Jun 252022
 

While watching a documentary on the Civil War a few days ago, there was mention of an act during that bloody conflict that shows us that no matter how cruel and inhumane war is, there can also be amazing acts of sympathy and love for one’s fellow man.

The small town of Fredericksburg, Virginia was witness to terrible suffering during the war when Union and Confederate troops clashed there not once but twice. Much of the town was destroyed on December 11-15, 1862, when Union troops of the Army of the Potomac, commanded by General Ambrose Burnside, attacked the town in an attempt to drive out Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

To achieve their goal, the northern troops first had to cross the Rappahannock River. One obstacle that lay in their way was Marye’s Heights, a ridge just west of the town that was fortified by enemy soldiers and artillery.

Wave after wave of blue-coated soldiers charged up the hill and were mowed down by enemy fire. One person who saw the battlefield shortly after the fighting ended described it as nothing less than butchery as thousands of Union troops were slaughtered as they tried to take the hill.

As night fell, the sound of wounded and dying men crying out in agony could be heard through the darkness, setting nerves on edge on both sides of the battle lines. It became too much for Confederate Sergeant Richard R. Kirkland from Kershaw County, South Carolina. Gathering up canteens from the men around him, he filled with them with water and left the safety of the stone wall he and his men had been sheltered behind during the fighting. Dozens of Union rifles were pointed at him, enraged bluecoats thinking he was scavenging what he could from the dead and dying. But then they realized something else was going on. Something incredible.

Risking his life, the brave young sergeant went from one wounded enemy soldier to another, giving them sips of water and whatever comfort he could. Sergeant Kirkland made repeated trips out onto the battlefield to aid men that had been trying to kill him just hours before, while soldiers from both sides looked on in awe. Amazed at his courage and compassion, the shooting stopped to allow him to complete his mission of mercy. When he finally finished and crossed back over the Confederate line, soldiers and officers on both sides cheered him.

By the time General Burnside realized that continued attacks were futile and withdrew his troops, the Union soldiers had suffered 12,653 casualties killed and wounded, while Confederate losses were 5,377.

A second Battle of Fredericksburg was fought in and around the town on May 3, 1863. Even today, several homes and businesses in the town show the effects of the fighting, and more than one still has cannon balls embedded in its walls.

Today a memorial on the old battlefield honors Sergeant Kirkland, the Angel of Marye’s Heights, for his outstanding acts of courage and compassion.

In a perfect world, one might think that the valiant young rebel soldier survived the war and went home to enjoy a good life. But in a perfect world we wouldn’t have wars, would we? Less than a year later, Sergeant Kirkland was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga. He was just one month past his 20th birthday when a Yankee musket ball tore through his chest. It was reported that his last words to his comrades were, “I’m done for. Save yourselves and tell my Pa I died right.” His remains were brought home to Kershaw County, and he was buried in the Old Quaker Cemetery in Camden.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Luminous: The Story of a Radium Girl by Samantha Wilcoxson. It’s a novel about Catherine Donohue, who worked at Radium Dial in Ottawa, Illinois, and the secret lurking in the greenish-grey paint the company used that magically made things glow in the dark.

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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – My neighbors complained about me moaning too loud while having sex in the morning. If they only knew that I’m just trying to put my socks on.

Making New Friends

 Posted by at 12:58 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 242022
 

One of the great things about taking road trips as we did recently is being able to make new friends along the way, whether they are someone I know online or somebody I meet along the way. Many of those folks are authors, which is always a treat. While we were in Arizona, I got together with Mike Leonard and Scott MacKenzie, two authors from the Phoenix area that I had met online. It was fun to sit down with them in person and talk about writing and self-publishing.

A couple of weeks later, when we were in Alabama on our return trip from out west, Miss Terry and I had lunch with TW Robinson and his beautiful wife Amy. We were really looking forward to that.

TW is a retired cop and the author of an excellent book called The Retirement, about a group of police officers getting together to toast a coworker who has left the department. Anybody who has spent time around cops would recognize many of the stories they swap at a table in their favorite watering hole, because whether you’re a big city officer or work in a small town or a rural county, so many of the experiences are a universal part of police work. Reading about their adventures and misadventures together, I could have been sitting with any group of cops I’ve known over the years. I really enjoyed the book, but the ending made me sit up and go, “Wait, what?” I didn’t see that coming!

TW is also an ardent supporter of new authors and not a man who suffers fools lightly. It did not take long after he immersed himself in the self-publishing business to realize that there are probably more crooks out there trying to separate an author from his money than all the hoodlums he crossed paths with in his long career in police work. Growing frustrated with all of the scam artists who contact authors every day with promises of great riches, he put together a quick and easy guide to self-publishing that every new author should read, whether they’re going to do things themselves or go the traditional route and try to find an agent and publisher. How To Self-Publish Your Book For Free And Not Get Conned tells you how you can write and self-publish your own book while avoiding the pitfalls of those who will promise you the world and deliver nothing except an empty bank account if you believe their lies.

Amy works for the newspaper in Tuscaloosa, so with their backgrounds and ours, we had a lot in common and a lot to talk about. While I spent much of my life publishing small town newspapers, and then Terry and I published the Gypsy Journal RV travel newspaper for 18 years while we wandered around the country in a motorhome, the industry is changing dramatically every day. It was interesting to hear Amy’s perspective on how things are evolving.

I think we all expected it to be just a quick lunch, but we clicked so well together that we wound up sitting in the restaurant for several hours talking, and none of us realized how much time had gone by. We are definitely going to get together with them again when we go back to Alabama to see our son and his wife. Meanwhile, do yourself a favor and check out The Retirement, and if you have ever thought about writing a book, be sure to read How To Self-Publish Your Book For Free And Not Get Conned, too.

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.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Luminous: The Story of a Radium Girl by Samantha Wilcoxson. It’s a novel about Catherine Donohue, who worked at Radium Dial in Ottawa, Illinois, and the secret lurking in the greenish-grey paint the company used that magically made things glow in the dark.

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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – You know you’re in trouble when the voices in your head tell you it’s time to sit down for an intervention.

A Day With My Girl

 Posted by at 12:41 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 232022
 

We started yesterday with a phone call from our son Travis, wishing Terry a happy birthday. They chatted for a little bit, and then we got ready to head into Holly Hill, a northern suburb of Daytona Beach. As I wrote in yesterday’s blog, we had an appointment at Global Mobile Detailing to have them put a coating on the new windshield we just got installed in the Laramie. This is the company that put the ceramic coating on the pickup truck and my Mustang, and along with the ceramic coating, they include a glass treatment that makes the rain bead off and makes it a lot easier to get bugs off the windshield. It only took a few minutes to get it applied, and we really appreciate their continued excellent service.

Since we didn’t have anything else on our agenda, we stopped at a couple of gun shops and pawn shops to see if they had anything we couldn’t live without. Back in the days when I was working hard trying to keep a business afloat and raising a family, I could walk through a gun shop and find a hundred things I wanted to buy if I only had the money. These days I have the money and not nearly as many obligations, and it’s surprising that I very seldom see anything I want to take home with me.

We did stop at one pawn shop that had just taken in a huge collection of very high-quality used firearms from an estate. They did have some goodies I would not have minded making room for in the safe, but they weren’t priced yet, and when they are, I’m sure they will be more than I’m willing to spend. The lady working there was joking with Terry that someday when I’m gone, she should give her a call, and they’ll make her a deal on my guns, too. Hey ladies, did you even notice that I’m in the room?

When Travis called later in the day, he wanted to know why it was Terry’s birthday, but I was taking her to gun shops. Well, because she likes guns, too, son. He should know by now that she’s never been a girly girl.

We also stopped at Books-A-Million and browsed for a little bit but didn’t see anything there that caught our eyes, either. Well, darn, sometimes it’s hard to find something to buy a lady for her birthday when she doesn’t want anything.

