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Just a picture I took as we were leaving Mustang Sally’s

Denyce and I were sitting at an outside table at the world famous Mustang Sally’s in Deadwood South Dakota waiting for our food. The place was packed and we were at a table which could easily seat six. Denyce kept her eye on the street looking for people who had a dog and might be looking for a table. We were more than willing to share and we know people with dogs have no choice but to eat outside and it was quite busy.

There was an older couple sitting at the table next to us. I was a little surprised when the gentleman got up turned and walked towards us. He looked at Denyce and asked her if she believed in Magic and Illusion. Denyce said yes while trying not to laugh but just smile while not looking at me. Meanwhile I looked at him very carefully. Did I know him? Did he know me? Maybe we were being set up by another magician I did know. I know from Facebook we have sort of been following Trevor and Lorena Watters, (magicians from BC) around this end of the country, however no one was recognizable in the crowd. I certainly didn’t know the gentleman standing before us all prepped to perform the ole’ magical classic, ‘torn and restored napkin’ which he did very well.

After proper introductions and magic heritage explored Ron, aka ‘The Wizard of Wonder’ and his wife Martha joined us for lunch and a wonderful time was had. Ron is quite the comedian. What prompted Ron’s performance is he wanted to add “Performed at the famous Mustang Sally’s to his ‘resume’ Ron also performed for four former Presidents. Yes, he performed an illusion at Mt. Rushmore.

Naturally when I got home I looked up Mr. Ron on the internet and he certainly does not need to add much to his ‘resume’. Not only is he a professional magician, he is a Pastor, an educator, served in the military and has two Masters Degrees. In 1965 (the year I was born) he became a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, ‘IBM’ and he is the founder of an ‘IBM ring’ in his home town. Adding to this he is a member of the Society of American Magicians and a member of the very prestigious Magic Circle of London England.

Well done Ron and it was a pleasure meeting and sharing a meal with you at Mustang Sally’s in Deadwood SD.

Gunfight in Deadwood South Dakota

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Taken at Glacier National Park

I am tired, tired of everyone being offended by everything. We have become so politically correct, so sensitive to each and every comment that we are seriously stunting our own growth. Frankly I’ve given up, If you are offended by something I’ve said, I apologize I don’t mean to be offensive I can’t keep up. Besides I’m beginning to realize if you are offended by something I’ve said, chances are its a ‘you’ problem and not necessarily a ‘me’ problem.

Political correctness is not what this blog is about. So we can all take a collective breath and I’ll keep writing while you keep reading. So what is my point? We should be correcting the things in society that is actually wrong, not perceived to be wrong, not to try to erase or rewrite history. But change the wrongs that we can actually change. Who is with me?

Taken just outside of Yellowstone National Park 2022

In 1870’s Brewster M. Higley wrote, ‘Home on the Range’ to celebrate the beauty of the Great Plains of Smith County, Kansas. Home on the Range was actually a poem which Daniel Kelly set to music.

I’m sure you can all sing along as I type;

“Oh give me a home where the Buffalo roam Where the deer and the antelope play Where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day”

These lyrics are simply wrong, and nobody seems to care and frankly that offends me. So lets get the record straight. Buffalo are not found naturally anywhere in the USA. Buffalo’s never, ever roamed the plains in Kansas. If you are seeing Buffalo you are either in South Asia watching water buffalo or Africa watching the Cape buffalo. What one finds in the Western states are Bison! But it doesn’t end there my friends, oh no! Antelope don’t live on the Western plains either. Like the Buffalo, Antelope live in Africa. There are people who call the pronghorn an American Antelope but those people are wrong. Pronghorns are the one and only living member of their family. Their closest relatives are goats and antelope but alas the pronghorns are on their own.

Pronghorns in Custer State Park 2021
Custer State Park 2021

So where does that leave us? In keeping with current trend we must eradicate the old song, burn every copy wipe out any existence of poem or song in all its many renditions and rewrite.

