core charge and was ready to hit the road. Back in the truck, I turned the key and nothing happened. The truck would not turn over, no idiot lights came on, it was as dead as dead can be! I got out, checked all of my connections, got back in the truck and turned the key. Still nothing.

Back inside the store I go to tell them they sold me a dead battery. The manager came outside, took one look, and started chuckling, then said “Give me your crescent wrench.” He removed the negative battery cable, pulled off the black plastic cover that comes on the posts to keep anyone from accidentally shorting them out, replaced the cable and it worked fine! Some of us are just too dumb to do things for ourselves, and at this stage in my life, I don’t think I’ll learn anytime soon.

I should have just let Miss Terry do it right in the first place. She’s the talented one in our household, I’m just the eye candy. I tell you, my life as a boy toy isn’t always easy!

In less than 24 hours 60 people have already entered our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Blizzard, the fourth book in my Big Lake mystery series. This copy has the original cover, before I commissioned Elizabeth Mackey to design all of my book covers. 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 car with a roof rack behind me looked like a police car so I slowed down, only to realize I had been tricked into obeying the law for no reason.