At least I knew she wanted to eat by then, so we went to Red Lobster for Terry’s birthday dinner. The food and service were great, as always, and we had a nice time chatting about our lives together while we ate. Even if you didn’t factor in the million and one other things that are wonderful about this lady, how could a guy not fall in love with that smile? I do, all over again, every time I see her.

After a stop at Home Depot for some plumbing parts to fix a leaky toilet valve, we headed back home. I had not had a chance to wash the truck since we came home from our trip, so before pulling into the garage, I used a garden hose to wash it down and used a miracle cloth to rub off the stickiest of the bugs that had been on there for many miles. Thanks to the ceramic coating, they came right off with little effort.

We ended the day with a call from daughter Tiffany wishing Terry happy birthday, then sitting in our recliners watching television until it was time to write the blog. The perfect way to end a great day with my girl.

Terry wants me to thank all of you who sent birthday messages, blog comments, and Facebook comments. She read them all, and they touched her heart.

I’ll say it one more time. Happy Birthday, Terry. I love you very much.

One final note – several readers have asked how my back is doing now after my RF nerve ablations on Monday. That evening and night were very uncomfortable, much more so than when I had the same procedures done previously. But by Tuesday morning, I was feeling much better. There was really no pain at all. As I write this just after midnight on Thursday morning, even after a day on the go like we had, then coming back and washing the truck, I feel good and have no complaints at all. Here’s hoping it stays that way.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Luminous: The Story of a Radium Girl by Samantha Wilcoxson. It’s a novel about Catherine Donohue, who worked at Radium Dial in Ottawa, Illinois, and the secret lurking in the greenish-grey paint the company used that magically made things glow in the dark.

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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – A calm house equals a calm heart, which equals a calm life.

A Very Special Day

 Posted by at 1:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 222022
 

Today is a very special day because it is Miss Terry’s birthday. My beautiful wife is not someone who likes to have a fuss made over her or to be the center of attention, and she says it’s no big deal, but I know she’s wrong. It is a big deal, at least to me. How many times a year does the love of my life have a birthday?

It wasn’t something either of us was looking for, and it took us both by surprise. But what a wonderful surprise it was! As I’ve shared with you before, we were in our mid-40s and had been casual friends and business acquaintances for many years before romance ever entered the picture.

I have said many times that I wish we would have found each other when we were much younger and raised a family together, but Terry always reminds me that we were very different people back then, and who we are today is a result of all the things we experienced before we met, as well as the things we’ve shared together, so who knows how that would have worked out?

Terry is a hard woman to shop for because there is not much she wants. She’s not into jewelry or fancy handbags or shoes and things like that. I don’t think we could possibly cram another skein of yarn into her loom room, at least not until she gets one of her big Glimakra looms sold. So what do you give to the lady who wants nothing? It beats me. I’m at a loss.

She would rather go fishing than to a theater, and she likes power tools more than shiny baubles.

We have to go back to Global Mobile Detailing in Holly Hill today, the company that put the ceramic coating on our pickup truck and my Mustang. As I wrote the other day, we had to have the windshield in the truck replaced so we’re going to have them put the coating on the new windshield. It makes it so much easier to drive in the rain because it doesn’t stick to the glass, and cleaning bugs off of it is a breeze.

When we are done there, I’m going to try to entice Terry into looking around some antique shops or something like that to see if there isn’t something that possibly catches her eye. Wish me luck on that!

Happy birthday Terry. I love you so very much! Every morning when I wake up and see you smiling at me and the first words we say to each other are “I love you,” I know I’m the one that got the best gift in the world.

Thought For The Day – There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.

Jun 212022
 

Two years ago yesterday, when I had the first RF ablations done on the nerves in my left lower back, it was almost instant relief that lasted until recently. I went from using two canes to walk and taking pain meds daily to no canes, no pain meds, and was back out on my kayak in a few weeks. Back then, the doctor told me I was lucky because it often takes four weeks or more before a patient begins to feel the effects.

This time, the doctor decided to do ablation procedures on both sides of the lower back, one last Monday and the other yesterday. He was right, I was lucky to get such quick relief after the first procedure. This time around, I hadn’t felt any relief at all from the ablations done a week ago, and when I went back yesterday to have the other side done, it was much more uncomfortable than either of the previous times. I’m hoping it was worth the effort, because right now I am really feeling it. Hopefully, by tomorrow it won’t be so bad. Meanwhile, I am very grateful for pain meds and medical marijuana gummies.

We took a roundabout way home through DeLand because I wanted to check out a place called AAA Guns and Pawn. Somebody told me they have a ton of interesting firearms, both antique and new, and lots of other goodies, too. Whoever told me that was right, because they have over 8,000 guns in stock. Everything from cap and ball Civil War era revolvers to the most modern shooting irons the factories are turning out these days.

Along with guns and accessories, they also have other pawn shop type inventory, including jewelry, tools, sporting goods, and some interesting antiques. I tried to buy Miss Terry a new opal ring since tomorrow is her birthday, but there was nothing there that caught her eye. We will definitely be going back again. There’s no way to see everything in that place in one visit!

Closer to home we stopped at Stavros Pizza in New Smyrna Beach for dinner. On Mondays and Wednesdays, all large pizzas are half price plus $1, and they are excellent. On the way home from there, we went through the drive-through at Walgreens to pick up a prescription for pain meds.

Back at home, there was a large box of books for me from Amazon. I ordered them to replace some of the books I gave to libraries and bookstores and such along our recent trip as samples.

I also had an e-mail from my pal Judy Rinehimer with the first seven chapters of my new John Lee Quarrels book, Pucker Factor, proofread with corrections suggested. I will make them and then send those chapters off to Roberta for another round of proofreading while I start working on some more.

Neither of us had slept well the night before, so we were both worn out and didn’t get much accomplished except for catching up I’m some e-mail and then watching a little bit of television before bedtime. Today’s a new day, and hopefully one with much less pain.

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 – As your friend, I will always pick you up when you fall. Of course, I’ll probably be laughing so hard that I’ll drop you as I do it.

Jun 202022
 

I like most critters, though I will admit, some more than others. I like dogs. Real dogs, not those yappy little barking rats that so many people seem to think are dogs. If it weighs less than 25 pounds, it’s not a dog, it’s an annoyance.

I will admit that I don’t really like cats. Although I’ve known a couple of nice ones in my life, but for the most part, cats are jerks. They have aloof I’m better than you personalities, and they don’t really give a damn if you are there or not as long as you keep them fed with the kind of food they demand and leave them alone unless they want to be touched. The rest of the time, they look at you like you’re something the cat drug in. Get it, cat drug in? 😊 I don’t need that kind of rejection in my life. If I wanted to be treated that way, I’d still be married to my first wife.

I guess it comes down to the fact that I’m too insecure to be a cat owner. When you come home, even if all you’ve done is walk out to the mailbox, your dog is so excited to see you that it jumps up and down, rolls on its back, and piddles on the floor. A cat looks at you with a you again? expression and walks away.

Tropical fish are okay. I’ve had several large aquariums in my life and really enjoyed them. Well, I enjoyed setting them all up and picking out the individual fish that would live there, and then sitting back with a smile and looking at the little aquatic world I have created. That lasts about 15 minutes or so, and then I get bored. From then on, it’s just clean the tank, feed the damn things, and flush them down the toilet when the time comes. But in the meantime, fish are still better than cats because once in a while they will swim to the front of the glass and look out at you without sneering.

My kids have snakes and iguanas, or some such creatures, but they aren’t pets. Nothing reptilian has ever been a pet. I believe I’ve eaten both species during the jungle survival training course I went through in the Army. I didn’t even like them then.

Our granddaughter Hailey loves her horse, Six, and they are a great barrel racing team. That’s all well and good for her, but I don’t ride anything I can’t put gas in.