Everybody now!

“Oh give me a home where the bison roam and the deer and the pronghorns play. Where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day”.

Doesn’t take much does it?

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In the RV world, (and perhaps other worlds as well) we talk about waste holding tanks in terms of Grey tanks which holds water from the sinks, shower and washing machines. We also have the dreaded black tanks which hold the waste from the toilet. There is a sewer hose, often called the, ‘Stinky Slinky’ you hook up from an outlet on the rv to the dump station in the campground. There is a valve you need to open so the stuff in the holding tanks can flow down the sewer hose and into the dump station.

And now you know everything you need to know to follow the following story.

Before we even purchased the RV I read a ton of articles about black water screw ups. All written under the guise of helping the newbie avoid the same fate. I laughed, I cried, I shivered in fear and disgust. In the end I came away with a wealth of knowledge and a vow not to make those same mistakes. I am proud to say that after four years I have not made any of those mistakes. Instead I created my own.

Knowing you are only supposed to dump your black tanks when they are full we didn’t even bother to hook up the stinky slinky at our first two sites. Talk about a good reason to procrastinate!

After several successful sewer encounters I found myself getting a little cocky because the only ‘issues’ we were having was positioning the rv correctly. We have two black tanks and positioning the rv so we could connect both tanks to the dump station proved to be tricky. I’m always able to reach one with the slinky but the other is almost always just out of reach. But we always figured it out.

Eventually, as promised by many blogs, the fateful day came. Once again I could easily reach one black tank but not the other. I just needed another half an inch if even that. I really didn’t want to get out another 10 feet of sewer line for half an inch. They are called slinky’s because the accordion out. Certainly I could make up a half an inch!

I always start from the dump station and work towards the rv. First the fitting to the sewer, then a ‘Y’ connector and then the slinky’s to the Y connector then the other end of the slinky’s to their respective tanks. First side wasn’t a problem. The second tank I stretched the sewer hose really tight and was able to snap it into place. Success! We had not dumped at the previous site so I knew we needed to dump the tanks and while I was bent down at the outlet anyway I went ahead and pulled the valve to let the poop fly. Feeling quite pleased I looked down along the sewer line to the dump station and much to my horror the other end of the slinky was no longer attached to the Y connector! Luckily there was no four foot poop geyser as one blogger promised, nor was there a quickly forming lake Pooperior. There was however, a small poop pond beginning to form. I slammed the valve closed and made a heroic 10 foot leap grabbing the free end of the stinky slinky and held it high in the air stopping the flow of poop. I’m here to tell you it didn’t smell great. And I realized that the ‘pond’ was going to grow a little as I still had to re-attach the end of the hose. I took a breath, (not a deep one) assumed the Super Man pose and slammed the end of the hose to the Y connection spilling only a little more poop. Now what do I do? I looked around, we were the last RV in the row, nobody was around, nobody saw. The proper thing to do was inform the campground who would asses the situation, I have heard that they can charge you if they have to clean it up, or call a company to clean it up. I decided it wasn’t that bad, I didn’t see any lumps, sometimes having Crohn’s disease has its benefits, (some of you will understand). I disposed the rubber gloves and put on new ones. I hooked up our extra garden hose and started to flood the area. It only took a few moments for the gravel to go from brown to clear. Again I looked around, there were no cries of dissent, no fits of laugher, not a face peeking out of another RV. I started to relax even the smell was fading quickly. The whole incident was coming to a close without anyone the wiser. I stood there water hose in hand, I was satisfied I got through this unscathed when I heard my wife’s voice coming through the open window, “Did we have a toxic spill?”

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A big topic on RV message boards is security. We have been in campgrounds all across the USA and have never encountered a problem. But if you read the message boards and FB groups for RV’s it would seem theft is rampant. A little deeper research shows that most cases of theft in the RV world happens when an RV is in storage at a storage facility. But I get the security conscious people, especially when one has been a victim of theft.