Two or three times over the years, I have decided that having a parrot would be cool. I was wrong. Trust me, it’s not. They are loud, they make a mess all over the place, and they’re damn near as arrogant as cats are. Plus, they live forever. I’m too old for that kind of commitment. These days I don’t even buy green bananas. So that’s about as far as I go with birds.

Except for chickens. I have a fondness for chickens. My preference is fried, although barbecued and baked are fine, too. And let’s not forget Miss Terry’s delicious chicken pot pie. But when it comes to roosters, all bets are off. Anything that wakes up that early in the morning making noise is not my friend.

When we were visiting our son Travis and his wife Geli at their new house in Alabama recently, we got to meet a couple of dogs that came with the place. They also have a beehive, a hen, and a rooster. The rooster’s days are numbered.

I believe he’s a Rhode Island Red, but I could be wrong. All I know is that he is noisy as hell and crows from about 4 AM until sometime in the evening when it starts to get dark. He is also very aggressive, as I understand roosters can be. He has chased Geli around the yard a couple of times, and Travis keeps telling her she has to throw her arms out from her sides and make herself look big and ominous so the rooster knows who is boss. Apparently the rooster never got the memo about how that works.

I get it. He was there before I was, and roosters crow. But really? 4 AM? And it doesn’t help that one of the dogs joins in with the rooster every morning, howling in serenade. Don’t they understand that fat old men need their rest?

One morning while we were there, I got fed up with all the noise, and I went outside to show that damn rooster who was boss. I threw my arms out to my sides and yelled at it and took a step forward, expecting it to turn and run away like it was supposed to.

Apparently the rooster didn’t get the memo about that either, because instead of fleeing, it went on the attack, coming right at me with its wings spread, cussing at me in rooster language. Then it raked my leg with one of its spurs. That hurt like hell! But worse than the physical pain was the damage to my ego and my trust in those members of the canine persuasion that I suffered when the dog bit me on the ass!

Travis insists that the dog got scared when I grabbed a lawn chair and tried to put it between myself and the rooster, so it just reacted. No, it didn’t. Those two were plotting against me from the moment I pulled into the driveway.

Being the big-hearted big guy that I am, I’m gonna give the dog a pass. Maybe it really did react to all the commotion and was really on my side and was just trying to get to the rooster, and I happened to be in the middle. Kind of a friendly fire type of thing. I spent enough time in the Army to understand that happens. But that rooster needs to die!

Our son is a gentle soul who always tries to see the best in any creature, so when I offered to shoot the rooster to protect Geli in the future, he told me no. In fact, he accused me of just wanting revenge. Can you believe that?

Of course, his story about how the whole thing happened is quite different. According to him, the rooster was minding its own business when I came outside and attacked it, and it was only acting in self-defense. He also really wishes he had made a video of it because he could send it to that TV show and make $10,000. Where’s the loyalty? I may disown him soon and write him out of the will.

Because it’s Travis’ house and he is the king of his own little domain and I’m just a visitor, Miss Terry says I can’t shoot the rooster. Maybe not, but I can tell you one thing. The next time we visit my kid, I’m going to take a bucket of KFC with me and eat it on the back porch, just to show that nasty critter what I’m capable of.

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.

Congratulations Stevi Hackenbruch, winner of our drawing for my two-book Highway History and Back Road Mystery series, featuring oddball little stories we picked up in our travels across America as fulltime RVers, both books personally autographed to the winner. We had 120 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Firearms And Fools

 Posted by at 1:10 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 192022
 

Having been a firearms instructor in the military and in civilian life, and a lifelong gun owner, gun safety is always at the top of my mind anytime anyone is handling a weapon. So even though Terry and I both checked three times to make sure it was unloaded, and she was positioned off to the side, pointing a doubled barrel shotgun in my wife’s general direction (not at her) for the cover photo image of my next John Lee Quarrels book was not a comfortable thing to do. But the photo and cover did come out very well. Somebody asked me later why we didn’t use a camera on a tripod and a timer, and I honestly never thought of it.

Now I just have to get the darn book finished. Distraction from my back issues and then our month-long trip really disrupted my writing schedule. Normally I put out anywhere from four to six new books a year. This will be only my second book for the year, and this time around I will have to really get my butt in gear to manage four new releases. I am hoping Pucker Factor will be available by the end of July.

Somebody asked me where I came up with the title for this book. Anybody who has had a gun pointed at them, or worse yet, been shot at with one, knows the feeling very well.

Now that we’ve covered firearms let’s talk about fools. I get a lot of oddball questions from readers about RVing, my books, and self-publishing, and I know I may seem rude when I share the over-the-top requests I get from time to time, but there are times I just have to say something.

Someone I don’t know and have never heard of sent me a message the other day wanting me to review and plug her book in the blog and on Facebook. I get these requests every week, and unfortunately, I just don’t have the time to accommodate everybody. But this one stood out because she offered to send me a free copy of her book to review. All I have to do is pay the cost of shipping. So let me get this straight. We don’t know each other, we have never interacted in any way, and you want me to pay money to give you free publicity? Thanks, but no thanks.

Yesterday I may have gotten the strangest question yet. Somebody is going to be traveling to Alaska and will be stopping at several places along the way in Canada. He asked if I knew where he could get Canadian money here in the US because he heard it is hard to find up there. Huh? Really?

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.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for my two-book Highway History and Back Road Mystery series, featuring oddball little stories we picked up in our travels across America as fulltime RVers, both books personally autographed to the winner.

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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I have lived long enough to know that sometimes the things that sweep you off your feet leave a nasty head wound.

Jun 182022
 

Some of you may recall that in a blog post during our trip out west, I reported that just as we were leaving El Paso, Texas, to cross into New Mexico, a small stone flew up and chipped the windshield in our Laramie pickup. I had planned to get it fixed while we were in the Phoenix area visiting Terry’s parents and sisters, but we were so busy that I never got around to it. When we went up to Show Low to be with our daughter Tiffany and her family, son-in-law Kenny recommended a mobile repair place, but it being the Memorial Day weekend, scheduling was a problem.

So we decided to wait and get it taken care of when we got home. As it turned out, on our last day in Show Low, another rock hit the upper right corner of the windshield and cracked it. Before we could even blink, that crack became several cracks and start spreading.

A couple of days ago, I called Safelite Auto Glass and they scheduled a repair tech to come to the house yesterday between noon and 5 PM. Right at noon the tech, a very nice young man named Christopher, called to say he was on his way and would be here within about 25 minutes. True to his word, he was here right on time and put the new windshield on a cart, ready to install.

I asked if I could hang around and watch so I would have blog fodder, and Christopher had no problem with that. It didn’t take him long to take out the broken windshield and attach a couple of big suction cups to the side glass of the truck to hold the new windshield in place during installation.

Miss Terry ran a commercial glass shop for many years, doing everything from storefronts to auto glass, and she is the first to admit that the business has changed a lot since she hung up her tools. Back then, it only took her a few minutes to swap out a windshield, even on a big snow plow truck. But these days windshields aren’t just windshields. They have built-in sensors for everything from the windshield wipers during rain and mist to emergency stop features for accident avoidance and headlight dimmers for oncoming traffic. This plastic gizmo on the new windshield is part of that system, and then it attaches to receivers mounted above the windshield inside the truck’s cab.

In no time at all Christopher had the old windshield out and the new one installed. But it’s not quite that simple these days. Using a tablet computer, he had to recalibrate all of those sensors in the windshield, then take the truck for a short drive to make sure everything was working right. Apparently it was because he was back soon and said we were all ready to go.

Thanks for a quick, excellent job, Christopher. I’ll make it a point of telling your office what a great job you did and how professional you were while you were here.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is both books in my Highway History and Back Road Mystery series, featuring oddball little stories we picked up in our travels across America as fulltime RVers, both books personally autographed to the winner.

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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Babies recognize their mother’s voice in the womb so they can selectively block it out when they become teenagers.

Q&A

 Posted by at 12:13 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 172022
 

I’m back with more questions from blog readers about RVing, my writing activities, 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. Before you and Miss Terry left on your trip, you were working on a new book. Have you had a chance to released it, or have I missed the announcement of the release? I really enjoy all of your books.

A. I am still working on Pucker Factor, my next John Lee book. We took a month off to spend time with our family scattered around the country. I hope to have it out sometime toward the end of July.

Q. We are seriously considering selling our RV three months into our new fulltiming life due to the crazy gas prices. Are we panicking and jumping the gun? Do you think they will ever come down to a reasonable level again?

A. In my book Meandering Down The Highway, which is about our transition into the fulltime RV lifestyle back in 1999 and our first year on the road, I noted that gas prices had risen to over $1 a gallon and wondered if we had made a mistake deciding to live in an RV. Fuel prices continued to rise, but the many adventures we had, the wonderful people we met, the places we saw, and the things we got to do over the next 18+ years of our lives were much more precious than the price of a gallon of gas, no matter what it cost.

Q. Reading about the pain from your tailbone during your trip out west and back makes me wonder why you didn’t just fly?

A. Terry and I have done a lot of flying in our lives, and while the actual flying doesn’t bother us, the hassles of waiting in line at airports have always been a turnoff. Also, we enjoy being able to turn off on a side road to explore something that catches our interest along the way. However, that being said, we did talk about maybe flying on our next trip to Arizona just for the time savings.

Q. Why can’t I enter your contest just because I live in Canada? That seems like discrimination to me and I’m not happy about it.

A. I am sorry you feel that way, but as stated with every drawing announcement, because of the high cost of shipping printed books, and Amazon restrictions on sending e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Q. I was disappointed to read about you buying marijuana while in Arizona. Don’t you think that sets a bad example for your readers?

A. To be clear, I did not buy marijuana. I bought gummies and salve that contain THC, an ingredient in marijuana that has proven to be very good at helping deal with pain, just like the medical marijuana products sold at legal dispensaries here in Florida and many other states. I have never used marijuana or any other drug to get high, including alcohol. But I wonder if you tell your friends who drink that they are setting a bad example too?

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. I feel this way every time I am on time for a medical appointment and then have to wait an hour or more longer to get in.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is both books in my Highway History and Back Road Mystery series, featuring oddball little stories we picked up in our travels across America as fulltime RVers, both books personally autographed to the winner.

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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I need to teach my facial expressions how to use their indoor voice.

Sanford And Son

 Posted by at 1:08 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 162022
 

Anybody who ever watched the old 1970s television sitcom Sanford and Son, starring comedian Redd Foxx, would have experienced a sense of déjà vu if they had been with us when our daughter Tiffany and her husband Kenny took us to visit Lamell Lewis at his place just outside of our old hometown of Show Low, Arizona.

Lamell, who says he is getting a bit long in the tooth these days, is a third-generation picker. Back when we lived in that part of the world, Miss Terry bought a lot of antiques and goodies from both him and his father. He recently put out the word that he is getting ready to retire, and pickers, antique collectors, and treasure hunters from throughout the region have been coming to his place looking for things they just can’t live without.

What a collection of junk and goodies there was to sort through! Do you need some old tractor seats to make into bar stools, or maybe some old steel wheels to mark the end of your driveway? There were plenty to choose from.

Need a windmill or windmill parts? Lamell had those, too.

Be the first kid on your block to have one of these, whatever the heck it is.

Tiffany told me he had a bunch of old road and business signs, and I’ve been wanting some to hang up in our garage.

There were plenty to choose from and I came home with several.

When son-in-law Kenny found an electric pedestrian sign, I was wondering how I was going to get it away from him because he’s a really big guy, and I’m too old to get my butt whooped by a giant. Fortunately, Kenny found two of them, so we each got one.

Terry also got two small cast iron skillets, an antique oil lamp chimney, an old Mason jar with a glass top, a box of old white buttons for a sewing project yet to be determined, an antique glass pie plate, an antique metal basket for gathering eggs for our son Travis, as well as an antique glass and metal chick feeder for his critters. There were probably some other little things I have forgotten, but the prices were so good we couldn’t resist. We could have easily filled two or three pickup trucks with bargains, but then how would we get them all the way back to Florida?

Lamell also has several small buildings filled with more antiques, all kinds of lumber reclaimed from buildings being torn down throughout the area, wood molding, mirrors, and lots of tools, everything from wrenches and sockets to chainsaws and a wood lathe. You know what they say, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. There was definitely lots of junk and lots of treasure to pick through!

Now that we’re back home, it’s time to resume our weekly Free Drawing. And to make up for the time we’ve been gone, I’m going to make it a good one. This week’s prize is both books in my Highway History and Back Road Mystery series, featuring oddball little stories we picked up in our travels across America as fulltime RVers, both books personally autographed to the winner.

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. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – As we were breaking up, a woman once told me, “You’re never going to forget me.” I wish I could remember who that was.

Catching Up With Us

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 152022
 

Terry and I have been trying to catch up with things that got neglected, or we just didn’t get around to doing in the month that we were on the road visiting family members in Alabama and Arizona. That included a lot of e-mails I received while we were gone. On average, I get over 100 e-mails a day from readers of my blog and books and people with questions about RVing or writing and self-publishing. And that’s not counting the obvious spam ones that slip past the filters and have to be deleted.

No, I don’t need you to help me improve my blog’s search engine optimization, I’m not going to publish your “free articles” that are basically very thinly veiled advertising, I’m doing just fine and I don’t need that $25 million that the nice man in Nigeria wants to put in my bank account, and I’m too old and fat to keep up with all those hot college girls and horny housewives that want me.

I try to check my e-mail at least a couple of times a day, and while we were on the road I answered any of them I could that were pressing. But there were still a ton of them that got put on the back burner that I have been working my way through and answering.

Meanwhile, Terry has a mountain of bookkeeping to deal with, sorting receipts and recording our expenses during the trip so our accountant will know which ones are business-related and which ones are not. But you know what they say, a woman’s work is never done. Especially if she’s married to a man like me, who is all thumbs. We got home to find that the ice maker in our refrigerator was frozen up, and she’s been trying to figure out what to do about that. Meanwhile, the drain on one side of our kitchen double sink developed a leak, so we had to stop at Lowe’s the other day and pick up replacement parts. We figured if one side is going bad, the other may not be far behind it, so we bought the parts for both sides.

And then there are lots of pictures we took during the trip that need to be sorted so I know which ones I will be using in future blog posts.

All of that being said, we are not the only ones playing catch up. I think our bodies are letting us know that we are not kids anymore. Between all of the traveling, sleeping in strange hotel rooms, time spent with our family members, and having to get up very early Monday morning after a night when neither one of us slept well, we are both worn out and just don’t have much energy right now.

We know there are things we should be doing, but it’s taking a while to get back in the swing of things. I just could not focus yesterday and ended up in my recliner sleeping for over two hours. Terry is like the Energizer Bunny and she keeps going and going, so while I was doing that she was doing several loads of laundry and other chores around the house. I honestly don’t know why she puts up with me. But she admits that all she really wanted to do was go back to bed and sleep. We will both be turning 70 this year, Terry in just a few days, and apparently it’s true. Getting old is not for sissies. Hopefully we’ll get our batteries recharged soon and back to whatever passes for normal around here.

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. Thanks, Thomas Schlater, but I think I’ll stick to Miss Terry’s homemade pizza.

Thought For The Day – Forget about the zombie apocalypse that will never come. Worry about the idiot apocalypse that we’re in the middle of right now.