I could not help but notice the security measures of one fifth wheel camper that was in a site next to ours. They had a hitch lock on their RV just in case a thief would break in unhook the water, sewer, power and bring in the slides, pull in with a truck and steal the entire unit. A heck of a lot of work when there are plenty of easier targets than a fifth wheel.

But this guy was pretty serious he also used a dog chain to lock his surge protector to the power post. But the two E-bikes were simply leaning against the rv, the expensive Blackstone griddle with extra propane tanks were sitting outside on his picnic table. And lets not forget the high end satellite dish sitting on the tripod in front of his rv all unsecured.

The whole scene reminded me a friend in elementary school. He locked his bike to the bike rack but was so paranoid he wound the lock through the wheels, the frame, the chain, around a peddle and back around the wheels. When all was said and done he had done a great job in locking the bike to itself but neglected to actually lock the bike to the rack.

All of which brings us to a topic that is near and dear to all our hearts. Gun control! Okay this post has little to do with guns and more about the mentality of people. You see whenever the question pops up, “What does everyone do about theft at your campsite?” There is always some fool(s) who respond, “I carry a .38 which will stop anyone from stealing my stuff”.

Really? Do you really think carrying a gun is going to keep people from stealing your surge protector? Do you not think the would be thief is not going to drive around for awhile and figure out if you are at your campsite? Do you really think the theft is going to occur while you are at your site? Your precious gun is going to prove itself to be useless as such a theft occurs. Even if you are there. Are you really going to shoot somebody because they are trying to steal your $50.00 propane tank?

Guns are not the problem folks. Lack of common sense is the problem.

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A long time ago
Me, my Father-in-law, Denyce, Clary and Quinn

Every now and again a situation occurs which you never forget. 9/11 2001 is a perfect example. Ask any American what they were doing, where they were on that day and they can tell you. Me? I was at home searching the internet for work. I had the T.V. on in the background, I saw the news banner along the bottom and I honestly thought it was a disaster movie. Something seemed off, after a few minutes I turned up the volume, it wasn’t a movie. Moments later the phone rang, it was my wife.

I will never forget February 15, 1971, Not because on that historic day Alan Shepard walked on the moon but it was the first day we got out of school on time, if not a wee bit early. I hated school! I was 6yrs old and our grade 2 teacher would keep the entire class in detention if anyone broke her ‘rules’ somebody was bound to speak, chew gum, or look out a window. But on that day our teacher Ms Wilson wanted to watch Shepard leave the spacecraft and walk on the moon. My classmates and I celebrated our on time release by playing a round of CHAMP (a game played with a ball) in the school yard.

I don’t remember the exact day, but I was walking through Wegman’s grocery store. I was leaving the vegetable area when my phone rang. It was my sister, “Where are you? What are you doing?”
“I am in a grocery store, why?”
“Well, you will probably not forget this moment. Mom has cancer.”
My sister was right, I’ll never forget that call.

Ever since my Mother passed away it has been hard to write. My mother was my cheering section in everything I did. Always the first to comment or call after an entry on this blog.

Mom used to tell me I should have a pen and paper next to my bed so I could write down my dreams. I don’t bother because the only ones I remember are the ones which repeat. Taking the subway to places which don’t exist. Suddenly having an exam for a class I didn’t know I signed up for. Growing up we had kitchen chairs that spun. Every night I’d have the same dream I’d be sitting on the chair slowly spinning and moving forwards on a track, I’d see all kinds of things I can’t describe now but it was horrifying.

I never believed in ghosts, the after life, psychics, UFO’s or the like. As I get older I’m not so sure.

A week after my Mother passed I had a dream. I’ll call it a dream as it happened while I was sleeping. I was at a party, sitting alone in a kitchen on one of those black chairs that would slowly spin. This time it wasn’t spinning, (already a bonus). I don’t know who was there, I could not make out faces or hear conversations. Just shadows moving about and lots of murmuring in the background. So yeah, pretty much like every other party I’ve ever been too.