Laughing Gas

 Posted by at 1:17 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 142022
 

We had to be up very early yesterday morning because I had an appointment at the surgical center in Maitland, about an hour’s drive from us, for the first of two RF nerve ablation procedures to help relieve some of my lower back pain.

Of course, when you do something like this, it’s always hurry up and wait. I was told to be there at 9:30 and then had to wait for over an hour before they finally took me back to get me prepped. In this case, because there were no incisions being made, just inserting probes into the nerves in my back to sever them electrically, the prep consisted of putting a mesh cap in my head, hooking me up to a blood pressure machine and pulse/oxygen monitor, and then sitting and waiting for about another hour.

But at least I had entertainment to keep me awake and from being bored. Basically, I was in a large open bay with several prep stations, all divided simply by curtains on the sides. The first young lady who hooked me up to the blood pressure machine couldn’t get it to give her a reading, so she had to summon one of her coworkers. That one told her that that particular machine had been problematic lately, and she brought another one in to replace it. The machine plugged into some kind of outlet on the floor, and as she bent over to do that, there was a very loud noise that there was no way to ignore. The horrified young lady looked up, her face red, and said, “I swear, that wasn’t me!”

Just then, the man in the station on the other side of the curtain let rip with another one. And then another and another and another. It was like a flatulent symphony. Well, maybe not the whole orchestra, but there was definitely a percussion section. Or, more likely somebody playing a wind instrument, if you get my drift. I’m not sure what the title of the tune he was serenading all of us was, but it may have been Classical Gas. I don’t know what that man ate for dinner the night before, but he needs to rethink his dietary choices. As I said, I was back there about an hour, and he never took a break. Well, other than breaking wind. But it wasn’t all music to my ears. At one point, he was going at it so fast that it sounded like the Jake brake on an eighteen-wheeler going down a steep mountain grade.

I have almost no sense of smell, and sometimes I really appreciate the last guy who broke my nose. This was one of those times. It was funny as hell watching the young ladies working back there trying to remain professional while taking shallow breaths and trying their hardest not to laugh. I think they were very glad for the surgical masks they were all wearing over their mouths and noses.

Eventually, they did take me back for the procedure, and because I opted not to have sedation due to the fact that Medicare would not pay for it, it was not the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had. But the thing is, they don’t start the sedation until after they have inserted the probes into your nerves because they need you to be able to feel them to know they are in the right spot. That’s the worst part of the whole procedure. Then the sedation kicks in for about three minutes while they burn the nerves, and you’re done. My out-of-pocket costs for that three minutes would have been just over $300, and I can think of a lot of other things I would rather spend $100 a minute doing.

The last time I had this procedure done, it gave me about two years of relief, and I’m hoping for the same this time around. In yesterday’s procedure, they did the nerves on the lower left side of my back, and I get to go back next Monday to have the procedure repeated on the right side. Hopefully not with Freddy Fartsalot as my neighbor in the prep area.

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 – Of course women don’t work as hard as men. They get it right the first time.

Handyman Nick

 Posted by at 12:23 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 132022
 

Is that an oxymoron or what? Kind of like military intelligence. But believe it or not, I actually can fix things once in a while. A lifetime of experience has taught me that the best and quickest way to accomplish repairs around the house is to tell Miss Terry about them and let her handle it. But occasionally, she leaves me to my own devices, mostly because she thinks it’s funny to watch how much trouble I can get into on my own. Of course, she doesn’t think it’s so funny when she has to then go back and undo everything I messed up and then do it right like it should have been done the first time. And our son Travis is even less handy than I am, if that’s even possible.

All that being said, I actually did fix some things while we were visiting  Travis and his wife Geli at their place in Alabama. As I said in a couple of previous blog posts, they recently bought a house on nine acres, way out in the country. Geli is a country girl at heart and actually grew up not far away.

Travis, on the other hand, spent most of his life living in small towns and a couple of good sized cities. But we have never seen him happier or more content than he is now. While you might think he is some kind of biker or something with his shaved head, bushy beard, and tattoos, looks are deceiving. He has a gentle soul, and even at age 45 he always hugs and kisses his old man on the cheek. He loves animals of all kinds and he is an accomplished gardener. I think if you gave him a handful of sticks and an asphalt parking lot, you could come back a month later and he would have a forest growing there. Obviously, having that much land gives him lots of opportunities to exercise his green thumb.

At some point in the past, he came into possession of an old Craftsman rototiller that didn’t work, and it spent years sitting under a porch at their old house in Tuscaloosa. While we were visiting them I had him drag it out from the shed to see if it was worth trying to have somebody rebuild it.

It didn’t look promising to start with, but when I had Travis pull the starter cord to see if the Briggs & Stratton engine was seized, we could hear the engine turning over. I got a can of starting fluid and gave it a blast or two in the carburetor and had him pull the cord again and the darn thing popped off and ran for half a minute or so. Another shot of starting fluid and it started again and ran until the fluid was gone. As long as I kept spraying it, the engine would run.

Okay, maybe we’re onto something. We poured some gas in the tank and primed the carburetor with more starting fluid, but while the darn thing would start, it would not keep running. So we took the little fuel bowl off the bottom of the carburetor, I fiddled with the floats a moment or two, then we put it back together, and it started up and ran! How cool is that?

Then we noticed that gas leaking out of the fuel bowl, so we took it off again to find that the rubber gasket had pretty much disintegrated. We made a trip into town to a parts store, and while they didn’t have the proper size gasket, they had one that was just a tiny bit bigger. Back at the house, Terry was able to get it to fit well enough to create a seal, and we put it together and the thing was running like a champ! Travis was one happy camper. Well, more correctly, one happy gardener. He said having the rototiller working is going to make life much easier for him.

The next order of business was the pole barn on his property, which is located about 100 feet from the house. There are several electrical outlets in it, along with some lights, but for whatever reason, there was no wiring from the house to the pole barn, just some bare wires hanging out of the end of the conduit leading to a power switch. I suspect that the previous owner, who worked for the local power company before he retired, may have just run a heavy-duty extension cord out to the pole barn from the house, but knowing that wouldn’t pass the inspection when he was selling the place, I think he just cut the wires off and left them dangling.

We connected a couple of 50-foot extension cords, plugged them into an outlet on the front porch, and ran them out to the pole barn. Sticking the two bare wires (that’s scary, isn’t it?) that came out from the conduit into the plug of the extension cord, I then turned on the power switch in the pole barn and promptly blew the circuit, knocking out power to both the front and back porch of the house and the sump pump in the crawl space under the house.

Checking all the breakers, nothing was stripped, but there was no power. Now what the heck did I do? I thought about it for a moment and then went inside and started looking for GFI outlets inside the house. As it turned out, the only one was in the master bathroom, and I reset it and we had power again. So I repeated the procedure out at the pole barn and promptly tripped the GFI again. By then it was getting dark and we were running out of time, so I told Travis that was a project we would have to address on our next visit. He and Geli were both fine with that, and mostly I think they were just grateful they weren’t going to have to call out an electrician to figure out what I had done to lose power at the house.

Travis had told me that they had a large pool of standing water in the yard at one end of their house after a prolonged thunderstorm, which I guess explains the sump pump. The ground there has a lot of clay in it and is very slow to absorb water. He and Geli had been researching drainage solutions and decided that they needed to install some kind of French drain to divert the water from the side of the house down a hill about 50 feet away from the rear of the house.

That seemed like a lot of work to me, and work is a four-letter word that I try very hard to avoid. So instead, we went to Lowe’s in Tuscaloosa and got a heavy-duty electric transfer pump that uses a garden hose to move liquids.

Back at the house, Travis filled up a 5-gallon plastic bucket with water, we connected the short intake hose that came with the pump and then a longer hose to the outlet side of the pump and ran it from the side of the house down the hill. We plugged in the pump, and it drained that 5 gallons of water lickety-split. For the times when they get heavy rainstorms and the water pools, I think it will work just fine.