A figure sat down in the chair next to me. I couldn’t really make out a face but I knew it was my Mother. We sat quietly, almost looking into one another not a verbal word exchanged. After who knows how long, (but not too long) her face cleared up and she spoke, “Well, I think its time for me to go.” I replied, “I’m really going to miss you Mom.”

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a dream. I remember every moment. It took a week before I could tell my wife. It has been two years and still hard to talk about. Three weeks after my Mother died, my father in law passed. Two weeks after that our cat Gumpdrop also passed.

November 4th 2021 our good boy Quinn passed away just a few days after we returned from our last trip. He enjoyed traveling, the entire trip I just hoped he would make it home. And he did. He slept in his bed he walked in his woods he was happy. And then he was gone. The loss was crushing.

A few days before we left on this trip on May 1st 2022, we said goodbye to our old cat Trouble. He had thyroid issues and cancer. He was a pain in the butt till the end and we loved him so. When he stopped being social and then stopped eating it was time. Two days later we said goodbye to Clary our Good Girl. She was diagnosed with bone cancer. We managed her pain as best we could. But when she had enough, she had enough. She stopped enjoying her walks, eventually her food and we couldn’t blame her and the loss was devastating.

Just a few days ago a good friend of ours, Valerie lost her battle with cancer.

To say its been a rough few years would be an understatement. We are still devastated, the tears still come, the losses still crushing.

Perhaps its time to turn the page?

Happy Memories

Clary about to lose her bone to Quinn

Valerie was integral to planning our wedding. On the actual day she grabbed a video camera and became our videographer. We have the absolute best wedding video ever! Many a time Val thought she turned off the camera but alas she had not. She would let the camera hang off her shoulder, pointing at the ground while it was still recording. We know what shoes everyone was wearing and we have plenty of butt shots, sound was on so we heard all the gossip, fortunately nothing too gossipy or negative. We get a huge laugh when she is getting something from the freezer suddenly stops and says, ‘Is this on? Has it been on the whole time?” And then proceeds to turn the camera upright so she is staring right into the lens.

When my family came in for the weekend for our wedding they were staying at a hotel in town. We made arrangements to meet downtown. We also made arrangements to meet Val in the same area. We did not tell them to look for one another. Imagine our surprise when we found my Mother and Father sitting on a bench with Val! They had never met, didn’t know they were supposed to meet. They had no idea there was a connection or that they were all waiting for us.

On first time visiting my father-in-law, (John) in California we were looking for a parking space to do some shopping. John was driving and there was this woman just meandering through the parking lot obviously lost in her own world. John in an exasperated sigh, “Oh you stupid cow, get out of the way” Denyce and I are started laughing hysterically as we realized that in some situations the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We still get a good laugh at the memory.

Quinn and Gumdrop
Clary and Trouble
Trouble
Gumdrop

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Scrolling through my drafts I came upon this and thought it would make a good post. I’m not sure why it didn’t make the grade back in the day, but here ya go.

August 29, 2019. This was our third day in the RV and obviously still learning the basics.

We were mighty proud of ourselves today. We were able to hitch up the fifth wheel to the truck without having to get help and when we got to the campsite in Adele Iowa we were able to unhitch by ourselves for the first time. Life was looking good.

We put our awnings out for the first time! How cool is that? Except we realized with great disappointed the fancy little lights on one of the awnings was not working. It is time to start a list of warranty items that need to be dealt with.

We hooked up our sewer tanks for the first time. And despite reading all the horror stories, that task went fairly smooth. The only hitch was the second tank. Our ‘stinky slinky’ commonly known as a sewer hose, was too long and the dump site was up on a little rise so gravity was working against us. Made for a little more work when we unhooked, but all things considered it was quite the success.

Seeing as we had the tanks hooked up we used the washer and dryer for the first time. The RV people were not kidding when they said ‘small and frequent loads’ we were very pleased and soon figured out the extra cost was well worth it. The machines could even handle our queen sized blanket. Very handy considering we travel with five cats and two dogs.