I think Travis was a little impressed that his old man could actually do something useful around the place. I didn’t disabuse him of that notion by telling him I was just stumbling around lost and confused, hoping I didn’t cut any of my fingers off or burn the place down in the process.

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 – Great achievements are never made in comfort zones.

Jun 122022
 

Somebody asked me what it was like coming from the hot, dry desert of Arizona back to hot, humid, central Florida. I lived in Arizona for many years and never believed any of that “it’s a dry heat” nonsense they tell you about the desert. Hot is hot. It’s dry inside an oven, too, but I don’t want to spend any time there.

At least here at home, I can cope with the heat like a civilized man, by staying inside with the air conditioning running full blast while sitting around in my underwear. I don’t know what the problem is with my mother-in-law, but it seems to offend her when I do that. I think she’s worried about her electric bill.

Of course, that didn’t work out too well yesterday evening when the power went out sometime around 5 o’clock and didn’t come back on until almost 11. I suggested to Miss Terry that she might get a couple of palm fronds and fan me with them like they used to do to Egyptian pharaohs. She wasn’t buying into that at all. Like mother, like daughter, I guess.

For most of my adult life, my friends have referred to a phenomenon called “pulling a Nicky.” This refers to my ability to do really stupid things on a regular basis, which I seem to have a PhD in. For example, there was the time I got out of my friend Mike Howard’s International Scout on a remote desert road west of Tucson and slid halfway down a steep hill because I didn’t realize how close to the edge we were on that narrow dirt road.

Or the time I stepped out of our MCI bus conversion alongside Interstate 10 somewhere around Willcox, Arizona, and guess what? I did the same darn thing, sliding down the hillside next to the road while Miss Terry looked out and asked, “Nick? Where did you go?”

Or the steep hill I managed to drive the same bus conversion up, while going the wrong way on a one-way street on a Sunday afternoon in Bremerton, Washington, proving that you can drive a bus conversion up a hill so steep that your front wheels are on the pavement and your back bumper is on the pavement, but your drive wheels are several inches up in the air.

When you do that, it takes a very large tow truck to get you unstuck, as well as the police department to block off the road, and the fire department hazmat team to clean up the many gallons of antifreeze that poured out onto the street when the tow truck managed to nick the bottom radiator hose in the process. Do you see a pattern here with me and steep hills?

Even with all of that, I made it home in time to pick up Terry and our friends Jesse and Jennifer to go to dinner at Boston Fish House in New Smyrna Beach. The sky had been dark all day, and while we were eating, it began to rain hard. Fortunately, by the time we finished our excellent meal it tapered off to just a sprinkle. We got home and were only there a few minutes when a transformer blew down the street and we lost power, which brings us back to home is where the heat is. A lot of houses in Florida have swimming pools, but probably many more don’t have them. But one thing they all have in common is that when the power goes out, they all have built-in saunas.

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. I guess even the Amish have to obey the traffic laws.

Thought For The Day – What kind of doctor is Dr. Pepper? A fizzician.

Trip Update

 Posted by at 12:08 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 112022
 

After being gone from home for a month, only posting a blog once a week or so during that time, today I thought I would update you on the overall trip. Before you start, I warn you, it’s going to be a long blog, and I will have some other more specific blogs about things that happened while we were on the road in follow-up blogs.

Looking back at the blogs I did post during the trip, in a blog titled 432 Miles, I told you about the first day of our trip, from our home in Edgewater, Florida to the Hampton Inn in Troy, Alabama. A few days later, I posted a blog titled A Quick Update, in which I told you about the three days we spent with our son Travis and his wonderful wife Gila at the home they just bought on nine acres about half an hour or so from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I also wrote about our first day back on the road after that, when we continued west and spent a night in Marshall, Texas.

The next day was more driving, something like 485 miles to Midland, Texas, where we spent the night at the Hampton Inn. Hampton Inns are our usual choice for lodging when we were on the road, and overall they have been very good. But not this time around. It looked like the housekeeping staff had not done much of a job after the previous guests left, and later on we discovered that the drain pipe under the sink was leaking, dumping a lot of smelly nasty water under the sink. To the hotel’s credit, when I complained, they comped us the room for the night. So there was that.

My next blog post, Almost There, was written when we got to Lordsburg, New Mexico. As I shared in that blog post, I don’t know if it’s due to my ongoing back issues or what, but I was experiencing severe pain in my tailbone after about three hours of driving on every day of the trip. That wasn’t fun at all, and sometimes I had to have Terry drive because I just could not get comfortable or deal with the pain any longer. At least in the passenger seat I could move around a little more and try to alleviate some of the pressure on my tailbone.

It was over a week before I posted my next blog, titled Yes, We’re Still Alive, telling you about the time we spent in Mesa, Arizona visiting with Terry’s parents, sisters, and nieces. Terry’s mom and dad are both in their 90s, and unfortunately, her mother is having some pretty serious health issues, so we are glad we had plenty of time to spend with them, although a week is never enough.

From there we went to our old hometown of Show Low, Arizona, to be able to see our granddaughter Destiny graduate from junior high school and her big sister Hailey graduate from high school. We love being able to be with them for such important life events, and just to spend time with daughter Tiffany and her family. While we were there, son-in-law Kenny introduced us to his Traeger pellet smoker grill. The food he turns out on that thing, including this delicious pork roast, is just amazing, and Terry and I are debating whether or not we should invest in one. There’s no question that it does a great job, we’re just not sure if we would use it enough to justify the purchase price. I wrote about our week in Show Low in a blog post titled Oh, Those Girls!

Marijuana is legal in Arizona for both medicinal and recreational use, and while we don’t smoke pot or use any other drugs, I knew from past experience that products made from marijuana went a long way toward helping me deal with my back pain. My medical marijuana card for Florida had long since expired since I didn’t need it after I had my nerve ablations done back in 2020, but in Arizona nothing was required. So we went to a dispensary and bought some of the sublingual tincture I had been using before, as well as some gummies (one kind for daytime use and another for nighttime), and a salve that was highly recommended. Here is a picture of Navajo County’s biggest joint on display at the dispensary.

On our first day back on the road after we left Tiffany’s house, I was able to drive for six hours without any discomfort, as opposed to the three hours I was only able to handle on the trip west. If it wasn’t for the pharmaceutical industry opposing the use of medical marijuana, a lot of people would be helped without having to rely on opioids and other crap that are cash cows for the people who make and sell them.

It’s always hard saying goodbye to the people you love, but after a week in Show Low, it was time to start the long trek home. Our first day on the return trip took us to Santa Rosa, New Mexico. The next day we had planned to stop at some of the small towns along Interstate 40 in Texas and Oklahoma to check out some interesting museums and antique shops, but it was a rainy day and every time we were someplace where we thought about stopping it was pouring so much we decided not to bother. When we passed Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo, it was hard to see the old cars in the mist.

We pushed on to Midwest City, Oklahoma. Driving through Oklahoma City was a challenge because we hit it right at rush hour and it was pouring cats and dogs. But we made it through to the other side, and I wrote about that day strip in a blog post titled Just A Quickie.

It was raining just as hard for much of the next day, so again, we abandoned our plan to stop at some small towns in Arkansas. Instead, we made it as far as Pine Bluff and another Hampton Inn. This one was another disappointment to us, making us wonder if we should start looking for another lodging alternative when we travel. the door would not lock on the first room, and they sent a woman down to see if she could fix the problem. We had not eaten all day so she told us to go ahead and get a bite to eat, and she would make sure the room was secure by the time we got back. We found the Chili’s not too far away and spent our time eating so we wouldn’t get back too soon and interrupt the repairwoman. When we did get back, we found the door had not been fixed and there were our computers, my CPAP machine, our suitcases, and everything else sitting in a room that anybody could have walked in and made off with. So much for making sure everything was secure!

The manager switched us to another room, where at least the door locked. However, the desk chair in that room had a broken leg, and as soon as I sat down on it, it started bowing toward the floor. There were also small ants in the room that Terry found crawling on her arms. By then we were too tired to mess with it and we just went to bed. When I told someone at the front desk the next morning about the broken chair and the ants, she said they were already aware of both issues. Well, here’s an idea, why don’t you fix them?

Whenever we are traveling through a new area, I always check out the small towns on our route to see if there might be something interesting to stop and investigate. But I was dismayed when it seemed like every town we looked at between Pine Bluff and our son’s house in Alabama seemed to have a history of lynchings and other racial hatred. It was too darn depressing to even think about stopping, so we just pressed on.

We did stop at the Jerome-Rohwer Interpretive Museum and Visitor Center in McGehee, Arkansas. During World War II, there were two internment camps nearby, where Japanese-American citizens were held against their will because they were considered to be enemies. The interpretive museum is supposed to tell the stories of these people and their experiences during the war years, and I really wanted to check that out. But the lady on duty at the desk told me there was nothing much to see and not to waste my money or time. Nothing like a friendly Arkansas welcome when you visit a new place, is there? I got back in the truck, shaking my head, and decided there’s nothing in Arkansas I ever really need to go back to see.

About 30 miles from Travis and Geli’s house, we stopped in Columbus, Mississippi to pick up a few things at the Walmart. Though it was the hometown of playwright Tennessee Williams and his house is now a visitor center and museum, we just bought what we needed and got out of there. Nothing about the place appealed to either of us.

We spent several days just hanging out at Travis and Geli’s house, relaxing, enjoying sitting out on the back porch at night watching the fireflies, getting to know a couple of dogs that came with the property and another one that just showed up out of the blue, and cussing their rooster, who started crowing about 4:30 every morning. It didn’t help that one of the dogs frequently joined in the serenade. I had a run-in with that damn rooster which I’ll tell you about in another blog post.

We could have happily hung out with Travis and Geli for another week or two, but we needed to get home because I am scheduled to get the first RF nerve ablation procedure repeated on Monday. It is 600 miles from their place to ours, and we had planned to stop for the night in Tallahassee, Florida, which was about 360 miles from their place. But when we got to Tallahassee, it was so darn busy, and the hotels were packed, so we kept on driving to Madison, where we checked into a Best Western Plus after first having a quick an excellent dinner at the Smackin Lips Diner.

The next morning it was an easy three-hour run home. We loved our trip and had a lot of fun, but it sure is nice to be back and sleeping in our own bed again. We were pleased that the pickup, with its 5.7L V8 HEMI eTorque engine, averaged over 20 miles per gallon, driving between 75 and 80 across Texas. Keeping it at 65 miles per hour got that number up to 21.8 miles per gallon, but if you tried to drive at 65 out there, you’d get run over fast. We saw gas prices all over the board during our trip, from a low of $3.99/gallon to $5.29 in the Phoenix area. It was interesting that when we got to Show Low, a small town off the beaten path, gas was 89¢ a gallon less that down in the big city on the Memorial Day weekend. How do you explain that?

So that’s the overview of our trip. In the next couple of days I’ll tell you some other highlights of the trip that I hope you will find interesting.

Thought For The Day – Nachos are just tacos who can’t get it together.

Jun 102022
 

There really is no place like home, and we are so glad to be back in ours after a month on the road. I will have a lot to tell you about our trip in the next few days, but right now, Terry and I are both tired and more than ready to sleep in our own bed.

We loved seeing our family members in Alabama and Arizona and meeting with author friends old and new along the way. We were also very happy to be able to be on hand for our granddaughter Destiny’s graduation from junior high school and her big sister Hailey’s graduation from high school.

Thank you for being patient while we played hooky from our regular routine for a while to have this valuable time with our family, and thank you also to the readers who weren’t aware of why I had not been posting a daily blog and sent emails and messages wanting to know if we were alright.

We are definitely alright, except for being road weary. Starting tomorrow, I will be getting the blog back on track. But for now, our bed is calling me, and I must answer.

But before I go, 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 Common sense is not a gift, it’s a punishment because you have to deal with everybody else who doesn’t have it.

Just A Quickie

 Posted by at 10:11 pm  Nick's Blog
Jun 012022
 

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter! I mean a quickie update on our travels. 😊

All good things must end, so we said goodbye to our daughter Tiffany and her family and left Show Low, Arizona on Tuesday morning, heading east on US Highway 60, through the twin towns of Pinetop-Lakeside and then onto the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation.

This area was our old stomping grounds before we became fulltime RVers, way back in 1999, and is the setting for my Big Lake mystery series. We stopped at the turnoff to Big Lake to pay our respects to Sheriff Jimmy, Robyn, and the rest of the folks who live there only in my imagination and my books.

When we got to Eagar we stopped at the Apache County Library to drop off some copies of the Big Lake series books. I had done the same in Show Low and Pinetop/Lakeside. They all already had several of them, but I was able to fill out the missing books in each of their collections. It’s always cool to see your books on the shelves at libraries and bookstores.

We stayed on US Highway 60, taking it east into New Mexico past the Very Large Array, operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, used to explore outer space. Eventually, we reached Socorro and Interstate 25. We took it north to I-40 in Albuquerque, then followed 40 east to Santa Rosa, where we spent the night at the Best Western. It was an old-style motor court where you park right in front of your room, and the room itself was clean and comfortable.

We were on the road by 9:30 today (Wednesday) and drove an hour or so to Russell’s Travel Center, where we spent some time looking at their classic cars and had a late breakfast or early lunch. This place was so cool that I will be doing a blog post about it once we get back home and I have more time.

We drove in a heavy mist across Texas and into Oklahoma, with occasional short rain squalls. About 50 miles from Oklahoma City the sky opened up and it poured so much that traffic was down to 45 miles per hour. Eventually we made our way to the Hampton Inn in Midwest City, on the east side of the Oklahoma City metro area near Tinker Air Force Base.

We covered 435 miles on a dark, dreary day, and we were more than ready to get inside out of the rain. Saturday is our son Travis’ birthday, and we are 670 miles away from his house in Alabama. Hopefully, the bad weather is past us and we’ll have an easy trip there.

Thought For The Day – Don’t expect me to stop and help if you’re broke down on the side of the road. You had several opportunities to buy an extended warranty.

Oh, Those Girls!

 Posted by at 1:28 am  Nick's Blog
May 282022
 

The temperature here in Show Low, in Arizona’s White Mountains, is a lot nicer than it was during the week we spent down in the Mesa/Apache Junction area. It has been at least 20 degrees cooler every day. It being a holiday weekend, a lot of people are coming up here to escape the blast furnace down in the desert.

This was our home for many years before we left to go on the road as fulltime RVers, spending 18+ years wandering around the country in a motorhome publishing the Gypsy Journal RV travel newspaper. Before that, I published the weekly newspaper here, and Terry ran a commercial glass shop. So much has changed in the 25 years or so that we have been gone that I hardly recognize the place anymore.

Our daughter Tiffany and her family still live here, and one of the reasons we came to visit is because granddaughter Destiny graduated from junior high school on Thursday morning, and Thursday evening her big sister Hailey graduated from high school. We darn sure couldn’t miss that.

Hailey has grown up to become a beautiful and accomplished young woman, and it has been great spending some time with her.

This is Destiny at her graduation. There sure were a lot of happy young people and their families there helping them celebrate. Way to go kid! Next year it’s time for high school.