Lastly we used the gas stove, hamburgers were on the menu. We took turns fanning the smoke alarm with a plate to keep from setting it off, we got a pretty good workout.

August 11 2021

A few updates. Not only do we hitch up on our own, we can usually do it in one go, not only that, we used to be envious of people who hooked up without making much noise when the pin hits the receiver, often there would be a loud clunk as the rv would move a little adjusting to the height. Now when we hook up or unhook its smooth as silk with very little noise.

Fancy little lights on the awning have long been fixed and all works as it should.

We have only a had few tiny issues now and again with the stinky slinky which will make good stories but not critical enough that would lead to an epic level disaster. I have found that the people who design campsites that have dump stations don’t understand the concept of gravity. More often then not the dump stations have a sleight uphill grade. One just has to adapt.

Still very happy with our washer and dryer. Last year the belt on the dryer broke. My neighbor and I managed to take it apart get it all fixed up and then by nothing short of a miracle we managed to re install the unit. No easy task having to line up the vent when there was no space to work. But fix it we did and now happily laundering again.

Found the solution to not setting off the fire alarm every time we use the stove or insta pot. You need windows open and plenty of air moving. We spoke to one gentleman who managed to set off the fire alarm when he made a campfire. His windows were open and the wind blew in just the right way. Probably a good thing they are that sensitive. I did read one facebook post where somebody covered the detector with a shower cap while cooking. The winner were the people who wanted to know if they could move the carbon dioxide detector because the dog farting would set it off.

Despite a few bumps in the road we are doing just fine and having a blast living the life. As the old time truck drivers would say, “Keep ‘em between the ditches”.

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Recently we were re watching Tombstone. When somebody was itching for a gun fight Doc Holliday would say, in a very casual laid back way, “I’ll be your huckleberry”. Ominous music would play there would be a close up shot of his opponents gun hand, then a close up of doc’s eyes, and the would be ruffian would walk away. For days, possibly weeks, when anyone looks at me, including the dogs I’d say, ‘I’ll be your huckleberry’. Okay I won’t actually say it, but I’ll certainly think it even without understanding what it means. I know it’s a plant and Tom Sawyer’s friend Huckleberry Finn. But in Doc Holliday’s context I had no idea, more importantly I don’t care. But I’m thinking about it, and then thought about you. Yes you! What if you care? Don’t I owe you an explanation? No, I don’t owe you one, but because I’m a kind generous person I thought, out of the goodness of my heart I’d look it up and share my findings.

Turns out when Doctor Holliday is saying, “I’ll be your huckleberry’ what he means is, ‘I’m the man for the job’. Or, “you looking for trouble? I’ll be that trouble”.

So now you know. You are welcome.

So what else am I thinking about these days?

Driving down a two lane country highway (one direction each way) we came upon a sign which made me wonder what catastrophic event happened that this particular town decided it was necessary to use this particular wording, ‘Do not pass when opposing traffic is present’. Sure makes sense, some may say even logical. Is the usual, ‘pass with care’ to gentle? I guess so.

Public restrooms. I am 56 yrs old and have Crohns Disease I have been in my share of restrooms, yet I’ve never been able to rest in any of them. In fact they fill me with tension, apprehension and dread. We should come up with a better name.

We have noticed that in RV parks very little deters people from having a campfire. First time I noticed this I was sitting in our kitchen looking out the window just watching the pouring rain when I realized the people at the site next to us, (also in a large fifth wheel) were sitting outside in their lawn chairs in the rain. Not under their awnings, just sitting around a smoldering, smoking campfire letting the rain pour down on them. One or two were wrapped in a towel. I thought to myself, ‘freaks’. But I’ve seen it quite a few times now in different campgrounds. Why would you invest so much money, time and effort to be comfortable while camping and then sit in the rain? Could have saved a ton of money and bought a tarp and a rope and make a shelter between two trees.

Speaking of campfires. The woods are safe from me, I can have the best weather for fire the driest wood, plenty of paper and kindling and yes, lighter fluid. We even made our own fire starters. I use the tepee approach leaving plenty of gaps for air to get through and I can usually get the fire started and it lasts until the igniter fluid burns off. Takes a lot to keep it going. It is frustrating when I see people with blazing fires in a rainstorm.

Shouldn’t the word, ‘ambiguous’ have more than one meaning?

There is a car that has a safety feature that alerts when the driver’s eyes leave the road. The problem as I see it, my eyes are going to leave the road as I try to figure out why the car is making noises at me. It doesn’t sound like its a cycle that ends well.

Aspen Dental, they say they take walk ins, they don’t. If you miss your appointment by 15 minutes…forget about it and embrace the pain.

Now if you want to read more posts…I’ll be your huckleberry.

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Picture Time

A few pictures of our 2021 adventure.

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After my last post, ‘Then and now…and a fart machine’ I received some requests to tell the story of how Tony Eng fooled me with dog poop.

Writing this sort of story is difficult because more often than not ‘magic’ happens in the moment of surprise. Without that surprise the magic is anti-climatic and now, dear reader you already know the surprise.

It ends with dog poop.

Thirty years ago I walked into Tony Eng’s Trick and Joke shop on Vancouver Island. There were a few people milling about and after a few moments Tony tells me he will demonstrate one more effect and then we will go to lunch.

Tony brought out a ceramic bowl and a ball and started performing. The ball would vanish from under the bowl only to reappear moments later. Sometimes it would change color, sometimes size. Everything he was doing was standard magicians flair. He performed in mesmerizing style which was always a pleasure to watch, his performances were flawless, brilliant and most importantly entertaining.

“Brian” he says, “I’m going to lift the bowl on the count of three, when I do you reach in as fast as you can and grab the ball.” He would count, I would tense up, “One…two…(I’m ready to pounce) and hey nice weather we are having.” The tension breaks and he says “seriously this time, at the count of three…One…to those of you watching….hahaha”. By the time he made it to three I was a tightly wound spring ready to be let loose. This is how a Master crafts his routine. Nothing was going to stop me from grabbing the ball once the bowl was clear. “One…two….three!” The bowl is lifted and I sprang into action. I saw my hands forming to make an upside down cup so I could trap the ball onto the table. I also saw it was not a ball! My brain and hands were already working in unison, fully committed, I heard the laugher and gritted my teeth as my hands taking on a mind of their own, wrapped around the pile of dog poop, now fully exposed.

One….Two….Three…. and my right of passage into the British Columbia magic circle was complete. BTW, I never said if the dog poop was real or fake. You decide.

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Perfect Magic has always been a store for magicians. We did not carry gum that tasted like garlic, cigarettes which exploded or the ever popular fake dog poop. Although I have seen dog poop used with great success in magic effects. The late great Tony Eng really fooled the crap out of me (pun intended)with a dog poop effect, but this is a story for another day.

So it was quite shocking when my father decided that carrying a remote control fart machine in the shop would be a good idea.

Turned out to be the best idea ever.

I snuck into the shop a little early, hid the fart machine near the cash register and took control of the remote. It was agonizing having to wait for the first customer and then the perfect moment. I hid in the office, eyes focused, thumb on the remote. I heard Gordon Lightfoot’s voice in my head, a line from The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald. “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn minutes to hours?”

Finally the planets lined up. The customer decided on his purchase, mom punched the sale in the register then she bent over to get a bag. And in that moment I pushed the button. For some reason the fart sounded even more realistic than in my test run. My mother stood for half a beat and then started laughing. Laughing so hard she couldn’t even get my name out, although not for lack of trying. We laughed until mom, myself and the customer had tears rolling down our faces.

It was a very good day!

And we sold our first of many fart machines.

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