There was some last-minute concern when Hailey tried on her graduation gown, because even though the package it came and said it was for a person 5 foot 1 inches to 5 foot 3 inches tall, the gown itself was for someone 6 foot 1 to 6 foot 3. Tiffany and Terry put their heads together, and Terry thought she might be able to shorten it in the little bit of time left before the ceremony. However, we lucked out because Tiffany was able to talk to someone at the school and they had a couple of extra gowns available, including one in the right size.

The bleachers at the high school were full of friends and family members there to see the graduating class in their big moment. Can you tell Tiffany is a proud mama? You raised her right, honey, and instilled a good set of values in her.

Friday evening we went to the rodeo grounds in nearby Snowflake to watch Hailey competing in a barrel racing event. Working part-time for a dog groomer, she managed to save the money to buy her horse Six, and has been working with him for a year. She loves that horse and he loves her, and they make a good team.

Daughter Tiffany may not be a barrel racer, but she rode the roller coaster in my Oculus virtual reality headset. At first she was all smiles and thought it was fun.

Then the angry Tyrannosaurus decided to put in an appearance and race with the roller coaster. That got her attention!

I’m not sure what’s on the agenda for today, but I know that as long as we’re with our family we’re going to have fun. I hope you are having a fun holiday weekend, too.

Thought For The Day – Technically, Moses was the first person with a tablet to download data from the cloud.

May 242022
 

Have you missed us? Don’t worry, we’re alive and well. We have just been devoting most of our time to family. But let me bring you up to date.

After spending the night in Lordsburg, New Mexico, on Tuesday, the 17th, we headed northwest on US Highway 70, known as the Old West Highway, for a short drive to the Arizona state line, and then followed the highway 122 miles further to the old mining town of Globe. US 70 is an excellent two-lane road that winds its way across the high desert, with passing zones on some of the hills to keep traffic flowing.

We passed through the small towns of Safford and Duncan, crossed the San Carlos Indian Reservation, commenting on how strange it was to see mountains on the horizon after living in Florida for so long.

Terry took a picture that I think symbolizes the modern West, an old-time windmill standing next to a cell phone tower. The times, they are a changing.

US 70 ends in Globe, where we picked up US Highway 60 into Apache Junction and Mesa. Our first stop was at Terry’s parents’ house. Her dad, Pete, is 92 and her mom, Bess, is 90 and we were so glad to see them. It’s been over two years since our last trip to Arizona, so the visit was long overdue.

We had booked a room for a week at the LaQuinta Hotel a short drive away. We stayed here on our last trip to Arizona and liked it, but not so much this time around. The room itself was nice, though the air conditioner rattled and made a lot of noise, and the bed was rather lumpy. I don’t remember the WiFi being so slow last trip either, but this trip it was like sludge most of the time.

Apparently the new thing with hotels is that they do not provide daily maid service if you stay for more than just overnight. If you want the bed made, or fresh towels and bathroom supplies, you have to request it the day before, or go to the front desk and ask for towels or whatever you need. When we checked in, Terry told the desk clerk that for what we are paying for the rom, she wanted daily service, but we didn’t get it. They say it is a cost saving measure, but the room still cost me the same. I think on our next trip we will look for another place to stay.

Most of our time was spent with Terry’s parents, just talking and reminiscing about family and days gone by. One day we had a family dinner at Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

These pretty ladies are Terry’s nieces Andrea (left), Lauren (right) and their mother Dani, (Terry’s sister) in the center. Dani is a Nurse Practitioner who recently retired from her career as a flight nurse and trainer for a helicopter medical evacuation company. Andrea is also a Nurse Practitioner who has moved into the legal side of things and sits on the Arizona State Board of Nursing. Lauren lives in London and works for Facebook.

Dinner was nice, and I got a picture of the whole family after we ate. Here, from left to right, are Lauren, Dani, Terry’s mom Bess, her dad Pete, Terry, and Andrea.

Unfortunately, her sister Lisa and brother-in-law Jim could not join us because Jim had just been diagnosed with Covid for the second time. The first bout a while back was pretty rough, but they seem to have hit him aggressively with lots of meds this time around and he is doing much better.

This beautiful glass sculpture is called Chihuly in the Desert, one of several works by artist Dale Chihuly’s on display at the Desert Botanical Garden.

On another day I spent some time visiting with author friends Mike Leonard and Scott MacKenzie, talking about writing projects and techniques. They are a couple of very talented guys, and it was fun to share ideas with them. Scott gave me a great idea I will be using in a future Big Lake book.

It’s been very hot here. Today was 103 degrees, down from 105 the day before. Yeah, I know, it’s a dry heat. It’s dry inside an oven, too, but I don’t want to spend time in one of them either.

We have loved spending time with Terry’s family, but all good things must come to an end. Today we have about a three-hour drive to our old hometown of Show Low, where we will spend a week with our daughter Tiffany and her family. Granddaughter Destiny graduates from junior high school Thursday morning, and that evening her big sister Hailey graduates from high school. We are looking forward to being a part of the celebrations. We are also looking forward to some cooler weather in the White Mountains.

Thought For The Day – As I get older I can sense people dressing me with their eyes.

Almost There

 Posted by at 9:39 pm  Nick's Blog
May 162022
 

They call it Texas because it “takes us” days to get across the darn state. We spent Saturday night at the Hampton Inn in Marshall, TX, and were on the road about 10 o’clock the next morning. I was dreading going through the Dallas-Fort Worth area because there’s always so much traffic, but by hitting it at midday on a Sunday it really wasn’t all that bad. There was a lot of traffic, as expected, but it moved right along.

We spent the night in Midland, Texas, which is in the middle of the oil patch. It’s a busy place, but not somewhere I could live. One night was more than enough for us. This morning (Monday) we were back on the road, rolling west on Interstate 20.

El Paso is another town that always has a lot of traffic and road construction going on, and this trip was no different. A few times we had fools changing lanes at the last minute in front of us without signaling, but we made it through the gauntlet.

You know that saying, “Don’t mess with Texas?” Apparently there’s some truth to it, because when we were half a mile from the New Mexico state line, I said goodbye to Texas and suggested something the state could do with itself. Or maybe to itself. I no sooner got the words out of my mouth when a rock flew up from nowhere and hit the middle of the windshield, leaving a nasty chip. Terry was in the glass business for many years and has seen a lot of windshield chips, and said this is one that will probably spread before we can do anything about it.

We got to Lordsburg, New Mexico about 4:30 in the afternoon and checked into a motel room for the night, with 470 miles under our belts for the day. We had dinner at a place called Kranberry’s Chatterbox that we have heard about for years. The food was okay, but the young man serving us seemed like he would have much preferred to be home playing video games.

We will be in Mesa, Arizona tomorrow, where we will spend a week visiting Terry’s parents and sisters, then we’ll go to our old hometown of Show Low for a week for two granddaughters’ graduations.

Our truck has the 5.7L V8 HEMI eTorque engine, and running with the cruise control on at 75 miles per hour across Texas, we were averaging 20.8 miles per gallon. Keeping it at 65 miles per hour got that number up to 21.8 miles per gallon, but if you tried to drive at 65 out there, you’d get run over before too long.

I don’t know if it’s due to my ongoing back issues or something else, but during this entire trip, after about three hours of driving I start getting intense pain in my tailbone. So much so that we stopped at a Walmart, and I bought one of those seat cushions that has a little cut out in the back for the tailbone, hoping that would alleviate some of the discomfort, but it hasn’t. After about three hours of driving, I have to stop and get out and walk around for a few minutes, then get back in the truck and I can usually get another hour or two before the pain starts to be too much to handle and I do it again.

Eventually I have Terry drive, and I can move around more in the passenger seat trying to get comfortable without worrying about running off the road. I have never had this issue before when driving the truck or anything else, including 18+ years of driving a motorhome all over the country.

That’s about it for this time around. I’ll have something more for you in a day or two.

Thought For The Day – The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.